CSM2023 Halifax Conference Schedule

Please click on the link below to download the CSM2023 Halfiax Conference Schedule.

CSM2023 Conference Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Sunday, June 25, 2023
18:45 - 19:45
Adventures in anaerobic bioremediation
Dr. Elizabeth A. Edwards, University of Toronto, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry

  • Dr. Elizabeth A. Edwards

    Dr. Elizabeth A. Edwards

    University of Toronto, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry

    Dr. Elizabeth Edwards holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from McGill University, Montreal, and a PhD degree (1993) in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. She is internationally known for her work on anaerobic bioremediation, the application of molecular biology and metagenomics to uncover novel microbial processes, and the transition of laboratory research into commercial practice to develop bioremediation and bioaugmentation strategies for groundwater pollutants. Dr. Edwards’ research team discovered and characterized novel microbial cultures such as the now commercial KB-1® consortium that metabolize pollutants previously thought to be recalcitrant. This discovery led to the founding of SiREM Laboratories in Guelph in 2002. Dr. Edwards and her team were awarded the 2009 NSERC Synergy Award for their highly successful partnership with Geosyntec Consultants and SiREM, deploying the KB-1® microbial consortium at industrial sites contaminated with chlorinated solvents around the world. Dr. Edwards is also the founding director of BioZone, a Centre for Applied Bioscience and Bioengineering Research at the University of Toronto and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Anaerobic Biotechnology. In 2016, she was awarded the Canada Council of the Arts Killam Prize in recognition of her outstanding career achievements and was appointed an Officer in the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest civilian honour) by the Canadian Governor General in 2020.

Murray Career Achievement Award Lecture

June 28, 14:00 - 15:00

Culturing the Human Microbiome - Lessons Learned and Opportunities Ahead
Dr. Michael G Surette, McMaster University, DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research

  • Dr. Michael Surette

    Dr. Michael Surette

    McMaster University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Medicine and Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

    Michael Surette (PhD) is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research in the Department of Medicine and Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, in the Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2018). Dr. Surette is also Director of the Farncombe Genomics Facility. He completed his BSc(Hons) in Biochemistry at Memorial University of Newfoundland with a thesis on the regulation of naphthalene degradation pathways in Pseudomonas putida. His PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario investigated DNA transposition using Bacteriophage Mu as a model system in the lab of Dr. George Chaconas. Following a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Princeton University with Dr. Jeff Stock, on signal transduction and two component systems in bacterial chemotaxis, he joined the Bacterial Pathogenesis Research Group in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary as an Assistant Professor in 1997. Dr. Surette’s work focused on gene expression and population behaviours in bacteria which eventually led to work on the polymicrobial nature of airway infections in cystic fibrosis patients. This work was the foundation to his ongoing research program on the human microbiome. In 2010 he moved to his current position in the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute at McMaster University. Dr. Surette’s research addresses the human microbiome of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts in health and disease across the life course. The lab is focused on developing high throughput culturing and phenotyping methods to investigate infectious disease and the microbiome, applying and improving next-generation sequencing approaches to characterize the microbiome, and how the microbiome changes with age.

Thermo Fisher Award Lecture

June 27, 17:45 - 18:45

Proteomics of Fungal Disease in One Health
Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister, University of Guelph, Molecular and Cellular Biology Department

  • Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister

    Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister

    University of Guelph, Molecular and Cellular Biology Department

    Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Proteomics of Fungal Disease in One Health in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Guelph. Her lab applies mass spectrometry-based proteomics to investigate host-pathogen interactions with a focus on One Health approaches to overcoming fungal disease. She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Lethbridge, her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology with Dr. Jim Kronstad from the University of British Columbia, and a post-doctoral fellowship funded by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (Germany) with Prof. Dr. Matthias Mann. She is Director of the Bioinformatics Graduate Program at the University of Guelph, President of the Canadian National Proteomics Network, co-founder of the Canadian Proteomics and Artificial Intelligence Consortium, and founder of ‘Moms in Proteomics’ an initiative dedicated to recognizing and supporting mothers in STEM.

