Teen launches research career, wins awards using CHILD Cohort Study data

L to R: Jaclyn Parks, Laura Wang and Dr. Tim Takaro

When 15-year-old Laura Wang opened her laptop and typed a message to Tim Takaro, a professor at Simon Fraser University (SFU), she never imagined that email would lead her to the CHILD Cohort Study, a budding research career, and an award-winning science project.

Passionate about science since middle school, the Grade 10 student from Burnaby, BC, decided to find someone who could help her learn what it takes to become a “real” researcher.

“I googled Simon Fraser University and looked through their faculty,” says Wang. “Dr. Takaro’s bio said he had an interest in child health and chronic diseases, so I emailed him out of the blue. I never really expected him to write me back.”

But Takaro did. And he invited Wang to come to the SFU campus to meet with him and graduate student Jaclyn Parks.

“I was impressed by this enterprising young student who clearly stated what she wanted to do related to my research on disease susceptibility factors in environmental health,” says Takaro, a professor and the Associate Dean of Research for the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

“I wanted to meet her in person to see what was behind this.”

“They were both so encouraging and generous with their time to answer my questions about how to get started in research,” Wang explains.

“When Dr. Takaro told me about the CHILD Cohort Study and the incredible things the study is teaching us about child health and development, I was hooked!”

That meeting led to a 12-month collaboration in which the teen worked side-by-side with Takaro and Parks using CHILD data to study the effects of house dust on the development of childhood allergies and asthma.

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