Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Students

Read about the amazing things our science students are doing at TRU and beyond.

Marisa Azad

TRU is well known for its excellence in teaching, particularly within the sciences. I have always been interested in pursuing science, but TRU cultivated my interests in biochemistry, microbiology and research well beyond the classroom. My incredibly rewarding educational experience led to my acceptance into McMaster University’s combined MD/PhD program. I felt well-prepared for this prestigious seven-year program, thanks to TRU’s outstanding mentorship, teaching and research.

TRU offers small classes and a high-calibre of teaching. Specifically, the cellular, molecular, and microbial biology program was a highly integrative and hands-on learning experience. The interactive, one-on-one learning style of this program made it an enjoyable four years, and to this day I keep in touch with some of my professors. I feel both proud and honoured to have graduated from such a first-rate institution.

I am currently an internal medicine resident at McMaster University. TRU served as an important stepping stone to my acceptance into the McMaster University MD/PhD program. Working with Dr. Heidi Huttunen-Hennelly at TRU, my research into antimicrobial peptide design prepared me well for both graduate and medical school at McMaster University — my PhD focused on the development of new antibiotics in the wake of antimicrobial drug resistance. Thanks to TRU, my dream of becoming a clinician scientist has come true.


Marisa Azad

Brendin Chow

Taking science at TRU was quite an easy choice for me. I was born and raised in Kamloops. When I was younger I attended the Eureka science camp that TRU puts on every summer. My love of science grew every time I attended the camp. So the choice to go to TRU when I was older was a no-brainer.

While studying physics at TRU I got to know my fellow classmates very well. Because of TRU’s small classes, we were almost like a family. We were there for each other through thick and thin. Small class sizes also meant I got to know my professors on a first-name basis. I was always able to get one-on-one help whenever I had a problem.

Currently I am a second-year master’s student at Simon Fraser University studying experimental atomic physics for trapped ions and quantum information. My time at TRU helped me by giving me the tools I will need to successfully complete my graduate studies work. I left TRU with a strong ability to conduct scientific research and to be an active participant in the world of academia. I can’t imagine being where I am right now without having my experiences I gained from TRU.


Brendin Chow

Elena Garde

Initially, Kamloops was the closest place to where I lived, where I could study Animal Health Technology, so TRU was a choice based on convenience. Later I realized just how lucky I was to have chosen TRU because of the quality of the education and the opportunities suddenly available to me. Then, when I decided to go on to vet school, I chose to do my pre-vet courses at TRU because I had come to love Kamloops and the philosophy of the school.

It was so personal! The professors all took an interest in their students and made the time to ensure that we got the attention we needed in order to succeed. Most of them had a very open door policy and because of the intimate environment, I was motivated to learn more, to study more and to succeed. I also appreciated the standard to which all the professors and teachers aspired to and, in particular in the AHT program, the quality of care given to the animals.

After completing my pre-vet courses at TRU, I went on to study veterinary medicine in Saskatoon and obtained my Masters in International Animal Health from the vet school in Edinburgh. I am now veterinarian and co-director of the Global Alliance for Animals and People, an international non-government organization located in Valdivia, Chile, which I founded with my husband Guillermo Pérez. I do a fair bit of teaching now with new graduates and volunteers and I always remember how much I valued the personal attention I received while at TRU and how it shaped me during my career as a student. I try to always give this attention back to people I am working with and maintain the same quality of care for people and animals as I learned at TRU.


Elena Garde and Guillermo Perz

Natascha Hedrich

As I grew up in Pritchard, I would be lying if the convenience of having a university half an hour from home wasn't a big factor. However, in high school, I participated in several events that took place at TRU, and I knew that the environment was very open and welcoming. Of course I've been interested in science, particularly physics, since I can remember, and so I suppose it was just a natural decision. My first year there, meeting the professors and taking courses just verified that I had made a good decision.

Without a doubt, the most amazing thing about studying at TRU is the personal aspect. I've never heard of anyone who was able to gain such a close relationship with their professors; when you're one of a thousand students in only one department, this simply isn't possible. Being able to approach the professors at any time, to chat with them and ask questions is unbelievably valuable. I don't think that many universities offer the kind of setting where a second or third year bachelor's student can approach their professor with an idea, and have them immediately drop everything to help. However, this is exactly the kind of experience I had at TRU.