Armand Frappier Award Lecture

June 26, 18:00 - 19:00

Active lithoautotrophic sulfur- and methane-cycling microbial community in an anoxic, sub-zero, and hypersaline High Arctic spring
Elisse Magnuson, McGill University

  • Elisse Magnuson

    Elisse Magnuson

    McGill University

    Elisse Magnuson completed her B.Sc. in biochemistry and history from the University of Toronto. She also received an M.A.Sc. in Applied Chemistry from the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Edwards. Her M.A.Sc. research examined the mechanism of benzene biodegradation in anaerobic nitrate-reducing microbial enrichment cultures. Elisse is currently a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Lyle Whyte at McGill University, where her research focuses on characterization of microbial activity in extreme cold, saline springs in the Canadian High Arctic. Her research has been featured in news outlets including Wired, The Independent, CTV, Radio Canada, and Le Devoir, and was selected as one of Quebec Science's Les 10 découverts de 2022.

Career Development Workshop

Sunday, June 25, 9:00 - 12:00

The use of social media to fight misinformation and advance early careers for microbiologists.

Description: This workshop will focus on social media tools, tips, and strategies to promote microbiology, career advancement. Strategies and suggestions on how to address the growing public misinformation movements will also be discussed.

Presenters: Dr. Arinjay Banerjee (University of Saskatchewan) and Dr. Edel Perez Lopez (Université Laval)

Chairs: Dr. Dawn Bignell (Memorial University) and Dr. Edel Perez-Lopez (Université Laval)

  • Dr. Arinjay Banerjee

    Dr. Arinjay Banerjee

    University of Saskatchewan

    Dr. Arinjay Banerjee (PhD) is an award winning virologist and the Principal Investigator of the Laboratory of Zoonotic Viruses and Comparative Immunology at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, University of Saskatchewan, and adjunct faculty member at the Universities of Saskatchewan, Waterloo, British Columbia, and Toronto. Dr. Banerjee is the co-lead for One Health at the University of Saskatchewan. Research within Dr. Banerjee’s laboratory focuses on three main themes that are inspired by the One Health ideology, (1) virus-host interactions in wildlife reservoir species, such as bats, (2) virus-host interactions in spillover species, such as humans, and (3) viral vaccine development. Dr. Banerjee’s laboratory is a member of Canada’s Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network (CoVaRR-Net), and as part of this network, his laboratory investigates emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. Research within Dr. Banerjee’s laboratory is funded by NIAID/NIH, CIHR, NSERC, SHRF and CoVaRR-Net.

    Dr. Banerjee completed his Master of Science degree in virology from the National Institute of Virology in India where his Master’s thesis was awarded the university gold medal. Next, Dr. Banerjee completed his PhD from the University of Saskatchewan where his doctoral thesis on coronavirus-host interactions was awarded Canada’s Governor General’s Gold medal. Dr. Banerjee’s postdoctoral research at McMaster University was awarded the Gerard Wright postdoctoral award in Infection Research and the postdoctoral fellow impact award. More recently, Dr. Banerjee was selected as CBC Saskatchewan’s Top 40 under 40.

  • Dr. Edel Pérez López

    Dr. Edel Pérez López

    Université Laval

    Edel Pérez López is an assistant professor at Université Laval, since 2020. Hi is B.Sc in Biochemistry from University of Havana, Cuba, and Ph.D. in Ecology and Biotechnology, from University Veracruzana, Mexico. His research has focused on the taxonomy of phytoplasmas, plant pathogenic bacteria affecting several economically important crops worldwide, and in applied and molecular aspects of the clubroot disease affecting canola industry. EdeLab is formed by a diverse group of trainees supported by several Federal, Provincial and Industry partners looking for ways to improve plant health and our understanding of plant-pathogen interaction. Edel is an active member of the Canadian scientific community and is actively engaged in the Canadian Society of Phytopathologists, Microbiologists, Plant Biologists and Plant Biotechnologists.

7th Annual Forum on Microbiology Undergraduate Education (FOME)

Sunday, June 25, 13:30 - 17:00

Chairs: Dr. Nicole Sukdeo, University of Northern British Colombia and Dr. Maria Correia Davis, University of Delaware

This year’s FOME theme is “Microbiology for All”, which is a call to reflect on practices that foster learning and engagement by non-majors students enrolled in Microbiology courses. This event will include attention to teaching approaches in Microbiology courses directed specifically at non-majors in addition to courses in a Microbiology degree program (with general enrollment).

