Latest edition of SURG journal showcases undergraduate research success in CBS

Posted on Friday, May 31st, 2019

Whether they are studying the fate of the smallest protein in cells or the herding behaviour of large ungulates in the wild, research labs in the College of Biological Science all have one important thing in common:  they are home to undergraduate researchers who are helping to drive research discoveries. 

Along with faculty, graduate students, post-docs and other research staff, undergraduate researchers play a vital role in the college’s research enterprise.  Working in a lab for anywhere from one or two semesters to several years, undergraduates take on a variety of positions: volunteers, paid research assistants, and project students doing research for course credit.  It’s easy to understand why undergraduates have become a fixed feature in CBS labs.  Not only do the students gain hands-on skills and real-life research experience as they work towards their degree, the host lab in turn benefits from the intellectual capital and manpower that comes with adding another member to the research team – the lifeblood of any lab!

Research carried out by undergraduates can contribute to fourth year senior thesis projects, or lead to an eventual MSc or PhD thesis.  In some cases, students may author or co-author publications submitted to scientific journals.  And at the University of Guelph, undergraduates whose research may not fit the requirements of a mainstream journal still have the opportunity to take their experience one step further by publishing their work in the peer reviewed, institutional journal Studies by Undergraduate Researchers at Guelph (SURG).  Highly multi-disciplinary in nature, SURG lets students experience the publishing process first hand, and helps showcase the diversity of student-led research at the University of Guelph.

“Publishing their research findings in SURG not only exposes students to a whole new set of processes, terms, and conventions, but they also add a unique contribution to their CV, a publication, that can really differentiate them from their peers.” says Prof. Karl Cottenie, Department of Integrative Biology, who chairs the SURG advisory board.

The 2019 volume of SURG currently features three articles by students who recently completed research projects in CBS labs:  

  • Alannah Penno, Emily Agar and Jordy Divok investigated the potential of activated to reduce the growth of algae and prevent harmful algal blooms in lakes.  (Faculty advisors:  Karl Cottenie and Andrew MacDougall, Integrative Biology)
  • Kaitlyn Charmley studied the habitat preferences of cleaner fishes that provide biological control of sea lice parasites on farmed salmon.  By knowing what kind of habitats different species of cleaner fish prefer, fish farmers may someday be able to optimize salmon cages to promote lice consumption.  (Faculty advisor:  Elizabeth Boulding, Integrative Biology)
  • Maarij Siddiqi published a review of diet-gene interactions related to the onset of cardiovascular disease, and makes a compelling case for tailoring the benefits of specific diets to particular populations or individuals based on their genetic make-up.  (Faculty advisor:  Marica Bakovic, Human Health and Nutritional Sciences)

To access the full articles, visit the SURG website.

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