Real-world research and lab experience can be hard to come by as an undergraduate student, but chemical biology student Allysia Chin scored an incredible opportunity for mentorship and experience through the Amgen Scholars Canada Program.
She’s in her fifth year at McMaster University, but the program brought her to Professor Molly Shoichet’s lab at the University of Toronto, alongside other scholars who also came to Toronto from across Canada. The placement is giving her practical experience while she contributes to research on a platform that could help study diseases at the bench by better replicating the biology that happens in the body.
Chin has been involved in the synthesis of various components for the platform, but she also performs experiments that help answer questions about the mechanisms behind aggressive diseases.
“Being in the lab is definitely important in terms of gaining experience,” says Chin. “So for me, enrolling in a co-op opportunity and being able to navigate my own way through science has been something that I’ve been really fortunate to do.”
Getting that experience gives Chin a taste of what science is all about: the joy of discovery and the ability to make a difference.
“Throughout my degree, something that I’ve been missing is a little bit of innovation,” adds Chin. “Science is knowledge, and engineering is applying that science to answer a question and contribute to society. A lot of times people forget that we have medicine because we have science, and so for me, I think being able to bridge the two is super important.”
Beyond the experience, Chin has gotten to work with practicing scientists in her field. She’s grateful for the mentorship by leading women in STEM.
“For me, being in the lab, being mentored by great women and great scientists, and being welcomed into the community has shown me how important it is for me to continue on a career in STEM,” says Chin.
Those connections are giving career guidance that will help her long after graduation, including advice on how to apply to graduate school or medical school.
“It’s opened up a lot of doors for me,” says Chin. “I’ve been able to expand my network, in terms of senior scientists, not only in academia but also in industry. And taking me under their wing so that I can do the same thing, too, is something that’s really important.”