Post Doctoral Fellows

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. Matt Moody

Matt completed his B.Sc. at the University of Waterloo, and then spent three years working in industry with Sanofi Pasteur, before deciding to pursue graduate studies at McMaster. Matt defended an excellent Ph.D. thesis at the beginning of September, and he is staying on to finish up the last few experiments needed to publish his final thesis chapter. Over the course of his Ph.D., and now during his post-doc, Matt has been working to dramatically expand our understanding of RNA-based gene regulation in Streptomyces using transcriptome and bioinformatic analyses. Matt is renowned for his dislike of ketchup (what's to dislike?!), his competitive streak when it comes to - well, everything..., and will be forever remembered for his vocal performances with 'The Null Hypothesis' at the annual IIDR Christmas party!

Graduate Students

Savannah Colameco (M.Sc. candidate)

Savannah completed her B.Sc. at McMaster, in the Molecular Biology and Genetics co-op program. It was during this time that she first began work in the lab, initially as an NSERC USRA-supported co-op student, and thesis student. And we have been truly delighted that she decided to return to us to explore new and exciting avenues of Streptomyces biology, supported in her first year by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and in her second by an NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship! Savannah is investigating novel aspects of gene regulation in Streptomyces venezuelae at the level of RNA, DNA and protein. Like many others in the lab, Savannah is multi-talented: not only is she a gifted scientist, but she's also a decorated figure skater (and OUA all-star for McMaster's Mauraders) and an unexpected olive aficionado! Strangely enough, she is also distantly related to David! (something they only discovered after both having started in the lab!)

David Crisante (M.Sc. candidate)

David embarked on his research endeavours in the Elliot lab during the summer of 2015, conducted his 4th year thesis with us, and has now joined us for a more in-depth graduate school experience! He is exploring the role and regulation of amyloid proteins on Streptomyces development. He has endeared himself to the lab through his extreme honesty (and great quote-board contributions), his love of 'lab do's', and his enthusiasm for science. In addition to his scientific skills, he is a talented artist, and has proven to be a near unbeatable squash opponent for both Yordan and Steph (so far...).

Stephanie Jones (Ph.D. candidate)

Stephanie started her M.Sc. in September 2012, before transferring to the Ph.D. program in June of 2014. Her work in the lab has been supported both by an NSERC scholarship, and subsequently by a Vanier Scholarship. Steph comes to us from the University of Syracuse, where she not only developed a love of biology and bioinformatics, but she was also a star goaltender for the university hockey team! She is working to help further our understanding of non-coding RNAs in Streptomyces, from the perspective of RNA metabolism and RNase activity. Not content to just excel at winter sports, Steph makes the most of the long Ontario summers by embracing the joys of ultimate frisbee, where she plays both recreationally, and for McMaster. She tempers this active lifestyle with a love of Pizza Hut and The Pancake House.

Danielle Sexton (Ph.D. candidate)

Danielle, together with Steph, started her M.Sc. in the lab in September 2012, moving down the road from the University of Toronto where she completed her B.Sc. She has opted to extend her academic exploration, and in June 2014 transferred to the Ph.D. program. In recognition of the excellent work she is doing, she has been awarded an OGS, and more recently, an NSERC doctoral scholarship. Danielle's work is focussed on investigating protein-protein interactions on the Streptomyces cell surface, and is working on setting up new techniques and screens in the lab to understand how these proteins function, and how their activity is controlled. Unlike Matt, Danielle has successfully overcome her strange tomato issues since joining the lab, and outside of the lab, she can be found in the water, on her bike, or working to entertain the world's (or at least the lab's) largest/fluffiest cats.

Matt Zambri (M.Sc. candidate)

Matt started his M.Sc. with us in September 2017, and is making impressive progress on understanding the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to Streptomyces exploration. 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 (I think they are all insane - these are great things), as well as a staunch supporter of both the Blue Jays (Matt also plays high-level baseball), and the Maple Leafs (who are finally looking like 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 (M.Sc. candidate)

Xiafei started her M.Sc. in the lab in September 2016, having completed her undergraduate degree at Sichuan Normal University in China. 'Fei' is off to a roaring start, having been awarded an 'International Excellence Award', based on her research productivity and promise displayed over the last year. Fei is focusing her attention on understanding the function of a key regulator of antibiotic production in Streptomyces. Fei has actively embraced all the natural wonders of the Hamilton area, and is rapidly becoming the 'waterfall expert' in the lab! Under the expert guidance of Savannah, she has even learned to skate! Xiafei shares a love of swimming with Danielle, and like others in the lab, she adores food; although she is (unfairly) anti-broccoli, solely due to its 'little tree' appearance...

Undergraduate Students

Alexandria Amadasun (Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op)

Alexandria is one of the newest members of the lab, having started her first co-op term with us in January 2018, with her position supported in part by a prestigious NSERC USRA scholarship. Alexandria is working to better understand RNA-based control of antibiotic production/specialized metabolism in Streptomyces bacteria, under the expert guidance of Savannah and Emma, and will be continuing her project beyond the summer for her 4th year thesis work. Alexandria is at the cultural heart of the lab, enjoying exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Oscar-nominated movies, although there is agreement that it would be worth rounding out her TV knowledge to include 'old' shows like Friends and Seinfeld...

