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Linda David

Lab Assistant

University of Ottawa

And - Postdoctoral fellow

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Work hard, aspire, plan and achieve what you always dreamt of.

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WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am a scientist, a researcher that over the past 14 years has worked in neurogenesis, epilepsy and neurodegeneration. All this time I have been passionate about my science which I enthusiastically couple with the need to disseminate my science. My dream in life is to do cutting edge science and bring this to the everyday people.

I am also very interested and working towards commercializing science.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

From a very young age I knew I always wanted to be a scientist. I specialized in STEM during my final years in school and did my undergraduate in Microbiology, followed by my first Masters in Biotechnology, both of which I adored. Halfway through my Masters I was offered a position to work with Dr. Armen Saghatelyan at CERVO, U Laval, and I flew out to Quebec City.

Learning fundamental neuroscience from Armen and my second Masters course made me realize that I was home, my wandering spirit had found it’s calling. I knew this was it for me, I spent 7 glorious years under the tutelage of Armen to finish my second masters and a PhD in neuroscience studying neurogenesis in the adult system. At this juncture, I realized I wanted to explore the ailing brain which led me to go through two consecutive postdoctoral fellowships exploring epilepsy followed by neurodegenrative diseases like Parkinson's and Huntington’s. During the past 4 years I have also been exceptionally lucky to wade into the commercialization of science and clinical trials.

I did look up to my heroes like Giordano Bruno who died for his work or Dr. Raman who defied his background to revolutionize science, or Karl Sagan who made me love everything about the statistics or Marie Curie. Truth be told, in addition to these stalwarts my heroes were the everyday researchers who toiled long hours in pursuit of their science, not knowing what all this blood, sweat and tears will lead to.

My plan is to just keep going, adding to and improving myself as long as I am here on this pale blue dot as Dr. Sagan said.

HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?

I am an immigrant in Canada, which did pose its own set of challenges if not impediments. I settled into life in Quebec City which meant I had to learn French, an opportunity I embraced enthusiastically, my love of poutine though was instantaneous, it was a true coup de coeur.

Learning electrophysiology from scratch was hard, nerve wracking, hard work but frankly exhilarating.

How do I face and overcome my obstacles? Simple, firstly I deal with them as they come along, I cross my bridges when I come to them, unassailable wisdom my mum passed on to me. Secondly, I know that every dark cloud does indeed have a silver lining, and thirdly, my experience as an electrophysiologist has thought me that every day is a new day, a new day to soar.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

Where do I begin? From the absolutely heartracing possibility of walking on Mars in our lifetime or finding life on Enceladus or fusing human and machine as one organism. My greatest joy is the possibilty that we are one step closer to actually modify the course of diseases like Huntington's and Parkinson's.

As a youngster, living in a country where, unfortunately, mental disorders are still more or less taboo and kept under wraps to avoid societal judgement forcing patients to suffer in silence, the knowledge that these insidious disorders can be curtailed makes my wait worthwhile.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

I love working in STEM as this is my dream come true, literally, growing up as a child that maintained records of growth patterns, eye colour, hair growth etc of my cats and dogs.

Waking up everyday excited to go to work and no matter what happens persist in coming back everyday makes me thankful everyday that I work in afeild that is part of my very being. I have always beived that science is not a job or a commitment or a calling it is a lifestyle.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

Do not deny your dreams, if you find yourself saying to yourself it is this or nothing at all, then you know what you have to do. Work hard, aspire, plan and achieve what you always dreamt of.

INSPIRATION

I wish the world was twice as big, and half of it was still unexplored- Sir David Attenborough.