For the second year in a row, a Thompson Rivers University student has been named as one of the top undergraduate microbiologists in the country. Tamara Bandet, who graduated this year from TRU’s Cellular Molecular and Microbial Biology program, is one of six recipients of the $500 Canadian Society of Microbiologists Undergraduate Award for 2013. The award is given to students showing outstanding promise in the field of microbiology.
Dr. Naowarat (Ann) Cheeptham, who recommended Bandet for the award, describes Bandet as an “outstanding student, with a great work ethic and curiosity.” Cheeptham adds that Bandet is also a well-rounded individual who is able to build relationships with others. “She can think outside of the box, which is important for researchers,” Cheeptham says. “I think she will contribute a great deal to the field.”
Bandet received the award on the strength of her presentation at the Canadian Society of Microbiologists’ conference, Cheeptham’s recommendation, and an essay. Bandet’s presentation explained her year-long research on antibiotic resistance in a respiratory pathogen (Moraxella Catarrhalis) which causes middle ear infections in children, and can exacerbate bronchitis in elderly patients.
With Cheeptham’s guidance and the assistance of Interior Health Authority, who provided isolates of the pathogen, Bandet determined the pathogen developed resistance to one of the six antibiotics tested.
“This is important in terms of which antibiotics should be prescribed for particular conditions,” Bandet explains. Bandet went on to co-author a report on the project with Cheeptham and Dr. Ken Wagner, professor emeritus at TRU, and will be seeking publication in an academic journal.
The award helps Bandet in her new phase of as a graduate student in applied microbiology in Japan. She has received a scholarship at Hokkaido University that will include six months of intensive language training before beginning the Master program in May 2014.
In 2012, TRU microbiology student Corrie Belanger received one of three Canadian Society of Microbiologists Undergraduate Awards.
Naowarat (Ann) Cheeptham,
Department of Biological Sciences
Thompson Rivers University