VIU Bachelor of Science graduate Larissa Richards placed first in the Chemical Institute of Canada’s student presentation contest held at the University of Victoria.
Richards’ presentation on detoxification of chemical warfare agents led her to win the $150 prize and the recognition of some experienced researchers.
The symposium asked students to use their knowledge to explain the chemistry behind a real world issue.
“It was great to learn about and be inspired by emerging topics, and to network with other scientists,” says Richards. “It was an excellent opportunity, although nerve-wracking, to present to peers and researchers at other institutions.”
Richards said she never thought of herself as an academic. After growing up in Port Alberni, she went to UBC, where she had some problems, but eventually earned herself a degree at VIU.
Richards took part in a directed studies research project analyzing wood smoke data.
Richards is now preparing to present her own research at a national conference in June.
Besides doing research, Richards also worked as a tutor in the Math Learning Centre and still serves as coordinator of the student-led Awareness of Climate change through Education and Research (ACER) group, which delivers presentations to high school students and on campus.
“My VIU professors have inspired me,” she says. “They care about students and believe in student success. I never would have considered graduate school on my own. When they see potential in someone, they serve as mentors and show what’s possible. That’s exactly the kind of professor I want to become.”