(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.
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.
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.