Genetics and Molecular Biology Plenary Speakers

(Super)soldier ants reveal the storage, release, and harnessing of ancestral developmental potential in biological systems
Ehab Abouheif, PhD
McGill University


Professor Ehab Abouheif completed his Bachelor (1993) and Master of Science (1995) degrees from Concordia University (Canada). Abouheif then moved to the USA and completed his PhD from Duke University in 2002. His PhD work on the development and evolution of gene networks in ant societies laid the foundations for Eco-Evo-Devo, an emerging field that seeks to understand how the evolution of complex biological systems is driven by interactions between genes and environment during development. However, before finishing his PhD, Abouheif was recruited as an Assistant Professor at McGill University. The University allowed Abouheif to take a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Fellow position at the University of Chicago (2002-2003) and University of California at Berkeley (2003-2004). He returned to Canada in 2004 as a Canada Research Chair, and in 2017, was named a James McGill Professor.


Identifying the key biological determinants important in our battle against ticks and the diseases they vector
Ryan Rego, PhD
Institute of Parasitology, Czech Academy of Sciences


Dr. Ryan Rego is a microbiologist whose research revolves around adapting and developing genetic techniques to understand the infection dynamics in the tick vector of various European genospecies within the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato group, the causative agent of Lyme disease. His research also includes the use of the tick-animal model in understanding the transmission dynamics of the Old World relapsing fever borrelia. Rego’s interest in vector-borne diseases arose during his Master’s work studying mixed trypanosome infections in tsetse flies in Bristol, UK. He obtained his Ph.D., in 2005 from the Czech Republic, where his research, at the Institute of Parasitology, Ceske Budejovice, focused on identifying and characterizing specific innate immunity proteins in soft and hard ticks. His postdoctoral research in studying population dynamics of Borrelia infections was at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID in Montana, USA. He then returned to the Institute of Parasitology, Czech Republic and has for the last few years been actively pursing tick-pathogen research with an emphasis on anti-tick vaccines and diagnostic markers.


Evolution of insecticide resistance and how to combat pest resistance
Denise Steinbach, PhD
Bayer Crop Science

Dr. Denise Steinbach is a molecular biologist working on insecticide resistance, pesticide toxicity and integrated pest management at Bayer Crop Science. She has over six years of industry experience, including the successful European Union registration of pesticides. Steinbach completed her PhD in 2016 at The Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg (Germany) and Bayer Crop Science. Her PhD research generated resistance risk assessments for a broad range of insecticides, including diamides and benzoylphenyl urea. She also investigated the mechanisms of insecticide resistance in arthropods, particularly Lepidoptera. In addition, Steinbach has conducted entomology research projects at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya.

Want to learn more? See other content tagged with: