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Grace Chojnowski (Queensland Institute of Medical Research)

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About this episode

#2 — Season 3. Grace Chojnowski is Flow Cytometry and Imaging Facility Manager at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

In this episode of Flow Stars, Grace joins Peter O’Toole to discuss why understanding the theory behind your experiment is key in flow cytometry, why she’d like a flow lab in the Alps, and her early career as an Australian living in London. We also hear about a funny interview story and talk candidly about how she avoided the stress of isolation and burnout at the start of her career.

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This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.

Intro/Outro (00:00:00):
Welcome to Flow Stars candid conversations between Dr. Peter O’Toole and the big hitters of Flow Cytometry brought to you by Beckman Coulter at Bitesize Bio.

Peter O’Toole (00:00:11):
Hi today on Flow Stars. I’m joined by Grace Chojnowski from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, and we discussed by understanding the theory behind instruments is so important.

Grace Chojnowski (00:00:23):
It’s true. You really need to understand the fundamentals of flow to, to, you know, to get good results.

Peter O’Toole (00:00:30):
Her favorite hobby of skiing.

Grace Chojnowski (00:00:33):
Yeah. Somewhere where there’s snow, you know, Swiss Alps would be nice. Is it a cytometry lab in the Swiss Alps somewhere

Peter O’Toole (00:00:40):
Being an Australia, living in London?

Grace Chojnowski (00:00:43):
I, I enjoyed my time in London at the at the Maudsley, the team where I worked at the, at the Maudsley just embraced me

Peter O’Toole (00:00:52):
And her impressive determination.

Grace Chojnowski (00:00:54):
I think that’s what makes that I had that drive in me that it’s, if I have to do something that I will find a way to, to achieve it

Peter O’Toole (00:01:06):
All in this episode of Fow Stars. Hi, I’m Peter O’Toole from The University of York. And today I’m joined on by Grace Chojnowski from Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Berghofer and Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia. That’s a mouthful. Welcome to Flow Stars Grace, how are you?

Grace Chojnowski (00:01:27):
Thank you, Peter. Good to be on board. Thank you so much for your kind invitation.

Peter O’Toole (00:01:32):
Thank you for inviting us. I, I, I was thinking you must be one of the best known Flow Cytometrists down in Australia. One of I’m not gonna this one

Grace Chojnowski (00:01:40):
Off. Yeah. I’ve been around for a while, I guess. Yeah. When did I first start? Well in the eighties? So yeah, a while ago and I just got really active in the, with the society. So everyone got to know me,

Peter O’Toole (00:01:55):
So that that’s a good point. Let’s start there. Then you say you, you got active in the 1980s now. I didn’t even know what a flow cytometer was in the eighties. I was so naive in my early career. So what was your first place cytometer then and where was it?

Grace Chojnowski (00:02:08):
So we had, oh, it was the old ortho 50 or ortho 50 with the good old P 11 computer about these massive, huge round discs. And I can’t remember how much we, we could store on them. It was just minimal. And the Institute also couldn’t afford to buy another instrument, another analyzer. So they built one. So we built our own called the CICA cancer Institute, cell analyzer. This was back at Peter MacCallum in Melbourne. So yeah, some of the engineers at work that was just before my time, but I got to play on that one as well. And I think they used the Cicero software, which then went on to the Cicero software was then used for, with, bio site automation to to run the Moflow it the early Moflows.

Peter O’Toole (00:03:07):
Oh, the Moflows. Yes. So did you have one of the early Moflows? One of the, what what’s now I did

Grace Chojnowski (00:03:13):
Have, I used to work as the service engineer as well when I was on maternity leave for Cytomation back then. So yeah, I got to play on the Moflows a fair bit. We had the old legacies which we had to say goodbye to, and now we’ve just got the XTP.

Peter O’Toole (00:03:33):
So didn’t go to the Astrios.

Grace Chojnowski (00:03:38):
The Astrios, the Astrios is a nice machine, but you don’t, you can’t pick and choose the laces that you want and you can’t modify as in like the Moflow. It can’t kind of, it’s not as modular as the, the Moflow.

Peter O’Toole (00:03:55):
So that’s interesting actually, cuz when you talked about building just before you started, they built their own Cyto on with their own analyzer and as you say, the Mo flows were very modular, very hands on. In fact I think you sent, this is probably you ah,

Grace Chojnowski (00:04:10):
Yes.

Peter O’Toole (00:04:11):
I dunno what Moflow with the, what looked like below that you can’t see, it’s all wiring that used to be able to connect up and essentially like those old telephone circuit boards you see in black and white movies.

Grace Chojnowski (00:04:22):
Well, that’s exactly what it’s like in the background. Yeah. So where you have all your, you know, your, your Pan 10’s and you’ve got your prams and your amplifiers, you set to join the dots and if something didn’t work, you’d just pull one cable out and just steer it down the other way. Yeah. And it was just so easy to operate.

Peter O’Toole (00:04:44):
Yeah. I, I would say from a, from a non-specialist I would say the Astrios is easier. So we have an Astrios at York. However, from my perspective, I loved the legacy system because you could, you could sense it. You could feel it, you could hear it, you could see where things were not quite right or optimal and you

Grace Chojnowski (00:05:03):
Could exactly

Peter O’Toole (00:05:04):
You to the end degree, but we’re specialists.

Grace Chojnowski (00:05:10):
Oh. And, and you know, you know, if something goes wrong with the Astrios it’s, it’s just too hard to you. Can’t just open the lead and say, okay, I’m gonna try and fix it now. Whereas if something went wrong with the old legacy, you’d think, okay, so it’s gotta be, you’ve just, you know, you trace the path from wherever the problem was and just either divert it down the next path or replace that path.

Peter O’Toole (00:05:34):
I, I think I, I, I know people hate using the analogy with cars, but I’m going to anyway, you know, I think cars years ago used to be quite interactive that you could open up the bonnet. You could look at the part, you could work out what was wrong. Replace. If I, I couldn’t, I’m useless at that, but people could, whereas now, oh, I did. It’s almost impossible to diagnose the computer again from, from the driver’s perspective, it’s so much easier, but from a mechanics perspective it, it’s so much more difficult. And, and that’s where I think technology’s gone so why do we not still build our own flowmeters why do we just go straight commercial?

Grace Chojnowski (00:06:17):
Because they’re a lot more sophisticated now I guess. They’re the data collection is probably a lot more sophisticated than it used to be. I mean, you’ve got your your spectral flow cytometers now. So there’s just a lot more information being gathered. And the Moflow was semi, it wasn’t fully digital either. So it was sort of it was a, there was some digital components, but it was also analog as well. Whereas I think a lot of the equipment these days is all digital.

Peter O’Toole (00:06:57):
Cause if we think about microscopy, you know, there’s still a lot of labs that will make their own super resolution microscopes and like they will build their own, of course. Yeah. My lab’s full of commercial systems because it’s off the shelf user friendly, but there’s still labs wanting to do just that, that degree higher, that that difference make a change, try something different and they’re inventing still on their microscopes and surely there’s gotta be a market out there for someone to essentially take their cytometer and Mod it to, to perform better still and to, for specific applications. We

Grace Chojnowski (00:07:37):
Absolutely, but a lot of it is it’s, it’s sort of software driven and I don’t think companies are too keen to, you know, give you the code for, you know, for what they’ve created, unless you have some great collaboration happening with them, which not many of us get the opportunity to do.

