Professors create VR summer program for high school students

child using virtual reality goggles

York University Faculty of Science Associate Professor Derek Jackson, and Kyle Belozerov, a sessional assistant professor, have partnered with Science Engagement Programs to develop a new Spark Lab virtual reality (VR) research course that will introduce high school students to pharmaceutical chemistry.

Derek Jackson
Derek Jackson
Kyle Belozerov

Spark Lab courses are week-long sessions designed for students in grades 9 to 12 who are interested in gaining hands-on experience in the science labs. The Faculty of Science offers courses in the experimental and research categories.

Experimental courses are developed and taught by York undergraduate and graduate students, teacher candidates, or Ontario-certified teachers, while research courses are developed and led by graduate students and/or professors and are based on the research they are conducting at York.

Students enrolled in the new Pharmaceutical Chemistry research course – which runs from July 17 to 21, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Keele Campus – will explore modern pharmaceutical chemistry through hands-on laboratory drug synthesis experiments and by using virtual reality (VR) to examine their structure and how they interact with their targets. By the end of the week, students will have a deeper understanding of biological molecules and the foundations of drug action in the human body.

As a postdoctoral researcher at the Emory University Medical School, Belozerov worked on pre-clinical development and testing of drug candidates targeting an aggressive form of brain tumor called glioblastoma. He also has taught pharmacology to students in the nursing program at York.

Jackson’s expertise is in organic chemistry, a field of study that is used to synthesize the molecules found in a large number of medications, ranging from everyday medicines, like Tylenol, to complex and life-saving cancer medications. The professors have combined their respective areas of expertise to develop an engaging and dynamic summer lab course for curious Toronto high schoolers.

For more information about Belozerov and Jackson and their pharmaceutical chemistry course, visit the Science Engagement Programs website.

To register for this course, visit the online ActiveWorks registration system.