Pacific Rim Foundation
Daniel Osborne

Update from Daniel Osborne: 2014 Recipient

May 21, 2017

Hey there!

Sorry for the late reply! I’ve been feeling a little under the weather. Hope all is well back on the coast (and here’s hoping that the weather gets a bit better too!) I’ve been doing well, and have been enjoying a quasi-break from school and work over the past week and a bit! It’s been nice to get back out running and getting some social time with friends that was missed over the past semester. Anyways! You may be wondering what I’ve been up to this semester, so without further ado, here is my winter 2017 update:

This semester was super busy and it seemed like I was always on-the-go, but was very fulfilling and enriching nonetheless! This semester I only took four classes (although I initially was planning to take five) which consisted of: biochemistry (part II), inorganic chemistry, applied epidemiology, and animal physiology.

Biochemistry was an incredibly interesting course that delved into many topics associated with metabolism of our foodstuffs. Of course I had a very general and somewhat rudimentary idea of how our bodies processed what we consume, but to investigate this on a molecular level was a completely different story! Seeing how food can affect our body, and the implications of varying diets was so intriguing, especially for someone who (tries to…) watches what he eats. In lab, we really got to hone our skills as biochemists while using common lab practices to evaluate the properties of enzymes. Being able to bridge what I’ve learned from the biology program with what I’ve learned in my chemistry courses was really refreshing. It’s really quite funny to look back and see how much I’ve truly learned these past 3 years at VIU. I think the single most important thing I learned in this course was how scary carbohydrates are! Of course, I’m joking, but this course did put forth how important nutrition can be, and this knowledge has somehow worked its way into my daily life.

Inorganic chemistry was a mildly abstract course, as compared to the rest of my schedule. But in my pursuit of branching outside of organic chemistry, it was a nice course to take for sure. Even on the first day, our professor evoked a feeling of excitement for inorganic chemistry, citing that it is the chemistry of colour. Due to this being the smallest class sizes I’ve had at VIU, there was more free reign during lab time to truly investigate what was happening and going outside of the regular curriculum. There were so many “hallelujah” moments throughout this course where it tied in many chemistry concepts from my first few years, and were linked to new concepts that explained so much about the world. We were able to synthesize pretty much the entire rainbow of inorganic compounds in lab, using a variety of lab equipment! Since the curriculum material finished early (possible artifact of the small class size), we were able to delve into the field of bio-inorganic chemistry; a course by the same name which I will be taking in the upcoming year!

Animal physiology, one of my upper level requirements, was very interesting and included many learning outcomes that I would otherwise not have encountered in the courses I’ve taken. I think the hallmark of this course were the lab periods which included various and sundry activities dealing with animals which is something I hadn’t experienced in depth so far. The focus of this course was how everything our body does contributes to the overall equilibrium of our body’s systems. It’s an almost philosophical approach to biology looking at how, against all odds, evolution made us who we are today. I thoroughly enjoyed the portion of the course that focussed on sensory perception (sight, hearing, taste etc...). We even looked at how optical illusions are perceived the way they are, and how it’s intertwined with our biological roots. Naturally, the highlight of this course was the field trips to both the Pacific Biological Station and the Vancouver Aquarium. Although marine organism research isn’t necessarily where I want to end up, being able to tour these facilities was incredibly enhancing to my overall biology knowledge base. On top of that we got to see sea lions up close doing tricks, which is so different from seeing them back home in the wild I guess!

Finally, this semester I took applied epidemiology, a course that focuses on the methods and numbers behind disease transmission. (Don’t tell my other professors, but I think this was my favourite course that I’ve taken!) I think this is a result of wanting to go into the medical field, and it actually really opened my eyes to the variety of jobs within this field. We were able to be visited by many experts within the field, and I think it that I would really like to go into the public health sector, before entering a more professional healthcare job perhaps? I find it is able to bridge every part of biology that I’ve come to enjoy, and I’m really interested in learning more about where I could go with this! This course had a lot of discussion at its core, which truly augmented my learning experience in epidemiology.

