Dr. Stephanie DeWitte-Orr was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Karen Mossman from 2008-2011 and obtained a faculty position at Laurier University in 2011
Stephanie is building a career studying interferon signalling and sensing of viral RNA in fish. Here she discusses how her training at MIRC shaped her career.
HBSc, co-op: Department of Biology, University of Waterloo
PhD: Department of Biology, University of Waterloo
PDF: Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University
The research being performed at the centre is cutting edge and the resources are outstanding. Coming from a research field and environment where ‘no’ is heard frequently due to lack of funding, it was exciting to be in a place where ‘yes’ was heard, ‘yes’ we have that piece of equipment, ‘yes’ we can do that experiment.
I have so many. Sitting in the dark microscopy room, playing music and taking countless pictures of fluorescently labelled cells (it is a lot more fun than it sounds). Mossman lab retreats. Listening to Brian Lichty talk about what we can learn from ants. Winning the Postdoctoral Fellow Outstanding Achievement Award, that was pretty cool.
My learning curve was steep. I thought I knew a lot coming into my PDF, but when I arrived I found out how much I still needed to learn. The environment is stimulating, with an abundance of seminars, journal clubs, opportunities to collaborate and discuss. It was truly a rewarding experience.
A lot of hard work. I kept applying for academic positions, modifying and shaping my application package with each posting. I was hired at the level of Assistant Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in the Department of Biology and Health Science Program in July of 2011.
Two fold. Firstly, I was able to hone my research skills, developing new and innovative strategies to answer questions related to innate immunity. These skills enabled me to publish several novel studies. Secondly, the mentorship that I received at the centre has been invaluable, not only for helping me obtain my current position but I rely on Karen Mossman and Dawn Bowdish’s guidance still, now that I am navigating the waters of academia.
Well, still being in academia, one could argue I have dodged the ‘real world’ for good. But I believe my experiences at the centre have helped me tremendously in my current job. What I learned during the many professional development opportunities at the centre, such as mentoring younger scientists, participating in career seminars and writing grants, have left a lasting impression.
Ask lots of questions, soak up as much as you can from the knowledgeable mentors you have around you. And don’t be afraid to take risks, you never know if it’s that one flyer experiment or one conversation that leads you to great things.