Featured day in the life of: Michelle, Masters of Science student focused on the effects of flaxseed and it’s oil.

Hi, I’m Michelle! I’m a 2nd year MSc student at the University of Toronto. My research focuses on the effects of flaxseed and it’s oil, lignan, and fiber components on the gut microbiome and surrounding tissue structures. The microbiome is continually influenced by your diet and it’s respective metabolic products (e.g. short chain fatty acids, enterolignans). And flaxseed is an example of diet that is rich in functional components. So I’m interested in seeing how your gut microbiome changes in response to supplementing your diet with flaxseed. At the end of 2019, I ran a diet-intervention study using mouse models and I’m currently in the process of analyzing the data. This includes, DNA- and RNA- extraction, qPCR validation, histology (H&E and AB/PAS stains), and microbiome data analysis after DNA sequencing. I love eating and I love bacteria – I think it’s amazing what they can do for their size. Bacteria make up a large portion of your body, they’re your little friends – so we should treat them kindly.

On the side, I’m a Teaching Assistant for two different Introductory Nutrition courses. I like to balance my science career with my art so I manage my own Etsy shop where I sell stickers of my science artwork, I’m on the Editorial team of my department’s student-led magazine as well as the Mentorship Representative of our Student Association, and the Layout/ Designer for the Health Science Inquiry.

This is a day in my life ūüôā

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7:20 AM¬†– I’m lucky that my work is flexible and I live quite close to the University, so I generally wake up anywhere from 7:00 AM to 8:30 AM. As soon as I’m out of my bed, I’ll chug about 2 cups of water – it makes me feel better. Gotta hydrate my brain cells and organs!

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8:58 AM РI get a nice view of the Toronto CN tower on my walk to campus.

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11:03 AM¬†– We have to make sure that our lab is up to code, so every week I’ll check to make sure that things like the eyewash station are functioning properly.

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12:45 PM¬†– Lunch time is the best time. I’ll usually eat lunch at my desk rather than in the lunch room, especially¬†when it’s a busy day. Hopefully I’ll get more sun once the weather is nicer.

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1:58 PM  РEvery week our lab has a meeting. It almost always begins with someone giving a full update on their progress, followed by everyone else providing shorter updates.

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4:17 PM¬†– My day was recorded on a Thursday – which means it’s also departmental seminar day. Everyone is often isolated in their own labs, so it’s a great way to connect with others and get updates on their research.

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5:16 PM РStraight after seminar is my sacred gym time. I never enjoyed running but I feel empowered when I lift weights, especially when I hit a new personal record!

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10:17 PM –¬†Some skincare at the end of the day – don’t worry, I don’t apply all of these products all at once. It’s all part of my daily self-care routine while I watch Netflix or read. How else am I going to get that dewy glow?

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12:11 AM РI try to get into bed before this but time just passes by too quickly.

I chose to record my day on a Thursday because it’s the one with the most rigid schedule. But aside from the meetings, my other days are very similar and can include anything from running experiments to the random day-time outing. Time management in grad school has been an important skill that I’ve learned to develop. No one is taking attendance or really keeping track of your comings and goings, so it’s really up to you to set your own schedule. Thank you for checking out what happens in a day in my life – follow me on my Instagram¬†@mypetcephalopod if you want to see more on what I’m doing daily. Or my Etsy shop if you’re interested in fun science- themed stickers¬†https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/MyPetCephalopod¬†Have a great day!

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