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Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

One student's story on research, science and opportunity



Identifying dragonfly nymphs or sequencing DNA is Leila Benmerrouche's idea of a good time. For her, a career in the sciences is more than just lab work - it's about being a part of something bigger than she could imagine. 

"My parents were both involved in the sciences, which opened a lot of doors for me. But I've always been interested in science" says Benmerrouche. "Some of the things that people come up with are amazing and I want to be a part of that." 

Currently pursuing a certificate in Geographic Information Science for Resource Management at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Benmerrouche started her research job when she was a student in the Integrated Resource Management program. It was here where she was exposed to new experiences, techniques and technologies that helped her refine her dreams of working in the sciences.

"The opportunities at Sask Polytech are fantastic," she says. "Working in applied research has been great. I've been able to do new things that no one else has done before. You can't find learning opportunities like this anywhere else."

The office of Applied Research and Innovation connects Sask Polytech with business and industry leaders to collaborate and conduct practical and commercial research that will deliver viable solutions to everyday problems. This kind of hands-on learning provides students with exceptional opportunities to prepare for their future careers.

Recognizing the UN's International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, Benmerrouche says she's happy to be working alongside and learning from so many talented women.

"Most of the people I work with are women, which is great. I think it's because women aren't told they can't do it anymore," she says.
Benmerrouche also mentions that she's experienced few, if any, barriers along her educational journey and feels she's been given a clear path to do what she loves.

"The sciences are a lot more popular than they were before and the gender segregation is really getting a lot smaller," she says. "Working with the Office of Applied Research and Innovation has allowed me to dream a lot bigger than I did when I first started."

Benmerrouche's work as a student in the Integrated Resource Management program has shaped how future students in School of Natural Resources and Built Environment will learn about entomology and earned her the Sask Polytech's Innovation Award. As she continues her studies at Sask Polytech, Benmerrouche says she plans on eventually getting her PhD and maybe one day launching her own company. Until then, she offers one simple and powerful piece of advice to anyone thinking about starting a career in the sciences: "Go for it. You're the only one who can hold yourself back," she says.

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