Posted: March 1, 2018
Where do you work, what is your position and who is your supervisor?
I am currently a fifth-year doctoral student at the University of Alberta, working under the supervision of Prof. Lowary.
Which project do you work on?
We are currently in collaboration with Prof. Hubbard (Dept. of Pharmacology, U. Alberta) to investigate the antifreeze activity of xylomannan glycolipids, which are produced by the freeze-tolerant Alaskan beetle Upis ceramboides as a way to survive the harsh winters. These xylomannan glycolipids are considered to be highly unusual as all other biological antifreeze compounds are protein-based, and thus little was known about their complete structure or mode-of-action. Reproducing these glycolipids in pure, homogenous samples will afford us the opportunity to investigate into their antifreeze mechanisms as well as the possibility of application as novel cryoprotectants for tissue preservation. Consequently, my role in this project is to synthesize a variety of different xylomannan glycolipids via organic synthesis. These compounds will then be sent to Prof. Hubbard for biological evaluation.
If you have previously attended the AGM/Symposium, what was your experience?
Generally speaking, on the whole these events have been really fun and exciting! I also found these meetings to be very intellectually stimulating, allowing us the opportunity to mingle with other scientists from diverse scientific fields and thus broadening not only our scientific knowledge in our specific expertise but also awareness into other areas of glycomics.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
That is a tricky question to be answered even in the best of times, hahah! Well my goal is to forge a career in academia. If it does not work out, well I can have the option of going into the industries as an industrial chemist, harnessing modern synthetic chemistry on industrial scale.
What does glycomics mean to you?
The future of human health and medicine. By understanding how these glycans exert their influence in cellular function and communication, one could apply this knowledge to improve on early disease diagnosis and treatment, and even prevention.
What is your favorite quote?
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything orginal” – Sir Ken Robinson
Based on your experience what advice would you give to junior trainees?
Never cease to be curious, and above all else, be open-minded to fresh ideas.
Réseau Canadien de la Glycomique
E5-33 Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre
University of Alberta, T6G 2G2
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