Post Doctoral Fellows and Research Associates

Dr. Hindra

Hindra completed his B.Sc. in Food Technology at the University of Pelita Harapan (Indonesia), before coming to Canada, where he completed his M.Sc. in Applied Microbiology and Food Science at the University of Saskatchewan, and his Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology at McMaster University. Hindra than undertook post-doctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute (Florida), in the lab of Prof. Ben Shen, where he added a strong foundation in 'chemical biology' to his extensive skill repertoire! Hindra returned to McMaster in 2017, and he is working to combine his chemical biology expertise with his microbial genetic skills, to identify new natural products. Hindra epitomizes 'cool, calm and collected' in the lab, and is proving to be a strong mentor. Outside of the lab, Hindra is known for his love of soup, his impressive volleyball capabilities, and his amazing daughters.

Graduate Students

Meghan Pepler (M.Sc. candidate)

Meghan joined us in September of 2018 for her 4th year thesis, after having completed her first co-op position at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. She continued her work with us as part of an eight month co-op term, followed by a four month project. After considering her graduate school options, we were delighted that she opted to continue on in the lab as an M.Sc. student! (supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship no less!). Her work in the lab to this point has spanned many areas, including examining the microbiome of fish eggs, and probing the anti-microbial properties of 'gland extracts' from the fathers (not as disgusting as it sounds...depending on who you talk to...), in collaboration with Sigal Balshine's group in PNB. Her graduate work is more focussed on the molecular genetics of 'wild' (uncharacterized) Streptomyces isolates, and their production of antibiotics and other natural products. Meghan is a hot yoga aficionado (which Marie appreciates but doesn't understand) and an avid cyclist. She is also an enthusiastic chef, and a keeper of bees (who produce amazing honey!). Meghan and Evan have been very positive additions to the lab's 'trivia team', giving them their first 'top three' finish in years! Meghan is also the driver (and designer!) of our first ever 'lab swag' - spectacular hoodies with an 'Elliot lab' logo on them!

Evan Shepherdson (Ph.D. candidate)

Evan joined our group in September 2018, after having completed his BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Waterloo (following in the footsteps of Dave, Henry and Matt M., who were all Waterloo graduates). And he was so excited about his work, that he transferred to the Ph.D. program a year early, in Sept 2019, and then passed his comprehensive exam in 2020 (also early!), with TOP marks! Evan's NSERC and Ontario Graduate Scholarship-supported work is forging new directions in understanding the environmental, genetic and metabolic aspects underlying Streptomyces exploratory growth. Evan has proven to be a trivia master, pun-maker extraordinare, and together with Meghan, has launched the lab trivia team into prize winning territory for the first time in ages. Like many others in the lab, he has his food quirks, which include a worrying taste in cereals (who doesn't like Shreddies?!?!) but impeccable taste in chocolate (Coffee Crisp is indeed the best Halloween treat), and he is a sports enthusiast, cheering for the Panthers (NFL, not NHL), playing squash, and organizing volleyball teams (and then excelling while playing on them!).

Matt Zambri (Ph.D. candidate)

Matt started his M.Sc. with us in September 2017, before transferring to the Ph.D. program in May 2019 (and acing his comprehensive exam in 2020!). He is making impressive progress on understanding the structural and environmental factors that contribute to Streptomyces exploration, and in recognition of his research excellence to date, Matt was recently awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2020-2021)! Matt graduated with his B.Sc. from the University of Ottawa, where he gained extensive molecular biology experience courtesy of his co-op placements in microbiology labs associated with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Matt carries on a long-standing lab tradition of being an opponent of cherry tomatoes (not sure what the problem is - these are tasty little things!), as well as a staunch supporter of both the Blue Jays (Matt also plays high-level baseball), and the Maple Leafs (who periodically flirt with being a team worth supporting!?). In addition to his athletic and academic skills, Matt is proving to be a serious culinary innovator, creating saga-worthy dishes for multiple lab dinners (he may well never buy an eggplant again...).

