Brock Harpur, PhBee

By , April 10, 2017

Very happy to report that Brock Harpur successfully defend his PhD today. Dr. Graham Thompson (Western) served as the external examiner. The PhD defence is this ancient tradition of grilling phd students before they earn their wings. We tried hard to grill him but Brock’s defence was strong!  [note, he opened up with the Hasselmann defence, citing Prof. Martin Hasselmann‘s 2015 Briefings in Functional Genomics review – wise choice and perhaps the start of trend in sociogenomics PhD exams ?].

His thesis was awarded with distinction (top 5%) and was nominated for a thesis prize.

PhD Candidate Brock

PhD Candidate Brock

PhD Brock, post emergence

PhD Brock, post emergence

After the defence, Brock unbuttoned his dress shirt to revealed a teeshirt that said ‘I have a PhD’… Did he always wear the ‘I have a PhD’ tee underneath his regular clothes all these years while he was in the lab?…. we may never know…

We had a fun little celebration afterwards, and he was presented with this card illustrated by Alivia Dey, featuring a sweet punch line by Harshil Patel

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I thought i would take a bit of time to reflect on Brock’s journey. Brock is my first PhD student. He was also one of my first graduate students; he started a masters degree with me in 2010, making him part of the original crew that started the lab.

Brock leaves the lab with a very rich academic legacy… he has authored/co-authored about 16 papers (more to come), has an H-index of 9, and won a bunch of awards (i think he has won an award every year since starting his BSc). He is incredibly collegial and is quick to lend a hand, or r code. He worked really hard, and overcame many challenges. He contributed to a very enriching environment to think about bees, social evolution, and biology.

So, congrats Dr. Harpur on a well earned PhD or shall we say, PhBee?
We will miss you!

az

Brock at the first honey extraction by the lab

Brock at the first honey extraction by the lab

 

Brock's first field season

Brock’s first field season

Amro Awarded YU President Emerging Leadership Award

By , April 10, 2017

I was very honoured to receive the President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award as YorkU’s research gala last week.

some details here

Also got to celebrate some great achievements by colleagues from the Department of Biology and Faculty of Science.

Amro (middle) with Vice President of Research and Innovation, Dr. Rob Haché (left) and YU President Mamdoh Shoukir

Amro (middle) with Vice President of Research and Innovation, Dr. Rob Haché (left) and YU President Mamdouh Shoukri

 

Good showing by the Faculty of Science at the recent YU research celebration gala

Good showing by the Faculty of Science at the recent YU research celebration gala

New paper – African bee genomes and SNPs

By , December 7, 2016

Happy to report on a recent paper from the lab; Visiting PhD student Samir Kadri and YorkU PhD student Brock Harpur worked together to sequence and discover mutations in Brazilian Africanized honey bee genomes. The work was recently published as an open access article in Scientific Data. Also check out this y-file story on the research. Congrats Samir and Brock!

Samir and his 'killer' bees

Samir and his ‘killer’ bees

 

Brock Harpur

Brock Harpur

Jacob R!

By , November 7, 2016

Finally managed to get a picture of Jacob R – our bioinformatics Research at York undergraduate – at a recent lab gathering.  Jacob has been with the lab since the summer of 2016.

Jacob R - Bioinformatics RAY

Jacob R – Bioinformatics RAY

Dud males, biological invasions, natural selection, Oh My!

By , November 7, 2016

Check out my Nature News and Views story on a very cool study on invasive Asian honey bees in Australia.

New paper on bee conservation ‘omics

By , October 17, 2016

Jeff Lozier and I have a perspective out on bee conservation genomics – check it out in Conservation Genetics. Yay, my first paper with Jeff! Was a fun experience.

Amro

Amro awarded the 2016 Hewitt!

By , October 14, 2016

I am very happy to report that I was awarded the Entomological Society of Canada’s Gordon C. Hewitt Award; awarded to researchers who have made an outstanding contribution to entomology in Canada within 12 years of their PhD [read the full citation in the September 2016 bulletin of the Society]. Charles Gordon Hewitt was an amazing Canadian entomologist and conservation biologist. His short and illustrious career included serving as Canada’s Dominion Entomologist, drafting Canada’s destructive insect and pest act in 1910, and aiding in the protection of Canada’s wildlife. More info on his career can be found on his wiki page.

