new faculty

Dr. Dustin King

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Microbial metabolite sensing: Dr. King’s research program explores how bacteria sense and respond to metabolites, with the goal of uncovering fundamental insights into how bacteria communicate. To decipher these chemical messages, the King laboratory employs a unique interdisciplinary approach that involves first developing innovative methods to discover protein-metabolite interactions on a proteome-wide scale, and then conducting detailed biochemical experiments to elucidate the molecular basis of sensing. Understanding this communication will contribute to the development of next-generation antibiotics and enable us to harness bacterial metabolism to produce value-added products for green industry.  

Read more:  Dr. King's profile on the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry website.

Dr. Jessica Stockdale

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Mathematics

Infectious disease modelling and genomic epidemiology: Dr. Stockdale’s research program explores mathematical modelling and statistical analysis of infectious disease outbreaks, with the goal of understanding disease transmission and its population impacts. Her research aims to inform public health strategies for infectious disease prevention and control. Using modelling and Bayesian statistics, Dr. Stockdale is interested in how we can use pathogen genomic data to make predictions about the dynamics of pathogen-host interactions.

Read more:  Dr. Stockdale's profile on the Department of Mathematics website.

Dr. Chris Napier

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology

Performance and injury prevention in running: Dr. Napier’s research program explores the use of laboratory- and field-based biomechanical measures to quantify aspects of running, with the goal of improving performance and reducing the risk of injury. Running is one of the most popular and accessible activities worldwide, yet half of runners are injured every year. Dr. Napier’s research employs a causal framework approach combining biomechanics and training load factors to predict future performance and to prevent injuries. His novel approach builds on his background as a sport physiotherapist and biomechanist, and attempts to quantify risk using a dynamic systems model.

Read more:  Dr. Napier's profile on the Department website.

Dr. Owen Ward

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Statistics and Actuarial Science

Statistical and machine learning models for network data: Dr. Ward’s research program explores complex structures in diverse network data, from online social networks to interacting animals. The generation of such data is a result of complex latent processes, and Dr. Ward develops statistical models to capture these dynamics, along with Bayesian inference procedures and machine learning tools to infer these models. These innovative techniques can be used to identify and understand social dynamics, such as social hierarchy and community structure across multiple application disciplines, including animal behavior and sociology.

Read more:  Dr. Ward's profile on the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science website.

Dr. Ben Ashby

Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Mathematics

Mathematical ecology, epidemiology and evolution: Dr. Ashby’s research program explores the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of hosts and pathogens, with the goal of understanding how traits such as resistance and virulence evolve. Host-pathogen relationships are found throughout the natural world and are a key driver of many biological phenomena, including spatiotemporal patterns of genetic and phenotypic diversity. He uses a variety of techniques to model host-pathogen systems, such as population genetics, quantitative genetics, and adaptive dynamics. His research group seeks to understand how pathogens evolve and co-evolve with their hosts, from sexually transmitted infections and mating dynamics to microbiome evolution.

Read more:  Dr. Ashby's profile on the Department of Mathematics website.

Dr. Randy McIntosh

Prof., Dept. of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology

Computational & cognitive neuroscience: Dr. McIntosh’s research program involves computational modeling and neuroimaging to explore changes in cognition across the lifespan and changes in the face of brain damage or disease. The program builds on an international collaboration that developed TheVirtualBrain, and integrates research efforts between labs to accelerate research and translation. The goal of this work is to incorporate the modeling platform into the standard workflow for clinical decision support, and develop a cloud-based system where brain models can be created by anyone for research, clinical use or education.

Read more:  Dr. McIntosh's profile on the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology website.

Dr. Katrina Honigs

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Mathematics

Algebraic and arithmetic geometry: Dr. Honigs’ research program explores solution sets of systems of polynomial equations, called varieties, with the goal of classifying them and answering questions like whether they contain points whose coordinates are integers. Dr. Honigs uses an object called the derived category of coherent sheaves to compare and gain insight into arithmetic questions about varieties. She is particularly interested in varieties of Kodaira dimension 0, which include elliptic curves.

Read more:  Dr. Honigs' profile on the Department of Mathematics website.

