J Andrew Alexander

Research Topic

Understanding and combating antibiotic resistance

Research Group

Centre for Blood Research

Research Description

Expanding antimicrobial resistance is threatening to undo the advances of modern medicine. If we lack effective antibiotics, risks of infection and mortality in situations ranging from a simple cut to a standard surgery, or to patients undergoing chemotherapy, will dramatically increase. Indeed, we are already seeing ever-increasing levels of antibiotic resistance around the world. In my PhD research I aim to better understand how antibiotic resistance works at a molecular level. By understanding how molecules interact to facilitate or prevent antibiotic resistance, I hope to improve our understanding of microbes, as well as aid in the development of novel antibiotics.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

There are many amazing aspects of graduate school; constantly learning and interacting with interesting people is a great privilege. However, I particularly enjoy discussing evolving and exciting science, thinking up new experiments, analysing and interpreting experimental results, and working with talented and similarly driven people.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The graduate residence Green College has been an incredibly marvellous place to live while pursuing my graduate degree. One of the many things that is so outstanding about Green College is the opportunity to interact on a regular basis with people who are studying subjects outside my own discipline. The rare opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics with people from diverse backgrounds, combined with several interdisciplinary lecture series and a supportive, close-knit community, makes Green College a truly outstanding place to live.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I was interested in working with my supervisor, Dr Natalie Strynadka, who is a world leading expert in structurally characterizing proteins involved in pathogenesis and antibiotic resistance. Another factor in my decision to study here is that UBC has an excellent reputation for research in the life sciences and ranks among the top universities in the world.

 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

For me, graduate school is a wonderful opportunity to explore interesting questions about how biological processes work. I was fortunate enough to gain research experience during my undergraduate degree: this opportunity was instrumental to my decision to pursue a graduate degree. As a graduate student, it is a great privilege to be able to constantly learn while pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Hopefully I will be able to contribute something valuable to society as I pursue my PhD.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I like to take advantage of the nature surrounding UBC: Vancouver is in the middle of some great hiking trails. I am also a member of the UBC sailing club, and enjoy sailing and hiking with friends when I have the chance. I also like to read everything from novels and biographies, to books on politics and current affairs.

 
 

The rare opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics with people from diverse backgrounds, combined with several interdisciplinary lecture series and a supportive, close-knit community, makes Green College a truly outstanding place to live.