Student research highlighted in national competition

Seven Brock University entries have made the first cut in a national competition that showcases science research being done across the country.

Science, Action! features student-produced, 60-second videos on research projects funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), one of Brock’s major research funders. This year’s competition includes 75 entries from all over Canada.

Pictured front row from left: Taylor Lidster and Jina Nanayakkara. Middle row: Sarah Henderson, Dana Harris and Zakia Dahi. Back row: Brent Thorne; Joe Viscek and Matthew Mueller.

Between now and Friday, March 2, the 25-most viewed videos will make it to the next round, where a panel of judges will then select the Top 15 for prizes.

Brock University’s research videos are:

“We’re very proud of our students’ videos in the NSERC national competition,” says Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon. “The quality and number of Brock entries attest to the talent and ambition of our students, and the central role that research plays in their education. It also indicates the strength of the research mentorship they receive from Brock faculty.”

Here are more details of the videos:

Cell Talk, by Matthew Mueller, says that the root cause of several diseases today is a disruption in communication between cells and examines the language that cells use to talk to one another, and how this changes in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. “It can sometimes be a challenge to share my research with others in an understandable way. For me, this competition means that more people can simply see and understand what I do at the lab and why it is important.”


DNA: A Mobile Molecule, by Zakia Dahi and Jina Nanayakkara, explores how DNA sequences that move around – called jumping genes” – copy and paste themselves into different parts of our genomes. The research aims to understand how “jumping genes” have led to human variation and disease. “Highlighting our work through a short video in this competition has helped us to get our family & friends excited about what we do,” says Nanayakkara.


Jack Pine Growth, NT, by Dana Harris, shows the role of weather on the production of cells (xylogenesis) of jack pine in the taiga shield of the boreal forest. The aim of this research is to better understand cell production rates of jack pine in high latitude regions of Canada and define the climate-growth relationship of this species. “Being able to share my research across Canada in a simple short 60 second video is amazing, especially to the residents of the northern regions I work in; I I have already received feedback from community members who are looking forward to hearing more about what research is taking place in these regions.”


Memory and Intent, by Sarah Henderson, explores how we experience both spontaneous and intentional memories as we age. In investigating the brain activity associated with both types of recall, we are hoping to counter common stereotypes of aging by showing that some aspects of memory are preserved with age. “Having my research be a part of NSERC’s Science Action contest is hugely important to me because it will allow me to get people thinking of aging in a more positive light which has been shown to promote positive mental and physical health outcomes.”

Old Crow’s New Arctic, by Brent Thorne, shows the impacts that land cover (ie vegetation, soil, and permafrost) have on lake and river water chemistry in Old Crow Flats, Yukon. This research is crucial for understanding how lake rich Arctic regions will continue to change in response to longer warming periods as well as providing key insights to the local Vuntut Gwitchin community who live off of the land. “This competition provides my research an opportunity to increase resources spent on acquiring larger datasets which ultimately provide better insight on our study region.”


On the fly, by Taylor Lidster, shows how the fruit fly is used to study inflammation in the gut. The researchers use genetic techniques and microscopy to see any changes in the gut environment, good or bad. “Having my video in the top 75 is extremely exciting because I am proud of my research and I enjoy explaining it to others, making it in the top 25 would be nothing short of amazing!”


Wildfires of Yellowknife, by Joe Viscek, focuses on the Yellowknife, Northwest Territories region’s increasing wildfires in recent decades. The research involves monitoring how wildfire and drought conditions may be impacting the hydrology of northern boreal lakes. “The NSERC video contest is a great opportunity for us to showcase our Brock scientific research in an informative, one-minute promo that everyone can understand and appreciate.”


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