Peter O’Toole (00:07:59):
So I guess in the microscopy world you’ve got micromanager that you could sort of put almost any bit of electronics into operate and capture and control your light and get your detector signals. Maybe just need micromanager for flowy cytometry to encourage people to do some.

Grace Chojnowski (00:08:15):
And I guess I was also thinking, you know, a lot of the upflow applications when I first started, there was, there was a much more diverse. There were more diverse applications in flow, whereas now a lot, most of the flow is immuno pheno harping. And a lot of it is performed by pe you know, especially in the analysis side in the analysis world, by people who aren’t, you know, core flow cytometrists they’re, you know, mainly immunologists,

Peter O’Toole (00:08:47):
I think you are exactly right. Actually I think, I think there’s still as many people doing the, the more niche applications. Yeah. It’s just a lot more immunologists now using it for as a tool, you know, a very useful, powerful, vital tool for their research. Whereas the people doing maybe a bit of bacterial research or plant protoplasts or whichever other side they’re looking at are, are, are more niche in the market now because they’ve become maybe a bit more isolated, ah, we should need to encourage them. We need, we need a lab. That’s doing more. So we do, we

Grace Chojnowski (00:09:22):
Do, we do a little bit of that. We do bacterial work, we do algae work. So we do look after those people, but the majority is still majority of our work is still all immuno genotyping. And you still, even when people are doing immuno pheno typing, you still need somebody who understands flow, who really understands what the instrument’s doing. It’s, you know, just because something, you know, you get a, a signal doesn’t mean that it’s true. You really need to understand the fundamentals of flow to, to, you know, to get good results.

Peter O’Toole (00:10:01):
So do you think the job has changed a lot from being very tech savvy to now being very reagent savvy?

Grace Chojnowski (00:10:11):
Yes. And I think companies are also, they’re trying to ensure, I mean, they’re, you know, they’re providing kits these days you know, you buy this kit and, and there’s all these internal controls. And then, you know, like for some of the, the TBnK work and you know, some of the clinical reagents, you, I mean, they’re trying to make it as foolproof as they can so that people who aren’t flow Guru’s, you know, that, that the minimize any risks of bad data collection,

Peter O’Toole (00:10:50):
I think that’s an excellent point. I think the reason that there’s, I, I, I, how many flow cytometers do you have today?

Grace Chojnowski (00:11:00):
You have one, two, we’ve got six sorters. We’ve got oh, Fortessa’s How many? Six, seven Fortessa’s. A couple of attunes, two AURAs. And then we’ve got a couple of old Cantos. We’ve got a lyric. We’re getting another lyric. What else do we have? I think that’s, it

Peter O’Toole (00:11:24):
It’s a lot. And if you go back

Grace Chojnowski (00:11:26):
It’s few. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:11:27):
Go back 15, 20 years. How many did you have?

Grace Chojnowski (00:11:34):
Two sorters.

Peter O’Toole (00:11:36):
Yeah, a third then roughly a third. About

Grace Chojnowski (00:11:39):
Four, four or five analysers, I think. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:11:41):
Yeah. To look at how the market’s growing for flow cytometry the last 15, 20 years. And that must be because the companies and the effort they put in to make the reagents and the instruments more user friendly.

Grace Chojnowski (00:11:56):
Yep. Oh yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:11:59):
So the complexity of science questions has gone up exponentially. Thanks to that.

Grace Chojnowski (00:12:04):
Oh, thanks to COVID as well. I mean COVID’s helped flow Cytometry expand a little bit

Peter O’Toole (00:12:13):
As in bridging into helping do COVID research

Grace Chojnowski (00:12:17):
As in COVID research and yeah. You know, especially with complex and, you know, pheno, you know, there’s been a huge expansion in that area. Thanks to COVID.

Peter O’Toole (00:12:30):
So how did you get into flow cytometry?

Grace Chojnowski (00:12:34):
Huh? You really wanna know?

Peter O’Toole (00:12:36):
Yeah, go on.

Grace Chojnowski (00:12:38):
Right. So I, my background was neurophysiology, so I worked in neurophysiology and I was actually working at the Institute of psychiatry in London, in the neurosurgical unit, you know? And so it was the, I worked in the Institute of psychiatry and I also worked at the Maudsley psychiatric hospital. It was a tough gig. I was coming back to Australia and I thought, oh, you know, I’m tired. I, I kind of don’t wanna deal with sick patients anymore. I, I want a break. And there was this job at Peter Mac and they just required somebody, you know, an assistant in flow. And I thought, oh, what is this flow? So I looked it up and it said, oh, you get to play with lasers. And I thought, oh, I’ve never played with a laser before. That sounds like fun. I mean, I’ve been in, worked in, in, in theater, you know, doing choreographies and all of that. And I thought, oh no, this, this sounds like fun. So I applied for the job and I don’t know whether I pushed it too hard, but I remember I, I came home, came back to Australia from, from the UK and I was illegally parked and I was so nervous that I was gonna get booked or my car towed. So they’re interviewing me and I said, well, you know, I’d like to know whether you’re gonna offer me the job or when I can start please. And my boss. Oh. You know, after that said, oh, okay. And I said, well, can you, would you like to start next year? And I go, well, it would actually suit me better if I can start, you know, a month earlier please. And he said, oh, okay. All right. And I thought, oh great. Can you know, can I go now? And that was it. And I thought, oh, I thought, oh, he must have thought I was so rude, but I was so scared. My car was gonna get towed away. It was still there. And there was no ticket. So anyway, and that’s how I started. And it was a really good place to start learning flow cytometry, cuz we had, we had a proper, you know, electrical an engineer. So he knew how to build the cytometer. You know WEHI was just down the road where Frank batty looked after the, the instrument. So Frank was a really good mentor really good team. So I learned so much and I think that’s where they started to organize the flow workshops. And so we used to have flow methods, courses and workshops. So I jumped on board, started organizing them and it just grew and grew and grew. And I, I still organized the the national flow course and, and workshops here at Q IMR. So when I moved up to Brisbane from Melbourne, I continued organizing them, got very active with the society, very active with ISAC. And here I am. How many years later,

Peter O’Toole (00:15:28):
Why the moved to Brisbane?

Grace Chojnowski (00:15:31):
Ah, cause they there were quite a few people who moved up from Melbourne. There were some really hot scientists from WEHI who came up to QIMR. They had just built this brand spanking new addition to, to the Institute brand. Everything was new and they needed a Flow Cytometer. So they bought a Flow cytometer and then they bought a brand new sorter and then they realized it wasn’t so easy to run. So then they dangled this really nice juicy carrot and enticed me to come up and I did. So I thought, why not? I’ll see what it’s like up there. And then what happened? Oh, then I got married and started a family. And then it’s just that little bit, you know, you can’t move on after that. And, and I really like QIMR, it’s a really good place to work. So I don’t, I’m not in any hurry to leave at all.

