Country: New Zealand, 2013
Mentor: Kevin Schey
Hi, I’m Mitchell Nye-Wood, from Hamilton, New Zealand. I’ve studied at the University of Auckland for four years pursuing a Bachelor of Science specialising in Biomedical Science. In my fourth year I was admitted into an Honours programme spent conducting primary research in the department of Optometry and Vision Science. My project focussed on applying MALDI imaging mass spectrometry to the ocular lens and observing distributions of small molecules, which vary with radius and change with age. It’s a matter of time before the lens becomes cloudy, causing cataracts.
In this project I regularly referred to literature from Vanderbilt’s Mass Spectrometry Research Centres and in particular the Schey lab group. Vanderbilt is the site of the National Research Resource for Imaging Mass Spectrometry and was where MALDI imaging mass spectrometry was pioneered some 15 years ago, and continues to be a great centre of science and R&D. It’s too bad the mass spectrometer with a 15 Tesla electromagnet arrives a few months after VISRA 2013 ends – well in time for VISRA 2014.
I heard of VISRA during my Honours year and realised it posed an amazing opportunity: to practice a technique using cutting-edge technology, alongside expert scientists, generating meaningful data, all in Music City! While pursuing this opportunity has temporarily taken me away from the society and time zone I’m used to, being here means seeing and doing things I could have otherwise only imagined.
Nashville’s atmosphere has been eye-opening. The people I’ve met are friendly, the music scene pervasive (in a good way) and, coming from New Zealand, the buildings themselves seem supersized. Being in Nashville puts places like Graceland and even New York within travelling distance, and having a progressive American city literally on your doorstep can’t be overlooked.
I have every confidence VISRA is a life-changing journey. Discovering new places, ideas, skills, friends and colleagues are very important to me and VISRA is a great way to do all this and more. I would strongly encourage like-minded students to test their comfort zones and make the most of VISRA’s amazing opportunity.
*Mitch began a PhD program at the University of Auckland in April 2013. He recently returned to Vanderbilt for several weeks to continue his collaboration with the Schey lab.