2017 Areas of Research

For the 2017 Program the following faculty members, their department and a brief description of the research project that they have developed for students follows. Once the students have been matched with faculty they will receive a detailed description of the research project.

University of British Columbia | University of Manitoba | University of Saskatchewan


University of British Columbia

Dr. Joerg Bohlmann, Professor
Departments of Forest Science and Botany, University of British Columbia

Research in Forest Health and Medicinal Plants
The Bohlmann laboratory (www.msl.ubc.ca/faculty/bohlmann ) studies the ability of plants, including forest trees, to survive under changing environmental conditions over lifespans of several weeks to hundreds of years. To cope with biotic (e.g. insects, pathogens) stress, plants have evolved specialized metabolism that contains hundreds of thousands of unique small molecules. Many of these bioactive molecules also have beneficial applications for humans. Our laboratory is exploring two aspects of plant specialized metabolism: First, the role it plays in plant defense against insects, and second how plant genes can be used to produce medicinal compounds. The students of the Kirkness Science & Engineering Program will be involved with an active research project led by one of our graduate students or postdoctoral fellows dealing with either (1) research on a medicinal plant that produces anti-diabetic or other interesting compounds; (2) research on defenses of spruce trees against insects; or (3) research on mountain pine beetle.

Dr. Harry Brumer, Professor
Michael Smith Laboratories, Department of Chemistry, and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia

Project title: Understanding enzymes in biology and biotechnology
Students participating in this project will perform the recombinant production and biochemical analysis of a newly discovered enzyme from nature, and use this enzyme in a biocatalytic reaction to make an aromatic flavor molecule. The project will demonstrate how we can learn from nature’s diversity to develop new, environmentally considerate biotechnology to make materials that improve our lives.

Dr. Erik Eberhardt, Professor and Director
Geological Engineering and Faculty of Sciences, University of British Columbia

http://www.eos.ubc.ca/about/faculty/E.Eberhardt.html

Dr. Jennifer Love, Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia

http://www.chem.ubc.ca/jennifer-love

John Bass, Associate Professor and Chair
Architecture Program, Faculty of Applied Science, University of British Columbia

This is an opportunity for students interested in architecture and design. Working with First Nations community members, students will assist in the development of culturally specific designs for an elders’ house.

Dr. Madjid Mohseni, Professor
Chemical and Biological Engineering Laboratories, University of British Columbia

Project title: Understanding conventional and leading edge drinking water treatment technologies for Small Rural Communities and First Nations
The student will be learning various treatment methods such as:

  •  Coagulation / flocculation
  • UV disinfection
  • UV based oxidation (general components which may include both UV/H2O2 and VUV)
  • Electro-coagulation
  • Ion exchange

Dr. Pierre Bérubé, Professor
Department of Civil Engineering, University of British Columbia

The Filtration Technologies Laboratory at UBC (membrane.civil.ubc.ca) develops and optimizes approaches to treat water for domestic (e.g. potable water) or industrial (e.g. oil extraction) applications. Current activities focusing on potable water treatment are aimed at developing simple and low-cost technologies for use in rural and remote communities in Canada and abroad. Students in the Kirkness Science and Engineering Program will work as part of a research team to build and test prototypes of novel water treatment technologies prior to field deployment.

Dr. Sheryl Staub-French, Civil Engineering
University of British Columbia

Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), Building Information Modeling (BIM), collaboration and integrated project delivery, design and construction coordination, 4D (3D + time) visualization, interactive workspaces.


University of Manitoba

Dr. Rotimi Aluko, Professor
Department Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba

Students will learn how to extract bioactive peptides that have the potential to be new medicines from plant proteins such peas, flax seed and hemp seed.

Dr. Nancy Ames, Adjunct Professor
Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba

For students interested in how research is developing more nutritional foods that taste good.  Students will have the opportunity to develop new recipes for traditional foods using more nutritious ingredients.  For more information you can see Dr. Ames and Georgina Balfour (2012 Kirkness Program participant) on our website. It’s the first video in Program Description.

Dr. Subramaniam Balakrishnan, Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Manitoba

For students interested in how robotics can be applied in mechanical engineering.

Dr. Nazim Cicek, Professor
Department of Engineering, University of Manitoba

Students will learn about biological waste water treatment and the recovery of nutrients like phosphorus from waste streams.

Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst, Professor
Department of Soil Science, University of Manitoba

For students who are interested in spending time both in a laboratory and traveling off campus to learn about soil, water and air quality.  Students will do experiments that will give them an idea of what it would be like to study environmental science, agricultural science or soil science.

Dr. Kevin Fraser, Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Manitoba

For students interested in conservation biology, bird tracking and how birds migrate.

