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By Spindle
Conversations with leaders in biotechnology, medicine, environmental science, bioinformatics, marine and synthetic biology, health policy and law, consulting, venture capital and more to highlight interesting and growing fields in science. The goal is to help introduce undergraduate students in biology-related programs to the many paths available to them. You can reach out to us here:
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13. Combining Medicine, Tech, and Business to Transform Dementia Care with Rishawn Dindial


18. Critical Analysis in Graduate School, Chemical Engineering, and Life Science Education with Patrick Diep
From applying a transdisciplinary approach to synthetic biology education with CSBERG, to co-founding Indus, a start-up that 3-D prints hydroponics soil, Patrick Diep is deeply invested in the start-up world and life science education. He’s currently a fifth-year chemical engineering PhD student at UofT, and previously attended the biochemistry co-op program at Waterloo for his undergrad. On this episode, Patrick talks about developing critical analysis in graduate school, specializing vs generalizing, transitioning from biochemistry to chemical engineering, and his thoughts on how life science education can be improved. Producer: Jay Timestamps: (1:37); Introduction and background (2:36); How the PhD experience changes over time (4:30); iGEM and Indus (5:38); Interdisciplinary and collaboration (9:27); CSBERG (12:08); Getting involved with synthetic biology as an interdisciplinary student (15:55); Reconciling interdisciplinarity with specialization (17:35); Critical analysis and the case for graduate school (22:22); Life sciences education (35:47); Taking gap years before graduate school (37:28); Co-Founding Indus and conversations you need to have before graduate school regarding commercializing research (42:35); Why chemical engineering? (46:29); Advice for students in science
December 20, 2021
17. Building a Company in Undergrad with Scatr Co-Founder Ari Forman
From winning the first-place 1-million-dollar prize at a Health Canada competition to building a drug testing device to help combat the opioid epidemic. On this episode of Spindle, Ari Forman, co-founder of Scatr, talks about the company’s founding story. He speaks about prototyping and iterating on ideas as an undergraduate student, the challenges he has faced so far, and how he’s liking the molecular genetics graduate program at UofT. Producer: Jay Timestamps: (2:40); Founding story (8:48); The ideation process (10:47); Credibility as an undergraduate student (13:09); Prototyping (15:12); Failures and challenges along the way (17:56); Validating ideas (20:53); Balancing Scatr with school (22:06); Finding a co-founder (25:20); The business-side and fine details (27:26); Takeaways (30:38); “Perks” :) (33:53); Molecular genetics at UofT and the rotation system (37:11); Advice for students in science (38:21); Reconciling faith and science
December 15, 2021
16. Investing in the Future of Healthcare and Getting into Finance as a Science Student with Jordan Robinson
“It basically completely changed the outcome for patients with that type of cancer. That just game changing innovation got me really excited, and I really started thinking that something to do with that is what I want to do.” Jordan Robinson is an associate at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, where he works within the thematic investing group to identify long-term trends and changes in society and invest in the companies that are exposed to/driving those changes. Jordan earned a Med Sci/Ivey HBA dual degree, a Master’s in neuroscience, and an MD, all from Western. On today’s episode, Jordan talks about his path to CPP, getting from science to finance, his long-term career philosophy, and what’s next in healthcare. This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students’ Council at Western University. Producer: Jay Timestamps: (1:46); Introduction and current role (4:51); Path to finance (17:40); Time spent in school and career philosophy (21:18); Merging medicine and finance (25:24); Making the switch (35:11); Med Sci/Ivey HBA Dual (41:01); How science undergrads can figure out if finance is for them (49:38); So you know finance is for you, now what? (54:42); General advice (59:59); Networking (1:02:21); Exciting new developments in healthcare (1:08:13); Merging tech and bio
October 13, 2021
15. Project Management and Veterinary Technician School with Helena Smith
