VKURA 2023

Explore the 2023 student projects

Reflection exercise

We have asked each research scholar to answer the question: What was the most memorable part of your internship experience?” You will be able to see each students’ answer below, along with their biography and poster.

A

Jump to Faculty

Scholars are organized based on the faculty that has sponsored them.

Business

Brooke Vandenberg

Brooke Vandenberg

Discovering how to find career success in myself after researching a large variety of hall of fame inductees that are amongst the top 1-2% of people in their fields. With this research and extra help from Dr. Rick Cotton I am able to move forward with a much better idea of my own strengths and how to utilise them to create a fulfilling career future.

Biography

My name is Brooke Vandenberg and I am entering my second year of the BCom program with the Gustavson School of Business. I am passionate about learning as much as I can and using my knowledge to help others.

Natalie Denux

Natalie Denux

Having the opportunity to conduct a research project as a student was an incredibly rich and rewarding experience. The most memorable moments of this internship were the discussions with the amazing staff and volunteers of the Return to Health program, having the chance to listen to them share their knowledge and expertise, and learning about the impact of the Return to Health program.

Biography

My name is Natalie Denux, I am a third-year student at the Gustavson School of Business at UVic. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, painting, and hiking. Throughout this VKURA internship, I have gained a deeper understanding of the public health sector in British Columbia and reflected on the ways in which a society can be built to best support the well-being and health of its inhabitants. I hope to use my commerce degree in the future to work alongside communities and businesses to develop ways to make them environmentally-conscious and sustainable.

Jack DesBrisay

Jack DesBrisay

The weekly meetings and insightful conversations with Basma and Aura!

Biography

Hi, I’m Jack DesBrisay and I am a third year student in the BCom program here at UVic. I was a member of the Varsity Men’s Rowing team for my first two years at UVic. Since retiring from the sport I have joined the Propel Impact Investment fund here in Victoria. This is a local student run fund which makes place based investments in impact organizations. I’ve previously worked as an accountant at Dusanj Wirk and as a sailing coach. In my spare time I love running, cycling and hanging out with my family and friends.

Zitan Wang

Zitan Wang

Being in a meeting with my supervisor and his co-author. It was my first time doing a research project like this and working alongside a professor, so it was very exciting!

Biography

My name is Zitan Wang. I’m an international student from China entering my second year at Gustavson School of Business. I am a curious person who enjoys learning and trying new things. In my free time, I like to listen to music, watch movies, read, and dance. The VKURA internship was an amazing and unique experience, and I learned many things from it. Though I’m not yet sure what I want to do after graduation, I am excited to see where my future will take me!

Education

Tara Mojgani

Tara Mojgani

After a few months of being involved in the project, I got the chance to record the participants’ vital signs during the cold pressor test myself. I also enjoyed encouraging the participants on their three minute countdown. Once that timer was done I felt so relieved to take their arm out of the freezing water into a warm towel. I also got the chance to scan the cerebral artery using a Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound.

Biography

During my time at Uvic, I’ve become captivated by kinesiology. It all started with my own run-ins with injuries from figure skating and other sports I’m into. These experiences made me realize how important it is to grasp how our bodies work.
Now that I’m heading into my third year, I’m really getting into exercise physiology. It’s all about boosting our performance and keeping us healthy. I’m excited to dive into research labs and continue working with great people while gaining hands-on experience.
Thanks to the guidance of Dr. Kurt Smith and Tabitha, this opportunity has not only expanded my knowledge but has also equipped me with invaluable insights in the research field.
Brianne Smith

Brianne Smith

Making connections with other students and realizing that there are so many more questions that can still be asked.

Biography

My name is Brianne Smith. I am a mature student at UVIC studying Computer Science and Psychology. I have a keen interest in health technology and medical imaging. And leveraging technology and AI to mitigate inequities within the healthcare system. This interest is largely driven by experiences I gained working as a paramedic in rural Northern BC as a young adult. When I’m not studying, I love to spend time outside with my family. We particularly enjoy rock climbing, kite boarding, and skiing.

