Cross collaboration: How two graduate students benefit from sharing their research

November 2018 By Alena Pratasouskaya & Jennifer Crha

Alena  – Do you believe that people come into your life for a reason? We quite often hear that networking is important; we should expand our professional network every day. I don’t think I grasped the importance of those words until I needed to learn new methods and techniques in order to move my research project forward. This is our story.

Jennifer Crha and I met on our way to Edmonton for a GlycoNet Trainee Association Executive Committee (GTA-EC) meeting, where we had an opportunity to get to know each other before working together on planning the 2019 Canadian Glycomics Symposium. We chatted about science and future plans for the Symposium. I told her that I really need to analyze some carbohydrates and I would love to learn how to use mass spectrometry. And what did I hear back? I heard that Jennifer works with sugars on a regular basis and has a mass spectrometer in her lab! OMG.

GlycoNet trainees Jennifer Crha (left) and Alena Pratasouskaya share ideas and learn from each other in the lab.

A couple of emails were exchanged between our professors and now, I have an opportunity to advance my research as well as make an awesome friend. I also found it very helpful to see how other people work: their rhythm, speed, way of thinking, how they balance their personal life with a heavy load of research. We spent hours tackling the problems, scheduling and planning the next steps, and of course having a good laugh at shared life stories.

I hope if you have an opportunity to go to different lab and work with somebody else, you would take this chance. You never know, you might make a friend for life. Inquire with your department/program for research exchange opportunities. If you are in a GlycoNet-funded lab, click here for details on the GlycoNet Research Exchange Program.

Jennifer – My experience collaborating with Alena has been amazing! I agree with her about networking. People always say it is important, but I never realized that it could have such a positive impact, especially during my studies. The work we are doing together has helped solidify my understanding of research methods and has made me gain confidence in what I know. It has been a very exciting journey, and we have built a strong friendship during the time we have been working together.

Alena is so motivated and excited about her work and I’m sure her supervisor appreciates this attitude as much as I do. Seeing someone else so thrilled about their results is an awesome reward! I will be sad when Alena’s project is finished because she won’t be visiting me at Guelph anymore, however I know we have built a life-long friendship.

I encourage everyone to reach out and talk to people and have fun learning about another person’s research. You never know when their methods might be of interest to your project.

Alena Pratasouskaya is a M.Sc. Chemistry candidate supervised by Dr. Geoff Horsman at Wilfrid Laurier University. Alena has previously served as Vice-Chair, GlycoNet Training Association – Executive Committee and is serving as the Symposium Committee Representative.

Jennifer Crha is a M.Sc. candidate in the department of Chemistry supervised by Dr. Mario Monteiro at the University of Guelph. Jennifer is currently serving as Co-Communications Officer with the GlycoNet Training Association – Executive Committee.

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