From volunteering in an elephant sanctuary to working on the business side of continuing education programs for veterinary professionals, Helena has seen a wide array of opportunities within the realm of animal medicine. The University of Guelph alumna did her undergrad in biological sciences and then chose to attend Vet-Tech School at Sheridan college. In today’s episode, Helena speaks to why she chose to walk away from clinical practice and into a role as a project manager (PM), choosing between veterinary school and veterinary-technician school, and the importance of beginning to network during your undergrad. This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students’ Council at Western University. Producer: Mayuri   Timestamps: (2:17); Introduction and educational background (4:41); Switching gears in your career and finding transferable skills within your degree (12:27); Should you stick to a career in science? (17:11); Choosing between a DVM (Vet School) and a Vet-Tech Diploma (Vet-Tech School) (21:13); Project management vs. clinical practice and how to succeed (29:06); Working at an animal sanctuary and wildlife rehabilitation centre in Thailand
July 15, 2021
14. Synthetic biology and getting into a great grad program with Maximillian Soltysiak
Glowing trees? Self-fertilizing plants? Maximillian Soltysiak is a PhD Candidate in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Department at Harvard Medical School. He’s a recent graduate of the Honours Biochemistry and Genetics program at Western. In today’s episode, Maximillian talks about getting great lab experience early in undergrad, building a competitive grad school application, the value of an honours thesis, how he developed an interest for synthetic biology, and how to pick between grad school offers. This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students’ Council at Western University. Producer: Jay. Timestamps: (1:38); Introduction and educational background (2:21); Starting a PhD during the pandemic (5:00); Differences in structure between Canadian PhD programs and American PhD programs (8:14); Figuring out if a grad program is a good fit for you (18:52); Building a competitive grad school application (22:06); Should you do an honours thesis? (28:06); Maximillian’s undergraduate research experiences (39:31); Self-fertilizing plants and glow-in-the-dark trees (54:24); Advice for undergrads (58:42); What if you get to the end of third-year, have close to no real research experience, and realize you want to go to grad school
May 04, 2021
13. Combining Medicine, Tech, and Business to Transform Dementia Care with Rishawn Dindial
Rishawn Dindial is a MD/MBA candidate at Tulane University in New Orleans. He is also the founder of Memoryz, a software company that aims to revolutionize dementia care. Rishawn earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and biology from the University of Toronto in 3 years, and he worked in full-time roles at Uber and Maple before moving to America for medical school. In today’s episode, Rishawn talks about his path to medical school, starting a software company without a background in computer science, his plans to build an interdisciplinary career at an intersection of medicine, tech, and business, and more. This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students’ Council at Western University. Producer: Jay. Timestamps: (2:01); Educational background (3:00); Why Rishawn decided to finish undergrad in 3 years (5:27); The type of person Rishawn was in undergrad (8:50); Mentorship (11:38); Working at Uber and Maple (16:50); Building a software company without a background in CS (19:05); How medicine, business, and tech fit together  (21:51); Why an MD/MBA program in America (27:36); Founding Memoryz (33:36); Managing studying for STEP 1, running a company, and being a full-time MD/MBA student (37:37); Things undergrads should pay more attention to (42:34); Advice for students in science 
April 01, 2021
12. Management Consulting at Bain and How to Pick a Great Grad School Project with Safee Mian
“There is a demand for professionals who can analyze data, solve problems, think on their feet, and successfully manage projects. As graduate students, the skills we learn in the lab setting are highly translatable, but we need to know how to apply them in different settings.” That quote is from an interview Safee did for a feature article when he graduated with his PhD in Biochemistry from Western in 2019. Since then, Safee has been working as a management consultant for Bain & Company. On this episode, Safee talks about his path from a purely science background to management consulting, his experience working at Sanofi Pasteur through the science internship program at Western, the skills he learned during his PhD that translate to his work at Bain, and more. This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students’ Council at Western University. Producer: Jay. Timestamps: (1:27); Educational background and current role (4:07); Why switch from a master’s program to a PhD instead of finishing the master’s and THEN doing a PhD? (8:25); How important is an undergrad honours thesis for getting into grad school? (11:19); Tips for picking a great grad school project (14:54); Why do a PhD? And how Safee got interested in management consulting (23:55); How do you learn “the business stuff” that you’ll need to know to work in management consulting, coming from a purely science background? (27:44); What’s it like working as a consultant at Bain? (30:47); The skills you learn during your PhD that transfer over to consulting (34:19); Why a non-traditional path after your PhD as opposed to academia? (35:24); Does a master’s degree cut it for recruiting at the major management consulting firms or do you need a PhD? (37:15); The questions undergrads should be asking themselves when considering a master’s or PhD program (42:19); Overall advice for science undergrads Link to the article referenced at the start of the description:
