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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 2021-2022 Executive Committee (GTA-EC)
Jolene Garber • Chair

I completed a BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Lethbridge in the spring of 2014, participating in both a cooperative education program and an honors thesis course. I began my graduate research the following fall under the supervision of Christine Szymanski at the University of Alberta, focusing on carbohydrate metabolism by Campylobacter jejuni, a leading cause of human gastrointestinal illness worldwide. I later moved with Dr. Szymanski to work at the University of Georgia Complex Carbohydrate Research Center and transferred into a PhD program at UGA working on the same project I initiated at the U of A. I completed my PhD in the fall of 2019 and am now a postdoctoral fellow co-supervised by Wesley Zandberg at the University of British Columbia Okanagan and Wade Abbott at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. My current research focuses on studying biologically-important glycans such as milk oligosaccharides and mucin O-glycans and their effects on intestinal microbes.

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.

Joshua Kofsky • Vice Chair

I am a MSc student in the Capicciotti Lab in the Department of Chemistry at Queen’s University. I completed a BSc in Chemistry from 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 biological 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.

The Vice Chair is responsible for the coordination of the activities of the Trainee Association and serves as the official spokesperson in conjunction with the Chair.

F. Ifthiha Mohideen • Secretary

I completed my Ph.D. in Biology at Concordia University, Montreal in summer 2021. During my Ph.D., I worked in the lab of Dr. David Kwan, where I focused on researching and harnessing the substrate flexibility of enzymes involved in natural product glycosylation towards better therapeutics. Before joining Concordia, I obtained my B.Sc. (Honors) in Plant Biotechnology from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. I am looking forward to joining the lab of Dr. Lara Mahal at the University of Alberta as a postdoctoral fellow in the fall of 2021. Outside of the lab, I enjoy baking and traveling.

The secretary maintains and manages the records of the Association and assists the chair to perform Association duties, including meeting documentations and Association correspondence. 

Jaime Van Loon • Communications Officer

I completed my B.Sc. at the University of Guelph in Biological and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. During that time, I participated in research-based co-operative positions with Environment and Climate Change Canada, and in the labs of Dr. Cezar Khursigara (University of Guelph) and Dr. P. Lynne Howell (The Hospital for Sick Children). In 2019, I began my Ph.D. in Biochemistry in Dr. Howell’s lab at the University of Toronto. My current research involves understanding how Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen that primarily infects immunocompromised individuals, regulates its biofilm mode of growth. Specifically, I study the regulation of the biosynthesis of Pel, an exopolysaccharide that helps P. aeruginosa evade the human immune system and block antibiotic therapies. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking (or, attempting to), spending time outside, and listening to true crime podcasts.

The Communications Officers are responsible for all matters that pertain to internal and external communications of the Trainee Association. They maintain awareness of the members in the Association and assist information sharing with the trainees.

Emily Rodriguez • Symposium & Webinar Series Representative

I am a Biological and Chemical Sciences PhD Student in Dr. Joel Weadge’s lab in the Faculty of Science at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. I was enrolled in the MSc in Integrative Biology program at Wilfrid Laurier University before transferring to my PhD program in 2020. Before that, I had completed my BSc in Biology also from Wilfrid Laurier University. My current research focuses on trying to understand the role the acetyl transferase enzyme CcsI plays in Clostridioides difficile biofilms. My goals are to study this protein both functionally and structurally in isolation (purified from cell lysate) and subsequently study the function within C. difficile cells to determine the role it plays in the broader biofilm making complex. Inhibitors of CcsI will be examined for their ability to inhibit acetyltransferase ability in vitro and potentially act as antibiofilm agents when applied to C. difficile cells. Outside of the lab, I enjoy hiking, cooking and spending time with family.

The Symposium & Webinar Series Representative is responsible for the coordination for the professional development and trainee activities of the annual Canadian Glycomics Symposium and webinar series. The Representative sits as a member of the GlycoNet’s Symposium Committee as the GTA’s voice.

Ninoschka D’Souza • University Ambassador Representative

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. For my PhD, my 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. In addition, I will investigate the efficacy of sodium glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors in hypoglycemia prevention in a pediatric population with type 1 diabetes. Outside of the lab, I enjoy travelling, cooking, reading, and trying new foods.

The University Ambassador Representative is involved in recruiting and selecting ambassadors from member universities and setting up events for trainee development


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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