Group Members

This page lists our current and honorary members. Perhaps you’d like to see our growing list of amazing Alumni?

Graduate Students:

Pat Schenck (PhD candidate – co-supervised with Mike Surette) Pat Schenck joined the pat-3dynamic duo of the Bowdish-Surette labs after an MSc in Calgary where he studied the role of the microbiome in gastrointestinal infections. Since he finds snot less distasteful than colon contents (if you know what I mean), he joined us for a PhD studying the role of the airway microbiota in respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Pat aims to determine whether the germs that live in the upper respiratory tract can play a role in protecting from respiratory infections or can contribute to infection risk. Distinctions: Boris Albini Award for poster presentation at Buffalo Immunology conference (2015), CIHR PhD studentship (2015-2018). Michael Smith Travel Supplement (2016). Mildred Gulliver Scholarship awarded at IIDR trainee day (2017).

Sara Makaremi (PhD student – co-supervised with Dr. José Moran-Mirabal). SaraSara Makaremi graduated with an M.E.Sc (that’s an engineering degree for all you biologists) from the Western University and is applying here knowledge of structures and surfaces to study how macrophage receptors move in membranes. Distinctions:  Canadian Foundation for the Development of Microscopy (CFDM) as recipient of a travel scholarship ($1000) for attending the Biophysical Society 60th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.Registration Award for 10th LFD Workshop on Advanced Fluorescence Imaging and Analysis from University of California Irvine (2015).Student Councillor, Microscopical Society of Canada (2016-2018). First place for an Oral presentation in the Biomedical Engineering Symposium, McMaster (2017). Registration award from the Canadian Foundation for the Development of Microscopy and the organizing committee of the Canadian Microscopy and Cytometry Symposium (2017).Ontario Graduate Scholarship 2017-18. Canadian Foundation for the Development of Microscopy travel award 2018. Gerald T Simon Award from the Microscopical Society of Canada and Microscopical Society of America (2018).

Jessica Breznik (PhD student 2016-). Jessica is a local who got Jessica Breznik 2016an MSc at Queen’s University and after working for a year felt the call of academia beckoning her back for a PhD. She joined the Bowdish-SchertzerSloboda lab trifecta (say that three times fast) to study the immunology of pregnancy, and specifically how a high fat diet during pregnancy affects metabolic and immunologic outcomes. Distinctions: OGS 2016-2017 & 2018/19. Oral presentation in the plenary session of the Canadian National Perinatal Research Meeting (2017).Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology (QEII-GSST) 2017-2018, 2018-2019. Douglas C. Russell Memorial Scholarship, McMaster Graduate Scholarship (2018). Best poster presentation, Medical Sciences Research Day (2019). Outstanding poster presentation FHS Research Plenary (2019). Teaching Assistant Excellence Award, FHS (2019). Graduate Program of Excellence Award, FHS (2019). The 6th Annual Perey Symposium short talk award (2019).  

Helen Luu (MSc student – co-supervised with Dr. José Moran-Mirabal) is a McMaster graduate with a degree in Chemistry but a love for immunology It’s a marriage made in heaven because it allows her to ask some really interesting questions about how different surfaces affect macrophage adhesion and function, which has implications for development of implantable biomaterials and developing better ways to study macrophage function.

Christian Bellissimo (PhD student – co-supervised with Dr. Deborah Sloboda) got inspired to study immunology and pregnancy after taking Advanced Immunology. He studies how the immune cells of the placenta change when the mother is exposed to stress. Early life stress influences how well or how poorly you age and so Christian’s work may help develop strategies to give all babies a healthy start. Distinctions: Canada Graduate Scholarship 2017. CIHR PhD scholarship 2019. 

Erica de Jong (MSc student, 2018-) joins us from Dr. John McCormick‘s lab at Western University and has brought her microbiology skills to our studies of how the microbiome changes with age. She’s going to help us understand how the microbes that live in our guts conspire against us as we grow older. Distinctions: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2019/2020). Certificate of Excellence from the Summer Program in Aging, CIHR (2019).