Peter O’Toole (00:16:30):
And, and I’m looking at the, are you, are you you at home?

Grace Chojnowski (00:16:34):
No, I’m at work.

Peter O’Toole (00:16:36):
You’re at work. So that’s to view outta your office window that I can see. So for those who are I’ll

Grace Chojnowski (00:16:40):
Show you, can I see if

Peter O’Toole (00:16:43):
I’ve actually visited your house? So I should know

Grace Chojnowski (00:16:46):
Actually just see my pretty view.

Peter O’Toole (00:16:52):
It’s quite as at the moment in, in Brisbane, it’s it’s nighttime and you can see the, the city lights, the cars. Oh,

Grace Chojnowski (00:17:01):
I can see you there. Oh, oh, I’m doing a terrible job. Do many people jump around like this when they’re being interviewed? Or is it just Grace that does this

Peter O’Toole (00:17:10):
Does this. No, no, no, no. You’re not the first who have taken the camera on.

Grace Chojnowski (00:17:16):
No, it’s the, yeah. So we have, I have the best skinny views just out there, but I guess the reflection’s not helping. Yeah. Really good place to work. Really good place to work. So yeah. No hurry to leave.

Peter O’Toole (00:17:28):
Yeah. No, a nice climate friendly place. Nice environment as well.

Grace Chojnowski (00:17:32):
It’s bit boring. The climate though. Sorry. I find it boring. Yeah. I like a bit of cold weather and a bit of you know, seasonal change.

Peter O’Toole (00:17:43):
So you say you got married, you had a child, so yes. I presume I I’m sorry. I should just point out. I’m not your puppy just here. This

Grace Chojnowski (00:17:51):
Is, this is, oh, that’s my little Coco that’s so yeah, that’s the two of us. And my best little friend, Coco, who was our, we had to say goodbye to her, but yeah, Yvonne and she’s all grown up now. She’s doing really, really well.

Peter O’Toole (00:18:07):
How old does she know?

Grace Chojnowski (00:18:09):
She’s in her 24. So she’s doing, she’s only what, 13, 14 there. So yeah, doing really well. Didn’t didn’t do science took up

Peter O’Toole (00:18:22):
She, she got

Grace Chojnowski (00:18:23):
Commerce economics.

Peter O’Toole (00:18:26):
Yeah. She got taller than you. Then

Grace Chojnowski (00:18:28):
She’s a lot taller than me. Yes. Yeah. And no she’s doing really well. She when she was doing her year 12, her high end of high school, she did all these, you know, science subjects. She did physics and chemistry. I’m going, yes, she’s gonna become a scientist. And she said, oh no, it was just an easy way to get good marks mum. So I did all the science subjects got good marks and I was never gonna become a scientist. I thought you, you just said, no.

Peter O’Toole (00:19:00):
Did you say she’s into commerce?

Grace Chojnowski (00:19:04):
She’s doing commerce. Yeah. So she’s she does data. She’s a, does data analytics. She’s yeah. She what do they call those? I can’t remember what they’re called dashboard is that, you know, live dashboards. So she, she writes and prepares all of that. So she’s, she’s pretty switched on. She’s a good kid. So, so she’s yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:19:30):
Which, if you reflect on your career, we talked about how you got into flow cytometry. Yeah. But in your own career is moving. So, so I, I started in microscopy and cytometry, went on to become director of larger facilities, overarching all different technologies, but you are also a manager at the moment to central services, is that correct?

Grace Chojnowski (00:19:49):
Yeah. So the general manager for scientific services resigned a few months ago and he contacted me and asked me if I’d wanna sort of take on his role. So I’m in that acting role at the moment. So I’m looking after all, all of scientific services at the moment,

Peter O’Toole (00:20:11):
That’s like genomics and the protein productions, the mass specs.

Grace Chojnowski (00:20:15):
So proteomics, meta, oh, proteomics, not so much, but metabolmix the animal house sample processing PCR all the DNA sequencing all the sequencing work P PC three, we’ve got a PC three facility. What else is there? Goodness.

Peter O’Toole (00:20:40):
Yeah.

Grace Chojnowski (00:20:41):
It’s about 10 different facilities

Peter O’Toole (00:20:44):
And each of these facilities have got their own lab head,

Grace Chojnowski (00:20:47):
Got their own manager. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:20:49):
And, and team below it. How are you finding that? It’s only a few months in, how daunting is it? How is it going? What you see as the biggest challenges?

Grace Chojnowski (00:20:57):
So the, the, the managers are all fantastic. They’re all really good. And, and they’re going well, do whatever, you know, they’re really I get on, you know, I, I tend to be somebody who talks the talk, who, who, doesn’t just, I do the walk as well, and if I need to get down and, and get my hands dirty, I’ll do it. So they’re all been really helpful. A lot of them just manage the facilities on their own and they’re quite competent. I mean, you know, I, I manage the flow core. And, and Nigel does the imaging side, but you know, very rarely do you need input from anybody? I guess you just need somebody in place to mostly, I think most of the time it’s just dealing with a few HR issues here and there, people management moving, you know, recruitment that, that sort of thing so far. So good.

Peter O’Toole (00:21:59):
So

Grace Chojnowski (00:22:00):
Talk to me this time next year.

Peter O’Toole (00:22:02):
so you, so you, I presume the vision is you, you will carry on in that role and become the, not the actual

Grace Chojnowski (00:22:08):
I’d like to. Yeah. So I guess they, you know, we have to go through a proper process and everything being a government institution, but yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:22:15):
And carry on looking flow lab.

Grace Chojnowski (00:22:18):
Well, I don’t know. So that, that is, I’d have to say goodbye to that. Wouldn’t I, and that would be tough.

Peter O’Toole (00:22:26):
That’s it? I didn’t,

Grace Chojnowski (00:22:27):
You didn’t.

Peter O’Toole (00:22:28):
Nope.

Grace Chojnowski (00:22:30):
So you’re managing both.

Peter O’Toole (00:22:32):
Yep. But, but more supporting infrastructure to help support it. I think it’s a very difficult thing to step out if you were to step out the flow lab and someone else was to come in. Yeah. And the existing team, you sent me some picture of your teams.

Grace Chojnowski (00:22:47):
Ah, so that was, that was 2000. That’s probably so Paula who, who we got there. So Paula in the middle she’s, she’s now retired. And then the, yeah, so there’s only the, the three on the left that are still there. So Amanda, Michael Lucy, and then Nigel, as you know, me and tan, the two in the middle have gone. So that was, I think, was it 18, 17, the 17 team

Peter O’Toole (00:23:23):
You sent me? She’s very confusing. Oh

Grace Chojnowski (00:23:25):
Yeah. So that would’ve been even earlier one. And, and you look at the gray, the hair look at Nigel and Michael, they joke, they look at the photo and they say, look how good our hair looked and look what you’ve done to us, Grace. Our hair’s gone all great. Just, just go to the hairdresser and dye it like I do

Peter O’Toole (00:23:46):
Say, say hello to them. But what I was wondering was when you become, if you were to step out your role of managing the flow lab, and if someone else was to come in, how would you manage when the new, in the new person coming in changes things does things differently. And if your team disagrees with it, won’t they come running to you as your

Grace Chojnowski (00:24:06):
Boss? I will. Absolutely. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:24:11):
And that, that’s tough. And that, that’s why I didn’t want to relinquish that role yet. Yeah.

