Lauren Ostrowski - Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Toronto

Lauren Ostrowski

Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Toronto

I was born/grew up in: Toronto Ontario, Canada

I now live in: Toronto Ontario, Canada

I completed my training/education at: Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, M.Sc. at Trent University, B.Sc. at Trent University

Describe what you do at work.

Most of my time is spent working in the lab. I have several experiments that I'm working on at a time, and I chip away at each throughout the week. I also do a lot of reading to keep my knowledge of the field up to date.

In the lab, I use a lot of really cool molecular biology equipment such as pipettes, centrifuges, thermocyclers, incubators etc. Most of our equipment is very expensive, so we all receive proper training before working in the lab. We work as part of a team, which includes our supervisor, a lab tech and several graduate/undergraduate students. Undergrads are paired with a grad student, which is a great mentoring opportunity for both parties.

If you enjoy problem solving and science, a career in research is a great fit. In our projects, we are constantly faced with scientific problems that need to be solved. We might conduct an experiment and make an interesting finding. This then raises several questions which we must design experiments to try and answer. The ability to think critically and solve problems is one of the most important skills to have when working in STEM.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

My career is fulfilling because I am conducting research that is directly benefiting human health. My research helps identify the molecular cause(s) of disease. This helps us create prevention/treatment plans. My work is also relevant on a more basic science level, as it sheds light on basic cellular processes and how they function!

What motivates you in your career?

One of the best parts of my job is that I am motivated by success as well as failure. When an experiment works, I get excited and cannot wait to delve into more experiments to explain that finding. When an experiment fails (and believe me - it's often!), it can be upsetting, but this soon turns into an intense drive to get it right next time.

The most interesting aspect of my career is that my research direction is constantly changing. We might have one hypothesis, but then discover something completely unrelated and then go after that instead. It's a very dynamic field!

One of the most enjoyable/rewarding parts of my job is the fact that my research is helping us understand basic cell biology, and how certain processes, when they are not properly regulated, can cause disease. Not only am I learning about how things work in a cell, my research also helps us understand, and hopefully prevent disease.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to work in STEM, but wasn't sure exactly which field. Growing up I enjoyed watching TV shows like CSI, and developed an interest in Forensic Science. I ended up doing my Bachelor's degree in Forensic Science at Trent University. During my fourth year, I met a professor who recognized my potential for research and offered me a position as a Master's student in his lab. I had never thought of a career in research, but decided to give it a try, and I'm glad I did! I completed my Master's in Cell Biology and Genetics with this professor, and loved it so much I continued onto a Ph.D. in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, which is where I am now. If it wasn't for this professor recognizing my potential, I don't know if I would have found my calling.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work I enjoy going to concerts, trying new restaurants in Toronto (there are so many to choose from!), cosplaying and snowboarding.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Find a good mentor and learn everything you can from them! If you follow your true passion, you'll never have to "work" a day in your life because you'll love what you do!

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

Let’s Talk Science is pleased to provide you with this information as you explore future career options. Many careers require a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Even jobs that don’t use specific STEM concepts on a day-to-day basis benefit from the skills gained through a study of STEM. People with a STEM background are very much in demand by employers across all career sectors. If you would like to learn about more careers that have a STEM connection, visit http://www.explorecuriocity.org/careers.