Undergraduate research on the way to medical school


- Megan Cole

As a child, Daniel Moller’s curiosity about the world and how things work led him to take apart old computers and radios.

“I’ve always had a pretty big drive to understand how things work,” says the former Stelly’s Secondary School student. “When I first took a biology class I realized there was this whole other aspect with the human body, which is an incredibly complex, interconnected machine and I wanted to understand how that all fit together, too.”

That drive led Moller to study and to help conduct research in biochemistry and microbiology at UVic. And although he will be awarded this spring’s Jubilee Medal for Science, Moller also found time to be involved in extracurricular activities including intermural volleyball and the Biochemistry and Microbiology Student Society.

“At first I was a special events co-ordinator and last year I was co-president of the student society,” he says. “We had social events, but we also did a few more noble things like setting up a free tutoring service for all the science students, and acting as a liaison to the professors and the department. We always tried to give some spirit to our biochemistry department.”

Moller also wanted to be involved in the community, and has spent several years working as a volunteer with special needs children at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health.

But it wasn’t until he received the opportunity in his second year to work in a neuroscience research lab with Dr. Brian Christie that he began to uncover his passion.

“I was really lucky in second and third year to work with Dr. Christie,” says Moller. “I was looking at neurogenesis, the birth of new brain cells in rats, and that was a lot of fun. It was nice of Dr. Christie to take me on when I was in second year. To be contributing to research in my second year was a truly fabulous opportunity.”

In the last year and a half, Moller expanded his research experience to include x-ray crystallography with Dr. Martin Boulanger.

“That’s studying proteins, but generally I’m studying the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness. That’s been a lot of fun too and I hope to do a little bit of volunteering there in the next year or so,” Moller explains.

Applying to medical schools will be on Moller’s agenda during the next few months, but before he begins the road to becoming a neurosurgeon, he will be taking a year off to focus on another passion.

“I want to get a bit more life experience,” he says. “I want to live a little bit. I love climbing and mountaineering, and it would be wonderful to pursue those interests a little more aggressively. I didn’t take a year off between high school and university so taking one off here sounds great.”


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Keywords: research, biochemistry

People: Daniel Moller

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