Laboratory Technician, The Werren Lab
You work in a laboratory. What are you currently researching?
Our primary project involves Nasonia, tiny parasitoid (insects that parasitize other insects) wasps which are found throughout the globe, and which I admittedly had no idea existed until joining the Werren Lab. (Check them out, they are pretty neat). Two of our Nasonia species differ significantly in their ability to learn and retain information (i.e. scent and color). We seek to elucidate the genetics underlying this difference in memory retention, in particular the possibility that the forgetfulness of one species may actually prove beneficial to survival and is selected for in the wild.
What was it that originally sparked your interest in biology?
As a child I was set on becoming a paleontologist, so in one form or another I have always been interested in understanding life. At some point however, I decided to focus on the study and preservation of things that were not already long dead (no offense to paleontologists, I still love dinosaurs).
What do you enjoy most about working here at the U of R?
This is easy; the quality of the people I work with and the challenge of the projects we undertake. Never have I worked with so many intelligent and motivated individuals in an environment that required nearly constant thought. The undergrads that we take on are a fun and diverse group, while Rachel Jewell is hands-down the best coworker I have ever had (plus, she puts up with my OCD).
What is the most important thing that you’ve learned working here and/or studying biology?
There are countless techniques and instruments for one to learn in this field, however, they mean nothing if you fail to grasp the basics of scientific investigation.
How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?
I love the outdoors! I enjoy fishing, backpacking, and SCUBA diving (my favorite) whenever I get the chance.