Meet Braedon

braedonmThesis work in the Li Lab is a unique experience for a McMaster Life Science Student. The Biochemistry aspect of my work in the Li Lab brings a new dimension to the interdisciplinary curriculum of the Life Sciences program. I am extremely excited to begin my work and look forward this positive learning experience.


Laura’s Project Update

laurachanI am excited to complete my third year thesis in continuing Rachel’s project on the evolution of a deoxribozyme! By decreasing selection incubation time and thus increasing selective pressure in rounds of in vitro selection, we hope to optimize its ribonucleic acid-cleaving catalytic ability.


Congratulations Dingran!

dingrancI’m very happy that I could get the Karl Freeman Prize. I’m quite lucky. Li lab members gave me a lot of help and support. Thanks Guys. Hope next year, some of you can also get it. I know you can do it, Rachel. To speak good English, I still have a long way to go (bacon, beacon, I know how to pronounce them now). Please correct me if I mispronounce something. I will appreciate it.


Meet Kim

KimAfter initially finding out the main objectives of the Li Lab and having a background in learning about nucleic acids, I was intrigued and wanted to be a part of the innovative futuristic idea. I think it’s really interesting how basic tools such has litmus paper has been around for such a long time, yet only now are they being applied to universally detrimental bacteria and pathogens. I’m thrilled and so honoured to be able to be a part of this research team that is looking into unique ways to use urease in order to detect different pathogens via litmus paper. Since this idea is so unique, and in a field of its own, it’s going to be a challenging task to optimize experiments to yield the best results; but that’s science. Being a part of a team that is presenting novel ideas to the world is an indescribable experience. The team that is involved in this project provides such a great environment and encouragement, which makes this project that much more exciting and the goals more attainable. Though it can feel daunting and overwhelming at times, I’m ready for all the challenges to come and I’m ready to tackle them head on.


Shahrzad’s Riboclub Experience

shahrzadjLast week, I attended the Riboclub 15th Annual RNA meeting. As my studies are focused on a small regulatory RNA, this meeting was a valuable experience. It allowed me to learn more about RNA and meet some of the leading experts in the field. It was a nice surprise that Dr. Smolke, whose works I have cited many times, was chosen to give the Student Choice Seminar. Poster sessions provided a nice opportunity to exchange ideas about my research with the other scientists. Not only the scientific program was fantastic but also I am happy that I got to experience a little the Quebec culture (esp. their music for the first time) and nature in this beautiful season!

Meet Amjad

amjadaI’m excited to pursue graduate research, under the supervision of Dr. Yingfu Li, after having completed an undergraduate thesis in his lab. The positive atmosphere combined with meaningful research will allow me to fully apply myself in finding practical solutions to relevant problems. Read more about Amjad here.

Meet Sep

SepAs a direct-entry PhD student into the Li Lab, I am ecstatic to be a part of our efforts aimed at developing colorimetric assays for a wide range of biologically relevant targets. My current focus is the detection of harmful heavy metals such as lead and uranium, while aspiring to apply our model to point-of-care testing of infectious bacteria in the near future.


The Riboclub 2014 Experience

Last weerachelgk I had the pleasure of attending the 15th annual Riboclub Meeting, held at the Hôtel Chéribourg in Mount Orford, Quebec. The conference was held over three days, with each day hosting multiple sessions and poster competitions featuring a cornucopia of RNA-related topics. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming.

As a student just beginning the second year of my M.Sc. in the Li Lab, I had low expectations when I submitted my abstract. I was thrilled and surprised when I was chosen to give an oral presentation – and I was subsequently invited to participate in the poster competition as well.

On the day of the talk, while I was uploading my presentation, one of the professors, Nancy Greenbaum, approached me. “It’s okay to breathe,” she said jokingly. I told her it was my first talk, and she was exceptionally supportive. “Just have fun with it,” she advised. I was pleasantly surprised by the kindness and approachability of the attendees – the students, postdocs, and the professors.

When giving the talk, I took Dr. Greenbaum’s advice and relaxed. I even (successfully) cracked a joke! Although I took a little longer than the given timeframe (as observed by Dr. Ian Eperon, there appears to be “very special relativity” relating time as perceived by the presenter vs. the audience), my talk was well-received and generated excitement among those present.

I am grateful to Dr. Li for his eagerness to send students to conferences such as this, where they can not only present their research, but network and confer with others in the field. Whenever I return from conferences (this one being no exception) I am amazed at how inspired I am by the work of others. It motivates me to be a better scientist.

–Rachel Gysbers