March 08, 2021
11. Vertical Development and Reflecting on 34 Years of Haffie Bio with Tom Haffie
Tom Haffie has taught tens of thousands of biology students over his teaching career at Western. On today's episode, he walks us through the ups and downs of his journey and speaks to the lessons he has learned along the way. Tom also shares some of his tips on carving out space to be creative and to succeed in a hyper competitive world, and talks about his lily pad theory of career progression. This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students' Council at Western University.  Producer: Jay.  Timestamps: (1:53); Educational background and what got Tom into teaching (3:46); What it's like being a professor? And reflecting on having taught tens of thousands of students over 30 years (19:20); Introspection and finding the space to be creative (23:03); Biology and archeology (25:52); The importance of being open and not pigeonholing yourself (30:35); Tom's lily pad theory of career progression (38:03); Horizontal vs. vertical development (39:49); Applying complexity theory to education (45:27); Treating your undergraduate career as an infinite game (51:22); Recommended books (54:34); Biology isn't going to solve world hunger (1:00:51); Simple solutions to complex problems just create more problems (1:03:21); Looking at COVID, education, and success from the lens of an infinite game (1:08:21); Advice for undergrads Links to the books mentioned ***NOT affiliate links*** Getting to Maybe: Finite and Infinite Games: The Importance of Living: Presence:
February 09, 2021
10. Finding the Problems You Want to Work On and the Value of an MBA with Lana Marinovich and Gaurie Aggarwal
Finding jobs and roles aligned with the problems that you want to work on as opposed to what best fits your resume. That's one of the points Lana and Gaurie emphasized in our conversation on this episode of Spindle. Lana and Gaurie pursued undergraduate degrees in biology and health sciences respectively, both at Western, before earning their MBA's from McMaster. On this episode, Lana and Gaurie talk about being comfortable with ambiguity, maximizing your professional undergraduate experience, navigating internships, and the non-clinical side of medicine.  Lana's email: Gaurie's email: This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students' Council at Western University.  Producer: Jay.  Timestamps:  (1:46); Educational background and current role  (5:49); Intuition for what Lana and Gaurie wanted to work on right out of undergrad (7:52); Maximizing your professional undergrad experience  (11:08); Deciding to pursue an MBA (12:52); MBA internship experience (23:36); The value of a formal business education for science students  (27:47); Being comfortable with ambiguity  (39:06); Advice for science undergrads  (41:43); Alignment and purpose (46:04); Lana and Gaurie's course
January 08, 2021
9. Early Stage Cancer Detection and Genetic Counselling with Kate Gardiner
In the near future, annual cell-free DNA sequencing could be used to detect cancer at incredibly early stages. Kate Gardiner, a genetic counsellor talks to us about this the inner workings of her job and more on today’s episode of Spindle. She did her undergrad in Science and Business at the University of Waterloo and did her master’s in human genetics at Sarah Lawrence college in New York.  This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students’ Council at Western University.  Producer: Mayuri Timestamps: (1:31); Educational background and current work. (7:15); Day-to-day responsibilities of a genetic counsellor (GC). (12:21); Differences in clinical versus lab work as a GC. (14:28);What traits make someone a good fit to be a GC. (16:34); Life in undergrad and important opportunities to look for. (23:46); Biggest mistakes in university and advice for 20-year-old self. (27:08); The future of genetic counselling and the impact of direct-to-consumer genetic counselling. (32:41); The pros and cons of being a GC
December 28, 2020
8. Dinosaur Cancer and Orthopaedic Surgery with Seper Ekhtiari
