Graduate Students

Bashar, Sabrin

Sabrin is a MSc student in Dr. Ayush Kumar’s lab.  The objective of her research is to investigate the microbiological quality of post-treatment drinking water in different First Nations communities in Manitoba.

Benzie, Graeme

Graeme is a MSc student in Dr. Brian Mark’s lab. His research focuses on the biochemical and structural characterization of a modified lysosomal enzyme. The end goal of his work is to find a potential cure for a group of lysosomal storage disorders through enzyme replacement therapy. In his free time, Graeme enjoys soccer, gaming, and running.

Awards: Research Manitoba

Bouma, Kristen

Kristen is a MSc student in Dr. Brian Mark’s lab. Her research focuses on the development of potential therapies to treat two lysosomal storage disorders, Tay-Sachs disease and Sandhoff disease. She has received a Research Manitoba Master’s Studentship.

Crisostomo, Lee

Lee is a PhD candidate, currently working under the guidance of Dr. Peter Pelka. His current project is to elucidate and characterize a cellular kinase, Nek9, and it’s role in oncogenesis.

Daley, Steve

Steve is a PhD candidate in Dr. Richard Sparling’s lab, working towards improving the production of ethanol from Hungateiclostridium thermocellum in order to produce biofuel. His project has grown from characterizing two of the three phosphofructokinases in the genome to fully understanding all three kinases and the role each play for the bacteria. The novelty of one of the kinases has also opened the door to structural analysis of this protein which is his latest endeavor. With all these projects Steve still finds time to catch up with his friends in the department, who make the ride much more enjoyable

Diamandas, Alex

Alex is a MSc student in Dr. Karen Brassinga’s lab. He works on Gram-negative outer membrane porins (OMPs). He is interested in the role these proteins play in the host environment and their function as points of entry for antibiotics into the bacterium. The pathogen Serratia marcescens has been the focus of his work. This organism is frequently found in the environment, but can cause severe infections in immune compromised individuals, and is notorious for its antibiotic resistance.

Dubyna, Jason

Jason is a MSc student in Dr. Deborah Court’s lab. He works on the interaction between Voltage Dependent Anion Channel a mitochondria outer membrane channel and hexokinase. He is attempting to elucidate the structural regions of hexokinase and VDAC that are important for binding of the two proteins in Fungi. VDAC is the most common protein in the aerobic Eukaryotic outer membrane and its interaction with hexokinase plays a large role in metabolism, homeostasis, and cell longevity.


Froese, Alan

Alan is a PhD student in Dr. Richard Sparling’s lab. He studies thermophilic, anaerobic bacteria, namely Clostridium thermocellum, that can produce biofuels, like ethanol, from plant-based waste products, such as wheat straw or paper coffee cups, in the hopes of producing more environmentally-friendly transportation fuel. His project involves growing multiple species of bacteria together to determine the best combination for maximum conversion rates. He also studies the pyruvate phosphate dikinase, a unique energy-conserving glycolysis enzyme, from C. thermocellum, and measures concentrations of various important intracellular metabolites.

Graham, Christopher

Chris is a PhD candidate in Dr. Karen Brassinga’s lab. He is interested in the molecular pathogenesis of Legionella pneumophila, an aquatic bacteria that replicates intracellularly in protozoa, and often co-colonizes ventilation or plumbing systems alongside these hosts.  From such reservoirs L. pneumophila can opportunistically infect humans leading to pneumonia such as Legionnaire’s disease.  As part of its lifecycle, L. pneumophila alternates between replicative intracellular, and virulent extracellular transmissive forms, profoundly changing its physiology for environmental persistence and only expressing virulence traits, such as secretion of host-modulating effector proteins, after differentiation to the transmissive phase.  Chris studies the regulatory basis of this phase switch and how mutants in regulatory genes affect bacterial differentiation and virulence traits, and further, how perturbations in these pathways affect bacterial pathogenesis within both protozoan and human host cells.




Graves, Drayson

Grayson is a MSc student in Dr. Peter Pelka’s lab. His focus is RuvBL1, which affects many cellular processes. Pelka lab has discovered that RuvBL1 affects the interferon pathway and E1A blocks that activity. Drayson’s objective is to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern this E1A mediated interference.

Hogan, Andrew

As a Vanier Scholar in Dr. Silvia Cardona’s lab, Andrew is developing a high-throughput next-generation screen to find new antibiotics active against Burkholderia cenocepacia and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria. His design combines machine learning with molecular techniques to probe the entire genome with many millions of chemical scaffolds. Originally from Newfoundland, Andrew enjoys exploring the Prairies but still misses the ocean from time to time.

