Going With Her Gut, Inside the Lab and Out

As a kid, she observed the behaviour of animals. Now, she studies much tinier organisms. What drives her to the cutting edge of science?


Carolina Tropini is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. Her research examines the application of novel tools to longstanding questions regarding the stability of microbial communities and their response to perturbations during disease.

We asked her about everything from her love of Italian food to her thoughts on picking people over projects in the hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What do you like most about being a researcher?

Doing cutting-edge science with amazing people!

What advice would you give young researchers?

When looking for a lab to work in, choose people over projects. Your project will be your own and you will find interesting (and frustrating) things about it, no matter what you choose. You will be pushing the boundaries of knowledge — that is hard and exciting at the same time! People are what take you through the good and the bad times and make a place home. Find a lab where you are excited to go to work most days, and where you feel supported, welcome, and heard!

What inspired you to become a researcher?

Observing animal behaviour as a kid, I was set on becoming an ethologist! Now I study the behaviour of much smaller living organisms, and it’s fun to see the parallels.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to play sports, spend time with my family and friends, cook, dance, and read!

What’s your favourite cuisine?

I moved from Italy when I was 17, so I am partial to the cuisine of my home region, Piemonte. I love making homemade pasta and traditional dishes.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?

I am hungry right now, so I am thinking food critic!

If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?

Leonardo Da Vinci. I admire so much his well-roundedness and ability to be an amazing painter and sculptor while also exceeding at science and engineering; what an inspiration!

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Research2Reality is a groundbreaking initiative that shines a spotlight on world-class scientists engaged in innovative and leading edge research in Canada. Our video series is continually updated to celebrate the success of researchers who are establishing the new frontiers of science and to share the impact of their discoveries with the public.