Research Assistant | Postdoctoral Fellows | Graduate Students | Lab Alumni

Director of the Lab

Prof. Stephen Michnick 

 Stephen did his bachelors and doctoral studies at the University of Toronto under the direction of Jeremy Carver and did postdoctoral training at Harvard University with Profs. Martin Karplus (Nobel Prize, chemistry, 2013) and Stuart Schreiber. He trained principally as a biophysical chemist, studying structures of carbohydrate-protein and protein-protein complexes, mechanisms of protein folding and protein chemistry in general. At the heart of all of his present work, protein chemistry remains central, but he has developed an eclectic and diverse research program aimed at studying the organization and dynamics of biochemical networks in living cells and how these networks compute cell-fate decisions.

Research Assistant

Philippe Garneau

Philippe Garneau is responsible to perform PCA large-scale robotized screenings and to monitor yeast, bacterial and plasmid collections. He is also involved in setting up large-scale screens involving mammalian cells. Philippe joined the lab in 2017 and previously had 18 years of lab experience in, among other topics, molecular microbiology, cancer research and bioinformatics. He holds a Master’s degree in Microbiology from Université Laval.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Sandeep Kumar

Sandeep is interested in examining the possible role of polyvalent molecules (such as polyamines) on the liquid-liquid phase behaviors of proteins. The levels of polyamines are increased in different diseases (cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, pancreatitis etc.) and are thus a target for potential therapeutic agents. Until recently, it has remained unclear whether elevation of polyamines is a cause or a consequence of the disease process. Sandeep joined the lab in May 2018, after completing his Postdoctoral training at National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan. He completed his PhD in Biophysical Chemistry from the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, India. He also holds a Master’s degree in Bioinformatics from the Panjab University, India.

Poonam Dangi

Poonam’s research focuses on understanding the phenomenon of liquid-liquid phase separation with respect to its role in processes such as endocytosis, organelle biogenesis. In particular, she is interested in exploring the role of phase separation in certain disease conditions such as ALS where the mutant TDP-43 protein is known to form aggregate and the turnover of this mutant protein might be mediated by endocytosis. Poonam joined the lab in 2018, after receiving her Ph.D. in Infection Biology from Shiv Nadar University, India. She holds master’s degree in Biotechnology from IIT Roorkee, India.


Isabel Bacellar

Isabel is interested in investigating possible roles of protein liquid-liquid phase separation in the context of lipid membrane biology. Her current research goal is elucidating the mechanism by which proteins are imported to the peroxisome matrix, a process that is still mysterious and relies on proteins with low complexity sequences. Isabel joined the lab in September 2017, after receiving her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the same university, where she acquired experience working with lipid membranes.


Shelly DeForte

Shelly’s research is focused on the relationship of the amino acid sequences in proteins to their functional and physical behavior. In particular, she focuses on intrinsically disordered and low complexity regions. She uses a variety of computational techniques including disorder and complexity prediction, amino acid composition analysis, motif analysis and machine learning. Shelly came to the lab in September 2016, after receiving her Ph.D in Molecular Medicine from the University of South Florida, Florida, USA.


Louis-Philippe Bergeron Sandoval 

LP currently works on revealing the ultrafast dynamics of phosphorylation events involved in the hyperosmolar glycerol response in budding yeast. His main research interest is to further comprehend how the functional and nonfunctional phosphorylation events in this response can be separated based on biophysical and evolutionary concepts. He also works on understanding the dynamic behaviour and quaternary structure of proteins Sla1 and Sla2, two major players involved in clathrin mediated endocytosis, a cellular morphological process highly regulated by the yeast osmotic response. LP joined the Michnick lab in 2010 after he completed a Master of Science in Biology at the Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada.

Pouria Dasmeh

My research interest lies at the interface of protein biophysics, molecular evolution, and microbial genetics. I earned my Ph.D. (2013) in Biophysical Chemistry from the Technical University of Denmark working with Prof. Kasper P. Kepp in the Department of Chemistry and jointly accomplished my thesis in the laboratory of Prof. Eugene Shakhnovich at Harvard University. As a postdoctoral fellow in Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology and Epigenetics (2014), I developed biophysical models for RNA Pol II transcription in gene dosage compensation in Drosophila.  I joined the Serohijos Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow after a career break to complete my national service (2014-2016). My current research focuses on the development of biophysical models to estimate the selective window in antibiotic resistance and to perform experiments based on deep mutational scanning to test the model predictions. In the collaboration with the Michnick lab, I am interested in studying i) sequence determinants and ii) evolution of proteins involved in the intracellular phase separation.

