News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters graduate Nick Anthony focuses on cancer research

Nick Anthony was inspired by teachers and experiences he had growing up in Sisters. Now living near the shores of Lake Michigan, he’s taken what he learned in school and work into his career in a research lab in the biomedical engineering department at Northwestern University. Working for one of the country’s leading private research and teaching universities, Anthony is working with people and research that are sometimes even hard for him to grasp.

“We have a lot of scientists and students who come through and have various projects related to how the structure of chromatin in a cell affects its behavior. It’s closely related to cancer and the exact reason why some cells are cancerous. There’s still a lot to be understood about that,” he said.

Although he supports biologists, Anthony’s background is in physics. His role in the lab involves a lot of microscopy techniques which can’t be done with a normal microscope.

“We have a lot of custom microscopes. I’m in charge of building and understanding how they work and making sure they are reliable so the biology-focused people can trust the results as they do various experiments on DNA, chromatin, and cells,” he explained.

After spending a couple of years as a device systems engineer and research associate, he found himself wanting to do more physics and optics work.

“I get that in my current job. I’m drawn to working on research that will be made publicly available versus working on privately owned results. Work on products that can save lives is the hope,” he said.

Sisters High School construction and AutoCAD teacher Tony Cosby taught Anthony skills directly related to what he’s doing now. The Americana Project was also a big part of his formation as a high-school student. Anthony thought music was what he’d be doing for a career. But then he took a Physics of Sound class his first year at University of Oregon and it really clicked with him.

“I built a guitar in Tony Cosby’s woodshop class and took an AutoCAD class with him that I really enjoyed,” he said. “Just this morning I was making AutoCAD drawings. That’s something I started learning in that class and continued to do. Like many people, a lot of my job is computer work but I really enjoy doing hands-on work. That started by taking woodshop, and in the second year, making a guitar. I still have the guitar I made with me. I try to find time for music. I listen more than I play now. It’s hard to find the time.”

If Anthony could whisper some words of advice into his teenager ear, he’d say, hard work does pay off.

“I was skeptical of that and just wanted to skate by a lot of the time,” he said. “But I rarely put a lot of work into something and then in the end said that was a big mistake. There’s always something good about that.”

Married this summer, Anthony enjoys spending time windsurfing and learning how to sail. But he always enjoys coming back to Central Oregon.

“I miss skiing in Central Oregon and having more access to wilderness,” he said. “The last time we were back we did some cross-country skiing.”

Anthony considers himself fortunate to have grown up in Central Oregon. There’s been a lot of hard work along the way, but it’s brought him to a place in his life and a career that’s both rewarding and interesting.

 

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