Trainee at GlycoNet: Emily Rodrigues

Emily Rodrigues is a PhD student at the University of Alberta.

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

I am a PhD student in Chemistry at the University of Alberta working in Dr. Matt Macauley’s group.

Which project do you work on?

My project involves investigating how Siglecs, cell membrane proteins found on immune cells which bind to sialic acid, can modulate immune responses. The interaction between sialic acid and Siglecs has been shown to be important in many immune responses, and when this interaction is dysregulated can cause diseases such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, or Alzheimer’s disease. We are looking to better understand these interactions to develop new therapeutics.

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

I attended the AGM and Symposium last year and found it to be a fantastic time. I was able to connect with a number of other trainees and learn about all the different types of research that are going on in the field of glycomics. There were many great professional development sessions that were offered that allowed for the trainees to network and develop certain skills, such as presentation abilities or CV writing.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

After my PhD, I hope that I am able to transition into the research and development side of the pharmaceutical industry to continue exploring how we can better treat and cure diseases.

What does glycomics mean to you?

To me, glycomics represents a very diverse field of science that connects many disciplines in the hopes to better understand how sugars and proteins interact to influence health and disease. It has allowed me to combine both chemistry and biology in my studies to gain insight to the connection of how they can impact the signalling of cells and progression of diseases.

What is your favourite quote?

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.’ – Carl Segan.”

Is there anything interesting that you would like to share about yourself, such as any sports that you enjoy, talents you have, and/or what you do in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy playing intermural sports, mainly soccer in the summertime. My family has been a large soccer influence, so it has been my main sport of choice to watch and to play since I was young, with Chelsea F.C. being the only club to support. I am also involved with volunteering for the University of Alberta chapter of Let’s Talk Science, an organization that coordinates outreach events to engage children of all ages in the fields of STEM.

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