SFU Biological Sciences student builds community, in and out of the lab

June 10, 2024
Christina Walker during a Co-op term at STEMCELL Technologies

When SFU Biological Sciences student Christina Walker arrived at SFU she knew she loved biology but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do next.

“I was fascinated by both ecological systems and how the human body functions,” she says. “I envisioned myself contributing to our community by either protecting the environment or advancing human health.”

She found opportunities to explore both interests through in the biological sciences program, Co-op and extracurricular activities. “I participated in so many programs and volunteer activities, in an attempt to find what clicked.”

In her first year she jumped in to helping out with the student-run TEDxSFU event as a general ambassador, helping with promotion and event logistics. She loved it so much she continued to take on roles with progressively more responsibility, until she was selected as co-executive director of TEDxSFU 2022: Reflection. The event was a success, with over 300 tickets sold. 

Christina Walker and co-executive director Lauren Mok at TEDxSFU

Walker has been the friendly face of SFU for many students who are new or visiting SFU. She got involved with the Global Connections Program, which helps international and exchange students connect with social opportunities and resources, and worked as a student recruitment ambassador and information assistant at Student Central, welcoming tour groups to SFU.

During her degree Walker completed two semesters as an undergraduate research assistant in biological sciences professor Lisa Julian’s lab, and later completed a grant project there.

“Dr. Julian was a great help to me by giving me a chance in her lab and with a real project and exposing me to what real research was like,” Walker says. “I don't think I would have gotten any co-op offers at the end of my degree without her.”

Far from being an isolating experience, she found that research labs can be collaborative environments, where people work together to solve problems.

She went on to complete and two Co-op terms at the research and development department at STEMCELL Technologies.

“I didn't expect to fall in love with the lab and research,” she says. “I wish I had known that undergraduate students could volunteer in labs sooner.”