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Trainee Association

The GlycoNet Trainee Association (GTA) is composed of the students, postdoctoral fellows, technicians, and research associates affiliated with the Canadian Glycomics Network.
 

GlycoNet Trainee Association Executive Committee

The GTA Executive Committee (GTA-EC) represents the interests of all members of the Association. In addition to providing a trainee perspective to the GlycoNet training program, the Committee facilitate networking events and meetings, contribute to Network communications, and work to promote GlycoNet to the broader community. The GTA-EC meets regularly to discuss ideas and issues that matter most to the next generation of Canadian glycoscientists, and to help ensure that GlycoNet trainees have access to a diverse set of opportunities during their time in the Network.

Terms of Reference

View Terms of Reference (PDF)

The GTA 2022-2023 Executive Committee (GTA-EC)
F. Ifthiha Mohideen
F. Ifthiha Mohideen • Chair

Ifthiha is a postdoctoral fellow who joined the Mahal Lab in October 2021. She completed her Ph.D. in Biology at Concordia University, Montreal in the summer of 2021. During her Ph.D., she worked in the lab of Dr. David Kwan, where she focused on researching and harnessing the substrate flexibility of enzymes involved in natural product glycosylation towards better therapeutics. Before joining Concordia, she obtained her BSc (Honors) in Plant Biotechnology from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. She is currently working on two research projects: 1) Identifying the underlying glycogenes regulating lectin binding through CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene editing, and 2) Identifying the host glycomic response to influenza H1N1 as a function of obesity using lectin microarray technology. Outside of the lab, she enjoys baking and travelling.

The Chair of GTA-EC enforces the terms of reference of the Trainee Association. The chair is the official spokesperson of the GTA. The Chair sits as a member of GlycoNet’s Training Committee as the GTA’s representative.

Headshot Ninoschka
Ninoschka D’Souza • 

I am currently in the PhD program in Dr. Michael Riddell’s lab at York University, Toronto. I originally came to Canada on an exchange scholarship from India, went on to complete a Master’s degree and worked for 2 years as a Research Associate for Dr. Riddell. My master’s thesis focused on metabolic aspects of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons, which later became my link to diabetic research that I am now heavily focused on. As a Research Associate to Dr. Riddell, I worked on pre-clinical drug development research for hypoglycemia prevention in type 1 diabetes, culminating in Phase 1 clinical trial studies currently underway. My PhD research will focus on further pre-clinical investigations of the same drug, a somatostatin type 2 receptor antagonist (SSTR2a), for hypoglycemia prevention in type 2 diabetes. Outside of the lab, I enjoy travelling, cooking, reading, and trying new foods.

Mike Downey
Mike Downey • 

Born in Calgary, Mike has come and gone… and come again to the University of Alberta. He completed his BSc in pharmacology in 2009 and his MSc in chemical biology under the tutelage of Dr. Chris Cairo in 2012 at the University of Alberta. He then skipped over the pond to complete a PhD in organic chemistry at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry in Prague under the supervision of Dr. Michal Hocek, defending in December 2017. Still reluctant to return to his roots, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Peter Seeberger between 2018 and 2020 at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam. After a brief stint as a copyeditor of English of scientific manuscripts across all disciplines, he accepted with alacrity (and a few gray hairs) a joint postdoctoral appointment in the laboratories of Dr. Matt Macauley and Dr. Ratmir Derda in May 2021 until August 2022. Having worked in medicinal chemistry and anticancer peptide-based research at the UofA during that time, he remains ever-passionate about genetic material and anything sweet. Triathlons, crosswords and anything fun forever remain his extracurricular interests. 

Headshot David Firer
David Firer • 

I am pursuing a M.Sc. in Microbiology and Immunology in Dr. Don Sheppard’s lab at McGill University. Prior to this, I completed a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Immunology with an undergraduate thesis project that focused on chytrid fungi. While these fungi have been leading a global amphibian pandemic for decades, there is still very little known about them. My research, which is a direct extension of my undergraduate work, aims to provide insight into chytrid life cycles by characterizing the structure and function of chytrid cell wall polysaccharides. Outside of the lab, I enjoy cooking, cycling, making pottery, and watching (many) films! 

Taylor Gray
Taylor Gray • 

I received my B.Sc. Honours in Chemistry at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in 2020, training in the research lab of Dr. Wesley Zandberg between 2018 and 2021. I worked on projects using analytical tools to enable the high throughput analysis of dairy carbohydrates. I also worked on a project that allowed me to perform some collaborative work with the Macauley lab. I have since joined the Macauley lab for graduate studies at the University of Alberta, where I am interested in better understanding the activity and specificity of sialyltransferase enzymes. 

Natalie Stewart
Natalie Stewart • 

I am a MSc student in Dr. Simon Wisnovsky’s lab in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia. I recently completed my BSc in Microbiology at the University of Victoria this year, where I also participated in a Co-op program. For my last Co-op work term, I had a research project in the Wisnovsky Lab investigating the immune functions between the glyco-immune checkpoint receptor, Siglec-7 and a glycoprotein called CD43, which I am excited to continue on with as a MSc student. Glycoprotein ligands can be quite complex and difficult to characterize, understanding how they engage with receptors can reveal therapeutic targets for cancer treatments. Outside of the lab, I like to hike, read and try new brunch places on the weekends. 

Dulce Valdez
Dulce Valdez • 

I completed my BSc in Genomic Biotechnology at Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in 2019. As an undergrad, I joined multiple research labs both in Mexico and Canada but ultimately fell in love with the SynBio world while working under Dr. David Kwan’s supervision at Concordia University. After working shortly in the Clinical Trials industry, I decided to go back to the Kwan lab to start my MSc in Biology, where I’m exploring the applications of synthetic biology in the drug discovery and development process. Currently, my Master’s research focuses on finding small molecule inhibitors for fucosyltransferase enzymes that are relevant in cancer using high-throughput methods. Whenever I’m not in the lab you can find me in my kitchen baking and decorating cookies, or sitting on my couch re-watching Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga for the 28356th time. 

Jackline Irungu Photo
Jackline Irungu • 

I am a chemistry Ph.D. student in The University of British Columbia, Okanagan working under the supervision of Dr. Wesley Zandberg. Before joining UBC, I pursued B.Sc. in chemistry in Meru University in Kenya, an M.Sc. in chemistry in University of Siena Italy, and Master of Instrumental Chemical Analysis at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. I am fascinated by the dynamic aspect of glycosylation and the power the glycans have in our bodies in health and disease. I love the great efforts being put in place by researchers and funders worldwide to promote glycosylation studies and I am happy to be part of this great community. My current research is focusing on the development of analytical methods for glycosylation studies (especially mucus-linked glycans), that are considered high-throughput. I am especially focused on the precision of these methods and the impact of sample preparation methods on data quality. Other than academia I enjoy spiritual growth, chatting with family and friends, road trips, community volunteering, listening to music and trying new foods. 

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Joshua Kofsky • 

I am a PhD candidate in the Capicciotti Lab at Queen’s University. I completed a BSc in Chemistry at Queen’s University in 2020 with an undergraduate thesis project on the chemical synthesis of O-glycans. My current research focuses on new ways to access defined O-glycan structures through chemoenzymatic synthesis and extraction of glycans from natural sources. These O-glycans are useful for studying glycan-protein binding interactions and determining their functional effects in cell-based assays. Outside of the lab, I enjoy swimming, cooking and reading.  

Past GTA-EC

Canadian Glycomics Network
E5-33 Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre
University of Alberta, T6G 2G2
Tel: 780-492-6204
Fax: 780-492-4147

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