Josephine Esposto has always been fascinated by the human body and how it works—or more importantly, how it doesn’t work.
“During my undergraduate career, I went through many research phases, from studying fruit fly genomics to epidemiology, until I found myself working on multiple projects pertaining to the brain,” says Ms. Esposto, a Master of Science student in the Environmental and Life Sciences program at Trent University. “The brain absolutely bewildered me. If it was supposed to control our entire body, then how does it make mistakes?”
This puzzling question ultimately led Ms. Esposto to her undergraduate thesis work, and eventually her path to a master’s degree at Trent.
“The research was just the beginning of my academic journey and led me to an area I was completely captivated by,” says Ms. Esposto.
Studying pathological protein implicated in neurodegenerative disease
With her current research at Trent, Ms. Esposto is hoping to make a difference to people suffering from neurodegenerative conditions. Her main research venture is to study and critically analyze the major pathological protein causing Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—and other neurodegenerative diseases such as TDP-43.
“Not much is known about the research on this protein, and only a few institutions across the globe are looking into it,” says Ms. Esposto. “Because of this, I will be experimenting with a protein that is unique to the Martic Lab at Trent” She’s hopeful that the published work will lead to some viable treatment options to help people suffering from ALS. “At the very least, it will help shine more light on how the disease progresses,” she says.
Online search for graduate-level research program led to Trent
When looking for a graduate-level research program to apply to, Ms. Esposto came across the webpage for her current supervisor, Dr. Sanela Martic, who was evaluating the interactions between biomolecules—such as neuronal peptides and proteins—critical for biological functions with humans and animals.
“There was a chance to not only understand how the brain malfunctions in live test subjects but also in an analytical chemical manner, with applications relevant to forensic, environmental, life and biomedical sciences,” she explains.
She applied, was accepted and hasn’t looked back. “I couldn’t have chosen a better institution to attend,” she says. “With Dr. Martic’s professional and personal support, I’m able to assist in several research endeavours, both at Trent and collaborations with other established institutions partnered with Trent.”