The students' national winnings add to those awarded in the regional competitions. In some cities, regional winners also receive university scholarships and/or summer jobs.
On June 18, Janelle Tam and Rui Song will represent Canada in Boston at the Sanofi-sponsored International BioGENEius Challenge, taking place in conjunction with the BIO Annual International Convention.
A powerful anti-oxidant discovered in tree pulp
Canada's next big technological and health breakthrough might come from cellulose, the woody material found in trees that enables them to stand. Cellulose is made up of tiny nano-particles called nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC) that are measured in thousandths of the width of a human hair.
Only recently discovered, Waterloo's Janelle Tam is the first to show that NCC is a powerful antioxidant, and may be superior to Vitamin C or E because it is more stable and its effectiveness won't diminish as quickly.
"NCC is non-toxic, stable, soluble in water and renewable, since it comes from trees," says Janelle, a Grade 12 student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute.
NCC has many unique properties: stronger than steel but flexible, durable and ultra light. Its potential uses are virtually limitless. Canada's national forest research institute, FPInnovations, predicts a $250 million dollar market in the coming decade.
The world's first large-scale NCC production plant opened in January at a pulp and paper mill in Windsor, Quebec. NCC is extracted from cellulose using a chemical process similar to that used in pulp mills.
"NCC is really a hot field of research in Canada," says Janelle, who notes that antioxidants have anti-aging and health promotion properties, including wound healing since they neutralize "free radicals" that damage or kill cells.
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Bioscience Education Canada