Jillian Hannah, wants to grow organs – human organs.
The 17-year-old Dover Bay Secondary School graduate is working toward a career in bioengineering that will likely lead her into stem-cell research.
“I’m really interested in the whole field of growing organs because it’s a pretty neat field,” Hannah said. “A lot of universities are just introducing bioengineering. That’s really exciting to me and it’s a huge thing now. I just read a paper where they grew a new windpipe for a child and I think that would be really exciting to be a part of that.”
Hannah has always wanted to go into the sciences. Her mother and sister are nurses, which sparked the interest in the medical field, but she feels she’s more suited to engineering than caregiving. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do going into Grade 10 and Grade 11, so it was really in Grade 11 when I started to dig a little bit deeper and research it for myself,” Hannah said.
School hasn’t always been about the sciences. In 2008 Hannah’s parents started a soccer program called Just for Kicks for children with special needs. Hannah got involved early on as a coach and leader, taking kids through training and drills.
In Dover Bay’s Eco Club, she helped get water fountains with bottle filling stations installed.
Hannah is also a whiz in math and physics and is one of only three students her physics teacher Bruce Currel has had solve the Wheatstone bridge problem. A Wheatstone bridge is an electrical circuit used to accurately measure an unknown electrical resistance value by balancing and comparing the ratio of two known resistances to the unknown value. The series of calculations needed to solve the problem can be formidable.
“It takes a lot of thought and calculation,” Currel said. “I hand it out with my physics class tests. Most students don’t even take it on and if they do they usually collapse and fail. Before Jillian, only two students in my history have finished it and solved it and then Jillian solved it this year. She was number three in my history of physics students.”
First stop after graduation will be University of Victoria for her bachelor of science degree and she will explore her options after that.
“In high school you have to take courses that are just part of the curriculum, but I’m excited to actually get into work that I’m interested in and that I really want to be a part of.”