Young Alumni: Jackie Zorz breaks into the world of science research
Jackie Zorz (‘12), from Comox, BC, graduated from Mount Allison in May with an honours in biochemistry and went straight to work in her field with research company Environmental Proteomics. The company is owned by Zorz’s honours supervisor and chemistry and biochemistry department head Dr. Amanda Cockshutt.
She has been working with the company since June as part of National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP).
“I’ve learned the trials and tribulations of science and that things don’t always go exactly as planned,” says Zorz. “It’s also nice to see the business side of science, which you aren’t always exposed to in research.”
Cockshutt says that Mount Allison graduates have the critical-thinking skills and experience in the research lab that set them apart from the graduates of many other universities. That’s why she hires them for her company.
“Jackie was an exceptional honours student who pursued a very challenging, but environmentally relevant project,” says Cockshutt. “Now she is using her considerable experience in molecular biology — and the associated troubleshooting — in an applied setting.”
In August, Cockshutt invited Zorz to accompany her to the International Symposium on Phototrophic Prokaryotes in Porto, Portugal. Zorz was one of the only undergraduates in attendance and presented a poster on the hyper-conserved protein HCP found in marine Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus.
“This is interesting because these species have high mutation rates and get rid of genes they don’t need,” says Zorz.
Zorz is interested in the environmental aspects of biochemistry and says she learned in Portugal about the wealth of research opportunities with biofuels and algae.
And while she doesnt know quite yet what the future holds; she says that Mount Allison has prepared her well for the workforce.
“It has been a very easy transition,” she says. “I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to go next, so this is great work experience in the field that I am interested in, while I figure out my next move.”