Preparing for Mitacs

by Oriana, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

I have always wanted to travel and live abroad, and I was aware that it is very important to gain research experience during my degree to be in good standing for job offers/ post-graduate study. Mitacs ticked both those boxes, and as it is fully funded it removed a lot of the concerns I had around the cost of travelling abroad/other summer study opportunities.

I am currently doing a (laboratory) placement year working on phenotypic characterisation of a new disease model in mice. I am working primarily with tissues and histological analyses. My Mitacs project is also phenotyping a new disease model, this time in zebrafish, and I will be working more on the molecular analysis. I liked the opportunity this Mitacs project gave to continue in this style of work, but with different techniques, to give me a more complete range of skills.

Academically, I am hoping to gain some more technical skills in the lab, and also some more knowledge on experiment design. My project is a new project for the whole lab, so I think this will be a great insight into the project design and experimental decisions that come with starting a new study. Personally, I am looking to gain some more self and social confidence. Moving to a new country on your own you have to have a lot of courage to put yourself out there and ask for directions, advice, support, and to make new friends and a social circle. You have to have a lot of faith in your decisions because you are relying on only yourself, you don’t have the friends/ family safety net you have at home.

I have met my Mitacs professor over Zoom, and she seems really excited and enthusiastic to welcome me to the lab and the city. We discussed lab trips out, for example going bowling. I am excited to meet the lab in person and join in with these activities, it sounds a really fun and friendly environment. I am also looking forward to meeting other Mitacs students, some of whom I have already connected with online. The city also has a summer outdoor Shakespeare festival that I am excited to attend!

Mitacs is a competitive UK-Canada research mobility programme which co-funds undergraduates to complete an intensive 12-week summer research internship at a Canadian university. The successful students, from across the three Faculties, will be conducting their research in 22 participating institutions, including the Universities of Toronto, British Columbia, Alberta, Montreal and McGill. Projects will be completed under the supervision of a professor and range from “Cellular underpinnings of neurodegenerative diseases” to “Nanomaterials Induced by Electrospinning Technique”, “Cannabinoids effects on sleep and breathing” and “Northern Neighbours: Canada and Russia”.

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