Editorial Article: Reviewers of the Month - Crystal Daniels and Joe Otto from the University of South Alabama, Mitchell Cancer Institute

22 Mar 2017


Crystal Daniels, The University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute

Crystal Daniels and Joe Otto work at the University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute and are both Advanced Reviewers on SelectScience. They joined SelectScience last year after visiting our stand at Pittcon and have uploaded an impressive 22 reviews between them.



We asked Crystal and Joe to tell us a little about themselves:

What are you working on?

Crystal: I’m a  Graduate Student Researcher (Doctoral Candidate) working on Proteomics and Cancer Biology specifically studying glycosylation changes in cancer.

Joe: I've recently finished my Ph.D. and am a postdoctoral research fellow in the area of biomarkers.  I am working to discover proteins that can serve as a means of early detection for gastrointestinal cancers.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you…

Crystal: I generally spend the mornings doing sample preparation and handling and my afternoons are used for data analysis. Data analysis is the larger time consuming activity as the data that is generated in our lab is very extensive.

Joe: A typical day starts with checking the mass spectrometers that had been running samples overnight to ensure all runs look appropriate.  I then queue additional samples to run for the remainder of the day and prepare samples at the bench or HPLC system.  I spend most afternoons on data analysis.

Why are reviews important?

Crystal: I like seeing what other people who are actually doing the science have to say about how it works.

Joe: Reviews are almost essential when investigating products in my mind as they provide an unbiased view.  They can be very informative concerning ease of use which can often be hard to interpret from online descriptions.  I take reviews into account for most product selections both inside and outside of science.


Why is communication in science key?

Crystal: The scientific community relies on being able to accurately share the findings of the research to others, without this, precious time and funds are wasted pursuing false leads from which no advancement can be made.

Joe: All forms of communication are important in science primarily because it is a means of sharing discoveries and knowledge.  Many researchers investigate areas of the unknown where information and data are the first of their kind concerning the topic.  The information must be communicated to the rest of the scientific community to be taken into the collective knowledge.  This sharing initiates additional communications leading to collaborations, discussions, ideas, concepts, and advancements.  Communication allows for the scientific progress.

What inspired you to get into the world of science?

Crystal: I've always been a really big science nerd even from early childhood when I had my parents get me a microscope to look at the water in my fish tank. I've just always been curious about the living things around me and how they work.

Joe: My undergraduate academic advisor really opened my eyes to graduate school and scientific research.  I typically had many questions in class, and he said my questions were the type that researchers asked and tried to answer as no one actually knows.  It was very intriguing to realize just how many things we don’t know about science and being able to contribute to the collective scientific knowledge is an exciting thought.

Joe Otto, The University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute

How did you get into your specific field of work?

Crystal:  I came from Spring Hill College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. I studied under my now professor, Dr. Lewis Pannell, for several years before formally joining the graduate school as a doctoral student in cancer biology. I am currently a Doctoral Candidate within 2 years of graduation.

Joe:  I did rotations in several areas including, biochemistry, microbiology and immunology, and cancer biology.  I really enjoyed cancer biology with a proteomics focus as it seemed the most clinically relevant.

What’s the most innovative piece of lab equipment you use?

Crystal:  I currently use a Thermo Q-Exactive Plus mass spectrometer for high resolution mass spectrometry data acquisition from glycosylated protein samples.

Joe:  I would have to say the actual Orbitrap mass analyzer in two of our instruments.  It allows for high-resolution spectrum and high-accuracy mass of many analytes at a time.

What’s your favorite piece of lab equipment?

Crystal: Agilent 1100 series high performance liquid chromatography system is my favorite because of the ease-of-use and the versatility for accommodating many different lab members’ needs.

Joe: Thermo Fisher Scientific LTQ-Orbitrap XL

Who is your hero in science and why?

Crystal: I'm amazed by the work of Alexander Alexeyevich Makarov the creator of the Orbitrap technology.

Joe: Paul Ehrlich.  He did much in the early days in the field of cancer immunology.  He proposed ideas that became the immune surveillance hypothesis and also won the Nobel Prize in 1908.

What’s the biggest story in science right now?

Crystal: Though I don't use it myself the CRISPR/Cas9 technology is really big right now and has potential to make a large impact on the scientific community.

Joe: I think the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing adventure has just begun, even though it is not necessarily brand new.  I’m no expert in the area but recognize its immense potential.  I believe some research is starting to reach ethical issues using the technology too.  It will be interesting to see how these are dealt with over time.  

Complete this sentence: In my lifetime, I’d like science to achieve...

Crystal: ...the discovery of a biomarker that would extend the life expectancy of those diagnosed with cancer, so that people may spend more time with their loved ones.

Joe: ...a simple way of monitoring an individual’s health allowing for early and personalized intervention when aberrations are detected.



Thanks Crystal and Joe.  

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