Microscope specialist-Operations manager

Centre for Microscopy and Cellular Imaging (CMCI)

Concordia University, Montréal, Canada

Directors: Dr. Alisa Piekny and Dr. Christopher Brett

As a microscope specialist I advise students and professors on the most suitable microscope and imaging technique for their research. I also offer extensive microscopy training and educate them on image analysis (ImageJ, Autoquant and Imaris). With my background in molecular and cellular biology in a various organisms (plant, yeast, animal cells) I also provide some advice on their biological set up conditions.  As an operations manager of the microscopy Centre I'm in charge of maintenance of 6 light microscopes customized for fixed and for live imaging with unique features like TIRF, high-speed confocal at high magnification. 
By providing highly sophisticated microscopes and skills, the Centre supports Concordia research in various fields: fondamental knowledge in Life Sciences, Medical Research, Exercise Science and even Art!


Co-organiser of the Montreal Cell Cycle and Cytoskeleton meeting 2013

Concordia University, Montréal, Canada


Co-organiser of the Montreal Cell Cycle and Cytoskeleton meeting 2012

Concordia University, Montréal, Canada



Research Associate in cell biology

Concordia University, Montréal, Canada

Principal Investigator: Dr. Alisa Piekny

"Anillin interacts with microtubules and is part of the astral pathway that defines cortical domains" 

Animal cell cytokinesis occurs by the ingression of an actin-myosin contractile ring that bissects the parental cell. To control this process, one of the major components is the cytoskeleton, a strong framework that insures the proper function of the cell. Using cultured  human cancer cells (HeLa), which constantly divide and invade a body, we focused on the key regulators of cytoskeleton regulation (e.g. anillin) that are absolutely required for cell division. Their in-depth molecular analysis can uncover targets for the development of new cancer drug therapies. Based on highly sophisticated microscopes that allow ultra fast live-imaging we have shown that astral microtubules restrict the accumulation and localization of contractile proteins (e.g. myosin) during mitosis, while the central spindle forms a discrete ring by directing RhoA in the equatorial plane to activate the contractile ring. The sequestration of anillin by astral microtubules may alter the organization of cortical proteins to polarize cells for cytokinesis.


Post-doctoral research in plant cell biology 
Institut de Recherche de Biologie Végétale, Université de Montréal, Canada 
Principal Investigator: Dr. Anja Geitmann 
"Managing intracellular transport logistics involved in plant cell morphogenesis" 

The precise coordination of cell expansion and cell division is the underpinning of morphogenesis in living organisms. Because of the immobile nature of plant cells, these processes must be precisely controlled in space and time. Therefore, vesicular trafficking in plant cells is subject to a sophisticated system of cellular transport logistics, mediated by the cytoskeleton. By combining high temporal and spatial resolution laser scanning microscopy with advanced imaging techniques originally developed for molecular movements, Spatio-Temporal Image Correlation Spectroscopy, we monitored the delivery of vesicles, the movements of organelles and the dynamics of the cytoskeleton. We use these motion profiles to generate a mathematical model of intracellular trafficking to understand the logistic principles governing plant cell growth and division.

2007 - 2009

Post-doctoral research in plant biochemistry 
Center for Plant Science Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA 
Principal Investigator: Dr. Gilles J. Basset 
"Vitamin K1 metabolism in photosynthetic organisms" 
Vitamin K1 plays an important role in the redox status in plant and cyanobacteria photosynthesis, as an electron carrier in Photosystem I. We aim at understanding how plants synthesize and recycle vitamin K1. Using a fluorescence HPLC-based technique we were able to detect and quantify, for the first time in plants, the reduced-form of vitamin K1. We showed that the ratio of the oxidized/reduced forms decreases in the dark and in senescent leaves (van Oostende et al, Phytochem. 2008). Furthermore, based on bioinformatics we have identified new enzymes in vitamin K1 biosynthesis in plants (Kim et al., Plant J. 2008). My contribution to the characterization of these enzymes has used different functional genetic techniques (gene silencing and over-expression in Arabidopsis and cyanobacteria), enzymatic assays, profiling of vitamin K1 levels by HPLC, and subcellular localization by transient expression of GFP-fused protein in tobacco leaves.

