Spotlight on Researchers
Assistant Professor Lloyd Elliott
Statistical genetics and genomics, informatics, Bayesian statistics, machine learning
With expertise in modern machine learning and software development, Dr. Elliott enables genome-wide association studies on large-scale (>0.5 million subjects) consortia to uncover patterns and extend associations to phenotype predictions. Toward understanding how genetics affects human brain structure and function, his group is developing efficient computational and machine learning methods to analyze and interpret the genetic associations between neuroimaging and genetics. Beyond improving our understanding of the genetics of brain architecture, such innovative techniques may also be important research tools in the developing field of personalized medicine, helping to accelerate progress; i.e., to understand neuropathology and the interaction between genetics and high-dimensional epidemiological measurements such as lifestyle.
Professor David Hik
Dr. Hik’s group studies plants and animals, to understand how they interact with each other and their environment. His current research program builds on 25 years of field work in Yukon mountains and includes long-term experiments to understand the consequences of rapid warming for the ecology and conservation of mountain and tundra ecosystems. His group also works in the Canadian Rocky Mountains studying the resilience of alpine plants, mountain goats and bighorn sheep; in Iceland where sheep grazing has caused significant land degradation; and in the high mountain páramo of Costa Rica. Beyond basic research, Dr. Hik is passionate about the translation of research into policy, Open Science initiatives and science communication.
Assistant Professor Caterina Ramogida
Nuclear Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry
Dr. Ramogida’s biomedical research program focuses on the synthesis and development of cutting-edge radioactive drugs (radiopharmaceuticals) for diagnosing and treating cancers. The overarching goal of her research program is to use radioactive metal ions, or radiometals, as diagnostic or therapeutic tools for the improved detection and therapy of disease. As drug constituents, the flexibility of radiometals in terms of their radiological half-life, decay emission, and chemistry lends extremely well to their incorporation into radiopharmaceuticals for personalized diagnostics and therapies for cancer patients. Critical to her research program is the design, synthesis, and characterization of novel and innovative metal ion chelators that enable promising radiometals to be attached to drug delivery molecules for imaging purposes and/or targeted treatment of cancer.
Professor Paul Kench, Dean of Science
Reef Island Dynamics
There is global concern about low-lying, mid-ocean reef islands becoming uninhabitable, forcing the depopulation of island nations over the next few decades. Such islands are vulnerable to stresses like climate change. Dr. Kench’s research aims to provide insight about how changes in environmental boundary processes, such as sea level changes, wave activity, and sediment supply, control the formation and physical alterations in reef islands. His team studies field sites that include atoll archipelagoes of Kiribati in the central Pacific and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. This program is improving the prediction of island morphological changes and supports new strategies for adaptation in island nations.
Associate Professor Amarpret Rattan
Algebraic and Combinatorial Enumeration
Many important questions in mathematics can be reduced to counting problems – that is, determining the number of objects having a certain set of properties. Solving counting problems is the main focus of enumeration. Dr. Rattan’s research includes work on enumerative problems in algebra and combinatorics. He has worked on problems from combinatorial representation theory, for example on the representation theory of the symmetric group, as well as problems involving traditional combinatorial objects such as trees, lattice paths, permutations and parking functions. Enumeration is an exciting field of mathematics where new connections between disparate objects and techniques can lead to surprising and elegant mathematical insights.
Professor and Canada 150 Chair Caroline Colijn
Applied Combinatorics, Applied and Discrete Mathematics
Where mathematics meet pathogens and evolution is the focus of Dr. Colijn’s research. She develops mathematical tools to link sequence data for pathogens to pathogen ecology, and to understand the dynamics of diverse pathogen interactions (e.g. how the development of antimicrobial resistance is driven by the interplay between co-infection, selection, and competition). She is also working on tools for precision healthcare, integrating individual-level data sources with population-level health contexts and interventions. Using tools developed in her group, she can analyze phylogenetic trees derived from pathogen sequence data, study phylogenetic tree space, and perform ecological and epidemiological modelling.
Assistant Professor Leithen M'Gonigle
Ecology and Evolution
Dr. Leithen M’Gonigle’s research program involves both field research and theoretical modeling. His interests include landscape ecology with tropical birds and pollinators such as bumble bees, as well as species co-existence, sexual selection, and evolution of dispersal. In the coming years, he is keen to start new projects that will let him study ecology and evolution in the wilds of British Columbia.
Assistant Professor Brendan Dyck
A career of hiking in remote places to study mountains is a dream come true for Dr. Brendan Dyck. He uses thermodynamic modeling and quantitative microstructure analysis to study the evolution of the planetary crust. Current sites of interest include the Coast Plutonic Complex and the Shushwap Metamorphic Complex in British Columbia, as well as Greenland, the Canadian Arctic, and the Austrian Alps.
