International Scholar wins prestigious UBC research award

by Nene Azu | September 30, 2014
Nishat Tasnim, UBC, International Scholar, Okanagan, campus, student, research, international

Name: Nishat Tasnim
Home: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Program: Honours in Biology, Bachelor of Science

“Research was my dream all along”

The University of British Columbia presents countless research opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. Nishat Tasnim, now a fourth-year International Scholar majoring in Biology on UBC’s Okanagan campus, used to dream of carrying out research as part of her university experience. Having just completed a summer research project funded by the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Award (URA), she reflects how UBC made her dream a reality.

Nishat was inspired to get involved with research in her second week at UBC when she attended a URA symposium. There, students presented their summer research in disciplines ranging from computer science to history. Nishat decided she would apply for the URA to enable her to conduct a research project of her own.

Planning to realize her dreams

Early in her second year, she began to map out her path to attain the prestigious URA by joining UBC’s Gibson Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Deanna Gibson. Here, she learned the techniques and technologies used to, in her own words, “explore the wonderful world of gut microbes.” In her third year, she identified her research topic: the formation of gut microbia, then she applied for the URA. Nishat was one of fourteen students to receive the award.

Research opens doors

Nishat’s research looks closely at the time during human infancy when the first pioneer “good” bacteria start settling into human guts and begin forming gut microbia. Her research explored microbes in the external environment and their influence on the development of these microbia. Her work opened the door to further research into the development of gut microbia, which she will pursue in her honors and graduate research and studies.

Presenting her findings

The highlight of this project was her presentation at the research symposium where she learned her most important lesson: communicating her research to a general audience. “I couldn’t believe that I was standing on the other side of the room,” says Nishat, “in front of the projector screen, reporting my summer research!” She also had the chance to interact with some of the most inspiring students and learn about different research methods across various academic disciplines.

Advice to other International Scholars

Nishat’s advice to current and future International Scholars is to not be afraid to ask for opportunities, ask early, and have patience. She believes there is no better way to prove yourself once you enter a research lab than by acting professionally and working collaboratively. “There is no greater joy than being immersed in a research project and experiencing the plight of a real-life researcher at the undergraduate level.”

 Nishat named UBC’s 2015 Co-researcher of the Year

Follow Nishat Tasnim on Facebook.