Elliot Gustafson

Elliot Gustafson

The opportunity to enjoy the process of writing the paper and conducting the research on my topic of choice.

Biography

Elliot Gustafson is a 21 year old student who has completed three years at the University of Victoria and is entering his fourth year in his pursuit of bachelor’s in economics and a minor in data science. He plans on using this research and skills from his degree to pursue a consulting career and see where that takes him.

Engineering and Computer Science

Megan Parmar

Megan Parmar

Physically testing the 3D prints I designed over the internship with Dr. Giles. It was so satisfying to witness the culmination of everything from the summer.

Biography

Megan Parmar is starting her second year at the University of Victoria in the Biomedical Engineering Program. Originally from a small town in northern Alberta, the move to the island has been a big change, but a positive one. Through the VKURA internship, she had the opportunity to contribute to multiple ongoing projects and develop independent lab experience. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and exploring the city.

Aymon Jindani

Aymon Jindani

The most memorable part of my internship was definitely the first drive out to Port Renfrew BC from Sooke BC. This experience allowed me to engage in testing with a Starlink dish in areas without cellular coverage, and I was genuinely impressed by its performance in remote areas.

Biography

My name is Aymon Jindani, and I am heading into my second year of Computer Science at UVic. I was born in Hyderabad, Pakistan, and grew up in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E, a city close to Dubai. My programming skills include Python, Java and C#. I always look to broaden my knowledge in math by finding challenges online or with my friends. In my free time, I like to play table tennis, volleyball and basketball.

Dean Golan

Dean Golan

Learning how audio is represented blew my mind. I was amazed by how a few simple rules can give way to so much complexity.

Biography

My name is Dean and I am a second-year computer science student at the University of Victoria. I am from Vancouver, and in my free time I like reading and listening to philosophy as well as skiing whenever I get the chance. I am quite passionate about computer science and its intersection with logic and computer architecture. In the future I want to create efficient software which is versatile and can be easily built upon.

Sofiia Khutorna

Sofiia Khutorna

VKURA gave me an opportunity to learn and experience things I would never be able to do in my first or second year. The most memorable moment was going to a professional motion capture studio in Vancouver and exploring all the cool technology they have there!

Biography

Sofiia is going into her second year of computer science at the University of Victoria. She was born and raised in Ukraine and moved to Canada three years ago. After successfully finishing her first year in UViC and completing the summer internship her enthusiasm for computer science and programming has only increased! Apart from that, she is passionate about different dance styles and music genres.

Pouria Tolouei

Pouria Tolouei

Coding the script that I used to collect network data, and then showcasing it to the representatives from Nvidia during a live meeting with them.

Biography

Pouria Tolouei is a second-year Computer Science student at the University of Victoria. He was born in Iran but moved to Malaysia after the fifth grade. He graduated from a Canadian international school in Malaysia before moving again to pursue post-secondary education in Canada. Being in new and unfamiliar environments has helped him take initiatives outside of his comfort zone such as signing up for the VKURA internship. He enjoys programming and watching his programs tackle complex tasks, but in his free time, he enjoys gaming. That is where the idea for his internship came from.

Linnea Goodwin

Linnea Goodwin

Learning that the research I was doing could potentially turn into a publishable paper. As a first-year, having an actual academic journal with my name at the top is incredibly exciting and could potentially start a career for me.

Biography

Linnea is going into her second year of computer science at the University of Victoria after a very academically successful first foray into post-secondary education. She was ecstatic at the prospect of working in academic research over the summer of 2023–a paid internship in an area she is interested in pursuing was a dream come true. She is excited for career opportunities following her undergraduate degree. Her scholastic interests include programming and music, both of which find their way into her personal life as well through extracurricular video game development and composition, alongside art and animation.

Kai Michaud

Kai Michaud

Observing procedures in the Victoria General Hospital. Seeing the real people that I could be helping in the future was touching.

