Meet Nathan Michaels, a Bachelor of Science graduate (2014) who majored in General Biology. The Newsroom asked Nathan about his research project on spinal cord injury, conducted through TRU’s Undergraduate Research Experience Award Program (UREAP).
TRU: Your project is titled, “An Investigation Into Which Cells Contribute to Repair After a Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury.” Boil it down for us.
NM: The goal of my research is to better understand how a subset of cells in the brain and spinal cord, PDGFRa-positive cells, respond and contribute to repair after a contusion spinal cord injury.
PDGFRa-positive cells have been shown to give rise to the cells in the central nervous system that help insulate (myelinate) axons, or nerve fibres, which transmit electrical impulses between different regions in the brain and between the brain and the rest of the body. These cells can form multiple different cell types and play many different roles. However, one particular type formed from PDGFRa-positive cells, oligodendrocytes, provide insulation (myelination) aiding in the conduction of these signals.
Remyelination is the re-insulating of axons after the insulation has been lost. The roles of PDGFRa-positive cells in remyelination after a traumatic spinal cord injury have not been definitively described.
TRU: What attracted you to doing this research?
NM: I particularly enjoy application-based science like remyelination work. It is applicable not only to functional recovery in spinal cord injury, but also other conditions like stroke and multiple sclerosis.
I was drawn to working at the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD) to gain an inside understanding of how this type of research is performed. Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff is a great and well-known scientist in the spinal cord injury field. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to interact with, and learn from, the scientists and students in his lab.
TRU: How has your Undergraduate Research Experience Award Program (UREAP) grant helped you get into doing research?
NM: The UREAP grant provided me with the means to work in conjunction with ICORD and UBC in Dr. Tetzlaff’s lab in Vancouver. There is a great group of people working in his lab and their support and passion for science made it a great experience.
“I love the creativity involved in planning experiments and attempting to unbiasedly observe natural phenomenon.” —Nathan Michaels
TRU: Will your project lead to a presentation or publishing opportunity?
NM: Potentially both.
TRU: What do you love about research?
NM: I love the creativity involved in planning experiments and attempting to unbiasedly observe natural phenomenon. The number of variables in play at one time makes even the seemingly simplest things incredibly complex. I enjoy observing how scientists isolate those variables.
TRU: Who in your field do you admire and why?
NM: I of course admire Dr. Tetzlaff. Having had the pleasure to see how he works, get his feedback, and observe how he interprets other experiments in the field gave me an appreciation for what it means to be a good scientist.
TRU: What impact do you hope your research will have?
NM: Remyelination has been shown to be an effective strategy for increasing the functional recoveries observed after spinal cord injury. I hope the deeper understanding of the particular type of cells we were looking at will provide a direction for future researchers and clinicians to look when developing future therapies involving remyelination.
Nathan is now a doctoral student at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary.
So impressed by the quality of TRU’s co-op students over the past few years, GE Capital recently took the plunge and hired one of its former students to a full-time position after his graduation this past spring.
Christian Karl was hired as assistant account manager in May after completing a previous eight-month work term. He attributes his career success to the skills learned at GE.
“It was during my work terms that I felt I fit into the organization,” says Karl of the financial services company with a global presence and a branch in Kamloops. “I’ve gained countless finance skills working at GE.”
In the past few years the local branch has hired 10 students from TRU’s School of Business and Economics, and BC Interior senior manager Chris Evin has worked with them all.
“The students are very hands-on, and get involved with all day-to-day activities. They become part of our team and provide critical analysis and support to our branch office and customers,” said Evin, adding more employers should consider hiring co-op students.
“Companies are missing a fantastic opportunity to hire some great talent that not only benefits their company for the present co-op term, but could also turn out to be a valuable long-term employee.”
GE Capital likes to give students hands-on work experience and looks for people with three main traits: academics, personality, and work ethic.
Scott Ganzert embodies all three and believes it was the day-to-day hands-on experience that set him up for his current success.
“Prior to working with GE, I didn’t have any experience in the finance industry,” Ganzert said. “Through my co-op I learned the context behind financing and all of the legal regulations and issues that need to be overcome.”
Among the positives for Liam Roerslev during his time at GE was experiencing the company’s supportive environment where if you have a question, all you need to do is ask.
“GE works on an open door policy, so if you ever feel uncomfortable with something there is always someone to point you in the right direction.”
Students new to Thompson Rivers University will learn what their university has to offer them through a range of orientation events from fun to promoting personal and academic success.
Formerly known as Orientation, TRU Discover is for students new to TRU and kicked off on Tuesday (Aug. 26) with registration of international students and other supporting events, continues through the weekend, and wraps on Tuesday, Sept. 2, with events for all new students.
