Visitor of the Week: Landon Getz


Meet Landon Getz of Dalhousie University (Canada). A PhD Student in Dr. Nikhil Thomas’ lab, Landon crossed the Canada-United States border to take part at this year’s Advanced Bacterial Genetics course. And barely halfway through the three-week course, Landon has already picked up new techniques to supplement his work and his home lab’s projects, as well as include into the bacterial genetics workshop he plans to develop for his fellow grad students.

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
We study the metabolism and survival mechanisms of a specific group of marine bacteria called Vibrio, of which some cause disease in humans. Studying their environmental survival helps us better understand how they cause disease and help prevent future outbreaks and infections.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
I have a keen interest in marine environments and the tremendous diversity of life found in the ocean. In fact, I went to Dalhousie University (moving across Canada to do it) in order to study marine biology. However, my first microbiology lecture pulled me in, and I switched majors. I did manage to stick with the marine theme.

How did your scientific journey begin?
I’ve been interested in doing science since before I can remember, but also always worried that being an LGBTQ+ identifying person meant that I couldn’t pursue it as an actual career. I was (and am) inspired by people like Dr. Alan Turing, who suffered tremendously for being a gay man doing science but did it nonetheless. I want to be like these folks: do great science, and be a role model for other young LGBTQ+ folks interested in science.

Was there something specific about the Advanced Bacterial Genetics course that drew you to apply?
Our lab studies bacterial-caused diseases through the lens of bacterial genetics. So, applying to this course was a no-brainer. I also wanted to attend because Dr. Andrew Camilli’s technique, called transposon sequencing, is something that we are trying to use for our project.

What and/or how will you apply what you've learned from the course to your work? 
I have already started to plan out how I can use the CRISPR/Cas gene editing techniques we are learning in the course into my own work. Ideally, I will be able to create genetic changes much easier and faster using these techniques at home.

I’m also planning on building a “bacterial genetics workshop” that will allow me to teach some of the techniques I’ve learned here to other graduate students in my department.

What is your key takeaway from the course?
This course has really given me perspective on the field of bacterial genetics and has helped me realize how my own work fits into the field at large. I will be taking many new techniques home with me in two weeks!

If someone curious in attending this course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
The course is intense, but completely worth it! You get lots of one-on-one time with the instructors, we do lots of classic and cutting-edge experiments, and you make valuable connections. And, you get to learn about some of the great research that is happening in Bacterial Genetics right from the source.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
Being able to get up, make an espresso, and relax next to the ocean is amazing. I really enjoyed my slow, quiet, early mornings at CSHL.

Landon received a scholarship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to cover a portion of his course tuition. On behalf of Landon, thank you to HHMI for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.

Thank you to Landon for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.