Interview with The Makeup Standard
with the lead scientist from NSVD for The MakeUp Standard project, Vincent Law
Interview by: Shruti Muralidhar
Audio edited by: Abhishek Chari
Automatically transcribed by https://otter.ai and edited by Abhishek Chari and Alexandra Colón-Rodríguez, PhD.
Shruti Muralidhar 0:25
If you don’t mind, I’m going to hit record on this. My name is Shruti. Nice to meet you. We just trying something new in the comms team and we thought it would be nice to, you know, just have an audio or a video sort of profile on some of our members who are working with the NSVD. So yeah, it’s going to be a very informal conversation. And yeah, I just ask you a couple of questions mainly about who you are, what you do and how you’re associated with NSVD. That’s pretty much it. Sounds good So who are you? What do you do?
Vincent Law 1:01
My name is Vincent Law. And I am one of the research scientists at Moffitt Cancer Center down in Tampa, Florida. My area of interest for research is neuro oncology. So our lab specifically studies brain metastases and LeptoMeningeal Disease, basically metastases. Cancer cells metastasized in the meninges, often seen in late stage cancer patients. Currently we’re working on several projects related to melanoma associated LMD as well as breast cancer associated LMD. LMD is LeptoMeningeal Disease.
I am originally from Canada. So I did all my studies and training in Canada and I moved to Tampa, Florida above three and a half years ago. My background is molecular biology, and I did a specialization in cancer biology. I’ve always been fascinated in neuroscience. So that’s kind of a good marriage of two, you know, oncology and neural science combined.
Shruti Muralidhar 2:10
That’s wonderful. How did you get to where you are right now, I think we already got a little glimpse from you talking about, that you are in Canada, and now you’re in Florida. But can you tell us a little more about how you got to where you are right now?
Vincent Law 2:23
Yeah, so I’ve always worked in cancer biology up in Canada after I got my degrees. And I’ve worked in a translational lab, so more of a service oriented base laboratory. So one of the major project that I worked on when I was there for several years, people that that sign up for this project where we do cancer tracing, individual who volunteered, they donated their blood, we collected their serum, and then we follow these individuals over the course of 10 years. And some of the people that volunteer actually develop cancer. So we’re trying to map out the genetic profiles or any immunology aspect of cancer. So it was a very, it’s a nationwide project. So me and this other colleague of mine at the time, we process over 10,000 serum samples from 10,000 different individuals, DNA extraction for every single sample all 10,000 of them. In the course of three, four months, we were able to optimize using a robotic machine that did a lot of the DNA extraction work. And then in 2017, I was looking for something that change of environment and wanted to test out other research areas. I was interested in neuroscience. And then I saw this position that came up in in Tampa, Florida, and decide to apply and my interviews and then I came down here.
Shruti Muralidhar 3:51
That’s great. That sounds like a very interesting story. I mean, from processing these huge amounts of samples in such a short period of time. And that must have been like really crazy workloads. That’s amazing. And I guess one of my final questions is, how did you get to NSVD? And what got you to work with the NSVD?
Vincent Law 4:12
Around March, I had a conference in Portugal and I flew all the way to Portugal for this brain metastases and LMD specific conference. And then I did some traveling, you know, I went to Africa, and then I went to Spain, and that’s when COVID hit. When I came back, it was mid March. And then you know, Spain was one of the major epicenters at that time. So I was doing some self quarantine and I was online and somebody forwarded me, on Facebook, a intake form for NSVD. And I didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t, it wasn’t very informative, just volunteer work. So I decided to join. You know, I didn’t even ask any questions when I joined. I knew it was a scientist-based volunteering organization where you know, we just kind of get together and try to solve problems or help in whatever way we can. So I thought that was pretty interesting. And that’s how I got involved. I signed up for NSVD, around mid to late March.
Shruti Muralidhar 5:17
That sounds very much like what I did. I mean, we were, we weren’t in the lab. I saw I saw Michael’s tweet on Twitter saying, Hi, we need comms people. And you know, why don’t you just join up? And I was like, well, I’m sure I can help. And it’s grown to be this amazingly multi faceted organization.
