I am a 2nd year Postdoctoral Fellow in Lipid Biochemistry.
Tell us about yourself
I was born in Vernon, British Columbia but from the age of 3 grew up in the small town of Woodville, Ontario until I moved to Waterloo, Ontario for university in 2000 where I have been ever since. I met my wife during my undergraduate studies and we now have two children, a 3-year old daughter and 1-year old son. Besides family, my greatest hobbies include hockey, golf and baseball.
What is your Mitacs project?
My Mitacs project has focused on the development of a simple system for speeding up the extraction of lipids and antibiotics from food and animal tissues that both minimizes human error and reduces the time required. Normally, this is very time-consuming due to the presence of numerous analytical steps. This novel system allows for bypassing of some of these steps when analyzing fatty acids, cholesterol, pesticides, antibiotics and potentially vitamin E to name a few.
... playing a major role in the creation of a commercial product is an extremely gratifying experience that is all the more satisfying when I have been involved in the process from its very beginning
What have you enjoyed the most about your Mitacs project?
The thing I have enjoyed the most is being able to take a seemingly simple idea like speeding up lipid extractions and actually converting it into a reality. Not only that but playing a major role in the creation of a commercial product is an extremely gratifying experience that is all the more satisfying when I have been involved in the process from its very beginning.
What have you found most challenging about your Mitacs project?
As with all research projects that involve method development, the number of temporary setbacks and failures are numerous and at times frustrating. This can be hard to accept and it can be difficult to believe that the goal for a successful product will eventually become a reality. However, all successes come with some failure and it was important to focus on what was learned from these setbacks and apply those lessons to continue moving forward.
I enjoy research immensely and it is now abundantly clear to me that industry would be a fantastic way to continue on with my chosen career path.
How has your Mitacs experience influenced your career path?
Prior to becoming involved in the Mitacs program and working with Certo Labs I had thought very little about a potential career in industry research. My experience with Mitacs during the last two years has opened my eyes to the possibility of such a career path. I enjoy research immensely and it is now abundantly clear to me that industry would be a fantastic way to continue on with my chosen career path.
How has your Mitacs project impacted the world?
My Mitacs project is still relatively new and as such its impact on the world is not yet fully appreciated. However, I believe its greatest impact will be to save laboratories significant time through reduced analytical requirements for analyzing lipid-soluble nutrients and food contaminants. In particular, this can benefit the laboratories determining what is in the foods purchased from grocery stores since many of these nutrient values are required by law on food labels.
What do you predict will be the next big breakthrough in your field of research?
I believe that reducing time and cost requirements of lipid and antibiotic assessments is only the first step in the continued improvement of lipid analysis. I predict the next big breakthrough in lipid analysis will be to utilize the latest novel high-throughput technologies for the creation of fully automated analytical systems. Such systems will greatly reduce variability by minimizing human error and allow researchers to focus on other aspects of their research thereby improving productivity.
Who supports your Mitacs research?
The people at Certo Labs have been huge supporters of my research and their gracious and continued support of this project and constant assistance cannot be overstated. Finally, much gratitude is warranted to Dr. Ken Stark who continues to provide his invaluable expertise in the field.
Like so many high school and university undergraduate students I had very little idea of what I wanted to do professionally when I was finished school. Not until my final years of university did I take a Research Apprenticeship course that really brought into focus where my future would lie.
What motivates you to do research?
Like so many high school and university undergraduate students I had very little idea of what I wanted to do professionally when I was finished school. Not until my final years of university did I take a Research Apprenticeship course that really brought into focus where my future would lie. As a result, I returned to university for a fifth year to pursue additional research courses. I have since realized that my motivation for research lies within the discovery of answers to exciting research questions and the desire to answer additional questions that undoubtedly arise as a result.
Tell us about your 'Eureka' moment
During the initial stages of this project we were trying to convert a simple idea into something real and tangible. To come up with a ‘filter’ that would adequately provide the required benefits we tried numerous substances in hopes of our idea becoming a reality. I would describe the moment that I finally discovered the substance that would help us realize our goal of speeding up fatty acid analysis as my Eureka! Moment. Even after this there was much work to be done but this moment was instrumental in propelling the project forward to where it is today.