People

Ben Matthews

Ben Matthews, PhD

Assistant Professor and Laboratory Head

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Dan Peach, PhD

Dan Peach, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

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Leisl Brewster

Leisl Brewster

M.Sc. student, Zoology

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Orna Phelan

Orna Phelan

M.Sc. student, Zoology

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Nicholas Tochor

Nicholas Tochor

Laboratory Technician

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Bhaskar Yechuri

Bhaskar Yechuri

Electronics Technician

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Aleksandra Anoshina

Aleksandra Anoshina

Biology Honours Student

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Ana Parra

Ana Parra

Biology Honours student

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Ivan Lo

Ivan Lo

Biology Honours student

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Kunwar Puri

Kunwar Puri

Biology Directed Studies student

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Atbeen Rezazadah

Atbeen Rezazadah

Biology Directed Studies student

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Annie Zeng

Annie Zeng

Biology Directed Studies student

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Benjamin Matthews, PhD

Lab Head and Assistant Professor

Ben received a BS in Biology from the California Institute of Technology in 2004 and completed his graduate research at Columbia University in the Laboratory of Wes Grueber where he worked on the phenomenon of ‘self-avoidance’ during the development of sensory neuron dendritic arbors in Drosophila melanogaster. He then completed his postdoctoral training with Leslie Vosshall at Rockefeller University/HHMI, where he focused on genetics, genomics, and behavior in the mosquito Aedes aegypti, a deadly vector of arbivoral pathogens that cause Zika, Dengue fever, Yellow fever, and Chikungunya. He received postdoctoral fellowships from the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research and The Rockefeller University, as well as a predoctoral NRSA F31 from the NIH.

At UBC, Ben is an Assistant Professor in the Comparative Physiology Group of the Department of Zoology. He is also a member of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, the Biodiversity Research Centre and the Genome Science and Technology training program.

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Postdoctoral researchers and graduate students

Dan Peach, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dan completed his BSc (with Distinction) and PhD (in the lab of Gerhard Gries) at Simon Fraser University. His PhD work focused on the ecology and sensory ecology of mosquitoes and their interactions with plants, during which he discovered that mosquitoes use the same cues to locate floral nectar that they use to locate vertebrate hosts, shedding light on the evolutionary origin of mosquito blood-feeding. He received an NSERC doctoral postgraduate scholarship, an SFU Provost’s Prize of Distinction, an ESC John Borden award, and was a Canadian national finalist in the Three Minute Thesis Competition.

The research Dan is pursuing in the (Ben) Matthews lab will initially involve investigating egg-deposition in mosquitoes at different biological levels, including the genomic, molecular, physiological, and ecological, to determine what makes some mosquitoes so good at exploiting novel habitat and becoming widespread invasive organisms.

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Leisl Brewster

M.Sc. Student, Zoology

Leisl received her B.Sc. in Zoology at University College London (UCL) in the UK where she completed a research project looking at the evolution of biomineralization in molluscs. Leisl now continues her work in invertebrate zoology, looking at the genomic and molecular mechanisms behind sensory behaviour in the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Orna Phelan

M.Sc. Student, Zoology

Orna received her B.S.c in Zoology at University College Dublin in Ireland where she worked on a physiology project investigating the role of UTB transporters in cow rumen. She has an interest in physiology, molecular biology and entomology and now continues her work at the (Ben) Matthews lab investigating the genetic basis of oviposition behavior in the Aedes togoi mosquito.

Staff

Nick received his B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences and Biology at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in December 2019. During his undergraduate degree, he worked in several labs specializing in landscape ecology. Past projects include a spatiotemporal analysis of grizzly bear habitat suitability North of Jasper, Alberta; an analysis of mycorrhizal connectivity between understory and canopy forest flora; an analysis of dark diversity patterns in global diatom species richness; and an analysis of the impacts of recreational land use on watersheds within public land in the Okanagan. He is now working as a lab technician in Ben Matthews’ and Doug Altshuler’s labs. When not in either lab, he enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, surfing, and playing guitar.

Bhaskar Yechuri (part time electronics technician)

Undergraduate researchers

USRAs and Honours students

Aleksandra Anoshina (NSERC USRA, 2020 and UBC Biology Honours student, 2020-2021)

Ivan Lo (UBC Biology Honours student, 2020-2021)

Ivan is currently a student in the Honors Animal Biology program at the University of British Columbia. He has previously completed Co-op internship abroad in Singapore at the Genome Institute of Singapore. In the Tang Meng How Lab, his focus area is on DNA and RNA editing, including CRISPR/Cas9 truncation and RNA editing in colorectal cancer cells. He later came back to Vancouver for a Co-op placement in Applied Biological Materials (abm) as a research student. His current research here in the Matthews Lab is on improving genetic editing in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes via CRISPR/Cas9 technology. He hopes to increase DNA repair rates using germline genes. When Ivan is not in the lab, he enjoys baking at home or dancing as part of a Hip Hop dance team.

Ana Parra (UBC BIology Honours student, 2020-2021)

Ana is currently part of a dual degree program at the University of British Columbia comprised of a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Animal Biology and a Master of Management. On top of that, she’s the Vice-President of the UBC Biological Sciences Society. She recently completed a 12-month co-op placement at the Vancouver Prostate Centre, where she focused on androgen receptor mutants transcriptional responses to anti-androgen drugs, in the attempt to allow cancer treatments to be more patient-specific. Outside the lab you will find her hiking or learning how to use her camera to capture the beauty of animals.

Her research at the (Ben) Matthews Lab involves understanding the molecular differences between the larval stages of mosquitos Aedes togoi and Aedes aegypti that allows them to survive at distinct environmental conditions.

Directed studies

Kunwar Puri (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team togoi, 2019-present)

Atbeen Rezazadah (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team togoi, 2019-present)

Atbeen is a fourth year student at the University of British Columbia, and is expecting to receive his BSc in Biology in 2021. His work in the Matthews lab is focused on the behavioral studies in larval development of mosquitoes under varying abiotic conditions with a focus in determining which physiological factors are playing a significant role in making some mosquitoes widespread invasive organisms. Outside of the lab, Atbeen loves to bike, kayak and hike the extensive trails all over Vancouver, and during the winter, take advantage of the local ski slopes.

Annie Zeng (BIOL448 Directed Studies student, 2021)



Undergraduate volunteers

  • Jonathan Chiang
  • Ioana Fronea
  • Quinn Kelley
  • Ravneet Tiwana
  • Annie Zeng

Alumni

  • Weison Chu (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team feeding)
  • Kevin Poon (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team feeding)
  • Madhurya Sekhar (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team feeding)
  • Nicole Cheng (Undergraduate Directed Studies student, 2020)
  • Britya Ghosh, M.Sc. CELL Program. Lab of Dr. Mike Gordon, UBC Zoology