Overall, this semester seemed to just whip by, and I’m excited for my last two semesters (where did the time go??). In between all of the labs, tests, and assignments, I’ve kept myself busy with my continuing volunteerism with Students Offering Support, volleyball, and running with the VIU run club (somewhat lesser so due to the less-than-ideal weather this semester).

Oh! And what am I up to this summer? Well! I’m keeping myself busy by taking an online psychology course through Thompson Rivers University. In addition to this, I also found my (dream?) job at the Cowichan Land Trust! I’ll be working 2 days a week in the Cowichan region, doing various office tasks, and visiting conservation sites where I’ll be looking for sensitive species, as well as some other outreach work. Additionally, three days a week will be spent on Thetis Island where I will be working to help start the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy Nature House! I’ll be planning activities for locals and tourists alike, to come through the nature house to get a hands-on experience with Thetis Island’s natural side. The other day I got to tour the island and it’s absolutely amazing! Here I thought I grew up in a small town, but Thetis only has 350 year-round inhabitants. Very strong “small town” feelings, and I’m more than excited that I’ll get to spend my summer on the island! And one more thing! I will also spend some of my summer reading up and researching for my undergraduate research project which will involve water purification using inorganic compounds and photochemistry! It sounds like quite the undertaking, but rest assured it won’t be too bad! I’m doing this project under the guidance of my chemistry professor from this semester, and am more than excited to get started!

However, I cannot drive home how grateful I am for your continuous support! As I look back on my experience in university so far, and how far I’ve come, I cannot forget how fortunate I am to have been selected as a PRF scholarship recipient. So again, thank you so much!

Well! That’s just about it! I hope you have an excellent summer and I’ll talk to you soon J

-Daniel Osborne


January 12, 2017

Hi All!

Happy new year! I'm back in Nanaimo after enjoying (albeit it flew by!) break back on the coast. It was definitely nice to be relaxing at home with family and friends after exams—getting some solid de-stress time in J (Having temperatures above 0OC was also a massive plus). My third year so far has been a pretty large step up from the past few semesters at VIU but it's been nice to be able to pick my own courses and specialize in what I want to do, rather than just the degree requirements! This semester's courses consisted of upper level biology courses and one chemistry course. Inclusive of these were: molecular cell biology, molecular genetics, immunology, plant ecology and bio-organic chemistry.

Molecular cell biology consisted of genetic control of cells and the ability to manipulate cells in a lab setting. Also included was experimentation and research in lab and seminar components, furthering our growth as researchers and lab workers. For my project I chose the subject of culturing meat in labs as a means to combat the overwhelmingly negative side effects of modern meat production. It was pretty abstract to traditional projects but was pretty cool to research! Welcome to the new age! Labs included portions in which we tested our own DNA, and manipulated cells including everyone's favourite-- Chinese hamster cell!

Molecular genetics, one of VIU's most notoriously difficult courses, was also on the roster for this semester. Class consisted of many interactive lectures on how the human genome was annotated, as well as studying genetic components of certain disorders like cystic fibrosis and complex disorders such as diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer's. Despite being a hard course, it truly aided in the development of critical thinking and provided a challenge throughout the semester. In addition, labs kept the course interesting by testing our DNA—one in which we could trace our DNA back to our ancestors. I concluded that I am from a haplogroup originating from Eastern Europe or Western Asia, and that I have 100% match to a frozen Hun specimen. Led to some interesting questions for my parents….Perhaps not the most reliable test, but food for thought nonetheless! Additionally, we were able to induce mutations in C. elegans worms (microscopic) and view them over the course of a week. A different type of class pet, I guess. :)

Immunology was a course I've been looking forward to since beginning my academic career at VIU—and it didn't disappoint. We went over everything to do with the human immune system and all the nuances of a still developing biological frontier. Especially helpful during this flu season, we were able to delve into a variety of topics, and due to small class sizes, have some discretion over what we got to learn. Lab consisted of one in which we worked with our blood to test blood type (O+, in case you were wondering) and look at/count our white blood cells.

