You may also be interested in a general overview of our research, currently-active research, the people that made this work possible, and our publications.

Download the LEoPARD application form

LEoPARD is always seeking ambitious undergraduate students who have a strong interest in laboratory-based work. At present, students can apply to fill the following three (3) categories of increasing involvement and demand:

  • Student-technicians (3-10 hours/week of lab time during normal weeks of the semester);
  • Student-researchers (10 or more hours/week of lab time during normal weeks of the semester);
  • Student-investigators (18 or more hours/week of lab time during normal weeks of the semester; one prior semester of experience as a student-researcher with LEoPARD).

Descriptions and requirements for these various positions can be found below.

Download the LEoPARD application form

Student-technicians

The student-technician position is intended for students who are not able and/or willing to take on a substantial role in research — at least, not yet — but who are nonetheless interested in the workings of a laboratory environment, and who may eventually be keen to pursue more intensive research at a later time in their undergraduate degree or possibly upon graduation. Student-technicians will support student-researchers and student-investigators (see below for the descriptions of student-researchers and student-investigators) by completing preparatory work, monitoring and replenishing the inventory of reagents, and maintaining the research lab in a state of cleanliness and readiness. Students who are interested in the student-technician role are expected to join LEoPARD with a serious commitment to furthering research, and must be willing to devote significant time and effort towards this goal.

The number of student-technicians that will be allowed to work in LEoPARD at any given time is determined by the number of student-researchers and student-investigators in the group at that time. This is because real research progress takes substantial time and dedication — and by definition, the role of the student-technician is not quite one of utmost dedication per se. The number of student-technicians is therefore capped such that there will never be a ratio of less than 1.5:1 of student-researchers and student-investigators to student-technicians. For instance:

  • If there is only one (1) student-researcher or student-investigator in the group, there can be no student-technicians. Why? Even one student-technician would cause an undesirable ratio of 1:1
  • If there are a total of two (2) student-researchers and student-investigators, then there can be only one (1) student technician.
  • If there are a total of three (3) student-researchers and student-investigators, there can be up to a maximum of two (2) student-technicians.
  • If there are a total of four (4) student-researchers and student-investigators, again, there can be up to a maximum of two (2) student-technicians. Why? Having three (3) student-technicians would cause an undesirable ratio of 1.33:1.
  • If there are a total of five (5) student-researchers and student-investigators, there can be up to a maximum of three (3) student-technicians.
  • Etc.

Prospective student-technicians should not expect to spend more than two (2) semesters in the student-technician role with LEoPARD; should they reach the end of their second semester as a student-technician, they must decide whether to step up and more firmly embrace the role of student-researcher (see below) or to step aside for other students to have their chance at prospective research activities.    

Prospective student-technicians must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be able and willing to dedicate a bare minimum of no less than 3 hours per week to in-lab work (i.e. work that takes place in the lab, preparatory work, cleaning, etc.);
    • Student-technicians may not contribute more than 10 hours per week to LEoPARD. Instead, students genuinely interested in spending more than 10 hours per week in a lab environment should seriously consider applying to the student-researcher position (see below). 
    • During a break period (e.g. Thanksgiving week, Christmas break, summer, etc.) where the student-technician lives locally, they are strongly encouraged to work no less than 6 hours per week, and up to no more than 20 hours per week (otherwise they should consider the role of student-researcher). 
  • Must be able and willing to schedule and attend a weekly 1-hour update meeting, and other meetings as required;
  • Must have a clear understanding that their duties with LEoPARD will not be compromised by any other commitments to non-academic pursuits including (but not limited to) other employment, residence life, volunteering, athletics (including practice, games, travel time for away-games), etc.; 
  • Must have an earnest, genuine interest for laboratory work. Prospective student-technicians need not be already committed to a career in laboratory work — but should be willing to give this work their dedication for the time that they remain in LEoPARD. There should also be an understanding that student-technicians will not be spearheading or leading work — but rather following the instructions disseminated to them by Dr. Dieni and also by student-researchers and student-investigators, as appropriate.

