A former Red Deer student will be using his excellent university math skills to study a white-cell disease that affects people receiving chemotherapy.
Tyler Cassidy, 21, graduated from Notre Dame High School, and has been attending the University of Alberta the past four years. He finishes there in April and will be attending McGill University in Montreal in September.
He has just been awarded a Sir James Lougheed Award of Distinction scholarship, worth $15,000. The award comes through the Alberta Scholarships Program.
In addition to this, Cassidy has been awarded funding from McGill University, worth $40,000. This involves a combination of teaching assistantships, research assistantships and some scholarship money.
Cassidy started at the U of A at the francophone Campus Saint-Jean, in education science, but last year he changed to the honours math program in the department of math after encouragement from an applied mathematics professor, Hassan Safouhi.
Cassidy said he will be doing a two-year master’s degree in mathematics at McGill, and will be working with two professors who study how white blood cells react in the body.
Specifically, he will be studying a disease where the population of white blood cells oscillate between healthy and unhealthy levels, and using mathematical models to try to understand what’s going on, and maybe improve treatment protocols for people receiving chemotherapy.
The disease often occurs in people receiving chemotherapy, and so limits how often chemo can be done.
“I had no idea,” Cassidy said when asked if he knew he would end up in medical research after switching to mathematics.
After McGill, Cassidy, who was born and raised in Red Deer, said he is not sure what he will do next, but he could pursue a doctorate.
The money will enable him to get established next year and cut down on the amount of extra work he has to do as a teaching assistant, leaving him more time to focus on the research.
“I’m thrilled,” Cassidy said.