Dr. Eric Hall receives Dean's Convocation Medal

June 12, 2018

As one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Science, Dr. Eric Hall is being recognized with the award of the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Hall on his outstanding achievements.

For his PhD thesis, Integrating regulatory mechanisms of Wnt signaling in development and tissue homeostasis, Eric Hall studied the genetic interaction and regulation of essential cellular mechanisms during development. His work resulted in the identification of several novel mechanisms and insights required for development and disease progression.

Hall worked in Dr. Esther Verheyen’s lab. There he focused on identifying new protein interactions that control cell activity to guide normal tissue growth and patterning during embryonic development. Using fruit flies to first uncover the genetic interactions between proteins and study the effects in living organisms, he could then apply these results to human cells as well. These novel protein interactions have the potential to be targeted for druggable therapies in cancer, and other diseases.

Dr. Esther Verheyen praises his research and work ethic, “Eric showed remarkable independence, originality and perseverance in this project. He taught himself a number of complex techniques such as FRAP in order to more carefully dissect the molecular basis of the regulation we were seeing.”

During the course of his PhD, Eric also received a number of awards, including the NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship to support his research.

Verheyen describes Hall’s leadership and mentorship qualities. “During this work Eric was also serving as a mentor. This role allowed Eric to train junior scientists and develop his communication, teaching and leadership skills even further. Furthermore, Eric also supervised a number of undergraduates who have worked on the project for the past year. In training them, he instilled in them is excellent work ethic as well as his rigorous experimental techniques.”

Hall fully acknowledges that he would not have been able to achieve his accomplishments without the fantastic mentorship by Dr. Verheyen. “Esther gave me the freedom and independence to pursue my own interests in the lab, while always guiding me in the right directions. Her support and constant feedback allowed me to not only develop and hone my scientific techniques, but also writing and presentation skills. I cherish my time working with Esther, and am glad to know she will still support me and provide guidance in the future.”        

Says Hall of his current and future plans, “My PhD research fostered my curiosity in understanding how cells are able to communicate, leading me to accept a postdoctoral fellowship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee last November. My current work is focused on understanding how cancer cells communicate with normal tissue. I am developing new microscopy techniques to visualize how different cells can, ‘touch and talk,’ to one another. My hope is that this work will contribute to a better understanding of fundamental cellular biology, but also understanding pediatric cancer progression and lead to the discovery of novel therapies for children.”


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