Download the LEoPARD application form

Student-researchers

The student-researcher position is intended for ambitious students who want to take on a more substantial role in research — and who are passionate about giving serious consideration to making research part of their long-term career goals (e.g. pursuing graduate studies, performing cutting-edge work in a biotechnology company, having a prominent role in drug discovery and clinical trials, etc.). Student-researchers will execute and analyze the results of the core experiments in LEoPARD’s various research projects, with the utmost care and meticulous attention to detail — in pursuit of the ultimate goal of publishing discoveries in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Students who are interested in the student-researcher role are expected to join LEoPARD with the highest commitment to furthering research — and must be willing to devote considerable time and effort towards this goal.

In contrast to the role of a student-technician — which is arguably more of a “temporary” or “undecided” role — a prospective student-research should come to LEoPARD with far greater commitment, and a willingness to prioritize research over other activities in their life (aside from academics, of course!). A prospective student-researcher should carefully consider their ability to make an upfront two (2)-semester commitment — or, whenever possible, an upfront full calendar-year commitment (i.e. 12 months) — to research with LEoPARD. For instance, a student who wishes to join LEoPARD as of the Fall 2021 semester should also carefully consider their ability to continue their commitment to research during the Christmas 2021/New Year 2022 holiday season, the Spring 2022 semester, and summer 2022 as well. Similarly a student who wishes to join LEoPARD as of the Spring 2022 semester should preferably not seek a role of student-researcher if this will be their final semester before graduation; rather, a prospective student-researcher joining LEoPARD in Spring 2022 should be available to continue research during summer 2022, Fall 2022, and possibly beyond. 

Prospective student-researchers must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be able and willing to dedicate a bare minimum of no less than 10 hours per week (and often, considerably more than the 10-hour weekly minimum) to in-lab research (i.e. work that takes place in the lab, making reagents and solutions, running experiments, recording data, etc.);
    • During a break period (e.g. Thanksgiving week, Christmas break, summer, etc.) where the student-researcher lives locally, they are strongly encouraged to work no less than 20 hours per week. Consistent and repeated failure to take advantage of the potential uninterrupted productivity afforded by break periods may affect a student-researcher’s future opportunities.
  • Must be able and willing to work “odd hours” (e.g. evenings, weekends) as necessitated by laboratory protocols and/or the scheduling of intensive research time-blocks around coursework;
  • Must be able and willing to dedicate no less than 5 hours per week (and often more) to out-of-lab research (i.e. work that takes place out of the lab, processing data, plotting graphs, searching out and reading references from the peer-reviewed literature, writing manuscripts and poster presentations, etc.);
  • Must be able and willing to schedule and attend a weekly 1-hour research progress meeting, and other meetings as required;
  • Must have a clear understanding that their duties with LEoPARD will not be compromised by any other commitments to non-academic pursuits including (but not limited to) other employment, residence life, volunteering, athletics (including practice, games, travel time for away-games), etc.; 
  • Must have an earnest, genuine interest for research. Prospective student-researchers need not be a research expert, or already committed to a career in research, but should be willing to give research nothing short of their uncompromising dedication for the time that they remain in LEoPARD.

Download the LEoPARD application form

Student-investigators

The student-investigator position is reserved exclusively for ultra-committed researchers who have proven themselves over at least one semester with LEoPARD and who are wholeheartedly certain — for all intents and purposes — that they want to engage in research amidst their long-term career goals. Student-investigators will not only execute and analyze the results of the core experiments in LEoPARD’s various research projects — but will also assist in the planning and coordination of projects, training of newer personnel who join LEoPARD, and the mentoring and directing of both student-technicians and student-researchers. Students who have spent a minimum of one semester with LEoPARD as a student-researcher, and are interested promotion to student-investigator, must be willing to entirely dedicate their time and effort towards this singular goal with little or no competition from other pursuits; please be advised that this level of dedication is not for everyone, and not to be taken lightly! 