Emma Mulholland (Arts & Science)

Emma started in the lab in May of 2017, and is continuing with us through the 2017/18 academic year as part of her 4th year thesis. Emma's work is expanding our understanding of RNA metabolism in Streptomyces. As befits an Arts & Sci student, Emma's skills are broad and varied. She is a reporter for The Silhouette (McMaster's newspaper), is an active outdoors person (a trait she shares with Savannah), and enjoys both karate and squash (carrying on a great lab tradition). In addition to being an excellent experimentalist, Emma has also proven to be a talented networker, effectively working the room at the annual Canadian Society of Microbiologists conference in Waterloo!

Christine Pham (Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op)

Christine joined us in January 2017 for her 1st co-op term (supported in part by a prestigious NSERC scholarship), and was brave enough to commit to a long-term association, as she is staying on with us to do her 4th year thesis! Christine is dividing her time between an RNA-based project (working with Matt), and a project aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying Streptomyces exploration, in association with Steph. Christine, like so many others in the lab, has talents that extend well beyond academia! She is a gifted alto sax player, and it has been whispered that she is a big fan of karoke (much to Matt's delight!). Christine fortunately seems to be bucking the lab trend in that she doesn't have any weird tomato issues, and instead shares a love of chicken fingers with Steph (who was starting to feel a bit lonely, given a general trend towards increasing vegetarianism in the lab...).

Yordan Stoyanov (Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op)

Like Alexandria, Yordan started in the lab in January 2018 for his first co-op term, and is also in it for the long haul, opting to do his 4th year thesis with us as well. He is working with David and Steph on different aspects of Streptomyces development, and is pioneering new directions in understanding the genetic control of 'exploration'. Outside of the lab/classroom, Yordan is an accomplished athlete - he is a forward on McMaster's varsity soccer team, and is proving to be a willing squash opponent for David (the wins so far are falling in David's favour, but David himself has indicated some concern that this will likely change soon...). Like Matt, Yordan is also an excellent cook, and it appears that squash defeats are paid for with spinach & feta pastry treats...

Sonya Turvey (Biochemistry Co-op)

Sonya joined the lab in September 2017 for her 4th year thesis, after a very successful co-op experience with McCormicks Spices. Sonya is working with Fei and Hindra to better understand the factors controlling antibiotic production in Streptomyces. Like Christine, Sonya is a highly accomplished musician, playing both piano and organ at top levels. Sonya - along with Emma - is also bolstering the lab's success in 'Trivia Night' at the Phoenix, with our prospects looking much brighter thanks to the broad knowledge of these two!

Lab Alumni - where are they now?

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • 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) - Medical writer for Synapse Medical Communication
  • Dr. David Capstick (2011-2013) - Lab manager, McMaster
  • 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

  • Chris Firby, M.Sc. (2017)
  • Renée St-Onge, Ph.D. (2016) - Research Scientist with RNA Diagnostics
  • Rachel Young, M.Sc. (2015) - Scientific Associate II with Novartis, Boston
  • Andrew Duong, M.Sc. (2014) - Research program coordinator with Hamilton Health Sciences, and the Director of Operations for
  • Julia Swiercz, Ph.D. (2013) - Medical writer for Synapse Medical Communication
  • Hindra, Ph.D. (2012) - Post-doctoral fellow at The Scripps Research Institute, Jupiter, Florida
  • Chan (Daphne) Gao, Ph.D. (2012) - Medical Science Liason for Xi'an Janssen Inc (pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson)
  • David Capstick, Ph.D. (2011) - Lab manager, McMaster
  • Henry Haiser, Ph.D. (2011)- CIHR-funded post-doctoral fellow (Harvard University); now Investigator III at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Reseach
  • Patricia Pak, M.Sc. (2010) - Physiotherapist

Undergraduate Thesis Students

  • Loryn Byres (2016-2017) iSci) - M.Sc. candidate (U of T)
  • David Crisante (2015-2016 Biology/Molecular Biology and Genetics) - M.Sc. candidate (McMaster)
  • Nicole Revie (2015-2016 Biology) - M.Sc. candidate (U of T)
  • Savannah Colameco (2015 Biology/Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) - M.Sc. candidate (McMaster)
  • Dan Seale (2014 Biology) - M.Sc. candidate (UBC)
  • Chris Firby (2013-2014 Biochemistry) - M.Sc. candidate (McMaster)
  • Rachel Young (2012-2013 iSci) - M.Sc. (McMaster), now Scientific Associate II with Novartis, Boston
  • 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); now an M.Sc. candidate in Genetic Counselling (Brandeis University)
  • Talha Qureshi (2011-2012 Biochemistry Co-op) - now a Pharmacy student
  • Michael Hewak (2010-2011 Biology/Molecular Biology and Genetics) - now a Medical student
  • Kristy Shulist (2010 Biology/Genetics Co-op) - now a Ph.D. candidate (McGill)
  • Lauren Brady (2009-2010 Biology/Genetics) - now a Genetic counsellor
  • Andrew Duong (2008-2009 Biology/Genetics) - M.Sc. (McMaster); currently Research program coordinator
  • Chris Hanke (2008-2009 Biology/Microbiology) - now an Air Canada flight attendant
  • Nolan D'Souza (2008 Biology/Genetics Co-op) - now a Genetic counsellor
  • Marin Franchetto (2007-2008 Biology/Genetics) - now a Physician
  • Patricia Pak (2007-2008 Biology) - now a Physiotherapist
  • Chris Dowding (2006-2007 Biology/Arts & Science) - now a Physician
  • Sandy Shamon (2006-2007 Health Science) - now a Physician
  • Julia Swiercz (2006-2007 Biology/Genetics) - Ph.D. (McMaster); now a Medical writer
  • Amanda Cocca (2005-2006 Biology/Genetics) - now a Genetics Technologist (Hamilton Health Sciences)