Undergrad heads to Harvard Stem Cell Institute for summer internship

March 14, 2014

What did you want to be when you were in Grade 7?

Hockey player, astronaut, actor?

By the age of 12, Jasleen Grewal had firmly set her sights on the fledgling field of biotechnology.

With the blessings of her teachers and her teacher parents, Jasleen left India at the end of Grade 10 to complete her high school education in Vancouver.

Upon graduation, Jasleen was drawn to SFU’s joint program in Computing Science and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry because it fit perfectly with her interest in studying the biological world at the molecular level. The joint program prepares students for a career in the emerging field of bioinformatics, which uses computational tools to process and analyze biological and genetic data.  The honours student, who manages a 4.12 grade point average, (a grade point average of 4 is equivalent to straight As) eventually wants to complete a PhD and become a bioinformatician.

Winning an internship to Harvard’s prestigious Stem Cell Institute this summer will open many doors for the third-year student. The program places 35 students in one of the numerous hospitals and schools that the Institute collaborates with in a number of research areas.  The internship covers housing and travel costs and provides a small stipend for expenses. Most of the interns are chosen from Harvard College itself, but a small number — about 19 — are chosen from national and international colleges.

Innately curious and inquisitive, Jasleen has immersed herself in undergraduate life, whether in co-op terms (she’s done two) or opportunities she hopes to find in Boston. Jasleen advises new students to be intellectual explorers “you never know when you’re going to find something you’re passionate about."

Jasleen also says that the co-op program is essential for all students. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without co-op experience  — it’s a huge personal development tool. Co-op counselors are really good at finding something that fits your interests and it gives you an opportunity to try on different roles."

Dr. Ingrid Northwood, an advisor and lecturer in the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry department is excited for her student.  "Jasleen possesses a combination of intellectual drive partnered with kindness and compassion that will serve her well in this internship as well as in her bioinformatics career. “