Kelvin Lau

My first exposure to research was in the early stages of my undergraduate career in general sciences at Langara College. I worked with two chemistry instructors as an undergraduate research assistant. We explored different methods to manipulate biochar for capturing ammonia from animal wastes to create a more effective fertilizer. I considered the possibility that a research career could be something I want to pursue.

Shortly after, I transferred to SFU to finish my lower division life science courses for my initial major in BPK. I remember enrolling in MBB 222 with Dr. Irina Kovalyova and becoming fascinated with everything I learned in that course. The contents in MBB 222 and her lectures inspired me to learn more about molecular biological processes from a chemistry perspective. I was thrilled to potentially use the recombinant DNA and protein techniques in MBB 222 to help advance translational life science research. I declared a major in MBB because I believe this dynamic interdisciplinary program could help me pursue a career in research with a focus on molecular life sciences.

The MBB co-op program and its coordinator, Susan Mandley, provided excellent coaching to help me land my first co-op placement and supported me throughout my co-op work terms to receive a rich hands-on learning experience. I received my first 8-month co-op placement with iProgen Biotech Inc as a co-op research assistant in the cloning department. I independently performed all the molecular sub-cloning techniques previewed in MBB 222. I also got to carry out various in vitro protein techniques such as protein production, protein concentration, and running SDS-PAGE gels for protein analysis. Additionally, I received training with antibody-drug conjugates and purified monoclonal antibody candidates using size exclusion or affinity column chromatography. Under rare circumstances, I got offered an 8-month extension to receive further training as a co-op research associate at iProgen. I interpret DNA sequencing results, construct recombinant plasmids with clone manager, and design synthetic-oligonucleotides for PCR or site-directed mutagenesis to create a desired recombinant plasmid for protein or monoclonal antibody production. I am incredibly grateful to receive a co-op placement that has given me a lot of experience with different advanced molecular biology techniques.

I received support from the MBB undergraduate advisor, Evon Khor, to do my honours thesis with iProgen alongside two MBB faculty members acting as my committee members. iProgen agreed to support my endeavors in molecular life science research by allowing me to do my honours thesis under the supervision of one of their talented scientists. I will continue to work, learn, and grow alongside the experienced scientists at iProgen Biotech as I do my honours thesis.

Thanks to the flexible upper-division course pathway in the MBB undergraduate program. I can narrow down my MBB upper-division courses to complete a certificate in genomics to appreciate the field of medical genomics. I am proud to be a part of a dynamic program such as MBB that offers outstanding professors, helpful advisors, and fascinating research opportunities. I am confident that I can pursue the practical challenges and creative joys of conducting translational life-science research in any future opportunities I may have.