Biography

My name is Kai Michaud and I am a mechanical engineering undergraduate at the University of Victoria. I love astronomy, math and making things. My perfect life would be a trickshot where I could improve the lives of others through the exploration of those interests, so that’s what I’m shooting for. Outside of school I love working out, playing the banjo and programming.

Fine Arts

Courtney Bill

Courtney Bill

Getting to see my name mentioned in the acknowledgments of a book that will find its way into bookstores around the world.

Biography

Courtney Bill is currently pursuing a degree in creative writing. Her short fiction has appeared in PRISM International, Canthius, The /tƐmz/ Review, Literary Heist, Frighten the Horses, This Side of West, and elsewhere.

Bella Nguyen

Bella Nguyen

Being a part of the composition process as a performer, giving my input, and witnessing the creativity of the four composers. I also thoroughly enjoyed the recording process as it was my first time in a recording studio, and I witnessed how the technicians are able to edit the recordings.

Biography

Bella (Nhien) Nguyen began playing the flute when she was twelve years old, and since then, she continuously strives to improve her performance. Through her studies under Dr. Suzanne Snizek, she deepens and explores her curiosity regarding contemporary music and the various techniques implemented to enhance expressiveness. Bella specializes in flute performance due to her determination to share the beauty, vulnerability, and profound meaning that music can bring to an individual’s life and hopes to unite the peoples under the umbrella of sound, if only for a while.

Stella Drinkwater

Stella Drinkwater

Spending time in the studio, experimenting with the microphone placements of the instruments I recorded. This built an understanding of how subtle changes in recording technique profoundly alter the perception of a sound’s context.

Biography

Stella Drinkwater, entering her second year in the Music and Computer Science combined major program, is a sound artist. She writes music and works with programs that leverage computing as a tool for audio processing and synthesis.

Humanities

Nim Coppinger

Nim Coppinger

Being able to go to Ho Chi Minh City and conduct fieldwork was a super incredible and valuable experience!!

Biography

Nim (any pronouns) is a double major in Gender Studies and Pacific and Asian Studies. Being BIPOC, trans, and disabled, they are particularly interested in how intersections of our identities impact our lives. In their free time, they enjoy making art and celebrating transness.

Sofia Spiteri

Sofia Spiteri

Literature has the ability to capture profound slices of history. Working with and extracting meaning from early modern texts not only allowed me to create something meaningful for the present, but also provided me with valuable insight into the past.

Biography

Sofia Spiteri is a second-year History student at the University of Victoria. Her academic interests lie in post-WWII United States history, with a particular emphasis on international relations during the 1960s and 1970s. In her free time, Sofia loves writing, hiking, and listening to music.

Farida Abdoulaye Hamadou

Farida Abdoulaye Hamadou

The weekly meetings with my supervisor Helga and project consultant, Margaret. Each meeting was filled with an abundance of knowledge, profound reflections, and an amazing opportunity to interact with a plethora of ideas.

Biography

Farida Abdoulaye Hamadou is entering her second year as a sociology student at the University of Victoria. She has a keen interest in humanitarianism and hopes to contribute to sustainable developmental efforts internationally. During her free time, she enjoys watching films, writing poetry, and meeting new people.

Delwyn Marcoux

Delwyn Marcoux

I am immensely grateful to have been financially and intellectually supported in meaningfully aiding my Nation’s language revitalisation efforts.

Biography

Delwyn yiatsih. Yändia’wich iwayitiohkou’tenh, Wendat endi’ (My name is Delwyn, I am turtle clan of the Wendat Nation). This will be my second year living and going to school on Lək̓ʷəŋən territory, where I will be continuing my “2nd year” of a Civil Engineering degree that I started at North Island College. While I am in engineering, I am also very passionate about language revitalisation, all our non-human relations, territory management, and so much more.

Science

Owen Sandner

Owen Sandner

Being able to talk through problems with the team in the UVAMO lab, even when we don’t really understand each other’s projects. The welcoming environment really fostered a sense of progress, as even if you were stuck, somebody was moving forward.

