Giving CCIS some perspective

(Edmonton) With classes just underway, a new building on campus is now open. The Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science, or CCIS, is a building that brings students together with researchers from five research groups to create a unique approach to scientific discovery. Students will learn in an interdisciplinary environment where scientists work together as interdisciplinary research teams. Two undergraduate science students, Jessica Nguyen and Eric Wapler, gave us their thoughts on what the opening of CCIS means to them.

Both students recently volunteered to become ambassadors for their new building as part of program run by the Faculty of Science undergraduate student services office.

What year are you in? Have you declared a major?

Wapler: I am going to be entering into my fourth year of a general science degree with a major in biology and a minor in physical sciences.

Nguyen: I am entering my second year of university this fall. Although I have not officially declared my major and minor within the Faculty of Science, I wish to pursue a general bachelor of science degree with a major in biological sciences and a minor in business.

Why did you choose science and your particular major?

Wapler: Science was, throughout high school, was fascinating to me because it was a source of information to help interpret the world around me. By studying science it allows me to understand how and why biological systems operate the way they do. This I believe is important because this knowledge is integral in uncovering how we can positively contribute to the environment, and also to ensure we develop necessary strategies to protect upcoming generations from the evolving world around us within a medical context.

Nguyen: I chose to enrol in the Faculty of Science because I have always enjoyed biology as an area of study. I felt that the study of biology in a general program was the most suitable for me, due to the flexibility that it allows for when studying my other areas of interest. In addition, I felt that a science degree would be a beneficial background for me to have for my future studies.

Are you involved in student life on campus, if so what groups or organizations?

Wapler: I am an executive member of the University of Alberta Scuba Club.

Nguyen: I thoroughly enjoy being involved on campus, and my largest commitment is currently with the Interdepartmental Science Students’ Society (ISSS, pronounced “ice”), which is the official association that represents all undergraduate science students. I hold the position of vice president, services, which I was recently elected to this past March. Some of my other recent involvements include Week of Welcome, as well as my upcoming volunteer work with the Health and Wellness Movement and TheGateway newspaper.

What do you like most about the new CCIS building? What are your favourite parts?

Wapler: I like how they managed to ensure an open concept in the building, which is enhanced by the use of large windows for natural light as well as the utilization of a massive atrium. Additionally this helps establish transparency within science to aid in tearing down the ‘mythical’ boundaries that often exist between studying and research. I believe this is going to help promote upcoming science students to pursue careers in academia.

Nguyen: One aspect of CCIS that I am most fond of is that it encompasses science-specific space for everyone in the Faculty of Science, including, but not limited to, administration, researchers, professors, students and visitors. Some of my favourite parts of the building include the beautiful Terrazzo floor, the transparency of the building achieved with the enormous usage of glass, the grand lecture theatres and, of course, the ISSS office in CCIS 1-150.

What does it mean to you to have a brand new building for interdisciplinary science?

Wapler: CCIS is unique in that, for the first time on campus, there is an intentional blending of the science disciplines within one structure. Today, in science, it is almost impossible to solve a problem with any one discipline, and therefore, in the coming era, more and more inter-collaboration of the sciences is going to be used. To me, this building means that we are embracing this idea of communication within academia in order to help resolve issues that can no longer be done alone. All of this contributes to the growing reputation of the U of A as a strong school of science.

Nguyen: To me, having CCIS means having one central location for science students at the University of Alberta to identify with. Before the completion of CCIS, science students did not have any one location on campus where they could collaborate, learn and study in, all while experiencing the feeling of a building focused on a science-specific experience. This building is a wonderful addition to the University of Alberta campus.

What are your career aspirations post-university?

Wapler: After university I would like to continue my education in a professional program here at the U of A or go into a graduate degree within the Faculty of Science.

Nguyen: Having spent the last year in university, the diverse range of people that I have encountered, and the things that I have taken from these experiences, have all served to widen the scope of my interests. At the moment, I do not have one single, definite career aspiration, but I am currently exploring the fields of law, business, and medicine as potential fields of study after the completion of my degree.

What’s your favourite part about heading back to class?

Wapler: School has and always will be about gaining knowledge in subject areas that I find interesting, so for me the best part of heading back to class is once again immersing myself in new information and experiences.

Nguyen: In particular, I am looking forward to my fall-term courses, meeting new people, continuing my involvement on campus through various student organizations and gaining more insight on my specific areas of interest.