53 minutes | Nov 12th 2020

Season Three -Episode Three - Andrea Kroeker and Jill Van Kessel

I was very excited and nervous for this interview. I mean, how often do you get to meet people who are literally trying to save the world? In my mind, Andrea Kroeker and Jill Van Kessel are superheroes and it was a real thrill to speak with them.

Andrea and Jill are Research Technicians at Saskatoon's VIDO-InterVac, an organization located on the University of Saskatchewan that has been researching viruses and developing vaccines for decades. This year, VIDO-InterVac has been thrust into the global spotlight because of its work on developing a Covid-19 vaccine. 

I have loved reading and listening to stories about the work being done at the VIDO-InterVac facility. I think it's wonderful that national and international news organizations are paying attention to what is happening at VIDO-InterVac, and I also think the local media have done a great job of explaining why the work is so important. My friend and former CBC colleague Alicia Bridges wrote a really interesting story in August that you must read, and The Saskatoon Star Phoenix's Zak Verscera has written several great stories highlighting the work being done at VIDO-InterVac. 

I didn't want to copy their stories, but I was curious about what it must be like to be a member of a team working towards such an important goal. 

I mentioned how I think Andrea and Jill are superheroes. I think what makes them so interesting and such a perfect fit for the podcast is that if you ran into them say at the grocery store, and didn't know where they worked, you would have no idea they spent their days working on solving a global pandemic that has impacted all of our lives in so many different ways. 

I feel very lucky to have met Jill and Andrea. It took about four months to arrange a time to have our conversation, and it almost didn't happen due to a massive snow storm that effectively shut down Saskatoon last weekend. We actually recorded the interview two days before it was released and they were amazing to speak with! They are humble, kind, passionate about their work and genuinely excited to be part of a global effort to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. 

We cover a lot of topics in this episode (while wearing masks and at a safe physical distance, which is why Andrea and Jill sound a little distant compared to my voice). Everything from the nature of their work and why they love doing it, to how they deal with the pressure that comes with their jobs. They were very open and honest with me and I really do appreciate that. 

There are so many WOW moments in this episode and it was a lot of fun to listen to it again while editing. I hope you enjoy it as well!

A big thank you to Trenna Brusky, VIDO Inter-Vac's Marketing Coordinator, for making this episode happen. We exchanged many emails these past few months and a lot of texts last weekend coming up with Plans A, B and C due to the blizzard. You're amazing, Trenna! 

I also want to thank Saskatoon photographer Rona Andreas for stepping in at the last second to take some really wonderful photos of Jill and Andrea. 

This episode is sponsored by Uncle Mike's All Natural Products. Mike Zimmer is the owner of Uncle Mike's and in my opinion, he makes the best darn soap in the country! I love that this episode is sponsored by a company that makes great soap because we all need to wash our hands...wash our hands...wash our hands! Visit his website to learn more about his products and I bet you'll find a stocking stuffer or two while you're there. 

YXE Underground is a production of the Salthammer Production Company. If you like what you hear, please leave a 5-Star review and tell your friends!

Thank you so much for listening and supporting a local, independent podcast. I really appreciate it.