Behind the Brand: Katryna Fast

The science makes getting prepped to visit the nanoFAB worth it for a PhD candidate studying nanomagnetism.


Katryna Fast was drawn to physics, which makes sense because she studies magnetism.

“I chose physics for my undergrad partially because of my love of Star Trek,” Fast says. “The overarching theme of exploring the universe, learning what we can about as much as we can — I thought I’d get that vibe in my life by doing a physics degree.” But it’s more than just a vibe. Behind physics research lies a quest for a better understanding of how the world and universe work.

Fast is now studying nanomagnetism under the supervision of Mark Freeman as she works toward her PhD. She spends most of her time these days in the lab, but you can also catch her in the U of A’s new brand story video

“I’m the ‘science person’ in the video,” she says with a laugh. “The producers emailed my supervisor, and he asked if I wanted to be in it. I figured it was a fun opportunity.”

The only identifying parts of Fast visible in the brand story video are her tortoiseshell glasses. In the video, she is wearing a special fabric gown known as a “bunny suit” as she prepares silicon wafers for study back at her main lab. 

Though devoid of bunny ears, the suit covers Fast from head to toe. It keeps skin, dust and hair from contaminating the silicon wafers. “The place we filmed it, the nanoFAB, you can do microfabrication. I use it to create the samples I study,” she says.

“Once I have them, I do my own testing in my lab across the street, where I can wear street clothes, thank goodness.” Getting in and out of the suit is a bit of a production, she adds.

On the day of the shoot, getting into the nanoFAB took even longer than usual because of what you don’t see on camera.

“The shoot took about two hours, a part of that involved getting the camera into the nanoFAB cleanroom,” she says. “Prepping the camera took a while. The crew was all in bunny suits too.”

Fast says the team’s work is “to develop a deeper understanding of the fundamental processes taking place in incredibly small magnetic systems.” What drew her to the university was the search for “knowledge for its own sake, under Mark’s mentorship.” 

Fast and other students’ work contributes to a bigger picture of how the world and universe work. Makes the bunny suit worth it, no?