Xiafei Zhang (Ph.D. candidate)

Xiafei started her M.Sc. in the lab in September 2016, having completed her undergraduate degree at Sichuan Normal University in China. She transferred to the Ph.D. program in 2018, in what was a glorious transfer defense. Fei has made outstanding progress so far, and in recognition of her research productivity and promise, she has been awarded an 'International Excellence Award', along with the only 'Ontario Graduate Scholarship' awarded to international students in the Faculty of Science. Fei is focusing her attention on understanding the function of a key regulator of antibiotic production in Streptomyces. Fei has actively embraced the natural wonders of the Hamilton area and has rapidly become the 'waterfall expert' in the lab. In true Canadian fashion, Fei arrived in the country and promptly learned to skate (under the expert guidance of Savannah, a former graduate student and provincial skating champion)! Xiafei has recently taken up squash and tennis, and like others in the lab, she adores food; although she is (unfairly) anti-broccoli, solely due to its 'little tree' appearance...

Undergraduate Students

Christine Baglio (MBG co-op)

Christine joined us in January 2021 for her first co-op term within the Molecular Biology and Genetics co-op program, and after 8 months, transitioned into doing her 4th year thesis with us. She has been working together with Matt, to better understand the factors that influence exploratory growth by Streptomyces bacteria. Christine settled into the lab quickly, and has proven to be more than capable of handling Matt's sarcasm with impressively witty retorts, and has been a natural when it comes to playing 'spikeball'. She too carries on the lab tradition of having strange food quirks - apparently 'salads' are not her thing?! To be fair, 'salads' can mean different things to different people (iceberg lettuce and tomatoes aren't very exciting), but we're hoping to bring her around by exposing her to the more exotic side of the salad realm...

Ian Douglas (MBG co-op)

Like Christine, Ian is in the Molecular Biology and Genetics co-op program. He joined our group in May 2020 for the 2nd half of his 3rd year co-op term and has stayed on in the lab for his 4th year thesis, where he has continued his work with Meghan, developing tools for monitoring antibiotic production in wild Streptomyces bacteria, and identifying compounds produced by unusual cell types. Outside of the lab, Ian is a history and geography aficionado (and is doing a history minor!) who seeks out any opportunity to travel. Hailing from Prince Edward Island, Ian made the most of his time in Hamilton, exploring its many trail systems and honing the art of spikeball alongside others in the lab.

Lab Alumni - where are they now?

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Dr. Michelle Williams (2020-2021) - Brewery Scientist - Kansas City (USA)
  • Dr. Tina Netzker (2019-2021) - Research Coordinator, Leibniz Institute on Aging - Fritz Lipmann Institute (Germany)
  • Dr. Danielle Sexton (2018-2019) - NSERC-funded Post-doctoral fellow (UBC)
  • Dr. Matt Moody (2017) - Scientific Analyst, Business Development, Appili Therapeutics
  • Dr. Renée St-Onge (2016-2017) - Research Professional, Université de Moncton
  • Dr. Emma Sherwood (2013-2016) - Consultant for Cello Health Consulting
  • Dr. Julia Swiercz (2013-2013) - Senior Medical Manager, Synapse Medical Communication
  • Dr. David Capstick (2011-2013) - Operations Manager, Adapsyn Bioscience
  • Dr. Mary Yousef (2007-2010) - Clinical position at Juravinski Cancer Centre, Hamilton, ON
  • Dr. Jan Bobek (2008) - Assistant Professor at Charles University, Czech Republic

Graduate Students

  • Emma Mulholland, M.Sc. (2020) - Intern with Canadian Council of Academies
  • Stephanie Jones, Ph.D. (2018) - HHMI-funded Post-doctoral fellow (MIT); now a Consultant with Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
  • Danielle Sexton, Ph.D. (2018) - NSERC-funded Post-doctoral fellow (UBC)
  • Savannah Colameco, M.Sc. (2018) - R&D Technologist, DNA Genotek
  • David Crisante, M.Sc. (2018) - Research Technician, U of T
  • Matt Moody, Ph.D. (2017) - Scientific Analyst, Business Development, Appili Therapeutics
  • Chris Firby, M.Sc. (2017) - Senior Regulatory Affairs Officer, Health Canada
  • Renée St-Onge, Ph.D. (2016) - Research Professional, Université de Moncton
  • Rachel Young, M.Sc. (2015) - Strain Engineer, Ginkgo Biologics Inc.
  • Andrew Duong, M.Sc. (2014) - Research program coordinator with Hamilton Health Sciences, and the Director of Operations for
  • Julia Swiercz, Ph.D. (2013) - Senior Medical Manager, Synapse Medical Communication
  • Hindra, Ph.D. (2012) - Post-doctoral fellow (Scripps Research Institute); now Research Associate, McMaster
  • Chan (Daphne) Gao, Ph.D. (2012) - Senior Medical Science Liaison for Roche
  • David Capstick, Ph.D. (2011) - Operations Manager, Adapsyn Bioscience
  • Henry Haiser, Ph.D. (2011)- CIHR-funded post-doctoral fellow (Harvard University); now Associate Scientific Director, Takeda Pharmaceuticals
  • Patricia Pak, M.Sc. (2010) - Physiotherapist

