August 3, 2018

Meet the Team: Biology Co-ops

Meet Kitty Tsai, Kai Groden-Gilchrist, Matt Sabaten, Bella Prince, Yola Switkowski, Elizabeth Guinto, Natasha Hua and Andrea Nguyen- eight ambitious biology co-op students currently completing an eight-month work term at Terramera. They come to us from UBC, SFU, and UVIC in pursuit of degrees in Health Science, Biochemistry, Biology, Integrated Science, and Environmental Science. These young scientists are gaining valuable work experience testing formulations, developing assays, collecting data, and caring for our plants and insect colonies while making an important contribution to Terramera’s research and development. We sat down with this diverse group to learn about their experience at Terramera.


Q: How has your co-op experience at Terramera lived up to your expectations?

Elizabeth: I thought there would be super strict rules, but when I came in I realized that everyone is really chill and open and from a ton of different places and backgrounds.

Bella: I assumed that people would be really passionate about agriculture and organic solutions but it’s even more than I expected! People are so into plants, gardening, farming, and food. It’s been cool to go into a niche where I’m surrounded by people with similar interests.

Yola: I’ve learned a lot about all the different areas of the company, not just the lab. It’s nice to get a layout of what a company needs to run successfully.


Q: What surprised you about Terramera?

Kai: Coming in, I didn’t expect there to be so many young people our age. There’s a really good co-op culture here, I was pleasantly surprised.

Andrea: Things like the Somadome meditation pod. It feels like the company cares about our wellbeing.

Bella: I’m surprised how much non-science work I do, but I like it. I do a lot of random jobs and it keeps things interesting!


Q: What skills did you gain that will be useful moving forward?

Matt: Learning to optimize and make my own experiments. Unlike school, I have to think outside of the box. It’s been great to have the help of the professionals here who have such a wealth of knowledge and are teaching us so much.

Elizabeth: I’ve learned to give my input. At meetings, I get to present and show my data which I think is important because it’s something I’ll have to do everywhere.

Kai: Getting to follow my own experiment from start to finish. We order our own stocks, make our own stocks, do our own experiments, and collect our results. It’s our responsibility and we learn how to manage that.

Kitty: I’ve learned how to grow my own food!


Q: What advice would you give to future co-ops at Terramera?

Yola: Stay open-minded about what you want to do or be good at. Someone might ask you to help them with something that you actually really enjoy, and it can become something you learn from or carry forward into your studies.

Kai: There’s lots of opportunities so try as many things as you can!

Kitty: Think about what you want out of the experience and pursue it.

Elizabeth: You have to be adaptable. Although certain things are repetitive, they can always change.

Natasha: Yeah, if something doesn’t work you need to have something you can do in its place. Always have a plan B.


Q: What is your favourite part of this experience?

Yola: Watching Netflix together every lunch hour!

Bella: Having a mentor, someone to work closely with and learn from.

Andrea: Learning from other departments. It’s nice when we get to collaborate, and we learn so much!

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