Another multi-week lab was led by a post-doctorate fellowship researcher from Pacific Biological Station who had recently done work with PRV (an infamous virus) in Atlantic salmon fish farms/wild stocks. This was very relevant to home where viruses and disease outbreak has been a hot topic in fish farming. We looked at the immunity and antiviral responses of salmon and potential solutions to mass viral infection of fish farms as seen in Norway. Being part of a pioneering study was invaluable for further research I may want to do.

Plant ecology, as you can probably see, was a tad abstract to the rest of the courses I was taking. Originally, this course was meant to deal with the biochemistry of microbes, but due to short notice of instructor illness, the course was revamped and dealt with plant ecology instead. Maybe not for everyone, this course dealt with the interactions of plants (yes, it puts an odd picture in your head but stick with me). Dealing with the different biomes, competition, population dynamics etc... it was a rather interesting course, and built on many concepts we looked at in second year ecology. The instructor, a rather renowned plant ecologist from Australia, was even able to enlighten us with anecdotes of her work and experience in the field. I'm not going to lie, this sounded like a course I'd never take and I was fairly skeptical at first, but this course grew (like a plant) on me. Instruction didn't deal with memorizing terms, or being able to regurgitate a theory, but rather understanding and communicating concepts. This type of learning I think with carry me further than tradition lecturing/testing. Labs also allowed us to explore and survey some of our local parks around VIU, experiencing many of the techniques used by today's ecologists.

Last, but certainly not least, was bio-organic chemistry, a somewhat-continuation of the organic chemistry that I learned last year! In this course we had a hands-on experience of learning how reactions occur, and deciphering the mysteries of mechanistic chemistry. We got to work with proteins and enzymes, look at drugs and toxicity, and learn a lot about the up-and-coming developments in this field. In addition, we got to formulate our own presentations on whatever topic we wanted under the umbrella of bio-organic chemistry. I chose to do my project on how glaucoma can be treated through the use of drugs to inactivate the enzyme responsible for causing the condition.

Other projects ranged from solar energy, to gecko feet so it was an interesting process for sure. This course has ignited an unexpected appreciation for chemistry, particularly in the medical field.

In my spare time (something I've come to appreciate) I've been busying myself with continuing volleyball and running. In fact, I've continued running with the VIU running club and have become an exec, meaning that I organize runs for the club. It's definitely a good inspiration to have to get out and run, as the weather cools and school gets more intense. Additionally, I became part of a great organization called Students Offering Support, or SOS for short. In this, I am a tutor for organic chemistry and give presentations to help students succeed on upcoming midterms. All money donated to these sessions goes directly to projects in education in Central America. This year several students from VIU and UBC will be travelling to an area in Guatemala, very close to where we had travelled to in my last year of high school, so this was a perfect cause for me to help raise money for. It has also fostered this idea that I love helping other students, while also improving public speaking and teaching skills.

Well! That's about it! This upcoming semester will bring a host of new and old opportunities and I can't wait to see what else it will bring. I can't believe in no less than four months I will be ending my third year at VIU and will be 75% done! Yikes! Of course, this is just another chance to thank you guys for the continued support. Enjoying and excelling in what I'm doing has been a crazy experience that not everyone gets, and I'm so, so thankful for getting the opportunity to do this. Thanks again, and I'll keep you guys up-to-date on what this coming semester brings!

Take care,
Daniel Osborne


June 2, 2016

Wow how the time flies! It seems just yesterday I was writing my fall semester update, but nonetheless I’m welcoming this summer with open arms.

This past semester has been a busy one for sure, but full of new experiences and learning! This semester I took 5 classes; ecology, organic chemistry (II), biometrics, cell biology, and genetics. 