Nazli Alizadeh Tabrizi (MSc 2019-) has a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Urmia University in Iran and has joined the Bowdish lab to pursue her interest in how age-associated inflammation alters immune cell function. She will work on a collaborative project with Dr. Michael Rauh (Queen’s University) to uncover mechanisms by which the aging microenvironment alters immune cell development. Distinctions: Entrance Scholarship Medical Sciences 2019.

Post-doctoral fellows:

Dr. Janine Strehmel (PDF 2016-). Dr Strehemel completed her PhD in  Dr. Jorge Overhage’s lab and joined the Bowdish lab and a team of ORF funded researchers to discover novel immunomodulators that will kill bacteria by boosting host immunity. 20161024_113444She is particularly excited by this approach because it should not only help combat antibiotic resistance but will protect those at greatest risk of infection, the young, the old and the immunocompromised. The WHO and other organizations list antibiotic resistance as a major threat to global health so we wish Dr. Strehmel success!

Dr. Allison Kennedy (PDF 2017-) came from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. She joined the Bowdish lab to work on a collaborative study on immunological changes during aging and cancer treatment in collaboration with Dr. Doug Boreham. Allison has a passion for both doing science but also engaging the public in scientific discoveries and has an impressive list of public engagement accomplishments. Distinctions: Best PDF poster presentation at the IIDR trainee day 2018. H.G. Thode Postdoctoral fellowship 2019-2021. 

Dr. Cedoljub Bundalovic-Torma (PDF 2018-) completed his PhD with Dr. John Parkinson at Sick Kids in the Department of Microbiology and has a MSc in Theoretical Biology from McMaster. Ceda uses computational tools to study networks and interactions and in a Bowdish-Surette collaboration will be using these to study microbe-microbe interactions in the upper respiratory tract microbiome.


Melodie Kim (Thesis student May- Aug 2016, Sept 2016-Apr 2017, Sept 2017-April 2018, Sept 2018-April 2019). Melodie is a BHSc student who joined the lab in 2016 to help discover novel adjunct therapies to antibiotics. She works with Dr. Janine Strehmel and the Surette lab on our collaborative project to mine microbes for new molecules. Distinctions: BHSc Summer Studentship 2018. Silver award for poster presentation at MIRA-Labarge Research Day 2018.

Danny Ma (NSERC USRA – 2018, 4th year thesis student Sept 2018-Apr 2019). Danny is a BHSc student who has previously studied lung physiology in Dr. Warren Lee‘s lab. Danny studies why aging macrophages are less able to take up bacteria, using biochemistry, molecular biology and microscopy. techniques Distinctions: NSERC-USRA 2018, MIRA Summer undergraduate scholarship 2018. NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award 2019, IIDR summer studentship 2019.


Judjina Thevarajah (January 2018-Aug 2018 co-op student, 4th year thesis student Sept 2018- April 2019) joined the Bowdish lab in January 2018 as a co-op student to help co-ordinate our clinical studies and analyze some of the mounds of data these studies provide. Judjina  is studying how the microbes of the upper respiratory tract interact to influence susceptibility to pathogens.



Sonia Igboanugo (4th year thesis student, Biomedical Discovery & Commercialization, 2018-2019)


Research Coordinator:

Mohammad Malik: Mohammad was a co-op and thesis student with the Bowdish lab and we were thrilled to recruit him to work as a research coordinator for our ongoing clinical studies. Mohammad is the Bowdish lab’s primary contact for our research participants. He is also our social media manager (see his work on Instagram at house.macrophage. Mohammad is  seen here digging deep into the research data.


Fearless leaderDawn‘s project is – in theory – pushing back the boundaries of macrophage biology. Dawn-feeding-data-wall-smIn practice she spends a lot of time writing grants, writing more grants, filling out interminable paperwork, and basically keeping all those macrophage shaped balls in the air. She is pictured here doing what she loves best – keeping the data gods fed and happy with exciting new discoveries. An office covered with figures from papers planned and in progress is a happy office.