BSC Faculty Sessions for 6th Annual Biophysics Week

The Biophysical Society of Canada is pleased to be organizing Virtual Meet Faculty Sessions within the framework of the sixth annual Biophysics Week from March 22 - 26, 2021. Biophysics Week is a global effort aimed at encouraging connections within the biophysics community while raising awareness of the field and its impact among the general public, policy makers, students, and scientists.

The goal of these sessions is to provide undergraduate and graduate students with a chance to virtually meet and interact with faculty members of the Biophysical Society of Canada, inquire about their research, and learn more about potential training opportunities in the field of biophysics.

Organizers of Biophysics Week at BSC
Anna Panchenko, anna.panchenko@queensu.ca
Mazdak Khajehpour, mazdak.khajehpour@umanitoba.ca
Zoya Leonenko, zleonenk@uwaterloo.ca

Session 1 (March 23 @ 4:00PM EST): Introducing BSC and Executive Committee

This information session will include an introduction by our President, Zoya Leonenko, as well as several Executive Committee Members to showcase the work we do at the Biophysical Society of Canada. A question and answer period will follow. When you are ready, please join us on Tuesday, March 23rd at 4:00PM ET (Toronto Time). There will be a waiting room; please wait til a member of the Executive lets you in.

Session Link: https://zoom.us/j/94078944842?pwd=VHdsdk5JMDlJR1VmZ2djdEhpMmFiZz09
Meeting ID: 940 7894 4842
Passcode: 775614

Biophysics Faculty Sessions: Schedule and Details

Join the Biophysical Society of Canada as we host several sessions from March 22 - 26 to showcase leading biophysics research groups acorss our diverse nation. Registration for sessions are required through our website. All times are in Eastern Time.

During Biophysics Week, attendees can check back to this page to get a detailed schedule with links to each session.

March 22 @ 1:00PM EST - Saint Mary's University (Danielle Tokarz)

This session will focus on biophysics at Saint Mary's University. The session will be presented by Danielle Tokarz.

Danielle Tokarz
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
Saint Mary's University
---
Adjunct Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Dalhousie University
Website: https://danielletokarz.wixsite.com/tokarzlab

Research Overview: My research group performs interdisciplinary research at the interface of bioanalytical and physical chemistry, biophysics, nonlinear optics and microscopy. My research program is geared towards an improved understanding of how nature organizes nano-scaled motors, proteins and enzymes, to perform construction and maintenance of complex hierarchical biological tissues. Specifically, the goal is to characterize how chemical and physical changes govern ultrastructural alterations during natural as well as artificial synthesis and degradation reactions in carbohydrate- or protein-dense model systems using a combination of new in-house and previously developed quantitative ultrafast laser nonlinear optical microscopy imaging and analysis techniques. Two research avenues include studies into the biodegradation of plant material for the biofuels industry, and an investigation into the hierarchical organization of collagen in model systems during synthesis and maintenance, as a way to improve our fundamental understanding of ageing and wound healing in healthy tissues

SESSION LINK: https://zoom.us/j/94045956204

March 24 @ 2:00PM EST - University of Toronto (Claudiu Gradinaru)

This session will focus on biophysics at the University of Toronto. There will be brief introductions from each of their 8 faculty members (2-3 minutes each) followed by a question and answer period with undergrads from all across Canada. The session will be headed by Claudiu Gradinaru.

Claudiu Gradinaru
Professor, Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences
University of Toronto Mississauga
Email: claudiu.gradinaru@utoronto.ca

SESSION LINK: https://utoronto.zoom.us/j/86910008904

March 24 @ 3:00PM EST - Queen's University (Anna Panchenko)

This session will focus on biophysics at Queen's University. The session will be presented by Anna Panchenko.

Anna Panchenko
Professor, Canada Research Chair
Queen's University
Email: anna.panchenko@queensu.ca
Website: https://panchenko-lab.org/

Research Overview: Research interests: dynamics of chromatin, molecular modeling, molecular dynamics simulations, methods, hybrid approaches by combining experimental data with molecular modelling, machine learning.

SESSION LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84736259079

March 25 @ 1:30PM EST - Simon Fraser University (Nancy Forde, David Sivak, Eldon Emberly)

This session will focus on biophysics at Simon Fraser University.Meet faculty in their Biophysics group (such as Nancy Forde, David Sivak and Eldon Emberly) and learn about why SFU is an excellent choice for pursuing research and graduate studies in Biophysics! They will provide an overview of their research, discuss the strong interactions and opportunities for learning and networking in Biophysics at SFU and within the beautiful Vancouver area, and have lots of opportunity for open discussion and Q&A. The SFU faculty look forward to connecting with new and familiar faces in their virtual room!

