Winnipeg Student Heading to Ottawa for BioGENEius Challenge

Ella Thomson (SBCC)

A Grade 11 student from Balmoral Hall School is headed to Ottawa to compete in the 2012 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC), awarding biotech science prizes to the country’s brightest minds.

Sixteen-year-old Ella Thomson genetically modified a common soil bacteria to produce 36% more volume of the bio-ingredient used to make eco-friendly plastic.

Thomson will join 12 other high school whiz kids from across Canada, each of whom have researched and collaborated with top university mentors to bring life to their projects.

“I spent a lot time learning about all the new techniques and ideas,” Thomson said. “I was surprised to learn how complex the processes of such a simple bacteria are.”

To get a solid lab result, Thomson took time off from school to conduct trials at the University of Manitoba. About 1,000 modified and control bacteria samples were created.

The project finalists will be judged Monday, May 7 at the Ottawa headquarters of the National Research Council by a panel of pre-eminent Canadian scientists.

Canada’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place national winners will receive $5,000, $4,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively, with $500 prizes for honourable mentions. A special $1,000 prize is awarded to the project deemed by the judges to have the greatest commercial value.

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