Mr. Joshua Taylor
Supervisor: Dr. Janna Andronowski
Mr. Taylor was awarded a 2021 ARC-NL Graduate Fellowship for his project entitled,
Determining the Relationships of Age and Sex on the Cellular Networks of Bone.
ARC-NL: What piqued your interest in this area of research?
As an aspiring biologist, I have always been intrigued by the dynamic interactions of living organisms from the microscopic to the macroscopic level. Further, I wanted to translate my biological knowledge to benefit society as a medical professional. Along this trajectory, I met my undergraduate supervisor and current graduate supervisor, Dr. Janna Andronowski. Dr. Andronowski introduced me to her research using high-resolution imaging modalities to analyze and assess bone microstructure. Ever since then, I have been captivated by bone’s dynamic nature and all of the numerous ways we can visualize and quantify these changes. Now, I seek to apply the knowledge I gain from my supervisor’s projects and my own to inform and benefit the broader community.
ARC-NL: Can you please provide a brief synopsis of your specific project?
Osteoporosis is commonly referred to as a silent disease that progresses unnoticed until a fracture occurs. This disease is commonly seen in the older population, with a higher prevalence in women. Currently, it is thought to progress from dysregulation of formation and resorption of bone during bone maintenance. This process favours resorption indicating increased activity of bone-resorbing cells and reduced activity in the bone-forming cells, ultimately leaving the structural integrity of the bone compromised and highly susceptible to fractures.
My project aims to analyze the bone cellular network that regulates formation and resorption through the use of high-resolution confocal microscopy. Further, I seek to improve existing analytic techniques by implementing and refining automated segmentation and image analysis. We are examining samples from across the lifespan and between the sexes to identify changes in the bone’s microstructure. This study may reveal age and sex-related changes to the bone cellular network that contributes to osteoporosis progression. Further, this research may provide potential therapeutic targets to prevent or treat the effects of osteoporosis.
ARC-NL: How did getting the support of the ARC-NL Graduate Fellowship assist you with your project?
Receiving financial support from ARC-NL significantly benefits the quality of the research and ensures its prompt completion. This funding will allow me to concentrate entirely on analyzing the cellular network of bone and improving automated techniques for image analysis. As a result of the funding, I can produce high-quality research of which I am immensely proud. ARC-NL’s support will further improve my capabilities as a researcher. This funding is an invaluable asset, and I am incredibly grateful for the support.
ARC-NL: How do you feel your research will benefit the aging population of Newfoundland and Labrador? Canada?
My research will work to characterize the effects of aging and sex on bone at the cellular level. This will provide foundational knowledge of the cellular network and its maintenance patterns that may contribute to age-related diseases, such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a pathological bone disorder that preferentially targets the older population and women, resulting in weaker, more fragile bones. If we increase our understanding of the bone cellular network and this debilitating disease, we can elucidate targets for therapeutic treatment. This may allow for the development of treatment to combat or even prevent osteoporosis altogether. Thus, improving the quality of life for older populations worldwide, including Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada.
ARC-NL: Is there any past experience you feel is pertinent to your success today?
The first experience I would like to mention was my first job at a restaurant. I started this job as a junior in high school, where I was taking rigorous college-level courses. I primarily worked as a dishwasher, and my first shift was a Friday night. Possibly one of the worst days to start a shift at a restaurant. However, I worked hard and got promoted to food runner and chef. Further, the managerial team trusted me to close down the restaurant entirely by myself. Eventually, I found myself working six days a week and still found time for homework and studying. I even had a few back-to-back 13-hour days. It was the first time I remember hard work paying off and creating this drive to work hard.
My work ethic was further tested in two research trips I took as an undergraduate at the University of Akron. These courses had us prepare an experiment all semester long that we would complete in one to two weeks. During the experimental phase, we were working long 12-hour days to gather as much data as possible. It was rigorous but proved that I wanted to be here, and I wanted to do research, no matter how challenging. I recently travelled with my supervisor and lab members to the Canadian Light Source, a synchrotron facility, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Allotted time at the facility is extremely scarce and precious, so we aim to get as much data as possible in our limited window. On the first of three days, I took the initiative to work a shift that surpassed an entire day. After our trip, I was left yearning for more, and I eagerly await my next trip to the Canadian Light Source. Further proving that I will be able to succeed in this challenging and rewarding career path with continued hard work.