Dr. Ailene MacPherson

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Mathematics

Theoretical evolutionary epidemiology: Dr. MacPherson’s research program examines the impact of infectious diseases on biological diversity using mathematical and statistical approaches. Her research program is characterized by two complementary aims. First, using theoretical population genetics, Dr. MacPherson explores how host-pathogen coevolution contributes to the astounding biological diversity of life on earth. Second, her research group develops phylodynamic (phylogenetics + epidemiological dynamics) methods to help us understand disease spread and therefore how to design effective conservation measures to rescue species at risk of extinction from infectious disease.

Read more:  Dr. MacPherson's profile on the Department of Mathematics website.

Dr. Nadish de Silva

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Mathematics

Quantum algorithms: Dr. de Silva's research program explores foundational questions of quantum computation using a mathematical methodology, with the goal of understanding precisely how, and for which problems, quantum computers outperform conventional computers. He is helping to develop an exciting emerging hypothesis that contextuality and nonlocality (notions of quantum foundations) are key resources for driving computational advantage. This involves applying novel logical techniques to questions of quantum information theory. The impact of deeper fundamental understanding of quantum computers will be to hasten their arrival and maximize the class of problems to which they could be fruitfully applied.

Read more:  Dr. de Silva's profile on the Department of Mathematics website.

Dr. Sergio Sepúlveda

Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Earth Sciences

Rock slope failure and catastrophic landslides: Dr. Sepúlveda’s research program explores the failure mechanisms, conditioning and triggering factors of large landslides in rock slopes, with the goal of identifying those geological, geotechnical and geophysical controls on catastrophic landslides in natural locations and resource industry sites. The results can be applied in landslide hazard assessment for improved design of mitigation and disaster risk reduction strategies. His team uses a combination of engineering geological, geotechnical and geomorphological field and laboratory methods as well as remote sensing and modelling tools. The research incorporates the impacts of climate change and earthquakes in mountain regions.  

Read more:  Dr. Sepúlveda's profile on the Department of Earth Sciences website.

Dr. Hoi-Kwan (Kero) Lau

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Physics

Theoretical quantum information science: Dr. Lau’s research group studies the theoretical physics of engineered quantum systems and analyzes their applications in quantum information processing. Their focus is on bosonic systems, which are ubiquitous across numerous platforms (e.g. photonic, atomic, superconducting devices) with advantages such as high information capacity and scalability, but are less studied due to their high complexity. By developing novel strategies to understand and remedy the imperfections of realistic systems, Dr. Lau’s research will lead to more advanced quantum devices, such as large-scale quantum computers and accurate quantum sensors. 

Read more:  Dr. Lau's profile on the Department of Physics website.

Dr. Lorena Braid

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Mesenchymal stromal/stem cells: Dr. Braid’s research program explores the identity, function and regulation of human mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs), and studies how aging, stress, diet and environmental pollutants affect MSCs. Understanding how such changes are propagated at a systemic level and alter the body’s ability to detect and defend against aberrant cells (cancer) and immune responses (autoimmune diseases) is key to developing better diagnostics and treatments. Her team combines classic genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry techniques with high-throughput live cell imaging and next-generation sequencing to probe how MSCs influence cells in the context of immunology, cancer, aging, wound healing, metabolism and regeneration.

Read more: Dr. Braid's profile on the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry website.

Dr. Haolun Shi

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Statistics and Actuarial Science

Biostatistical modeling and analysis of complex functional and longitudinal data: Dr. Shi’s research program uses statistical methods and models to explore various areas in biostatistics, such as medical imaging, survival analysis, and clinical trial design, with the goal of developing useful computational tools and new statistical methodologies for modeling and analysis of complex functional and longitudinal data. Taken together, Dr. Shi’s research will be of interest to practitioners in research areas such as Alzheimer's disease, medical imaging, and pharmaceutical research, in which the analysis of complex functional and longitudinal data is needed.

Read more:  Dr. Shi’s profile on the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science website.

Dr. Lisa Julian

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Biological Sciences

Stem cell identity: Dr. Julian’s research program explores the biological processes that regulate stem cell identity and behaviour, aiming to uncover early drivers of development and disease. Stem cell populations generate all cell types of a developing organism; thus, knowledge of their regulation is critical to understanding how our tissues are built and maintained. She employs human pluripotent stem cells to generate 2D and 3D organoid models of the developing brain. By exposing these cells to environmental stressors or introducing disease- and cancer-causing gene mutations the transcriptional regulators, signaling pathways, and organelle systems that underly tissue development and long-term integrity are elucidated.

