Jennifer Geddes-McAlister

 
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Lethbridge, Canada
Munich, Germany
Proteomic profiling of the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans upon regulation of the cyclic-AMP/protein kinase A signalling pathway
James Kronstad
 

Where and what is your current position?

As a post-doctoral researcher, my main activities are associated with research, manuscript preparation, and mentoring. I am investigating host-pathogen interactions using quantitative proteomics, combining my training as a microbiologist with immunology, biochemistry, computational proteomics, and drug discovery. Employing such an interdisciplinary approach to my research requires sufficient training, preparation, and collaborative initiatives in order to proceed successfully in the laboratory.

Beyond the laboratory, I attend and present my work at national and international conferences to speak with fellow researchers and improve upon my current experimental design. Establishing collaborations, networking, and discussing my work with others is extremely valuable to the success of my research.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

When I entered into my PhD, I knew upon finishing that I wanted to pursue a postdoctoral position in an exciting area of research and in a great lab. I never imagined that would include moving my family to Germany! Having the opportunity to conduct research in one of the world's leading proteomic laboratories is incredibly motivating and is rapidly moving my career forward.

How does this job relate to your graduate degree?

My current research builds up my work as a graduate student while increasing my depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise in areas beyond microbiology and immunology. I am continuing to apply a mass spectrometry-based proteomics platform to investigate microbial pathogenesis, while expanding beyond a pathogenic focus to investigate the connection between the immune response and the pathogen, as well as the significance of host-pathogen interactions.

During graduate school, I was very active in areas beyond my primary research. I supervised and mentored undergraduate and high school students in the laboratory, I taught courses, I sat as the graduate student representative on numerous faculty committees, and I was president of the microbiology and immunology graduate student society. Graduate school provided me with an opportunity to be involved outside the traditional setting and to further develop my professional skills, in addition to my skills as a scientist. Beyond learning to be a better writer and how to effectively communicate my science, graduate school taught me to be patient, critical, and curious – attributes that I continuously rely on as a post-doctoral fellow.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

UBC has an excellent reputation and provides the opportunity for graduate students to work with world-renowned scientist in a diverse array of disciplines. I chose to pursue graduate school at UBC because of its record of academic excellence, research strength in the microbiology and immunology department, and the financial support provided for students.

What are key things you did that contributed to your success?

My research has always been my primary focus, but not my only focus. I saw tremendous value in developing my skills as a young professional to set myself apart as I moved forward in my career. Building upon my achievements in the laboratory by networking, collaborating, mentoring, and representing graduate students provided the foundation for my current success as an Alexander von Humboldt and Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Post-Doctoral Research Fellow.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

I would advise students to engage in opportunities for their personal, professional, and scientific development during graduate school to enhance their overall experience and to gain knowledge and expertise outside of the laboratory. Graduate school is much more than training a person to conduct research and write papers, it is a chance to shape who you are and who you will be. It is an opportunity to develop skills beyond the bench that will serve you well when you move onto the next stage of your career and encourage an interdisciplinary view of your future.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

I love the independence I have to conduct my research while being supported by excellent colleagues. Moving to a new country and entering into a relatively new field of study was challenging; however, I am fortunate to be working in a very collaborative environment and to have the opportunity to attend conferences and workshops to assist with the new research direction.