Trainee at GlycoNet: Akay Akohwarien

Posted: May 1, 2018


Where do you work, what is your position and who is your supervisor?

I am a master’s student in chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan with Dr. David Palmer as my supervisor.

Which project do you work on?

My project involves the synthesis of novel candidates and PET precursor molecules for studying Glucocerebrosidase (an enzyme that is associated with Gaucher’s and Parkinson’s disease).

If you have previously attended the AGM/Symposium, what was your experience?

The AGM/Symposium of 2018 is my first experience at a GlycoNet hosted conference.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Some of the most enjoyable aspects of my work are teaching chemistry labs and attending conferences where I present my research. Both of these have provided an opportunity for science communication. In the future, I see myself teaching in some form. I would like to do a PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry and lecture at the university level, be it in Canada or Nigeria (my home country).

What does glycomics mean to you?

When I think about macromolecules, particularly enzymes, I am so fascinated by their complexities. Enzymes have evolved to have different domains, catalytic efficiency, substrate selectivities, etc. Since the learning is endless, there’s always something new to discover in both research and other aspects of life. What this says to me, is to live a life driven by curiosity.

What is your favourite quote?

Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi. I particularly like this quote because it emphasizes giving back to one’s community and the need to engage with things in our world. I have been fortunate to be part of social justice work outside of campus here in Saskatoon. My work on/off campus makes my life fulfilling.

Based on your experience what advice would you give to junior trainees?

Research and graduate school are steep learning experiences, particularly if you are “fresh” from undergraduate. But, that’s ok. Prioritizing self-motivation, time management, self-care is crucial for staying and doing well in the graduate program. Also, do no linger too much on failures, learn from it and move on! There are things that would have been helpful to know when I started.

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