Meet the Finlay Lab: PART I

(Or 2020–Time for a PhD Update)

In Merry Christmas from the Finlay Lab I noted that 2020 would feature new blogs (and vlogs!) exploring gut-brain interactions, microbiome research, and graduate life. Here, I share some of my 2019 highlights to kickstart the new year.


This year I presented at Neuro-Immune Axis a Cell Symposium in Long Beach, CA (selected poster promo talk/poster). While the packed schedule kept me scribbling notes, visiting poster sessions, and/or networking…I took off during my lunch break to visit the Pacific Ocean. On my way to Alamitos Beach I passed by incredible mural art including this piece by Dina Saadi. Saadi–an artist based in Dubai–is known for her vibrant works featuring women. An abandoned cop car and e-scooter stood watch during my visit.


I also discussed ongoing challenges and potential of gut-brain research in a multidisciplinary review co-authored with Dr. Finlay and Dr. Tobias Rees, an anthropologist/philosopher interested in how gut microbes shape concepts of humanity TR research. This work was part of a special Bioessays review featuring voices from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Humans and the Microbiome Program. You can watch our video preview here.


This year also featured various outreach projects. I’m a TEDx presenter! In March 2019 I shared 3 lessons I gained from examining gut microbiota-brain interactions.  The day was particularly memorable as my mom and sister joined the audience.

(1) Expand Perspective (2) Value Voices (3) Acknowledge Interdependency



In October I spent several weeks in Lleida, Spain in the lab of Dr. Victoria Ayala VA Research. Dr. Ayala belongs to the Institut de Recerca Biomèdica de Lleida. In addition to practicing Catalan, learning lipidomic techniques (assessing lipid profiles in tissue samples), and presenting at lab meetings, I had the opportunity to visit some incredible Spanish cities including Barcelona (left) and Peñíscola (right). Peñíscola, a medieval walled city, has been featured in the movie El Cid and Game of Thrones episodes. The stone castle was originally built by Templar Knights before turning into the base of Papa Luna (Father Moon), also known as Pope Benedict XIII.

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I’ll share more about my autumn abroad in an upcoming post.

Collaborations also expanded into the art realm! This year I had the opportunity to participate in a piece featured in the Curiosity Collider’s Collisions Festival in Vancouver. Earlier this year, Linda Horianopoulos (UBC PhD Candidate) and members of the Finlay Lab discussed gut-brain research with the incredible Dzee Louise. Dzee took our coffee conversation and created a wondrous puzzle painting entitled Crossing. To learn more about the work, check out Dzee’s blog post.

Here are grad students and the artist (Dzee far right) during the festival.

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Research-Outreach-Collaboration: What a year! Here’s to new adventures in 2020. Happy exploring friends!

**Stay tuned for PART II where you’ll actually “Meet the Finlayites” and learn more about  projects from researchers and graduate students in the Finlay lab.

By KCBauer

Hello! My name is KCBauer and I am a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. I am a researcher, writer, musician, and explorer. Originally from Washington DC, I graduated with a BA in Music and BS in Biology in 2014. This blog focuses on the gut microbiota, the trillions of microorganisms that reside along the digestive tract. My grad research at UBC examines the role of the gut microbiota on human health, brain development, and anthropology. When I am not in the lab, I enjoy ambling through Vancity, listening to music, reading science journals, and hiking. If you have questions, ideas for blog topics, suggestions for place to visit in BC, or corrections send me an email at

2 replies on “Meet the Finlay Lab: PART I”

How nice to hear from you again! I have not received notices of some of these recent blogs. It’s good to hear of all you are doing. Approximately how much longer do you have there? It’s amazing all the travel and presenting that you’ve been able to do. I’m sure you’re enjoying all of that and your work itself, probably very glad that you chose the school you did.

We just had all our descendants, except the granddaughter teaching English in Laos this year, here over the holidays. Great fun. Lots of good food, music, conversation, games, trips to the new Wellness Center at AU, etc. The house seems pretty empty now.




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