This year the BSA awards recognized outstanding Biological Sciences students in six categories: Advocacy, Community Involvement, Innovation, Leadership, Resiliency, and Undergraduate Research. Keep reading to learn more about our award recipients and the amazing work they have done!
Maximilian is a sixth-year Biological Sciences student minoring in Geology. He previously worked as a content creator for the BSA in the 2018-19 academic year where he was able to advocate for student-related issues. After this experience, he decided to explore opportunities in the greater community. Max began volunteering as a community consultant with a program working to expand plasma donations to more people in the LGBTQ+ community in 2020 and has continued volunteering with them since. This program seeks to modify eligibility criteria from sexual orientation to instead screen for high-risk sexual behaviors. As a community advisor, Max has the role of representing the local LGBTQ+ community. He helps ensure that advertising material, surveys, and other media used inclusive language as well as resonating with the community and communicated the science of plasma donation in an accessible way. Max has taken this role to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ people to give back to their community without being targeted by broad policies. Max enjoys partaking in advocacy because he can raise awareness to issues that affect larger communities. These communities are Max’s favorite reason to volunteer; working with a group of passionate people doesn’t feel like work to him.
Community Involvement-Yuvraj Singh
Yuvraj is a fifth-year Biological Sciences major. Over the past three years, Yuvraj has used his national-level debate skills to create and run the first debate and leadership program at EP Scarlett High School, mentoring students in public speaking and debate. He has also been involved with the Alberta Youth Parliament since 2017 as the youngest, first visible minority Premier, having created western Canada’s first provincial youth internship program, expanded Parliament membership to record numbers, created an internal management/executive structure, hosted 6 leadership conferences, and trained 55 youth leaders. In his role, Yuvraj has worked with 20 MLAs, 10 MPs, 4 senators, and represented the province as Deputy Prime Minister at the Canada Youth Parliament.
Yuvraj is the co-founder of FitKarwaan Foundation, having established a free health and wellness network that uses yoga-wellness and health advocacy to tackle social determinants of health. The foundation hosts daily yoga classes, provides health awareness through digital resources and events.
To address food insecurity, he has led a project in collaboration with various community organizations since 2018, preparing meal packages to serve over 8000 Calgarians. He continues this work as an executive member with SYC, a local community volunteer network, as well as secretary of the Board of Directors and Stakeholders Committee at Genesis Center Calgary, providing strategic development for community wellness programs, planning city-wide events and supporting grassroots organizations.
In the University of Calgary community, Yuvraj has served two terms as a Faculty of Science Ambassador, UNICEF Vice-President Finance, and co-founding member of the first cohort of UBSEC. He has continued his passion for community improvement and inclusivity with the Werklund School of Education through his role as a research assistant and project lead for an initiative that explores the role of the K-12 diversity curriculum in improving race outcomes. Since 2018, he has led an interfaith network that engages community leaders and law enforcement officials through lectures and courses at high schools, promoting culturally sensitive policing in school.
Innovation-Alexander Buchner Beaudet
Alexander Buchner Beaudet is a 4th year honours Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology major and this year’s recipient of the BSA Innovation Award! To Beaudet, innovation means doing things better the next time and continually working to improve the current processes. He has spent almost 2 years with the Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) University of Calgary research team where he was a full-time researcher investigating novel epidemiological techniques. The technique of monitoring viral transmission through analysis of sewage is a relatively recent global development. This research played a crucial role in assisting decision-making at Alberta Health Services during COVID-19. Beaudet played a leadership role in this project as he was in charge of training newcomers on many aspects of the research including field and laboratory work. His leadership role was further extended when put into a leadership position on the fieldwork team to coordinate, plan and implement an extensive wastewater sampling regiment as a frontline effort for ongoing SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring in Calgary. Beaudet’s efforts are fueled by his enjoyment of tackling a daily dose of problem-solving in his research.