Grace Chojnowski (00:24:15):
Because I, I know,

Peter O’Toole (00:24:16):
I know to get completely out. I think I need to be even more divorced from the lab to, to enable them to have that freedom. Cause you’d have to give that person,

Grace Chojnowski (00:24:31):
But I mean, Nigel, I mean, he is the, you know, he, he could probably step up and you know, take on that position where, and somebody else could, you know, do the flow part. So yeah, yeah, that, that is on my mind a lot. I do, I do think about how I would handle that hope, especially if they do recruit somebody from outside who, you know, and when you knew you do wanna kind of prove yourself and just, you know, put your own on the place, I guess.

Peter O’Toole (00:25:08):
Yeah. It’s possibly a tougher gig now for that person. You, you came in at the start at QIMR for this room. Oh

Grace Chojnowski (00:25:14):
Yeah. And I built this and I, yeah. And people know me, I’ve been around for a long time. So it’d be, yeah. Depending on who they are,

Peter O’Toole (00:25:25):
There’s not many parachuted in, or there’s not many examples yet people being parachuted into an existing well developed structure because all the infrastructures are at that age where we started when we were young and we we’re still not retiring yet. Now we got, certainly I’ve got I’m in I’m I’m mid-career come on. I’m not going anywhere yet. And to blocking those positions at the moment, until like yourself, if you were to promote up, it starts to free up those positions for new people to come in. It’s a very different cha I think a more difficult challenge for them than it was for us.

Grace Chojnowski (00:26:02):
Yes. Yeah. And, and, and people were, I mean, back then, it was a lot E you know, things were a lot simpler when I first started. I mean, you know, we had one color, remember we could do two colors and we thought, he thought, you know, we are cooking with fire and, you know, on the old, on the old ortho, we never had a log amplifier. It was all linear. Everything was just linear. And then log amplifiers came on the scene.

Peter O’Toole (00:26:27):
Wow.

Grace Chojnowski (00:26:28):
You know? So, and you kind of grew with the technology you grew, your knowledge grew. So, you know, the knowledge base that you have is, you know, the history is immense and that, I think that’s the hardest thing to replace, you know, like I’ve got, you know, some of the new members in the team, something will happen and you just think, oh, well, you know, 35 years ago, this is what, what we did. And, and they just don’t have that knowledge. They don’t have that, you know, data in that, that, that we do have,

Peter O’Toole (00:27:08):
I, I I’m in the lab personally, less than I used to a lot less than I used to be, but there was a problem only recently. And yeah. Oh yeah. I remember seeing this seven, eight years ago, they go just seen it once and try this. And it worked cuz like but they don’t happen so often my, I think my team and I probably getting more expert than I am with it, cuz they’re, they’re there operating it on a daily basis. But again, go back to the old Moflow. You can sense it, the new instruments are harder to, to D will it goes wrong. They’re harder to diagnose cuz you can’t sense it. You can’t feel it cuz it’s not as interactive, but

Grace Chojnowski (00:27:44):
You know, something’s not right. And, and it’s that gut feeling? Oh, well it’s not really a gut feeling. It’s it’s just that all your knowledge banks coming together thinking, well this is just something not right here. And I’ve gotta figure it out, but it it’s still every now and again, you know, I’ve got people that have been doing flow, you know, for, for a few decades and every now and again, they’ll say, oh, this is broken. You know, what are we gonna do? And you walk in and you look and you look and you think you go, no, it’s not that it’s this, you fix that. And we’ll be right. And they look at it, they’ll tweak something and it’s fine. And you walk out and you go job done. You know, I’ve still got it. And that’s a good feeling. And next time that happens to them, they they’ll go, oh, I know that.

Peter O’Toole (00:28:34):
But I would say the same in my team, except usually I only have to walk in the room and the instrument knows to behave. So then they go, how

Grace Chojnowski (00:28:41):
You have those two, one of those. And then you close the door and it starts to play up again. Or you call. Yeah. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:28:50):
But I’ve gotta say, it’s quite nice now that sometimes you, you go troubleshooting and you call another member of the team. So Graham or Karen and they walk in and they can do the same. So cuz you’ve now got three minds all with different experiences and between the three and, and certainly Graham and Karen are so hands on with it all the time with the systems that they’re very good at. Yeah. Seeing and identifying the problems. As you say, though, with the Moflow, you could fix it with the new systems. They’re more D there’s, there’s still bits that can be done. You know, there are nowhere to kick it or hit it or no, literally then and poke it gently.

Grace Chojnowski (00:29:27):
Yes. And the companies tend to like to lock things in down now for all these safety issues. Like, you know, I mean, how many, how many instruments these days do you align the lasers on, you know, even the, the new sorts coming out on the, you know, from all companies you don’t get to do any of that. And, and it was just such, you know, just finding that perfect alignment where you spend, you know, hours. And it was just such a good feeling where, you know, you could, you could align it and get your CVS less to, you know, down to 0.2%. You know, it was a really good feeling and you don’t get to do that anymore.

Peter O’Toole (00:30:10):
And even I would say the drop delay, okay. If he’s getting, you know, for those who don’t know cell sorting that, well, you can get it to a 100,000 droplets forming per second and knowing exactly where your cell is within that droplet makes a big difference to your percentage recovery and your purity and, and you, despite all the brilliant software packages out there on all the different manufacturers, when you do it by hand, you can get pretty, you can really maximize that yield. I think the automated, software’s got a little bit of tolerance. It has to, so it’s not always tracking, whereas we could just constantly tweak your amps and, and bang on. Oh, gotta stop reminiscing. Great moving. Cause we are okay. Talking too much in detail on this. You sent me a picture of, I think what you call the grandfathers, which was this bought

Grace Chojnowski (00:31:05):
That’s so yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:31:08):
Who have we got there? Go on.

Grace Chojnowski (00:31:09):
Oh, we’ve got Howard, Howard Shapiro who was sadly said goodbye to say goodbye to last year. And [inaudible] who we said goodbye to. As well last year and Paul who’s just comes from down the road, just down the road from Brisbane, from Tenterfield and Atiller. So this I’m behind the camera by the way. And yeah, I had learned so much from all of them and you know, they’ve all been out to Australia. They’ve all taught at Flow courses and workshops that I’ve run. Howard was always, you know, the last time he came, he was, he was getting elderly and he turned around and you know, things just didn’t go to plan cuz he, you know, not only did he wanna teach, but he wanted to do his malaria experiment. So we’d be teaching, you know, during the day. And then in the evening we’d have to start doing all these crazy experiments with Howard and Brian, we’re all tired and then Howard would walk away. He goes, oh, I’m too old for all this. And he’s kind of say a few words and, and then he’d, oh, why don’t we order some, you know, dinner, get, you know, get some dinner delivered and then we’d eat, he’d go, right. Let’s get back into it. And it’s like, okay. And then [inaudible] came and he, he was just, they were all so, so generous with their knowledge. Just the generosity of sharing, what they knew and not holding back is something that I’ll always be grateful for. And Paul, you know, Paul with the Purdue mailing list and you know, and all the info he has on his website, they’re just so generous. And without people like that, I don’t think, you know, we would be success successful as what we are now, or I wouldn’t be anyway.

