Posts tagged: News

New edited book on Sociogenomics!

By , April 8, 2015

Happy to report the publication of a new volume of Advances in Insect Physiology that i co-edited with Dr. Clement Kent, titled Genomics, Physiology and Behaviour of Social Insects. The book launched last week, and contains ten fantastic (in my slightly humble and obviously very biased opinion!) chapters on genomics-empowered research on the biology of social insects.  Clement and I strived for diversity and so we got honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, ants (ok… partial coverage on the ants) termites, and aphids… oh my! Check out the nice cover and table of contents here and below.AIP 48 front and back

It was a lot of work, but we had a group of fabulous and dedicated authors that really helped with meeting the very tight deadlines… Many of us worked over the December break and new years ; I remember doing some last min. editing on Christmas day, before the turkey!  Clement and I are very proud of the result, and we hope you enjoy it too!

Amro

Daria defends her MSc

By , January 29, 2015

Congrats to Daria Molodtsova for successfully defending her MSc thesis on the evolution of regulatory networks that influence honey bee worker behaviour. Daria started her MSc on September 2013. She co-authored the lab’s population genomics study on honey bees in PNAS, and she recently published her MSc thesis in Frontiers in Genetics. Daria is heading back to her motherland (Russia) to purse a career in biotech.

Well done Daria and congrats one the hard-earned MSc!

Samir and his Africanized ‘killer’ bees

By , September 8, 2014

Happy to welcome Samir Moura Kadri, a visiting PhD student from São Paulo State University from Botucatu, Brazil . We are hosting Samir here for the Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 terms to study the genetics of aggression in Africanized ‘Killer’ bees! Africanized bees are very defensive, and Samir studied variation in defensiveness across a large number of colonies in Brazil. He is here to apply genomics to understand the genetics of defensiveness in his colonies.

Here is a picture of Samir and a histogram of a measure of colony defensiveness in his study… the number of stings per minute!… yes, the upper limit is 100+ stings per minute… which is pretty nasty…

Thankfully, it was not 100 stings per minute that Samir actually received; he got the data by swinging a little suede-wrapped ball in front of the colonies… brave man! The range of defensive behaviour is very wide… about an order of magnitude difference between ‘happy go lucky africanized colonies ~ 20 stings per minute’ to ‘super aggressive killer bees – 120 stings per min’… bodes well for the genomic study!

Welcome Samir!
Amro

Samir and his 'killer' bees

Samir and his ‘killer’ bees

 

Tenure cake!

By , May 15, 2014

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

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Tenure Cake

Tenured Card

Tenured Card

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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!

Amro

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!

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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.

Amro

 

PNAS Cake II

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! 🙂

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Hmmm, 40^3!

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[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!

Amro

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