Something that the comms team found very interesting was that you also write for Vogue Italia! And…
Vincent Law 5:54
I was in the media industry, when I was doing my grad school, it kind of pays the bills at the time. So, believe it or not, so I was actually a TV anchor, for one of the national televisions in Canada. So when I was doing my grad school, I was actually hosting TV shows. And at the time, my coverage are mostly the arts and culture that’s happening around the local communities. And I go out to a lot of interviews, I go to these Art Gallery openings, and all sorts of like cultural events that’s happening around the city. I also did a lot of emcee work for events. And yeah, so that’s what I did for about six, seven years. And then after I finished school, you know, like I did my media work part time, but I also was also working in my translation lab. So I started to kind of move away from that industry, although I kept most of my contacts at the time. But from time to time, I was actually invited to all sorts of events, and I do a lot of Judge paneling, as well for different competitions. So design competitions. So I was invited to Georgia, the country, Georgia in 2013, to guest judge a competition, and I was already writing for different publications. In terms of the media work, I went from being at the forefront in TV hosting, and then I started doing more back-of-house work, like, you know, editing and writing my own stories. And then as one of my travels, I went to Batumi, Georgia, and I was one of the judges for a young designer, emerging designer competition. And at the time, there were other, kind of, magazine editors that were there. And I’m an advocate of supporting young talents, because I think it’s it’s a very tough industry, and… even science, right?
Shruti Muralidhar 7:35
Vincent Law 7:36
So I’m a huge advocate of young emerging designers and young emerging talents who just got out of school and didn’t really know how to go about launching their own business or, or their brands or
Shruti Muralidhar 7:47
like getting a foot in the industry. Like, yeah, getting their names out there.
Vincent Law 7:51
Yeah, starting up is hard for a lot of people. So it was more of a scouter I guess, in a way, like so I always look for new and the next exciting young talents that’s out there, primarily that was kind of like what the competition was about. So Vogue Italia, they’re also a huge supporter of young emerging designers. And one of the editors there felt our goal or mission were kind of aligned with each other. So I’ve been just contributing for them and started writing for them since then. I’ve been writing about emerging talents, that’s kind of my, my forte and focus on young emerging designers. And over the years, we have shifted because climate change and so we definitely have shifted from not just young, emerging designer, we’re also focusing on sustainability. We talked a lot about environmental aspect in fashion. So we write about sustainable fashion, we talk about zero waste productions, we talk about upcycling, so there’s a lot of… the topics have evolved over time. And I think that’s the way to go. Especially now there’s the pandemic and the sustainability aspects. People are more focused on that topic now, because a lot of businesses are not doing so well, obviously. And because of the situation, a lot of factories are shut down. So I would say this is a reset button for people to rethink how that industry should run.
Shruti Muralidhar 9:09
You’re also helping consumers. I mean, if you’re gonna give them ideas about upcycling, and you’re gonna show how sustainability works, not just at the factory level, but also at the individual level. I think what you’re doing makes perfect sense to me, at least for like both sections, not just like the designers and the manufacturers, but also consumers.
Vincent Law 9:27
Yeah, sustainable fashion is not just about the environment. It’s also about you know, we’re talking about people working in minimum wage factory jobs, and we’re talking about how we’re being socially responsible, and also environmentally responsible. So it’s a very wide topic to discuss. There’s so many things that people could cover. I mean, we can do better overall.
Shruti Muralidhar 9:49
Its this beautiful umbrella, I think you’ve defined that really well. I mean, sustainable in the true sense of the word.
Vincent Law 10:08
Okay, yeah, so um, what was the other question? Sorry!
