Faculty of Science

Summer Research Student Profiles

Every summer, a number of Saint Mary's science and engineering students take part in summer research, thanks to Undergraduate Student Research Awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC-USRAs) and Dean's Awards from the Faculty of Science.

Summer research students gain valuable research experience in engineering and the natural sciences under the supervision of a Saint Mary's faculty member.

Engineering Student ...

Luke Vincent, Diploma of Engineering graduate and BComm student

Supervisor: Dr. Sam Veres

For Luke Vincent, attending Saint Mary’s is a family tradition: both his parents are alumni and his two younger brothers are current students. Luke recently earned his Diploma of Engineering, but he’s not done yet—he’s now pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics at the Sobey School of Business.

 “I’ve always been drawn to both engineering and economics,” says Luke. “So rather than choose, I thought I would explore both.”

Putting Knowledge into Practice

This summer, thanks to an Undergraduate Student Research Award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC-USRA), Luke had the opportunity to work in Saint Mary’s tissue mechanics lab under the supervision of engineering professor Dr. Sam Veres. There, Luke contributed to PhD in Applied Science candidate Brendan Grue’s doctoral thesis research, the aim of which is to develop a new, more effective class of orthopedic materials to repair and regenerate damaged bone tissue.

Luke was primarily responsible for the mechanical testing of the collagen scaffold used for bone tissue regrowth and repair. This involved substantial preparatory research into how others have achieved this and the standards, requirements, and refinements that made it possible. Armed with that knowledge, Luke used a 3-D modelling program to design a 3-point bending setup that would test the mechanical properties of the scaffold.

“Luke played a key role in our product development through his design of a system to test the mechanical properties of the constructed materials,” says Brendan Grue. “Without mechanical data of the scaffold, it would be unknown how the device would compare to native bone tissue, which serves a vital mechanical role in the body.”

“Luke was an incredible asset to our research team,” says Sam Veres. “Having a chance to design on paper, see the finalized design take physical form, and then use that piece of equipment to achieve something useful is a fantastic learning opportunity for engineering students, and something that would not have been possible for Luke without NSERC’s support.”

Appreciation for Research 

For Luke, the opportunity to work on a thesis research project gave him tremendous insight into what is involved in graduate-level study.

“I now appreciate the magnitude of preparatory research that is necessary to properly design a research project,” says Luke. “The average person is not aware of the different layers of proof and justification that is required before you even set foot in the lab.”

But his favourite part of the summer was navigating the challenges and pitfalls of designing the scaffold with the 3-D modelling program.

“When it all came together, it was incredibly satisfying,” says Luke.