Dr. James Friel, Professor
Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba

For students interested in learning about the importance of infant nutrition they will learn about the importance of a class of compounds called antioxidants that play a special role in human health. Our particular focus is in feeding and biology of mother’s milk. Students will participate in ongoing research with mothers and infants either in the laboratory or in the field.

Dr. Joannie Halas, Professor
Department of Kinesiology, University of Manitoba

For students who are interested in understanding how physical activity relates to health. You will participate in several activities in clinical and on-campus settings, with opportunities to visit up to three labs, including one that measures human movement. As a main focus, students will have opportunities to learn more about the role that physical activity can play in helping to prevent and manage diabetes in First Nation populations.

Dr. Norman Halden, Dean
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Manitoba

For students interested in conservation and management of fish stocks you will have a chance to test fish from your own community and learn about environmental factors that affect behavior and growth. At the end of the week you will have a report that you can take back and share with your fellow students and members of your community.

Dr. Witold Kinsner, Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Manitoba

For students interested in robotics, part of the project introduces the concept of a robot, and particularly the BEAM robot. It discusses the various components of a robot, as well as their interactions and constraints. It then attempts to design a small robot and implement it using inexpensive components. The objective of this part is to show that mathematics, physics, electronics, circuits, and design principles are all needed to accomplish such a task.

Dr. Ayush Kumar, Associate Professor
Departments of Microbiology and Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba

Students will have an opportunity to learn about antibiotic resistance in bacteria (superbugs) and why this is one of the biggest challenges to the human health today. They will also learn basic molecular biology techniques like extracting a plasmid from bacteria and then analyzing it by gel electrophoresis.

Dr. Juliette Mammei, Assistant Professor
Department of Physics, University of Manitoba

For the students who have always wondered about Geiger counters, radioactive material and how to see cosmic rays, this is your opportunity. Students will do a variety of experiments and build a cloud chamber.

Dr. Kateryn Rochon, Assistant Professor
Department of Entomology, University of Manitoba

For students who are interested in insects in livestock pest management and tick-borne diseases. Students will collect specimens in the field for identification in the laboratory. Students will prepare a final presentation which will include photographs and images of the collected specimens.

Dr. Miyoung Suh, Associate Professor
Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba

Dr. Suh’s research program aims to provide the basic knowledge of the fundamental roles of nutrition in specialized tissues such as the retina; find mechanisms to explain how essential components of biomembrane work in consert; identify the role of nutrition intervention on pathogenesis of diseases.


University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Andy Allen
Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Students will have an opportunity to do what veterinarians do. They will help examine cats, dogs and other pets in our Veterinary Medical Centre; visit horses, cattle and other farm animals with our Field Service veterinarians; and learn about diagnostic testing such as medical imaging, clinical pathology, and autopsy.

Dr. Robert Blyth, Assistant Director of Research and Tracy Walker, Educational Outreach Coordinator
Canadian Light Source (CLS), Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Student participants will work with their mentors and other CLS staff to use the synchrotron, a foot-ball field-sized research facility producing extremely brilliant light, to conduct an experiment that is part of an ongoing research program in an area of the students’ choice.

Dr. Duncan Cree, Department of Engineering
University of Saskatchewan

Students will obtain hands-on experience with a small design project related to engineering. The students will learn how to go from a computer software drawing (Solidworks) to a finished three-dimensional part. The students will get all the training required, no previous experience required, just bring your enthusiasm for learning!

Dr. Axel Diederichsen, Research Scientist, Curator  (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Areas of Expertise

  • Conservation, characterization and distribution plant genetic resources for food and agriculture
  • Cooperation with international genebanks
  • Phenotypic and genotypic diversity of crop plants and crop wild relatives

Dr. Jack Gray, Professor of Biology and Vice Dean Research in the College of Arts and Science, University of Saskatchewan

Research and development of vaccine and immunity-enhancing technologies for humans and animals.

Dr. Alison Oates, Dr. Marta Erlandson, Dr. Leah Ferguson
College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan

Kinesiology is the study of human movement and how movement impacts how we feel and respond physically, mentally and socially. Students who engage with faculty members from Kinesiology will have the opportunity to learn about physical activity and sedentary behaviour, learn how to use equipment to monitor balance and movement and learn how our body’s mechanics affect that movement. They will also have a chance to examine the effect of physical activity on bone and muscle health using novel imaging machines and have their bones measured, as well as learn about how to interview athletes about the psychological well-being and sport experiences.

Mr. Rick Retzlaff, Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering, University of Saskatchewan

Students will begin to understand and experience the engineering design process through exercises and hands-on activities. Ultimately, this process will be used to design and fabricate a device to solve a problem identified by the student’s experience.

Dr. Kevin Rozwadowski, Research Scientist (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Areas of Expertise

  • DNA recombination and repair, genome editing, regulation of gene expression, protein biochemistry
  • Plant and microbial genetics, molecular tools, transgenic technologies, plant molecular biology