Lab Members

Dr. Marco Todesco

Marco is an Assistant Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories, the Department of Botany and the Department of Biology (UBC Okanagan). He received a M.Sc. in Plant Biotechnology at the University of Padua in Italy, and a PhD at the Eberhard Karls Universität and Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany, working on natural variation and micro RNAs in Arabidopsis. He then moved to UBC as a HFSP postdoctoral fellow to study adaptation in wild sunflowers. He is broadly interested in understanding the how and why of plant diversity.

Dylan Moxley

Dylan is a PhD student co-supervised with Loren Rieseberg. He received a Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology with a focus in Applied Plant and Soil Science from the University of British Columbia. He works on new approaches for sunflower transformation, analyses of recombination patterns, and single cell-genomics, mostly in sunflower and cannabis.
His interests are broadly in plant breeding (QTL mapping, tissue culture, genetic transformation, altering recombination landscapes, improving genome quality, rapid cycle breeding, the break down and utilization of self-incompatibility in wild crop pre-breeding).

Other interests include:
-Plants in textiles: cellulose fibre quality, natural pigments as dyes, naturally coloured fibre production
-Improving & screening of orphan crops for food/fibre production.
-Controlled environment agriculture: varietal screening of leafy green/oilseed/fibre plants for production in vertical agriculture, and integrated CEA systems of plants and mushrooms for improved carbon utilization.

Raisa Ramdeen

I’m a tropical transplant from Trinidad and Tobago, a recent addition to the Botany program at UBC, co-supervised by Marco Todesco and Loren Rieseberg. My PhD research will use genomic approaches to understand how seagrasses will adapt to the climate crisis. 

Zhiqin Long

Zhiqin is a PhD student co-supervised with Loren Rieseberg. She grew up in China and obtained a master degree from Sichuan University and a bachelor from China Agricultural University. She is interested in understanding the species evolutionary process and the interplay among them. In addition, she is interested in prediction of species fate in the context of climate change and providing conservation strategies.

Ara Jamaldin

Ara is currently pursuing a MSc degree in the Department of Botany. She earned a BSc in Biology with a minor in Classics from the University of Alberta, where she researched pine tree responses to pathogen attack and cryptic species of Albertan lichens. At the Todesco lab, her primary research focus revolves around investigating how chromosomal inversions contribute to local adaptation in sunflowers; achieved through transcriptomic analyses. Beyond this, Ara’s interests include comparative genomics, phylogenomics, and understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying adaptation and evolution.

Stephanie Xie

Stephanie is a fourth year student in Biochemistry combined with Chemistry, and grew up in Guangzhou, China. She is interested in genetics and enjoys working in the lab. She joined the lab as a Work-Learn student, and is working on introducing some of the massive adaptive inversions we identified in wild sunflower species into cultivated sunflower, to better understand their role in adaptation and their potential for sunflower improvement.

Kaede Hirabayashi

Kaede is a research assistant and a lab technician/manager. She completed a BSc (Hon.) in Biochemistry at UBC Okanagan. Her honours research investigated the climate change resilience of wild North American berries. She received an MSc in Biology, studying genome diversity and evolution of lingonberry at University of Victoria. Although she has a particular affection towards bog berries (Vaccinium species, specifically), she hopes to contribute to the sustainable agriculture as a whole through her work.

Past Lab Members

Ishana Sookoor (co-op student)