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UA Alumni: Tiffany Ni

Tiffany was the Global Winner in the Medical Sciences category in 2018.

She has recently completed her Masters of Science (MSc) in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology from the University of Toronto. Her thesis explored the mechanism of action of a novel anti-thrombotic drug. She is currently a first-year student in the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program at the University of Toronto.

What are you doing now, and what has happened since the award?

It has been two years since this award, and so much has happened since!

I continued my interest in basic science research and successfully wrapped up my MSc in July 2020. My Master's thesis investigated a novel anti-thrombin molecule and its effects on platelet aggregation and blood coagulation, with the goal of developing a safer medication for cardiovascular diseases. My work has since been recognized internationally through invited oral presentations, including at the Gordon Research Conference and the International Society of Thrombosis and Hemostasis. I am very thankful to have also received numerous research awards, including the Canadian Institute of Health Research-Canada Graduate Scholarship (Master's Program).

In 2019, I collaborated with three team members to formulate a solution to help tackle China's ageing population crisis. Our project, titled "Program for Elderly Adults with Cohabitation and Enrichment (PEACE)," was named the winner of the North America Region in the Geneva Challenge 2019: Challenges of Global Health competition and we had the rare opportunity to deliver an oral presentation in Geneva, Switzerland.

Despite my medical science background, I decided to venture outside my comfort zone these past two years to explore my interest in novel medical technologies. This led me to pursue multiple 3D-printing projects with the Medical Makers Organization, where we use 3D-printing technology to develop cost-effective, sustainable and personalized medical devices for low-resource communities and conflict zones around the world.

While Mars may be far in space, many aspects of its remote environment are similar to that of low-resource settings. So, in March 2019, we conducted field testing of our devices at the Mars Desert Research Station, where I was the crew scientist.

At home, my tendency to take my hobbies a little too far has led to me becoming a plant mother to 60+ houseplants and 150+ succulents over this past year.

What do you like the most about what you do?

The best (and most exciting) thing about what I do is collaborating with other talented individuals to design pragmatic solutions that address the critical issues in our world – whether in public health policy, wet bench science, or even new medical technologies.

Has receiving an award for your hard work helped?

Absolutely! Receiving this award gave me confidence and motivation to pursue a career as a clinician scientist. This award has also helped me to secure subsequent research funding in the years since during my graduate studies. Moreover, the opportunity to discuss my work and meet other outstanding students from various disciplines at the Global Undergraduate Summit in Ireland was incredibly memorable and valuable.

Why should students submit their work to the UA Programme?

I highly recommend everyone to submit to the Undergraduate Awards!

By submitting to the UA, you have the chance to be rewarded for the hard work you have already put into your project(s). Whether your work is directly related to your future career goals or is in another field altogether, research remains the same at its core: telling a good story. Thus, the skills you gain through this experience – critical thinking, receiving feedback, communicating to a diverse crowd – will help you excel, no matter what career path you choose.

At the UA, you would have the chance to learn from a group of other bright, dedicated, and enthusiastic students and learn from world-class experts in the field!