Brianna Bristow is a current MSc Neuroscience student in the lab of Dr. Mark Cembrowski. Brianna’s lab specializes in using transcriptomic approaches to identify unique cell types with roles in memory in the brain. We caught up with Brianna to learn more about her research, interests and advice for future students.

Brianna Bristow

What is your thesis project on?
My thesis project investigates a novel cell type in the cortex, which expresses a unique, hybrid transcriptomic profile that hasn’t been documented before. Currently, I am performing histological methods to locate and characterize these cells. Additionally, I am searching published RNAseq datasets in R to identify a series of marker genes to aid in my investigation.

What is your educational background?
I previously completed my BSc degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from UBC. While completing my undergraduate degree, I did my thesis project in Dr. Annie Ciernia‘s lab, where I studied the effects of lipopolysaccharide exposure on microglial activation and phagocytosis rates.

What do you like most about the Neuroscience program?
My favourite thing about the Neuroscience graduate program is the scientific diversity it encapsulates. In my cohort, we had students coming from a variety of academic backgrounds. This led to different research angles and lots of interesting conversations about projects and neuroscience!

What are your future career goals?
I can see myself using my molecular biology and neuroscience skillset to work in a career in healthcare. Part of the reason I love science is that it’s essentially full of puzzles waiting to be solved. With that in mind, working in careers surrounding pathology or medical genetics, where I can apply these skills to help diagnose and provide treatments to patients seems to be a good fit for my skills and interests.

What do you like to do outside of research?
In my spare time you can catch me hanging out with my friends at the beach, checking out new artists at music concerts or completing some puzzles.

What advice do you have for students interested in graduate school?
I think there’s a misconception that in order to pursue graduate studies, you have to know exactly what your end career goals are. In my experience, that’s not the case. If you choose to pursue something that interests and inspires you, that will guide you on your path to figuring the rest out.