Graduate students

Full financial support is available for qualified graduate students.

Internal salary supplements are guaranteed for NSERC / OGS scholarship winners.

Graduate students can earn degrees in either the Department of Biology or the Department of Chemistry since Ken Storey is cross-appointed in both departments. At the graduate level students are members of joint programs with University of Ottawa and belong to either the Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology or the Ottawa-Carleton Chemistry Institute. For application information and to apply online, visit the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs. There you will find information about programs, admission requirements, and how to apply.  To apply, click on the Graduate Programs link and choose the program of interest (Biology, Chemistry, MSc, PhD) and then click the “Apply Now” button. In Step One you will request an application account. Once you receive an application account number from the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC), proceed to Step Two and complete the full application. Projects in the Storey Lab can be tailored to suit the interests and prior training of students with undergraduate degrees in Biology, Biochemistry or Chemistry disciplines. However, there is no graduate program in Biochemistry at Carleton so students with an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry should discuss their options with Dr. Storey to determine whether to apply through the Biology or Chemistry programs. Listed below are the main project themes currently available for applying Graduate students.

Molecular biology and biochemistry of freezing survival:

Positions are available starting in September for Ph.D. students. Projects may follow one of two routes.   (1) Gene expression studies identify genes that are turned on during freezing or thawing and that contribute to the metabolic and structural survival of the frozen animal. Methods of gene discovery and evaluation include cDNA array screening, quantitative PCR, and nuclear run-off technologies as well as transcription factor binding studies, western blotting to evaluate protein product levels and recombinant protein expression to assess protein action in freezing survival. A new focus is epigenetics – the mechanisms of global transcriptional suppression that contribute for metabolic rate depression while frozen. (2) Biochemical studies evaluate the signaling mechanisms involved in activating metabolic responses to freezing. Studies focus on reversible phosphorylation control over the activities of metabolic enzymes and functional proteins, the roles of protein kinases (e.g. PKA, PKG, AMPK, Akt, MAPKs), and the regulation of signal transduction pathways that turn on freeze-responsive genes. Applied studies use the lessons taken from freeze tolerant vertebrates to improve the cryopreservation of isolated mammalian cells and organs.

Freeze tolerance research articles

Molecular biology and biochemistry of torpor, hibernation, and estivation:

Positions are available starting next September for Ph.D. students. Research focuses on the biochemistry of metabolic arrest, in particular the mechanisms that regulate and coordinate the depression of all cell functions in concert to permit long term homeostasis in the torpid state. Molecular studies include identification of genes that are up-regulated at different stages of the mammalian hibernation-arousal cycle and analysis of the actions of new proteins that induce metabolic depression or preserve life in the torpid state. Signal transduction pathways are characterized and transcription factors that control hibernation-responsive genes are analyzed. Our newest interest is epigenetic mechanisms as the means of global suppression of transcription during torpor. Biochemical approaches include studies of stress-activated protein kinase cascades and reversible protein phosphorylation control of the activities of metabolic enzymes and functional proteins to coordinate global metabolic suppression and ensure long term cell survival over weeks of torpor. The ultimate aim of our research is to integrate strategies from natural hibernation into medical organ transplant technology. Comparable studies are also exploring another form of natural torpor called estivation that is typically triggered by hot arid conditions.

Torpor, hibernation, and estivation research articles

Molecular regulation of anoxia tolerance:

Positions are available starting in September for Ph.D. students to study the regulatory mechanisms that allow selected organisms to survive for extended times without oxygen. Projects may follow one of two routes. (1) Gene expression studies identify genes that are up-regulated in response so hypoxia/anoxia and also evaluate the activity status of specific transcription factors and the suite of genes under their control in order to determine how anoxia tolerant systems respond when oxygen is withdrawn. Methods of gene discovery and evaluation include cDNA array screening, quantitative PCR, and nuclear run-off technologies, transcription factor profiling, as well as western blotting to evaluate individual protein products with the use of phospho-specific antibodies to analyze relative amounts of active and inactive transcription factors. (2) Biochemical studies evaluate adaptations of enzyme kinetic and regulatory properties that support enzyme/pathway function under anoxia and identify the protein kinases (e.g. PKA, PKG, AMPK and the MAPKs) involved in regulating metabolic responses to low oxygen. A variety of model animals can be used including turtles, frogs, crayfish, mollusks and insects. The research has medical applications for understanding and improving survival of conditions that impose hypoxia or ischemia (e.g. heart attack, stroke) and extending viability of isolated organs removed for transplant.

Anoxia tolerance research articles