The University of Winnipeg



UWinnipeg student receives American Society of Pharmacognosy Award

Biochemistry student Navjot Rai was thrilled to receive an American Society of Pharmacognosy Award, allowing her to gain valuable research experience. (Photo supplied).

Navjot Rai, working in the lab. Photo supplied.

UWinnipeg biochemistry student Navjot Kaur Rai has been awarded a $2,000 American Society of Pharmacognosy Award to undertake research in Dr. Athar Ata’s lab next summer. In addition to the student stipend, Ata will receive $500 to support the cost of research.

“Thanks to this prestigious award, Navjot will work in my lab studying the structure-activity relationships of anti-inflammatory natural products,” said Ata, Department of Chemistry chair and professor.

A keen student, Rai is also a special events volunteer with Manitoba Possible, a member of the UWinnipeg Pre-Med Society executive team, and a member of UWinnipeg’s Golden Key Chapter. Prior to the pandemic, she also volunteered at a local hospital, an activity she plans to return to as it provided valuable experience in a healthcare setting. 

She hopes this research opportunity will give her the chance to provide new insights into current knowledge of science, specifically organic chemistry.

“I’m interested in the chemical basis of natural things that can be used to treat various diseases,” she said. “After graduation I plan to pursue a career in medicine. I would also really like to participate in a research project at The National Microbiology Lab.”

Rai has been interested in research since she began her studies in 2018. When Ata told her about the American Society of Pharmacognosy Award, she was quick to apply.

“Receiving this award has encouraged me to believe in myself and pursue what I’m passionate about,” she said. “It will not only help me improve the lab skills and techniques that I previously learned as a student, but it will also allow me to experience the laboratory life from a completely new perspective.” 

This is the second time the American Society of Pharmacognosy has recognized a UWinnipeg student. Mohamed Abo Aoun received the award in 2017.