We welcome several new members of the Executive Team: Dr. Leonid Brown (Department of Physics, University of Guelph), Dr. Justin MacCallum (Department of Physics, University of Calgary), and Dr. Nicolas Doucet (INRS, University of Québec) to help with Awards and Student Travel. Morgan Robinson (Ph.D. candidate, University of Waterloo) is the new President of the Trainee Executive, and represents their voice on the main Executive.
Dr. Leonid Brown‘s research focuses on the biophysical properties of a diverse family of photoactive membrane retinal-binding proteins, rhodopsins. Rhodopsins are found both in bacteria and higher organisms, and serve either as light-driven ion pumps (important in bioenergetics) or photosensors (important in microbial motility, animal vision, and circadian clocks). He combines modern biophysical methods (including time-resolved spectroscopy in the visible, FTIR spectroscopy, SPR, NMR, and Raman spectroscopy) with molecular biology and biochemistry. He is currently a Professor in Physics at the University of Guelph.
Dr. Justin MacCallum studies protein structure and biomolecular recognition using a combination of computational modeling and biophysical experiments. His research group aims to understand driving forces and to use this knowledge for practical applications, including new approaches to structure determination and the design of new biomolecules. Dr. MacCallum is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Calgary.
Dr. Nicolas Doucet obtained his B.S. in biochemistry from Laval University (B.S. Biochemistry, 2000) and successively completed a master’s degree (M.S. Biochemistry, 2004) and a doctoral thesis in enzyme engineering with Joelle N. Pelletier at the University of Montreal (Ph.D. Biochemistry, 2007). After completing a protein NMR postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Chemistry at Yale University (with J. Patrick Loria, 2007-2010), he joined the faculty at INRS in 2010.
Morgan Robinson (Ph.D. Candidate) holds a BSc in Physics/Biophysics, as well as a MSc in Biology from the University of Waterloo. Morgan’s MSc thesis involved biophysical and neurophysiological study of amyloid-β inhibitor drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease; this interdisciplinary project was supervised by Zoya Leonenko (Physics & Astronomy, Biology) in collaboration with the Beazely lab. For his PhD thesis, Morgan continues to work collaboratively on Alzheimer’s disease (co-supervised by Zoya Leonenko) through an interdisciplinary approach using neurophysiology and biophysics, this time focusing on disease mechanisms pertaining to the neuronal plasma membrane. Morgan will be studying the combined effects of membrane lipid composition and amyloid-β on neuronal receptor signaling through a systems biology approach. In the first part, he will be characterizing the effects of cholesterol and amyloid on neurophysiological signaling pathways (GPCR, RTK and NMDA receptor signaling) and ion channel function using patch clamping. In parallel, he will be characterizing neuronal plasma membrane structure with biophysical techniques to be correlated with neurotransmitter and neurotrophin receptor function in the first part.