To break down what these consisted of…

Ecology presented many fascinating topics which we may not think of on a daily basis, but surrounds us and functions in everything that we do. Our professor excited us through her engaging lectures, ranging from the formation of soil, to El Niño and its effects, to how species interact with each other and among other species. Naturally, everyone’s favourite part of this course was being able to do field work during lab periods. These mostly consisted of displaying many of the theories that we learned in class. Trips included going to VIU’s horticultural center where we investigated the eating patterns of mice when there was a threat of predation, and going to Piper’s Lagoon to show how more species are present within the lower intertidal zone, using methods many ecologists use today. Although ecology is not my preferred stream, taking this course has definitely opened my eyes to the possibility of taking future ecology-based courses. I think the most important thing that came out of this class was how we effect the organisms and environment around us and what we can do to help. Our professor instilled this message in us on the very last day—which happened to be her very last lecture at VIU. This message will not be soon forgotten for its importance of conservation of the one world we have.

Organic Chemistry this term was a continuation of what we had learned in the previous semester. In general we learned all of the basic reactions that take place around us, and how certain products can be synthesized (this included plastics, pharmaceuticals, aromatics etc….). In addition, we also learned how to operate and view the results of many tools within the lab. Many of these methods can be applied to many other experiments which broadened my knowledge in both the chemistry and biological fields. The lab-based knowledge was probably the most important component of this course. I think the most interesting lab that we did involved using carrots as a catalyst to complete the reaction, just to show the usefulness of everyday items. The combination of what we learned and the professor I had, really made me interested in taking future chemistry courses. In fact, in my fourth year at VIU I will be able to complete both my minor in chemistry as well as my major in biology.

Biometrics involved the basis of many statistics courses, but with a focus on biology-related situations. This involved hypothesis testing, probability, and the use of common computer programs to enter and calculate data. Having an incredibly helpful professor truly helped learning the material. Although maybe not the most stimulating subject, it will definitely come in handy when assessing the results of my own research.

Cell Biology this semester was definitely my favourite course! It’s hard to even convey what we learned this year and the extent to which we able to understand the basic unit of life. We were shown everything from how our cells control and organize themselves (internally and externally), to how we can use cells as a product, to the basis of cancer. Some of the most integral concepts entrenched in biology were able to be understood during this class. Labs were equally enticing as the second year labs get more specific and utilize specialized techniques and equipment. A particular favourite involved the use of single celled organisms and two types of drugs to view how they affected the cells’ ability to engulf and egest particles. It’s so crazy to move from something theoretical to being able to show how it works in lab! One critical part of this course is that it involves our first oral presentation, which could be on nearly every cell-related topic under the sun. I chose to investigate how cholesterol is regulated by cells to protect us from cardiovascular disease. The ability to fully understand a topic, and relay that information to our peers is an essential skill to have, especially entering my third year at VIU.

Last, but not least, I took genetics this semester. This course usually evokes groans, as it has a bit of a reputation for being rather difficult. Although this may be true, I found what we learned in this course to be absolutely fascinating. Every little thing -- from the sun hitting our skin, to exposure to X-rays, could have such significant consequences, and the ability to be able to understand why this happens, on a molecular level is undeniably stunning. Although this course didn’t have a lab component, we were able to look at many experiments performed over the last few decades to view how we understand genomes and DNA as we know today.

In my spare time I’m making sure to clear my mind through exploring, adventuring, and creating memories. I still continue to play volleyball, train for the upcoming Edge-to-Edge, and engage in local entertainment and culture.

Looking back it’s so mind-blowing to think that this journey started two years ago now, and how much I’ve changed as an intellectual, physical, and social individual. Reaching the half way of my undergrad career has taught me so much and forced me to grow in so many ways. Leaving the safe haven of the west coast and moving on to “big-city” Nanaimo life has been the catalyst in this entire experience, but I can’t forget about home and all the people who’ve supported me in this journey and allowed me to have these experiences. Inclusive of this is all my friends, family, teachers, community members, and of course, Gary Marks and all of those who support and assist in the Pacific Rim Foundation. Without this continuous support, my full potential may not be realized so I must thank you guys again.

Have a great summer!

Daniel Osborne

Update from Daniel Osborne: 2014 Recipient

January 12, 2016

Hey there!

