Jump to: Invited Speakers | Workshops Speakers | Local Organizing Committee & Symposia Chairs



Keynote Speaker
Monday, June 22nd, 2020



Dianne NewmanCalifornia Institute of Technology, CA, USA

Small Molecules, Big Impact: Roles for Redox Active "Secondary" Metabolites in Microbial Survival and Development

Dianne Newman is a molecular microbiologist. She is known for having brought genetic approaches to bear on problems involving microbial metabolisms of environmental/geobiological interest. In her work, she iterates between mechanistic studies of cellular processes and analyses of the microenvironments in which these processes occur. Newman was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, where she attended West Potomac High School. She received a BA in German studies (1993) from Stanford University and a PhD in environmental engineering (1997) from MIT. She conducted postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School before joining the faculty at Caltech in 2000. In 2007, Newman moved to MIT as the Wilson Professor of Biology and Geobiology, but returned to Caltech in 2010 where she now holds the position of Gordon M. Binder/Amgen Professor of Biology and Geobiology and directs the Center for Environmental Microbial Interactions. In 2016 Newman was the recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology and a MacArthur Fellowship. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.






Invited Speakers


Symposium AEM-1: One Health - Animal and Environmental


Vikram Misra, University of Saskatchewan, SK

One Health, Bats and Viruses: Adventures in Research and Teaching


I am a professor of Microbiology at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine with an associate appointment in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. I have also been tasked with guiding the One Health initiatives at the University. My research group has broad interests but the projects we work on have a common thread – studying how stress influences the delicate balance between viruses and their hosts. In recent years several viruses that cause no ill effects in their natural bat hosts have spilled over into people and other animals causing serious and often fatal disease. These include coronaviruses such those that cause Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the more recent COVID-19. We do not know why these viruses not harm bats or why they spill over to other species. My research group has found that many of our common Canadian bats are infected with a virus that resembles viruses that cause SARS, MERS and COVID-19. The virus replicates very slowly in bats causing no disease. However, a fungal infection of the bat skin can lead to a dramatic increase in virus replication. In collaboration with behavioural biologists, ecologists and climate scientists, we propose to test the hypothesis that a variety of stressors such as the loss of habitat, climate change and secondary infections, upset the delicate balance between bats and their virus causing the bats to shed more virus into the environment. Our studies on how bats interact with their viruses will provide clues to viral spill-over and suggest unique therapies for deadly viral diseases.

Symposium AEM-2: All About Phages


Rob Lavigne, Laboratory of Gene Technology, KU Leuven).

Bacteriophages as bio-engineers of the bacterial metabolism


Since 2008 Rob Lavigne works as principal investigator (professor, Faculty of BioScience Engineering) and head of the Laboratory of Gene Technology (Dep. Biosystems, KU Leuven). His lab performs fundamental molecular microbiological research, inspiring novel biotechnological and antimicrobial technologies. They have pioneered research in conceiving and developing ArtilysinsTM, a major breakthrough in enzyme-based killing of Gram-negative bacteria. Their current fundamental research focuses on the molecular interplay between Pseudomonas/phage and the mechanisms that govern this interaction. We introduced of comparative RNAseq & metabolomics in this field, and contributed to insights in phage diversity by genome sequencing & proteomics of bacteriophages. This research formed the basis for a successful ERC consolidator application, which focuses on applying their systems’ biology insights towards developing Synthetic Phage Modulators (SPMs) to engineer the bacterial metabolism of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. During his scientific career, he's managed to establish a strong, internationally oriented profile, having served as chair of the International Committee for Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) committee on the taxonomy of bacterial viruses. Currently, he also serves as president-elect of the International Society for Viruses of Microorganisms. Within the field of bacteriophage therapy he was (co-)founder of P.H.A.G.E., a European non-profit organization focusing on legislative/regulatory issues concerning bacteriophage therapy. In addition, He's been closely involved in the organization of several conferences and has presented over 60 keynote/invited lectures including those at several international conferences.

Symposium MGCM-3: Microbiome from Farm to Fork


Ben Willing, University of Alberta, AB

Shaping the early life microbiome for long-term metabolic health and disease resilience


Dr. Ben Willing is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in the Microbiology of Nutrigenomics at the University of Alberta. He completed his PhD at the University of Saskatchewan studying the role of the microbiota in intestinal development of gnotobiotic pigs. His postdoctoral training was at the Swedish Agricultural University in Uppsala Sweden with Janet Jansson, and at the University of British Columbia with Brett Finlay. He has made important contributions in the understanding of microbes in intestinal development, inflammatory bowel disease, infection resistance, and metabolic health. His research group is working to understand both fundamental and applied questions in gut microbiology. He is Associate Chair of the Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science graduate program and director of the University of Alberta germfree animal facilities.



