University of Saskatchewan

Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Microbiology

Graduate Students


Ayalew, Lisanework, Molecular Virology

Research Interests: My research area focuses on virus-cell interactions; more specifically it involves investigating the role of polypeptide VIII of Bovine Adenovirus (BAdV-3) in the life cycle of the virus.  The study entails molecular characterization of protein VIII including its intracellular dynamics, identifying cellular protein interacting partners and determining the biological function of the interactions and finally, assessing the significance of protein VIII in the replication of BAdV-3.  The study encompasses cell biology, genomics and proteomics.


Bachand, Nicholas, Epidemiology and Microbiology

Research Interests:  The aim of the research project is to evaluate the risk of Toxoplasmosis through the consumption of infected wildlife in the Canadian Arctic using a One-Health approach.


Bouchard, Emilie, Parasitology


Bridge, Rylan, Molecular Biology

Research Interests: We will be investigating the mechanism by which the cellular autophagy pathway leads to two distinct outcomes, cell death and cell survival, in human monocytes.  Cell signalling events will be examined using a kinome microarray approach, and key areas of pathway divergence analyzed for functional relevance.


Costa, Matheus, Molecular Microbiology


Costa de Freitas, Aline, Microbiology

Research Interests:  The complex microbial community present in the female lower genital tract is an important factor in women's reproductive health.  Imbalances in this microbiota can lead to increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, bacterial vaginoisis, and negative outcomes such a preterm birth.  However, our understanding of the causes of such variations is limited and the vaginal microbiota remains poorly characterized.

My research project is focused on determining if characteristic vaginal microbiome profiles are associated with pregnant women at low and high risk for preterm birth.  The vaginal microbiota of pregnant women will be characterized using a combination of conventional microbiology and culture independent methods involving high throughput pryosequencing.  Our goal is a better understanding of the relationship of the vaginal microbiome to women's health in pregnancy.


Darbellay, Joseph

Research Interests:  I am interested in studying the immune response in pig dendritic cells to the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.  I will determine the effects that variation in specific viral genes have on the immune response to PRRSV.  Further elucidating the roles of the genes, in addition to studying the overall pathogenesis, will aid in the development of a vaccine candidate.


Elmore, Stacey,  Parasite Ecology

Research Interests: Parasite ecology


Gaba, Amit

Research Interests: Adenoviruses have become a popular tool for gene transfer into mammalian cells because of their properties like broad tropism, rapid growth to high titers in tissue culture and transgene carrying capacity of up to 30kb.  Moreover adenoviral genome is easy to manipulate and it does not integrate into host chromosome thereby minimizing the risk of insertional mutagensis.  In order to overcome limitations of human adenovirus vectors, a variety of non-human adenoviral vectors have been proposed as promising vector candidates.  In addition to most of the attractive features of HAdV vectors, these vectors have several unique properties like species specificity, safety against inappropriate vector replication and providing the vector backbone without preexisting immune response.  Our laboratory has been working on characterizing various gene products of BAdV-3 so that this information can be ultimately used for the development of BAdV-3 as an efficient vector for gene delivery.


Gamage, Ruwini Dharmasiri, Bacteriology

Research Interests: At present there is no standardized methods for conducting or interpreting antimicrobial susceptibility tests on Brachyspira.  Therefore, the main obejctive of this study is to develop, standardize and implement antimicrobial susceptibility testing methods for Brachyspira spp. to improve the ability of the Canadian swine industry to combat Brachyspira-associated disease by providing evidence-based treatment recommendations.


Katyal, Isha, Molecular Biology

Research Interests: The complex community of microorganisms inhabiting the intestinal tract plays an important role in animal health.  Genomic variation in phenotypically distinct pathogenic bacteria has been investigated; however, little has been done to characterize gene content differences that contribute to diversity in natural microbial communities. My research project is focused on non-pathogenic Enterococcus strains isolated from swine faeces.

The aim of the project is to identify and characterize strain-specific differences in the microbiota of the pig intestine and study the effects of various factors such as time, development and diet on strain level population dynamics in the pig intestine.  The results will help us understand niche specialization and the selective and evolutionary forces that shape complex microbial communities.


Li, Chunyan,  Immunology

Research Interests: Asthma is a chronic allergic disorder causing breathing difficulty in response to allergens. Severe asthma can be life threatening. Current treatment can relieve symptoms but are ineffective in modifying the progression of asthma. In our lab, previous studies have showed that interleukin (IL)-10 differentiated dendritic cells (DCIL-10) tolerized asthmatic mice and the tolerance is associated with upregulation of regulatory T cells function in the lung.

