Jennifer Gardy

Science alumna a rising TV star

March 6, 2008

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By Stuart Colcleugh

Move over David Suzuki, because there’s a rising star in the science TV firmament — and she got her start right here at SFU.        

Jennifer Gardy, the wicked-smart microbiologist on CBC TV’s hip new weekly science show, Project X, graduated from SFU in 2006 with a PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry and a Governor General’s Gold Medal as the university’s top doctoral student.

These days, when she’s not floating in zero-gravity, trapping alligators or racing against champion sprinters for Project X, Gardy is a postdoctoral fellow in bioinformatics/microbiology at UBC, where she explores the immune system using computer models.

Project X aims to explore the frontlines of science in an entertaining but intellectually challenging manner as Gardy and her three science-sleuthing co-stars travel the world to explore one theme from different angles in each half-hour episode.

The diminutive and vivacious detective has dreamed of becoming a TV science host at least since her days as a grad student with SFU microbiologist Fiona Brinkman. “It’s nice to see how Jenn is starting to realize her dream,” says Brinkman.

“Fiona really encouraged me,” says Gardy. “She introduced me to (SFU biology professor) Mark Winston, who’s like SFU’s science communication guru. And that kick-started so many things — including my writing career for SFU News.”

Gardy was a regular freelance contributor to the university’s newspaper for two years, writing on everything from biochemistry and biodiversity to bear-sightings at SFU’s Burnaby campus.

SFU News co-editor Diane Luckow says “she was a very good reporter from the start.”

Project X premiered in February and runs for eight episodes this season. Gardy says the program’s audience share has been growing rapidly and she has high hopes that it will be picked up for a second season.

Meanwhile, balancing her academic and media careers can be a juggling act, she says. “But I do bioinformatics-based research, which I can do anywhere as long as I have a computer and an Internet connection.”

Project X airs on Thursday nights on CBC at 7:30 p.m.
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