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Biology student brings healing to broken places

NANAIMO – Nathan Stefani is one of Vancouver Island University’s star students.
Nathan Stefani was named Most Outstanding Student in VIU’s biology department. He graduates June 4.

Nathan Stefani is one of Vancouver Island University’s star students.

Recently named Most Outstanding Student by VIU’s biology department, Stefani will walk across the Port Theatre stage on June 4 to obtain his bachelor of science degree (major in biology, minor in chemistry).

While at VIU, Stefani served as a student ambassador and student rep for the Faculty of Science.  He co-founded and serves as president of the VIU chapter of Students Offering Support (SOS), a student-run non-profit organization that helps first- and second-year science students with their difficult classes and, through tutoring sessions, raises money to fund community development projects in Latin America.

Over the past two years, VIU SOS has raised more than $14,000 and made possible the construction of a community centre in a Costa Rican village.

Stefani, who aspires to become a medical doctor, came to VIU after graduating from Dover Bay Secondary School in 2009.

Last summer, he was one of six students awarded an undergraduate research award from the Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council of Canada.

In his final year at VIU, Stefani further honed his research skills in a Biology 491 class and won ‘best student poster’ at a recent event to celebrate undergraduate research.

Stefani studied the effects of acetaminophen (a commonly ingested pharmaceutical) on the ability of bacteria to communicate through a system called ‘quorum sensing’, the same system through which certain bacteria can co-ordinate infectious attacks.

“Previous studies have suggested that similar compounds might inhibit bacteria conversations,” he said. “My results showed that the conditions of bacteria culture incubation greatly influenced acetaminophen’s effect.”

Stefani has applied to the University of B.C. medical school and is awaiting news regarding acceptance for September.

“Ultimately, I would like to dedicate my time to learning something that allows me to go into broken places and bring healing,” he said. “My greatest desire is to pair medical aid with ministry to the places of the world that are forgotten.”

Stefani said he feels “beyond blessed” to be a VIU student, and soon a VIU graduate.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the experiences I’ve had at VIU,” he said


Nathan Stefani is the first of four profiles of VIU students in the News Bulletin’s Saturday edition prior to graduation June 4.