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Feature Friday - Darren Van Essen

Darren is an undergraduate student in the final year of his B.Sc. carrying out research in Steve Wiseman's lab at the University of Lethbridge. The main goals of Darren's research are to investigate the effects of the novel brominated flame retardant, TBCO, on zebrafish. He has performed early life stage exposures of TBCO to zebrafish embryos, reporting changes in mortality, heartrate, malformations. He then measured the abundances of transcripts that might be involved in embryotoxic effects, and stemming from that study, is further investigating the specific mechanisms of toxicity which lead to uninflated swim bladders. However, Darren has also moved on to complete an Undergraduate Honours Thesis investigating the effects of TBCO on zebrafish oogenesis.

To complete his research, Darren uses mRNA isolation, rtPCR, and qPCR, to study embryos. In the swim bladder study, Darren will be using qPCR, behavioural analyses, and possibly in situ hybridization. In his honours thesis, Darren is using an in vitro maturation assay, qPCR, and possibly RNA sequencing to determine if TBCO alters the regulation of oocyte maturation.

Darren has received awards for his research at various conferences including second-place undergraduate poster at our last SETAC PNC meeting, and has recently won best undergraduate poster at SETAC NA this past month.

Darren hopes to pursue a career in which he can continue to research and is currently considering medical school or a Master's degree.

You can keep up with Darren on LinkedIn and ResearchGate.