SFU Undergrad Researcher: Cassidy Jones

Introducing Cassidy Jones of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry!

CASSIDY JONES

Name: Cassidy Jones
Major: Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Year: Fourth
Supervisor: Dr. Sharon Gorski (BC Cancer Agency)

Q: What have you been working on in your research so far?
A: I am currently in the Gorski lab at the BC Cancer Agency, studying the relationship between HER2 and the autophagy-related protein (ATG4B) in HER2 overexpressing breast, gastric and lung cancers. HER2 overexpressing cancers are typically associated with a poor prognosis and acquired treatment resistance to HER2 therapeutics is common. The “big goal” is to modulate autophagy in order to better treat these aggressive cancer subtypes. I have approximately 15 different cell lines on the go at the moment, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in tissue culture! A number of the cell lines are new to the BC Cancer Agency, so I have put in a lot of work optimizing growth conditions and researching methods in the primary literature.

Q: If you were a scientific lab instrument, which one would you be?
A: This semester I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time going around in circles on my research, so I think I would say I’m like the PCR machine. I just keep cycling and cycling, producing a mass amount of data, a lot of which looks the same!

Q: What’s the funniest thing in the lab that’s happened to you?
A: Well this one is more funny/sad, than funny. Recently I have been expanding an extremely slow growing gastric cell line that I need to run siRNA knockdown experiments on. After three weeks of waiting, the cells were ready to be passaged and plated. Unfortunately, the water bath was malfunctioning and overheated to 44C (apparently it doesn’t have an alarm). My media bottle was nearly empty so I didn’t realize it until I went to count the cells on the hemocytometer – yep, they all died. At first I didn’t know what happened, but when I went to get my other media bottles, they were almost bursting from the pressure. So now I have to re-expand this line again from frozen stock! It’s the smallest of details that can make all the difference sometimes – you have to triple check everything.

Q: Favorite science joke or meme from your field?
A: We have this quote posted in our lab – it helps on those long days where nothing seems to work:
“Theory is when one knows everything but nothing works.
Practice is when everything works and no one knows why.
Theory and practice are combined here: nothing works and no one knows why.”

Q: What is a typical “day in the life” in the lab for you?
A: I’ve been pushing the limits of my own endurance this semester, trying to get most of my project finished. I get to the lab most days by 6am and there’s many days I don’t leave until 9-10pm. I’ve also worked “overnight” in the lab this semester, and a 6-7 day work week is pretty normal for me right now. I spend a lot of time in tissue culture “babying” my cells and I have run more gels and western blots than I care to count! I just keep telling myself it will be worth it in the end.

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