I am a 5th year PhD student in Microbiology.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in Richmond Hill, ON. I lived in London, ON, for 4 years where I completed an undergraduate degree in Biology and Medical Science at Western University before moving to Toronto, ON, where I started my PhD in Microbiology, at Ryerson University. For fun I love playing soccer, exercising, hanging out with friends and family, camping, and reading fiction.
What is your research about?
I am currently researching the effects of antibiotics on bacterial biofilms. I test those medications your doctor gives you when you are sick with a bacterial infection and how well they work when bacteria form communities that are attached to surfaces. A bacterial biofilm is a group of bacterial cells that are able to stick to surfaces and stay protected from disinfectants/chemicals by producing a slim the cells themselves secrete. Bacterial biofilms are found everywhere, from the dental plaque on your teeth to that icky gunk that is found in and around your bathroom and kitchen sinks!
What I love most about my research is it allows me to constantly feel awe and wonder. I am always impressed by all the things that microbes can do.
What have you enjoyed the most about your research?
What I love most about my research is it allows me to constantly feel awe and wonder. I am always impressed by all the things that microbes can do. I love asking a question and being in an environment where I get to try and solve the answer. Knowing that I get to contribute new knowledge to share with the world makes my job feel fun, exciting, and meaningful.
What have you found most challenging about your research?
The most challenging thing about my research is realizing that as a PhD student I do not have all the time and money in the world to solve every question I have. It is important to choose the most important and relevant research questions, which may not always be the most fun ones to answer for me personally. However, good science is well rounded and is well thought out. It is important to keep the long-term goals in mind.
How has your research experience influenced your career path?
I really enjoy what I do and there are many research avenues I find extremely interesting. I will would like to look for a research position either in academics or industry once I have completed my degree.
How has your research impacted the world?
In clinical settings, where things should be sterile, biofilms are a huge problem. Biofilms cause many people in hospitals to get sick. They can form on implanted medical devices and inside the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis. Antibiotics are often effective on free swimming bacterial cells. Though, the slim in biofilms keep the bacteria hidden from the immune system and antibiotics. My research aims to find out when biofilms are susceptible to antibiotics.
What do you predict will be the next big breakthrough in your field of research?
I think the next big breakthrough in my field of research will be learning how to control the formation of biofilms. If scientists can control when and where biofilms form, then we can prevent them from causing harm to humans and industrial systems.
Actually, you will like to see your own contribution and product after hard work time and exerting great efforts. This is the part I like the best.
What motivates you to do research?
I don’t think I always knew what it really meant to “do” research. At Western University I had some truly amazing science professors. They seemed so energized and in love with their work. When these professors spoke everyone was engaged in what they were talking about. I realized that these people are so happy because they are at the leading edge of discovery in the fields that they are passionate about. I ended up contacting one of the Professors and asked him if I could volunteer in his lab, and shortly after was applying for a graduate degree.
Tell us about your 'Eureka' moment
My first eureka moment was when I kept exposing a biofilm to higher and higher concentrations of antibiotic and couldn't kill it. The amount of antibiotic I was using would have been far beyond the levels you could give to a human. No wonder we have an antimicrobial resistance problem; these things have super powers!! Well, not exactly, but that was how I felt. My next job was to figure out how and why, and help to demystify these microscopic creatures.