It is with great pleasure we announce Sydnee Calhoun as the 2018-2019 recipient of the AWSN scholarship!
A fourth-year biochemistry student at the University of Lethbridge, Sydnee has been involved in many STEM related projects throughout her time there, including the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition since 2015. iGEM enables students to solve issues that the world is facing using synthetic biology. Sydnee had a taste for iGEM in high school, and quickly grew to enjoy working on a multi-disciplinary project. This facilitated a major change early in her university career to biochemistry, including her continued participation in the iGEM university competitions both as a member of the collegiate team and as an advisor to high school iGEM.
In 2017, Sydnee's collegiate project involved democratizing synthetic biology by developing a simple and easy-to-use cell-free system. She interacted with stakeholders including educators, researchers, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. From these discussions,she helped develop cell-free learning guides that aligned with the grade 12 Alberta curriculum. This work received a iGEM gold medal and nominations for Best Integrated Human Practices and Best Engagement and Education.
As sole female advisor for the high school iGEM team, Sydnee encouraged and promoted the strong benefits of female engagement and involvement in the sciences to all students. Her work with the high school community continues to see many awards and published papers and journals.
Sydnee also finds time to volunteer in science outreach programs such as Destination Exploration, promoting youth learning experiences with science and technology. She has supported an all girls STEM Club and Techmaker club. Through these clubs, she engages children not only in the wonders of STEM, but in the importance of inclusiveness.
With a STEM research focus through her academic career, Sydnee completed a co-op position at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre focused on ruminant nutrition and winter wheat genetics. She is currently working on her Honours Thesis focused on how small RNAs can regulate bacterial ribosomes.
It is Sydnee's hope, that by actively participating in research and throughout her career, her work will be part of the solution in advancing the roles that women play in STEM.
AWSN congratulates Sydnee Calhoun on her amazing work to-date and on the continued success that are to come!