Tristan Miller-Cottle a Research Technician in Wolfgang Bergmeier’s lab at the Biochemistry and Biophysics department shares his story. Tristan has a background in Teaching, Research, and Service.
The Bergmeier lab, which is affiliated with the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and the UNC Blood Research Center, focuses on innovative ways to study platelets, using various methods such as microscopy, aggregometry, flow chambers etc. In addition to platelets, Megakaryocytes (platelet precursor cells) are another crucial component our lab’s research. Megakaryocytes are derived from stem cells. This is exciting because, stem cells happen to be one of my major interest. The Bergmeier lab has simultaneously given me the opportunity to learn about blood and stem cells.
What is a typical day like for you? My primary goal is the upkeep and maintenance of the mouse colony, which is crucial to our research and understanding more about blood. The lab is fast paced and busy. There is always literature to catch up on anything from publications to just platelet biology. I also assist my colleagues with various tasks such as: running gels, flow cytometry, benchwork, DNA extractions, and other lab processes. It is a dynamic and friendly environment and everyone here is kind and encourages each other to be better.
Tell us about your journey to NC and what brought you to UNC-CH?
The transition to UNC was arduous; like many who are struggling during the pandemic. Through my turmoil, I have faced adversity & obstacles. Through my turmoil, I have overcome & persevered. This pushed me to excel and aspire to higher levels. I wanted to be a part of one of the largest scientific communities in the nation, and now I am. Every day I reflect on the magnitude of this position, and how grateful I am. I was given the chance to help others and serve my community during this crisis.
What is your background in regards to teaching and helping others?
Raised in a low-income neighborhood in New York City. Opportunity is something that many take for granted, and something that many do not receive. I promised to help those like myself. I started summer jobs as a camp counselor. Supervising youth for busy parents, as they work long summer hours to provide. These children got free summer meals because neighborhood income was so low.
What is the most interesting thing you have done before joining Bergmeier lab?
At Utica College I chose to help again. I’ve tutored/mentored students for 5 years for English & ESL. This helped students refine their prose, analyze literary elements, and find their own creativity. I was a nurse technician in the local hospital implementing aid, and comfort to the elderly. I learned about clinical sciences. Developing interpersonal skills, studying the blood labs, pharmacy, and medicine. Solidifying my love for science and servitude. I endeavored in a foster home providing refuge to youth who remind me of myself. Beaten and battered, worn by the trials of life. As a teaching assistant at a charter school; I mentored STEM, tutored, and provided afterschool help to all. I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum. The helped & the helper, the mentor & the mentee.
Service is an important value at UNC. How do you plan to serve the community in the future?
I earned my Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience which educated me about mental illness, and physical ailments. I’ll inspire others, as I’ve been inspired. Neuroscience combined with UNC’s resources will allow me to serve others in more ways than ever. With the advancements in genetic engineering using CRISPR/Cas9, and stem cell research the possibilities are endless.