"I was drawn particularly to the Faculty of Health Sciences because of the interdisciplinary approach that I felt was lacking in my undergraduate degree, and more specifically, found a lab that was combining both wet-lab and bioinformatic approaches to a topic that I've always been fascinated about."

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Student Profile: Emily Barr

February 25, 2022
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doctoral student in the Faculty of Health Sciences

I completed my BSc in molecular biology and biochemistry right here at SFU in 2017, and then immediately joined a research team called iReceptor, whose focus was to collect and curate all available immune cell sequences for global researchers to use. It was in the two years in this position that I fell in love with Big Data, bioinformatics, and genomics as a whole. I am now studying the connections between early life adversity, DNA methylation, and subsequent mental health trajectories, all while utilizing the skills that I learned in my two years with iReceptor, and building upon my coding and data analysis.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I greatly enjoyed my undergrad at SFU, and knew that I'd love to be here again for my graduate studies. I was drawn particularly to the Faculty of Health Sciences because of the interdisciplinary approach that I felt was lacking in my undergraduate degree, and more specifically, found a lab that was combining both wet-lab and bioinformatic approaches to a topic that I've always been fascinated about.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

My research involves investigating how adverse life events, such as growing up poor or being bullied, can impact the overarching structure of our DNA, and how that can lead to changes in our reactions to future stress and potentially impact mental health later on.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

More than anything else, I love the people that I work with and the other grad students that I share my workspaces with.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

I was awarded the Mowafaghian Child Health Research and Practice Award in 2020, with the express purpose of travelling to Montreal to collaborate with some colleagues there! Unfortunately, with the ongoing Covid restrictions, I've been unable to use this award, but I still hope to travel to Montreal sometime in the next two years to meet my collaborators in person.

 

Contact : ebarr@sfu.ca

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