Canada-Wide Science Fair 2014

I am absolutely honoured to have received the Grand Platinum Award at this year’s Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) – Expo-sciences pancandienne (ESPC) in addition to the Discovery Challenge, Gold Medal, and Actuarial Foundation of Canada Award! All that hard work has paid off! :)

It was such a pleasure to make so many new brilliant friends from all across Canada and reunite with old ones. Thank you so much to my family and friends for the incredible support!

Of course, I really owe this all to Ms. Began, my amazing math teacher, who gifted me her calculus textbook way back at the beginning of grade 9.

SCDSB Student Trustee

Thank you to the SCDSB Student Senate for electing me as one of the Student Trustees for the 2014-2015 school year. After having been a member of the Education Minister’s Student Advisory Council and President of my school’s Student Council, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to represent SCDSB students at the board level and take the reins of the Student Senate. Looking forward to a fantastic year!

A Brief Update

It has been quite a while since I have posted on this blog; my life has been so action-packed over the past months that I have hardly had time to catch my breath, let alone write!

In the past months, I have developed a novel videoconferencing system that aims to provide increased access to healthcare in developing regions in Africa and India in partnership with the organizations the African Medical and Research Foundation and Lokalex; I was elected as the Student Council President of my high school; I spoke at conferences, workshops, and annual meetings for international charities; I went from being the Marketing Director of  a national non-profit organization, to the Vice-President, and, now, to the President; I organized a STEM conference for 200 high school students; and I have started working on yet another science research project! All the while, school has been no less forgiving to me than it ever has been. So, I’ve been pretty busy.

But, the very most exciting thing that  happened to me over the past few months was receiving an invitation to speak at a TEDx conference. On March 1, I delivered my very first TEDx talk at TEDxYouth@Brampton to a full-house of eager students. I spoke about the importance of educational diversification (see video above).

I hope this serves as a half-descent update for the time being. I’ll aim to write again soon!

Experimenting with Curiosity

My friend, Jerry Zhang, and a few other high school students have started a new blog called “Cursive”. Their goal is to create an e-book to help students achieve their dreams through tips from other youth. I had the privilege of being the first youth interviewed for this e-book! The interview, titled “Experimenting with Curiosity,” can be found here:

GenYNot’s Young Global Girl Leaders Celebrating DayOfTheGirl

Thanks to GenYNot for including me in this article!

In honor of International Day of The Girl, GenYNot has curated a list of girls under 26 years old from across the globe that are dedicating their lives to fight the unique challenges girls across the world face. The fulfillment of girls’ right to education is the most important issue because even though more girls are entering school than ever before, 31 million are still denied this right. Those that do attend school face major challenges – discrimination, financial stress, and threats to their safety, to name just a few. Read about how each girl is driving the solutions not only in their home country but across the world. Thanks for the inspiration!

The 7th Annual Canadian Conference on Dementia

Two years ago, I became interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s Disease after my grandfather passed away after suffering for years from it. I had this childish dream that maybe I could find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, so I began searching for agents that could be potential cures, one thing lead to another, and I ended up doing research that uncovered the biosafety of two amyloid-ß inhibitors, discovering a new property of the drugs and then applying them to the development of a prototype for a cardio-protective drug; winning the national science fair; being named one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20; receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal; and going on a research expedition to the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic, all because of a little curiosity I had as an 11 year old.

After winning the national science fair, I did an interview on CBC radio’s Ontario Morning with Wei Chen (48:00 to 58:00) about my research (Note: this was my first live radio interview ever, so I was ridiculously nervous :P). A few days later, I got an email from someone by the name of Dr. Jennie Wells, a geriatric researcher at the University of Western Ontario. Here’s a bit of it:

Dear Maya,

Both Dr. Michael Borrie and I listened to your radio interview and were very impressed by your intelligence, energy, and enthusiasm.  Additionally, you are amazingly well-spoken.   Dr. Borrie and I are geriatricians (trained in Internal Medicine and then sub-specialized in geriatrics.) … We think it will be exciting for you to attend the Canadian Conference on Dementia in October of 2013. I am waiting for a reply from the organizers to see if it will be in Ottawa or Toronto that year.  We will follow up with you about that.

With congratulations on your success and sincerely,

Jennie Wells

We communicated over the next year and I ended up going to the CCD last week! There was just one difference between what was written in her email and what actually happened: the conference was in Vancouver, BC!

Going to the conference was an absolutely amazing experience for so many reasons. I was inspired by the latest research being conducted related to dementia, I met some of the top dementia researchers in the country and I learned so much about Alzheimer’s Disease.

I am hoping to present research at the next CCD!

Here are some pictures from the event:

Grand Opening – Smart Moves STEM

Over the past while, I have been trying to give back to the community by working on inspiring kids to get involved in STEM-related activities. I am working with organizations like Science Expo, the Canadian Young Scientist Journal and other STEM organizations geared towards high school students to try to accomplish this, but, ideally, engaging STEM learning should start earlier than high school.

A few months ago, I received an email from someone by the name of Susan McNerney, who had a similar mission as me. She wanted to create an educational space in Barrie for young kids (ages 0 – 12) to learn all about STEM while having fun! So, she started Smart Moves STEM, a play place where kids can participate in fun science demos, climb on the periodic wall of elements, learn about famous scientists, or “discover” concepts like gravitation by climbing through playsets — everything I could have possibly wanted as a young kid!

Susan invited me to join Smart Moves’ Board of Advisors and I am now their Scientist-In-Residence!

Earlier today, Smart Moves had their grand opening. The MPP and Councillor of the area attended and, the whole time, the place was at full capacity; it was a hit! I was so pleased to see that parents wanting their kids to become inspired by STEM.

I was honoured to be a part of the ribbon cutting ceremony and press the button to fire the rocket to blast Smart Moves off!

Here are some pictures from the event:

Barrie is not a town that is well known for producing STEM-ists and I hope that initiatives like this one will help change that!