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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Yunusa Garba Mohammed, PhD

Yunusa Garba Mohammed, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

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Tahnee Ames

Tahnee Ames

M.Sc. student, Zoology

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Leisl Brewster

Leisl Brewster

M.Sc. student, Zoology

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Elsa Cyr

Elsa Cyr

M.Sc. student, Zoology

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Ivan Lo

Ivan Lo

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 & Lab Manager

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Joshua Chen

Joshua Chen

Biology Honours Student and NSERC USRA

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Hanna Elford

Hanna Elford

Integrated Sciences Directed Studies student

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Maryann Rogers

Maryann Rogers

Biology Honours Student and NSERC USRA

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Parsa Seyfourian

Parsa Seyfourian

Biology Directed Studies student

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Cassidy Mark

Cassidy Mark

Co-op Researcher

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Danica Shannon

Danica Shannon

Biology Directed Studies Student and Co-op Researcher

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Dirk VandePol

Dirk VandePol

Visiting Scientist

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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. He has received a Sloan Foundation Fellowship in the Neurosciences and a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

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Postdoctoral researchers and graduate students

Dan Peach, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow (2019-present)

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. He is the recipient of a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship and a three-year Trainee Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research to support his work.

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Yunusa Garba Mohammed, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow (2021-present)

Yunusa has received a long-term Fellowship from HFSP and a three-year Trainee Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research to support his work.

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Tahnee Ames, M.Sc. student, Zoology (2021-present)



Leisl Brewster, M.Sc. Student, Zoology (2020-present)

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.

Elsa Cyr, M.Sc. Student, Zoology (2021-present))

Elsa received her B.Sc. in Biology at UBC where she completed a research project investigating optimal flight patterns in birds with various stimuli. She has an interest in physiology, genetics, and neurobiology. Elsa now works in the Ben Matthews lab and the Mike Gordon lab investigating the cellular and molecular basis of taste processing in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes using the Drosophila melanogaster taste mechanism model. Email

Ivan Lo, M.Sc. student, Zoology, 2021-present; Biology Honours student, 2020-2021

Ivan is currently an M.Sc. student in Zoology after completing an Honours Animal Biology program at UBC. 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.

Orna Phelan, M.Sc. Student, Zoology (2021-present)

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

Nicholas Tochor, Research Technician

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.

Cassidy Mark (UBC Science Co-op researcher, 2021-2022)


Danica Shannon (UBC Science Co-op researcher, 2022)



Undergraduate researchers

Joshua Chen (UBC SURE Awardee and Biology Honours Student 2021, and NSERC USRA 2022)


Hanna Elford (UBC Integrated Sciences Directed Studies student, 2022)


Maryann Rogers (Biology Honours Student, 2021 and NSERC USRA 2022)



Parsa Seyfourian (Directed Studies student, 2021 and Biodiversity Fellowship Award Winner, 2022)




Visiting scientists

Greetings dear webpage reader, I’m Dirk VandePol, an unassigned sessional lecturer, joining the lab in some limited capacity, to occupy my time hopefully for at least three months. Hopefully during this time I’ll get ideas to contribute to the lab, and ideas to enrich my teaching through deep contemplation of mosquitoes.

Alumni

  • Aleksandra Anoshina (NSERC USRA, 2020 and Biology Honours student, 2020-2021)
  • Jonathan Chiang (Biology Co-op Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2021)
  • Quinn Kelley (Biology Directed Studies student, 2021)
  • Andrew Oh (Biology Directed Studies student, 2021-2022)
  • Smit Patel (Biology Directed Studies student, 2021-2022)
  • Lauren Semkow (Biology Directed Studies student and UBC SURE awardee, 2021-2022)
  • Annie Zeng (Biology Directed Studies student, 2020-2021)
  • Bhaskar Yechuri (part time electronics technician, 2020-2021)
  • Ana Parra (Biology Honours student, 2020-2021)
  • Kunwar Puri (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team togoi; 2019-2021)
  • Atbeen Rezazadah (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team togoi; 2019-2021)
  • Weison Chu (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team feeding; 2019-2020)
  • Kevin Poon (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team feeding; 2019-2020)
  • Madhurya Sekhar (BIOL448 Directed Studies student and member, team feeding; 2019-2020)
  • Nicole Cheng (Undergraduate Directed Studies student, 2020)
  • Britya Ghosh, M.Sc. CELL Program 2020. Lab of Dr. Mike Gordon, UBC Zoology