Heterogeneity exists in biological systems at levels ranging from subtle differences between similar molecules to obvious variations between organisms. In spite of this variance, the majority of the current knowledge in molecular and cell biology has arisen from studying ensemble averages of large populations of cells. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that identifying and assessing these inherent differences is required in order to address both fundamental and applied questions. My research aims to exploit the precise fluid handling capabilities inherent in microfluidic integration to develop, optimize and apply tools for both specific and genome-wide gene expression profiling on populations of single cells.
What do you hope to accomplish with your research?
Over the course of my research I hope to both create tools to enable new types of single-cell measurements and apply these tools to examine cellular heterogeneity in early hematopoiesis and acute myeloid leukemia.
What has winning a major award meant to you?
Receiving an award that recognizes academic potential and community involvement is both encouraging and validates the importance of doing more than bench-work. Receiving these awards will make it easier to pursue my research and extracurricular activities without further added financial distractions.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I am continually surprised at the amount and variety of activities that UBC and Vancouver have to offer. Through UBC alone, there are endless chances to audit classes, teach school students, supervise undergraduate teams, and participate in student government and an endless list of clubs.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I was attracted to UBC's Genome Science and Technology graduate program as its interdisciplinary nature allows me to pursue research at the interface of biology, engineering and physical science with world-class researchers. Additionally, their lab rotation program introduced me to a variety of different research directions before having to commit to a thesis topic.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Take advantage of what the university and city have to offer! It's too easy to get caught up in working on your thesis project, so make sure to get involved in other activities, even if some of those look like extra “work”. Also, don't forget to Storm the Wall.