Biography

My name is Owen, and I’m moving into my second year of the Physics program. My eventual goal is to complete a combined Math and Physics honours degree, and attend graduate school. I grew up in North Saanich, and have lived here my entire life. I worked in a coffee shop in Sidney for 5 years alongside school, and have developed an appreciation for good coffee. If you see me around campus, ask me what’s in my mug!

Kiana Gallagher

Kiana Gallagher

Learning about the projects other people were working on. It was interesting to see how different problems were related to each other and that input from multiple fields of study is necessary for research.

Biography

Hello! My name is Kiana and I am studying physics and computer science at the University of Victoria. The research experience I gained over the summer has increased my interest in the different fields of physics. I am currently interested in quantum algorithms because I can apply both my physics and computer science knowledge. In my spare time I enjoy playing badminton, rock climbing, and spending time outside.
Georgia Penner

Georgia Penner

I loved working with other students doing research similar to mine and gradually feeling like I understood more and more of what they were doing. I learned so much so fast, but I didn’t even realise it until I was almost done!

Biography

My name is Georgia and I’m going into my second year in the Mathematics program at UVic. I grew up in Calgary and spent all my years of primary and secondary school there, coming to Victoria for the first time ever when I moved to start my first year. I’m most interested in pure and discrete math – my research this summer was on domination problems in graph theory, a branch of discrete math. I also take an interest in math education, trying to help people learn, and just as importantly, enjoy math.

Damilola Akintola

Damilola Akintola

Amongst the new skills I acquired and the information I learned, the friendships I made during my internship are some of the most memorable experiences I gained over the summer. I’m glad I was able to complete this internship with the people I met in the lab.

Biography

Damilola Akintola is heading into his third year studying Biochemistry. His passions lie in understanding the processes involved in autoimmune diseases and he hopes to pursue a career in medicine.

Brookelyn White

Brookelyn White

Gaining experience and confidence to work independently in the many different areas of the Chemistry department.

Biography

My name is Brookelyn White. I am going into my second year at UVic completing a double major in biochemistry and biology. Outside of school I enjoy spending my time outdoors doing things like swimming, playing soccer, and hiking. Following the completion of my Bachelor of Science I would love to attend medical school to pursue a career in the medical field. I am very grateful for the experience and skills I gained in the lab this summer and am very excited to be able to continue helping Liza in the Moffit lab this coming fall.

Merrick Richers

Merrick Richers

It was a wonderful experience to be introduced to the world of high performance computing, climate science, and fluid simulation!

Biography

Merrick is a student with a passion for computer science, mathematics, and visual arts! They believe that the most interesting thing in the world is when different fields come together to make something new. They like hearing about interpretations of media that differ from their own.

Anakin Bennett

Anakin Bennett

I really enjoyed being a part of the community in the Juanes lab, and it was so interesting to learn about all the ongoing research. Everyone is so kind and passionate about their work.

Biography

Anakin Bennett is an indigenous student entering their third year of a double major BSc in Biology and Environmental Studies and is originally from Surrey, BC. He’s interested in conservation ecology and working to reduce the impact of anthropogenic activity. His hobbies include hiking, sailing, reading, and baking.

Paula Mali

Paula Mali

The field trips to collect live specimens from the beach. It was exciting to spend the day outdoors, and then continue my observations in the lab.

Biography

Paula Mali is a science student from White Rock, BC, entering her second year at UVic, intending to pursue a biology major with a statistics minor. She enjoys playing the piano and swimming at the pool in her free time.

Max Schweigel

Max Schweigel

Being able to use a wide range of microscopes and other tools that I would otherwise not have access to in course-based labs.

Biography

Max Schweigel is a second-year undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Microbiology at the University of Victoria. He joined the Templeman Lab for the summer, learning more about the complex interplay between metabolism and aging. His work focused on a particular protein in the model species, Caenorhabditis elegans, and its role in the reproductive system’s response to starvation. He really enjoyed his time working in the lab and hopes to find other opportunities to work in similar environments in the future.

Social Sciences

Felix Hardy

Felix Hardy

Getting familiar with the research process and getting to improve my knowledge of R to run regressions. I also enjoyed the deep dive into corporation filings that I occasionally did.

