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Waterloo hosts Ontario’s top high school science competition

Monday, April 17, 2017

Advait Maybhate presenting his poster at the Sanofi BioGenius Challenge at Waterloo.Ten of Southern Ontario’s elite young high school scientists competed at the regional edition of Sanofi Biogenius Challenge Canada (SBC), the country’s most prestigious national student science research competition last Thursday at the University of Waterloo.

First place went to Tasnia Nabil, a grade 12 student from Vincent Massey Secondary School in Windsor for her project entitled “A Novel Computational Approach to Ferromagnetic Nano Therapy as a Therapeutic Solution for Cancer.” Tasnia won $2000 and a trip to the national finals In Ottawa in May.

Also among those competing was Advait Maybhate, a grade 11 student from Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School in Waterloo who worked with University of Waterloo Prof. Andrew Doxey from the Department of Biology. He built a computer algorithm for identifying motifs, short gene sequences that correspond with simple biological functions. His program not only locates and identifies motifs accurately, but finds them faster than more complex algorithms used today.

He hopes biologists will one day use his approach to identify sources of mutation behind diseases such as Alzheimer’s as well as discover new motifs and the functions they’re mapped to. 

“It was super cool how we were able to predict certain protein–protein interactions without even knowing about them before-hand,” says Maybhate. “It was a great experience and I learned a lot from this.”

His project entitled “A Novel Algorithm for Identifying Sequence Motifs” won first place at the Regional Science Fair earlier in April and fourth prize at the Sanofi Competition.

For more information about how to identify and mentor a promising high school science student through the Sanofi program, contact Prof. Brian Dixon. 

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