Each year, the Discovery Awards, in support of Discovery Centre, celebrates outstanding innovators whose game changing achievements in science and technology put Nova Scotia at the forefront of global innovation.
At the annual Discovery Awards held on November 23 in Halifax, Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, professor of biology and NSERC Atlantic Chair for Women in Science and Engineering at Mount Saint Vincent University, was named the winner of the 2022 Professional of Distinction Award.
Full-time Professor Dr. Franz-Odendaal teaches biology at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 2006, she opened a lab at the Mount. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University and the faculties of science and medicine at Dalhousie University (Faculty of Science).
She has a strong foundation in paleontology and is a developmental biologist. In South Africa’s University of Cape Town, she earned all of her degrees. Her former mentors included Dr. Susan Kidson of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Dr. Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan of the same institution, and Dr. Julia Lee-Thorpe, who is currently at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Dr. Brian Hall served as her post-doctoral advisor (Dalhousie University).
She has worked with scientists across Canada, as well as in Belgium, Germany, and the United States. Dr. Franz-Odendaal has been hailed by peers as “one of the top researchers in Canada and internationally in the field of Ecological Evolutionary Developmental Biology,” with a research program that is “exemplary” and “widely recognized for its innovation.”
Dr. Franz-Odendaal researches bone development in all species, focusing in particular on the gene expression mechanisms that underlie the skeleton’s development, with the assistance of her colleagues at MSVU’s Bone Development Lab and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. They examine the embryos of various animals to learn more about the genes involved in the development of bone and cartilage.
WISEatlantic is administered by Dr. Franz-Odendaal and also an advocate for Women in Science. She is also a co-founder and the network’s lead ally for Canadian Black Scientists.
She recently began research in tracheal development and signaling molecules, and their role in relation to lung illness, with support from the Lung Association of Nova Scotia and Research Nova Scotia. She has also just been awarded a contract from the Canadian Space Agency to research the mechanisms underlying microgravity-induced bone loss in the hopes of creating a successful preventative method to stop bone loss in astronauts.
More of Dr. Franz-Odendaal’s story at https://www.msvu.ca/msvu-scientist-celebrated-as-one-of-nova-scotias-best-and-brightest/