Beaudet’s innovative efforts went beyond the WBE where he held the position of Chief Recruitment Officer and National Human Resources Committee leader for the Canadian Organization for Undergraduate Health Research (COUHR). Beaudet’s involvement has led to hundreds of students across Canada being engaged in their programs which provide resources for underrepresented students interested in the health industry. The program paired research principal investigators with students and provided innovation and career workshops across the country.
Lastly, Beaudet is the Co-Founder and President of The Undercurrents Student Union club where he has inspired a team of undergraduates to ensure the student body is well-informed. They have bi-weekly public gatherings to discuss important current events with the hope of driving curiosity and problem-solving in the university community. The Undercurrents SU club strives to cut out biases and give students a platform to discuss and learn about contentious issues in a safe space. Alexander hopes to pursue a career in medical genetics or biomedical technology after his time with the University of Calgary community.
Farah is a second-year CMMB major who has demonstrated strong leadership through her dedication to marginalized and disadvantaged communities. In order to increase digital literacy in low-income individuals, marginalized community members, and newcomers to Canada, she created the Community Computer Literacy program under the Canadian Zalmi Society, a charity that she co-founded. Under her leadership the program has enabled over 500 individuals to gain valuable job searching, financial, and overall computer literacy skills and help them become more confident in their abilities. Farah modifies the program to adapt to changing times; she brought in multilingual volunteers that could speak Pashto, Farsi, and English to make the course comfortable for Afghan refugees and help them integrate into Canadian society.
To Farah, leadership is very group-centric. She believes that you are only a good leader if you understand your team and put them in a space where they can shine. Being a leader is about both being someone who can be trusted and respected, and someone who returns that trust and respect. Farah’s favourite part about the work she does is the people she meets. In every class she teaches, there is always a very different group of students from numerous backgrounds who are ready to share their stories. She feels like she becomes more understanding of the state of the world outside of the Western "bubble" when she hears their stories, and she believes that it helps her grow as a person and motivates her to do more.
Eyerusalem is a third-year Biological Sciences major with a minor in Political Science who has demonstrated incredible courage and perseverance.
Eyerusalem was raised by a single father who immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia/Kenya in order to pursue a better life for himself and for her. She lost her father suddenly before the start of winter term, and she had to make difficult choices about her future while coping with grief and stress. She had to decide whether to take the term off or to remain in her courses. Being inspired by her father’s own story of resilience and courage, Eyerusalem chose to continue on with her studies in the winter term. She spent a lot of time reflecting on her father’s dreams of a better life for her, which included completing her education and starting a good career. In addition to a full course load and a job, she was also involved in extracurriculars, serving as Junior Vice President Internal of the Ethiopian & Eritrean Student Association and as VP-Outreach of Ignite Campus.
Eyerusalem has credited her faith and her support system for helping her work through her grief. This experience has inspired her to continue overcoming life’s challenges and work towards healing. In the future Eyerusalem hopes to provide more accessible and bias-free mental health services to immigrants and destigmatize mental health in those communities and cultures.
Undergraduate Research-Alistair Baron
Alistair is a fourth-year student in the Biological Sciences department. He is completing his degree majoring in Honours Ecology. As part of his Honours thesis, he worked in the Roger’s Lab. His goal was to research a specific gene of thermal tolerance of three-spined stickleback fish as well as the implications this has on their evolution. His research involved injecting fish with CRISPER-Cas9 to knock out the gene. This causes “genetic mosaicism”, meaning that the organism does not have the same genotype across tissues. He then collected tissue samples from the edited fish to explore how the alleles vary between germ and somatic cells and his work will eventually be used to look across generations to see the pattern of inheritance of the knocked-out gene. He has worked on this project with precision and dedication. Alistair's research is important for many reasons. Mainly, it helps highlight the evolution three-spined stickleback have undergone. This is especially important with rising sea levels and temperatures. If this research is successful, it can also help with aquatic species survival in the face of climate change. Alistair enjoys research because it pushed the limits of what is known, contributing to the growing collection of knowledge of our world. His favorite part of research is the problem-solving that goes along with it. When Alistair is not in the lab he enjoys being in the outdoors, fly fishing and camping; his love for the outdoors had piqued his interest in fish in the first place.