McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

A passion for science comes early

Published: August 19, 2011
Jessica Knight
Jessica Knight, winner of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) Internship Award

Cloning DNAs, running polymerase chain reactions to amplify DNA and learning how scientists are fighting antibiotic resistance at the bench is not a bad summer job for a 15-year-old interested in science.

Jessica Knight, winner of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) Internship Award, has spent the last six weeks in IIDR scientific director Gerry Wright’s lab, learning all she could about antimicrobial resistance.

"Working in Dr. Wright’s lab has been amazing," says the Grade 9 student from St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic Secondary School. "I always knew I wanted to study science but now I know why."

Knight was the winner of a six-week paid internship sponsored by the IIDR and given out at the Bay Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF) this past spring. The BASEF recognizes science projects of Grades 7 to 12 students from Hamilton, Halton, Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk . This year more than 300 students competed for trips, prizes, and scholarships worth almost $140,000, with almost half of the participants winning a prize.

She was selected for her project entitled, "Hey copper can you arrest these germs?", which tested the effectiveness of copper as an antimicrobial agent. For her study she swabbed coins with various amounts of copper and innoculating petri dishes that contain tryptic soy agar and observed and recorded growth of bacteria colonies. Her results showed that the coin with the highest amount of copper harboured the least bacteria and the coin with the least amount of copper harboured the most bacteria.

"While Jessica is only 15, her passion for learning and curiosity for science is evident," says Gerry Wright, director of the IIDR lab located on the second floor of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery. "The role of a scientist will evolve as the world presents new challenges and as these challenges present themselves we will need scientists equipped with these same traits. It is our role to fuel them early on."

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