Dr. Valerie Booth, who was the Canada Research Chair in Proteomics is quite literally treading a path less traveled with a research that combines Physics, Chemistry and Biology. In her laboratory, she studies hydrophobic proteins – proteins that do not dissolve in water but cling to membranes of human cells. Much is currently unknown about these proteins, even though they are pivotal to human health and disease. Dr. Booth is passionate about improving available knowledge about these ‘difficult-to-study’ proteins.
Dr. Booth started out at the University of Victoria, where she skirted between Music, History, Chemistry and finally Physics. She graduated with a BSc in Physics and proceeded to the University of Waterloo Graduate School where she completed a Masters of Science in Biophysics. Afterwards, she completed a PhD in Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, Ontario. Next, she undertook post-doctoral research at Edmonton, before finally beginning at Memorial University of Newfoundland where she is currently a Professor of Biochemistry, with cross appointment in the department of physics and physical oceanography.
Speaking on her career trajectory, Dr. Booth said, “It’s important for people to know that you don’t have to stay in the field that you get your first degree in or your second degree. It’s okay to make life decisions not just based on career choices, but also on who and where you want to be.”
In addition to being a busy professor, Dr. Booth is also a wife and mother of young children. Speaking on the role of gender on how fast her career progressed, she had this to say: “Perhaps, It would have happened faster, if I were a man. This is owing to things related to being unable to work while pregnant and when you have really young kids.”
Dr. Booth’s research has led to several publications in prestigious journals. Speaking on what drives her to keep doing research and working with students in this multi-disciplinary field, she said, “The two things I really enjoy are finding out new things, so I can say I have natural curiosity. I am really lucky to have a job where I can satisfy my natural curiosity. The other thing is that my interactions with students (the undergraduate and graduate students) make my day.”
When asked what her biggest contribution to the world of science is, Dr. Booth believes, “In my lab, we specialize in studying really complicated stuff, using physics. Our contributions include the application of physics to answer tough scientific and biological system related questions.”
Dr. Booth was recently named the ‘recipient of the 2019 President’s Award for Outstanding Graduate and Postgraduate Supervision’, a well deserved accolade, which highlights her excellence.
“There are truths in the world, whether you choose to believe them or not. In some parts of life, its not someone’s opinion. The truth is the truth.”– Dr. Valerie Booth