Lead Molecular Biologist at TRU-ID
I was born/grew up in: Windsor, Ontario
I now live in: Guelph, Ontario
I completed my training/education at: University of Guelph (undergraduate and PhD)
Describe what you do at work.
TRU-ID uses biotechnology to verify the authenticity of food and natural health products. I work as part of a team developing quick and simple DNA testing that can be done on-site. Right now, my team is testing a portable, hand-held device that will let more people conduct DNA tests in more places. My job requires me to keep up-to-date on new technologies and figure out how to make existing tests better, faster and cheaper.
My training in molecular biology is critical for understanding the tools we use. However, there’s also a creative side to my job: I get to look at applying the tools we develop in new ways and to address new problems.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
Species authenticity in food is important for economic, health and conservation reasons. Knowing exactly what you're eating lets you make accurate choices about our diet.
What motivates you in your career?
Working at a small company means I get to be involved in more than just lab work. I enjoy interacting directly with users to find out how my company can make its technology work better for them. This lets me really see my work in action. Being a part of the problem-solving process, and seeing the solution evolve from conception to reality is very rewarding.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
When I finished my undergraduate degree, I didn't plan on going to graduate school. But I gave it a try and ended up finishing a PhD. My favourite part of my PhD research was solving real-world problems. So a solution-oriented business was the perfect choice for me!
My career path was not carefully planned. It was the result of making the most of the opportunities that came along and not being afraid to say yes when I wanted something. It was also important for me to be able to say no when things were not working out, like when I switched majors. I hope to continue my career with this philosophy in mind.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I volunteer my time to speak to students about my research and the impacts of the work being done in food authenticity testing. I’m also passionate about science communication. I love to travel, and I scuba dive as often as I can.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Try to get some volunteer work in a lab as soon as you can. This is advice I wish I’d had before I started. It is so difficult to tell what working in a lab is really like until you get a chance to do it.