Spotlight on researchers

Assistant Professor Weiran Sun

Applied Mathematics

Dr. Sun’s research interests lie in applied mathematics. Within that part of the field of mathematics, she is drawn to the analysis of partial differential equations, especially equations arising from problems in physics.  The topics of kinetic theory and fluid mechanics also peek her interest, and as a result her research group explores a variety of questions in these areas, including problems from physics and biology.  Dr. Sun’s work is a perfect example of integrating creative problem solving and mathematics into other scientific fields to yield exciting outcomes.

Read more: An interview with Dr. Sun and her profile on the Mathematics website

Assistant Professor Timothy Audas

RNA Biology

Dr. Audas is interested in how cells respond to changes in their environment. Recently, he showed that a class of biological molecules – noncoding RNA – is essential to many of the stress response pathways used by cells to adapt to changing conditions.  In particular, he discovered a noncoding RNA-mediated pathway that causes cellular proteins to clump (i.e., form amyloids) under stress conditions; he suspects that this pathway can go awry and lead to neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Could these diseases be activated by cellular stress events? The increasing incidence of neurological diseases motivates Dr. Audas to unravel how this pathway works and identify compounds that may cause or disassemble amyloids.

Read more: an interview with Dr. Audas, his profile on the Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry website and his lab website

Professor Richard Lockhart

Analysis of Statistical Methodology

Analyzing a data set and getting answers that you like is gratifying, but how can you be sure your analysis is actually working? Statisticians tackle this question; they want evidence of how well an analysis works, and to obtain answers, they analyze methods of analyzing data. Dr. Lockhart is not fundamentally a data analyst; he does analyze data, but the focus of his research is to describe how well various methods are expected to work in different circumstances.

Read more: An interview with Dr. Lockhart and his profile on the Statistics website

Assistant Professor Jeff Warren

Bioinorganic Chemistry

Dr. Jeff Warren is passionate about renewable energy and protecting our planet. His research program aims to develop both chemical and enzymatic technologies that will convert greenhouse gases, e.g., carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, into materials that can be used for making useful products like fuel or plastics. The other side of his research is focused on health sciences, where his group is collaborating on studies involving mutated proteins associated with cancer.

Read more: An interview with Dr. Warren and his profile on the Chemistry website

Assistant Professor Stephanie Simmons

Silicon Quantum Computing

With a goal of developing quantum technologies, Dr. Simmons’ work falls squarely between engineering and physics. She believes that silicon is the way to go for quantum computing because “thanks to the hugely successful semiconductor industry, we really understand how to make accurate, reliable nanoscale structures in silicon.” Control and accuracy are essential to realizing the potential of quantum technology and bringing it into the mainstream.

Read more: an interview with Dr. Simmons, her profile on the Department of Physics website and her Silicon Quantum Technology Lab’s website

Associate Professor Jonathan Choy

Immunology

Dr. Choy’s research program is driven by his overriding interest in understanding how the human body’s inflammatory and immune responses develop inappropriately to cause organ transplant rejection and some rheumatological diseases. His research group is committed to making discoveries that will make people healthier. They aim to understand the mechanisms and effectiveness of certain treatments, with an ultimate goal of developing or informing strategies for tackling a range of health conditions.

Read more: An interview with Dr. Choy, and his profile on the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry website

Professor Jonathan Jedwab

Combinatorics

Dr. Jonathan Jedwab loves the simplicity of combinatorics, in that the problems are very easy to state and typically, they have a low barrier to entry, i.e., you don't need to know a whole lot of advanced mathematics to get started. The problems may be deceptively simple, but reaching a solution can require some very complex mathematical tools – that's the attraction to the subject.  As a mathematician, what began for him as mathematical problem solving in digital technologies has evolved into a prolific research program that tackles problems across all facets of science, from determining the most stable way an RNA sequence can fold in three dimensions to communicating securely using the principles of quantum mechanics.

Read more:  an interview with Dr. Jedwab and his profile on the Department of Mathematics website

Professor Derek Bingham

Industrial Statistics

Dr. Bingham develops statistical methodology for new types of data or new applications in fields ranging from cosmology to glaciology. This applied work is complemented by a fundamental research stream that looks at the broader and more theoretical side of what you can and cannot do with these computational models. Read more...

Professor Diana Allen

Hydrogeology

People are very attached to water; they are attuned to issues such as sustainability of their water supply, conflicts between water users, and impacts of climate change. Dr. Allen shares these concerns. Read more...  

Associate Professor Chris Beh

Biochemistry

Activity and movement within a cell is ever-changing: molecules are on the move, going in every direction, all of the time, billions of them moving around every second. The orchestration of intracellular movement, the coordination of events toward purpose is what interests Dr. Chris Beh. Read more...

