Cassandra SimoneIntegrative biology student Cassandra Simone won first-place honours for her presentation in the Ecology and Environment category at Ontario Biology Day.

Biology students win recognition for provincial conference presentations

Two science undergraduates won first-place presentation awards at Ontario Biology Day 2021, an annual conference which allows biology students from across the province to showcase their research, engage with others, and get inspired by current research.

Integrative biology major Cassandra Simone, a student in the laboratory of Tina Semeniuk, says she was honoured to win in the Ecology and Environment category for presenting her research investigating whether polar bear foraging is facilitating gull predation of Common Eider eggs and what strategies gulls are using during disturbance foraging.

“My other objective was to examine the subsequent antipredator responses that eiders display to bears and gulls to determine if gulls are successfully preying on the eider nests or not,” says Simone.

“I watched aerial drone video footage, which was originally recorded on Mitivik Island in Nunavut, and recorded behaviours displayed by bears, gulls and eiders during polar bear foraging.”

Biomedical sciences fourth-year Kim Nguyen won in the Cell and Genetics category for her cancer project, “The Tumour Suppressor Tuberin: Coordinating DNA Damage and Mitotic Onset.” Tuberin is the protein product of the TSC2 gene and is a tumour suppressor protein involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and growth.

"Over the course of my thesis, it has been a journey of many ups and downs and has been a gratifying learning experience for me,” says Nguyen.

“Winning in my category was a surreal experience. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to showcase my research in a platform, alongside other talented peers.”

Nguyen works with supervisor and biomedical sciences professor Lisa Porter in the Porter lab.

“This is quite an accomplishment, especially during a pandemic,” says Dr. Porter.

“It demonstrates that we are still delivering quality experiences. I am very proud of Kim and of all of the undergrads, Windsor always shines at these provincial events.”

Twenty-three UWindsor students presented the results of their fourth-year thesis projects at Ontario Biology Day, which was held remotely at McMaster University in April.

—Sara Elliott