Undergraduates earning credit for getting out of the classroom

Chemistry student Karly DominatoChemistry student Karly Dominato is earning course credit for participating in an oilsands research project.

Karly Dominato says working independently in an industrial internship has given her a clear path to a potentially viable career, has built up her confidence, and has boosted her productivity exponentially — and she never had to leave campus.

The fourth-year chemistry major is enrolled in a new internship course which allows science students to earn academic credit while gaining real-world experience in the community and on campus.

For her placement, she is participating in oilsands research out of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, with Scott Mundle, assistant professor of chemistry.

“With an industrial project, there is more accountability because my research will be used by an oilsands company to make strategic decisions,” says Dominato. “This has given me a clear path to what I could do one day if I don’t pursue a career in academia.”

Her project involves characterizing migration pathways and the retention dynamics of carbon dioxide in oilsands reservoirs by “fingerprinting” the isotopes of the gases for a public-private partnership study. She says the course requires proof she is developing professional skills that can be transferred into the workforce.

“There is a lot of benefit to being treated as an adult who is responsible for getting work done, and I’ve definitely gained collaboration skills, as well as improved my time-management and communication skills working with a supervisor that came from industry like Dr. Mundle,” she says.

Dominato says she was already volunteering as a researcher, but this course lets her earn academic credit and helps her balance her research and school life.

Mundle says offering undergraduates this new internship course, with targeted industrial experience, will better position them in the competitive job market.

“Karly is an exceptionally talented undergraduate who is getting industry experience that is on par with what I would have PhD scientists complete,” he says. “She is leading projects independently, has already co-authored two technical reports, and did research that was instrumental for a grant application with a major player in the oil and gas sector.”

Third-year physics major Layale Bazzi says a science internship allowed her to share her passion for physics with high school students in a way that she never experienced at their age.

Bazzi had an outreach-focused internship that sent her on regular visits to F. J. Brennan Catholic High School, as well as designing age-appropriate field trips and experiments.

High school physics did not inspire Bazzi, but she says she switched majors after taking her first university-level physics course. Now she wants to encourage younger students to consider pursuing the study of physics.

“I’m not just educating people,” she says. “This is a recruiting tool, to say us physics people at UWindsor do a lot of great things like medical physics, ultrasounds, X-ray applications, and they should come check us out.

“It is more difficult than it sounds because I have to translate my university physics knowledge into something that students will understand.”

Bazzi’s supervisor, physics department head Steven Rehse, says having physics majors interact with high school students is critical for helping them begin to understand the discipline, as well as breaking down the barriers that may exist in their minds between themselves and university students or academics.

“In particular, once they interact with a physicist as approachable and personable as Layale, they can begin to believe that Hey, I think I could be a physicist, too!” says Dr. Rehse.

For more information on enrolling in Winter 2018, contact instructor Michelle Bondy at mbondy@uwindsor.ca.

Academic Area: