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The Boss

Julie Claycomb, Ph.D.

Julie holds a longstanding interest in understanding how chromosomes are copied, built, and faithfully segregated during cell division. In addition to this interest in chromatin and chromosome biology, she has been fascinated by “non-canonical” means of regulating gene expression during animal development. During graduate school, Julie studied the mechanisms of DNA replication in Drosophila while in the lab of Dr. Terry Orr-Weaver (Whitehead Institute/MIT). Julie’s post-doctoral training in the lab of Dr. Craig Mello at the University of Mass. Medical School led her to a new model system, C. elegans, and the exciting (and extensive) world of gene regulation by tiny RNAs and their Argonaute cofactors. Current work in the Claycomb lab combines Julie's interests in chromatin, small RNA biology, and regulation of gene expression.

Julie is the Canada Research Chair in Small RNA Biology, and received an Ontario Early Researcher Award in 2014. She holds a strong interest in professional development in the biological sciences, and has led the charge to develop career education curricula for students in the Department of Molecular Genetics. As the Graduate Coordinator and Associate Chair, she oversees the progress of nearly 300 graduate students in the department and is responsible for graduate student recruitment, community building, and scientific outreach activities as well. Julie enjoys teaching, both in the lab and in the classroom, and has taught in MGY200, MMG1010 in previous years. She currently teaches the topics of transcription, chromatin and genomics in MGY311.

Julie hails from farmland in rural central Pennsylvania. There, her family raises beef cattle and operates a 50+ year-old ice cream and hamburger stand, “The Cow,” where the family’s beef cattle become tasty treats...(which is one reason why she has become a vegetarian!) Consistent with her long family tradition, Julie now considers herself to be a worm farmer and urban gardener.


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Graduate Students

Amanda Charlesworth

Amanda is a life-long Torontonian who only briefly moved away to do her undergrad at Trent University in Peterborough in Forensic Science. During her time at Trent, Amanda also spent three years studying various aspects of the corn fungal pathogen, Ustilago maydis, which she insists is also a delicious edible mushroom called huitlacoche that everyone should try. Amanda is an avid nerd and spends a bit too much time watching sci-fi and comic based movies and tv shows. She also is constantly on the look out for excuses to make needlessly fancy cakes. Amanda's PhD project is focused on a long-overlooked facet of CSR-1 biology: determining the functional differences of two different CSR-1 isoforms. While Amanda is not sure where she wants to end up at the end of her degree, she still has some hopes of returning to her forensic routes and enjoys this academic gig. 


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Uri Seroussi

Uri comes to us from Israel, where he did his MSc thesis work in the lab of Oded Rechavi at Tel Aviv University. Uri is powered by chicken wings, iced tea, and shawarma as far as anyone can tell, which seems to work out well, because he's always ready for another experiment! Uri CRISPRs like crazy, and has made more strains than the rest of us combined! He is also our resident Argonaute guru, and has tackled a systematic study of ALL of the C. elegans Argonautes, which we call "Argonomics." Uri seems to have adapted to life in Canada well, and although he may prefer his worms to humans, we sure like having him around. Uri plans to run his own lab...after he conquers all of these Argonautes.  



Julia Sobotka

Julia grew up in Toronto near High Park in a large family – four siblings! She completed her undergraduate studies at Western University where she specialized in genetics. Though she never worked with worms before, Julia quickly learned they are an awesome model organism and she just loves doing dissections and microscopy work. For her MSc thesis, Julia is looking at the role of small RNA pathways in nuclear organization and RNA trafficking. In her spare time, Julia loves to do anything crafty (from scrapbooking to jewellery making). Growing up in Toronto Julia's been lucky enough to try all kinds of foods, but by far Ethiopian food is her favourite. Julia's career path is likely to lead her to teaching or genetic counselling.



Melissa Wong

Melissa grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, then spent four years in London, Ontario doing her Honours Bachelor degree in Genetics at Western University. She likes working with worms because she finds watching small critters move around and go about their business oddly enjoyable. For her thesis, she is examining the roles of histone methyltransferases in small RNA pathways and transgenerational inheritance. Outside the lab, Melissa plays trumpet in the Toronto Concert Band, plays piano, and draws nerdy puns/jokes relating to her and others’ work on mugs. She is also a big Harry Potter nerd. She can’t pick a favourite food, but loves just about anything sweet. She is leaning toward a career in research, but is keeping an open mind toward many career options and still has some time to decide!



Monica Wu

Monica was born in China, but is Canadian at heart. She completed her Honours Bachelor degree in Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario. Monica loves to eat and try new food, but ironically, hates to cook. She is also a TV junkie, bibliophile, and if she has to go outside, she likes to spend her time hiking and swimming. As a founding grad student in the lab, Monica is our resident EVERYTHING Guru, as she's developed and perfected many of the lab's techniques over the years. Monica has worked on many different projects in the lab (we call her "the closer"), but she is focused on understanding the complicated roles of an uncharacterized Argonaute that is most closely related to CSR-1 for her PhD thesis work.



Computational Biologist

Andrew (Drew) Lugowski

Drew is a computer scientist turned biologist turned computer scientist again. He performed his MSc thesis work in the lab of Olivia Rissland, and is a fan of RNA. Drew is kicking around the lab, taming our piles of data, and waiting to head off to the Canadian Air Force to be a pilot.



Undergraduate Students

Robert Lao

We're excited to have Robert performing his NSERC-USRA summer research with us!



Lab Alumni

Christopher Wedeles, Ph.D. Student (2011-2018) [Postdoctoral Fellow at Genentech]

Dr. Kataryzna Tyc, Computational Post-doctoral Fellow (2016) [Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers]

Amena (Amy) Nabih, M.Sc. Student (2014-2016) [Teaching Molecular Biology in Cairo, Egypt]

Dr. Tuhin Maity, MBA, Post-doctoral Fellow (2014-2016) [Restaurant Owner]

Matthew Tran, Undergraduate Student (2016)

Aldis Krizus, Technician (2014-2016) 

Bakhtiyar Taghizada, Undergraduate Student (2015)

Vivian Cheung, M.Sc. Student (2012-2014) [Technician at Wyatt Lab, U of T (Molecular Genetics)]

Michelle Francisco, M.Sc. Student (2011-2014) [Lab manager at Huang Lab, Sick Kids]

Laila Zaman, Undergraduate Student (2014)

Hasina Dhanani, Undergraduate Student (2014) 

Samantha Del Borrello, Undergraduate Student (2013-2014) 

Daniel Li, Undergraduate Student (2013) 

Wendy Cao, Undergraduate Student (2011-2013) 

Ivy Su, Technician (2012)

Eesha Sharma, Undergraduate Student (2011-2012) 

Monica Tolosa, Undergraduate Student (2011-2012) 

Scenes from around the Claycomb Lab...