Nancy Forde
Professor, Department of Physics
Simon Fraser University
Email: nforde@sfu.ca
Website: http://www.sfu.ca/fordelab/

Research Overview:Mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix proteins collagen and elastin at different hierarchical scales; Development of optical trapping strategies to manipulate and characterize proteins and soft materials; Mechanisms of novel molecular motors

David Sivak
Associate Professor, Department of Physics
Simon Fraser University
Website: http://davidsivak.com/

Research Overview: The Sivak group combines approaches from statistical physics, molecular biophysics, and information theory to elucidate the physical limits placed on biological systems by their operational imperatives: performing productive functions rapidly while driven by strong gradients, using fluctuation-dominated microscopic objects of low copy number in a cell at ambient temperature. From these constraints we identify fundamental design principles for effective biological function, with special emphasis on transduction of energy and information. Our theoretical flights of fancy are tethered to reality through close experimental collaborations.

SESSION LINK: https://sfu.zoom.us/j/67795107897?pwd=cUt5N1RaU3FPem5vaU9vdFJZNFpDUT09

March 25 @ 3:00PM EST - University of Ottawa (John Baenziger, Jyh-Yeuan Eric Lee)

This session will focus on biophysics at the University of Ottawa. The session will be presented by John Baenziger (Past President of the Biophysical Society of Canada) as well as Jyh-Yeuan (Eric) Lee.

John Baenziger
Professor
Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine
Website: http://baenzigerlab.com/

Research Overview: My research is focused on understanding the roles played by pentameric ligand-gated ion channels in synaptic communication, with a particular focus on muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and their role in congenital myasthenic syndromes. We use a variety biophysical and biochemical tools, including cryo-electron microscopy, electrophysiology, fluorescence spectroscopy, ligand binding assays, etc. to elucidate the structures of pLGICs and understand their underlying mechanisms of function. We also study the roles of lipids in pLGIC function, as the lipid-dependent modulation of ion channel function allows a cell to couple its metabolic state to its electrical activity.

Jyh-Yeuan (Eric) Lee
Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine
Website: leejylab.org

Research Overview: My research is to determine the molecular mechanism of membrane proteins that are associated with cholesterol and phospholipid metabolism, specifically ABC transporters ad P-type ATPases. To carry out functional and structural studies of these proteins, we have implemented a multidisciplinary strategy including protein biochemistry and biophysics, bioinformatics and computational biology, and structural biology (specifically X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy).

SESSION LINK: https://uottawa-ca.zoom.us/j/97060980571?pwd=a2ZQVFkzdDRnM2ZuUmJ5VHg4SlNKdz09
Passcode: 2ELu&Z

March 26 @ 11:00AM EST - University of Guelph (Hermann Eberl, Leonid Brown, Vlad Ladizhansky, David Pink, William Smith)

This session will focus on biophysics at the University of Guelph . The Biophysics Interdepartmental Group (BIG) at the University of Guelph offers a unique program of masters and doctoral studies that seeks to further our understanding of biological processes through the application of the concepts and techniques of the physical sciences. Unlike many biophysics graduate programs across Canada, BIG focusses on basic discovery research in the sciences, rather than medical and clinical applications. The program is interdepartmental and interdisciplinary and involves researchers from several departments. Experimental research conducted by students within BIG spans the entire breadth of the life sciences spectrum, including biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, and human biology. In addition, many BIG graduate students carry out non-experimental research, applying computational tools to predict the behaviour of biological systems at a level ranging from molecules and genes to populations. This is an established program that has offered graduate degrees (Msc, PhD) for 45 years. For more information please visit our web-page or contact:
Janic Ilic, Graduate Program Assistant, big@uoguelph.ca
Prof Hermann Eberl, Director, heberl@uoguelph.ca

SESSION LINK: https://zoom.us/j/93400030075?pwd=VDJ2WFVtRHh2bHJTeEJuNy8yTEFuUT09
Passcode: 191304

Selected research areas represented in the reserach group of BIG graduate faculty members that currently are looking for graduate students are described below.