Assistant Professor Jean-François Bégin
Financial markets and datasets come in all shapes and sizes; accordingly, statistical models and methods used as decision-making tools need to be adapted to the reality of each market. Dr. Jean-François Bégin’s research group uses statistical methods and models to characterize risk in the financial and insurance industries. His versatile research program focuses on both theoretical and empirical aspects of risk assessment, with specific areas of interest that include financial modelling, financial econometrics, filtering methods, high-frequency data, credit risk, and option pricing.
Assistant Professor Dylan Cooke
Dr. Dylan Cooke’s innovative research program explores links between variation in brain organization and behaviour, response to injury, and the brain’s capacity to rewire itself. In laboratory experiments, variation between individuals has almost always been regarded as a complication to be minimized and thus, very little is known about individual variation in brain organization. Dr. Cooke aims to characterize and study the significance of this variation, determining how it affects skilled behaviour, resilience in the face of brain injury, and natural, adaptive changes in the brain.
Professor Andrew Bennet
Dr. Bennet’s group has a knack for synthesizing carbohydrates and their mimics, and fine-tuning their reactivity in order to understand how bonds are made during catalysis by carbohydrate processing enzymes. Their work has unraveled a variety of exquisite mechanisms via precision techniques, revealed new inhibitors that can affect human diseases, and changed the way people think about the consequences of using substrate analogues versus real transition state mimics.
Professor Bernard Crespi
Genes and environments that create risk for mental disorders can be investigated in terms of evolved adaptations that have become dysregulated. Dr. Crespi’s research program integrates evolutionary biology and genetics with aspects of human health and disease. Ultimately, his work will advance our understanding of brain function and it will lay the foundation for developing new diagnostics and therapeutics for tempering mental illnesses.
Associate Professor Jonathan Moore
Aquatic Ecology & Conservation
The aim of Dr. Moore’s research is to understand how salmon watersheds work, what controls their dynamics and sustainability, and through that improve decision-making. He enjoys being out in the field, getting ideas from watching the rivers and salmon, talking to people and working with students. Indeed, he loves the whole process, from brainstorming to muddy boots, to analyzing the data to understand what it means and putting it together into a story.
Professor Tony Williams
Ecological, Evolutionary Physiology
Dr. Williams is passionate about integrating physiology with evolutionary biology to understand the mechanisms behind reproductive traits in birds. His research program involves applied and basic science projects that continue to demonstrate how a physiological approach can answer longstanding questions in evolutionary biology.
Professor Michel Vetterli
High Energy Physics
Simon Fraser University physicist Michel Vetterli is leading an SFU research project that has received $3.5 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The ATLAS Tier-1 Data Centre project is one of five SFU-led research projects benefiting from the CFI Innovation Fund. The ATLAS Tier-1 Data Centre provides large-scale, coordinated resources to the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG) to enable ATLAS data analysis. The recent CFI award will support the high-performance computing needed to analyze the enormous amount of data generated by ATLAS, while developments in globally distributed computing capabilities filter down to everyday use by society.
Professor Jeff Sonier
Superconductivity / Quantum Materials
For nearly four decades the subatomic physics laboratory, TRIUMF, in Vancouver, has housed a unique facility that uses the short-lived, muon subatomic particle (an elementary particle similar to the electron) as a sensitive magnetic probe in materials, and in studies of chemical reactions. Today the muon is being used to investigate a fascinating new generation of materials whose unique properties stem from the effects of quantum mechanics. These so-called quantum materials have the potential to revolutionize electronic, computing and energy-efficient technologies. Professor Jeff Sonier, an expert in the use of the muon to investigate exotic magnetic and electronic properties of materials, is leading a TRIUMF-based research project focused on the study of quantum materials.
Professor Mike Thewalt
Silicon-based Quantum Information
New discoveries in quantum computing and quantum information have the potential to radically transform many aspects of current computing, information and sensing technologies. Simon Fraser University Professor Mike Thewalt, an expert in quantum computing and information, is the lead for an SFU research project that has received over $7.6 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to accelerate research and collaboration into a new, scalable quantum technology capable of revolutionizing computing. The project is called The Silicon Quantum Leap: Tools for Building a Universal Quantum Computer, and is one of five SFU-led research projects benefiting from the CFI Innovation Fund.
Assistant Professor Weiran Sun
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.
Assistant Professor Timothy Audas
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.
Assistant Professor Jeff Warren
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.
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.
Associate Professor Jonathan Choy
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.
Professor Jonathan Jedwab
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.
Professor Derek Bingham
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
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
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
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
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
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...
Professor John Clague
Vancouverites enjoying a walk around the Stanley Park seawall would rather not think about “The Big One”... Read more
Assistant Professor Luke Bornn
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
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...
Associate Professor Matthew White
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, such as high magnetic fields and extremely low temperatures. His research program is developing ultra-precise, novel measurement tools that will form the basis of new technologies, from which exotic materials will be developed with ground-breaking industrial applications. 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...