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Samir Benlekbir - Cryo-EM facility manager

BSc. (Jean Monnet University, 2003), MSc (Jean Monnet University, 2005), PhD (INSA de Lyon, 2009)
email: sb(at)

Samir joined the group in June 2009. He holds a BSc in Applied Physics, an MSc in Optics, Imaging and Vision, and a PhD in Materials Science.


Sarah Bickers - Graduate Student

BSc. (Waterloo, 2018)
email: sarah.bickers(at)

After an eight month undergraduate co-op placement in the laboratory of Prof. Voula Kanelis in 2017, Sarah joined the Kanelis Laboratory in the University of Toronto's Department of Chemistry with John Rubinstein as her co-supervisor. She holds a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Waterloo. Sarah splits her time between the Kanelis Laboratory at the University of Toronto Mississauga and The Rubinstein Laboratory at The Hospital for Sick Children.

Stephanie Bueler - Research Project Coordinator

BSc (McGill, 2002), MSc (McGill, 2006)
email: stephanie.bueler(at)

Stephanie joined the research group in January 2006 after completing her MSc in Biochemistry. Stephanie runs the group’s biochemistry laboratory.


Claire Coupland - Postdoctoral Fellow

BSc (University of York, 2016), DPhil (Oxford, 2022)
email: claire.coupland(at)

Claire joined the group in December 2022. She holds a BSc and DPhil in Biochemistry, the latter earned for structural studies in the laboratory of Prof. Christian Siebold.


Gautier Courbon - Graduate Student

B.Sc. (McGill, 2019)
email: gautier.courbon(at)

Gautier joined the group in January 2020 after a summer project and a rotation in the laboratory in 2019. He did his BSc in Biochemistry.


Justin Di Trani - Postdoctoral Fellow

B.Sc. (McGill, 2011), PhD (McGill, 2018)
email: justin.ditrani(at)

Justin joined the research group in October 2018 after completing a BSc in Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics and his PhD in Chemistry, specializing in physical biochemistry, in the laboratory of Prof. Anthony Mittermaier.


Kate Huang - Postdoctoral Fellow

B.Sc. (Dalhousie, 2016), PhD (Toronto, 2022)
email: sk.huang(at)

Kate joined the research group in 2022 as a joint postdoctoral fellow working with Lewis Kay and John Rubinstein. After completing a BSc in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Chemistry she earned her PhD in Chemistry using NMR spectroscopy to study GPCRs in the laboratory of Prof. Scott Prosser.


Ryan Karimi - Graduate Student

BSc (UBC, 2021)
email: ryan.karimi(at)

Ryan obtained his BSc in Physics and Chemistry. He joined the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto in 2021 and started working part time in the laboratory in January 2023. He stayed in the laboratory as a summer student for the summer of 2023 before joining as a graduate student in September 2023.


Zhijie Li - Cryo-EM Facility Manager

BSc (Wuhan, 2001),  MSc (Wuhan, 2004), PhD (Toronto, 2015)

Zhijhie joined the cryo-EM facility in 2022. He completed his BSc, MSc, and PhD in Biochemistry. For his PhD he worked with Prof. James Rini using X-ray crystallography and other biophysical tools. As a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Rini he learned how to use cryo-EM and became interested in cryo-EM method development.


Yingke Liang - Graduate Student

BSc (McGill, 2020)
email: yingke.liang(at)

Yingke joined the laboratory in September 2020. She did an Honours Biochemistry BSc at McGill.


Karen O'Brien – Administrative Coordinator 

Theatre Production (Sheridan College 1995)

Public Administration (Ryerson 2007)
email: karen.obrien(at)

Karen joined the group in June 2019 after a career in the arts. She assists with our administrative tasks and provides administrative service to two other groups. 


John Rubinstein - Senior Scientist

BSc (Guelph, 1998), PhD (Cambridge/MRC, 2002)
Canada Research Chair in Electron Cryomicroscopy
email: john.rubinstein(at)

John joined the Molecular Medicine program at SickKids in 2006. Following a BSc in Physical Sciences he did his PhD and a postdoctoral fellowship with Sir John Walker and Richard Henderson, and a second short postdoctoral fellowship at U of T. He is a Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto.


Hanlin Wang - Graduate Student

BSc (UBC, 2020)


Hanlin joined the laboratory in January of 2021. She completed her BSc at The University of British Columbia with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Chemistry.

Lab Alumni (PhD and Postdoctoral)


Prof. Lindsay Baker (website)
PhD Candidate (January 2007 to April 2012). NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Currently: Assistant Professor at Oxford University, Kavli Institute for Nanoscience Discovery.

Dr. Hui Guo

PhD Candidate (January 2016 to April 2022). WP Caven Memorial Fellowship, MBP Excellence Award, OGS International Award, Medical Biophysics PhD Achievement Award 2022. Currently: Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsreid, Germany.

Dr. Jason Koo
Postdoctoral Fellow (December 2012 to December 2015, jointly with Prof. Lynne Howell). Currently: Therapure Biopharma.

Prof. Wilson Lau (website)
PhD Candidate (September 2006 to December 2011). Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Currently: Assistant Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Prof. Michael Latham (website)
Postdoctoral Fellow (July 2008 to November 2014, jointly with Prof. Lewis Kay) NSF and CIHR Fellowships. Currently: Associate Professor, University of Minnesota.

Prof. Mohammad Mazhab-Jafari (website)

Postdoctoral Fellow (September 2014 to September 2017). CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship. Currently: Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Assistant Professor, University of Toronto.

Prof. Zev Ripstein (website)

PhD Candidate (January 2015 to October 2020) Postdoctoral Fellow October 2020 to July 2021). CIHR Doctoral Research Award, NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship, Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Currently: Assistant Professor, University of Manitoba.

Dr. Martin Smith
Postdoctoral Fellow (January 2013 to December 2015). CIHR Fellowship. Currently: Ontario Brain Institute.

Dr. Thamiya Vasanthakumar

PhD Candidate (September 2015 to March 2022). Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Currently: Postdoctoral Fellow, Fred Hutchinson Research Cancer Center, Seattle USA,

Prof. Yong Zi Tan (website)

Postdoctoral Fellow (August 2019 to June 2021). CIHR Fellowship. Currently: Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore.

Prof. Jianhua Zhao (website)
PhD Candidate (January 2011 to January 2016). NSERC Scholarship, Medical Biophysics Excellence Award. Currently: Assistant Professor, Sandford Burnham Prebys Institute, California, USA.

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