Just thought I’d use the downtime before the semester really begins to update you guys on the happenings of this past semester. This semester was certainly my busiest yet! Transitioning to more specialized, second year studies was a surprisingly large leap, but in spite of that they were much more rewarding.  On top of this I also took part in VIU’s running club, intramural volleyball, chemistry club, and even started volunteering for the SPCA. The courses I took this semester were: Microbiology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, and botany, all requirements for VIU’s biology major.

Microbiology was definitely one of my most interesting courses, which was surprising for someone who isn’t necessarily excited bacterial field. We learned everything from sterile techniques to how to test for bacteria common on humans, as well as practical uses such as water sample testing, with samples taken from around Nanaimo. It was fascinating to have a look into the microscopic world through the technology available at VIU. Although I don’t think that I’ll be choosing a stream that includes very much microbiology, I was able to learn a lot of relevant information, including modern microbial methods, which will surely be used in my future studies.

Biochemistry presented a lot of information that is going to be essential in further biological studies. This course basically teaches life as it is, from the bottom up. Starting with learning all the major biomolecules, and working our way to metabolism, it was an incredibly interesting course and there was a lot to take away from it. Our instructor ensured to relate many of our lectures to mechanisms/diseases/processes that we’re already familiar with. This allowed us to experience this course in a much more thought-provoking manner. Labs included learning many techniques that are used every day in many labs across Canada, while still involving course material with a hands-on approach.

Organic chemistry was a probably my favourite course, in contrast to the rest of my biological studies. Topics ranged from the arrangements of molecules and reactions, to the operation of valuable lab equipment. In lab we were able to synthesize aspirin from natural sources and learn how to operate much of the equipment that’s imperative to studies in the lab. My favourite part about this course was how we learned about such incredibly small parts of our world that seem so distant from us, and that (until recently) we couldn’t see, and through laboratory work we were able to prove that such molecules/mechanisms occurred. It’s a major difference going from what we learn on paper to actually going into the lab and proving that such things exist. It’s a bizarre thing, but it really strengthened the information that we were taught.

Finally, I took botany this semester which although is not something I’m necessarily interested in, it was definitely a useful course to take. As a degree requirement, I think it is important because I would have otherwise never taken such a course. Having grown up on the west coast I found a lot of the material related to many of the species found back home. Much of the field work involved plants that we see at home on a regular basis, but maybe not appreciate as much as we should. This course really opened my eyes to what is around us, and how important many of these plants are to our daily lives. One of the goals of this course, as our professor tells us, is to reduce “plant-blindness” and this course was very successful in doing so. Although much of the knowledge from this course may not relate to my future studies, it was a perfect opportunity to understand what’s all around me.

And here we are! Back in Nanaimo, and ready for a new semester and learning much much more. I hope you all are having a wonderful beginning to the new year and will hopefully talk to you soon! And again, thank you for this amazing opportunity. Many of these opportunities wouldn’t be possible without your kind generosity!

All the best in 2016,

Daniel Osborne

Update from Daniel Osborne: 2014 Recipient

May 10, 2015

Hello!

Wow! The past 8 months seemed to have just flown by! It seems like just yesterday I was moving to Nanaimo not knowing what to expect from my first year on my own/freshman year of university. But alas, the time has come to move back to good ol’ Ukee and return to work.

The time that I spent in Nanaimo this year was so amazing! I could have never expected the things that I did or the people I met, but I’m so glad that both happened upon myself. Particularly this most recent semester you’ll want to hear of, so without further ado, here is what 2015 has brought me so far.

To begin with, my classes this semester were incredibly fascinating in many regards. So many engaging demonstrations, lectures, and labs added an essential component to the course—fun. This semester I took second level physics, chemistry, and biology, and first level math.