Biography

I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado but hold dual citizenship and felt that Victoria would be a good place to pursue higher education. I am primarily interested in the future of the financial sector but remain curious about many things, like the effects of a greener economy, and applications of higher math.

Maria Coady

Maria Coady

I really enjoyed getting to meet with and learn from multiple different talented professors and what teaching means to them individually. It was really enjoyable as a student to hear about how passionate everyone was about teaching and how much they truly care about the work they’re all doing.

Biography

Maria is beginning her second year at UVic working towards a BA in Sociology. She moved to Victoria from Langley, BC and has enjoyed the change in scenery and in day-to-day life that came with the move. Outside of UVic, Maria enjoys spending time exploring beaches/parks on Vancouver Island, and working on her CD/Vinyl music collection.

Bailey Logan

Bailey Logan

Getting to work in the field was definitely the most memorable part of my internship experience. I’ve always enjoyed science classes but getting to participate in real science first hand was really cool.

Biography

My name is Bailey and I’m in my second year at UVic studying geography and computer science. I grew up in Washington state and moved to BC for university. I love to hike and I compete on UVic’s sailing team. After I graduate, I hope to do something where I can combine environmental science and computer science.

Mariana Verdejo Hernandez

Mariana Verdejo Hernandez

I loved how throughout the summer I found inspiration for my research project in places I did not expect; I understood that AI is constantly moving and evolving, generating new ideas and concepts while creating unexpected connections. With this discovery I became aware of the extent to which AI is already merged in our everyday life, and how this synergy between human and artificial mind will only continue to expand.

Biography

My name is Mariana Verdejo and I am a double major student in Environmental Studies and Anthropology. I was born in Mexico City where I completed my International Bachelor (IB) but moved to Victoria three years ago to pursue my education and interest in sustainability. I am passionate about culture, nature, and social issues. In my free time I enjoy biking, going to museums, and trying new food.

Nicole Campbell

Nicole Campbell

The opportunity to challenge my research and writing skills, and develop a project I could look back on with pride.

Biography

Nicole Campbell is a student in the Department of Anthropology entering her second year of studies. Born and raised in Kelowna, BC, she attended the Justice Institute of British Columbia in the Paramedicine and Health Sciences program, before moving to Victoria to pursue a degree in Anthropology.

Chloe Bailer

Chloe Bailer

Getting the keys and my own security code for the labs at UVIC or excavating a possible late-Pleistocene cave site, hard to pick!

Biography

Chloe Bailer is a 2nd year Anthropology student at the University of Victoria, pursuing a BSc in Anthropology. She is Mètis from Winnipeg, MB, and raised in the Comox Valley. She spent the summer working between the Hakai Institute’s lab in downtown Victoria and the UVic Anthropology labs, and participated in fieldwork near Holberg, BC. She is interested in pre-contact Canadian archaeology, Indigenous history and traditional ecological knowledge, geoarchaeology, and geospatial analysis. She aspires to join the Honours program in the spring of 2024. Beyond academics, she enjoys reading, cooking, and hiking.

Divyansh Kataria

Divyansh Kataria

Working on my Research at the Cadboro bay

Biography

I am Divyansh Kataria and I am a third-year BSC Economics – Stats minor at the University Of Vicotria. I have always loved working with numbers and anything that involves data & money. Outside of school in my free time, I love playing chess and going on hikes.

Kelechi Memeh

Kelechi Memeh

The many hours I spent finding and preparing the correct data for my research. Also working with my professors and getting the regression results I hoped to get was a high point of my internship experience.

Biography

I’m Kelechi, a second-year undergraduate student pursuing a degree in economics/finance and a business minor. My choice of economics stems from my curiosity and flair to tackle problems. I am interested in development economics and aspire to use the skills and experience gained at university to solve real world problems within her community. I spend my spare time reading and writing short stories and poetry, cooking, gardening, and learning random facts about anything.

Isabella Harmel

Isabella Harmel

Getting to learn from and work with incredibly accomplished and intelligent individuals.

