Team:Dalhousie Halifax NS/Team

Dalhousie iGEM 2016

Our Team

Emma Finlayson-Trick

Microbiology and Immunology

My name is Emma Finlayson-Trick and I am a fourth year student at Dalhousie University majoring in microbiology and immunology and minoring in history. Last year was my first time on the Dalhousie iGEM team as ethics consultant and this year I am the president. I originally began university thinking that eukaryotic cells were the most fascinating things out there, and not to anger anyone who agrees with that statement, but I am now a prokaryote fan after learning about the many marvelous abilities and complexities of these curious cells. I hope to pursue a career as a clinical microbiologist and I am particularly fascinated in exploring antibiotic resistance.

Landon Getz

Microbiology and Immunology

My name is Landon Getz. I am an aspiring researcher and microbiology student at Dalhousie University. Having watched the iGEM team last year, and taking a few classes in synthetic biology, I decided I wanted to try my own hand at it. So here I am. My task with our iGEM team this year, with the help of Mackenzie Thornbury, is to sequence some 16S rRNA genes and discover what microbes are found in the gut of the porcupine. I am also the main web designer for this years team. I am looking forward to continuing our porcupine research and hopefully finding some interesting microorganisms in the process!

Mackenzie Thornbury

Microbiology and Immunology

My name is Mackenzie Thornbury and I am a fourth year Microbiology and Immunology student at Dalhousie University. I first heard about iGEM last year and was really interested in their project and also synthetic biology as a whole. We have very little classes that focus on synthetic biology so I joined the team in order to learn new techniques and see what synthetic biology was all about.

Shayne Gracious

Chemistry and Mathematics

My name is Shayne Gracious and I am entering my third year at Dalhousie completing my undergraduate degree in chemistry with a minor in mathematics. I was first exposed to the concept of genetic engineering in my first year of undergraduate studies through the Dalhousie Integrated Science Program. Since then the topic has continuously peaked my interest particularly through recent progressive studies in CRISPR. As a chemist my main interests lies around the applications of synthetic biology in the field of chemistry, such as the use of enzymes to overcome challenging metabolic pathways or introducing new reaction mechanisms to produce complex molecules. I am excited to be part of the iGEM team this year!

Mostafa Hagar

Chemistry and Neuroscience

My name is Mostafa Hagar and I'm finishing up fourth year at Dalhousie University, double majoring in chemistry and neuroscience. A really good friend of mine (Paul) participated in iGEM last year and recommended I look into it. I first got interested in synthetic biology after reading a few chemistry papers where organic chemists used enzymes to synthesize their targets. I think it's really cool that we can use enzymes to do the same transformations that chemists go through a lot of effort to achieve, and I'm really excited to get more exposure to that kind of biology and understand how people work with these enzymes.

Nicholas Boudreau

Microbiology and Immunology

My name is Nicholas Boudreau. As of this coming fall I will be a second year microbiology student at Dalhousie university. I am studying to become a researcher in the field of viral gene-therapy. As one of the most novice members of this team, my primary role is to help other team members where needed as well as use my proficiency in JavaScript to design some aspects of the website. I will be contributing heavily to the Shubenacadie Microbiome Map. I also used my proficiency in JavaScript to help create the team’s webpage.

Maxine Kirschenbaum


My name is Maxine Kirshenbaum and I’m in my final year of undergrad at Dalhousie university, majoring in chemistry and minoring in biology. Genetic engineering is a controversial topic and iGEM provided the perfect opportunity to learn more about it. My scant biology background helped feed my interest, as did the actual iGEM project itself. While I did not get to play with porcupines, just their poop, the unique learning opportunity and amazing team made for a great experience.

Angela Tsai

Medical Sciences

My name is Angela Tsai. I am a second year Medical Sciences student. I first heard about iGEM from my biology TA who had introduced genetic engineering to me. I believe synthetic biology would be a major part of medical development in the future, and that is why I want to explore more in this area. This year I will be helping out with graphic design and community projects.


Dr. Zhenyu Cheng

Primary PI

My name is Dr. Zhenyu Cheng and I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University. My lab has been focusing on the study of host-bacterial interactions. I completed my undergraduate study in 2002 at Wuhan University in China and then went to University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada to pursue my graduate studies, under the supervision of Drs. Bernard Glick and Brendan McConkey. After obtaining my PhD degree in 2010, Zhenyu joined Dr. Frederick Ausubel’s lab in Boston for his postdoctoral position that is jointly appointed in the Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. During my postdoctoral training, I received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Government of Canada, followed by a Tosteson Award from MGH. I started my own independent research lab at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia in 2016 and I iam a Cystic Fibrosis Canada Marsha Morton Early Career Investigator.

Dr. John Rohde

Secondary PI

Hello my name is Dr. John Rohde and I am the founder of the Dalhousie iGEM team and one of the faculty advisors for 2016. With a diverse background in microbial genetics, I became interested in synthetic biology during discussions with undergraduates in the courses that I teach at Dalhousie. I received my training at University of British Columbia, Institut Pasteur, Duke Medical Center and The Samuel Lunnenfeld Research Institute in Toronto. I am currently on sabbatical leave at Institut Pasteur.

Dr. Lois Murray

Faculty Advisor

My name is Lois Murray. I earned my PhD in Microbiology at Dalhousie University and post-doc'd at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. In both of these positions I learned cell and molecular biology techniques that I use to further my research on regulation of development in yeast. Synthetic biology is fascinating to me in that it has led researchers to discover systems that we didn't know existed in bacterial cells and use them in interesting ways to ask important questions in other cell types. Working with the iGEM team is of interest to me because I like to be involved in guiding students as they pursue their research into areas of gene regulation. I am so amazed and impressed by our iGEM group members as each student brings an interesting set of skills and perspectives to thinking about this project. Team work and communication are the core to generating new ideas!

Jamie Cook

Graduate Advisor

My name is Jamie Cook and I am one of Dalhousie’s iGEM team mentors. I am a new master’s student at Dalhousie University, and I am interested in bacterial-host interactions. I just recently graduated from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton with an honours degree in biology, concentrations in microbiology and molecular biology, and a minor Psychology. I am very interested in synthetic biology because I believe it is a greener method to produce chemicals compared to previous methods, which generated harmful by-products. I also find it fascinating how we can use bacteria such as E. coli, and use them as mini factories to generate desired chemicals.

Emily Lamoureux

Graduate Advisor

My name is Emily Lamoureux and I am finishing up the first year of my Masters in Pharmacology. I’m super pumped to part of the Dalhousie iGEM team as an advisor. My undergrad was in Microbiology and Immunology and I’m so happy to see a self-directed opportunity for undergrads in research! It’s a lot of fun to be involved with such a brilliant and motivated group of people, and I can’t wait to see what other teams bring to the Jamboree

Patrick Slaine

Graduate Advisor

My name is Patrick Slaine and I am in my second year now of my masters in microbiology and immunology. My undergrad was at the university of Guelph studying molecular biology and genetics (MBG) and I am very grateful to be apart of the team. This program gives an amazing opportunity for undergrads to create amazing techniques, which can result in impactful findings.