Faculty of Science

Research Profile: Mike Peabody, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

November 26, 2012

Mike Peabody, a PhD student in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is no stranger to hard work. In 2010, he completed his BSc at SFU with a joint major in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and Computing Science, and received the Dean's Convocation Medal for the Faculty of Applied Sciences as the top undergraduate student in the faculty. He subsequently received a CIHR Training Program Scholarship valued at $22,000 to support his Master's research.

He's currently enrolled in the Bioinformatics Training Program. He originally wanted to pursue a PhD in molecular biology, but decided that bioinformatics would be in greater demand in the future. He adds, "It's also potentially a more interesting field to be in!"

Mike's current research is in his supervisor Dr. Fiona Brinkman's lab, where he works on a project which involves using metagenomics — sequencing all of the DNA in an environmental sample — to measure the impact of pollution on the communities of microorganisms. His research will eventually lead to the creation of novel tests that monitor changes in the microbial communities in order to detect pollution and pinpoint the specific source of the pollution.

His work is with the interdisciplinary and multi-institutional Watershed Discovery team. Watersheds are of vital importance to our community, and his research will further the understanding of freshwater microbial dynamics, and how these freshwater ecosystems change in response to human pressures such as human septic tank leakage and non-human cycles such as seasonal change.

Mike suggests, to future students, "In addition to being involved in research, I have found that getting involved within your department or program of study, as well as school and local community, can be very rewarding."

He lives up to his advice. While achieving top marks in grad school last year, he was both a mentor and caucus rep for the Bioinformatics Training Program. He's also a member of several clubs at SFU, and takes capoeira (martial arts) classes provided by SFU recreation.

He says, "Perhaps the most rewarding activity in my life aside from research is being involved in the Rotaract Club of Burnaby. Rotaract is an international volunteer organization with clubs all over the world, which I have been involved in for over five years. I am currently the Vice-President of my club. Through Rotaract I have been able to meet incredible people and get involved with various local projects such as a local soup kitchen. We are also involved in global initiatives such as putting on exciting fundraisers to help out in the goal of eradicating polio, or sending shipping containers of medical supplies overseas to places such as Costa Rica."

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