Based on previous studies, we hypothesize that the endogenous lung dendritic cells in DCIL10-treated asthmatic mice take on a regulatory phenotype and participate in infectious tolerance pathways involving T cells, and both treatment and endogenous dendritic cells. This study will help to understand the mechanism of DCIL10 tolerance induction in asthma and provide a theoretical foundation for further clinical therapy.



MacKenzie-Dyck, Sarah, Immunology/DNA Vaccine

Research Interests: Bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1) is an underlying factor in cattle industry economic losses. Improvements in vaccine cost, safety and effectiveness could be seen with the development of a successful DNA vaccine for BHV-1. In this work, we test the hypothesis that a more robust response could be obtained by engineering a DNA vaccine so that a cationic beta-defensin peptide is expressed with the BHV-1 antigen to target and attract immature dendritic cells (iDCs).

In vitro, my project includes screening synthesized bovine beta-defensin peptides for chemotactic and immunomodulatory activity toward iDCs. Cattle vaccinated with DNA encoding the most chemotactic peptide will be used to determine the in vivo effects on immune responses. It is hoped that the results of the study will contribute to development of an effective BHV-1 DNA vaccine for cattle.


Maina, Teresia


Majeed, Khalid


Paramel, Teenus,  Molecular Biology

Research Interests: The complex microbial community present in the human vagina (vaginal microbiota) is important as imbalances in this population are associated with conditions like vaginosis and pregnancy related complications. Although it is of great importance, the vaginal microbiome of clinically healthy women remains poorly characterized.

The goal of our team is to determine if there is a "core" vaginal microbiome shared by clinically healthy women of reproductive age. We will characterize the vaginal microbiota of women through the menstrual cycle using culture independent methods involving high through-put pyrosequencing of DNA from samples of the microbiota. The results of these studies will create a baseline resource for future studies focused on understanding the relationship between vaginal microbial population structure and pre-term birth.


Park, Hong-su, Molecular Virology

Research Interests:


Priyantha, Roshan

Research Interests:  My research will focus on Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Pseudintermedius.  The study consists of isolation, identification, antibiotic resistant gene identification of associated virulence gene of MRSP from different clinical isolates.


Sachdeva, Rohini, Molecular Virology

Research Interests:  The role of neutralizing antibodies in PRRSV infection


Schurer, Janna

Research Interests: Janna Schurer works with remote and Aboriginal northern communities to determine prevalence of parasites in pets, wildlife, and exposure risk to humans. She specifically focuses on Echinococcus granulosus, which is a zoonotic tapeworm of human health concern, as well as Baylisascaris, Diphyllobothrium, Toxocara, and Giardia. Other interests include providing veterinary services to remote communities, as well as introducing dog population control measures that are sustainable and humane. Once finished her graduate work, she hopes to return to the jungles of Asia to continue her work with elephants and indigenous peoples.


Sharma, Rajnish

Research Interests: Characterization of Trichinella and Toxoplasma in wildlife and domestic animals.


Szombathy, Kaitlin


Tipu, Massroor


Town, Jennifer

Research Interests:  Biogas produced using anaerobic digestion of agricultural biomass is becoming a more popular and economically viable source of energy.  If sufficiently optimized, the system can be cost effective, environmentally sustainable and carbon neutral.

We are presently characterizing the microbial consortia present in anaerobic digesters processing a combination of distillery waste products and cattle manure.  By determining the microbial profiles associated with high-performing digesters, we hope to manipulate operating conditions to increase production and efficiency.


Woldemariam, Tekeleselassie

Research Interests:  My research focuses on assessing the effect of Bovine Adenovirus-3 on ribosome biogenesis.  In cells of Bovine origin, infected with the virus, cellular ribosome biogenesis will be examined using various experimental approaches.  In addition, the role of viral proteins in the cellular ribosome biogenesis will be examined.


Wu, Qi,

Research Interests: My main project is molecular pathogenesis of HBV HCV co-infection.  Because these two viruses have the same modes of transmission, HBV HCV co-infection is found in approximately 7 - 20 million people globally.  This research will make a significant contribution to prevent the high risk of development of HCC in HBC HCV co-infection patients.


Zhao, Xin