This year we are excited to have Dr. Jennifer McDonald as our keynote facilitator!

Dr. McDonald is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, at St. Mary’s University, an avid Tweeter articulating her passion for Biology education and knitting, Dr. McDonald is a committed practitioner of engaging instructional methods that have garnered her recognition in Canadian news (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/fanshawe-college-london-biology-fish-mislabelled-sushi-1.5098296) and have led to her winning several teaching awards.

Submit a proposal for a 10-minute (+ 2 minutes for questions) MicroFOME presentation TODAY! You may also submit an abstract for the first-ever FOME poster session if you have a microbiology education project or teaching strategy you would like to share in print format.

FOME Keynote Facilitator

  • Dr. Jennifer McDonald

    Dr. Jennifer McDonald

    St. Mary's University

    Title of the talk: Fostering Friendship with Microbes: teaching students how to love the invisible.

    Dr. Jennifer McDonald is an engaging and passionate science educator with a research background in fungal systematics. She is also active on Twitter as @AwesomeBiota, using this platform to articulate her engaging teaching approaches, share her adventures around Halifax, and share her many knitting projects. She currently instructs in the Biology Department at St. Mary’s University as an assistant professor and recently has coordinated two foundational laboratory courses.

    Dr. McDonald has extensive teaching experience at the University and College levels, delivering courses in diverse biological subject areas. These include Economic Botany as a TA at Western University, and the biology of small and large organisms as a sessional professor of Biology at Fanshawe College (Cytology, Microbiology, Mycology, Plant and Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Molecular Biology, Environmental Science, and Biochemistry). Dr. McDonald has also taught as an adjunct professor at Lambton College. She has earned several awards for exceptional teaching during her career.

EDI Workshop: Rethinking EDIA in 2023

Sunday, June 25, 17:00 - 18:30

Co-Chairs: Dr. Kari Dunfield, University of Guelph & Dr. Jonathan D. Van Hamme, Thompson Rivers University

Speaker: Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Dalhousie University

By the end of this session participants will:

· Be reminded of the ways in which the practice and profession of medicine has complicit in upholding forms of oppression, using racism as the primary example.

· Be introduced to the concept of anti-oppressive practice, including the concepts of identity, intersectionality, and power.

· Have reflected on the biases we are left with and how we might react with fragility when they are exposed.

  • Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed

    Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed

    Dalhousie University, Faculty of Medicine

    Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed is the Associate Dean of Serving and Engaging Society for Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine, and Chair of the Board of Engage Nova Scotia. She is a public health specialist physician with 17 years experience, having served as the former Medical Officer of Health for the Halifax area and Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health for Nova Scotia.

    Dr. Watson-Creed is a PEI native and received chemistry degrees from UPEI and University of Guelph before attending Dalhousie University for her MD in 1995. From there, she attended McMaster University where she received board certifications in family medicine in 2001 and in Public Health and Preventive Medicine in 2005. She sits as chair or member of several population health councils and boards nationally, including the Examination Board for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the Board of Community Food Centres of Canada. She is co-chair of the Advisory Council to the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health and a member of the CIHI Advisory Council on Population Health. Dr. Watson-Creed sat on the One Nova Scotia Coalition, and received the William Grigor award for achievement in medicine from Doctors Nova Scotia in 2017. In 2018 she was awarded the President’s award from Public Health Physicians of Canada for her advocacy regarding public health systems and services in Canada. In 2019 she was named one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network in recognition of the direction and support she has provided to so many initiatives. Dr. Watson-Creed was named to the federal Task Force on Women in the Economy, co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister Mona Fortier, which completed its work in 2021. She was awarded the title Doctor of Science, honoris causa, by Acadia University in 2021 in recognition of her many contributions to Nova Scotia and to Canada over her career.

CIHR-III Session: Highlighting Excellence in Early Career Research

This session profiles the impactful research of three promising Early Career Researchers (ECRs) that have been supported through CIHR funding competitions. The session recognizes the excellence of health research being done in Canada by new investigators in the field of infection and immunity. The Speakers will highlight how their research has addressed critical gaps and provide insights on how researchers who are earlier in their careers can establish impactful research programs. Attendees will have the opportunity to actively engage the speakers in critical reflection on their work and career journeys.

