SFU Undergrad Researcher: Matthew Garayt

Introducing Matthew Garayt from the Department of Physics! 

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Name: Matthew Garayt
Major: Applied Physics, Honors
Supervisor: Dr. Michael Seear, BC Children’s Hospital

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Right now, I am still exploring my possibilities, but I would like to work in high-
technology one day, whether it be more at the research level, or the
refining/engineering level. Ultimately, I would like to use the knowledge I have
gained so far in my degree in whatever field I end up in.

Q: How did you get involved in research?
A: I applied to the Science Co-op program and once my job search was underway, I
saw the posting for the position and was immediately intrigued as the description
was not very long. I applied, interviewed, and received an offer in short order.

Q: What have you been working on in your research so far?
A: We research possible alternatives to the traditional diagnosis of respiratory
illnesses in young children. Current accepted methods are not accurate for
children younger than six years old, so based on other research we analyze data
of each patient, collected from a medical monitor, by putting it through multiple
mathematical and statistical algorithms. After we have enough patients, we can
try to draw conclusions on what analyses yield the best results as compared to
the traditional tests.

Q: What is a typical “day in the life” in the lab for you?
A: Arrive at the respiratory clinic early in the morning, continue researching new
methods that might be of use, analyze any raw data that might exist, and take
patients’ vitals’ signs for analysis if we have any for that day.

Q: What’s your favourite course that you have taken so far in your degree?
A: I quite enjoyed Mathematical Methods in Theoretical Physics taught by Professor
Howard Trottier as the course introduced many new, helpful mathematical
concepts that I would later use in other classes while also studying myriad
physical phenomena in a fun way.

Q: If you were a scientific lab instrument, which one would you be?
A: I would have to say a laser as I always try to be as precise as possible; people’s
health or quality of life may be at stake.

Q: Favourite science joke or meme from your field? Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 5.28.04 PM

Q: Who is your biggest science crush?
A: Maybe not a scientist in the truest sense, but Elon Musk. You cannot go wrong
with PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, and the Hyperloop.

Q: What’s the funniest thing in the lab that’s happened to you?
A: Nothing really funny, but it always seems to be that whenever I need to talk to my
supervisor he would be out of his office, somewhere unknown in the hospital…

Q: What scares you the most in the lab or the field?
A: The tests we perform on people may one day help diagnose real disorders and
diseases, so if there is a bug in the code somewhere there could be bad
consequences.

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SFU Undergrad Researcher: William Shen

Introducing William Shen of the Departments of Chemistry and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry!

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Name: William Shen
Faculty: Chemistry and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Year: Fourth
Supervisor: Dr. Hogan Yu

Q: What have you been working on in your research so far?
A: My research is focused on modifying surfaces to create superhydrophobic and cytotoxic materials with silanes and nanoparticles. My original project was meant to impart hydrophobic properties onto materials but I wanted to direct the applications towards the biology side of things so I implemented antimicrobial properties in addition. Having volunteered in health care for a few years, one of the main things that I noticed is that outbreaks are pretty common and when they do happen, quality of life takes a major nosedive. If I can develop a simple flexible process to modify materials that can limit bacteria derived nosocomial infections through contact transfers, then it would be beneficial to everyone. Another application that I have also spent a lot of time developing are durable superhydrophobic and antimicrobial textiles.

Q: What is a typical “day in the life” in the lab for you?
A: I could potentially be doing anything from creating thin films of polymers on surfaces, synthesizing nanoparticles, performing Kirby-Bauer and other susceptibility tests, or characterizing and interpreting data from instruments like contact angle goniometers and scanning electron microscopy. I don’t have much of a normal everyday routine in the lab in terms of the experiments I plan.

Q: What’s your favourite course that you have taken so far in your degree?
A: I have quite a few favourite courses but I would say CHEM 459 – Special Topics in Organic Chemistry is my favourite. The course was taught by David Vocadlo and the topic that he chose was chemical biology. When I started university, I chose MBB as my major because I loved biology and chemistry. I was disappointed that MBB never quite went into the chemistry of anything in any sort of detail…it was sort of just glossed over for the most part. Fast forward to the end of second year and I found out about the Chemistry and MBB joint program and decided to switch into it. It wasn’t until I took chemical biology that I felt like there was a course that satisfied what I wanted originally. It took everything great about chemistry, everything great about molecular biology and biochemistry, and blended it into a different field that I loved. I would definitely recommend the course with Dr. Vocadlo to anyone if you get the chance.

Q: If you were a scientific lab instrument, which one would you be?
A: A scanning electron microscope because it’s my favourite characterization technique by far for materials and who wouldn’t want to be part electron gun???

Q: Who is your biggest science crush?
A: Elon Musk because I always admire someone who has the guts to take on high-risk high reward scenarios where you could potentially lose everything. Plus, he called his tunnel boring company “The Boring Company.” A+

Q: What scares you the most in the lab or the field?
A: Breaking very expensive equipment.