Biography

Isabella Harmel is a social sciences student majoring in political science and minoring in global development. She hopes to continue studying in the field of International Political Economy while she obtains her degree. In her free time, she can be found exploring the outdoors, volunteering with the British Columbia Youth Parliament, or record-shopping.

Annika Little

Annika Little

Witnessing the transformation of my research from an initial vague idea into a completed project with real-world applications was extremely rewarding.

Biography

My name is Annika Little and I am a second year Psychology BSc student. I was born and raised in Victoria and love living on the island. In my spare time I like to read, rock climb, cross stitch and binge Grey’s Anatomy! I hope to complete the Honours program at Uvic, so I am very grateful for the opportunity to pursue research early on in my degree with the VKURA awards.

Nika Marefat

Nika Marefat

Having the opportunity to connect and collaborate with faculty members while being given significant freedom and responsibility allowed me to gain confidence in my abilities as an 18-year-old who initially felt imposter syndrome when given this award. The chance to forge meaningful relationships, witness firsthand the positive impact that my research would have on students, and grow more self-assured during this internship is what made it unforgettable!

Biography

Nika Marefat is entering her second year at UVic as a Psychology student in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Her academic and professional interests include medicine, neuroscience, biotechnology, and behavioural economics. Her ultimate goal is to aid in reducing the inequities and lack of availability she has witnessed in healthcare. Beyond academia, she finds joy in reading, writing, and pilates.

Ahneke van Lankvelt

Ahneke van Lankvelt

Meeting with my supervisor every week and discussing how the work we were doing would directly affect our community. It was amazing to know that the research I was apart of would be utilized to advise policy decisions in our municipality and that our recommendations would create a real impact.

Biography

I am a student at the University of Victoria heading into my second year of studying Biology and Psychology. I am 19 years old and was born and raised in Bragg Creek, Alberta. I am very passionate about learning about the brain and hope to pursue graduate studies in neuroscience. After moving to the island my love for the mountains and the outdoors has continued to grow and I spent most of my summer rock climbing, hiking, and swimming in lakes or the ocean.

Jennifer Rodriguez

Jennifer Rodriguez

Finding rare endangered plant species was unforgettable. The graduate students in the Restoration Futures Lab are exceptional teammates. I thank Dr. Nancy Shackelford for being an outstanding mentor and supervisor.

Biography

Jennifer Rodriguez is an uninvited guest in the Lək̓ʷəŋən territory who comes from the traditional lands of the Manta People (Central Coast of Ecuador). She is entering her third year in the Anthropology and Environmental Studies double major program. She has always been keen on understanding the relationships between humans and plants. Her studies focus on native flora diversity, ecological restoration and cultural landscapes. She enjoys staring at plants while hiking in the wilderness and volunteering with local organizations to remove invasive species.

Parker Little

Parker Little

The highlight of my VKURA experience was either herding and petting the sheep at the Sandown Center for Regenerative Agriculture, or the moment that the code I had rewritten in R finally worked!

Biography

At the University of Victoria, Parker is pursuing a double major in Economics and Environmental Studies with a Finance concentration. She was a YCAA (June 2022) award recipient, recognizing her recycling reformations and her One Planet Saanich contributions, including speaking alongside Saanich’s immediate-past mayor, Fred Haynes, when the municipality accepted a Carbon Disclosure Project award. Over the summer, she worked to supplement the Environmental Studies half of her degree with the support of the Ecogastronomy Research Group and the VKURA research award.

Jacob de Wijze

Jacob de Wijze

Witnessing how the pace of academia ebbs and flows was truly an interesting experience while waiting for human ethics approval for being able to continue.

Biography

I am a second-year undergraduate psychology student with aspirations of studying how autistic people’s brains work differently than allistics. I am also interested in learning how to make school environments more accessible to marginalized groups. In my spare time, I enjoy listening to music, spending time outside and learning more about autism.

We acknowledge and respect the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples on whose traditional territory the University of Victoria stands, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

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