Prospective student-investigators must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be willing and able — upon promotion to student-investigator — to make make a non-negotiable, full-calendar year commitment to research with LEoPARD, and have a minimum of a complete 365 days remaining before anticipated graduation date, and a genuine ability to remain with LEoPARD for the entirety of that period. As one example — a student-researcher who has completed prior research with LEoPARD and who wishes to upgrade to a student-investigator as of the Fall 2021 semester must also commit to being a student-investigator during the Christmas 2021/New Year 2022 holiday season, the Spring 2022 semester, and the entirety of Summer 2022 as well. As another example — a student-researcher who has completed prior research with LEoPARD and who wishes to upgrade to a student-investigator as of Summer 2022 must also commit to being a student-investigator during the Fall 2022 semester, the Christmas 2022/New Year 2023 holiday season, and the Spring 2023 semester as well;
  • Must have spent at least one prior successful semester with LEoPARD as a student-researcher;
    • In the one (or more) prior successful semester(s), the prospective student-investigator must have shown a talent for research and a strong desire to put research interests above other priorities.
  • Must be able and willing to dedicate a bare minimum of no less than 18 hours per week (and often, considerably more than the 18-hour weekly minimum) to in-lab research (i.e. work that takes place in the lab, making reagents and solutions, running experiments, recording data, etc.);
    • During a break period (e.g. Thanksgiving week, Christmas break, summer, etc.) where the student-investigator lives locally, they are strongly encouraged to work no less than 36 hours per week. Consistent and repeated failure to take advantage of the potential uninterrupted productivity afforded by break periods may affect a student-investigator’s future opportunities.
  • Must be able and willing to work “odd hours” (e.g. evenings, weekends) as necessitated by laboratory protocols and/or the scheduling of intensive research time-blocks around coursework;
    • Additionally, the student-investigator must realize and embrace that in addition to evenings and weekends, it is necessary to have days upon days — or, more accurately, weeks upon weeks — of uninterrupted research to make any substantial progress. The student-investigator is therefore expected to make every reasonable effort towards in-lab work for a significant portion of “break” periods such as the Christmas/New Year period, Spring/Fall break (if applicable), Thanksgiving, and summer, among others. For all intents and purposes, stopping short of posing a risk to their academic performance, the role of student-investigator should be considered a “real-world” job;
    • Barring exceptional circumstances, the student-investigator may not be absent from the lab for a period of any longer than 28 calendar days — or they will be reassigned from their student-investigator role to a student-researcher role instead.  
  • Must be able and willing to dedicate no less than 8 hours per week (and often more) to out-of-lab research (i.e. work that takes place out of the lab, processing data, plotting graphs, searching out and reading references from the peer-reviewed literature, writing manuscripts and poster presentations, etc.);
  • Must be able and willing to schedule and attend a weekly 1-hour research progress meeting, and other meetings as required;
  • Must not be involved in other non-academic pursuits to any significant extent, including (but not limited to) other employment, residence life, volunteering, athletics, etc. — without prior discussion and express permission from Dr. Dieni;
    • Given that the student-investigator will likely not be involved in employment outside of LEoPARD due to the high level of dedication required to this role, it is strongly recommended that prospective student-investigators are eligible to pursue intensive research through one or both of the following pathways:
      • 1) Prospective student-investigators should be competitive or otherwise eligible for funding sources such as work-study, internal and external research scholarships, stipendiary allocations to external grants, and others as appropriate. Prospective student-investigators who are under financial duress and who would otherwise anticipate a strong need to pursue employment in order to fund their basic necessities (e.g. tuition, housing, food, etc.) might want to first discuss their interest in being a student-investigator with Dr. Dieni before taking any steps;
      • 2) Prospective student-investigators should try to dedicate as many elective credits in their degree program as possible to research. This will allow a shift in focus from credit-based coursework to credit-based research, with a possibly more favourable reorganization of their weekly schedules to accommodate the long hours required for research.  
  • Must have above-average writing skills — or a willingness to develop their writing skills — and an interest in writing anything and everything from laboratory standard operating procedures (SOPs) to manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication;
  • Must have above-average presenting skills — or a willingness to develop their presentation skills — and an interest in speaking about their research at a variety of internal and external venues;
  • Must have above-average leadership skills — or a willingness to develop their leadership skills — and an interest in training, mentoring, and directing student-researchers and student-technicians who are junior to themselves.

Download the LEoPARD application form

Students interested in any of these roles should contact Dr. Dieni.