OPA Board Members - 2023
|President||Lindsey St. Mary|
|Vice President||Amrapalli Garanaik|
|Professional Development Coordinator||-|
|Web Administrator and Public Relations Coordinator||-|
|Membership Coordinator||Sumandeep Kaur|
|Networking/Social Events Coordinator||Muhammad Hafeez|
Interview conducted by: Subham Dasgupta, a fellow postdoc with Lindsey in Dr. Robyn Tanguay’s lab. Also OPA Vice President and Treasurer.
Dr. Lindsey St. Mary is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at OSU, working with Dr. Robyn Tanguay. During her PhD at Heriot-Watt University in UK, she did groundbreaking research in the field of astrochemistry, focusing on the contribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to space chemistry as well as using nanoparticles to mimic the behavior of interstellar dust grains and how these interactions could contribute to star and planetary body formation. She bridged the gap between space and terrestrial PAH chemistry. She is no stranger to OSU, having worked here as an undergrad researcher and a research scientist prior to her PhD. Her postdoc position focuses on using high throughput and molecular screening to characterize the adverse effects of an extensive library of environmentally relevant chemicals and drugs. In addition to this, she is also OPA’s Web administrator and Public Relations Coordinator. Excerpts from my chat with Lindsey:
Lindsey- it’s really great doing this interview with you! Of course, I know you reasonably well since you are my lab and office mate, but for those who don’t, tell us something about yourself and your background.
Lindsey: I am beginning my second year as a postdoc at OSU within the Environmental and Molecular Toxicology Department in Dr. Robyn Tanguay’s lab. I am originally from Texas, but moved to Oregon just before completing high school, and actually got my Bachelor’s degree from OSU so it’s my alma mater.
What sparked your interest in your current postdoctoral position?
Lindsey: Funnily enough, I was not interested in doing a postdoc after receiving my PhD. I was still close with Tanguay Lab members, even while in Scotland, and the Deputy Director of the research lab contacted me to tell me about this particular postdoc position. I told her I wanted a particular type of training from a postdoc if I were to do one, and this postdoc happened to involve all of the techniques I wanted to learn and here I am!
What kind of work do you do as a part of this position?
Lindsey: I am doing a large toxicological screen of over 5,000 chemicals found in personal care products, industrial processes, and environmental pollutants. With this screen, we look for physical malformations in the zebrafish larvae at 5-days post fertilization. The zebrafish is an ideal and highly established model in developmental biology and toxicological research as they reproduce externally, develop rapidly, AND they are incredibly genetically similar to humans. Essentially, chemicals that may harm or cause adverse effects in the zebrafish, are likely to do the same in humans. The chemicals that cause malformations are then prioritized and animals are collected for transcriptomic sequencing- a strategy which shows if these chemicals affect any genes that regulate development and body functions. The ultimate goal of this is to identify biological pathways that might be involved in the toxicity of a chemical that is used in commerce. A study like this, on this scale, has never been done before so we are hoping for a lot of discovery science to occur!
Where do you see your work going in the next couple of years?
Lindsey: I really hope, and expect, the discoveries made in this project to contribute to regulatory decisions about chemicals allowed in consumer products and to aide in environmental monitoring of pollutants allowed in the water we drink and the air we breathe. Additionally, I would like the chemicals that elicit toxicity in this project to be characterized according to their physicochemical traits and be used to predict toxicity for new chemicals in the future. This would prevent mass synthesis of potentially harmful chemicals from ever being introduced into the population or environment.
How do you feel working in your current lab? Do you hang out with your labmates outside of work?
Lindsey: Well, it’s no secret that I have worked at this lab before. This is my THIRD time working here actually. I worked here as an undergraduate researcher for the extent of my bachelor’s degree, came back after my master’s for two years and worked as a research assistant, and now I am back again as a postdoc! This lab brings out the best in its students, trainees, and research assistants and I feel really lucky to belong to such an awesome scientific environment where the curiosity is just genuinely infinite. Our lab refers to itself as the “Tang Gang”, and we often have “Tang Gang Hangs” so we are all really good friends as well as really great supports for one another when research gets a bit rough.
What do you want to be in the future?
Lindsey: I have never seen myself remaining in academia. Prior to receiving this postdoc position I was offered a consulting position at Penman Consulting in England, but it fell through due to visa issues. I have always seen myself going into consulting as you’re constantly dealing with people from different backgrounds and diverse scientific topics, and I have always enjoyed the challenges scientific communication presents when communicating with those from different scientific fields, cultural backgrounds, approaches etc. I enjoy constant diversity in my work and new challenges, otherwise I get a bit bored.
Tell me about your work as a part of OPA.
As web administrator and public relations coordinator, I make sure that the OPA website is up-to-date with all upcoming/past events including social and professional events, and potential monetary awards offered through OPA. This gives me a chance to understand the full extent of what OPA offers OSU postdocs for career development opportunities, as well as just being able to socialize with fellow postdocs at OSU.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
Lindsey: My main “non-scientific” hobby is weightlifting. I have been a powerlifter for almost 8 years now and I love it, as everyone at my lab also knows. I also have a dog, her name is Lilly, and she is my world. I even plan all my experiments around her schedule. Her and I hike whenever we can as well.
Rapid fire questions:
You have worked for a year now at OSU as a postdoc. If you could go back to the time before starting off as a postdoc here, what’s one advice you would have given yourself?
Lindsey: Be patient with yourself! Training after a PhD is harder in the sense you feel like you should just know how to do everything immediately, that’s just not how it works.
Your favorite food and restaurant in Corvallis?
Your favorite place to frequent?
Your favorite music artist?
Lindsey: Britney Spears
Your favorite book?
Lindsey: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Your favorite TV shows?
Your superstar scientist?
Lindsey: Bill Nye AND Rosalind Franklin. Bill Nye, for obvious reasons, he’s just the coolest guy ever and has done so much for the scientific community. Rosalind Franklin was the woman who discovered the double helical structure of DNA using x-ray diffraction and she got ZERO credit for it. She inevitably died of cancer due to the x-ray diffraction work she did to discover DNA structure.
Your life’s mantra?
Lindsey: I would rather be a shot of tequila, than a cup of tea :)
Thanks for this terrific interview! Wish you all the luck in the future!
Lindsey showing the semi-transparent Casper zebrafish mutant line- where pigments of the fish are removed through genetic mutation. This enables easy visualization of internal organs and study any effects on them.
With her dog, Lilly, in Glencoe, Scotland.