What got you interested in science?
I just enjoyed the science classes I had in high school, and I was fairly good at them. I found them easier to study for than English or history because the textbook was interesting and easier to pick up. Science was just a subject that appealed to me.
Where did you go to school? What brought you to ISB?
I went to school at Otago University which is in the South Island of New Zealand and I did my Ph.D. at the Garvin Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. This is my first postdoc experience. I wanted to learn a little bit more computation and Naeha is doing a lot of innate immunity which is something I am really interested in. The innate immune system is the lining of receptors that recognize bacteria, fungi, and viruses which I thought was a fascinating area of science.
What is your daily work like?
I don’t really have a typical day; every day is a bit different. I usually have cells in cultures so I check them regularly, but I also spend some time analyzing previous experiments and planning future ones. I have been doing some imaging recently so I take the grown cells and put them on the scope to take images.
Do you have a current or future project that you are most excited about?
I have got a bunch of different projects. I am working on the innate immune response to Lyme disease and I’ve got some really cool data sets that I am excited to work with. We also have the brand new confocal microscope and I’ve acquired some really good images with it.
What are some of your hobbies?
During my Ph.D. I played a little bit of sport, but its harder to do that here. I ride my bike more often and because I live in Beacon Hill I get to ride around parts of Lake Washington which has a nice view.
Were you able to do a lot of research in school?
During my Ph.D. we did a lot of research but during my undergrad not so much. I managed to spend one summer in a lab during my undergrad and that was essentially the only research experience I got. The research labs that I did were all pretty structured; the experiments had been optimized by Ph.D. students, so we never had an experiment that failed or didn’t work.
What is your favorite part about ISB? What is collaboration like?
One of the things I really like is the location. They have UW medicine, Fred Hutch, CIDR, and UW Microbiology extremely close, so I really like how all the research communities are nearby because it makes collaborations very easy. I go to a lot of UW immunology talks; maybe every week or so. We have gotten to work with the instruments in their immunology lab which has been really cool.
What advice would you give a high schooler interested in a STEM career?
Just take a few science courses and if you really enjoy those, carry on with it. Also, remember that you don’t have to make your mind up now. When I was in college, I realized that I really liked science so I picked a wide variety of science courses and surprisingly I took more chemistry and physics courses but I enjoyed the biology-based ones more.