Interviews with Research Ambassadors

Katherine Timms' Interview with Almas Yaqoob (BCMB Master’s Alumnus)

Katie: Give me a brief summary of your research
Almas: I screened BC mushrooms for immunostimulatory, immunoinhibitory, or cytotoxic activities, and then purified and further tested the bioactivities of several cytotoxic compounds for their potential use as anti-cancer drugs.

Katie: How has research impacted your life/career?
Almas: Doing research and being in a professional environment has helped me learn to behave in a professional way, and it as improved my professional development.  Research has also taught me to look at a situation from many angles. Often times, you will need to look outside the box or approach a problem from a new angle to find a solution.

Katie: How did you first get involved in research?
Almas: I first got involved in research because I wanted to have a successful life and career in Canada. I was also passionate about pharmaceuticals and how a drug comes to be a finalized product. So much work goes into drug discovery and there can be so many complications along the way.

Katie: Why is research important to you?
Almas: Doing research forces you to work and improve your work ethic which makes you better suited for the outside world and the job market. 

Katie: What is the best thing you have gained from doing research?
Almas: The best things I have gained from research are persistence and all the technical and critical thinking skills that come along with being persistent. My technical skills and thinking capacity has improved so much.

Katie: What recommendation do you have for other researchers?
Almas: Be optimistic and don’t doubt your capabilities without trying to improve them.  Being optimistic and encouraging to yourself and those around you will improve your thinking capacity and allow you to have good discussions with others. Scare your fellow researcher – fun game


Katherine Timms' interview with Ann Duong (4th year BCMB Honour’s student)

Katie: Give me a brief summary of your research
Ann: I am currently involved in two research projects. One is trying to detect, quantify, and remove a toxin that is released from cyanobacteria in eutrophic waters. The other is trying to determine whether a stem loop modified RNA molecule can inhibit KRAS protein expression which is a protein that is overexpressed in many cancers including colon, lung and pancreatic cancer.

Katie: How has research impacted your life/career?
Ann: Let me give you an analogy. Research is like a child. It starts out like this weird pink slimy ball of weirdness, but the more effort you put into it the more you get out. Sometimes you get attached to it when you shouldn’t. It takes a lot of your time and you might forgo some opportunities and sever some friendships to be with it all the time, but at the end you look back at all the chromatograms and graphs you’ve made together and you realize that it is all worth it. You never know what its like unless you have experienced it.

Katie: How did you first get involved in research?
Ann: I got involved in my first year, by volunteering in the lab. I attended one of those Chemistry/Biochemistry Welcome Barbecues at the beginning of the year for the food but stayed for the interesting conversation and to be inspired by all the amazing research at UNBC. Let’s just say that there was a lot of food for thought. And I stuck around ever since.

Katie: Why is research important to you?
Ann: One word. Patience. Research also helps me understand that it’s not so much about getting the answers but finding the important questions. If you don’t question everything that happens in this world there won’t be any progress. Research is important because it can solve so many issues like climate change, discrimination, and racism because it forces us to ask the why rather than take something at face-value. It is something we need more of, but first we must get rid of the perception of research as an impenetrable ivory tower. Everyone can do research, it’s just we have fancier expensive tools and wear these white coats that do everything but make us look more attractive. 

Katie: What is the best thing you have gained from doing research?
Ann: They say that if there is no pain there is no gain. The best thing I’ve gained from research is friends and colleagues that I get to learn from everyday. And that was worth all the pain for sure.

Katie: What advice do you have for those wanting to get involved in research?
Ann: Best advice is don’t have any expectations. You will most likely not receive a Nobel Prize or have people bowing down to you because you discovered the cure to cancer. And to be honest, the cure to cancer is not simple at all. So be ready to have your ego crushed. My supervisor once told me that it is not about being the best. You should never compare yourself to others, but only to yourself.  Because no one is the same. That’s why the world is beautiful. I thought that was a great point.


Katherine Timms' interview with Landon Short (BCMB Alumnus)

Katie: Give me a brief summary of your research
Landon: a. In Dr. Sarah Gray’s lab, our research is primarily focused in biomedical research on energy homeostasis in the context of diabetes and obesity. In my role as a research manager, I assist other lab members with their projects in addition to my personal research, which is mostly molecular biology based (genetics work, protein, etc.). We also have a transgenic mouse colony that I help manage.

Katie: How did you first get involved in research?
Landon: I first got involved with research in Dr. Andrea Gorrell’s lab in the summer before the final year of my degree. I was then able to use what I had learned over that summer to make a smooth transition into an undergraduate thesis course.

Katie: What is the best thing you have gained from doing research?
Landon: I’ve found that research has been rewarding for me because in the lab I finally get to apply many of the things that I had learned in my courses. Research in a professional setting also allows me to engage in a different learning process, which is more independent than a traditional classroom setting, so I feel that I’ve grown a lot in my time since becoming involved in research.

Katie: How has research impacted your life/career?
Landon: I was fortunate because the experience I had gained over my time as a member of Dr. Gorrell’s lab allowed me to apply for a full-time position in Dr. Gray’s lab. So without the opportunity to gain undergraduate research experience, I wouldn’t have the job I have now.

KatieWhat would your advice to other students looking for research experience be?
Landon: There is so much interesting research being conducted at UNBC and the best way to start is by asking your professors what their research is. If you are interested in their research, ask them if it’s possible to get some research experience with their lab.