Community Connections – Micro-Biologist

My adventure as a Micro-Biologist: (Why are you passionate about your job? / What obstacles have you faced? / What has been your best discovery or adventure?)

My Master’s degree was in medical microbiology at Queen’s university.  We were looking at how bacteria were becoming resistant to many many different kinds of bacteria.   I loved my research because it was directly linked to how we could help patients.  I was interested primarily in bacteria resistant to many antibiotics because they are so complex and such a huge health concern 20 years ago and even more so today.

After my degree, I worked at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa (CHEO) as medical researcher.  We were investigating if disinfectants used in cleaning the hospital were causing an increase in bacteria resistant to cleaners and also resistant to antibiotics.     My role was to plan the project, write up how the experiments were to be performed, link with the hospital to get the permissions to take samples from areas around the hospital and then lead a team of lab technicians to test the bacteria to see if they were resistant to disinfectants and antibiotics.

When I came back to BC I worked in many fields of education but combined my two talents- teaching and microbiology at Douglas College.  I teach medical microbiology to nursing students and students who want to continue in a medical field.  I love teaching this course because our labs teach real life scenarios that nurses will encounter.   Our first lab is on how important it is to wash your hands properly!   I believe the picture I attached is from the bottom of a shoe.  Look at the variety of bacteria we come in contact with every day!  Imagine our hands!

We also do labs on urine samples and samples from other bodily fluids. I included a picture of E.coli – we hear about it in the news as it contaminates everything from poorly processed lettuce to hamburger to fruit juice.  But remember bacteria are not all bad.  Our last lab of the year is looking at pro-biotics (yogurt and pro-biotic tablets) to see all the good bacteria !

What are your roles and responsibilities?

My roles and responsibilities at Douglas college are to make sure my students not only learn the material but to develop an understanding and respect for the bacteria they will come in contact with in their jobs as nurses and health practitioners.   I also strive to make my students love the subject.  It is my responsibility to develop new and interesting labs, to  keep our bacterial cultures growing well, to make all the plates of agar that the bacteria will grown on, to keep the lab organized, order equipment, supplies and so much more.  One important duty I have is to keep the documentation for safety up to date.  Anyone who works in our lab must undergo strict training as we work with organisms that do cause disease.  The government demands strict safety testing and record keeping on our bacteria.



Why i interviewed a Micro-Biologist?

I interviewed my Family friend; Nina Bianco. She is a Micro-biology teacher that works at Douglas college doing volunteer courses as well as teaching daily courses. What I learned from her is mainly that when you are in school for your career you will always have a a subject or area of your courses that is not your favorite but once you get past the hard parts and the obstacles there are so many other other amazing research projects that will blow our minds. This is connected to my interests not only because we will need to study the same subjects but micro-biology is similar to the medicine field. In fact a lot of micro-biologists work with surgeons on diseases and in hospitals. I want to be a surgeon when I grow up so this is well related into medicine and medical research.

Some opportunities are…

Since she is my family friend I’ve been invited several times to go do professional biology labs at her lab in Douglas college. I have also learned the procedures they take for safety and how they run classes and labs! I am so excited to have learned so much from her and hope to take the course at Douglas college that riverside offers.