Session outline:

15:00 - 15:15: CIHR-III Welcome & Overview
Chair: Dr. Marianne Stanford, Assistant Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity

15:15- 15:30
Tentative Title: Iron-ing out our understanding of nutritional immunity in controlling multidrug resistant pathogens
Speaker: Dr. Jessica Sheldon, University of Saskatchewan

15:30 - 15:45
Title: Unlocking new antimicrobial strategies by studying virulence and antibiotic resistance under host-relevant conditions
Speaker: Dr. Omar El-Halfawy, University of Regina

15:45 - 16:00
Title: A genetic system for Akkermansia muciniphila reveals a role for mucin foraging in gut colonization
Speaker: Dr. Lauren Davey, University of Victoria

  • Dr. Jessica Sheldon

    Dr. Jessica Sheldon

    University of Saskatchewan

    Dr. Sheldon earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Lakehead University (Thunder Bay, Ontario) where she investigated the role of a stationary phase sigma factor in the survival of pathogenic Escherichia coli under starvation conditions. She completed her PhD studies under the mentorship of Dr. David Heinrichs at the University of Western Ontario, characterizing a novel staphylococcal citrate synthase and defining its role in Staphylococcus aureus iron acquisition and pathogenesis. During her doctoral training she participated in research exchanges at both the Institut Pasteur (Paris, France) and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, Tennessee), where she would later go on to conduct her postdoctoral research with Dr. Eric Skaar. During her postdoc, she identified an iron uptake strategy that is required for virulence by Acinetobacter baumannii and worked to define the innate immune response to infection by this pathogen. The overarching theme of Dr. Sheldon’s research is investigating how nutrient acquisition in medically relevant bacteria contributes to their survival and pathogenesis within the host. She joined the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Saskatchewan in 2022. She currently is funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, holding the top-ranking Establishment Grant and an Award of Excellence, and is also supported financially by the College of Medicine at USask as a new faculty member.

  • Dr. Omar El-Halfawy

    Dr. Omar El-Halfawy

    University of Regina

    Dr. Omar El-Halfawy is a Canada Research Chair in Chemogenomics and Antimicrobial Research and Assistant Professor in Biochemistry at the University of Regina since August 2020. His research group works towards uncovering novel antibiotic resistance and microbial virulence mechanisms and discovering new antimicrobial solutions using an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses microbiology, biochemistry, molecular and chemical biology, and chemogenomics. El-Halfawy received his B.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and M.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Microbiology from Alexandria University, Egypt, in 2005 and 2009, respectively. He also worked as a community pharmacist in Egypt. In 2010, he moved to Canada and completed his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at Dr. Miguel Valvano’s lab at the University of Western Ontario in 2014, focusing on mechanisms of intrinsic antibiotic resistance mediated by metabolites and other bacterial small molecules. El-Halfawy then completed a postdoctoral fellowship from 2015 to 2020 at Dr. Eric Brown’s lab at McMaster University, where he explored novel solutions to target multi-drug resistant bacteria. His lab is currently supported by CIHR Tier 2 CRC research stipend, NFRF exploration grant, NSERC discovery grant, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) establishment grant, and start-up funds from the UofR.

  • Dr. Lauren Davey

    Dr. Lauren Davey

    University of Victoria

    Dr. Lauren Davey joined the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Victoria, in Victoria BC, as an Assistant Professor in September 2022. She completed her BSc. and MSc with Dr. Heidi Schraft at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON, and her PhD with Drs Song Lee and Scott Halperin at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, NS. From there she went on to postdoctoral training with Raphael Valdivia in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University in Durham, NC, USA, with fellowships from CIHR, NSERC, and the American Heart Association. Research in her lab focuses on the beneficial gut bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila, and uses genetic approaches to investigate colonization, host-microbe interactions, and to engineer probiotic strains.

