Jun 25, 2021

Humans of LMP: Shawn Clark

Inclusive community, Programs: Postgraduate
Shawn Clark

Each month we speak to a member of the Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology community and find out more about them.

This month it is postgraduate trainee, Shawn Clark, who received the Norman Bethune Award at this years' LMP Annual Celebration of Excellence.

If you would like to be featured, or know someone who should be, use the nomination form on our Humans of LMP page.

What are you studying at LMP and why are you interested in this subject?

I am a postgraduate trainee in my second year of the Postdoctoral Training Program in Clinical Microbiology.

Clinical microbiology is a fascinating discipline that is constantly evolving and as a result, part of our role as microbiologists is to develop innovative ways to detect and identify pathogens in the laboratory. I am still amazed that bacteria and other microscopic organisms can wreak havoc on such a large scale and develop intricate ways to evade the immune system and antimicrobial therapies.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen, or got involved with while at LMP?

I think having a pandemic unfold in my first year of training probably tops the list. This gave me and the other trainees in the program a unique opportunity to learn from our microbiologist mentors how best to respond to new and emerging public health threats.

We saw in real-time how tests for a novel virus are introduced and their associated challenges, how SARS-CoV-2 testing approaches and testing guidance evolved as the pandemic progressed and we were able to contribute to the pandemic response in meaningful ways. The clinical and medical microbiologists in Toronto and the rest of Canada certainly have accomplished a tremendous feat in a short period of time.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

As trainees we typically have multiple projects on the go at any given time. One that is currently at the top of my list is a collaborative project focused on determining whether rapid molecular testing for tuberculosis could be used to guide airborne isolation policies. This may help to reduce the amount of time that individuals suspected of having tuberculosis spend in airborne isolation and may enhance patient clinical care and wellbeing.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album - This is a tough one because I have too many favourites to list. Two recent albums that I’m listening to a lot are Typhoons by Royal Blood and What’s Your Pleasure? By Jessie Ware. I’m looking forward to being able to attend concerts again!

Film – Jurassic Park

Novel - The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo

What is your favourite joke?

Why was the microbiologist afraid of eating certain foods?

Because food poisoning can B. cereus

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Alexander Fleming, Carle Gessard, Louis Pasteur

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t give up on your dreams.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I’m a big music lover and collect vinyl records. I am always on the lookout for new artists/albums and can spend hours flipping through vinyl crates to find something unique.

Where is your favourite place?

One of my favourite cities to visit was Stockholm, Sweden (and yes, I went to the ABBA museum).

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