Vilaiwan Fernandes, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

I'm currently a Ph.D. student in the department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at SFU. I am the product of a Thai mother and an Indian father, and moved to Canada from India when I was 16. This has left me uncomfortable nearly everywhere except somewhere in the middle and, in part, has even defined my approach to science. For my B.Sc. I majored in Ecology and Evolution and minored in Mathematics. After working in conservation biology and intertidal ecology I joined the Center for Cell Dynamics (CCD) at the University of Washington where I worked on the evolution of genetic robustness using computational models of gene networks. At the CCD, I was surrounded by brilliant researchers who effortlessly switched back and forth between theory and experiment. It was my first real taste of interdisciplinary research, and it introduced me to people that never chose one field over another and who were better scientists for it.  

My love of gene networks and microscopy along with my desire to gain wet lab experience has brought me to my present position in Esther Verheyen’s lab, a Drosophila development and genetics lab. Here, I have been using the Drosophila eye (an astoundingly exquisite organ) as a model system to understand growth and patterning during development.

There is so much to learn and so little time! The colloquium on the ‘Emergence and complexity of life’ has been a great place to think and learn about topics a fly geneticist wouldn’t normally ponder. 

Publications (click to expand)

  • Kerry J. Kim and Vilaiwan M. Fernandes. 2009. Effects of ploidy and sex on evolution of robustness in a model of the segment polarity network. PLOS Computational Biology 5(2): e1000296.
  • Christopher D Smith, Aleksey Zimin, Carson Holt, Ehab Abouheif, Richard Benton, Elizabeth Cash, Vincent Croset, Cameron R Currie, Eran Elhaik, Christine G Elsik, Marie-Julie Fave, Vilaiwan Fernandes, Jürgen Gadau, Joshua D Gibson, Dan Graur, Kirk J Grubbs, Darren E Hagen, Martin Helmkampf, Jo-Anne Holley, Hao Huc, Ana Sofia Ibarraran Viniegra, Brian R Johnson, Reed M Johnson, Abderrahman Khila, Jay W Kim, Joseph Laird, Kaitlyn A Mathis, Joseph A Moeller, Monica C Muñoz-Torres, Marguerite C Murphy, Rin Nakamura, Surabhi Nigam, Rick P Overson, Jennifer E Placek, Rajendhran Rajakumar, Justin T Reese, Hugh M Robertson, Chris R Smith, Andrew V Suarez, Garret Suen, Elissa L Suhr, Shu Tao, Candice W Torres, Ellen van Wilgenburg, Lumi Viljakainen, Kimberly KO Walden, Alexander L Wild, Mark Yandell, James A Yorker, and Neil D Tsutsui. 2011. Draft genome of the globally widespread and invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 108 (14): 5673–5678.
  • Chris R Smith, Christopher D Smith, Hugh M Robertson, Martin Helmkampf, Aleksey Zimin, Mark Yandell, Carson Holt, Hao Hu, Ehab Abouheif, Richard Benton, Elizabeth Cash, Vincent Croset, Cameron R Currie, Eran Elhaik, Christine G Elsik, Marie-Julie Fave, Vilaiwan Fernandes, Joshua D Gibson, Dan Graur, Wulfila Gronenberg, Kirk J Grubb, Darren E Hagen, Ana Sofia Ibarraran Viniegra, Brian R Johnson, Reed M Johnson, Abderrahman Khila, Jay W Kim, Kaitlyn A Mathis, Monica C Munoz-Torres, Marguerite C Murphy, Julie A Mustard, Rin Nakamura, Oliver Niehuis, Surabhi Nigam, Rick P Overson, Jennifer E Placek, Rajendhran Rajakumar, Justin T Reese, Garret Suen, Shu Tao, Candice W Torres, Neil D Tsutsui, Lumi Viljakainen, Florian Wolschin, and Jürgen Gadau. 2011. Draft genome of the red harvester ant Pogonomyrmex barbatus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 108 (14): 5667–5672.