Student Spotlight: Taylor Sheahan, University of Lethbridge

Taylor Sheahan is a PhD Student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.

She is a member of the Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute (ARRTI), the first RNA focused research centre in the province of Alberta that uses biophysical and engineering approaches to study the structure and function of RNA based cellular systems, while also designing novel systems to address contemporary issues. Taylor’s research specifically focuses on the development of biological tools, such as rationally designed RNA regulators of gene expression, to aid in the design of complex synthetic biological systems. Her educational background consists of a Master’s of Engineering Science in Biomedical Engineering from Western University in Ontario, Canada, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.

Taylor is also a member of the University of Lethbridge (UofL) Collegiate iGEM team. iGEM, which stands for international Genetically Engineered Machine, is an annual synthetic biology competition where students develop biologically engineered solutions to real world problems. The 2016 UofL iGEM team worked with the Lethbridge Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to characterize the microbiome of EMS vehicles, leading to the development of rapid pathogen test kits. Taylor presented this work at the annual iGEM Giant Jamboree in Boston, MA where the team received Gold, and more recently at the 2017 IBE conference where she was presented with the “Outstanding Student Presentation in Synthetic Biology” award.

Outside of her work in the lab, Taylor is an avid yogi when she is not volunteering in the local community. She is involved with Let’s Talk Science, a charitable organization focusing on STEM education and student outreach for supporting youth development, as well as the co-organizer of “Brick-by-Brick,” an annual charity dinner and silent auction where the proceeds from the 2016 event supported the Interfaith Foodbank Society of Lethbridge.

She is a recent member of IBE (as of 2017).