I received the award during the recent International Congress of Entomology, held at Orlando Florida.  It was a very special experience.  Thank you ESC!

Amro

Amro receives the ESC's Hewitt Award, ICE, Orlando 2016

Amro receives the ESC’s Hewitt Award, ICE, Orlando 2016

The Entomological Society of Canada's Gordon C. Hewitt Award

The Entomological Society of Canada’s Gordon C. Hewitt Award

New students and lab visitors!

By , September 20, 2016

This past year has been just a giant whirlwind! So many things, so little time… especially for the blog.  I am going to try to keep at it though, and what a better way to start than by introducing all of the awesome new students that have joined the lab this fall.  Where do we start… how about with the newest grad students. We have 5 new grad students this term. Current MSc student Katie D will be defending her thesis on wasp population genomics (her data are so exciting, but more on the #wasplove in another blog) later this fall and will molt into her PhD skin, studying the population of African honey bees.  Tanushree (PhD candidate), Harshil (MSc candidate and former Zayed lab undergrad) and Stephen  (MSc candidate) will carry out research on the gencetics of colony level traits for Genome Canada’s BeeOmics project.  We are also hosting Claudinéia Costa, a visiting PhD student from Dr. Tiago Mauricio Francoy’s lab at the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil).  Claudinéia will be working with us on a fun orchid bee population genomics project… cool!

[L->R] Grad studnets Harshil, Claudinéia, Tanushree, and Stephen

[L->R] Grad students Harshil, Claudinéia, Tanushree, and Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, then there are the fabulous 5 undergrads that will be working with us this term. Leonardo (former RAY), Daniel (former NSERC USRA), and Jacob (former RAY) will be working as Research at York students this fall/winter term.  Jacob and Jaafar will work as Research Assistants.

[L to R]: Leonardo, Jacob, Daniel, Jaafar. Swag... hell ya!

[L to R]: Leonardo, Jacob, Daniel, Jaafar. Swag? hell ya!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then some familiar faces. Dr. Clement Kent has been back in the lab since last September, working as Senior Research Associate. Dr. Alivia Dey is also back as the BeeOmics project manager for the Zayedlab.

Finally, we have a sabbatical visitor – Dr. Charles Whitfield from the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Charles Whitfield (Illinois) and Brock Harpur are cooking up a 'killer' project ;)

Dr. Charles Whitfield (Illinois) and Brock Harpur are cooking up a ‘killer’ project ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, the lab is brimming with excitement and energy. New faces, new data, new questions, and full steam ahead!

Best,
Amro

PhD positions available in the Zayedlab

By , December 17, 2015

Multiple PhD positions in honey bee genomics and sociobiology at York University, Toronto.

Are you interested in genomics, population genetics, social insects and a Ph.D.?

The Zayed lab (http://zayedlab.apps01.yorku.ca/wordpress/) in the Department of Biology at York University (Toronto, Canada) is looking for enthusiastic new doctoral candidates in 2016 to work on one of several exciting projects:

1) BeeOMICs – Genome-Wide Association Studies – several positions

Funded by Genome Canada, the BeeOMICs team will apply genome-wide-association mapping and population genomic tools to study the genetics of 12 colony-level traits in honey bees. This will involve sequencing and analysis of 1,000 colony ‘genomes’. We seek applicants who bring interest and experience in SOME of the following fields: genomics, population genetics, and computing. There will be lots of opportunities to interact with members of the BeeOMICs team. Read more about the BeeOMICs project here:  http://www.genomebc.ca/news-events/news-releases/2015/canadian-queens-sustaining-and-securing-canadas-honey-bees-using-omic-tools/

 2) BeeOMICs – Modeling genetic load in social insects – 1 PhD position

We are looking for a PhD student that will work closely with Dr. Amro Zayed and Dr. Jianhong Wu (at York University’s Center for Disease Modeling) http://www.cdm.yorku.ca/wujh/content/about) to develop theory and models for understanding the genetic load in social insects. This will build upon some of our earlier work– see Zayed and Packer, 2005, PNAS 102:10742-10746.

