How to train your viral assassin
Sasha will be returning to her Soapbox on Sept. 24.
What is your field of study?
Hi! I'm a fourth year Ph.D. candidate at University of Toronto. My research focuses on studying how proteins can regulate the mechanism of bacteriophage assembly. Bacteriophage (or phage) are viruses that are specific to bacteria, meaning that if we can find a way to use them effectively, phage can work to kill bad bacteria that harm human health. This means I use techniques such as NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) to look at the intricate workings of a molecule: How a protein folds, what it binds to, the temperature it works at and so much more are tiny details that can have a large impact. For instance, the bacteriophage is the most abundant entity on the planet, they are invisible to the naked eye, but if you lined them up 'end-to-end' all the phage on our planet could reach a distance to the moon and back. So it’s incredibly exciting that these small entities, and their even smaller protein components can be understood and in doing so, have applications within health care.
What excites you about Soapbox Science?
I'm very excited to be part of the first Soapbox Science Event here in Canada. Toronto is home to many excellent scientists. We are very fortunate to have a bustling, diverse and thriving city where the resources to perform excellent research is readily available. I'm especially excited that this event is highlighting women in science because I love science and I love being a woman and in no way do I think the two are mutually exclusive! Soapbox Science gives us the platform to share that message not only locally but also on a more global scale via the power of social media. It is incredibly important to promote science, the people doing science and the great things that can happen when we embrace both men and women equally in science.