This is our first episode of our Wonder Women in STEM- Mini-Series. In this series, we are interviewing speakers from our upcoming virtual conference, that will be taking place on Oct 20th & 21st. Sign up NOW for this FREE event here.
Our guest today was always a curious kid. She is a currently pursuing PhD from the University of Toronto and her research focusses on using a bioengineering technique to improve the way islets of Langerhans survive after being removed from a donor, which is a form of diabetes treatment. Along with all this great research work, Krishana is a very engaged science communicator and advocate for getting more women in STEM fields. Let’s talk to Krishana to learn more about her STEM Story.
More About Krishana in her own words:
From as early as I can remember, I LOVED experimenting! From making a pH detection kit with cabbage juice to making model lungs using everyday materials, I just enjoyed the process of researching questions, making/using tools to answer them and finding the answer at the end. I was also fortunate enough to have amazing role models in my mother and father who both encouraged and fostered my curiosity. Especially my mom, who always taught me that hard work and dedication in my passion can lead to whatever I wanted to do.
I enjoyed science throughout all levels of school and knew that I would pursue it as a career. I’m Indo-Guyanese, and in Guyana, (South America) science means you become a doctor. Unfortunately, due to the socio-economic state different scientific career paths are not an option. Therefore, when I immigrated to Canada, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the possibility of different scientific career options. A friend introduced me to research in undergrad at the University of Toronto.
I immediately fell in love with wet lab/bench science after my first experience. Although it wasn’t as glamorous to start, I moved from dishwasher (paying my dues) to honing exceptional microscope & dissection skills in insect physiology. Trying to determine whether a meal plan affected the hormone levels in insect brains. After this, I moved to a mouse stem cell lab where I learned more interesting techniques to answer interesting questions about the involvement of certain proteins in the way blood vessels form during development. And my last undergrad lab experience found me in a renowned stem cell lab trying to figure out the factors that turn stem cells into blood cells, all with the purpose to one day treat leukemia.
I enjoyed the experiences I had and because of this, I continued into graduate school to conduct studies relevant to diabetes treatment. My Ph.D. research aims to use a bioengineering technique to improve the way islets of Langerhans survive after being removed from a donor. This is important because once the blood vessels of the islets are cut, they begin to die and this leads to ineffective transplantation in patients with diabetes. Therefore, using our technique we are trying to maintain the health of these islets to improve islet transplantation as a treatment for diabetes.