2002 - 2006

Ph.D. in plant cell biology and physiology 
INRA JRU Fruit Biology, Bordeaux, France 
Principal Investigator: Pr. Jean-Pierre Renaudin 
"Quantitative analysis of auxin primary responses in tobacco cell suspension" 
The aim of our project was to study early auxin-modulated responses using BY-2 cells as the cellular model. I first showed the quantitative effect of auxin concentrations on turgor, cell expansion, cell division, cellular content of soluble components, and the ultrastructural modifications of BY-2 cells. Secondly, to understand the molecular mechanisms of auxin action on BY-2 cells, I performed a genome-wide cDNA-AFLP based transcriptome analysis, at the "Plant System Biology" laboratory of Ghent (collaboration with D. Inzé and A. Goossens). About fifty tags corresponding to early auxin regulated genes (first 6 h after treatment) were identified. One of the two primary auxin responsive genes, identified following cycloheximide treatment, seems to play an important role in the regulation of cell proliferation.

2005 - 2006

Teacher assistant 
Bordeaux1 University, Bordeaux, France 
Taught first Lab course in Cell biology and Plant biology and Physiology (60 students)

2002 - 2003

Student training 
INRA JRU Fruit Biology, Bordeaux, France 
Supervised graduate students during their internship in the lab.

2001 - 2002

Master's degree labwork 
Plant Biotechnology and Physiology laboratory, Amiens, France 
Principal Investigator: Pr. Éric Lainé 
"Screening of a flax genomic DNA library: isolation et characterization of Lupme 1 gene" 
I screened a flax genomic DNA library using a DIG labelled Lupme1 gene fragment as a probe. This gene code for a pectin methylesterase, which catalyses demethylesterification of cell wall pectins and is involved in cell elongation. A Lupme1 gene fragment, including the promoter region, was isolated and provided tools to study gene expression using a transgenesis approach.


Cell biology and microscopy techniques

  • Confocal microscopy
  • Live cell imaging
  • Subcellular localization of FP-fused protein (Fluorescent Protein)
  • FRET
  • Ratiometric intracellular Calcium measurements
  • Epifluorescence microscopy: mitotic activity (DAPI-staining) and viability test (PI/FDAÐstaining)
  • Hybridization histochemistry (ISH)
  • Flux cytometry
  • Scanning & Transmission Electron microscopy

Molecular biology techniques

  • cDNA-AFLP expression profiling
  • Screening of genomic DNA and cDNA library
  • Plant transformation: stable and transient (e.g. particle bombardment
  • HPLC of soluble components and HPLC-fluorometry
  • Basic techniques (Genomic phage and bacteria DNA, RNA extraction, DNA fragment cloning, PCR amplification, PCR walking...)
  • Semi-quantitative RT-PCR
  • Protein purification and SDS PAGE
  • Enzymatic assay
  • Southern, northern and western Blot

Cell culture

  • Plant cells: Bright-Yellow 2 tobacco cells, Lycopersicon esculentum, pollen of Tobacco, Arabidopsis, Camellia, Lily
  • Bacterial cells: Escherichia coli, Synechocystis sp. PCC6803

Plant models

  • Mammalian cells: Hela, MDCK
  • Nicotiana tabacum
  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Lycopersicon esculentum

IT Skills

  • Image analyses (Imageproplus program, ImageJ, Autoquant, Imaris)
  • Bioinformatic tools (e.g. Blast, ClustalW, Primer3, EPclust, TargetP...)
  • MS Office Endnote



Domains of interest:

*Light Microscopy

*Human Cell division

*Plant cellular and molecular Biology

*Plant Biochemistry

*Electron microscopy

Observe, Experiment, Learn and Teach!