Symposium II-4: Mechanisms of parasite pathogenesis


Kris Chadee, University of Calgary, AB
NLRP3 is a pathogen sensor for invasive Entamoeba histolytica


Dr. Kris Chadee is an internationally recognized leader in the field of host-pathogen interactions, MUC2 mucin structure/function and innate host defense in the gut.  He has published >160 peer-reviewed research articles and critical reviews and 21 book chapters.  He has graduated 23 PhD and 20 PDF and is a strong advocate for training graduate students and PDFs.  He is funded by CRC, CIHR and NSERC.  He serves on CIHR grant panels, ad hoc for NIH, numerous external funding agencies and on several peer review journal editorial boards. 




Workshops Speakers

Professional Workshop - Monday, June 22nd, 2020

George diCenzo, Queens University, Kingston
Sharing your data with the world: tips on writing scientific manuscripts

I joined the Department of Biology at Queen’s University as an Assistant Professor in July 2019. My research focuses on the bacterial side of a model plant – microbe interaction, the rhizobium – legume nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. By combining the use of wetlab genetics and computational approaches, we hope to better understand genome function as well as the metabolism and regulatory properties required for establishment of the symbiosis. I’m looking forward to sharing my experience in writing manuscripts with everyone in attendance at the workshop!

Aleeza Gerstein, University of Manitoba, MB
Research strategies beyond the bench: using technology for reproducibility, collaboration, and social networking

Dr. Aleeza Gerstein is an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba, cross-appointed between the departments of Microbiology and Statistics. Aleeza’s lab studies diverse species of clincally-isolated human fungal pathogens. They apply evolutionary principles and statistical and computational methods to to understand the factors that constrain and promote microbial genotypic and phenotypic diversity in the context of human virulence and drug resistance.                    



FOME Workshop - Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Tamara Kelly, York University, ON
Dr. Kelly will present her how-to guide focusing on the development, implementation and refinement of two-stage exams. She will also briefly touch on highlights from her experience with other innovative teaching strategies including: just-in-time teaching, collaborative learning and how she fosters team-based approaches to learning in the classroom.

Dr. Kelly completed her PhD at McGill followed by Post-Doctoral training at UBC. She has a background in geology, biology and genetics and has become fascinated with the application of strategies to help students learn effectively. Tamara is currently an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Biology at York University where her expertise in teaching is widely recognized. In 2014 she was awarded the OCUFA teaching award as well as multiple awards from York University for teaching excellence for her successes in bringing evidence-based innovative teaching strategies into the classroom.






Local Organizing Committee (LOC) & Symposia Chairs



Kari Dunfield, Conference Co-Chair

Professor and Canada Research Chair
Environmental Microbiology of Agro-Ecosystems
School of Environmental Sciences, Alexander Hall
50 Stone Rd E | Guelph, ON | N1H 2W1
Tel.: 519-824-4120 x58088


Symposium Chair: AEM–4: Ecology of Soils and Plants

Cezar Khursigara, Conference Co-Chair
Associate Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Director, Molecular & Cellular Imaging & Mass Spectrometry Facilities
University of Guelph, Summerlee Science Complex Rm 4458
50 Stone Rd E | Guelph, ON | N1G 2W1
Tel.: 519-824-4120 Ext. 58091


Symposium Chair: MGCM-4: Microbial Stress Responses

Jennifer Geddes-McAlister, Local Organizing Committee
Assistant Professor and Alexander von Humboldt Scholar
Molecular and Cellular Biology Department | University of Guelph
SSC 4457 | 50 Stone Rd E
Guelph, ON | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Tel.: (519) 824-4120 ext. 52129
Email: jgeddesm@uoguelph.ca


Symposium Chair: MGCM-1: Multi-Omics profiling gains new biological insights

Hany Anany, Local Organizing Committee
Research Scientist
Guelph Research and Development Centre
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada / Government of Canada
93 Stone Road West
Guelph, ON N1G 5C9
Tel: 226-217-8067
Email: hany.anany@canada.ca


Symposium Chair: AEM-2: All About Phages

Nicole Ricker, Local Organizing Committee
Assistant Professor, Pathogenomics and Disease Informatics
Ontario Veterinary College | University of Guelph
OVC Pathobiology Building, Rm 4839 | 50 Stone Rd E
Guelph, ON | N1G 2W1
519-824-4120 Ext. 54625 | nricker@uoguelph.ca


Symposium Chair: MGCM-3: Microbiome from Farm to Fork

Albert Descoteaux, PhD, Symposium Chair
Professor and Canada Research Chair on the Biology of intracellular parasitism
INRS- Centre Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie
Université du Québec
531 boul des Prairies
Laval, QC | Canada H7V 1B7
Email: albert.descoteaux@iaf.inrs.ca


Symposium Chair: II-4: Mechanisms of parasite pathogenesis