Read more:  Dr. Julian's profile on the Department of Biological Sciences website.

Dr. Valentin Jaumouillé

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Mechanobiology and morphodynamics of immune cells: Dr. Jaumouillé’s research explores how immune cells generate and sense mechanical forces using quantitative high-resolution live cell microscopy. Many cellular processes employed by immune cells require force generation: recruitment and migration, killing by phagocytosis or degranulation, antigen discrimination. Moreover, immune responses are largely affected by the mechanical properties of the tissue environment. The program, positioned at the interface of immunology, cell biology, biophysics and microbiology, aims to understand molecular and biophysical mechanisms involved in the clearance of microbes or malignant cells toward developing new therapeutic approaches.

Read more: Dr. Jaumouillé's profile on the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry website.

Dr. Himchan Jeong

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Statistics and Actuarial Science

Predictive modeling for ratemaking and reserving of property and casualty insurance: Dr. Jeong’s research program explores statistical methods, with the goal of applications in ratemaking and reserving, which is one of the core functions of a property and casualty insurance company. To consider diverse aspects of dependence in claim modeling, he uses techniques such as traditional longitudinal and multivariate data analysis and contemporary statistical learning including regularized regression.  

Read more:  Dr. Jeong’s profile on the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science website.

Dr. Jake Levinson

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Mathematics

Combinatorial aspects of algebraic geometry: Dr. Levinson’s research program focuses on classification and enumeration in algebra and geometry, with the goal of understanding moduli (parameter) spaces for objects such as planes, curves and surfaces. Enumerative questions are among the first questions to pursue, because the answer is just a number: the count of how many objects there are of a particular type. In turn, the tools developed to pursue these "finite" questions pave the way to understanding higher-dimensional and global questions about these moduli spaces and the objects they parametrize. A key theme of this program is to develop crossover results connecting the techniques, intuitions and avenues of inquiry of geometry and combinatorics.

Read more:  Dr. Levinson's profile on the Department of Mathematics website.

Dr. Jane Fowler

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Biological Sciences

Water quality and microbial biotechnology: Dr. Fowler’s research is focused on developing sustainable methods for biological water treatment and pollutant removal using mixed microbial communities. She conducts full-scale field investigations and lab-scale experimental systems, applying quantitative molecular methods and 'omics' techniques. Dr. Fowler's research aims to develop a mechanistic understanding of microbial community structure and function that is guided by ecological theory, microbial physiology and modeling, and apply this to engineered biological systems. More efficient water treatment systems could result in major societal and environmental benefits such as improved water quality, mitigation of greenhouse gas production, and increased resource recovery.

Read more:  Dr. Fowler's profile on the Department of Biological Sciences website.

Dr. David Stenning

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Statistics and Actuarial Science

Astrostatistics: Dr. Stenning’s research program explores Astrostatistics, a young but growing interdisciplinary field. Astrophysicists are increasingly inundated with large, high-cadence, and complex datasets that require new statistical methodology to enable a deeper understanding. In collaboration with astrophysicists around the globe, Dr. Stenning develops techniques to detect Earth-like exoplanets, characterize fast radio bursts, predict solar activity, and classify highly energetic astrophysical phenomena such as supernovae. These techniques involve machine learning, Bayesian inference and computing, and/or computer model emulation.

Read more:  Dr. Stenning's profile on the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science website.

Dr. Amy Lee

Asst. Prof., Dept. of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Bioinformatics and genomics: Dr. Lee’s research program takes a systems biology approach to investigate the complex relationships between bacterial pathogens and the human hosts, in order to develop better therapeutics or vaccines. She is interested in understanding: 1) how pathogens maintain and transmit antimicrobial resistant genes in different environments, 2) pathogen virulence strategies, and 3) the resulting host immune responses. Her team uses comparative pathogen genomic analyses, microbial genotype-phenotype association studies and multi-omics profiling of host immune responses to characterize dynamic host-pathogen interfaces. Ultimately, her research aims to make an impact in combating antimicrobial resistance and neonatal sepsis.

Read more:  Dr. Lee's profile on the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry website.