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Scientific Leads


Dr. Laurence Yang

Project Leader

Dr. Laurence Yang is an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at Queen’s and Queen’s National Scholar in Systems Biology. He earned a BSc, MASc and PhD all in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto. Prior to his arrival to Queen’s in 2019, he was an Assistant Project Scientist in the Department of Bioengineering at University of California San Diego, where he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Yang’s lab develops predictive models of cell metabolism, protein expression, and gene regulation. Specifically, they develop holistic models that integrate multiple biological processes and large-scale networks. Interpreting biological data in the context of these integrated models provides a systems-level perspective on cellular functions.


Dr. George diCenzo

Project Co-Leader

Dr. George diCenzo joined the Department of Biology at Queen's University as an Assistant Professor in July of 2019. He completed his B.Sc. (2012) in Molecular Biology and Genetics at McMaster University (Canada), during which he performed research in the group of Prof. Turlough Finan. He remained in Dr. Finan's group to complete his Ph.D (2017) in Biology. He then joined the group of Prof. Alessio Mengoni at the University of Florence (Italy) as a NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow, where he also worked closely with Prof. Marco Fondi. During this time, he spent two months with Dr. Peter Mergaert at a CNRS institute just outside of Paris (France). In 2017 diCenzo was awarded the Armand Frappier Outstanding Student Award from the Canadian Society of Microbiology for his Ph.D. research. 


Dr. David Zechel

Project Co-Leader

Dr. David Zechel is the Associate Head and Graduate Studies Coordinator for the Department of Chemistry at Queen’s University. He is also a member of the NSERC Discovery Grant evaluation group for Chemistry (1504). Dr. Zechel completed his BSc in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Toronto (1991-95). This was followed by PhD studies (1996-2001) with Stephen G. Withers at the University of British Columbia where he focused on engineering the reactions catalyzed by glycosidases. As a postdoc Dr. Zechel studied the structures of glycosidases (2002) with Gideon Davies (York University, UK) and protein engineering (2002-2004) with Andreas Plückthun (University of Zürich), the latter as a Human Frontier Science Program postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Zechel started his independent research career in the Department of Chemistry at Queen’s University in 2004 and was promoted to full Professor in 2017. During this time he was twice a visiting professor (2010-11, 2017-18) in the lab of Andreas Bechthold (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) where he did a deep dive into natural product biosynthesis by Streptomyces. Dr. Zechel’s current research focuses on the discovery and characterization of unusual enzyme reactions from microbial biosynthetic and catabolic pathways. His lab has made significant discoveries in the degradation of phosphonates by bacteria, and in the biosynthesis of rare natural products such as fluorometabolites.


Dr. James McLellan

Project Co-Leader

Dr. James McLellan (Sc’81, PhD’90) is the Academic Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Queen’s and a co-founder of the Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative. Prior to joining Queen’s in 1990, he worked for Petro-Canada as a control applications engineer. He is an active researcher and consultant in the fields of statistical model building and process control, working with major companies ranging from biomedical devices, to metals manufacturing and chemical manufacturing processes. Jim is committed to building innovation and entrepreneurship programming at Queen’s and to growing a vibrant entrepreneurial culture in the Kingston region, working with many groups in the Kingston entrepreneurship ecosystem. Jim is cross-appointed to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and to the Dan School of Drama and Music. He collaborates in teaching and research in innovation and pedagogy in the technology and creative arts fields.

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