Thompson Rivers University

Student Research – Q & A with Timothy Crowe

September 4, 2012

Timothy Crowe is a Bachelor of Science student, majoring in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology. The Newsroom asked Timothy about doing undergraduate research at TRU.

TRU: Your project is titled, “Loss of antimicrobial activity in laboratory cultured cave bacteria may be due to gene loss”. Boil it down for us.

TC: We are looking for bacteria that are capable of producing new and effective antibiotics. In the past my supervisor has found some bacteria that demonstrated the ability to do this but have for some reason stopped. My theory is simply that they have lost the genes to do so.

TRU: What attracted you to the research?

TC: I was attracted by the excitement of exploring caves and collecting samples of bacteria, as well as the challenge of solving a problem that could help us discover new antibiotics that are effective against restraint pathogens.

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TRU: You received an Undergraduate Research Experience Award Program (UREAP) grant. How did you use it?

TC: I have been using my grant to buy the necessary chemicals and research supplies to carry out molecular experiments such as isolating DNA and replicating DNA. I am also planning to attend a conference next year to present my research.

TRU: Did you do research over the summer? Where?

TC: I did my research this summer in the microbiology lab at TRU. We have also made a trip out to Wells Grey Park to visit a cave there and collect samples.

TRU: Will your project lead to a presentation or publishing opportunity?

TC: I am hoping it will lead to a publishing opportunity in the Journal of Microbiological Methods.

TRU: What do you love about research? What don’t you like about it?

TC: I love to discover things. There is nothing more satisfying then having a hunch or gut feeling about something, pursuing it, and confirming it with visible results (it’s even better when it is something new or something that contradicts what was previously thought). One thing I don’t really like about research is the sometimes crazy wait times, to get a chemical, or for some bacteria to grow, or an enzyme to do its job, or for the autoclave to sterilize media.

TRU: Who in your field do you admire and why?

TC: I really admire my supervisor Dr. Naowarat (Ann) Cheeptham. She has a very strong passion for finding new antibiotics and researching multi-drug resistant strains. She is also very approachable and helpful when problems arise in the lab.

TRU: What impact do you hope your research will have?

TC: Hopefully my research will positively impact the search for new antibiotics. Currently it is very time consuming to screen for anti-microbial activity and I have hopes that my research will help speed things up by using a molecular approach to address problems that arise in antibiotic discovery process.

Read more from our Q & A series on undergraduate student researchers.

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