Professor Tim Cover and graduate student Chiamaka Okoye show off their artistic talents while we asked them some questions about their research.
Tim Cover (T): Artwork is not my forte. I have a very talented family of good artists, but I’m not particularly a good artist.
VI4 Scientists Doing Things
Chiamaka Okoye (C): My name is Chiamaka Okoye and I’m a second year graduate student in the Cover lab.
(T): I’m Tim Cover. I’m a professor in the department of medicine and the department of pathology, microbiology, and immunology.
(C): We study Helicobacter pylori. It kind of looks like this picture that I’m coloring right here.
(T): Oh, we have to color (laughter). We are interested in ways that microbes can contribute to cancer.
(C): So we study the factors that can predispose an individual to developing these diseases if they’re infected with H. pylori.
[How did you get into this field?]
(T): I started taking an interest in this particular bacteria pretty soon after the bacteria were discovered. And when they were first discovered there was a lot of controversy about whether they were actually involved in causing disease or not. It is a wild story. So investigators in Australia were studying biopsy specimens of the stomach and they saw bacteria. But there was a lot of skepticism about whether or not the bacteria were actually causing disease. And one of the investigators in Australia became so frustrated with the skepticism that he decided that the only way to prove this was to drink a culture of the bacteria. So he deliberately infected himself and he got a good stomachache as a result.
Helen Parrington: I would not try this at home.
(T): Do not try this at home. (Laughing)
(C): Yeah, we definitely don’t do that in the lab.
[What would you be if you weren’t a scientist?]
(T): Well for me, there was a challenge a long time ago trying to decide if I was going to go into science, medicine, or music. So they all seemed like good options. So I have continued to try and keep my hand in all three. That’s the best plan is that you don’t have to give anything up.
(C): I think in a different universe part of me would want to be a travel blogger. Just because I like traveling and meeting people. Just getting to know different parts of the world sounds fun.
[What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?]
(T): Advice to a 10-year-old self would be just to say you have no clue who you are and where life is going to lead.
(C): Yeah, I think mine would be similar along those lines. Just trust the process. Trust that you end up where you need to be and keep working hard every day doing the best you can. And keep an open mind.
[What are you hobbies?]
(C): I’m doing one of them! I like coloring and painting. I don’t do it as often anymore, but it is something that I enjoy doing. Making art and dancing. I really love dancing to afrobeats or latin dance its very fun.
(T): I enjoy doing music so that’s one of my hobbies.
Helen Parrington: (is there a) favorite genre of music that you play on the piano?
(T): Mostly classical stuff.
(C): I’m really looking forward to hearing you play the piano sometime soon.
(T): I’ll have to do a concert.
(C): Yeah! (laughing)
Showing colored pictures
(C): I was just having fun.
(T): There’s no science in this. It’s just pretty colors. But one takeaway message is that no two helicobacters are the same, and I think we can see that with the pictures.