Peter O’Toole (00:33:01):
Yeah. I guess trailblazers, not just the flow cytometry, but trailblazers in linking and networking the cytometry community together. Yeah. And bringing them so, so we’re not loads of fragments all over the world. I, I would say the flow cytometry is one community, which is probably where ISAC comes in in a big way. And yeah. You’ve been a counselor on and committee member many times over.

Grace Chojnowski (00:33:30):
Yes. Yes. I yeah, I did a few tours with duty.

Peter O’Toole (00:33:34):
What’s your current role in ISAC?

Grace Chojnowski (00:33:38):
My, my, my very, I was on the I’m on the equity and diversity and integration committee. I was also on Cyto women, but as the representative for our region here, but I passed that on to Helen McGuire who actually got elected to counsel the, the results of the election came out yesterday. So then she got in. So that was really good. So, and I think it’s good to start passing the bat to, to, you know, up coming young folk as well, rather. I mean, I’m happy to be involved, but I think it’s important to and I wanna get my team now that we can start traveling overseas again, to, to become a little bit more active with the international community and, and the networking. I mean, that’s the, the, the number one attraction, as you know, I mean, you know, yourself, every time we go to a, a Cyto Congress, we just meet people and we chat and that’s, and, and you just start sharing your ideas. And it’s just so stimulating to be able to talk to people at your level who have got that same passion as you have for, you know, for cytometry and imaging.

Peter O’Toole (00:34:56):
So, so which, which explains the importance of Cyto as a conference, which for flow cytometry, I think is second to none. That’s out there. But what is your favorite conference? Is it Cyto or do you have a regional one that’s more, what is your ultimate conference that you wanna go to each year?

Grace Chojnowski (00:35:17):
Question thes the one I always go to the, the local ones and I get to go. I think I’ve been to most of the Cyto Congress since, since I started in the late eighties, I started going in the late eighties. There is a favorite. Do you have a favorite?

Peter O’Toole (00:35:41):
I, I would probably, yes I do. It would probably be a microscopy one, which is ELMI cause it’s small, well, relatively small and it’s so good for networking. And actually, I, I can thank so many people at ELMI for helping develop my career. Cause it’s been so influential cause it’s full of core labs, like Cyto’s loads, a lot of the Flow psychometry there I’m actually in a core facility or running it and operating in Flow Cytometry it’s the same for microscopy. And the companies are so engaging and part of that community that’s a very special meeting. It’s just not as big, which I think actually helped the networking side.

Grace Chojnowski (00:36:23):
So I think, I think one of the ones, the, the ones that I did enjoy the most were probably the ones, the ISAC ones earlier on when, before, when you know, the clinical cytometry and research cytometry are all one where before that division, cause you are learning you, you were understanding both sides. Whereas now, I mean, especially involved in clinical trials, it’d be nice to still be able to attend and learn a little bit more about clinical flow as well. Cause I think, you know, the more knowledge you have, even if you’re in research, just having that better understanding. And they, and they were, I mean, they were still really big conferences, but they, there were a lot of fun too, you know, and, and you know, just the hospitality sweats, which don’t exist anymore,

Peter O’Toole (00:37:20):
But, but we do have the evenings and some good networking events and I’m put on by the various companies, some of them as well.

Grace Chojnowski (00:37:27):
Yeah. Yeah. So that, that is good. So that, I think there was a bit of a Lull there for a while, but I think that that’s picked up again, which is really good. And I think that’s true.

Peter O’Toole (00:37:36):
Yeah. I was gonna say again, we should thank the various companies for doing those sorts of evenings cause

Grace Chojnowski (00:37:41):
Oh, absolutely. Let’s

Peter O’Toole (00:37:41):
Help bring the networks together.

Grace Chojnowski (00:37:44):
Yeah. And, and they, I mean, they get a lot out of it as well because you know, we, we, everyone’s so passionate about what they’re doing. And, and ideas start to flow and, you know, companies do take those ideas on board and who, who better to get those ideas from than people working on the

Peter O’Toole (00:38:07):
On the ground floor,

Grace Chojnowski (00:38:08):
On the ground floor. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:38:09):
Basical it you mentioned how fun they are. What has been the most fun time of your career? If you could go back and relive 1, 2, 1 or two years, what was the most fun time that you go back to work wise

Grace Chojnowski (00:38:25):
Co work wise? I was gonna say uni days. I, I enjoyed my time in London at the at the Maudsley. It was I, I really, I felt the team where I worked at the, at the Maudsley just embraced me cuz you know, I turned up in the UK with my suitcase. I didn’t have a job to go to. I thought, oh, well I’ll find a job. And you know, I did find a job. They did give me, you know, I applied for this position that was going there. I started ringing around all the, you know institution or the hospitals in, in London. I got a job. And then they said, well, we’ll help you. And it was just a really good team of international people that I hit off with and I had a good time there.

Peter O’Toole (00:39:20):
So just grace, you just, so you didn’t have a job when you came to London?

Grace Chojnowski (00:39:25):
No.

Peter O’Toole (00:39:26):
What brought you to London?

Grace Chojnowski (00:39:27):
Oh, just an adventure.

Peter O’Toole (00:39:30):
You just got your suitcase came to London.

Grace Chojnowski (00:39:33):
Yep. One way ticket. Why not?

Peter O’Toole (00:39:38):
And you’ve put that as your most fun time. I think I’d have put that as my most stressful time.

Peter O’Toole (00:39:43):
no, no. Well the first few weeks I was playing tourist and I thought, oh, I suppose I should get a job cuz you know, London’s not as cheap as I thought it was. And yeah, I, I just, I guess I had that confidence in myself in that something will eventuate and if it doesn’t then I just have to jump on a plane with my tail between my legs and say I failed. And I think that’s what makes that I had that drive in me that if, if I have to do something that I will find a way to, to achieve it, it’s, you know, there isn’t that, oh, well this is gonna be too hard. Yes. It’s gonna be hard. And I’m gonna have to put in the hard work and the effort, but it’s not impossible. It just requires good planning and a bit of, you know, what is it? 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

Peter O’Toole (00:40:40):
So if you could have a job anywhere in the world yeah. Where would it be?

Grace Chojnowski (00:40:48):
Somewhere where there’s snow and I moved to Brisbane cuz I ski. And, and I remember when I got the job here, that owner said, oh, by the way I have, I have a ski trip planned, so is it okay if I take three weeks off a week after I start? And I said, well, you like skiing, so why do you wanna move to Brisbane? And I said, well, you know, it’s a really good opportunity here. And I could still go down south where there is snow. But yeah. Somewhere where there’s snow, you know, some suburbs would be nice.