Leonid Brown
Professor, Department of Physics
University of Guelph
Email: lebrown@uoguelph.ca
Website: https://www.physics.uoguelph.ca/photobiophysics-group

Research Overview: Graduate student positions (MSc and PhD) are available in the Photobiophysics Lab at Guelph, under supervision of Prof. Leonid Brown. We study photoactive membrane proteins, which utilize light for bioenergetic and photosensory purposes. We use modern biophysical methods, such as laser time-resolved spectroscopy, time-resolved FTIR, and Raman. We also collaborate with Prof. Vladimir Ladizhansky on applications of solid-state NMR to these proteins, as well as another class of membrane proteins, aquaporins, which serve as water channels. If you join our group, you will have a chance not only to study and apply advanced spectroscopic techniques, but also will learn how to make your own interesting samples, becoming familiar with basic methods of microbiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry. If you are interested in doing truly interdisciplinary research, which combines the best of physics, chemistry, and biology (and is sometimes called “structural biophysics”), please contact Prof. Leonid Brown directly (lebrown@uoguelph.ca).

Hermann Eberl
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Director, Biophysics Interdepartmental Graduate Program
University of Guelph
Email: heberl@uoguelph.ca
Website: https://www.heberl.uoguelph.ca

Research Overview: We are, broadly, using mathematical models and computer simulation to understand biological systems. A focus area of the Computational Biomathemaics Laboratory is the mathematical modeling of bacterial biofilm processes and how the physical process (such as mass transfer and hydrodynamics) interact with the biological processes. Bacterial biofilms are accumuluation of bacteria on immersed interfaces. They play an important role in enviornental engineering (where they are generally considered beneficial and form the basis of remedial technologies), and in medicine (where they are generally considered detrimental and difficult to eradicate). These are inheriently multiscale processes both in time and space. This involves typically mathematical modeling, differential equations and computational methods. We have projects available for Msc and PhD thesis work.

Vlad Ladizhansky
Professor, Department of Physics
University of Guelph
Email: vladizha@uoguelph.ca
Website: https://www.physics.uoguelph.ca/protein-nmr-research-group

Research Overview: Our group is interested in the development of solid-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy for the characterization of molecular structure, dynamics and interactions at atomic resolution. Our interdisciplinary research spans a wide range of areas from quantum mechanics of spin interactions and developing new experimental ways to manipulate these interactions, to computational methods, to biophysics: i) Designing new experiments to image protein structure at atomic resolution. A typical NMR experiment consists of a sequence of radio-frequency pulses, which can be designed to rotate spins and to manipulate spin Hamiltonians, e.g., cancel or amplify interactions, or to tailor them to a specific, optimal form. We are always interested in developing new methods for specific experimental needs. ii) Understanding internal protein dynamics. In an NMR experiment, nuclear spins are perturbed from equilibrium by radio-frequency pulses. If let evolve on their own, they will eventually come back to equilibrium at a rate that depends on the molecular motions. From the analysis of nuclear relaxation rates one can derive both the site-specific time scales and amplitudes of motions. This information is directly related to how molecules function. iii) Applications of NMR to problems in biophysics/biomedical interest. Current projects in the lab focus on understanding membrane protein folding; on the role of protein aggregation in Parkinson’s Disease.

David A. Pink
Adjunct Prof., Food Science, U.of Guelph
Senior Research Prof. of Physics, St.F.X.University
Email: scoriocarla@gmail.com

Research Overview: Complex Fluids: Foods as complex fluids. Msc projects are available in the following two areas: Computational Physics. Do certain wheat proteins and amino acids cluster via electrostatic interactions? The small protein, glutamine, and the amino acid, cysteine, exhibit strange oxidizing behaviour when it is measured using a chemical technique. One needs a different experimental technique (below), supported by an atomic scale molecular dynamics simulation. This project is being one with Iris Joye (Food Sci., U.of Guelph) and physics colleagues. Experimental physics. Same project as above. At my urging, Ultra Small Angle Xray Scattering (USAXS) was introduced to study aggregation in foods by Fernanda Peyronel for her PhD work. I proposed using the best system on the planet, at Argonne National Labs, outside Chicago. We are now significant users there. I am looking into using USAXS to study whether aggregation occurs in the glutamine and cysteine systems. The range and resolution of USAXS are suitable. This physical method does not have the disadvantages of the chemical method. The project involves Fernanda Peyronel with Iris Joye.

