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.

Dr. Tina Netzker

Tina completed her B.Sc. at the University of Bayreuth and her M.Sc. at the University of Leipzig, before moving on to the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans Knöll Institute for her Ph.D., where her work focussed on the chemical interplay between fungi and Streptomyces bacteria. She carried on this work as a post-doctoral fellow for another couple of years, before joining us as a Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Post-doctoral Fellow in August 2019. Tina is focussing her attention on the regulatory underpinnings of a new form of Streptomyces growth and development. Outside of the lab, Tina and her partner are making the most of their time in Canada, exploring not only the Hamilton area, but also hitting other amazing natural wonders from Alberta to Ontario! While loving the outdoors, she draws the line at camping (Germans do not camp!). She is also helping to educate the lab on the wonders of European confectionary (chocolate covered gingerbread; wonderful little jelly treats), and entertaining parallels in the English-German languages (e.g. 'ice-bear' vs 'polar' bear).

Dr. Michelle Williams

Michelle obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. at Missouri State Univerity, before moving to the University of Missouri for her Ph.D. She began her academic career studying protein interactions in yeast during her M.Sc., before moving over to bacteria for her Ph.D., where she was investigating cell wall synthesis in soil bacteria (Agrobacterium and their relatives). Michelle joined us in January 2020 - and had time to begin getting acquainted with Streptomyces biology before the university shut down. She is, however, now moving full speed ahead, in applying her phenomenal cell biology experience, to understanding exploratory growth in Streptomyces venezuelae, and coupling this with analyses aimed at understanding the genes that contribute to growth of these remarkable bacteria. Michelle is appreciating the interesting cultural differences between Canada and the US, having enjoyed her first Canadian Thanksgiving (similar food, strange time of the year), and is now gearing up to embrace (or not...) her first full Canadian winter. She has taken advantage of this weird distanced, online world, and has brought the lab together for online crossword extravaganzas, and ensured that not only were we competitive, but WON the Halloween pumpkin carving competition this year!

Graduate Students

Emma Mulholland (M.Sc. recipient!)

Emma started in the lab in May of 2017 as an undergraduate student, and after having completed a beautiful thesis, opted to continue to expand her scientific horizons as an M.Sc. student, starting her graduate work in September 2018. Emma is working to advance our understanding of RNA metabolism in Streptomyces, and is further probing the roles of novel DNA architectures in these bacteria. Emma defended her MSc thesis in an excellent defense in Sept 2020, and is staying on for a few more months to advance her projects. As befits a student from the interdisciplinary Arts & Sci undergraduate program, Emma's skills are broad and varied. She has worked as a reporter for The Silhouette (McMaster's newspaper), enjoys travelling and the outdoors, and has immersed herself in karate training (carrying on a lab tradition started by Marie during her grad student days). In addition to being an excellent experimentalist (and NSERC/OGS scholarship awardee), Emma has also proven to be a talented networker, effectively working the room at the annual Canadian Society of Microbiologists conferences in Waterloo and Sherbrooke! She is the 'pun-master' of the lab (along with Evan), and will be forever remembered for her contributions to the award-winning 'smoking pumpkin' in Biology's 2020 Halloween competition (it was awesome!!).

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

Andrea Verdes (MBG co-op)

Andrea joined us in January for her first co-op term within the Molecular Biology and Genetics co-op program. She is working in association with Fei, to better understand the regulation of antibiotic production in Streptomyces bacteria. Initial research plans changed a bit in March (as did the day-to-day life of almost everyone), and the university shut-down and slow start-back up provided Andrea with an outstanding opportunity to hone her bioinformatic and scientific communication skills! The Fall term meant a return to in-person research (hurray!) - this time in the capacity of a 4th year thesis. We have discovered that Andrea's music and film tastes are incredibly inclusive in terms of eras - covering everything from the BeeGees (70's) and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (classic 80's!), to Harry Styles and Lady Bird! She was also an important contributor to the Elliot lab's award winning pumpkin in the department's Halloween carving competition!

Logan Downer (MBG)

Logan joined our group in May 2020, in 'the summer to remember' (or forget?), when she immersed herself in Streptomyces reading, and bioinformatic analyses of RNA-seq data. She was finally able to get into the lab in September, and kick off her 4th year thesis work, where she is looking to understand how ribonucleases impact regulator activity during Streptomyces growth. Outside of the lab, Logan is renowned for her unexpected (but lovely!) hair colour choices, and for her swimming and instructional prowess!

Lab Alumni - where are they now?

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Dr. Danielle Sexton (2018-2019) - Post-doctoral fellow (UBC)
  • Dr. Matt Moody (2017) - Scientific Analyst, Business Development, Appili Therapeutics
  • Dr. Renée St-Onge (2016-2017) - Research Scientist with Rna Diagnostics
  • 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

  • Stephanie Jones, Ph.D. (2018) - Post-doctoral fellow (MIT)
  • Danielle Sexton, Ph.D. (2018) - 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

  • Sara Mar (2019-2020 iSci) - M.Sc. Candidate (U of T)
  • Alexandria Amadasun (2018-2019 Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) - Co-op student, McMaster University
  • Yordan Stoyanov (2018-2019 Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) - M.Sc. Candidate (McMaster)
  • Christine Pham (2017-2018 Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) - M.Sc. Candidate (U of T)
  • Emma Mulholland (2017-2018 Biology/Arts & Science) - M.Sc. Candidate (McMaster)
  • 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 (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 Medical student
  • 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)