Grad profile: All‑star athlete, cancer researcher and tutor

Ariel Provo, Faculty of Science

- June 7, 2021

Being a Dal Tiger has opened many doors, says Ariel. (Provided photo)
Being a Dal Tiger has opened many doors, says Ariel. (Provided photo)

This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2021. Visit our Class of 2021 virtual space to share in the excitement with our newest graduates.

You could say Ariel Provo followed in the footsteps of her parents, both Dal alumni and former varsity athletes.

Ariel graduates this spring from the Medical Sciences program in Dal's Faculty of Science as a a four-time Academic All Canadian athlete with the Dal Women's Basketball team.

Originally from Lake Echo, N.S., Ariel first began eyeing Dal in high school, specifically for its renowned Medical Sciences program — a unique program in Atlantic Canada that allows students to explore various academic disciplines. After she was accepted into the program, she was approached to join the Dalhousie women’s basketball team.

Ariel credits her success to the opportunities that developed through her time as a Dal Tiger. During her first year, while attending a women in leadership event, she met her honours supervisor, Dr. Paola Marignani, a professor with Dalhousie’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Department of Pathology.

“Dr. Marignani gave out her business cards to most of the athletes who were in science, and I reached out to her not knowing what to expect. Being able to make connections and build relationships are two of the most important things that has come out of playing basketball,” says Ariel.

Advancing cancer research

In addition to her athletic achievements, Ariel is also respected off the basketball court for her volunteer efforts in research.

Over the past four years, Ariel has been involved with the Marignani Discovery Research Laboratory, a research space devoted to applying and developing innovative strategies for understanding diseases at the molecular level. During her first year, she worked in the lab as a volunteer and has since been funded through summer research awards.

Today, Ariel’s work in the lab focuses on advancing breast cancer research.

“The project I’m currently working on involves testing different cancer drug combinations on mice who have HER2+ breast cancer. We are analysing how these drugs can stop tumor growth and reduce the spread of breast cancer,” she says.

"I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to mentor Ariel Provo these past few years. Ariel is a gifted scientist and scholar that will now bring her skills to medicine. I look forward to seeing all that Ariel will accomplish in the future," says Dr. Marignani.

Involvement with Imhotep

Off the court and outside the lab, Ariel is committed to helping students in the community. Since last October, she’s been an after school mentor for grade six students with the Imhotep’s Legacy Academy (ILA), a non-profit organization that aims to bridge the gap, specifically in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) for students of African heritage in Nova Scotia.

“We guide the students through science activities so that they can learn more about STEM. Every other week we do math tutoring sessions where we get students to provide us with topics they are learning about in class and we make questions for the students that will push them a little bit further in strengthening their math skills,” says Ariel.
Besides being a mentor, Ariel is also a virtual program tutor for high school students, providing support in biology, chemistry and math. More recently, she’s become a coordinator for an after-school pilot program that is attempting to bring mentorship to francophone students in grades six-to-eight.

Plans for the future

Following graduation this spring, Ariel plans to continue her work in the Marignani Discovery Research Laboratory. In the fall, she starts a new chapter and will be attending Dalhousie Medical School.

“Since I was a little girl, it had always been a goal to become a doctor,” she says.


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