William R Smith
Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
University of Guelph
Email: bilsmith@uoguelph.ca
Website: http://www.uoguelph.ca/carboncapture

Research Overview: Our group develops molecular-based models for biologically related systems and runs computer simulations to predict their properties. The goal is to develop new compounds and processes that exhibit improved efficiency, cost and reduced environmental impact. Two current projects include (1) the prediction of CO2 capture by designing new solvents, and (2) predicting the properties of anesthetic gases used in surgeries. Recent graduates from our group have obtained computer modeling positions in companies involved in artificial intelligence and in pharmaceutical applications. A brief summary is available at http://www.uoguelph.ca/carboncapture

SESSION LINK: https://zoom.us/j/93400030075?pwd=VDJ2WFVtRHh2bHJTeEJuNy8yTEFuUT09
Passcode: 191304

March 26 @ 2:30PM EST - University of Waterloo (Zoya Leonenko; Alfred C.H. Yu, Melanie C.W. Campbell)

This session will focus on biophysics at the University of Waterloo. The session will be presented by Zoya Leonekno and Alfred C. H. Yu.

Zoya Leonenko
Professor, University Research Chair
Department of Physics and Astronomy,
Department of Biology
University of Waterloo
Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology
Email: zleonenk@uwaterloo.ca
Website: https://uwaterloo.ca/leonenko-research-group

Research Overview: scanning probe microscopy, biophysics, molecular neuroscience, neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, plasmonics, biosensing, biomedical nanotechnology, quantum biology and quantum effects in neuroscience.

Alfred C. H. Yu, PhD, FAIUM
Professor
University of Waterloo
Laboratory on Innovative Technology in Medical Ultrasound (LITMUS)
Website: https://lit-mus.org

Research Overview: One of LITMUS' major research thrusts is on investigating the cellular biophysics of ultrasound. Our group constantly strive to make landmark discoveries on the wave-cell interactions of ultrasound to establish the therapeutic basis of this non-ionizing form of radiation. Our investigations seek to fill the interdisciplinary knowledge gap between ultrasonics and cell biology. Representative research topics include: 1) low-intensity therapeutic ultrasound mechanisms; 2) sonoporation biophysics. These mechanistic studies serve well to prime the science of therapeutic ultrasound and, in turn, play a critical role in identifying the biophysical parameters that influence therapeutic efficacy.

Melanie C.W. Campbell
Professor
University of Waterloo
Website: https://uwaterloo.ca/campbell-labs/

Research Overview: Prof. Campbell collaborated in the first real-time images of cone photoreceptors in the eye, using adaptive optics and she uses polarization imaging to make invisible structures visible. Imaging applications include a biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease, using the retina as a window on the brain. She undertakes research on the optical quality of the eye and improved imaging of its structures. She studies eye development, eye disease and linear and nonlinear optics of the eye. Campbell is known for her work on the gradient index optics of the crystalline lens, its changes with ageing and effects of visual experience on its refractive index distribution. Recently she has discovered putative optical signals to guide eye growth.

Biography: Melanie C. W. Campbell is currently a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo and is cross-appointed to the School of Optometry and Vision Science and to the Department of Systems Design Engineering. She obtained a B.Sc. degree in Chemical Physics from the University of Toronto and an M.Sc. degree in Physics from the University of Waterloo. An interest in the optical properties of the eye led to a Ph.D. from the Australian National University awarded jointly by the the Research School of Physical Sciences and the John Curtin School for Medical Research and. After 2 years as a postdoctoral fellow at CSIRO in Australia, a University Research Fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada enabled Professor Campbell to join the University of Waterloo.

Professor Campbell is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, a former president of the Canadian Association of Physicists, received the 2004 Rank Prize in Optoelectronics for "an initial idea (that) has been carried through to practical applications that have, or will, demonstrably benefit mankind", and the 2014 CAP INO Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Applied Photonics “in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of visual optics and improved imaging of structures within the eye”. In 2015, she was awarded the OCUFA Status of Women Award of Distinction “which honours and recognizes the dedication of those whose leadership has helped improve the lives and working conditions of academic women”. In 2019, she was awarded the Elizabeth Laird Lectureship by Western University: “These lectures are designed to bring to the general public some of the excitement that leading physicists from all over the world have as they understand fundamentals and apply their special talents to solving many of today's scientific and technological problems.” She has also co-founded two companies, Biomedical Photometrics Inc, now Huron Technologies and LumeNeuro.

SESSION LINK: https://zoom.us/j/93149205542