We at LEoPARD are effusively proud of our young mentee, Callum Yoker! Callum is a 13 year-old student at Tecumseh Vista Academy, who in late-March participated in the Windsor Regional Science, Technology, and Engineering Fair, and won the St-Clair College CWSF Grand Prize. By way of this award, he was selected to represent the Windsor region at the 2019 annual Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) in Fredericton, NB – organized by Youth Science Canada, which services young Canadian scientists between grades 7-12. At that time, Callum came under Chris’ mentorship, so that he would be optimally readied to present among 500 of Canada’s top youth scientists.

Over the next month, Callum worked tirelessly – in the lab and at home – to refine his project: “Manipulating Microbial Membrane Permeability to Dyes: A Preliminary Model for Bacterial Engineering.” In the lab, he also received the gracious support of University of Windsor Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry technical support staff, Una Lee and Ronan San Juan. The project served as a preliminary proof of concept for genetic modification of gut-friendly bacteria (including Lactobacillus) using low-cost, widely-available resources, towards treatment of disease.

Not only did Callum admirably represent himself, Tecumseh Vista Academy, the Windsor region, and LEoPARD… he also won multiple awards! Callum’s successes include:

  • Grand Prize – Youth Can Innovate Award – Given to the overall top 4 junior projects of the fair (i.e. the top 2% of junior projects at the CWSF, and top 0.04% of projects across Canada that competed in regional fairs). This award is also given to the top 6 intermediate projects and top 8 senior projects. The criteria are: “exceptionally innovative and original science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects that demonstrate a practical application in advancing the economic, medical, social or environmental well-being of society.” $500 cash prize and glass trophy.
  • Excellence Award – Junior Category – Gold medal – Given to the best junior projects demonstrating excellence in STEM based on a consensus of all the judges relative to all projects in the junior category. This year, 10 gold medals were awarded out of 153 projects in the junior category.
  • Gold Medalist – University of Western Ontario $4000 Entrance Scholarship.
  • Challenge Award – Junior Health – One award given to the top project in each one of the following seven categories: health, discovery, energy, innovation, information, environment, resources.
  • Best junior project in Health – This year, one awarded out of 153 projects in the junior category, for “an outstanding project that best demonstrates or exhibits an increase in our understanding of the human body, or applies science and technology to improve health, control disease, or support an aging population.”

Callum hopes to continue the project over the years to come, eventually evolving it into a model therapeutic against Parkinson’s disease – which has personally touched his family. It is our hope that he continues to work with and inspire us, with his enthusiasm and tireless dedication.

Bravo Callum! For more information, please check out this CBC Windsor article featuring Callum and other youth scientists from Windsor. Finally, take a look at some of the social media representing Callum’s achievements below.

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