Michelle Mah, Let’s Talk Science Outreach Volunteer in Toronto, Ontario

Michelle Mah

Michelle enjoys exploring coding with students as a Let’s Talk Science Outreach activity!

Time volunteering with Let’s Talk Science: 2 years

Career: Research Molecular Genetics Technologist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network

Inspirational Moment: I was volunteering at Let’s Talk Cancer hosted by the amazing team at Ryerson University and explaining to students how diagnostic laboratories can sequence tumour samples from many different patients in one reaction. One student asked me if different tags are added to each sample to distinguish different samples. The answer was yes, specifically molecular barcodes are attached to different samples so sequenced information can be separated by computer algorithms. It was the student’s ability to draw connections from inquisitiveness that refreshed my curiosity to keep asking questions about my own work.

Favourite Let’s Talk Science volunteering activity: Playing with Ozobots, especially calibrating them!

Why do you volunteer with Let’s Talk Science? Community engagement with secondary students! I have had incredible opportunities engaging youths through hands-on activities like the gel electrophoresis activity to promote biotechnology. Sometimes I’m the first person introducing them to the use of pipettes which are common laboratory tools used to transfer small measured volumes of liquids. Once in a while, I get to work with other Let’s Talk Science volunteers to develop new activities like Let’s Sequence! for events like Let’s Talk Cancer. It’s the potential to ignite a spark of interest from students that is most exciting whenever I volunteer.

Fun fact: I have the uncanny ability to pick the longest lineup at most grocery stores.