 3) BeeOMICs – Population genomics of African honey bees – 1 PhD position

We plan to sequence multiple genomes of all honey bee subspecies found in Africa. The dataset will provide a wealth of knowledge about patterns of natural selection in bee genomes and will help us understand the enigmatic biogeographic history of honey bees. It will also allow us to refine a diagnostic tool for detecting Africanized honey bees. Representative pubs include:

Harpur, B.A., Chapman, N.C., Krimus, L., Maciukiewicz, P., Sandhu, V., Sood, K., Lim, J., Rinderer, T.E., Allsopp, M.H., Oldroyd, B.P. and Zayed, A. (2015). Assessing patterns of admixture and ancestry in Canadian honey bees. Insectes Sociaux. 62:479-489.

Chapman, N.C., Harpur, B.A., Lim, J., Rinderer, T.E., Allsopp, M.H., Zayed, A., Oldroyd, B.P. (2015) A SNP test to identify Africanized honey bees via proportion of ‘African’ ancestry. Molecular Ecology Resources. DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.

4) Comparative population genomics of social insects – multiple positions

Funded by an NSERC discovery grant, we plan on carrying comparative population genomic studies across 24 different species that represent different stages of social evolution. Lots of interesting questions to ask, including: What is the relationship between social evolution and genome evolution? Are there common patterns of adaptive evolution associated with the origin of castes and sociality – Hamilton’s proverbial ‘genes for altruism’ ? What kind of mutations underlie adaptive evolution in social insects ? (e.g. coding vs. regulatory, taxonomically-restricted genes vs. conserved genes), and so on…

Representative publications include:

Kapheim, K. M. et al. including Kent, C.F. and Zayed, (2015) A. Genomic signatures of evolutionary transitions from solitary to group living. Science, 348:1139-1143.

Kent, C.F. and Zayed, A. (2015). Population Genomic and Phylogenomic Insights into the Evolution of Physiology and Behaviour in Social Insects. Advances in Insect Physiology. 48:293-342.

Molodtsova, D., Harpur, B.A., Kent, C.F., Seevananthan, K., and Zayed, A. (2014). Pleiotropy constrains the evolution of protein but not regulatory sequences in a transcription regulatory network influencing complex social behaviours. Frontiers in Genetics, 5:431.

Harpur, B.A., Kent, C.F., Molodtsova, D., Lebon, J.M.D., Alqarni, A.S., Owayss, A.A., Zayed, A. 2014. Population genomics of the honey bee reveals strong signatures of positive selection on worker traits. PNAS. 111:2614-2619

Kent, C.F., Minaei, S., Harpur, B.A., and Zayed, A. 2012. Recombination is associated with the evolution of genome structure and worker behavior in honey bees. PNAS. 109:18012-18017.

 

Successful candidates will receive training in genomics, bioinformatics and sociobiology in a very collaborative environment. Toronto is a great city to live and work in. Funding if available for Canadian students; international students are welcome to apply provided they have access to scholarships from their home country. If interested in applying, please send your c.v., contacts for references, and a 1 page cover letter to zayed@yorku.ca

 

Best,!

Amro

Erica sweeps bio undergrad awards

By , August 18, 2015

Very happy that Erica Shenfeld, who carried out her honours thesis research on Bee Genetics, won the Department of Biology’s C.W. Fowle and B. Rozario  prize, as well as the Mainguy Genetics Award.

The Fowel and Rozario prize is awarded to the most outstanding graduating student in Honours Biology as determined by the department. The award is based on grades, research potential and leadership activities within the department.

The Mainguy Genetics award is given to a 3rd or 4th year biology students who show extreme proficiency in Genetics, both in the laboratory and in the classroom.

Congrats Erica … you made us very proud!

Erica presenting her research on bee genetics at the Toronto Entomological Society, 2015

Erica presenting her research on bee genetics at the Toronto Entomological Society, 2015