Symposium # 1: Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology

June 26, 09:00 - 10:30

Design Principles and Computational Tools for Engineering Metabolism for Value-added Chemicals Production
Invited Speaker: Radhakrishnan Mahadevan, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

  • Dr. Radhakrishnan Mahadevan

    Dr. Radhakrishnan Mahadevan

    University of Toronto, Departments of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering

    Dr. Krishna Mahadevan is a Professor in the Departments of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, and Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. He obtained his B. Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in Chemical Engineering in 1997 and then obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Delaware in Chemical Engineering in 2002. He was a research scientist at Genomatica Inc., San Diego from 2002-06 and has also held appointments as a visiting scholar and a guest lecturer at the Department of Bioengineering in the University of California, San Diego, and in the Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research interests are in the area of modeling, analysis and optimization of metabolism for applications in bioremediation, biochemicals production and medicine and has published over 130 articles in these areas. He has received Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology’s Young Investigator Award in 2012, University of Toronto FASE Research Leaders Award in 2013, the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship in 2014, the Syncrude Innovation Award in 2014, Biochemical Engineering Journal Young Investigator award in 2017, the D.G. Fisher Award in 2021 and the Miller Visiting Professorship from UC Berkeley in 2022.

Symposium # 2: Antimicrobial Resistance

June 26, 09:00 - 10:30

Overcoming Antimicrobial Resistance—a sticky situation
Invited Speaker: Dr. Georgina Cox, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

  • Dr. Georgina Cox

    Dr. Georgina Cox

    University of Guelph, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

    Dr. Georgina Cox is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada). Dr. Cox’s training has centered on studying and combating antibiotic resistant pathogenic bacteria. She has >10 years of experience in laboratories renowned for their research into multidrug-resistant pathogens. She completed her PhD at the University of Leeds (United Kingdom), postdoctoral training with Dr. Gerry Wright at McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada), and started her own research group in 2017 at the University of Guelph. Dr. Cox’s current research program explores complex aspects of bacterial physiology in combination with cutting-edge drug discovery endeavors to ultimately combat pathogenic bacteria. Specifically, Dr. Cox and her group are exploring novel approaches to control bacterial infections by investigating and inhibiting bacterial adhesion to the host. Her lab also studies drug efflux systems, to gain insight into the physiological functions and origins of efflux pumps, which will support future drug discovery efforts and antibiotic stewardship.

Symposium # 3: Microbial Surface Structures

June 26, 09:00 - 10:30

Calcium, manganese or a membrane: which are the key drivers of PulG fiber assembly and function?
Invited Speaker: Dr. Jenny-Lee Thomassin, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK

  • Dr. Jenny-Lee Thomassin

    Dr. Jenny-Lee Thomassin

    University of Saskatchewan, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology

    Jenny-Lee Thomassin is an Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. She obtained her BSc from Saint Mary’s University, her MSc from Dalhousie University, and her PhD from McGill. Her postdoctoral work was completed in the laboratories of Olivera Francetic at the Institut Pasteur, and Guy Tran Van Nhieu at the Collège de France. Research in her group is focused on how bacteria interact with and shape their local environment. They are specifically interested in the molecular mechanisms involved in protein secretion, the targets of secreted proteins and the underlying mechanisms that promote bacterial survival within their niche.

Symposium # 4: Soil and Environmental Microbiology

June 26, 11:00 - 12:30

Systems-level probes of the plant-pathogen interface.
Invited Speaker: Dr. Darrell Deveaux, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

  • Dr. Darrell Desveaux

    Dr. Darrell Desveaux

    University of Toronto, Centre for the Analysis of Genome Evolution & Function, Department of Cell & Systems Biology

    Darrell Desveaux is Professor in the Department of Cell and Systems Biology at the University of Toronto, Canada. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Montreal, then held a postdoctoral fellowship with Jeff Dangl at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The Desveaux research group aims to comprehensively map the diversity at the plant-microbe interface, focusing on pathogenic effectors and the host resistance proteins that recognize them.

Symposium # 5: Fungal and Eukaryotic Microbiology

June 26, 11:00 - 12:30

Novel mechanisms modulating fungal fitness under hypoxia
Invited Speaker: Dr. Adnane Sellam, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC

  • Dr. Adnane Sellam

    Dr. Adnane Sellam

    Université de Montréal, Montreal Heart Institute, Department of Microbiology, Infectiology and Immunology

