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P2GS program builds confidence

UWinnipeg's Pathway to Graduate Studies program gave Ashley King confidence, connections, and resources to pursue further research

Ashley King and Dr. Athar Ata

Ashley King said the opportunity to work on a research project with Dr. Athar Ata in the 2020 P2GS program built her confidence and provided connections and resources to help her reach her academic goals. Photos provided.

Ashley King spent part of last summer working with Dr. Athar Ata identifying anti-diabetic compounds in chamomile as part of The University of Winnipeg’s Pathway to Graduate Studies (P2GS) program.

The experience opened her eyes to research and networking opportunities she hadn’t realized were available to her and gave her hands-on experience testing theories she’d learned in class.

This was a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in the field I one day want to be a part of.

Ashley King

“When we were running tests on the compound we isolated, I had a ‘full-circle’ moment,” she said. “I was now performing the very tests that I was taught about in class. It was a great learning experience.”

Her positive experience in P2GS inspired her to apply for UWinnipeg’s 2021 Indigenous Summer Scholars Program. She also created connections with other Indigenous students that led to her active participation in UWinnipeg’s .caISES chapter; a student group recognized for its work supporting Indigenous students studying science.

“The P2GS program showed me that I am, indeed, capable of research,” she said. “It also provided me with the connections and resources to know what my next steps should be to work in the research field.”

The 2020 Pathways to Graduate Studies undergraduate students. Photo supplied.

Ata says the research King took part in last summer resulted in the identification of a new natural product that is now being evaluating for anti-diabetic activity.

“It was a wonderful experience to work in the lab remotely and train Ashley in the area of natural product chemistry,” said Ata. “She is a keen and dedicated student who is very interested in performing in-lab research.”

Dr. Ata has a proven track record of successfully mentoring students from a wide spectrum of educational and cultural backgrounds says Dr. Doug Goltz, Dean of Science.

“This is because his research is quite topical which makes it easy for most students to identify with his work,” said Goltz.

King is a Métis student whose interest in the brain and how it works led her to a Bachelor of Science, majoring in neuroscience.

“I was most drawn to the subject because it applies to everyone,” she said. “Everyone has a brain and can benefit from understanding more about how it functions.”

After she graduates in 2022, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree, so she is thankful for the opportunities she’s had to gain research experience during her undergraduate studies.

“This was a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in the field I one day want to be a part of, as well as making connections with other students who are interested in the sciences,” said King. “I learned a lot of useful lab procedures that I will definitely be able to apply to research in the future.”

About P2GS

P2GS is an experiential learning program designed for Indigenous Students at UWinnipeg to engage in learning science and science-based research. Every year, a group of dedicated faculty come together to work with students on a variety of research projects in applied computer science, chemistry, geography, kinesiology and applied health, physics, and more. 

The program prepares participants for senior undergraduate and graduate studies science courses and research while connecting with students of similar backgrounds and interests to form a network that includes graduate students and faculty. Throughout the four-week program, students engage in science education in the morning and paid research in the afternoon under the supervision of a UWinnipeg faculty member.

The deadline for student applications to the 2021 Pathway to Graduate Studies program, which runs from May 3 – 28, has been removed until further notice. Students and faculty wanting to get involved are welcome to apply. Visit the P2GS website for more information, or contact Dylan Jones at d.jones@uwinnipeg.ca.

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