Youth scientist turned psychiatrist looks back on science fair in Regina

As the Canada-Wide Science Fair takes place in Regina this week, one former participant told CBC Radio's Morning Edition how the experience shaped his life.

D.J. Rodie's project compared medications used to treat Alzheimer's Disease

Rodie's experiment monitored the effect of the drug Aricept on his grandmother, who had dementia. (Canadian Press)

You won't see many baking soda volcanos when young minds converge on the University of Regina for the Canada-Wide Science Fair on Monday.

D.J. Rodie was one of those young minds in 1998, when he was an Grade 8 student at Regina's A.E. Perry School. 

Rodie's project at the fair involved his grandmother who had Alzheimer's Disease.

His grandmother's doctor prescribed her a new medicine at the time — Aricept — but wasn't sure how effective it would be because it hadn't been tested on patients with more severe symptoms like she had. 

Rodie monitored her dementia symptoms on her previous medication and the new drug and recorded significant improvement, noting she was able to dress herself again and seemed to understand conversations.

"I guess she doesn't feel as left out anymore," Rodie told CBC in 1998.

On Monday, Rodie told CBC Radio's Morning Edition he went on to study medicine and is now a psychiatrist at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health in Toronto.

His grandmother died around the time of his first year in university, he said. 

"She meant a ton," Rodie said of his grandmother. "She was very, very close."

Rodie said it was his science fair experience that sparked his interest in the health field. One of the other students he met at the national fair also went into psychiatry and is now a colleague of Rodie's.

The fair was a great opportunity to learn, to network and meet like-minded people, he added.

"It's your time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour," was Rodie's advice for those attending the science fair this week. 

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition