Brett Saremba, a MSc. student studying biochemistry, also earned his BSc. in Environmental Chemistry at UBC-Okanagan, commenting “Ya, I’ve been here too long. Get over it”. Me too, Brett, me too.
As an undergraduate, Brett was not exposed to research until the summer he graduated, when he received a research position under the supervision of Dr. Mark Rheault. It was ultimately this position that inspired him to continue research at a graduate level, where he could apply the hard skills he learned in his chemistry degree, such as mass spectrometry (used to find concentrations of analytes -compounds of interest- in a mixed matrix). In the case of his current research, Brett is using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC).
The goal of Brett’s research is to add to the fundamental knowledge of how generalist herbivore insects metabolize / detoxify plant derived xenobiotic compounds, such as nicotine. His research involves using an insect model (The Cabbage Looper, Trichoplusia ni) to track nicotine through the insect body to determine which biochemical pathways are used to detoxify this compound. It is through determining which part of the body nicotine is metabolized, and what it is metabolized to, that Brett can elucidate which pathway and which enzymes are used to detoxify it. He uses HILIC-MS/MS to quantify nicotine and several of its metabolites present in various insect body compartments, such as the gut and blood, after dietary exposure to nicotine.
Brett likes to spend his free time golfing, skiing and communicating with UBC-O faculty. (I am not sure about the last one, but he is the B.G.S.S.’s own faculty liaison).
Author: Melissa Larrabee