U of W student chosen for top internship

Sidney Leggett to participate in astrophysics research in Kingston this summer

University of Winnipeg student Sidney Leggett (left) with physics professor Dr. Melanie Martin

Keeley Braunstein-Black

While many university students view their summers as time to relax, travel or earn some money, one University of Winnipeg (U of W) student will take part in a prestigious internship.

Sidney Leggett, a computer science student, is one of only four students from across Canada selected for the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astrophysics Research Institute’s 2020 cross-disciplinary internship program. The program describes itself as “a unique opportunity that provides non-physics majors with $10,000 in funding to participate in astroparticle physics research.’’

“I’m excited to be (part) of such a big and renowned research team, where I have a potential to make an impact that could do a lot for the world,” Leggett says in an email to The Uniter.

She will work on “streamlining data collection processes of trace element and isotope samples,” according to the U of W website.

Leggett notes that while she’s not an astroparticle physics expert, she’s excited to learn new things about a field that she’s not currently comfortable with through this cross-disciplinary program.

“I also am a huge nerd about working with data, so I’m excited to check out data and analyze in an area I never have before,” she says.

The Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astrophysics Research Institute is located at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

Leggett speaks highly of the U of W research environment, saying it “is very unique, since it is so inclusive of undergraduate students.”

“All of the profs involved in research at (the) U of W are so open to teaching students and having them involved in their research, which helps grow (your) interest in doing your own.” she says.

In fact, Leggett worked for Dr. Melanie Martin, a U of W physics professor, in 2019, “using her computer skills to solve a problem in medical physics.”

“We value our undergraduate students, and they often take the lead role on research projects, allowing them to publish their work or present their work at conferences, like Sidney is doing,” Martin says in an email to The Uniter.

“Students can get a taste of graduate school in their undergraduate careers to help them decide if graduate studies is for them,” she says.

“I believe (Leggett) was chosen for this internship because she is a great researcher. She is motivated to try new, exciting opportunities,” Martin says, adding that it is “important for the students to participate in these programs, so they can try different research areas and determine if one of them is a good fit for their future.”

She also believes that undergraduate research opportunities are invaluable for professors.

“It is important for professors to have students in our research groups so more work can get done, and we can solve our research problems faster,” Martin says.

When asked why she thinks she was chosen for this summer’s internship program, Leggett mentions her computer science skills and her enthusiasm toward learning new things.

“I think they really liked my attitude,” she adds. “Being so excited about being a part of research and the (desire) to contribute had a lot to do with it.”

Published in Volume 74, Number 20 of The Uniter (March 5, 2020)

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