Summer Newsletter 2009

Undergraduate Summer Student Edition!

As the end of summer approaches, we would like to bring you an update on all the activity over the past couple of months from the perspective of the summer SWEP students. With the help of the Student Work Experience Program at Queen’s University, ten undergraduate students from various disciplines were hired to assist our Kingston team. Keep reading to learn more about the SWEP program, the summer students’ experiences, and an exciting announcement!

1) ASD-CARC Funding Update: ASD-CARC is pleased to announce that our principle investigator, Dr. Jeanette Holden, has been chosen as the recipient of an equipment grant worth $1,709,465 funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation!

2) Summer Students 2009 Student Work Experience Program (SWEP): The SWEP program allows students to learn about their subject of study, while offering them the unique opportunity to contribute to the Queen’s research community. ASD-CARC has been fortunate to employ ten of these students from various disciplines. Each of this year’s students has a keen interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders, and has spent the summer working on various projects related to their studies. Click here for a picture of all the students at our summer social!

ASPIRE Training Program- Each of our summer students have chosen to enter the ASPIRE training program. As part of the program, each student has written a reflection on their time spent working for ASD-CARC. To read about the experiences of this year's summer students, as well as the experiences of summer students from in the past, click here.
Summer Projects: See below to learn more about what each group of students have been working on.
Psychology Students: Our three summer psychology students have been busy phoning our registry families requesting either a copy of a diagnostic report or completion of the Parent Pervasive Developmental Disorder Behaviour Inventory (PDDBI) to confirm the ASD diagnosis of all our research participants, follow up on genetics kits, and request missing information to keep our records up to date. They have also been involved in a host of other diverse tasks and projects around the office.
Mobile Lab Students: Our two mobile lab students have been very busy this summer working to bring our research to you! They have been involved in every step- from planning and organizing the trips to welcoming families while on the road. Without them our trips to North Bay and Guelph would not have been possible!
Computer Students: Our computer students played a very important role this summer, as we switched to a new database, updated our website and started other programming projects. They were responsible for making the transition to our new database as smooth as possible by modifying the existing software to fit the research needs of ASD-CARC. They also provided much needed tech support to some of the less technically inclined summer students!
Genetics Laboratory Students: In addition to extracting DNA from the genetics kits we receive from families, our lab students have also been involved in genotyping samples. Another important project has been to barcode all of our genetic samples. This is an important step implementing  a new organization system to correspond with our new database.

 3) Mobile Lab Update:  This summer, our mobile lab travelled to North Bay and Guelph. Unfortunately, due to illness our third trip to London had to be cancelled. However, we’ll keep you updated about rescheduling for next spring/summer when we there will be a new set of students to provide Dr. Jessica Ward, the leader of this project, with much needed support to plan and run these trips. We would like to thank of the families who participated during our mobile lab sessions and we look forward to meeting many more families next summer!

Our mobile lab has had a makeover! Click here to see an updated photo. How do you clean a 40 foot RV? Ask the summer students, of course! Click here to see us getting the lab all shined up and ready to hit the road!

  4) Message from the Summer Students 2009: On behalf of the summer SWEP students 2009, we would like to thank ASD-CARC for providing us with an amazing opportunity to experience research first hand. W
e will take the skills and knowledge we have learned here with us as we continue to study and begin our careers.  We would also like to thank all of our families for your participation. For those of us who been fortunate to speak with you directly, we understand that you are very busy and it makes us even more appreciative of the time you have taken to mail reports, send genetics kits, complete questionnaires, and come out to our mobile lab.

Enjoy the Remaining Few Weeks of Summer Sunshine and Best of Luck with the New School Year!


Anthony, Cindy, Erica, Hilary, Hillary, Jesse, Nicole, Raegan, Sydney & Xuan
-Summer Students 2009

on behalf of:

Jeanette J.A. Holden, PhD FCCMG, ASD-CARC/ASPIRE Program Director
Melissa Hudson, BSc, ASD-CARC/ASPIRE Research Assistant