Graduate Students

Seckin Sinan Isik 

Sinan’s research interest embodies how memory functions through PolyQ/N proteins domain. He would like to characterize this dynamic nature of interactions through the usage of custom made image processing algorithm, imaging acquisition techniques such as Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM), Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH), Protein-Fragment Complementation assay (PCA), mutagenesis and other complementing assays. He has joined the lab in 2012 after completing his Master of Science in Optical Technologies from the University of Nurnberg-Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany. He also holds a bachelor degree in Physics from the University of Bath, Bath, England.

Lidice Gonzalez 

Lidice is studying the molecular mechanisms implicated in the localization of the INO1 locus at the nuclear periphery upon activation. Several inducible genes in yeast, including INO1, relocalize from the nucleoplasm to the nuclear envelope when activated in a process suggested to be important for the efficiency of gene expression. However, the mechanism by which relocalization occurs and how this affects INO1 gene transcription remains unknown. Lidice joined the lab in May 2015 after completing her Master of Science in Biochemistry at the University of Havana, Cuba. She also holds a Bachelor degree in Microbiology from the same university.

Intern Students

Emily Prowse 

Emily is interested in the effects of polyphosphate and polyamine compounds on the material properties of the yeast cytosol. She will be performing mean-squared displacement analysis from passive rheology data to determine the physical properties of the cytosol in deletion mutants. Emily is using fluorescent microscopy and single-particle tracking data to obtain the positional data required for mean-squared displacement analysis. She is here for one year as part of her co-op program at the University of British Columbia, where she is studying for a bachelor’s in biochemistry.

Lab Alumni

  • Tina Tai (Intern Student, 2017-2018)
  • Jacqueline Kowarzyk (Research Assistant 2010-2018)
  • Diala Abd Rabbo (PhD, 2009-2017) Postdoc, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), Toronto, Canada.
  • Bram Stynen (Postdoc, 2012-2017).
  • Lara Michel Matta (Master, 2013-2016).
  • Alessandra Nurisso (Invited Researcher, 2015-2016) Lecturer in medicinal chemistry at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Kevin Stokely (Postdoc, 2015-2016).
  • Nozhat Safaee (Postdoc, 2014-2016) Postdoc, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.
  • Durgajini Sivanesan (Postdoc, 2010-2015).
  • Benjamin Matala (Master, 2011-2015) PhD, ERIC, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada.
  • Benjamin Piette (Master, 2013-2015) PhD, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
  • Luz Carrillo (Postdoc, 2011-2015) Chemistry instructor, MiraCosta College & Palomar College, San Diego, USA.
  • Abdellali Kelil (Postdoc, 2009-2015) Research associate, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
  • Emmanuelle Tchekanda (Postdoc, 2010-2014) Scientific advisor, Institut national d’excellence en santé et en service sociaux (INESSS), Québec, Canda.
  • Vincent Messier (PhD, 2004-2012) Postdoc, Toronto University, Toronto, Canada.
  • Emmanuel Levy (Postdoc, 2008-2012) Senior Scientist, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.
  • Benjamin Dubreuil (MSc, 2011-2012) MSc, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.
  • Po Hien Ear (MSc, PhD, 2003-2011) Postdoc, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.
  • Mohan Malleshaiah (PhD, 2005-2011) Postdoc, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.
  • Arturo Papaluca (MSc, 2010-2011) PhD, Institut de Recherche en Immunologie et en Cancérologie (IRIC),
    Montréal, Québec, Canada.
  • Carole Mazurek (Research Assistant, 2007-2009) Research Assistant, USA.
  • Christian Landry (Postdoc, 2006-2009) Assistant Professor, Université de Laval, Québec, Canada.
  • Kirill Tarassov (PhD, 2004-2009) Head of Bioinformatics Department, Zora Biosciences Oy, Espoo, Finlan.
  • Michael John Booth (MSc co-supervision, 2008) PhD, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
  • Eduard Stefan (Postdoc, 2005-2008) Senior Research Associate, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.
  • Beat Nyfeler (Visiting Scientist, 2007) Research Investigator, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research,
    Cambridge, USA.
  • Alexis Vallée-Bélisle (PhD, 1997-2007) Assistant Professor, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
  • François Xavier Campbell-Valois (PhD, 1997-2005) Postdoc, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.
  • Dimitri Sans (MSc, 1999-2002) MD, Hopital Pierre-Le Gardeur, Terrebonne, Québec, Canada.
  • Martin Primeau (MSc, 1999-2002) Scientific Journalist, LaPresse, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
  • Nathalie Berger (MSc, 2003-2005) Charles River.
  • Ingrid Remy (PhD, 1998-2001) Laboratory Manager, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
  • André Galarneau (PhD, 1997-2001) Medical Advisor & MSL Lead, Merck, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
  • Geoffroy Denis (MSc, 1998-2001) MD.

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