    Dr. Adnane Sellam is an associate professor at the department of Microbiology, Infectiology and Immunology at Université de Montréal. He is also a principal investigator at the Montreal Heart Institute. Dr Sellam held a Ph.D. from University of Angers (France) and undertook a postdoctoral training at University McGill/NRC Canada. Dr. Sellam is an expert on systems biology and genomics, applied to fungal pathogens such as species belonging to the Candida and Malassezia genera. His research has been funded by different recognized provincial (CQDM, FRQS) and federal (CIHR, NSERC, CFI) funding organisms. The main objective Dr Sellam’ research is to decipher regulatory circuits that control the sensing and the metabolic flexibility of the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans under hypoxic environment, a condition predominantly encountered inside the host. Dr. Sellam’ team is also exploiting forward chemogenomic to uncover small molecules that inhibit key fungal traits associated with fungal virulence including the invasive filamentous growth, biofilm formation and adaptation to stress. His group has recently identified novel antifungal chemical scaffolds that are currently under clinical validation.

Symposium # 6: Bioinformatics, Genomics and Genome Evolution

June 26, 11:00 - 12:30

A novel symbiosomal organelle housing deltaproteobacteria in an anaerobic amoeba.
Invited Speaker: Dr. Andrew Roger, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS

  • Dr. Andrew J. Roger

    Dr. Andrew J. Roger

    Dalhousie University, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    Andrew Roger’s research program over the past two decades has employed comparative genomic, phylogenetic, bioinformatic and other ‘omic’ approaches to clarifying how eukaryotic cells and their symbiont-derived organelles originated and diversified in the past ~2 billion years. The Roger lab has made important advances in illuminating the deepest relationships in the eukaryotic tree of life, the origin of mitochondria, the molecular and cellular basis for the repeated adaptation to low oxygen conditions in diverse protistan lineages, the roles of lateral gene transfer in eukaryote genome evolution and, the development of biochemically realistic and statistically robust models of protein evolution.

Symposium # 7: Marine Microbiology

June 27, 09:00 - 10:30

Molecular insights into abiotic and biotic factors shaping diatom ecophysiology and signalling
Invited Speaker: Dr. Katherine Helliwell, Marine Biological Association, Citadel Hill Plymouth, Devon, UK

  • Dr. Katherine Helliwell

    Dr. Katherine Helliwell

    NERC Independent Research Fellow, Joint University of Exeter/Marine Biological Association Research Fellow

    Katherine Helliwell is a molecular microbiologist interested in the fundamental biology of photosynthetic marine microbes, which critically underpin marine ecosystems. Following a degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol (UK), she pursued a PhD and postdoc with Professor Alison Smith in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge. During this time, her work dissected the role of organic nutrients (vitamins) in governing the evolution and ecology of diverse phytoplankton taxa. After a postdoc at the Marine Biological Association with Professor Colin Brownlee on algal signalling, Katherine was awarded a NERC Independent Research Fellowship and currently holds a joint appointment and Senior Research Fellowship with the University of Exeter. The Helliwell group combines novel molecular tools with environmental methods to investigate interactions of algae with other marine microbes, algal nutrient physiology and cell signalling mechanisms.

Symposium # 8: Pathogenesis and the Host Response

June 27, 09:00 - 10:30

Bacterial Pathogenesis: Probing Virulence Factor Function Using Proximity-dependent Biotin Labelling (BioID)
Invited Speaker: Dr. Vanessa D’Costa, Ottawa University, Ottawa, Ontario

  • Dr. Vanessa D’Costa

    Dr. Vanessa D’Costa

    University of Ottawa, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology

    Dr. Vanessa D’Costa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa. She obtained her Ph.D. at McMaster University, and conducted her postdoctoral research at The Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. D’Costa has research experience in the fields of antibiotic resistance, natural product biosynthesis and drug discovery, bacterial pathogenesis, and host response to infection. She is a member of Centre for Infection, Immunity and Inflammation (CI3), and has worked with L’Oréal-UNESCO and the Gairdner Foundation to promote the importance of diversity in scientific excellence. The D’Costa Laboratory’s research explores the intricate host-microbe relationships underlying bacterial infection, examining mechanisms of infection of intracellular pathogens, and how this insight might provide opportunities to target these infectious microbes therapeutically.