Peter O’Toole (00:41:24):
I said,

Grace Chojnowski (00:41:25):
Is it a cytometry lab in the Swiss Alps somewhere?

Peter O’Toole (00:41:28):
Oh the cytometer certainly in Switzerland and Austria and France

Grace Chojnowski (00:41:33):
On, on the, on the slopes though?

Peter O’Toole (00:41:35):
No, probably not on the slopes.

Grace Chojnowski (00:41:37):
I want to be on the slopes.

Peter O’Toole (00:41:39):
You don’t want you drop delay freezing cuz it comes down. . What about the most challenging time gone from the fun times? What what’s been the most difficult time in your career?

Grace Chojnowski (00:41:52):
Challenging time probably after I just after I started here. So I knew what I knew, what had to be done for the work generated to be, you know, to have quality, but there was just me, there was nobody else, all by myself. So I didn’t have anybody to bounce ideas off. So I’d be, you know, I’d be ringing people down in Melbourne, my colleagues down in Melbourne, there wasn’t anybody else here who was sorting. So there, there was just me and, you know, the, the city was sort of Brisbane and the other institutes were depending on me and I was by myself and I’d be walking, working these crazy hours, like, you know, 16 hour days sometimes because I just knew what had to be done to make things work. So and I, I, you know, I just kept pushing quality of, of work. I was saying, well, you know, we’ll have to start again cuz this just isn’t right. And just establishing that on my own and, and, but also trying to do what is work for them, all the sorting for them. And then trying to train people at the same time. So that was challenging. And then there was just no money to recruit other people. And I said, well, I, I just can’t do this. I’m gonna burn out. So I I’ve moved and I guess cuz I was so much on my own, there wasn’t really a team that I was working with. So trying to do things completely on your own without, you know, having somebody to, to discuss ideas or ways of moving forward, somebody who understands the technology and who understands what you’re trying to do. So that was tough. And then Paula, who was the lady in the middle that retired. So Paula was employed to help me and then it was so that’s when things really started to pick up. Cuz I did have somebody, you know, I wasn’t completely on my own. So I think people who were working in core facilities, if you’ completely on your own, I think it can be a very isolating existence. And it’s good to have at least, you know, two people, you know, in, in a, in a shared facility, right. If, if you’re not part of another group. So that was probably the most challenging part I survived. And look,

Peter O’Toole (00:44:26):
I’ve got this slightly careful, I’ve asked you about the most challenging time you’ve had, how you overcome that. We’ve asked about your thoughts on, you know, running a cytometer and people stepping in. I think I’ve probably just done your your job interview to become the permanent central services manager. I’m going to ask some questions Grace, OK, quick fire questions, PC or Mac.

Grace Chojnowski (00:44:54):
I prefer a Mac.

Peter O’Toole (00:44:56):
Ooh. Okay. So I have

Grace Chojnowski (00:44:57):
A Mac and home. Yep. But our Institute is very big on PCs. So all the, I mean you can get a Mac, but the they’re they prefer PCs.

Peter O’Toole (00:45:14):
Okay. Mcdonald or burger king

Grace Chojnowski (00:45:19):
Neither. Oh no hungry jacks, Hungry Jacks

Peter O’Toole (00:45:24):
Of choice to hungry jacks.

Grace Chojnowski (00:45:27):
The commercial here is the burgers are always better at hungry jacks.

Peter O’Toole (00:45:30):
It’s true. Okay. good. Advert for them. Tea or coffee,

Grace Chojnowski (00:45:36):
Coffee.

Peter O’Toole (00:45:37):
Ah, beer or wine,

Grace Chojnowski (00:45:40):
Wine

Peter O’Toole (00:45:41):
Red or white.

Grace Chojnowski (00:45:43):
Both.

Peter O’Toole (00:45:44):
Not the same chocolate or cheese,

Grace Chojnowski (00:45:48):
Cheese. Geez.

Peter O’Toole (00:45:50):
I’ve got, I’m just gonna go back to the wine red or white Australian or import

Grace Chojnowski (00:45:57):
Australian, I think. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:45:58):
I don’t know many Australians that will, that, that they just drink Australian wine. They start. Why would I drink that?

Grace Chojnowski (00:46:05):
Do you, what about, do you prefer wine or beer?

Peter O’Toole (00:46:09):
Oh, wine, I think mostly. Yeah.

Grace Chojnowski (00:46:12):
Cause the Australian wine’s just so got, it’s got more guts to it. Whereas a lot of the other wines are a bit more kind of wishy washy, watery, not as intense as the Aussie wines

Peter O’Toole (00:46:26):
I say good California wines and some good Portuguese wines that are up there with the Australian Shiraz. I would say

Grace Chojnowski (00:46:32):
Shira. Yes. You’ll have to, you’ll have to come down and we’ll go to the either the hunter valley or the the Barasa yeah. Region has got nice wines as well.

Peter O’Toole (00:46:46):
I’ve got some also in the in the garage at the moment actually. Anyway, so yes, I do need to come back down again. Early bird or night owl

Grace Chojnowski (00:46:56):
Night owl

Peter O’Toole (00:46:57):
Book or TV? Definitely.

Grace Chojnowski (00:46:59):
Pardon

Peter O’Toole (00:47:00):
Book or TV?

Grace Chojnowski (00:47:03):
Bit of both bit of both.

Peter O’Toole (00:47:05):
Okay. what’s the trashiest TV that you will admit to watching?

Peter O’Toole (00:47:17):
Tricky question. Isn’t it?

Grace Chojnowski (00:47:19):
I know, I know. I love watching a big bag theory, but that’s not trashy, is it?

Peter O’Toole (00:47:25):
Yeah. That’s not that trashy.

Peter O’Toole (00:47:31):
But is, is that your go-to is that if you wanted to just chill out and zone out

Grace Chojnowski (00:47:35):
Because, so what I do, I go, yeah, I, I watch the big bang theory and I just watch it over and over again. And then what other things do I like to watch? Some of the tr I know what’s trashy, the the home improvement programs where, you know, what’s that called? There’s a US one called flip or flop or something where they buy a rundown house and, you know, for X dollars and all these things go wrong when they’re trying to renovate it. So yeah, I watch that. Okay.

Peter O’Toole (00:48:13):
Yeah. That’s good trash TV. And what about books? What’s your, what’s your genre? What sort of book do you like to?

Grace Chojnowski (00:48:20):
I tend to, I like I like fiction that has a, a historical element to it. I don’t, I’m not into romance novels or any of that. I like books with a bit of you know, bit of, to the, one of the, one of the favorites that I’ve read recently was a Gentleman in Moscow. Have you read that? No. No. So it was, its just a brilliant, I I, I like, yeah, so I like books with I tend to look for books that have, you know I’m in a, well, I was in a book club and one of the, the lady that ran it was she actually ran one of our Mary Ryan bookshops. So a lot of it was modern. So books that had just been recently released and, and yeah, we got to, to read a good, good selection. I’m just trying to think I had so many good books right there.

Peter O’Toole (00:49:25):
Great. Grace, what do you do outside of work to relax?

Grace Chojnowski (00:49:29):
I play the cello.

