It’s hard work and elbow grease, but absolutely worthwhile - especially if you want to get bacteriology labs to trust a phage lab! Our thrice-a-year lab cleanup day has the place looking as good as the day we moved in. Better, actually, by a considerable margin. And compared to last week? Well, you’ve only to scroll back to the last blog post to see it’s night and day.
With every incoming wave of students (5 this September) comes another 3 day intensive boot camp, bringing them up to speed on basic phage manipulation. And the students do look intense! This picture also gets to serve as a “before” picture, in anticipation of our big lab cleanup on Monday.
Last time we tried our hand at an escape room, I was present, and we failed miserably. This time, they went back to the same place (different scenario), and aced it. Without me. Clearly, I’m just holding my grad students back!
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing - and this is not a picture of the lunar lander, but a rather nice shot of a podovirus (P68). While I don’t think this is an actual example of biomimicry, it’s a pretty remarkable convergence.
Photo used with permission of the Félix D’Hérelle Reference Center for Bacterial Viruses, credit Dr. Hans W. Ackermann.
I think when even our shaking incubator is filled to the brim with overflow plates, my students sending me this picture might, just might be hinting at suggesting I buy another incubator.
At Rabia’s initiative, we followed up lab meeting with board games (and snacks!). We flubbed a round of Mysterium (pictured), and wrapped up with quite a few games of Spyfall. The conclusion; we should never trust my instincts for anything, and Rabia is inherently suspicious. Or I guess, that I’m inherently suspicious of Rabia? I don’t know what that says about me, but it can’t be good…
CRISPR2019 - I was back to my old stomping grounds, with Sylvain (and Karen & Alan, whom I am hiding behind in this picture) hosting the always impressive CRISPR conference. It’s always both awesome (in the original sense of the word) and humbling to see the work coming out of the labs of some of these luminaries.
While of course I could put up great pictures of Hiba presenting her competition poster, Amany swamped while presenting her first ever poster, Felix in a throng of interested people… here’s something a little different. Joined by lab alumna Clara, a lab picture at the end of the Foresta Lumina!
I knew I was a star. There I am, in the same breath as Kawhi Leonard, right? Jason gave his CSM Symposium talk (an extremely rare honour for an undergraduate) to an audience of over 500 Canadian microbiologists. It’s hard to explain how nerve-wracking that is unless you’ve done it, but Jason did phenomenally. Not only was he swamped by adoring fans, but I, too, was bombarded by people expressing how impressed they were with him.
That calm pose! Here’s Anisha, after the FHS Plenary Awards Ceremony. As you can see, it’s not just her talks in the last few weeks that have caught the attention of judges - poster’s too! Congratulations!
I told you all, a few weeks back, that Anisha’s RIP was fantastic. Well, I wasn’t just blowing smoke; Anisha’s talk in the WISE "CREST” event last Friday won best talk - in the same category as PhD students and Postdocs. Extremely well-deserved, of course - not just for the (excellent) end product, but also how far she’s come in such a short time! This didn’t come naturally, it came through hard work and practice, and it’s paid off in a big way.
How in the blazes did this happen. The lab opened its doors January last year, and we're already at 13 people (one not pictured). I remember my postdoc supervisor telling me to aim for a Baseball team (9)… I’ve overshot. Perhaps we’ll do Rugby?
Day 3 of the FHS Plenary, and Anisha’s got her crack at impressing the poster judges with another mighty fine looking poster, and a fantastic ‘punchline’ too. Not content to rest on her laurels, she’s also presenting (a talk) at the WISE presentations tomorrow!
It’s the FHS Plenary, and three graduate students are presenting their work over the next 3 days. Here are Felix (Left) and Hiba (Right) presenting their posters - we’ve been experimenting with changing up posters a fair bit based on a video that has been making the rounds, and the students have, once again, out-done themselves.
I assume the embargo on this info is lifted, given my insitution announced it! This project will be challenging, multidisciplinary, and forcing me out of my comfort zone - but it’s also got huge potential ramifications and is extremely exciting.
I have to wonder… did they take the picture they have of me, print it, take a picture of it, print that, then scan it?
Our lab cleanup just wrapped up, and the whole place smells of … “Meadows and Rain”, according to the bottle. A full day lab shutdown feels like a lot, but it’s invariably worth it for that small victory against entropy (and the bulwark against contamination!).
Day two of the fourth iteration of the Phage Boot Camp! There’s even photographic evidence of me wearing a ‘nice’ shirt, but I may crop the picture a little further. So far, we have titres, we have BIMs, we have phage amplifications… delving into some PCR in the afternoon.
It really is that season, where good news seems to come so fast. Rabia (pictured), who will be starting with us in just a few weeks, was awarded an OGS Scholarship for her Master’s. Congratulations! I’ve also added her info to our “Team” page.
Jason Tran was also offered an NSERC CGS-M to pursue a Master’s - although I know that given how well his Med School interviews have gone, he may move on to greener pastures instead (aka the dark side?). All of us sincerely hope not, though!
This low-res picture, taken 9 years ago in Hamilton, was of a young Alex receiving an award at the CSM. Presenting in the Student Symposium was an amazing, formative experience. Nearly a decade later, I’m back at McMaster and not one but TWO of my students have been selected to present in the student competitions - despite a far more competitive process. A well-deserved congratulations to Hiba (Poster Competition) and Jason Tran (Student Symposium). I can’t wait to see your presentations!
The Farncombe Research in Progress (RIP) talks are a big part of the trainee experience within the Farncombe Institute, but I know Anisha was dreading it. A lot. And yet, I don’t think anything so far has so well encompassed how far she’s progressed in the last (almost) full year since she joined the lab - she did a fantastic job. And every time we get to share our work and see that kind of engagement from the audience, I’m further reminded of just how [censored] cool what we do is.