Nicole Russel

Nicole Russel

Give a brief bio about yourself/ your background/ your history.

When I was six years old, my family and I immigrated to Canada from India. Growing up, my parents encouraged me to try out the many different extracurricular activities and opportunities that were offered here. As a result, I grew up participating in a variety of different sports and arts. I was a competitive gymnast, dancer, and badminton player, and had opportunities to compete outside of the province and at Manitoba Games. My love for music led me to pursue piano, competitive singing, and guitar. In high school, although I started to shift my focus to academics, I maintained my extracurricular activities while trying new opportunities such as the musical theatre production and peer tutoring. As I got older, I started volunteering at Westman Immigrant Services, Brandon Regional Hospital, and Helping Hands Soup Kitchen which allowed me to gain a lot of different perspectives from very diverse groups of people, and give back to the community that I had grown up in. Finally, as a student at BU, I worked as a tutor, teacher’s assistant, volunteered as a student leader and joined clubs such as the Chemistry Club and WUSC. I am currently an Honours student in Dr. Charette’s lab, and conduct research on a rare, genetic disease called Bowen-Conradi Syndrome. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, photography, playing guitar and working out!

What education have you taken?

I graduated from Vincent Massey High School in 2018. I am currently in my fourth and final year of completing an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in chemistry and minor in biology. I will be graduating from Brandon University this spring!

What accomplishments are you proud of?

I am extremely grateful and proud to be a research student in Dr. Charette’s lab. In 2020, I was honored to be a recipient of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Undergraduate Student Research Award (NSERC-USRA). This award allowed me to work in Dr. Charette’s lab over the summer, nurturing my passion for research and allowing me to develop a variety of skills ranging from lab techniques to presenting research. I am also proud of receiving the silver award for the undergraduate student poster presentation at the 17th Annual Child Health Research Day Symposium in 2021. Developing my public speaking and presentation skills is something I have been working towards for a long time, and I was thrilled to receive this award.

I am also grateful for the academic scholarships and awards I have received throughout my time at Brandon University. These scholarships have provided me with support and motivated me to continue working hard towards my goals.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

Biology and chemistry were my favorite classes in high school because my teachers were engaging and provided an amazing environment where we could learn about the delicate nature of our world. In university, I had a hard time choosing between chemistry and biology for my major but chose chemistry. The way that small atoms make up the world around us was a concept I was excited to wrap my head around and dive deeper into.

What is your philosophy in life?

My two biggest philosophies in life are:

  1. You can learn something from every experience, situation, or person. Having a positive mindset can bring about so many great outcomes (even if that outcome is simply a smile).
  2. Celebrate the little things in life: I always strive to grow as a person, whether that means expanding my knowledge, or trying something new or out of my comfort zone. In this process however, I think it’s important to slow down, take some time to enjoy the present, and appreciate how far you have come.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

In the future, I hope to fulfill my dream of obtaining a medical degree and practicing as a physician, while doing research. In doing this, I hope to make a positive impact in the community.

In one sentence, how will you #BreakTheBias?

I will #BreakTheBias by challenging stereotypes and assumptions about gender and educating myself on the common biases faced by people today.

Nominator’s Comments:

I have known Nicole since the spring of 2020 when she first joined my research lab. She was awarded a highly competitive and prestigious Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada-Undergraduate Student Research Award (NSERC-USRA) to fund her summer research in my lab. She then worked in my lab the following summer and is now completing her honours research also in my lab. Below, I want to outline why Nicole is deserving of this recognition.

Nicole is a stellar student. For this, she has been given a long list of awards, including inducted into the President’s Honour Society (2019, 2020, 2021) and placed on the Dean’s Honour list (2019, 2020, 2021). She has also been awarded the BU BofG’s Entrance Scholarship (2018), BU Centennial Scholarship (2019, 2020, 2021), along with the highly prestigious Dr. Bruce and Mrs. Jane Forrest Scholarship for Second, for Third, and for Fourth Year Chemistry Majors (2019, 2020, and 2021), and many others. Based on her high academic performance, Nicole has applied to the Doctor of Medicine program at the University of Manitoba and has (so far!) secured an interview!

Nicole as an exceptional researcher. As stated above, Nicole was awarded an NSERC-USRA award for her summer research in my lab during the summer of 2020, which she continued in the summer of 2021, and now as an Honours student. She has presented her work twice at the provincial Child Health Research Days conference (2020, 2021) of the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba and her virtual presentation won the second place award for undergraduates in Manitoba (2021) – against other U of M undergraduate students! In the research lab, she has mastered an extensive list of both experimental and computational research methods and is making incredible progress on a number of different research projects. I anticipate that Nicole will publish at least two first author research papers from my lab.

Nicole as a community builder. In addition to her extensive academic and research accomplishments, she also is a leader in the lab and a community builder. She is a member of the Department of Chemistry 270 18th Street, Brandon MB, Canada R7A 6A9 204.728.9520 BU Chemistry club, participated in the 2018 food drive, was a BU Student leader (2019-2020), a tutor in statistics, general chemistry, and organic chemistry, and worked as a lab TA for general chemistry.