At the moment, I'm wrapping up my master's thesis at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland. After two years of taking courses and doing lab work, I'm finally coming to an end. My thesis will revolve around using lasers to measure vibrations in single-layer materials. Of course, because I only have three months left, I'm also in the process of applying to PhD programs. In Switzerland, the level of education is unbelievably high, but I feel that I was certainly able to keep up, thanks to the fact that I was able to do a joint math and physics degree at TRU. Also, the amount of practical work that I was exposed to during my bachelor's degree has helped immensely in my work in the lab.


Natascha Hedrich

Natalie Jones

I liked the flexibility of a small school where science credits could be transferred to applied programs such as nursing or animal health technology.

As an undergraduate student I had opportunities to participate in research while learning the natural history, ecology and geology of the region. Many of the science faculty act as wonderful teachers, mentors and advocates for students, going above and beyond to help people succeed beyond TRU.

I recently finished my PhD at the University of Toronto and I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California San Diego. My time at TRU helped me develop independence and cultivated my love of the natural world while providing me with a solid base of quantitative skills to study it.


Natalie Jones

Samantha Lloyd

I was interested in science coming into my undergraduate degree, and TRU was a good fit for me and my family financially and geographically.

The small classes and ability to have real working relationships with professors is what made my time at TRU so special. It's hard to fall through the cracks when you're on a first-name basis with your instructors, and it means something to learn from teachers who happen to do research, instead of researchers who happen to teach. I can't imagine I could have succeeded the way I did at TRU at a bigger university, and I recommend smaller institutions to prospective university students for all these reasons.

I'm currently finishing my PhD with the University of Victoria and have just started a two-year medical physics residency at Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego. Without the guidance and support of the whole physics faculty at TRU, I don't think I would ever have imagined doing work like this, let alone pursue it. The co-op positions that I completed at TRIUMF introduced me to medical physics as a profession, and the TRU physics faculty prompted and enabled the NSERC and graduate school applications that launched me into the clinical work I'm doing now.


Samantha Lloyd

Jon Noel

My choice to attend TRU was based mainly on the fact that I grew up in Kamloops. I didn't fully realize the advantages of studying at TRU until after I graduated. In hindsight, it is clear to me that my time at TRU has had a profound, and mostly positive, impact on my career.

Choosing to enroll in a smaller institution often means choosing smaller classes and a more personal relationship with your professors over the depth and breadth of the courses at large institutions. However, the apparent gap was bridged by dedicated faculty in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics who took the time to teach a number of advanced courses (outside of the usual course offerings) to the handful of students who requested them. In the end, I left TRU with a solid understanding of undergraduate mathematics and a strong taste of what was to come at graduate school.

I was fortunate to partake in three summer research projects with Professor Richard Brewster under the NSERC USRA scheme. As a result, I was well prepared to contribute to research at a high level from day one of my master’s degree. This gave me a clear advantage at a crucial time in my graduate studies which is still paying dividends today.

I graduated from TRU in 2011 and obtained a master’s degree from McGill University in 2013. I will complete a doctorate from the University of Oxford in 2016. Starting in September 2016, I will work as a postdoctoral researcher in mathematics at ETH Zurich. My research as a graduate student has taken me to international conferences and research visits in 15 countries (and counting). My career goal is to be a tenured professor at a high-calibre research institution.


Jon Noel

Guillermo Perez

I got interested in taking the Bachelor of Natural Resource Science program because of their holistic and integrated approach to natural resource management and conservation.

What was special about studying at TRU was the fairly small classroom setting, which allowed for a comfortable intellectual exchange between students and teachers.

I am currently the co-director of the Global Alliance for Animals and People, an international non-government organization, which I founded with my wife Elena Garde, who is also an alumnus of TRU. I feel that my time in TRU was the foundation of my professional career because it inspired me to wanting to understand science and use it to the best of my ability. I loved my time at TRU and the BNRSc program because it gave me a happy medium between theoretical and applied sciences. At the end, I came out with a great set of new skills in research, conflict resolution, critical thinking, writing and science — all of which are very important in management. Going to TRU was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.


Elena Garde and Guillermo Perz

Scott Sternig

I got interested in science at TRU because I grew up loving science and math. Many of my friends were going to TRU and I heard great things about the school and the faculty in the science department.

The teachers at TRU were very hands on and got to know you on a personal level. Being able to visit anyone at their office for help, to talk about a project, or even just chat — those were things I have heard do not happen as much in the larger universities.

Currently I am a process and service technician with Comact Optimization. My role involves working on several hardware and software issues found within our equipment. Also, I manage the parameters within the machines to change the behaviour-solution outcome of our equipment. My time at TRU helped me build my problem solving skills and helped me manage my time. I run into problems every day that put these skills to the test.


Scott Sternig