News Archives: NBDC-TAC Welcomes Intern Candice Coombs
Monday, October 9th, 2017
Candice Coombs didn’t know what to expect when she began her internship with GPRC NBDC-TAC in April. She grew up in Annapolis Valley, an agricultural hub in Nova Scotia, where she developed the love for bees and apiculture that she has today. “I really like the eusociality of bees,” she said. “I think they’re a good mirror to our society.”
Coombs began attending beekeeping meetings after graduating with her degree in biology from Mount Allison University. Through a networking opportunity, she became connected with the NBDC-TAC and was successful with her internship application shortly afterward. In her role at NBDC-TAC, she works on the BeeOMICS project, an initiative designed by Dr. Amro Zayed of York University and Dr. Leonard Foster of the University of British Columbia and with which NBDC-TAC has been assisting. The ultimate goal of the project is to identify 12 different proteomic and genomic markers that beekeepers can use to breed a more productive queen.
“The work I do in the lab includes receiving bee samples that come from five different provinces,” she explained. “I macerate [crush in liquid] the samples and extract the RNA of the viruses in the bees.” Extracted RNA then undergoes qPCR analysis, a diagnostic test that measures gene expression.
Coombs says it is exciting to be part of a nationwide study like BeeOMICS. She has also enjoyed the less conventional parts of her internship, such as attending events like the Beekeepers’ Field Day last June, where many beekeepers and apiculturists gathered and she was able to hear from experts in the field. She also enjoys suiting up in her bee suit and venturing into the field to collect samples.
The value of an internship cannot be underestimated, according to Coombs. “In this economy, it’s very hard to get a foot in the door when you have little experience,” she said. “I’ve learned so many things from my time at NBDC. Now, I’ll be able to put this experience on my resume and it will help open the door for other opportunities.”
NBDC-TAC Lab Technician Jamie Lee Martin says working with Coombs has helped immensely. “Candice goes above and beyond in the lab,” Martin said. “She is the definition of a team player.”
Students have much to gain from participating in internships like Coombs’s. “There is only so much you can learn in the confines of an in-class education. Getting hands on experience is invaluable for those wishing to pursue a career in science.”
Students continue to be an important part of GPRC NBDC-TAC’s work. Keep an eye out for internships and scholarships here.