2017 News & Careers
Undeniably, admissions committees prioritize a few select factors in considering applicants for scientific PhD programs. Foremost among them are previous research experience, matching interests with research groups, and undergraduate coursework. After three years of undergraduate research, I have received my fair share of advice on positioning myself for graduate school from colleagues, advisers, and friends. I would like to take a moment to articulate some of the most important insights, some of which I heard from others, but more often I had to find out for myself.
Dr. Anne Croy is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University. She also holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Reproduction, Development, and Sexual Function, which is reflective of the outstanding contributions she has made to the field of reproductive biology. While her current research interests lie with conditions that affect human pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, she boasts a long career of research in immunology as well. Currently, Dr. Croy is hanging up her lab coat as she bids farewell to over 30 years in research and heads into retirement.
Finding a career that embodies your interests, goals and values is difficult. For some people that means long hours of discovery in a research lab. For others, the most fulfilling career focuses on interacting with the public, or teaching students. Clinical microbiology is a fascinating interdisciplinary career that masterfullyblends these three fields into one distinct package. To learn more about this niche occupation, I interviewed Dr. Prameet Sheth, PhD, MSc, a clinical microbiologist at the Kingston General Hospital (KGH).
When a virus infects a cell, it has an important decision to make – whether to kill the host (lysis) or to integrate its DNA into the host genome (lysogeny), entering a state of dormancy. This anthropomorphic view may not be far from the truth. A recent study by Zohar Erez and colleagues in Israel, published in Nature, demonstrated that a small signalling peptide used mediates the lysis-lysogeny decision.
Cancer patients are known to develop clinically significant, long-term symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, one in four cancer patients has clinical depression and almost 40% meet the criteria for a mood disorder. However, a recent Johns Hopkins University study shows that hope may lie in psychedelic research.
Chemists at the University of Manchester have produced the tightest knot ever created. Published earlier this month in the journal Science, the team led by David Leigh used techniques in synthetic chemistry to braid strands of different molecules into a structure with over eight crossings. The first synthetic chemical knot was created in 1989 by chemist Jean-Pierre Sauvage of Strasbourg University, who later went on to win the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for molecular machines.
Earlier this month, Google Deepmind chief executive Demis Hassabis revealed that their updated version of AlphaGo, a program capable of learning and playing the board game Go, has exhibited remarkable success against the world’s best Go players in online matches. Go, for many decades, has been the game to beat for many artificial intelligence (AI) engineers. Considerably more complex than Chess, Go has stumped many computer researchers seeking to develop a program that could compete with high-level human players.
Nancie Petrucelli is a genetic counselor with the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan. She specializes in genetic counseling related to cancer, and also serves as an associate professor of oncology at Wayne State University School of Medicine. She holds a master’s degree in genetic counseling from the University of Cincinnati.
Dr. James Reynolds is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University. He also boasts an extensive, successful career in the field of pharmacology and neurotoxicology, and for the past 25 years, his central research focus has been the effects of alcohol on brain function. In particular, his current research project focuses on utilizing eye movement patterns to detect brain abnormalities predictive of developmental delays and brain injury in children.
A study at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Medical Science, measured the correlation between sleep quality and the different subtypes of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Researcher, Sun Young Rosalia Yoon, expected that sleep quality and ADHD would be correlated due to the effects of sleep deprivation, such as deficits in cognitive functions; such effects are also evident in those with ADHD.
On January 26, 2017, a team led by Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies successfully created pig embryos that had the potential to generate human organs. The team’s experimental results marked a key development in the artificial generation of chimeras, which are organisms that derive cells from various other embryos. Harnessing the full potential of artificial organ development would help many patients and hospitals that face organ donor shortages.
In his office, tucked away in a sixth floor laboratory in the Evans Biomedical Research Center, Dr. Andrew Henderson shared his non-linear path into a career researching infectious disease. Dr. Henderson is an Associate Professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and Assistant Dean of the Graduate Medical Sciences division.
Working with animals and saving their lives is a job that inspires many; but this means that getting into veterinary school is very competitive. In both the US and the UK, universities require a large amount of previous work experience in animal handling and shadowing vets before even applying. However, there are large differences between qualifying for acceptance into veterinary school in the two countries.
Schizophrenia, which currently affects around one percent of the American population, is possibly one of the most puzzling mental health disorders. Essentially, it is a complex biochemical brain disorder that affects the way that you perceive and interact with the world around you. It can affect anyone, and does not have a cure.
Nearly 850 million visitors come to American museums each year, according to the American Alliance of Museums. These visitors see the many colorful, historic, and informative exhibits, but few see the important behind-the-scenes work that keeps the exhibits running. This is the job of the conservator.
Penny Kuhn is the managing editor of Endangered Species Research, a journal based out of Germany. She works remotely and lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We asked her some questions about life in the science communication world.
Zoology involves studying the diverse spectrum of organisms in the animal kingdom, but Dr. Justin Gerlach finds his attention especially drawn to snails. Having completed his degree in Zoology at Wadham College, Oxford with a subsequent Ph.D. there in 1994, Dr. Gerlach continued his studies by moving to the University of Cambridge. Since then, he has also taken on the role of coordinator of the Terrestrial and Freshwater Invertebrate Red List Authority. Dr. Gerlach recently returned from an expedition to the Society Islands and has kindly agreed to discuss his findings and his life as a zoologist.