March 2018, Volume 24
  1. Daisy Resurrection Party
  2. Science Rendezvous Committee
  3. Graduate Research Day
  4. Lab Spotlight: The Gu Lab
  5. Culturing Lab-Grown Meat at BioZone
  6. Professor Alison McGuigan Wins Connaught Innovation Award
  7. Christian Euler Wins Leaders of Tomorrow Award
  8. New Publications

1. Daisy Resurrection Party

On January 30th we celebrated the return of Daisy the anaerobic digester with a resurrection party. Led by none other than Daisy’s creator, Nigel Guilford, Ph.D., we learned all about her capabilities and the new exciting research being embarked on with her return.

Daisy can digest solid organic waste from a wide variety of sources to produce energy in the form of biogas, by taking organic material through multiple phases over six weeks while monitoring relevant characteristics. Daisy also allows for sample collection and monitoring of a variety of parameters.

We can’t wait to see what new results will be generated with Daisy under the direction of Post-doctoral Fellow Temesgen Fitamo!

2. Science Rendezvous Committee

Hey BioZone! We're currently looking for people interested in helping to organize this year's rendition of BioZone's booth at Science Rendezvous!

This annual event turns St. George Street into a fantastic learning opportunity for kids and the public alike to get them interested in science! It's always lots of fun - last year our booth focused on the paper making process, and the kids got to go home with paper they made and decorated themselves. 

This year the event will be on Saturday, May 11th on St. George Street.

If you are interested in helping to organize the logistics of this super fun event, please send us an email. Even if you are unavailable on the day of the event, helping to organize will still mean a lot to us at BioZone Council, and to the kids!

Paper-making at last year's Science Rendezvous.

3. Graduate Research Day

On February 2 the hallways of Wallberg were flooded with prospective Chem Eng grad students for GRD. GRD guests were welcomed by Professors Grant Allen and Krishna Mahadevan before heading into a full day of networking and learning about the opportunities within BioZone (and the rest of the department).

Thank you to everyone who made the guests feel welcome by leading lab tours, participating in the poster session, chatting at Fika, and pointing them in the right direction as they scrambled to make it to their interviews! Hopefully we'll see a lot of their faces again in the coming year.

Some young scientists being introduced to anaerobic gloveboxes! (Picture courtesy of Susie)

4. Lab Spotlight: The Gu Lab

Hi everyone! Frank Gu Lab here. We noticed that, as a group, we’re a bit isolated on the second floor and so, we wanted to tell BioZone a little about what we do and who we are. We definitely love to make new friends and collaborate! (shameless plug: follow us on Twitter @FrankGuLab)

About Prof. Gu
Prof. Gu joined the department in July 2018 and is the NSERC Senior Industrial Research Chair in Nanotechnology Engineering. He received his PhD from Queen’s University and pursued postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School. His research uses nanotechnology engineering for applications in medicine, life sciences and the environment. In his time as a professor, he has co-founded two companies and has authored and co-authored more than 200 journal and conference publications, as well as 25 U.S. and world patents and applications.
Who are we?
Our group is composed of 2 post-docs, 7 PhD students (4 at the University of Waterloo), 8 MASc students (4 at UW) and 15 undergrads (2 at UW). Our graduate students completed their undergraduate degrees in nanotechnology engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry and more.

What do we do?
We investigate and engineer nanomaterials (e.g., composed of organic, semiconductor, metallic and metal-oxide) for applications in health and the environment. Our group is more-or-less split into three teams, or maybe better called research themes: environmental, drug delivery and unnamed.

What does the environmental team do?
The environmental team uses nanotechnology for industrial water and soil applications. Current projects include the photocatalytic treatment of selenium-contaminated waters as well as the elimination of toxicity in oil-sands process-affected water through photocatalytic oxidation. This team isn't afraid to get down and dirty to tackle new water challenges (which is why the rest of the lab casts them away to Wallberg's basement, where they can't contaminate other teams' equipment). Feel free to drop by WB30 to say hello!

What does the drug-delivery team do?
This team leverages nanotechnology to increase treatment efficacy and improve patient outcomes. Recently we have been exploring the interface between nanomaterials and a variety of biomacromolecules and designing new drug delivery systems! They love to discuss just about anything, especially if it’s random useless trivia (like which modern-day country is named after a province in the Netherlands?) Swing by WB 207—it’s inside of 203—and come share your fun facts!