TRU Discover schedule
Discover Your TRU Identity – NOTE LOCATION CHANGE: TRU GYM
Pre show and pump up: 9-9:45am
First year convocation: 9:45am–10am
Welcome rally: 10am-10:15 am
Discover your academic program—Individual faculty locations
Academic Program Session: 10:30am-noon
Discover your campus community — NOTE LOCATION CHANGE: Student Street
Resource Fair, Activities and BBQ: noon-3pm
Among other things, TRU Discover is designed to introduce students to support services available to them, to familiarize them with the campus, provide a glimpse of what to expect during their time at TRU, and introduce them to other new students in their areas of study and other parts of campus.
See below for more information for what’s planned.
Figuring out what’s what and where in advance to classes starting proved to be a tremendous stress reducer for Carlee Poleschuk, who is one of the co-coordinators of this year’s TRU Discover.
“I remember being extremely anxious about finding my classes and whether I was going to make it to my next class across campus on time,” recalls Poleschuk. “On the day of orientation I went around to all my classes and made sure I was ready for the first day of university,”
A repeating message throughout TRU Discover is that student can expect a supportive environment throughout the academic year. In other words, the support doesn’t end after Sept. 2, but will continue and be ramped-up during key points like preparing for mid-term and final exams.
“We will continue to offer programs and services throughout the year that change as the needs of the students change,” says Hamilton, adding, “Research shows that students who get involved on campus and feel supported are happier and have more success in university. Our business is about helping students discover their opportunities, connect with their university, engage with their learning, and become all that they wish to be.”
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS AT A GLANCE
AUG. 30—Family Orientation
Family Orientation is designed to have family members learn more about the campus, its services, and what TRU has to offer beyond the classroom. By having family members on campus, family is more likely to be a greater support network for students.
SEPT. 1—Sekusen’t Aboriginal Orientation
Sekusen’t is an orientation for new Aboriginal students and is designed to help ease them into university life. Sekusen’t is Secwepemc for star, which is used for finding one’s way.
SEPT. 2—Orientation IN THE TRU GYM
This is for all new students, whether domestic or international. Among the scheduled events: welcome video and speeches, First Year Convocation*, pep rally, campus tours, academic open houses**, and a resource fair*** featuring a range of campus representatives, activities, and free BBQ.
*First Year Convocation is a simulated Convocation to give new students a small-scale feel for the celebration and ceremony that happens at Convocation.
**The academic open houses have students breaking into their areas of study and learning more about the instructors and professors, what the department has to offer, touring the physical spaces where classes will be held, and learning about the opportunities outside the classroom.
***The resource fair will feature more than 50 booths, with the majority of them representing campus services like counselling, financial aid and awards, the library, Centre for Student Engagement and Learning Innovation, how to set up a mytru web account, the doctor’s office, health and wellness, recreation and intramurals, free fitness classes, and more.
TRU Discover coordinators
Check out the Writing Centre this fall, re-opening Monday, Sept. 15 until December 5. Improve your communications skills with advice and feedback on your writing – the Centre is open to domestic and international students, faculty and staff.
New this fall, the Centre’s space in OM2674 has been painted and renovated. A new appointment and database system launched over the summer, and students say they like being able to book appointments online at their convenience.
The Writing Centre will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 4:30; Tuesdays from 9 to 5:30; and Fridays from 9 to 3.
A more extensive tutor training program is being implemented this fall, and the Centre hopes to have a tutor in the House of Learning again on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7 to 9pm.
The Centre is always looking for volunteers, and has some paid peer tutor positions. Working or volunteering at the Writing Centre is a great opportunity to build your writing, tutoring and communications skills as part of a dynamic and professional team, and work with lots of new and interesting people. Contact coordinator Sara Wolfe at 250.371.5689 for details.
Please see the Writing Centre website for announcements and resources, or feel free to drop in anytime starting Sept. 15.
About the Writing Centre:
At the TRU Writing Centre, we aspire to help writers become more proficient and more confident. We believe writing is a process, and we encourage you to use the Centre’s many resources frequently during your time at TRU. The Centre is staffed by a variety of skilled peer tutors and university faculty who provide writing feedback. By “writers” we mean everyone who writes, from beginners to professionals, including those for whom English is a second language.
Peer tutors and faculty at the Centre will provide the following assistance—either face-to-face or online using Elluminate software:
- Ask critical questions to help clarify ideas.
- Give advice for developing effective thesis statements, arguments, paragraphs, etc.
- Provide help with format and organization.
- Give advice and handouts related to problems with sentence structure, grammar, and mechanics.
- Offer advice on scholarly research and documentation (MLA, APA, etc.).
Visit www.tru.ca/writingcentre.html or Old Main 2674 for more information.
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