Seper Ekhtiari, an orthopaedic surgery resident at McMaster, is the first-author on the first paper to report a case of osteosarcoma in dinosaurs.  Seper earned a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology at the University of Toronto before attending McMaster for medical school. On today's episode, he speaks to the ins and outs of residency, how he figured out that medicine was for him, what you don't know about medical school until you're there, making strategic gap year decisions, and what's next in orthopaedics and palaeontology research.  This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students' Council at Western University.  Producer: Jay Timestamps: (1:26); Educational background and undergrad experience (7:06); How to decide what to do if you don't get into medical school the first time around (10:59); What residency is like (14:31); What you don't know about medicine and orthopaedics until you're there (18:07); How Seper knew medicine was for him (23:56); Dinosaur cancer (32:19); How Seper got involved with palaeontology research (35:10); Research in residency (37:59); Taking a year off from residency to get a Master's degree (40:30); Cool new research in orthopaedics and palaeontology (43:48); Finding a balance in medical school (49:48); Advice for undergrads Link to the video referenced at (49:48);
December 14, 2020
7. Oil Spill Cleaning Bacteria and Decarbonizing the Chemicals Industry with Nivatha Balendra
At 17-years-old, Nivatha isolated microbes from soil samples from across Montreal that had the potential to be useful in bioremediation...which basically means they could help clean up oil spills. This discovery kick-started Nivatha’s research and entrepreneurial journey. She earned a bachelor's degree in physiology and international relations from McGill and founded Dispersa, a clean-tech company that she currently leads as CEO. Dispersa is focused on decarbonizing the chemicals industry. On today’s episode, Nivatha talks about spaces in clean-tech that students should look into, what projects Dispersa is working on, and the specific differences between conducting research in academia versus industry. This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students' Council at Western University.  Producer: Jay  Timestamps: (2:08); Educational background (8:51); Finding and isolating the bacterial strain in high school (12:51); Why an undergrad degree in physiology? (16:55); Undergrad experiences (20:20); Defining clean-tech and Dispersa  (21:27); Biggest learning curve with starting Dispersa (24:06); How to start a company to solve a large problem (28:32); Industry vs. academia  (30:43); Research in industry vs. academia  (38:07); Juggling building the technology and the business side of a startup  (44:23); Problems for undergrads to focus on (47:15); How students can get involved in the clean-tech space (49:05); Advice for undergrads 
December 07, 2020
6. Growing Meat in a Lab and the Case for Doing a PhD with Matthew Anderson-Baron
"I was almost 30 when I found cellular agriculture and really decided that that's what I wanted to do. So there's no rush to get into any particular field.  Just try to be as open to different opportunities as you can be for as long as possible." - Matthew Anderson-Baron Matthew is the founder and CSO of Future Fields, a cellular agriculture company in Edmonton working on building custom, cost-effective growth media. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry, and a PhD in cell biology from the University of Alberta. On this episode, we spoke to Matthew about the future of cellular agriculture, the translational skills you learn through doing a PhD, and what it's like to lead research and development at a startup.  This episode was made possible by the generous support of the University Students' Council at Western University.  Producer: Jay Timestamps:  (1:45); Educational background (7:31); What undergrads should know when considering pursuing a PhD (10:12); Translational skills Matt learned through his PhD (12:54); Deciding to start Future Fields  (15:51); Industry vs Academia  (18:53); Defining cellular agriculture and what Future Fields does (23:34); Common objections to cellular agriculture  (26:23); The biggest learning curve that came with starting Future Fields  (31:32); How research differs in an academic lab vs in industry (36:53); Advice for students interested in cellular agriculture  (40:52); Advice for undergrads in science 
December 01, 2020
5.2 - Traits of Successful Young Founders and Problems for the Next Generation to Tackle with Bharat Srinivasa
Throughout our conversation, Bharat stressed the importance of curiosity and doing research for a larger goal in mind. Specifically, not just focusing on the publication but also on commercialization value for certain types of research. We spoke at length about how complex biology requires technological solutions and how those technological inferences require biological validation. He also detailed what it’s like to work through the ranks at a venture capital firm, what he spends more of his time working on, common traits he sees in successful young founders, and emerging areas where the next generation of founders can thrive.----more----Producer: Jay. Music:
October 24, 2020
5.1 - Venture Capital, Networking, and Applying Research to Solve Problems with Bharat Srinivasa
