Alex Ensminger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Lab Figurehead). After completing his Ph.D. from MIT in 2006, Alex began postdoctoral work with Ralph Isberg (Tufts University School of Medicine/HHMI). During this time, he established the laboratory’s expertise in Illumina next-generation sequencing technologies. During this time, he developed a powerful experimental evolution approach to uncover new genetic determinants of host range and bacterial virulence. Based upon these foundations, he started his independent research program in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto in March, 2011. While maintaining a cross-appointment in Molecular Genetics, Alex joined the Department of Biochemistry in January 2016.
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Outside the lab, Alex is a co-coordinator of MMG1010, Molecular Genetics Colloquium, a mandatory course for all of our first-year graduate students and a co-instructor for MGY434, a fourth-year undergraduate microbiology course. He is also an avid barefoot waterskier and fearless DIYer.

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Malene Urbanus, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate. (Yeast whisperer)
After Malene completed her PhD in the land of tulips, clogs and windmills working on inner membrane protein biogenesis in E. coli, she moved to the land of opportunity to do her postdoc and discovered the Awesome Power of Yeast. She then emigrated to Canada where she worked in the HIPHOP lab as a postdoc and research associate using high-throughput genomic approaches and robotics to study the mode of action of drugs in yeast. In the Ensminger lab, she will be using her expertise in yeast, high-throughput genomic assays and robotics to investigate the functional pathways of the Legionella proteins that force the host to do Legionella's bidding. In her “free” time, Malene spends time with her family, hiking in the woods and watching Peppa Pig and Nijntje with her kids.

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Guangqi Zhou, Postdoctoral Fellow. (Actively evolving)
Guangqi was born in Xi’an, an historic city in China. She finished her PhD studies at Zhejiang University in 2015. After completing her research in environmental microbiology, she moved to the land of bacterial pathogenesis and Legionella pneumophila to do her postdoc. There, she discovered the excitement of experimental evolution research. Guangqi is willing to learn all kinds of fancy experiments and also expects to produce high-quality research. Out of the lab, Guangqi enjoys running, meditation, and traveling. “Journey never ends” is her motto.

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Shayna Deecker, Biochemistry M.Sc. Student. (CRISPR-Castastic)
Shayna left her hometown of Ottawa to pursue an undergraduate degree in Forensic Science from Trent University. She learned about criminal investigation and the power of science in the court of law, but also explored the environmental DNA detection of frog virus 3 for her fourth year research project. After graduating from the program in 2016, Shayna decided to join the Ensminger lab to continue her adventure in the world of genetics, molecular biology and microbiology.  She’s extremely excited to be investigating the many facets of CRISPR-Cas in Legionella pneumophila. Outside of the lab, Shayna is a self-proclaimed nerd and amongst her many interests, she loves playing Pokemon and the Legend of Zelda with her family and friends.

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Harley O’Connor Mount, B.Sc. (Sequencing Super Saiyan/Bioinformagician)
Harley completed his honours B.Sc. at the University of Toronto with high distinction in September 2016 as a molecular genetics specialist. He completed his undergraduate thesis work in Dr. Leah Cowen’s lab where he studied novel resistance determinants in the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans. During this time, Harley was awarded two NSERC USRAs and a GLSE summer research studentship, and co-authored one paper in ASM. Harley decided to join the direct entry Ph.D. program in the department of Molecular Genetics after being exposed to the strong research community within the department throughout his undergraduate work. Attracted by the cutting-edge technology, and complexity of Legionella pneumophila Harley decided to join the Ensminger Lab in January of 2017. He is using high-throughput genomics and proteomics approaches to characterize the functions of Legionella pneumophila effector proteins in the genetic model Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Denny Chin, Molecular Genetics, Immunology 4th year undergraduate. (Man in Black, CRISPR-Cas Division).

Denny is currently in his 4th year of undergraduate studies double majoring in molecular genetics and immunology and will be entering his 2nd year in the lab. His current work focuses on interesting dynamics of CRISPR-Cas systems in Legionella pneumophila. Outside of the lab, Denny enjoys spending time with friends and laughing at memes.

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Thomas Zheng, Molecular Genetics 3rd year undergraduate. (Effector basher).
Thomas was born in Ottawa but grew up in Brampton, Ontario. He is going into his 3 rd year of university as a biochemistry specialist and has joined the lab as a summer student. Thomas is excited to be a part of the lab and to learn the various experiments and techniques that the lab employs. In his free time, Thomas enjoys playing video games, cycling, and contemplating the inevitable heat death of the universe.

Former Graduate Students (current position):
Hadas Benhabib, Molecular Genetics M.Sc. Student 2012-2014 (Medical Student, Queens University).
Amy Chung, Molecular Genetics M.Sc. Student 2012-2014 (Medical Student, uOttawa).
Chitong Rao, Molecular Genetics Ph.D. Student 2011-2017 (Postdoc, Harvard University)