Shruti Muralidhar 10:11
Oh, actually, more, more importantly your service work with the makeup artists, you’ve been helping some of the makeup artists come together and be sort of more aware about the hygiene and everything…
Vincent Law 10:24
Okay. Yeah, so makeup artist was because NSVD had recently been trying to implement these consultation products or services for other industries. So one of the ones that other team members had done was for the restaurant businesses, I think they did something for safer practices for restaurant owners to when they reopened for business. And that had been reported on a news network and I shared those videos, you know, through my social media channels, and one of the makeup artists came across the article and she was very interested in doing something similar for the makeup artists industry. She is a freelance makeup artist. And one of the things that the industry needs to somehow really focus thinking about is that these freelance artists are not protected by, because they don’t have a union or they are hired by basically freelancing, right? So they’re just hire whenever there’s a…
Shruti Muralidhar 11:20
Freelancing by itself is a very unstable, yeah, profession. So yeah, I mean, I can totally imagine freelance makeup artists having that much more trouble getting insurance. And…
Vincent Law 11:30
Especially because they don’t have guidelines or regulation. There’s no like specific training for freelance makeup artists. Of course, you can train on your own, but there’s no best practices to protect the health and safety of not just makeup artists themselves, but also the talents that are involved, everybody that’s working in the same environment. So she mentioned that this is something that she’s interested to implement. And you know, if you’re not in it, especially not within the scientific community, it’s hard to know whether information out there is accurate, or if it was say misinformation. So she wanted guidance from NSVD. And to work on a guideline, which would help them benefit the industry. And we reached out to Kevin Schaellert about this, and he was very interested. So we went ahead and recruited several other team members who have expertise in virology and cosmetology, biochemistry… we’re still working on the project and helping these makeup artists, finalizing these guidelines. And, me and a couple of the other volunteers in that group, we’re also trying to write a publication for a journal. So that would be you know, would be interesting to have something written and published.
Shruti Muralidhar 11:51
That sounds like a great idea. And not just for, I mean, not just for the scientists and you and everybody else involved in the project. But anybody who is a freelance makeup artist, let’s say they want an authoritative source of information. I mean, this is like the perfect project to get that rolling, and…
Vincent Law 13:03
So Dr. Danielle DeWaal, Jeremy, Gary, Kevin, and Taryn. So there’s six of us, right six of us? Laugh who are involved in this project. And what we found there are not many original research that looked into contamination of cosmetic product, viral contamination in cosmetic products. So I think Danielle had found one paper that was dated in 1992. That was the last study that was done on looking into the virus contaminant on cosmetic beauty product. That was like, 1992, and there was no paper, there’s no scientific papers, there’s no, I mean, we read a lot from magazines and we hear what experts say how how to properly clean cosmic beauty product tools and toolkits and survival of coronavirus on different sorts of surfaces. But there is no best practice or any type of research on cosmetic industry. It’s mind boggling because it’s a multi billion dollar industry. There’s no one’s doing any research on it, and…
Shruti Muralidhar 14:02
I mean, it boggles my mind right now, when you say that the last study was in the 1990s. And I’m like, how have we not bridged that gap?
Vincent Law 14:15
So this week, we’ve been actively looking into literature, if there’s anything that mentioned about cosmetic product and cross linking with virology type of research, but yeah, I searched there’s like nothing. There’s nothing specifically on that topic. I mean, it’s crazy. Like I totally get why these makeup artists have so many questions regarding decontamination or sanitation, what’s best practices. So it’s…
Shruti Muralidhar 14:39
And I feel like, things that have been told to us in terms of, oh yeah, for surfaces use alcohol or wipes or sanitizing wipes. It might not always work with with like makeup tools, right because you have all these brushes and that cannot be cleaned in the same day. They can’t be wetted, they can’t be dried…
Vincent Law 14:57
Yeah. And also for their industry, for their line of work. Before the pandemic, I mean, they shouldn’t even do that before the pandemic. So a lot of times they share they have one makeup palette or one makeup kit. And it’s shared among different talents, right? Of course, before the pandemic, this is not seen as something very, you know,
Shruti Muralidhar 15:14
Like, its not a great idea…
Vincent Law 15:15
Yeah, it doesn’t occur to you, you know, now that there’s, you know, with the COVID-19 it, you know, it’s hard.
It’s brought people to pay more attention to you know, you can’t share eyeliner, you can’t share lipstick. If you want safety and best practices, you just can’t do it. You have to change the way you work and change the logistics of the flow, of your routine. Yeah, so we’ve been working on this for quite some time. And we’ve had different ideas along the way. And I truly believe that something really good will come out of this. And I know that once the guidelines is completed, and the makeup artists that reach out to us, they wanted to make this as a downloadable guide. They want to forward this to the union and maybe also different agencies as well as the press and they wanted to get this word out there. So I feel like we’re doing important work.
Shruti Muralidhar 16:17
This is great. Thank you so much. I will definitely keep you in the loop. Thank you for taking time. I will stop recording now.