From the time he earned his PhD in microbiology and immunology, Bharat Srinivasa has worked in consulting and venture capital. He is currently co-founder and Principal at Amplitude Ventures, a 200-million-dollar venture fund focused on building world-class Canadian companies in precision medicine and next-generation medical devices. On today's episode, Bharat talks about his path from an undergraduate degree in genetics and biotechnology at UofT, his thoughts on the role of an undergraduate degree, networking, and the application of student research. Producer: Jay. Music:
October 06, 2020
4.2 - Dealing with medical school application setbacks and focusing on one goal at a time with Philipp Kolb
Before starting in the MD program at McMaster, Philipp earned an MBA and worked in a number of research, analytic, and marketing roles. On today’s episode, we speak to him about how he navigated medical school application setbacks, how he ascertained that medicine was for him, and his thoughts on the importance of being honest and realistic with yourself. Producer: Jay. Music:
October 01, 2020
4.1 - Combining medicine with business and enjoying uncertainty with Philipp Kolb
"It was a journey, not from A to B to C, but it was all over the place, jumping out of Masters, into business, back into medicine and doing all sorts of different co-ops throughout. It was a lot of fun to have that uncertainty. Just doing things for the sake of doing them, trying them, and seeing what I liked and didn't like, and then letting that shape my vision for what I wanted my future to hold." Philipp Kolb is an MD candidate at McMaster. On this episode of Spindle, we talk to Philipp about his journey to medical school and about using his MBA as a toolbox to bring science to market. Producer: Jay. Music:
September 25, 2020
3.2 - How the role of a biotech CEO evolves and a new take on job stability with Moufeed Kaddoura
Moufeed has always taken an ambitious, out of the box approach to his career in biotech. On this episode of Spindle, he spoke about how he started his company despite not knowing enough science to build his product, thriving on chaos, and navigating a post-COVID job market. ----more----Producer: Jay. Music:
September 09, 2020
3.1 - Starting a biotech company and selling snakes with Moufeed Kaddoura
Moufeed has been reinventing his role as CEO ever since he started a biotech company, then known as Ex-Vivo labs, when he was still in school. On this episode of Spindle, Moufeed walks us through how he chose biotech from among all of the other options he was considering. He also speaks to the importance of wearing different hats and trying new things, and how to set yourself apart when looking for jobs at startups. ----more----Producer: Jay. Music:
September 08, 2020
2.2 - New developments in bioanthropology and changing graduate school projects with Jessica Hider
Jessica reflects on 14-years of post-secondary education on today’s episode of Spindle by talking about navigating academia, finding balance in graduate school, and the importance of advocating for yourself. We also talk to her about the ups and downs of working in bioanthropology and her vision for the future.----more----Producer: Mayuri. Music:
September 06, 2020
2.1 - DNA sequencing 2500-year-old human remains in Italy and fourteen years of post-secondary education with Jessica Hider
Jessica is working towards her PhD in physical and biological anthropology. On this episode we talk about her journey to pursuing a PhD in this field and what it takes to have a career in academia.----more----Producer: Mayuri. Music:
September 04, 2020
1.3 - 4 million YouTube views and long-term thinking with Dr. Chris Raynor
Impacting millions by cutting out the middleman through YouTube, the art of science communication, thinking big, and long-term happiness. That's what we cover on today's episode with Dr. Chris Raynor. ----more----Producer: Jay. Music:
September 02, 2020
1.2 - Navigating undergrad and figuring out if medicine is for you with Dr. Chris Raynor
How do you pick between the countless opportunities that come up during your undergraduate career? How can you confirm that a career in medicine is what you want to pursue? Hear Dr. Raynor's answers to these questions on this episode of Spindle. ----more----Producer: Jay. Music:
September 02, 2020
1.1 - Varsity football to teacher's college and medical school with Dr. Chris Raynor
Chris Raynor is an orthopaedic surgeon, YouTuber, and business owner. On this episode we talk about his path to medicine and his YouTube journey.----more----Producer: Jay. Music:
September 02, 2020
Welcome to Spindle
Have you ever wondered what EXACTLY you can do with your biology, kinesiology, or health sciences related degree? On this show, we're looking to answer that question by bringing you conversations with individuals with educational backgrounds just like yours who are pursuing a wide variety of career paths. The team is currently composed of students at the University of Western Ontario, though we are not directly affiliated with the University. The views expressed in this podcast are those of the guests alone, and do not represent the views of the Spindle team, Western University, or any affiliated organizations. Music:
September 02, 2020