There's science in their genes

Oct 02, 2003, vol. 28, no. 3
By Marianne Meadahl

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Their academic paths have been paved to Princeton. But the actual footsteps being followed by Casey Ydenberg and Agata Becalska have a lot in common with those of their parents.

The two young scientists graduate from SFU this fall with bachelor of science degrees, both majoring in molecular biology. Ydenberg's father, Ron Ydenberg, is a professor in biological sciences. Both of his parents were also SFU undergraduates. His grandfather, Cal Hoyt, was SFU's first dean of business administration.

Becalska's parents are chemists who both previously worked as research assistants at SFU. The couple has become the next generation to keep science all in the family. They met in class, attracted by a similar passion for science and drive to succeed in their studies. Both were accepted into prestigious Princeton university, where they began studies this fall.

Ydenberg, who is eyeing a career as a researcher, was drawn to molecular biology because of the field's promise. He notes that he and his father, who specializes in environmental ecology, are at opposite ends of life cycles. “I'm drawn by the challenge of figuring out what individual genes do,” says Ydenberg. “It's a developing field with a lot of big fish to go after.” Becalska, who shares a similar goal of becoming a researcher, is attracted to the development of organisms. The two frequently challenge each other with scientific dilemmas and engaging debate. “We are known to really play off each other,” says Becalska, of their two-and-a-half-year relationship. The pair made the transition to Princeton at the end of the summer and, with studies already under way, won't be attending convocation on Oct. 3.

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