students. Five unique labs. One goal - to explore life, experimentation, and
discovery through the eyes of budding scientists.
Fresh out of the
lecture hall, and with varying degrees of exposure to hands-on science, these
University of Guelph undergraduates tackle biological enigmas in their coveted
positions as summer research interns. Along for the ride is documentary
filmmaker and fellow student Melanie Wills, intent on capturing the essence of
their experiences and their evolution as scientists.
Behind locked doors
at a food safety facility we meet up with Sylvie, a bioscience major with a
literary inclination who grew up on the campus under the wing of
her microbiologist father. Scholar, politician, and athlete Derek works with
plant taxonomy and cutting edge genetic research that takes him on a journey to
the heart of the Peruvian jungle to retrieve samples for analysis. Back in
Canada, and working in a dry lab at the university, vivacious
Saneeka delves into the overshadowed field of science communication, subtly
refining her understanding of what it means to be a scientist in todays
society. Then theres trilingual intellectual, Gabriel, who commutes an
hour to campus every day from his farm in a Mennonite community to investigate
animal behaviour. And touring secluded wildlife research stations of Ontario is
photographer and enthusiast nature man Matt, whose summer job is
part of an ongoing study of turtles.
lives and experiences are the fabric of Five Degrees. In telling their
stories, Wills adopts a holistic approach to present the science in the context
of the people, their network of friends and family, and the community of peers,
colleagues, teachers, and mentors surrounding them. The climate and culture in
which these students exist is articulately conveyed by the people who train,
counsel, teach, and have walked this path before them.
is an intimate glimpse of science and some of the personalities who practice
it. It is the excitement, boredom, insight, uncertainty, idealism, adventure,
and passion of being a blossoming adult, setting out on uncharted waters, and
making a mark, however small, on the world. If researchers are the ones to
question the nature of life and the physical universe, this documentary probes
the nature of the scientists themselves.