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I've been at Laurier since July 2010.
Prior to joining Laurier, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at Western University (2008-2010).
I received my PhD in Cell and Systems Biology from the University of Toronto Scarborough in 2007 and my MSc in Biology from Queen’s University in 2000.
My lab focuses on the electron transport systems of photosynthesis and respiration. Our particular interest is alternative proteins involved in putting electrons into or taking electrons out of these systems. Current research projects focus on the alternative oxidase, plastoquinol terminal oxidase, and alternative NAD(P)H dehydrogenases of bacteria, fungi, protists, plants and animals. We use various techniques to study the molecular, regulatory, and functional properties of these enzymes. I also have a strong interest in scholarship about women in science, science communication, and the professional development of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.
Potential Undergraduate Thesis Projects Available:
Undergraduate students interested in conducting an undergraduate research thesis (Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, or Health Sciences) should contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be recruiting thesis students for September 2023 in February of 2023.
Project 1) Heterologous expression of various AOXs in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
This project will involve isolating RNA from the moss Physcomitrella patens, the fungus Agricus bisporus (white button mushroom), the protist Dictyostelium discoideum (slime mold), and the animal Tigriopus californicus (copepod). Reverse-transcriptase PCR using AOX primers specific to each organism will be conducted to amplify AOX cDNA from these species. These cDNAs will then be ligated into an expression plasmid pYES2.1 and transformed into E. coli for DNA sequencing. Each plasmid will then be transformed into the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the expression of the AOX protein. This project would involve training in molecular biology techniques and how to culture yeast in the lab.
Project 2) Effects of respiratory inhibitors on the growth, survival, and reproduction of the copepod Tigriopus californicus.
This project will involve growing copepods in the laboratory and treating different life stages of the animals with various respiratory inhibitors under control and stress conditions to examine the role of AOX function in stress tolerance, survival, growth, and reproduction in these animals. This project would involve training in how to culture copepods in the lab and the use of a microscope for recording images and videos of the animals to collect data.
Recruiting M.Sc. and Ph.D. students for September 2023:
The McDonald lab is currently recruiting Canadian MSc and PhD students for Fall 2023 or beyond.
Our lab focuses on the respiratory electron transport system and our particular interest is the alternative oxidase protein. Research projects focus on the alternative oxidases of bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals. We strive to do excellent science and have fun while doing it! I take a strong interest in my students’ professional development and encourage them to maintain a positive work-life balance.
This project involves the transformation of the yeast strain INVsc1 with plasmids containing AOXs from various organisms. The goal will be to express different AOX proteins and characterize the structure and post-translational regulation of each one using biochemical techniques and high-resolution respirometry.
This project requires the development of a system for the knockdown of the expression of the alternative oxidase in the marine copepod Tigriopus californicus. The project will require the development of RNAi, morpholinos, and/or CRISPR-Cas9 technologies for use in our arthropod system. The goal of this project is to investigate the role of alternative oxidase in the response of Tigriopus californicus to different environmental stresses.
Previous experience in a laboratory setting working on your own research project (e.g. Directed Studies, Honours Thesis, grad degree) is required. I am looking for students who are kind, proactive, self-motivated, curious, and persistent. Excellent oral and written communication skills are required. The ability to work independently and as a member of a diverse research team is necessary. Strong attention to detail, the ability to follow instructions, the ability to creatively solve problems, and the ability to work safely are required.
Funding is guaranteed for 6 terms of study in our Master’s program in Integrative Biology. Funding is guaranteed for 12 terms of study in our Ph.D. in Biological and Chemical Sciences. Our stipends are funded through teaching assistantships, university scholarships, and research assistantships paid by the supervisor. Due to funding constraints only Canadian students will be considered.
Wilfrid Laurier University is a growing institution in Waterloo, Ontario. The city of Waterloo is a thriving community and technology hub centrally situated in southwestern Ontario with access to other large metropolitan areas including Guelph, London, Hamilton, and Toronto. The Biology department is a tight-knit community and offers many opportunities for collaborations and research support. Graduate student research at Laurier is question driven and uses a variety of techniques and approaches to answer hypotheses through investigation at multiple levels of biology (e.g. molecular, cellular, physiological, ecological, evolutionary). Our students leave our programs with a solid biological background, the ability to use critical thinking to address important challenges and issues, and are prepared to succeed in a variety of career paths.
How to Apply
If this sounds like the environment for you, please provide a record of your undergraduate/graduate transcripts, a CV or resume, a 500 word statement about why you want to pursue a graduate degree in the McDonald lab, and the names of two academic references to email@example.com.
Birceanu O, Tessier LR, Buitrago BH, Li W, McDonald A, Wilkie MP. 2021. At the intersection between toxicology and physiology: What we have learned about sea lamprey and bony fish physiology from studying the mode of action of lampricides. Journal of Great Lakes Research, in press).
Purhonen, J, Banerjee R, McDonald A, Fellman V, Kallijärvi J. 2020. A sensitive assay for dNTPs based on long synthetic oligonucleotides, EvaGreen dye, and inhibitor-resistant high-fidelity DNA polymerase. Nucleic Acids Research. 48: e87.
McDonald AE, Gospodaryov DV. In press. Alternative NAD(P)H dehydrogenase and alternative oxidase: Proposed physiological roles in animals. Mitochondrion. 45: 7-17.
McDonald AE, Pichaud N, Darveau CA. 2018. “Alternative” fuels contributing to mitochondrial electron transport: Importance of non-classical pathways in the diversity of animal metabolism. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 224: 185-194. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpb.2017.11.006.
Del-Saz NF, Ribas-Carbo M, McDonald AE, Lambers H, Fernie AR, Florez-Sarasa I. 2018. An In Vivo Perspective of the Role(s) of the Alternative Oxidase Pathway. Trends in Plant Science. 23: 206-219. Doi:10.1016/j.tplants.2017.11.006
Roberston A, Schaltz K, Neimanis K, Staples JF, McDonald AE. 2016. Heterologous expression of the Crassostrea gigas (Pacific oyster) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes. 48:509-520.
Winter 2023 BI196 Practical Skills for Biologists, BI496C Science Communication
Office location: BA436 (Bricker Academic, Waterloo campus)
Office hours: By appointment via Zoom.
Languages spoken: English
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