Summer student experimenting with university
Education: DeWinton’s Lauren Hebert invited to work with research team
Thursday, Jul 25, 2013 08:58 am
A 16-year-old from DeWinton won’t be basking in the sun while reading a book by the lake this summer trading her bathing suit for a lab coat to help a university research project.
DeWintion’s Lauren Hebert, a student at West Island College in Calgary, was selected to participate in a research program at the University of Calgary over the summer.
“I find it interesting how one cell can become an entire human being,” said Hebert. “There are so many different events and at any point something can go wrong, but most of the time it doesn’t and I find that very fascinating.”
Hebert was selected as part of the Heritage Youth Researcher summer program run through Alberta Innovates Health Solutions. For six weeks she will work alongside Donna Slater, professor at the University of Calgary, conducting experiments that will help further her research in obstetrics and gynecology.
Alberta Innovates chose 22 students from Calgary and surrounding areas to perform research at various institutions over the summer. This six-week project was designed to give students hands on experience in the lab, said Dwayne Brunner, media relations for Alberta Innovates. To be chosen, students must have an 85 per cent average in math and science at the Grade 11 level, teacher recommendation and submit an essay.
In the future, Hebert said she wants to become a pediatrician, obstetrician gynecologist or a neonatologist, a doctor who takes care of babies born premature. She said this interest stemmed from taking the biology 20-level course in high school and volunteering at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
At the Alberta Children’s Hospital Hebert sits on an advisory council. She said she has given advice to a magazine on mental health about whether it appeals to her demographic and tested a board game intended to educate children on hemophilia.
Hebert started working in the lab on July 4 and said so far it is a great experience and a good networking opportunity.
Slater’s research will hopefully be able to identify women who are at risk of pre-term labour and prevent early contractions. She said if a baby is born too early it can have long-term developmental issues such as problems breathing. As well, parents may not be emotionally or financially ready for pre-mature babies because they require special care. However, these are long-term goals, Slater said. For now, she is focusing on identifying proteins that contract and relax muscles in the uterus.
Slater said she is excited to have Hebert work alongside her this summer.
“You watch students progress,” Slater said. “I enjoy teaching students in the lab because I always joke and tell people that I’m playing with test tubes, but it’s nice when they start to understand what they are doing when they play with test tubes.”
Slater said she would like Hebert to start to get the “seeds of excitement” surrounding clinical research so that one day in the future she could make a life-changing discovery.