Dr. Gerhard Gries Lab, SFU     

  Field and Lab Research Assistant

  December 2017 – April 2020

   Accomplishments:

  • Co-authour on publication currently in peer review based on rodent pheromone research conducted

  • Conference poster presentation award

  • Presented research for industrial sponsors of the lab

  Projects:

  • Field and lab testing of inter- and intra-species interactions of pheromone component blends of house mice, deer mice, and Norway rats

  • Bumble bee nest box improvement with scent attractants

  • Laboratory behavioural bioassays of mice and cats’ response to pheromone blends

  • Field and laboratory testing of the European fire ant trail pheromone

   Duties:

  • Extensive work in field and lab behavioural experiments on rodents and insects

  • Genetic analysis via PCR and gel electrophoresis

  • Leading field and lab work and managing volunteers for a wide variety of research projects

  • Reporting scientific data and reviewing relevant scientific literature

  • Identifying rodents and bumble bees to the species level

  • Handling and disposal of biohazardous organisms

Image by Colin Davis
Image by Brett Jordan
Image by Victoria Alexander
Lab Photo.jpg

Relevant Links

> Gries Lab Webpage and Undergraduate Page

> My Published research on rodent pheromone communication

> Elana's House Mouse Publication ( I am in the acknowledgements for contributing field work)

My time in the Gries Lab

The Gries Lab was my first real expereince in biology, and soon after that milestone it also became my first paid position in biology. They have been incredibly supportive and have given me opportunity after opportunity and for that I am forever thankful to them for kickstarting my career as a biologist.

Project 1: Rodent Pheromone Communication

My work with Elana consisted largely of weekly pheromone and food bait refreshes of the rat and mouse field experiments that were scattered around Metro Vancouver. This involved coordinating the experiment, ensuring we brought the correct materials and problem solving when the inevitable field work logistical complications that any person who has done field work before understands.  I also ensured that the chemicals were stocked and applied safely to the filter paper they would be deployed by.

As I worked with Elana longer, I was graciously given more responsibility. I was responsible for organizing and then training new volunteers on procedure and safety issues associated with the experiments, the locations we went to, and with the rodent traps themselves, which are no joke!

We frequented all the areas that rodents frequent, from recycling depots and processing plants, to food processing facilities in industrial areas, to farms and food banks. It was a lot of things (dangerous, smelly, loud, etc) but it certainly wasn't boring!

This experiment eventaully became my undergraduate research project on which I wrote a paper presenting my findings. Following this, it was accepted by Scientific Reports and you can read it here!

Field Work 1.jpg

Project 2: Bumble Bee Field Experiment

I  was also involved in a bumble bee field based experiment that taught me a lot about bumble bees (and how AWESOME they are!) and opened the door to the M'Gonigle Lab position that would later become where I would do my Masters Degree. 

This work is in the process of being published so I can't tell you any more than that but I can't wait to!

Project 3: Lab Work and Behavioural Bioassays

In addition to all of that field work, I also did a lot of lab work in my time at the Gries Lab. I did lots of things from preparing field materials, such as cooking up food baits and pipetting pheromones in solution, to aging and sexing of rodent specimens by visual inspection as well as genetic testing via PCR/gel electrophoresis.

I also ran and taught other volunteers how to do a series of lab behavioural bioassay (inferring relationships by observing preferences in animal behaviour) tests on lab mice! I think that was the moment when it hit me I was doing real science.