Associate Professor Sam Doesburg

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Our ability to unravel the biological mechanisms underpinning behaviour and the mind is expanding. Dr. Doesburg leverages brain imaging technology to probe the effectiveness of intervention strategies for autism and ultimately establish a clear, scientifically-founded basis for autism treatments. Read more...

Professor Esther Verheyen

Developmental Genetics

As much as Dr. Verheyen is interested in what causes cancer, her foremost concern is understanding the fundamental processes behind it, the mechanisms that drive organ growth and cell proliferation, the process of making more cells. Read more...

Professor Margo Moore

Microbiology

Dr. Moore is interested in the features of human fungal pathogens that enable them to colonize and survive in the human body. Read more...

Associate Professor Roger Linington

Natural Products Chemistry

Dr. Linington’s research program applies marine microbiology, natural products isolation and structure determination, bioassay design and development, synthetic medicinal chemistry, and 'omics' techniques to tackle biomedical problems. Read more...

Professor John Bechhoefer

Soft Condensed Matter

With interests ranging from the physics of liquid crystals to biological physics, Dr. Bechhoefer is one of SFU’s most versatile scientists. Recently, his research has taken a new direction: thermodynamics and statistical mechanics of small systems. Read more...

Associate Professor Gwenn Flowers

Glaciology

Dr. Flowers’ focus is on the terrestrial cryosphere, or land-based ice; she primarily studies contemporary glaciers and ice sheets. Read more...

Assistant Professor Dawn Mackey

Aging and Population Health

Dr. Mackey is passionate about promoting mobility for older Canadians. Read more...  

Associate Professor Nancy Forde

Biophysics

We are all intimately familiar with collagen. After all, it is what gives structure and strength to our bodies, essentially holding us together. Read more or watch a video

Professor John Clague

Natural Hazards

Vancouverites enjoying a walk around the Stanley Park seawall would rather not think about “The Big One”... Read more 

Assistant Professor Luke Bornn

Computational Statistics

Dr. Bornn possesses exceptional skills in statistical modeling and computation. He creates original, scalable statistical models and innovative computational approaches to identify complex patterns from immense, complex datasets. Read more...

Professor Stephen Robinovitch

Injury Prevention and Mobility

SFU professor Stephen Robinovitch's research looks for hard evidence of how falls occur... Read more

Professor Andy Hoffer

Neurokinesiology

More than 30 per cent of intensive care patients put on mechanical ventilation become dependent because the diaphragm quickly atrophies from lack of use.  Read more...

Professor Mike Vetterli

High Energy Physics

Scientists from around the world work together on the ATLAS experiment at CERN in Geneva to study collisions of subatomic particles... Read more

Associate Professor Matthew White

Exercise Physiology

As an alpine ski racer for more than twenty years, Matthew White has grappled with almost every condition imaginable on the slopes... Read more

Assistant Professor Vicki Marlatt

Aquatic Ecotoxicology and Endocrine Disruption

The growing threat to ecosystems posed by pollution and climate change highlights the importance of environmental monitoring activities and informed action by governments.  Endocrine disruption in wildlife exposed to environmental contaminants is of concern worldwide.  Read more...

Assistant Professor Loren Kaake

Transport Phenomena in Organic Optoelectronics

Dr. Kaake is interested in understanding the transport of ions, charges, and heat in polymeric and molecular films. These materials are already used in computer and cell-phone displays and will someday be in widespread use as solar cells and transistors.  Read more...

Assistant Professor Ben Adcock

Compressed Sensing Algorithms

High-dimensional approximation is becoming imperative in the data-rich era. Dr. Adcock’s research tackles problems related to the recovery of complex, high-dimensional objects from limited datasets in the realms of modern science, medicine, and engineering.   Read more...

Assistant Professor Nathan Ilten

Algebraic Varieties with Combinatorial Structure

Dr. Ilten’s research focuses on understanding algebraic varieties (e.g., toric and Fano varieties), deformation theory and Hilbert schemes, and linear subspaces of varieties. His group tackles geometric problems using combinatorial techniques related to polyhedral geometry, representation theory, and Gröbner basis theory.  Read more...

Assistant Professor Eundeok Mun

Emerging Materials in Condensed Matter Physics

Dr. Mun seeks to create novel materials that possess unusual physical properties. He has a knack for growing high-quality crystals and designing complex, precise measurements. His research group grows single crystals of strongly correlated electron systems and characterizes their ground states using extreme experimental conditions...  Read more...

Assistant Professor David Sivak

Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics of Molecular-scale Biological Processes

Dr. Sivak’s group applies fundamental theory and computational methods to the efficient design of molecular machines. They seek to understand the communication of energy and information within and between driven biomolecular systems.  Read more...