The research interests in our lab concern the molecular analysis of resistance to environmental and chemical stresses. This rather broad area allows us to investigate some quite divergent topics; indeed, it is remarkable where an interest in stress resistance can lead you!
1. Can we improve cryopreservation techniques?
Although antifreeze proteins (AFPs) are found in certain organisms that are exposed to low temperatures and have been studied for several decades, we still do not appreciate their function in low temperature protection. One hypothesis is that AFPs can protect membranes and stop them from leaking at low temperatures. The goal of this project is to improve methods of cryopreservation, crucial now with the expanding use of stem cells in medicine. This project may appeal to students who are interested in genetic engineering and biochemistry since the methods involve production of recombinant bacteria, protein purification and some ‘very cool’ ice assays!
2. Climate change in the high Arctic: what is happening to the soils?
Climate change is ushering in some dramatic changes to the high Arctic and we believe that these changes will be reflected in soil diversity. The goal of this project is to isolate and characterize DNA from both prokaryotes and eukaryotes in cores taken from this polar region. Particularly of interest will be the impact of disturbance on fungal and protozoan grazer populations. This project will be particularly suited to students who enjoy data analysis, are good with power tools and are enthusiastic about biotechnology.
STARTING DATE: Normally, September.