Timothy O’Leary


JS: Okay, let’s warm up with something easy. Coffee or a cold apple: which keeps you going?

TOL: Coffee, nothing beats coffee.

Interesting. And how do you like Vancouver? Where did you live before coming to Vancouver? Vancouver’s better, right? KIDDING! There are no wrong answers here! Please, go ahead.

TOL: I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia before moving to Vancouver. I’m still getting to know the city, but really like Vancouver so far. I definitely enjoy not having to deal with the snowy and slush-filled winters of Nova Scotia.

JS: My mom lives in Halifax and it sounds like the weather has been particularly bad over the last few years. God must be punishing them for something. OK, standard interview question, sorry: What’s your worst feature (and how does it make you an amazing scientist/person?)

TOL: My worst feature can be perfectionism. This has definitely helped with my research, especially when it comes to designing experiments. It can be annoying at times though, and members of my previous lab have called this “Timperfection”.

JS: Well, I think your current lab can keep this tradition alive. Along with “what the truck” – that’s a favorite of mine. Now, tell me about your first experiment!

TOL: My first independent experiment during my undergraduate was testing the behavior of inbred mouse strains, including the “wild-derived” strains CAST/EiJ and SPRET/EiJ. These strains are anything but easy to handle, and had the habit of jumping in seemingly random directions. I think I spent more time trying to catch these mice after they leaped off the elevated plus maze, then actually collecting data.

JS: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How about 50 years? 400 years? I’m talking at a basic level about where do you think you’ll be at but, also, what do you hope to have contributed to planet earth?

TOL: In 10 years I hope to see myself in a tenure-track professorship, or at least in a science-related job I enjoy. After 50 years, happily retired, looking back at a fulfilling career. After 400 years? A disembodied head in a jar, making a guest appearance on the show Futurama.

JS: If you were to come into the lab one morning (it’s ok to leave the lab to sleep at night, sometimes) and find that someone had brought in your favourite edible treat to share with the lab, what would that favourite edible treat be?

TOL: So hard to choose! Right now I would go for some ice cream cake, peanut M&M’s, or chicken pot pie.

JS: It is a unique individual who can crave both ice cream and chicken in the same breath.

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