Meet Emma Stacey
Emma Stacey is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) student, on track to graduate in 2022 from the University of Guelph. For the past two summers and throughout the semester, she has worked in OVC’s Department of Pathobiology doing research and running flow cytometry. While gaining hands-on experience in various laboratory techniques and research-based methods, Emma realized not only that her career path was changing, but that she was inspired and motivated by this new path for her future. Emma shares advice for students saying, “Don’t be afraid to do something you’ve never done before. You never know what interests and passions lay undiscovered within you. Before my summer research position, I had no lab experience and now I can’t imagine myself in a career without lab work!”.
Can you describe your work for OVC's Department of Pathobiology?
“I am currently a work-study student at Ontario Veterinary College in the Department of Pathobiology where I have also worked as an undergraduate student researcher for the past two summers. My current position involves running flow cytometry for the immunophenotyping of leukemias and lymphomas in animal patients. My research is specifically focused on mutations in feline chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and involves a variety of scientific techniques including primer design, PCR, gel electrophoresis, and DNA sequence analysis.”
What is the impact of your research?
“I have studied a specific gene with the goal of understanding how this type of cancer rises in the first place and if it may be related to dysfunction in a specific enzyme. My project spanned two summers and nearly 50 cats and I will be presenting my findings at a conference this fall. I am hoping to also publish the results as well!”
How has your work shifted, if at all, during COVID?
“I consider myself lucky because I was able to continue my research and project this summer despite the ongoing pandemic. COVID did not affect my project directly other than limiting the amount of time in the lab.”
How did you start your path to research?
“When I was in my first year of veterinary school, I knew I wanted to do a summer research project and browsed faculty profiles on the OVC website. I emailed professors whose research interested me and set up a meeting with the professor who has been my supervisor ever since.”
What's your advice for anyone who wants lab experience?
“My big piece of advice is do not be afraid to approach a professor out of the blue and be persistent! In my experience, most people are happy to talk about their research and work. Also, don’t give up if you don’t hear back from the first person you email. The more you try, the more you succeed, and you never know where a work-study or summer research position might take you.”
How has this Experiential Learning opportunity shaped your career path?
“This Experiential Learning opportunity has completely changed my career path. I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian from a young age but I never saw myself pursuing a career in research. After working in the Department of Pathobiology during my DVM degree, I’ve seen my interests shift from clinical, that is being a regular small animal veterinarian, to research where I now hope to pursue a residency in Clinical Pathology after graduation.”
Why did you choose to study at U of G?
“I chose to study at the University of Guelph because of Ontario Veterinary College. Veterinary hopefuls in Canada are limited by residency when applying to vet schools but I am thankful OVC was the one that I could apply to. The University of Guelph has so many opportunities for their students to take advantage of, and work-studies and summer projects are just a part of that.”