Aleena Malik, Renée Goodman holding oversized chequeAleena Malik and Renée Goodman won a $750 cash prize in a student research competition at the 2019 Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada national conference.

Science students win prize in brain tumour research competition

For the second year in a row, University of Windsor students have brought home a monetary prize from a national competition promoting research into brain tumours.

Aleena Malik and Renée Goodman, students in Simon Rondeau-Gagné’s conjugated materials and organic electronics lab, won second place — a $750 cash prize — in the Pam and Rolando Del Maestro Family Undergraduate Student Research Competition, held at the 2019 Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada national conference on Oct. 18 in London, Ontario.

Participants in the competition were presented with a case study of a type of brain tumour and tasked with providing a solution based on their undergraduate research.

Goodman and Malik were given the case study of a 14-year old with an ependymoma tumour, a tumour often found inside the ventricles of the brain. Their solution was based on their research for Dr. Rondeau-Gagné, focused on polymer chemistry: designing and synthesizing different kinds of polymer.

“We proposed the use of what’s called conjugated polymer nanoparticles,” says Goodman. “These are polymers we can tune and engineer to specifically target receptors on the tumour cell.”

“The conjugated polymers also have electronic properties,” says Malik. “And because of these electronic properties, we are able to do electro therapy as a cancer treatment as well.”

Rondeau-Gagné says their accomplishment demonstrates the talent and outstanding quality of UWindsor undergraduate science students.

“This recognition also highlights the unique opportunity for undergraduate students to perform meaningful and impactful research here in the Faculty of Science,” he says. “Both Aleena and Renée started in my lab during the first year of their undergraduate degree and have already co-authored multiple publications in top-tier journals. It’s a particularly remarkable and outstanding achievement.”

—Darko Milenkovic