Peter O’Toole (00:49:31):
Okay.

Grace Chojnowski (00:49:33):
Not very well. I’m just learning. I’m still a beginner, complete beginner. I’ve always loved the cello. I love the cello. And so my daughter she’s quite musical. She, you know, she did music up to year 12 and I thought I’m gonna learn the cello. She said don’t. And the teacher, the closest teacher was around the corner from where we lived. And she was also a teacher at her high school and she said, don’t, you dare, you will embarrass me going to her. This is gonna be so embarrassing. So I had to wait till she finished high school. And then I went and had my lesson, the met the teacher at the music store. We bought a cello and started having lessons and I’m in a community orchestra now. And we do, you know, do a few charity gigs here and there. Yeah. So that’s something I enjoy. What I like the arts, so I subscribe to the ballet. Okay. And yeah, classical concerts. So I, you know, I like performing arts.

Peter O’Toole (00:50:41):
That’s pretty, yeah. Very different to the science as a day job.

Grace Chojnowski (00:50:47):
Oh, absolutely. And then I did start something, but I have dropped the ball here. I didn’t wanna let the team down, but I started dragon boat racing. Okay. But I it’s hard work and I think that I’m the weak link in my team. So I’m thinking twice about whether I’m gonna continue or not, because I just can’t paddle hard enough for us to win at our regatta races.

Peter O’Toole (00:51:14):
But that does that just not make the rest of the team feel a bit better about themselves.

Grace Chojnowski (00:51:23):
Encouraging. They’re encouraging and that’s a good, it’s hard work. It is really hard work. I’m thinking I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t. But I go, keep going, keep going. And you just can’t let the team down, you know? So yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:51:40):
Send a picture of that. That would’ve been quite a good picture.

Grace Chojnowski (00:51:43):
No, you don’t wanna send me a picture of me doing that. No way. ,

Peter O’Toole (00:51:48):
There’s a challenge. If I get one of your team to send.

Grace Chojnowski (00:51:51):
Yeah. If you want, if you wanna do a Google look for bar and strings that’s my orchestra and you might, might see a pic or two of me playing the other there.

Peter O’Toole (00:52:01):
Okay. What do you know what? It’s not just music. It’s now everyone who’s watching, you are listening to this.

Grace Chojnowski (00:52:06):
And we, we have some professional people who are, you know, who are really talented, who played in some of the best orchestras internationally. So yeah, we’re not all amateur.

Peter O’Toole (00:52:19):
So wait a minute, wait a minute. You are worried about being the weak link in the dragon boat races. Yes. And now you’ve just confessed to being a complete novice cello celloist and you are playing in an orchestra with some international.

Grace Chojnowski (00:52:36):
Yeah, but they, yeah, but they, but the majority of us, the majority of us are novices. We just need them in the background so we know what we’re supposed, what we’re supposed to sound like. You see? So we listen in, we’re thinking, right. I’m gonna sit next to so and so, so I can hear how I’m supposed to be playing.

Peter O’Toole (00:52:54):
So what is your favorite music? What type of music is your

Grace Chojnowski (00:52:57):
Favorite? Oh, Bach I love Bach. Bach Bach. Fantastic. OK. Bach sweets. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:53:03):
And what’s your favorite film?

Grace Chojnowski (00:53:08):
Oh, favorite film. Where do I start? Did you see cold war?

Peter O’Toole (00:53:15):
You know, you’re gonna get a no off me for most of these things. I didn’t get time to

Grace Chojnowski (00:53:18):
It was a Polish film called, cause my background’s Polish as you know Red Dog. Did you see Red Dog?

Peter O’Toole (00:53:26):
Oh, you know, I haven’t seen Red Dog. We talked about cuz that’s,

Grace Chojnowski (00:53:29):
It’s an Australian movie. And you, you have to understand Australian humor to get it. And then have you heard of The Castle? That’s another Aussie movie. That’s a Aussie classic. It is. So you really have to understand Aussie of humor to get every second punchline Red Dog. Oh three colors. I like the three colors. Remember that from way back, red, white and blue.

Peter O’Toole (00:53:59):
You know, you just making me really poorly educated. No, I haven’t seen that either.

Grace Chojnowski (00:54:04):
No, that, that was a oh other movie. I, no, I haven’t, I haven’t seen any movies for ages cuz they kind of, there’s some movies that I wanna see now. The duke, have you seen I wanna go see that. Maybe I see that,

Peter O’Toole (00:54:18):
But no, I haven’t seen it. No.

Grace Chojnowski (00:54:20):
Yeah. So maybe this weekend I’ll go and see that.

Peter O’Toole (00:54:24):
So two other film questions, quick answers to it. Favorite Christmas film. Ooh,

Grace Chojnowski (00:54:36):
Good one.

Peter O’Toole (00:54:40):
Always see it’s a good time of your Christmas. There’s always a go to film to watch put you in that Christmas. Yeah.

Grace Chojnowski (00:54:44):
So yeah. As I said, the sound of music, does that come on at Christmas time? No,

Peter O’Toole (00:54:49):
I’ll accept that. That’s certainly on it at Christmas time.

Grace Chojnowski (00:54:53):
No

Peter O’Toole (00:54:54):
Star wars or star Trek,

Grace Chojnowski (00:54:58):
Probably star Trek

Peter O’Toole (00:55:00):
Is the right answer. I think you sent me some more pictures and I, I, I, so there’s another one of Howard here, so what’s, what’s the, oh yeah, this is the image of Howard yourself. And

Grace Chojnowski (00:55:12):
So the lady on the right it’s very sad. Evelyn Lavu. She was the director of Clinical well of the hospital and in in PNG in Port Mosby. She sadly died last year as well. So she was the go between. So she used to, you know, cuz PNG has got all four species of malaria. So she was able to try and do some research. She completed a PhD here in Brisbane, she, I mean she was a clinic clinician, so, but her heart and soul was into, you know, helping people in PNG and you know, especially with malaria and HIV. So I I used to get together some funds and I’d have people coming over from PNG. So we started an initiative trail called train the trainer where we were trying to upscale them so they could be self-sufficient. And she helped facilitate, you know, a lot of that sort of thing, but yeah, so sadly yeah, we said goodbye as well last year. So very, very sad. Yeah, so she, she, yeah, she’s somebody that I held and will always hold a really high level of respect for, for, you know, all her, all that she’s done.

Peter O’Toole (00:56:41):
And and this one here

Grace Chojnowski (00:56:46):
,

Peter O’Toole (00:56:47):
He’s gone to Joe

Grace Chojnowski (00:56:48):
Trotter. Do you know Joe Trotter?

Peter O’Toole (00:56:51):
Not personally. No.

Grace Chojnowski (00:56:54):
So what was that for?

Peter O’Toole (00:56:57):
There’s a gift going in one direction or the other,

Grace Chojnowski (00:56:59):
There is a gift and it was going to him. I think I go, so I think he must have come to teach at one of my courses. He did, he came to teach at one of my courses and all my faculty, I say, thank you. I always give them a little, thank you gift. So I think that’s what happened there. Yeah, it’s a good old Jo.

