It is our pleasure to announce the 2018 NSERC and L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Supplement recipient, Dr. Erin McConnell! Erin is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Yingfu Li‘s lab, where she leads a team of researchers who are focused on the development of technologies for the detection of the pathogenic bacteria, Legionella pneumophila, in contaminated water sources. To develop these technologies Erin utilizes functional nucleic acids, a class of small, single-stranded DNA and RNA molecules which are able to specifically detect a target molecule. These functional nucleic acids can be used to build analytical, diagnostic, and therapeutic nanoscale tools.
Erin completed her Ph.D. in chemistry under the supervision of Maria C. DeRosa at Carleton University. Her research focused on the development and use of DNA aptamers, a specific type of nucleic acids, for applications within the central nervous system. She has been actively involved in science outreach and mentorship, volunteering with organizations such as Girl Guides of Canada, Let’s Talk Science, Sanofi Biogenius Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Chemical Institute of Canada, and acting as a research mentor to 28 students ranging in experience from science fair competitors to Ph.D. candidates.