Islam, Deen

Deen is a MSc student in Dr. Deborah Court’s lab. He is currently working on fungal mitochondria to find putative drug efflux pumps. He is proud to have been nominated as a Manitoba Graduate Scholarship recipient.

Kaur, Sabhjeet

Sabhjeet is a PhD candidate in the Oresnik Lab. Her primary research focus is to understand the role of central carbon metabolism in legume-Rhizobium symbiosis for biological nitrogen fixation. The knowledge obtained from her research project will contribute towards the development of better rhizobial inoculums for legume crops.

Kornelsen, Vanessa

Vanessa is a PhD candidate in Dr. Ayush Kumar’s research lab. Her research primarily focuses on characterizing Resistance-Nodulation-Division Efflux pumps, along with their regulators, in Acinetobacter baumannii.

Kuzyk, Steven

As a PhD candidate of the Yurkov Lab, Steven’s primary focus is to study microbial diversity in Lake Winnipeg. He has particular interest in the pigmented aerobic anoxygenic phototrophs present in its waters due to the eutrophic nature of the habitat. His goal is to determine the abundance of these bacteria, and to elucidate their ecological role in this freshwater environment.

Lightly, Tasia

Tasia is in the final year of her Ph.D. in Dr. Silvia Cardona’s lab. She is investigating the role of the phenylacetic acid pathway in the regulation of virulence traits of Burkholderia cenocepacia. Her work highlights the interaction of bacterial metabolism with the establishment of infections. She helped establish the Micro GSA and has been an active member ever since.

Murdock, Anita

Anita is a MSc student in Dr. Ayush Kumar’s lab. She is studying the microbiological quality of water in Manitoba First Nations communities

Patel, Ankoor

Ankoor is a PhD candidate in Dr. Brian Mark’s lab. He has received a Research Manitoba Master’s Studentship award, along with a CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship award. Ankoor’s primary research focuses on how animal and plant-affecting viruses use novel mechanisms to replicate and evade the host immune response. His work revolves around studying viral proteins through structural and biochemical techniques.

Rahman, A.S.M. Zisanur

Zisanur is a first year MSc student in Dr. Silvia Cardona’s lab, hailing from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Despite majoring in biochemistry, he is interested in the relationships between hosts and microbes, ranging from the pathogenic to mutually beneficial. His current research focuses on the development of a comprehensive Burkholderia cenocepacia essential gene mutant library using CRISPR Interference (CRISPRi), which can be a great tool to identify putative targets for antibiotic therapy as well as determining the mode of action of novel compounds with antimicrobial properties.


Saliga, Grace

Through methods of insertional mutagenesis and allelic exchange, Grace has generated several mutations within the de Kievit lab’s favorite strain, Pseudomonas chlororaphis PA23. The main goal of her project is to find links between several key regulatory pathways that control the production of specific exometabolites which give PA23 its natural and valuable biocontrol capabilities. Grace will be carrying out several phenotypic assays along with qPCR analysis to uncover these regulatory connections

Slater, Cole

Cole is a first year Master’s student in Dr. Brian Mark’s lab. His research aims to understand the molecular basis of antibiotic resistance mechanisms in the nosocomial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. He is the recipient of the 2018 Mindel and Tom Olenick Medal and Prize for achieving the highest standing in the undergraduate Microbiology Honours program.

Sykes, Ellen

Ellen is currently a MSc student in Dr. Ayush Kumar’s lab. Her research focuses on antimicrobial resistance, mainly in regards to the opportunistic pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii and characterising one of its many Resistance-Nodulation Division efflux pumps. In addition to research, she enjoys her roles as a teaching assistant for a variety of undergraduate microbiology labs and is also as a member of the Microbiology Graduate Students Association.


Wang, Klara

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics continues to be a long-standing issue worldwide, especially in the context of inappropriate administration of medically important antibiotics for livestock production. In response to the antimicrobial resistance crisis, several nations (including Canada, U.S., and Europe) have implemented a more stringent use of antibiotics for livestock production.  As a result, alternative methods must be explored to maintain animal welfare and disease treatment from bacterial infections.  My project focuses on the development of a screening tool to measure the antibacterial potential of bacteriophages.

Zubaer, Abdullah

Abdullah Zubaer is interested in genomics research. For example, he uses bioinformatics tools and molecular biology techniques to study the dynamics of mobile introns (group I and group II introns) and intron-encoded proteins in fungal mitochondrial genomes. For more details about his research please visit: