Dr. Eric Skaar and graduate student Catherine Leasure showcase their artistic talents with Perler bead kits while we asked them some questions about their research!
Eric Skaar (E): This is like the most fun I've had at work in a long time. Like it's so relaxing.
Catherine Leasure (C): You see, art therapy.
VI4 Scientists Doing Things
(C): My name is Catherine Leasure. I am a senior graduate in Eric's lab.
(E): My name's Eric Skaar. I'm Catherine's mentor and our lab studies a number of different bacterial pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus.
[Did you always want to work with bacteria?]
(E): I'm curious to hear the answer to this question.
(C): I originally wanted to do like plant genetics.
(E): Catherine's actually a big plant person.
(E): I don’t know if you know this, she loves plants and she knows a lot about them. I think you've turned me into a pretty good green thumb. This is a two-way mentor, mentee relationship.
[Can you explain your thesis in one sentence?]
(C): Yeah, I study the molecule heme and it's one of the things that bacteria steal from us when they cause infections. I study how staph is able to make heme steal, heme from the host and how it decides when to make versus steal. Heme is related to everything.
(E): Yeah. It's the best molecule in the world.
[If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?]
(E): I would like to be the head of the grounds crew for an arboretum, it's true. Right? I’ve said this before.
(C): Yeah, yeah. I would also really enjoy being either a farmer or doing some sort of horticultural tissue culture work.
(E): We can work together.
(C): Yeah, there we go!
(E): You can work in my arboretum. Starting to sound like a good idea.
[What is your favorite thing about researching at Vanderbilt?]
(E): What I think the neat thing is, is the geography. So, like we're sitting right now in the middle of the medical center and we're only a few 100 yards from engineering, physics, chemistry, divinity, music, law. And it happens to be an arboretum. Did I say I like arboretums? And so that provides an amazing opportunity to interact with people that are from really diverse fields.
[What is your favorite experiment to run?]
(C): I really like stuff that's color metric. So, like things that turn colors.
(E): You come up with some pretty cool plate-based screens that are based on changes and colors that are really neat.
[What is one lab rule you never break?]
(E): I don't go in the lab very often.
(C): That’s the rule.
(E): So that's the rule I don't break because I just stay out of the lab.