July 14, 2023

'Life-changing' experience as undergrad researcher takes 2nd in poster competition at Edinburgh conference

Bioinformatics student Noelle Thundathil presented her research findings with support from Graeme Bell Travel Award
Noelle Thundathil stands beside her poster at the 2023 British Society of Parasitology Spring Meeting.
Noelle Thundathil presented her research at the British Society of Parasitology, April 11–14, 2023. Courtesy Noelle Thundathil

For Bachelor of Health Sciences student Noelle Thundathil, travelling to Edinburgh, Scotland to present at a conference was a completely new experience. “I had never travelled alone before,” she says, “and it was really eye opening. Now I’ve really broadened my scope and I want to do research abroad.” 

The trip was partly funded by the Graeme Bell Travel Award, a grant for undergraduate students who participated in UCalgary’s Program for Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) to gain the experience of presenting their research at a related conference.

Thundathil was awarded the funds to travel to the 2023 British Society of Parasitology Spring Meeting and was one of, if not the only, undergraduate student presenting. Not only that, her research poster titled “A Molecular Genetic Investigation Into the Origins of Anthelmintic Drug Resistance in Ancylostoma caninum in Pet Dogs Across the USA” took home the second-place prize in the poster competition out of over 200 graduate students presenting.

“It helped me feel more confident in my research career. I never thought I was the most technically skilled in my field but I worked really hard to understand every part of my project and it really paid off.”

Thundathil stresses that the opportunity would not have been possible without the support of her supervisor, Dr. John Gilleard, PhD, and PhD student Abhinaya Venkatesan. “They played a big part in my research journey and my success at the conference,” she says.

At the conference, Thundathil heard talks from the leading scholars that emphasized the journey of research rather than the destination. “It’s more about what you learn along the way, being passionate about the research you’re doing, and the impact you make.”

The trip to Scotland has inspired Thundathil to pursue research in other places. “It was a very-life changing experience.”

The Graeme Bell Travel Award seeks to enrich and enhance the undergraduate research experience at the University of Calgary by providing financial support to PURE recipients to travel to present their research. Learn more about the award and the application.

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