I developed a keen interest in the biological aspects of chemistry during my last two years in high school in England, fuelled in large measure by completion of a Special Level paper in chemistry/biochemistry during my final year. After emigrating to Canada with my family, I was fortunate to spend the next summer working in the research laboratory of Dr. Allan Colter, then Chair of the department, where I carried out kinetic experiments on redox reactions of nicotinamide derivatives with quinones. This experience was extremely positive, and provided an impetus to continue on to graduate research. During the last year of my chemistry/biochemistry B.Sc. program, I became fascinated with biological membranes. The Singer-Nicolson fluid mosaic model had been proposed only a few years earlier, and had stimulated a flurry of research on membrane structure and dynamics. I decided that this was what I wanted to work on, held my breath, and jumped right in! My Ph.D. degree focussed on the applications of spin labeling to membrane glycolipids and glycoproteins, so I was introduced to biophysical techniques early in my career, and still continue with this approach today. With the advent of the massive gene sequencing era, membrane proteins have become even more interesting, since we are now able to relate their sequence and structure to their role in so many important biological processes. Membrane lipids have also risen to the forefront again, and are no longer regarded as a passive matrix for proteins, but as active players in membrane function. Today, my research group takes a multidisciplinary approach, using the tools of biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology and cell biology, to explore how membrane proteins work at the molecular level. The involvement and interactions of membrane proteins with phospholipids, glycolipids, and cholesterol are also integral to our work.
I am a member of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (CSMB; where I am currently the Editor of the CSMB Bulletin), and the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB; where I served as a member of the Publications Committee). I have been a member of grant review panels at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute. I review manuscripts for several scientific journals, and I am currently an Editor for Biochemical Journal.