Dr. Steve Townsend and graduate student Nainoa Norman Ing put their green thumbs to the test while we asked them some questions about their research!
Steve (S): So, it reminds me of like on the, I don't know if you watched the office and when Michael Scott makes his like little videos and his tirades and he's like Pam say cut. So I know where to like cut it.
VI4 Scientists Doing Things
Nainoa (N): My name is Nainoa Norman Ing. I'm from Honolulu, Hawaii and I'm a second year going on third year here in the Townsend lab
(S): I'm Steve Townsend. So I'm Nainoa’s mentor. This is my ninth year on the faculty here in the Department of Chemistry and I am originally from Detroit.
[What does your lab study?]
(S): You know, we care about why people get sick. What we really want to do is use chemistry to help prevent and solve illnesses in different populations of people. So really just trying to figure out what does mom put in her milk to protect her baby. Can we take that knowledge and fix adult illnesses and diseases?
[What got you interested in your field of study?]
(N): I really, really enjoy cooking. Being in the lab is like cooking but can't lick the spoon though. There's a lot of problems you have to overcome. I like cooking more because I like eating as well.
(S): So, for me, you know, there's a lot of people in the history of my family, who, what I would consider as chemists. So, lots of bootleggers in the family gardening composting. So, when I was a kid, my mom was trying to like harness that type of energy in me into something productive. You know, she tells these stories about going down to the Detroit public libraries to try to find books on like different black chemists and scientists and she couldn't find anything. But that's where everything really started. It’s like a little bit of family history and then my mom just harnessing pseudo adjacent negative behavior into something more positive.
[What’s your favorite experiment to run?]
(N): I enjoy watching like the colors change. It's really exciting when you get something bright colored, I put stuff in the pot and like I watch it churn from slightly yellow to dark red or something.
[What’s your favorite thing about science?]
(N): I like how things make sense. Once I learned more and more and more about chemistry, things started making more and more sense. And now I'm at the stage where I can put things in the pot, watch them react, analyze it at the back end and then put together the story of what, what I just did.
[How does your work relate to human health?]
(S): It's really important for me that the public understands what we do with their money. So I think when it comes to the taxpayers, you have to pick topics where people can immediately understand the impact of what you're doing, but you can also have an impact on science.