Featured New Faculty & Postdocs

Dr. Kyle Bender

Kyle Bender is a postdoctoral scientist working with Cyril Zipfel at the University of Zurich (UZH) in Switzerland. In 2013, he received his Ph. D. from Queen's University, where he trained under Prof. Wayne Snedden. His Ph.D. thesis focused on understanding how a subfamily of stress-regulated calmodulin-like proteins mediate Ca2+-dependent environmental responses. After his Ph.D. he carried out postdoctoral work with Prof. Steven Huber and Raymond Zielinski at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his time in Illinois, Kyle expanded his research interests to include protein kinases and regulatory phosphorylation. There, his work on Ca2+-dependent protein kinases (CPKs) uncovered a novel role for phosphorylation in priming CPK calcium sensitivity. In Zurich, he has continued to work on protein kinase-mediated signaling, with a focus on understanding how receptor kinase phosphorylation activates intracellular signaling after perception of microbe-derived immune elicitors. While in Zurich, Kyle has developed advanced protein biochemistry and proteomics skills through training programs with state-of-the-art core facilities at UZH. When he is not in the lab, Kyle spends his time hiking, playing board games, and giving attention to his pug, 'Patti', and cat, 'Lilly', who Kyle and his wife adopted from animal rescues in Europe.

Dr. Philippe Jutras

Philippe V. Jutras is an FRQNT postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford. He joined the lab of Prof. Renier van der Hoorn in 2017 to study plant proteases and how to prevent unwanted proteolysis of proteins. His research interests are driven by fundamental and applied sciences, mostly related to the cellular and molecular biology of plant cells. He aims at a better understanding of recombinant protein expression in plants for molecular farming applications. For the past ten years, he is committed to providing human vaccines and therapeutic proteins produced from plant biotechnology. He obtained his PhD from Laval University where his work focused on pH modulation in the plant cell secretory pathway to stabilise complex recombinant proteins. Concurrently, he worked with a pharmaceutical company to produce plant-expressed virus-like particles used for the development of vaccine candidates against the seasonal flu. He now works on understanding how the plant host (mainly Nicotiana sp.) interacts with Agrobacterium tumefaciens during plant transformation to increase protein expression efficiency. His work has been supported by the research councils of Canada and Quebec, and the industry. Philippe is also strongly motivated by the fundamental principles of access to knowledge in science. He advocates for ethical collaboration platforms in academia and supports open source software.

Dr. Allyson MacLean, Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa

Allyson MacLean has recently joined the University of Ottawa as an Assistant Professor where her research is focused on a study of the molecular interactions that occur between plants and microbes within the context of both beneficial and pathogenic associations. Allyson earned her PhD from McMaster University under the mentorship of Turlough Finan for her research into the nitrogen-fixing legume symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti. As a recipient of a Marie Curie International post-doctoral fellowship, Allyson joined the lab of Saskia Hogenhout at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, to examine the role of effector proteins in the plant pathogen phytoplasma, identifying a novel bacterial protein that hijacks floral development in infected plants. Intrigued by the idea of investigating the role of microbial effector proteins in a beneficial symbiosis, Allyson next joined the lab of Maria Harrison at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research as a PDF prior to accepting the opportunity to lead her own lab at uOttawa.  The MacLean lab presently is engaged in research relevant to understanding how plant immunity is suppressed during mycorrhizal symbiosis, and characterizing the role of fungal proteins in mediating root colonization.  Allyson is also excited to start a new research program to identify both microbial and host proteins critical towards the establishment of clubroot disease in canola, in collaboration with Chris Todd and colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan.

Dr. Shawkat Ali, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Kentville Research & Development Centre

Shawkat joined Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) as a Research Scientist recently.

Dr. Ali completed his Ph. D at the University of British Columbia in 2011 in Molecular Plant Pathology Lab of Dr. Guus Bakkeren, where he worked on plant-microbe interactions, particularly on Ustilago hordei avirulence genes. After that Dr. Ali worked as an NSERC visiting research scientist and FQRNT post-doctoral fellow in the laboratories of Drs. Peter Moffett (University of Sherbrooke, Quebec) and Guy Belair (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada). Dr. Ali did another post-doctoral fellowship at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia focusing on abiotic and biotic stress tolerance in plants.

Shawkat Lab is focusing his research program on large and small fruit diseases in Canada particularly in Atlantic regions. At AAFC his Lab is interested to understand how pathogens are overcoming plant defence and causes disease. Using molecular biology and molecular genetic approach his Lab is working on different aspects to reduce the losses from disease caused by pathogens. His group is also working on fungal endophytes to control plant diseases and to improve plant health that will result in a clean, environment-friendly and sustainable alternative to chemical pesticides. He is also interested in using small RNA to control virus infection in the plant.

Know an Early Career Researcher you would like to see featured? Contact the communications director communications@cspb-scbv.ca

Previously featured early career members can be found here or check and in our bulletins!

 If you have any suggestions of information you would like to see listed here please contact the CSPB student and post-doctoral representative Jennifer Hoogenboom studentrep@cspb-scbvca

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