Category: News

Tenure cake!

By , May 15, 2014

The lab threw me a surprise tenure party yesterday!… Here is a few pics of the celebration!


Tenure Cake

Tenured Card

Tenured Card


BeeUnit v.2014 L to R: Maisha, Jen, Keshna, Vijay, Nadia, Amro, Brock, Alivia, Sunny, Lior, Harshil. [Missing: Daria and Phil]

Tenurepro at last!

By , May 8, 2014

This will sound very cheesy, but all of my life I wanted to be a tenured prof; at least since 1998 when, as an undergrad, I finally discovered what an amazing gig my university professors had; a job where you get to do what YOU want to do, ask interesting questions, do cool experiments, and interact with bright students… who wouldn’t want that?

I remember walking into Laurence Packer’s office (my entomology prof turned PhD advisor) in 1998 and telling him half-jokingly: “I want to be like you when I grow up”. Then the long journey started. A 6 year PhD (2000 to 2006), a 3 year postdoc (2006 to 2009), then I started my tenure-track position on July 1st 2009. This however was not the end of the journey; Assistant Professors live in the Ivory tower, but they just rent it… they can be evicted from this glorious institution at any time!

And so, after five years of hard work, trials and tribulations, much less hair, a wife and 2 kids, I received THE letter today. I opened President Shoukri’s letter  with great anticipation. The text, as written, went something like “It is with pleasure that I accept the unanimous recommendations of the Adjudicating and Senate Review Committees that you be granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor, effective July 1, 2014”.

In my mind, it played a bit differently…

Voice: ‘Kneel, Assistant Professor Amro Zayed

[i feel the weight of a heavy sceptre on my right shoulder and then on my left]

Voice: ‘Rise, Associate Professor Amro Zayed, White Knight of the Ivory Tower, Defender of the light, Keeper of bees

With your eyes… Amro!

By , April 30, 2014

I was very happy to be one of 21 Canadian faculty members to participate in the 2014 Science Leadership Program, organized by Dr. Ray Jayawardhana and the University of Toronto’s Science Engagement team. It was a two-day leadership/communication/engagement boot camp! Check out Elaine Smith’s UoT news story about this (see the picture in the link; I am the bold guy on the right, trying to balance a hula hop with 10 other fellows!). It was a great experience… Among other things, i have a lovely memory of 21 super-smart professors throwing a pink tennis ball around the room… with their eyes!


Brock successfully completes his prelims

By , April 1, 2014

Happy to report that Brock Harpur successfully completed his doctoral preliminary exam two weeks ago. Congrats Brock!


Brock contimplates Y?

Around the continent in 30 days.

By , February 26, 2014

… it started with a trip to Edmonton, Alberta, to attend the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists’ annual meeting. We managed to outline the research priorities for Apiculture in Canada over the next few years, and I gave a talk on the genetics of honey bees.

The CAPA brain trust [i am in the middle row, second in from the right]. Edmonton, Alberta, Jan 2014

Then back to Toronto for a week, then off to the Gordon Research Conference on Genes and Behaviour held at Galveston Texas for another week. There i rubbed shoulders with some of my citation heroes and gave a seminar on bee population genomics and behaviour.

Back to Toronto on Friday [after a 12 hour limbo @ Houston Airport], then delivered a public seminar for the Royal Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Science on Sunday. The talk was a great experience. I also got a kick from seeing my name before the amazing Canadian Astronaut, Colonel Chris Hadfield, who was slated to speak the week after me (he had cancelled earlier, but after the brochure was printed).  I showed my family – i told them that i was speaking before that ‘Guy from Space’ 🙂 I actually feel extremely fortunate to get invited to speak at such a prestigious event, with an amazing line up of speakers, which include York U’s incoming dean of science, Ray Jay!

Amro, then that guy from space!

Amro, then that guy from space!

Then, I left Toronto Sunday night for a much needed mini vacation in the Caribbean over reading break.

That is more than 15,000 KM traveled over 30 days!… i think i am going to hang around Toronto for the next little while.




By , January 7, 2014

Very happy to report that, after months of hard work, we’ve just heard that our study will be published in PNAS – a top science journal. Can’t tell you much about the article now – it is embargoed until published – but it is very very neat in my humble and biased opinion. We had a little mini-celebration with PNAS cake… Yum! 🙂


Hmmm, 40^3!


[L to R]: Nadia, Alivia, Jen, Daria, Phil, Brock, Lior, Amro

Dr. Alivia Dey joins the lab!

By , December 3, 2013

I would like to welcome our new Postdoc Dr. Alivia Dey to the lab. Alivia obtained her PhD from the University of Toronto where she studied the population genetics of Caenorhabditis with Dr Asher Cutter. Check out Alivia’s recent PNAS paper on hyperdiversity in nematodes! She will be working on honey bee population genomics here.
Welcome Alivia!



Zayedlab at Nuit Blanche

By , October 5, 2013

Can you spot Brock, Daria, Jen, Lior and Bahar. They are participating in Diane Borsato’s Your Temper, My Weather: a 4 hour – 100 beekeeper group meditation for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche

Beekeepers using the force to improve bee health

Greg: I did it my way!

By , September 30, 2013

You can’t do a great citizen-science project without great citizens!  We recently asked  Beekeepers to collected a few workers from their colonies for a national survey of the genetics of Canadian honey bees.  We’ve received back more than 500 bees from every province; we’ve even got bees from Yukon!  Check out one beekeeper’s innovative sampling protocol here.  Thanks Greg.


Farewell Clement!

By , August 9, 2013

July was Dr. Clement Kent’s last month as postdoc in the lab; he will start a new position as a Senior Scientist at Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus – probably one of the best places in the world to do neuroscience at the moment.  Clement was the first member to join my lab; he joined as a NSERC Postdoc fellow.  Congrats Clement; you’ll be missed!

Farewell Clement!

Farewell Clement!
top L-R: Maria, Catherine, Nadia, Daria, Clement, Jonathan, Brock, Phil, Lior
bottom L-R: Keshna, Amro, Ash, Kajendra, Bahar