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Jennifer Simone

Science Co-op Student Named University of Manitoba Co-op Student of the Year!

On behalf of the Faculty of Science, Science Co-op is pleased to announce that Jennifer Simone (Biochemistry) was recently named the University of Manitoba Co-op Student of the Year for 2019.

Jennifer is a fifth year Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry) student; who is also completing a minor in Native Studies. As part of Science Co-op, Jennifer completed 12 months of degree related work experience. Her first work term in Summer 2018 was with Partner Technologies Incorporated (PTI) Transformers in Winnipeg. PTI designs and manufactures HV padmount transformers for use in a high voltage padmount transformer station.

During her co-op work term at PTI, Jennifer learned how to write Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), advanced her benchtop lab skills, became proficient in using Excel to interpret analytical lab results and used specialized instrumentation to measure the chemical and physical properties of transformer oil. Jennifer was described by her supervisor as “a motivated learner who catches on quickly; can work on her own and shows initiative.” A great first co-op work term; the experience from which Jennifer was able to successfully leverage for her subsequent work terms.

For her next two co-op work terms, Jennifer headed west to Alberta and completed an eight-month position (January-August 2019) with the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton; located on the University of Alberta campus. The Cross Cancer Institute is one of two tertiary cancer centres in Alberta and is a lead centre for cancer prevention, research and treatment; and hosts the University of Alberta Department of Oncology; a branch of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

Jennifer was a member of Dr. Frank Wuest’s Oncologic Imaging Research Group. Dr. Wuest’s research team have been advancing the concept of personalized medicine at the molecular level. The research team designs short-term radioactive atoms, which are then attached to molecules. These molecular probes bind to specific biomarkers for cancer. With the probes in place, and using PET imaging, one can identify and track cancer cells to monitor tumour growth and progression and to assess the response to treatments. This work is called “translational cancer research” as it moves quickly from the lab to practical clinical applications.

During her work term, Jennifer significantly contributed to an on-going research project through the preparation and characterization of peptides as targeting vectors for molecular imaging and therapy of cancer. She synthesized a library of peptide radiotracers to image cancers via Positron Emission Tomography (PET). She quickly became well-versed in solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), as well as MALDI-TOF and LC Mass Spectrometries. In addition, Jennifer also had the opportunity to develop her communication skills by delivering a research presentation to a large, professional audience for the first time. Jennifer was described as having “impressive problem solving skills and is an excellent communicator.”

Jennifer brought the same hard work and motivation to her community contributions. For the 2019-20 academic year, Jennifer was the Science Co-op Student Ambassador. In this role, Jennifer was a key individual in supporting Science Co-op with student outreach and enriching the student co-op experience. Jennifer readily shared her co-op experiences to current and future Science Co-op students. Outside of school, Jennifer gives back to her community. She is an active volunteer with organizations such as Cancer Care Manitoba and St. Amant.

What does the future hold? It seems medical school is the next step in Jennifer’s career path as she is spending this summer preparing for the MCAT in August.

Jennifer is a stellar individual who exhibits all the qualities of an outstanding co-op student. Jennifer will undoubtedly continue to succeed in whatever endeavor she tackles with her determination, hard work and motivation. It has been a pleasure to have her as a Science Co-op student.

As well, congratulations to Clarke Garrioch (Computer Science) who was runner-up for the Co-op Student of the Year Award. Both Jennifer and Clarke are excellent ambassadors of the Science Co-op Program and the Faculty of Science.

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