What made you choose Davis?
The diversity of research here is outstanding. I collaborate with faculty from the MIND Institute, the medical school, the Foods for Health Institute, the College of Biological Sciences, and here in the vet school. I have expanded my research program in multiple different directions thanks to the expertise of the faculty.
What inspires you?
Discovering something new. Experiments where we see unexpected connections blow my mind every time.
What research are you currently working on? What makes it unique?
My lab is interested in the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Essentially, we are trying to uncover the mechanisms by which the bacteria living in your gut can communicate with your brain, impacting mood and cognition. We now know that your gut can influence how you feel, but we still don’t really know how this happens. We use preclinical models to test different mechanisms and ways by which we can help people suffering from intestinal diseases (like inflammatory bowel disease) and have concurrent mood and behavioral symptoms (like anxiety and depression).
If you could impart once piece of advice to our undergraduates seeking a course of study/career path, what would it be?
If you get the opportunity, try doing some basic research in a lab. It’s not the same as a lab course, and the skills you learn will apply to so many different things. Teamwork, time management, efficiency, critical thinking to name a few. Plus, you are likely to meet great people a few years ahead of you in their career that can provide helpful insight. A reference letter from a professor whose lab you worked in will be extremely helpful for any future applications. I love when my former undergraduate students update me with their careers – so many different avenues, but hopefully we helped them reach their goals a little bit.
When not in the classroom or conducting research, what do you like to do?
Hanging out with my family. We love to be outside at the farmer’s market or biking around town (we are from Canada where you hibernate from November to March, so we love being able to enjoy the weather year-round in California). My kid loves the airport and traveling, so we take him along when we travel for work whenever we can.
Have you found your favorite spot on campus yet?
I love the area around Putah Creek Lodge – it’s close to the vet school and provides a nice little escape from the lab.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love the ability to teleport. I have friends and family all over the world, and it would be so nice to be able to see them more often – to be able to just appear instantly would solve so many travel problems!