Hello! My name is Gaby. I’m an MSc student from the Poburko lab within the Molecular Cardiac Physiology Group (you can find us over in TASC2). My family and I immigrated from South Africa when I was 3 years old. I grew up in North Delta, where I fell in love with nature. The nature surrounding SFU was part of my motivation for transferring when I finished my ASc. at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. At SFU, I continued pursuing my passion for biological sciences. I participated in Co-op and gained invaluable research lab experience working for the Canadian Government and STEMCELL Technologies. In addition to learning lab skills, I met passionate scientists who encouraged and inspired me to push my research skills further. I finished my BSc. in 2018 and in 2019 began my MSc. here in BPK.
What you do:
In general terms, I study purinergic signaling. My research focuses on a protein that is responsible for loading vesicles with ATP for subsequent exocytosis. This protein is called the vesicular nucleotide transporter (VNUT) and is encoded by the SLC17A9 gene. What we know about VNUT include expression in numerous tissues, transport of ATP into subcellular compartments, and requirement of an inside-positive membrane potential to function. My fascination with VNUT lies in its mysteries. Where VNUT is within a cell (ie. what subcellular compartment) is debated, the structure has not been solved, and evolutionary conservation (or lack thereof) has not been characterized. These are some of the questions I am trying to answer using cell culture, molecular techniques, fluorescent imaging, and bioinformatic analyses.
Any advice you would give to starting graduates?
1. Set yourself a timeline and check in with that timeline frequently. This will help you stay on top of most of your commitments.
2. Advocate for yourself. If you need help, ask.
3. Burnout is not a badge of honour. Science will always be here, but you won’t.
Which do you prefer – dogs or cats?
Dogs, hands down. Specifically, my dog Buffy. She is my sidekick on all my runs, hikes, and treks. Other dogs are cool and will receive scratches and snuggles but Buffy is the best :)
This post was originally posted to the SFU BPK Instagram on March 23, 2021.