Peter O’Toole (00:57:19):
So if you think about it and, and you mentioned, you know, the fun experiments with Howard on the back end of the courses and the event, obviously training is something that you’re very passionate about and you say training the training, the trainer passive to enable more place to become more self-sufficient how important is that side of the role to you?

Grace Chojnowski (00:57:41):
Very important, very, very important. Cause I think if if just to maintain data integrity, I mean, you know, and all, all the, a lot of the, the team that are, you know, working in, in the, in the facility and they said, gee, I wish I’d known all of this when I was doing my PhD or I wish I’d known this when I worked in another lab and they, everyone in my team has this great passion to, to try and better themselves to, to educate themselves. You know, we have online courses, we have facility webinars, so this is something I’m starting, trying to get going with the other core facilities here. We have a educational program. So every, you know, every three weeks there’ll be another, you know, you know, new topic on flow. I’m gonna try and do that for all the other facilities, because the more knowledge people have, the better decisions they make and the better their data is.

Peter O’Toole (00:58:44):
No,

Grace Chojnowski (00:58:45):
It’s just, you know,

Peter O’Toole (00:58:47):
I agree. And it’s not just internal, but external. So we, we run courses externally as well at York. Yeah. Place optometry and for confocal microscopy and on behalf of the Royal Microscopic Society, as well as our own, our own courses, but it’s a determination and it’s also the increase in the network. Cuz people come in there early stages, they then develop become, you know, in some cases, part of the community, it’ such a good way to meet like minded people as well and help and, and influence and help develop their careers.

Grace Chojnowski (00:59:18):
Oh, absolutely. So I so the flow courses, I, and I have, I have three streams, so I have the research stream. I have the diagnostic stream, people who are working in pathology labs, the scientists working in, you know, diagnostics doing diagnostics. And then I have the clinicians as well. Cause I think it’s important. And I, I work with some of the clinical examiners the Australian clinical examiners and they come and teach as faculty. I invite you know, people like Brent Wood and Alberta Orfao somebody else P what’s his name I’ve forgotten from the UK, but, and, and they teach the clinicians. So the clinicians also have a more, a better understanding of, of flow. And rather than just, you know, getting some numbers or some statistics, you know, they could, they could look at a plot and they can start to, you know, learn a little bit of pattern recognition. So yeah, there’s three streams growing at one time,

Peter O’Toole (01:00:26):
You know, it sounds dangerous. It means I’ll understand not to trust the data.

Grace Chojnowski (01:00:35):
I, I, I still strongly believe. I mean, there has to be really strict QC in a diagnostic lab, but I still think just because QC passes, you still have to know that something may not be a hundred percent. Right. And you still need to have that expertise to be able to recognize it.

Peter O’Toole (01:00:53):
Yeah. And credit to them for being able to interpret even just the numbers that they get on and put it into a, and, and be able to petition it. In that case, we are very, nearly up to the hour. I, oh, are we desperate to ask you? I know on a flow cytometer. What is your favorite technique?

Grace Chojnowski (01:01:14):
My favorite techniques. Well, we don’t do it anymore, but I still love chromosome sorting.

Peter O’Toole (01:01:19):
Oh, wow.

Grace Chojnowski (01:01:20):
Okay. Oh yes. But then we don’t, we don’t need that anymore. Do we so used to enjoy doing that. What else do I like doing?

Peter O’Toole (01:01:33):
That, that that’s good to go.

Grace Chojnowski (01:01:35):
Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (01:01:36):
What bad habits do you have

Grace Chojnowski (01:01:39):
None. what bad habits do I have? I do have bad habits. What is a bad habit that I have? I’m sure. If I asked the team in here, they’d give you a list, you know, a few pages long.

Peter O’Toole (01:01:58):
Well, do you know what they, they can put that on the on the comments below the

Grace Chojnowski (01:02:03):
I’ll get them to say they could add it. Oh, sometimes I’ll especially Michael Michael in my team is just so pedantic and so meticulous about the right order in doing things. And he likes the, and I’ll just jump where I think, oh, well, we probably don’t need to do that because, you know, I know we don’t need to do that, but he, he, and I’ll sort of jump from one thing to another and not follow every single step that he has outlined that we need to do

Peter O’Toole (01:02:37):
On that note. What is that one of your pet hates, if they have to follow a strict protocol where they can jump, what, you know, what, what are your pet hates in life?

Grace Chojnowski (01:02:49):
Pet hates quite a few probably having pet hates, oh, I dunno if I should say this now it’s being recorded.

Peter O’Toole (01:03:04):
go on say it.

Grace Chojnowski (01:03:07):
Probably people who dunno what they’re doing. And just going ahead and doing it and not listening to you and you’re thinking you’re wrong. And, and especially in the flow lab, if you have somebody come, I mean, everybody has to pass a competence test before we let them log on to any instrument. So, but they’ll still say, well, I used to do this before and you go, well, what you were doing was wrong. No, but we used to do it and I’m going, yeah. But that was wrong. And they still go ahead and do it. That’s probably one of my pet hates in the facility. Sometimes when management make decisions that you think, well, this is gonna fall over in a few years, but you have no control over it. So yeah, that one

Peter O’Toole (01:03:59):
You’re gonna be management. So you are management now. Cause that’s you. I

Grace Chojnowski (01:04:03):
Know. I know. I know. And, and I, I can’t, I feel the responsibility and I can see. Yeah, I think that, that that’s one. And, and, you know, I think also if you, if there’s a reason and people explain to you why you’re more likely to you think, well, I don’t agree with it, but I’ll accept it. It’s not, well, this is the way it was done, and this is why I’m doing it. And you think, well, when there’s a why you can sort of go, okay, fair enough.

Peter O’Toole (01:04:37):
That’s good answer. And do you know, we are actually just beyond the hour mark so we stop there. So Grace, thank you for joining me today. Everyone who’s listened or watch Flow Stars today. Thank you very much. You could go watch. Thank you. But Grace, thank you very much. Keep up the good work.

Grace Chojnowski (01:04:57):
Pleasure. You too. Keep it up.

Peter O’Toole (01:05:00):
And yeah. Cyto women at the moment. Oh no. You just passed that on haven’t you you no longer on the Cyto of women

Grace Chojnowski (01:05:08):
Cyto women. Yeah, but they still I’m still kept up. You know, I still keep being, they still email me with what’s happening and you know, Maryella’s taken taken over. She’s doing a great job, so they’re a really good team.

Peter O’Toole (01:05:21):
Good luck with a new job. Thank you, hopefully so much as your interview for that post. And hopefully invite me over. I need to come over and see, I

Grace Chojnowski (01:05:30):
Will, I will. Well, I’ve gotta have a flow course, but we’re still, we’re still restricted in numbers in our seminar rooms. So we still have to distance. So we can’t, it’s just all too hard at the moment until they lift all the restrictions here, but we’re getting there, you know, we would’ve heard about Australia’s tough line on. Yeah,

Peter O’Toole (01:05:50):
I do indeed. So Grace, thank you very much for joining me today.

Grace Chojnowski (01:05:54):
Enjoy your day chat. Bye bye.

 

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