December 4, 2016

Two PhD positions in plant biochemistry offered in my lab

Two PhD positions are available in my lab starting spring or fall 2017. Students must have previously completed a B.Sc. or M.Sc. in Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Biochemistry, or similar and be inspired to pursue original research in Plant Biochemistry. Canadian students are strongly encouraged to apply but international students with strong recommendations and transcripts will also be considered. The position includes a full research stipend for the entire duration of the PhD program. Students will also be expected to apply for scholarships and research funds, for which they will receive support and guidance. Any offer is contingent upon acceptance into the University of Toronto Cell and Systems Biology graduate program, to which interested students must apply.

Position 1: Control of carbon flux in plant metabolic networks. Using Arabidopsis as a model system, this research program will cover molecular, physiological, and bioanalytical approaches to advance our understanding of the control of plant metabolism. Modern metabolomics techniques will be the centerpiece of experimental work, and this student will be trained on the use of mass spectrometers coupled to gas and liquid chromatography. A strong interest in bioanalytical chemistry and plant molecular biology is needed, and a background in chromatography and mass spectrometry is helpful.

Position 2: Essential oil biosynthesis in glandular trichomes. This project uses molecular biology and whole plant physiology to address the formation of terpenoid essential oils in aromatic plants. Next generation sequencing, bioinformatics, molecular cloning, protein expression, and bioanalytics will form the basis of the skills acquired during this research project. A desire to learn gas chromatography - mass spectrometry is important, and a strong background in botany or plant physiology is helpful.

Interested students should send a CV, transcripts, and a cover letter to me at

Update: The deadline for admission to CSB for Sept 2017 or Jan 2018 has closed for international students. Domestic students have until March 15 2017 to apply. More details can be found here.

December 2, 2016


It seems like time goes by faster and faster the more of it we can look back on as we age. It is with that thought that I can hardly believe Thanksgiving has already past us by this year. Before this subject is completely buried in the oncoming holiday rush, I wanted to revisit a classic paper on gibberellin biosynthesis using pumpkin as an experimental system.

Defining metabolite: ent kaurene
Defining enzymes: copalyl diphosphate synthase and ent kaurene synthase
Function: First steps in gibberellin biosynthesis, essential plant growth hormones

It is alive!

After a long silence, I return with important news: I have recently started a new position at the University of Toronto in the Department of Biology. This new position, while carrying many important new responsibilities (e.g. teaching classes) will enable me to expand my research activities considerably. At the same time, I look forward to using this forum to post about teaching material I will be developing for my new course starting January of 2017: Plant Metabolism and Metabolomics. If you are a student at the U of T interested in plant biochemistry or metabolomics style analytics, please consider signing up for my class. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Here is my new affiliation and contact information:

Department of Biology and Graduate Program in Cell and Systems Biology
University of Toronto