Where are they now? Past CWSF Winners, now Schulich Leaders
After securing top awards at previous Canada Wide Science Fair (CWSF) competitions, Daniel McInnis and Aditya Mohan are blazing the path for students looking to pursue the science and engineering fields. Going on to solidify 2015 Schulich Leader Scholarships at U of T and McGill, Daniel and Aditya are taking advantage of the knowledge and skills they applied at past CWSF and other international competitions.
Daniel, studying mechanical engineering at the University of Toronto, has fully embraced his entrepreneurial spirit, building on successes at past science fairs: a prototype for a safer and more supportive hockey helmet, followed by the best overall project at last year’s CWSF with an automated 3D scanner that scans amputees and generates blueprints for the 3D printing of prosthetic limbs. While working at the Univerity of Ottawa last year, Daniel utilized his 3D scanner prototype to produce a prosthetic hand for a five-year-old boy who now uses his new hand every day. He’s also received a Canadian patent for better helmet technology (a U.S. patent is currently pending) and aims to license his technology. Daniel hopes to bring his helmet technology to the market as soon as possible.
Since placing first at ISEF in the Biomedicine category for the development of a oncolytic virus for cancer treatment and diagnosis in 2015, Aditya built on his past silver medal finish at CWSF the year prior for his analysis of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TLSP) as a potential adjuvant for HIV therapy. The pursuit of Aditya’s research on new ways to prevent and treat infectious diseases of global reach led him to a degree in microbiology and immunology at McGill University. Aditya has been able to incorporate various elements from both past projects into two fields of interest to satisfy all of his creative desires. Interested in the ability of viruses to target specific cells, he recently bioengineered the common cold virus (adenovirus, type 5) to specifically target cancer cell pathways (BIRC5) and produce unique cancer-killing proteins that he designed, without harming healthy cells. The in vitro results were extremely promising and the research has now entered in vivo testing.
In addition to his academic research, Aditya has gone on to start a new genetic engineering team at McGill for the international IGEM contest and became an editor with the McGill Science Undergraduate Journal. Without coming up for air, Aditya helps run the annual healthcare conference in Ottawa, and has shadowed several distinguished doctors in their clinical practice.
Both Daniel and Aditya cite their participation in CWSF and being recipients of the Schulich Leader Scholarships as tremendous advantages on their path to academic and professional success. “CWSF and the Schulich Foundation have helped me realize my passions, pursue my ideas, and given me the confidence to share them with the world,” says Aditya. He hopes to make large contributions to the field of oncolytic virology and is currently researching a project that relates to CRISPR gene editing and studies certain mutations that can improve a patient’s ability to improve and combat cancer.
Daniel’s objective is to implement his technology to protect the minds of young athletes, one child at a time. For Daniel, his experience at CWSF has taught him that “if you have a goal, the biggest obstacle in achieving it isn’t your age, education or experience – it’s yourself.” His sole focus is to leave university with an even stronger will to make a difference in the world.