What does the unnamed team do? 
This team unfortunately still (we’ve been around for several years) doesn’t have a nice name like the other teams. That’s because we haven’t been able to come up with a phrase that encompasses the myriad of areas in which we work: medical diagnostics, therapeutics, biosensors, nanoscience, materials science and plasmonics. We’re also very friendly! Come by WB222 to say hi, and let us know if you think of a name!

Interests and hobbies
We figured that BioZoners might be interested in learning about who we are outside of the lab. We asked each other about this, and it turns out we didn’t know each other as well as we thought!

Among our group members are a musician who’s released two albums on Spotify (he’s unreal), four current/former varsity athletes (swimming x2, rugby and cross country, including two who competed at the national level), a LRCM in Piano Performance (first in Ontario) and former national piano competitor, a 2nd-degree black-belt in Shotokan Karate, someone who’s competed regionally in spoken word, a former AAA baseball player, a self-taught Mandarin speaker, a bake master, a beer brewer, a puzzle hobbyist, rock climbers, readers of fantasy, video-game players, Blue Jay, Raptors and Leafs fans and (unfortunately) a Sens fan.

5. Culturing Lab-Grown Meat at BioZone 

BioZone researcher Peter Stogios is using funding from the Good Food Institute to search for growth factors that can make growing meat in a culture dish less expensive.

Clean meat production—free of animal sources—requires the use of serum-free growth media to culture muscle tissue.  However, the scale-up and commercialization of clean meat is hindered by the prohibitive cost of serum-free media, which is mainly due to the cost of recombinant growth factor production. 

This project uses genomics, protein structure-guided functional characterization, and protein engineering to establish the properties of xenobiotic growth factors originating in diverse species and to engineer synthetic growth factors for use in clean meat production. These reagents will be attractive tools for accelerating the scale-up of clean meat production. Yum!

Read Peter's claim to fame in the Toronto Star!

6. Professor Alison McGuigan Wins Connaught Innovation Award 

Professor Alison McGuigan is among the 12 researchers at the University of Toronto that will share funding from the Connaught Innovation Award program, for “an in-vitro human muscle cell potency assay for cell product QC and muscle endogenous repair drug identification”.

The Connaught Innovation Award program recognizes and supports promising technologies that have strong socio-economic or commercial potential.

Congratulations, Alison!

Read more about the award and this year's winners here.

7. Congratulations to Christian Euler for winning Leaders of Tomorrow Award!

Christian Euler was awarded the The Professor Douglas Reeve Leaders of Tomorrow Award from the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering. The Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Awards recognize students in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry who have shown the potential to become outstanding leaders. Keep leading, Christian!

8. New Publications 

1. Arnal, G., Stogios, P.J., Asohan, J., Skarina, T., Savchenko, A. and Brumer, H. (2018). Structural enzymology reveals the molecular basis of substrate regiospecificity and processivity of an exemplar bacterial glycoside hydrolase family 74 endo-xyloglucanase. Biochemical Journal. 475(24):3963-3978.

2. Wang, P.H., Correia, K., Ho, H.C., Venayak, N., Nemr, K., Flick, R., Mahadevan, R. and Edwards, E.A. (2019). An interspecies malate–pyruvate shuttle reconciles redox imbalance in an anaerobic microbial community. The ISME journal. 1.

3. Wu, B., Gaskell, J., Zhang, J., Toapanta, C., Ahrendt, S., Grigoriev, I.V., Blanchette, R.A., Schilling, J.S., Master, E., Cullen, D. and Hibbett, D.S. (2019). Evolution of substrate-specific gene expression and RNA editing in brown rot wood-decaying fungi. The ISME journal. 1. [Epub]

4. Heckel, B., Phillips, E., Edwards, E.A., Sherwood Lollar, B., Elsner, M., Manefield, M.J. and Lee, M. (2019). Reductive dehalogenation of trichloromethane by two different Dehalobacter restrictus strains reveal opposing dual element isotope effects. Environmental science & technology. 53(5):2332-2343.

5. Ndubuisi, R.U., Sinichi, S., Chin, Y.H. and Diosady, L.L. (2019). Diesel Precursors Via Catalytic Hydrothermal Deoxygenation of Aqueous Canola Oil Emulsion. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. [Article in Press].

6. Lihl, C., Douglas, L.M., Franke, S., Perez-de-Mora, A., Meyer, A.H., Daubmeier, M., Edwards, E.A., Nijenhuis, I., Sherwood Lollar, B. and Elsner, M. (2019). Mechanistic dichotomy in bacterial trichloroethene dechlorination revealed by carbon and chlorine isotope effects. Environmental science & technology.

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