Symposium # 9: Bacteriophage and Bacterial Defense Systems

June 27, 09:00 - 10:30

A Phage odyssey: uncovering the dynamic interactions shaping gut microbiomes in infancy and adulthood.
Invited Speaker: Dr. Corinne Maurice, McGill University, Montréal, Québec

  • Dr. Corinne F. Maurice

    Dr. Corinne F. Maurice

    McGill University, Microbiology & Immunology Department

    Dr. Corinne F. Maurice is an Assistant Professor in the Microbiology & Immunology Department at McGill University, where she is also the Co-Director of the McGill Centre for Microbiome Research. She is a leading expert in bacteria and bacteriophage interactions in the gut microbiome, focusing on bacteriophage replication, bacterial physiology and metabolism, and microbial ecology, with > 11,000 citations. Dr. Maurice has made significant contributions to the understanding of the interactions between members of the gut microbiome, with over 40 peer-reviewed papers published in high-impact journals and a network of national and international collaborations. Her work has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NSERC, CIHR, CIFAR, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and the FRQs. Dr. Maurice's contributions to the field have been recognized through various awards: She is the Canada Research Chair in Gut Microbial Physiology and a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar. Beyond her research accomplishments, Dr. Maurice is dedicated to sharing knowledge and promoting public understanding of the microbiome. She has participated in various outreach and media events, helping to bridge the gap between scientific discoveries and the general public.

Symposium # 10: Microbiomes in Health and Disease

June 27, 11:00 - 12:30

Microbial bioactivity in the human microbiome
Invited Speaker: Dr. Curtis Huttenhower, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

  • Dr. Curtis Huttenhower

    Dr. Curtis Huttenhower

    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Departments of Biostatistics and Immunology and Infectious Diseases

    Curtis Huttenhower, PhD, is a Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics in the Departments of Biostatistics and Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he co-directs the Harvard Chan Microbiome in Public Health Center. He is an Associate Member at the Broad Institute's Microbiome Program. His lab focuses on computational methods for functional analysis of microbial communities and molecular epidemiology of the human microbiome. This includes systems biology reconstructions integrating metagenomic, metatranscriptomic, and other microbial community 'omics, microbiome ecology in health and disease, and its potential as a diagnostic tool and point of therapeutic intervention.

Symposium # 11: Virulence and Gene Regulation

June 27, 11:00 - 12:30

Pheromone signaling in the bioluminescent light-organ symbiont Vibrio fischeri
Invited Speaker: Dr. Eric Stabb, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA

  • Dr. Eric V Stabb

    Dr. Eric V Stabb

    University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Biological Sciences

    Eric Stabb is a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). He obtained his BS and PhD degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his dissertation research focused on plant-associated Bacillus cereus biocontrol agents. Since 1997, he has studied the light-organ symbiont Vibrio fischeri, first as a postdoc and then as an independent faculty member. His research group has developed genetic tools for V. fischeri and made advances in understanding this bacterium’s physiology, gene-regulation, and symbiotic interactions with the Hawaiian bobtail squid. He has served the American Society for Microbiology as an Editor for Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2016-2021), as co-chair of the Conference on Cell-Cell Communication in Bacteria (2011-2018), as Chair of the General Microbiology Division (2013), and as a member of the Editorial Board for Journal of Bacteriology (2016-present), among other roles. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2018 and moved to UIC to serve as Head of the Biological Sciences Department in 2019.

Symposium # 12: ‘Omic’ Approaches to Gene and Drug Discovery

June 27, 11:00 - 12:30

Why are babies at risk for sepsis? A systems biology approach to understanding neonatal sepsis
Invited Speaker: Dr. Amy Lee, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia

  • Dr. Amy Lee

    Dr. Amy Lee

    Simon Fraser University, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Department

    Dr. Amy Lee joined the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University as an Assistant Professor in 2020, applying systems biology approaches to understand host-pathogen interactions. She started her graduate career trying to understand how bacteria regulate cell size and cell division and pursued a MSc degree with Dr. Petra Levin at Washington University in St. Louis. She completed her PhD at the Department of Cell and Systems Biology at University of Toronto with Drs. David Guttman and Darrell Desveaux, studying the evolutionary arms race during host-pathogen interaction. She then moved to University of British Columbia (UBC) to do a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Corey Nislow, where she used comparative bacterial genomics and phenomics to understand how bacterial pathogens adapt to cause persistent long-term infections. This was followed by a productive 3-year postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Bob Hancock at UBC applying systems immunology and vaccinology to understand neonatal immune development.

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