Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Eva Chou

My interest in the biological sciences were first piqued in my second year as a science undergrad at UBC; it was then when I fell in love with microscopy. This, followed by the Harvard cell video, inspired me to pursue a specialization in UBC’s Cell Biology and Genetics program. Though inspired, it was my experiences in the UBC Co-op program that truly solidified my interest in the field.

During my first placement, I spent 8 months in northern Saskatchewan doing field tests for Agriculture and Agri-foods Canada in pursuit of developing crop varieties suitable for the northern prairie climate. The focus of my project was on developing flax varieties with short maturation periods and high seed yields as an alternative oil seed crop to substitute for the pathogen susceptible canola crops. After this, my next 8 months were spent at the Sidhu lab at the University of Toronto were I learned a variety of molecular biology techniques while working on finding highly specific binders for members of the ubiquitin HECT E3 ligase family.

In my final semester at UBC, I was fortunate to be one of two undergrads assigned (as part of a project for an advanced cell biology course) to the Samuels lab to learn about qRT-PCR. After graduating from UBC’s Cell Biology and Genetics program in 2014, I joined the Samuels lab as a summer research assistant, focusing on the study of monolignol transport. I began my Master’s degree the following year in January, 2015.

Currently, I am studying how the cell regulates the localization of components necessary for secondary cell wall formation during xylem differentiation. Secondary cell walls play important roles in the wood, textile, pulp and paper, and biofuel industries, and are an important sink for atmospheric carbon. Though important, how the cells transport these cell wall components to the correct cell wall domains are not well understood. I will be using molecular and live cell imaging techniques to examine the localization patterns of secondary cell wall components at different stages of xylem differentiation.