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Raven Ouellette delivers her award-winning presentationRaven Ouellette delivers her award-winning presentation at the Ontario Biology Day conference, March 24 at Wilfrid Laurier University. (Photo by Grace Bastien)

Science students win awards and accolades at provincial conference

Undergraduate thesis students from University of Windsor’s Department of Biological Sciences delivered outstanding presentations at Ontario Biology Day, a conference in Waterloo, March 24 and 25.

This annual conference, hosted this year by Wilfrid Laurier University, is a showcase for outstanding research by undergraduate students across the province. Nineteen thesis students from the Faculty of Science presented their research on topics ranging from the molecular regulation of cell death to the evolution of feather colour.

“These students gave presentations of the highest standard,” said professor Nigel Hussey, who accompanied the UWindsor students. “It was very evident that individuals had invested a huge amount of time and effort in their research and their presentations, and practice to perfect the communication of their material.”

Raven Ouellette, a fourth-year student conducting research in Dan Mennill’s laboratory, beat out 200 competitors to win the prize for best presentation in the area of Ecology and Evolution for her study “Single song repertoires change throughout a lifetime in savannah sparrows.”

“My research shows that as birds grow older, their songs show subtle changes in tempo and frequency,” she said. “I was really excited to be able to present this exciting finding to an audience of my peers.”

Ouellette said she was honoured to receive the award “after working so hard to collect these data, put my presentation together, and prepare my talk. Most importantly, it was a lot of fun delivering a talk on research that I am passionate about.”

John Talia, a fourth-year student conducting research in Lisa Porter’s laboratory, presented findings of his study of cancer cell biology. He won second prize for best presentation in the area of Cellular and Molecular Biology.

“Spending such a long time and effort on this project, with not only physical labour but the mental effort in ensuring that all of the experiments and data acquisition came together in an organized story,” said Talia. “To be recognized for these efforts was surreal to say the least.”

Dr. Hussey reported: “Not only was I personally impressed by everyone’s talks but I was also inspired to see such high research standards and commitment.”

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