Alastair G.B. Simpson

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Alastair is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie University, and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIfAR), program in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity.

Sebastian Hess &

Sebastian received his doctoral degree in Cologne (Germany), where he investigated the structure, life histories and evolution of diverse, poorly known protists that feed specifically on freshwater microalgae. After characterising the Viridiraptoridae, a family of cercozoan amoeboflagellates that perforate algal cells to feed on protoplast material, he came to Halifax as a postdoctoral research fellow to study the molecular mechanisms involved in the complex feeding behaviour of viridiraptorids. Sebastian is particularly interested in cell wall degrading enzymes and actin-binding proteins, which will be explored in the species Orciraptor agilis (Viridiraptoridae, Cercozoa). This will be done with a comparative transcriptomic approach and a selection of biochemical methods under the co-supervision by Alastair Simpson (Department of Biology) and Andrew Roger (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology).

Gordon Lax

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Gordon received his MSc at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern in Germany. He started his PhD in September 2013 and works on the biodiversity and evolution of phagotrophic euglenids, a diverse group of single-celled eukaryotes abundant in marine and freshwater sediments.

Yana Eglit &

Yana began her PhD in January 2015, following a Bachelor's degree at the University of British Columbia. She is examining several groups of ‘mystery’ protists of uncertain evolutionary affinities that she has cultivated, using transcriptomics-based phylogenomics as well as electron microscopy characterisation. She is also examining the biodiversity of major groups of anaerobes (e.g. metamonads, breviates).

Anna Busch &

Anna is a Master Student at the University of Bonn, Germany, who conducted her research work in the Simpson Lab during 2018, with Sebastian Hess. She is examining the diversity, molecular phylogenetics and sunscreen-like pigment production in the zygnematophycean algal taxon Mesotaenium.

Andrea Gigeroff &

Andrea is an honours student (and NSERC USRA-funded summer research student) who is studying a series of novel predatory flagellates that are suspected to be colponemids (an evolutionarily important group of Alveolatea). She is isolating these into di-eukaryotic predator-prey cultures, inferring their phylogenetic relationships, and examining their prey preferences.

Former Lab Members (selection)

Kira More &

Kira was an honours student (and NSERC USRA-funded summer research student) examining biodiversity and prey preference in algae-eating marine vampyrellids such as new species of Placopus ('Hyalodiscus'). The first paper from her honours research was recently (2018) accepted for publication.

Tommy Harding &

Tommy was a PhD student in the Roger Lab at Dalhousie University, and co-supervised by us. He studied the adaptation to extremely high salinities in halophilic protozoa, using Halocafeteria and Pharyngomonas as models. Analysis of their transcriptomes (and the genome of Halocafeteria) revealed how these obligate halophiles have adapted to extreme environments with respect to gene content, gene expression and the amino acid composition of their inferred proteome (Harding et al. 2016, 2017). He also led work to confirm the life cycle of Pharyngomonas (Harding et al. 2013). Tommy is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Université de Montréal.

Jiwon Yang &

Jiwon was a MSc student in the Roger Lab at Dalhousie University, and co-supervised by us. Working with Tommy Harding, she sequenced the mitochondrial genomes of the deep-branching Heterolobosea Pharyngomonas and 'BB2', discovering a novel system of insertional RNA editing in BB2 (Yang et al. 2017)

Robyn Buchwald &

Robyn graduated with her BSc with honours in Marine Biology at Dalhousie University in 2014, then completed her Masters in the Simpson Lab (and co-supervised by Robert Scheibling) in 2016. Her research involved Paramoeba invadens, a pathogenic amoeba causing mass mortalities of the common green sea urchin along the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia. During her Masters research Robyn developed and applied a gene-based PCR/qPCR assay to monitor Paramoeba invadens populations in the environment (Buchwald et al. accepted)

Claire Burnard &

Claire is an honours student, examining the biodiversity of halophilic ciliates, and especially testing an hypothesis of biogeographic isolation within the obligately halophilic Trimyema species complex.

Joshua Goodwin &

Joshua graduated with his BSc with Honours in Biology in May 2014 and continued his work in the lab under a Sarah Lawson Research Scholarship. Joshua characterized a novel kinetoplastid, Allobodo, that is a parasite or necrotroph of the invasive ulvophycean alga Codium fragile. Joshua demonstrated that this organism was in fact distinct single species, and that it holds an important phylogenetic position within metakinetoplastids. This work was published in 2018 (Goodwin et al. 2018).

Will Kirby &

A former undergraduate student & volunteer in the Simpson Lab, Will then went to undertake a Masters at the University of Alberta. In his time in the Simpson Lab, Will examined environmental samples from solar salterns, which led to the isolation and characterization of a new species of extremely halotolerant heteroloboseid, Tulamoeba bucina (Kirby et al. 2015).

Aaron Heiss &

Aaron examined deep-level eukaryote evolution from morphological and molecular phylogenetic standpoints. His major work was the detailed characterisation of the cytoskeleton of apusomonads, breviates and ancyromonads, poorly studied protozoa that appear to be important ‘deep branches’ in the eukaryotic tree, along with phylogenomic analyses based on transcriptome data. He completed his PhD in 2012, and after short postdoc positions in the Simpson lab then Tsukubsa University, is now a postdoc at the American Museum of Natural History, working with Eunsoo Kim.

Martin Kolisko &

Martin's PhD research focused on the biodiversity and molecular phylogeny anaerobic excavates (e.g. Carpediemonas, retortamonads, diplomonads and enteromonads), and the impact of data from new Carpediemonas-like organisms on eukaryote phylogenomics, and on understanding the evolution of mitochondrion-like organelles in anaerobes. Martin was co-supervised by Andrew Roger in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He defended his PhD in 2011, then completed postdocs with Andrew Roger, and Patrick Keeling (UBC), and is now a principal investigator at the Institute of Parasitology, Czech Republic.

Jong Soo Park &

Jong Soo joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow in November 2007, following a PhD at Seoul National University with Prof. Byung Cheol Cho, and a postdoc in Chonnam University. Jong Soo worked primarily on the biodiversity and biogeography of halophilic and extremely halophilic protozoa. He also examined halotolerant heterotrophic stramenopiles and performed detailed electron microscopy studies on two Carpediemonas-like organisms. Jong Soo left the lab in February 2011 to take up a faculty position at Kyungpook National University, South Korea.

Vladimir Hampl & '

Vladimir started his postdoctoral fellowship in January 2006 (co-supervised by Andrew Roger, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), after he finished his PhD at Charles University in Prague. His research is focused on the phylogeny and mitochondrial evolution of Metamonada (Oxymonads, Trimastix, Carpediemonas, parabasalids, retortamonads, diplomonads) which belongs within Excavata. Vladimir returned to a faculty position in Prague in December 2007.