Physics this semester was a step up from the previous semester’s work. This section highlighted a lot more non-tangible topics such as light, sound, radioactivity, electricity, and optics. In particular, I enjoyed the optics sections the most. We were able to replicate image formation, and on a more practical level, calculations for correctional lenses (something I’m familiar with!) This has prompted me to continue to explore optometry as a plausible career option. Also our physics professor never fails to bring us many thought-provoking demonstrations. It seems the class favourite (as per usual) was a long pipe that would respond to different notes and sound waves of songs. It’s somewhat hard to explain, but he had essentially drilled many holes all in a row along the top of the pipe and filled it with propane. Then, he was able to light the propane on fire as it came out of the holes and when a speaker was added to the end playing certain songs, it would respond in a wave-like fashion. This is somewhat similar to what we see on expensive speakers with the bars that light up (for bass, volume etc…). Again the labs for this class were never boring. My favourite included getting to correct the vision of a model eye. Nevertheless he definitely gives me a reason to wake up for early morning physics!

Chemistry this semester took a much more practical approach. Even on our first day, our professor told us that he was going to try and make it as relatable as possible, especially since he had an interest in environmental chemistry. Topics this semester included measurements, pH, solubility, and electrochemistry. Although we weren’t in a classic chemistry classroom, our professor was able to bring a couple demonstrations to us. These included melting a pop can (this one was outside, don’t worry!), and also a mixture that would change colour periodically while mixing. Both of these were much more exciting if you were there, and simply explaining them doesn’t do them justice! The labs this semester truly took the spotlight in my opinion. My lab professor (who recognized that I had a brother who was in his class!) was really the driving force behind the labs being so great. We were able to test for water hardness, tested pH, tested samples for dissolved particles (probably my favourite!) and we were able to develop a lab procedure for heat transfer.

Biology this semester was introductory molecular biology. Naturally, these are the parts and processes of life that we can’t necessarily see. Topics included cell replication, cell communication, DNA storage, and genetics. I must say that genetics was without a doubt my favourite, just because of the many great examples and case studies our professor used to illustrate the information she was teaching. In addition to this, our professor was able to answer many questions about life I didn’t even know I had! Again, this course had several very interesting labs, some of which even incorporated personal genetic info. With one lab we were able to test if we were -/-, -/+, +/+ for the PV92 gene—a completely innocuous sequence used by our distant ancestors. For the record, I’m -/- for the gene, meaning my family’s lineage has most likely gotten rid of it. Other labs included transforming what bacteria does (we even made some glow!), replicating cells in different types of solutions, and reinforcing some lecture concepts through demonstrations. All the same, it was a very interesting course, and I’m quite excited to be continuing on this path in future years!

Finally, this semester I had my first post-secondary level math (calculus) course. All in all it was fairly painless compared to all the horror stories I’ve heard about it! There’s not a whole lot I can say about it that is fairly exciting or relevant so I’ll keep it short; it required a lot of practice but in the end it seemed to all pay off!

This year I feel I was able to participate in the VIU community through residence, much of which I told you about last semester. Again this semester I was involved in VIU Rec intramural volleyball. I’ve continued running, preparing for the edge to edge, and I’ve taken up a new hobby: rock climbing! Among this there was many, many other events put on by VIU that I was lucky enough to attend. I think something important that happened this year was that I identified what clubs I want to get involved with in coming years. First, the Students Offering Support (SOS) group who helps students at VIU through exam preparation raises funds for a trip to a country in need where they build schools. This often happens in the summer and just coming from my Global Education trip roots, seems like a lot of fun, and truly helpful. I attended many (if not all?) lectures they did for my courses, and I think in some I would really be able to give a solid review session, especially just having finished these courses. Another important club I was interested in getting involved with was the Awareness of Climate Change through Education and Research (ACER) group. This is a chemistry driven group which, as the name insinuates, raises climate change awareness using our background in the subject. I even remember this group coming to USS when I was in grade 10 or 11 so it would be cool to come full circle perhaps!

And before I end this and continue on with my summer, I must not forget who made this all possible. So I, again, would like to extend my greatest gratitude to you for incredibly generous contributions to my post-secondary education. I can’t even express how much easier this year has been because of you.

Thank you!

And If I don’t see you guys soon, have a great summer!

Talk to you soon!

-Danny Osborne

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