Robert (Bobby) Beattie, an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Science's microbiology co-op program, was presented with $1750 and the title of Co-operative Education Manitoba Student of the Year award. Earlier this month Beattie was nationally recognized with an honourable mention in the Co-op Student of the Year Award competition annually organized by the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education.
Beattie started his university education not really sure about what he wanted to do or where he wanted to go. His international co-op experience, arranged through the Co-op Program at the Faculty of Science, changed everything.
In the summer of 2008, Bobby, along with nine other students from around the world, traveled to the Max-Planck Institute in Freiburg, Germany to start a summer work term. The initial travel to Germany was "definitely out of my comfort zone," said Bobby, but the 10 international students, housed in two guest houses, soon became their own family. The students purchased bicycles, and on weekends would take excursions to places like Paris, Prague and the Black Forest - an unforgettable experience.
At the Max-Planck Institute, Bobby worked on a project in developmental embryology that involved neural stem cell research. He generated a transgenic mouse line that combined state-of-the-art technology in conditional genetics using an in vivo approach to analyzing gene function in neural stem cells. He learned new techniques in mouse genetics and neurogenesis, and his research is now part of a larger on-going study at the Institute.
Researchers at the institute made sure he was part of the entire research experience; he participated in group discussions, journal club and was regularly called upon to give updates and presentations on his work. He was welcomed as part of the team, and will be included as a co-author on resulting publications. Bobby's summer research experience inspired him to sign up for an Honours Project course in the Faculty of Science where he worked in Steve Whyard's lab learning techniques in RNA interference and electron microscopy.
According to Bobby, "joining the co-op program was the greatest decision I made in my undergraduate career." He now has international contacts, incredible research experience and direction - he wants to do a graduate degree in developmental biology and continue working in research. It was the experience of a lifetime.
For more information contact Angela Bohonos, Science Co-op Coordinator, Faculty of Science, University of Manitoba at (204) 474-7396.