Undergraduate Thesis Students

  • Logan Downer (2020-2021 Molecular Biology and Genetics) - M.Sc. Candidate in Medicine (McMaster University)
  • Andrea Verdes (2020-2021 Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) - completing her final year of her BSc (McMaster)
  • Sara Mar (2019-2020 iSci) - M.Sc. Candidate in Medical Biophysics (U of T)
  • Alexandria Amadasun (2018-2019 Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) - now a Medical student (U of T)
  • Yordan Stoyanov (2018-2019 Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) - M.Sc. Global Health (McMaster)
  • Christine Pham (2017-2018 Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) - M.Sc. Candidate in Molecular Genetics (U of T)
  • Emma Mulholland (2017-2018 Biology/Arts & Science) - M.Sc. (McMaster); now Ph.D. candidate at the Université de Montréal
  • Sonya Turvey (2017-2018 Biochemistry Co-op) - Research and Development, PepsiCo
  • Loryn Byres (2016-2017 iSci) - M.Sc. candidate (U of T)
  • David Crisante (2015-2016 Biology/Molecular Biology and Genetics) - M.Sc. (McMaster), now a Research Technician
  • Nicole Revie (2015-2016 Biology) - Ph.D. candidate in Molecular Genetics (U of T)
  • Savannah Colameco (2015 Biology/Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) - M.Sc. (McMaster); now a Scientist with DNA Genotek, Ottawa
  • Dan Seale (2014 Biology) - Ph.D. candidate (UBC)
  • Chris Firby (2013-2014 Biochemistry) - M.Sc. (McMaster); now a Senior Regulatory Affairs Officer, Health Canada
  • Rachel Young (2012-2013 iSci) - M.Sc. (McMaster); now a Strain Engineer, Ginkgo Biologics Inc.
  • Alison Berzins (2012-2013 Biology/Arts & Science) - M.A. (U of T); now a Physician
  • Jackie Leonard (2011-2012 Biology/Molecular Biology and Genetics) - M.Sc. (Queens); M.Sc. (Brandeis University); now a Genetic counsellor
  • Talha Qureshi (2011-2012 Biochemistry Co-op) - Pharmacist
  • Michael Hewak (2010-2011 Biology/Molecular Biology and Genetics) - Physician
  • Kristy Shulist (2010 Biology/Genetics Co-op) - Ph.D. (McGill), now Account Associate, AXON Communications
  • Lauren Brady (2009-2010 Biology/Genetics) - Genetic counsellor
  • Andrew Duong (2008-2009 Biology/Genetics) - M.Sc. (McMaster); currently a Research program coordinator (Hamilton Health Sciences)
  • Chris Hanke (2008-2009 Biology/Microbiology) - Air Canada flight attendant
  • Nolan D'Souza (2008 Biology/Genetics Co-op) - Genetic counsellor
  • Marin Franchetto (2007-2008 Biology/Genetics) - Physician
  • Patricia Pak (2007-2008 Biology) - Physiotherapist
  • Chris Dowding (2006-2007 Biology/Arts & Science) - Physician
  • Sandy Shamon (2006-2007 Health Science) - Physician
  • Julia Swiercz (2006-2007 Biology/Genetics) - Ph.D. (McMaster); now a Senior Medical Manager, Synapse Medical Communication
  • Amanda Cocca (2005-2006 Biology/Genetics) - Genetics Technologist (Hamilton Health Sciences)