Quick Biography (and personal thoughts on blogging)

I’m Matthew Oldach, a Masters student at the University of Calgary under the tutelage of Peter Vize.  Previously, I did my Undergraduate(Honors) with the great Roger Croll at Dalhousie University where I studied the effects of estradiol on freshwater and marine gastropods.  After graduation, I worked briefly as a fisheries observer in Nova Scotia, as a scientific diver at an NGO (CEA) in Mexico, as a Research Assistant at the University of Alberta, an environmental consultant for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and as an intern on the guppy-mark-recapture project (Trinidad) run by David Reznick from UC Riverside.  A busy year of working various jobs/internships, and copious amounts of reading, helped me develop a better picture of who I am, and what scientific questions interest me.  I’m broadly interested in genomics, bioinformatics, cnidarians and image analysis.  I work in the lab with the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida and use various techniques including microarrays, proteomics, gene cloning, cell biology and bioninformatics to explore how circadian and circalunar cycles of gene expression influence synchronous spawning in the Cnidarians.  Lab work on Aptasia pallida is empirically tested with field studies on the stony coral Acropora millepora from the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Barrier Reef.

Asking me how and why I became a marine biologist is kind of like asking a back-country snowboarder why they check the weather religiously.  Research has become part of my identity – It’s just what I wake up thinking about.  It wasn’t an issue of reinforced pedigree which led me to graduate school.  Sure, I may be a middle-class Caucasian – a common denominator in educational and career achievement- but there was no push from my parents to get a high-powered profession, or their underpaid status equivalent – a research scientist.  I had always been encouraged to do what I liked and my gravitation to marine research is….. I am the first to go to University of the family.

I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta and grew up in a tight-knit family.  I spent a lot of time as a teenager skateboarding and snowboarding and learning martial arts, individual sports which require a lot of self-teaching and patience.  I got beaten up, bruised and bandaged up and still kept pushing through failure in my formative years.  Simply put, passion, patience and persistence=success.

My first post on my blog inevitably will be “why do I blog”.  Well, I have made contributions to another blog and I thought it was time to create my own.  I feel that the discussion of scientific thought and progress through a public forum is just as important (in other ways) as writing peer reviewed publications.  As a MSc candidate this is my outlet to rant about ideas related to my field of research.  In my opinion this will be a good way to develop my skills as a writer, share ideas, and discuss my career progress.

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