Whiz kid meets professor – sparks good chemistry
Melanie Monk, VP research office, 778.782.7058; email@example.com
Simon University chemistry professor Mario Pinto has taught some gifted young scholars before, but few as remarkable as Chilliwack’s Eric LeGresley.
In 2010 at age 14, LeGresley was already taking university-level calculus from SFU math lecturer Veslin Jungic along with his Grade 10 coursework when he attended a Pinto lecture on how anti-viral drugs work.
Pinto, SFU’s vice-president of research, was guest speaking at Taste of Pi, a community-engagement initiative Jungic started for exceptional high school students.
LeGresley was so fascinated by Pinto’s description of his research on molecular mimicry for drug and vaccine design he pressed Jungic for an introduction.
And Pinto was so impressed with the whiz kid from St. John Brebeuf secondary in Abbotsford he invited him to work in his lab.
“LeGresley is very motivated, and absorbs information like a sponge,” says Pinto. “He’s also able to put into practice the theories he’s learning in our group.”
LeGresley soon found a mentor in Pinto lab grad student, Kyle Greenway, whose work with the young protégé this year accounted for one of the largest single uses of the university’s Westgrid computing system.
With Greenway’s collaboration, LeGresley developed a computer protocol that reduces the time it takes to assess the effectiveness of anti-flu drugs from more than a year to less than a week.
That work earned him a $5,000 Platinum Award this spring at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, $7,000 in other prize money, five entrance scholarship offers and the opportunity to present his findings at the Canadian Chemistry Conference in May.
In fall 2013, LeGresley will begin his science undergraduate degree with plans to eventually become a research-focused medical doctor. Meanwhile, he will continue to take SFU courses.
“Eric is a perfect example of the interaction between engaging students, engaging research and engaging communities that is the hallmark of SFU’s new vision of becoming the leading engaged university,” says Pinto. “He has a very promising future.”
Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.