Trainee Information

Congratulations on your successful application!

Please find the details regarding your award dispersal and program requirements at the links below.

It is your responsibility to keep up-to-date with the terms and conditions described in the most current version of the program guidelines including any amendments to these documents.

University of Lethbridge

Université de Sherbrooke

Trainee Travel Award

More information to come. Check back soon!

RNA Innovation Current Trainees

Preethi Seelam Prabhakar
Wetmore Lab, University of Lethbridge
Joined RNA Innovation September 2019

I’m Preethi, a post-doctoral fellow in the Wetmore lab at the University of Lethbridge. My current research focuses on understanding the impact of post-transcriptional modifications on tRNA structure.

My background is in biochemistry and my first experience related to research in life sciences was while undertaking my masters in biochemistry, studying life from the molecular perspective. I was really intrigued by how every molecule has its own role to play in biology in an orchestrated fashion. In grad school, my research involved RNA structural bioinformatics. After PhD, while looking to broaden my research area, I found myself fascinated by scientific contributions of the Wetmore lab in answering the most pressing questions related to nucleic acids. I am excited to learn new things and understand the molecular details of the nucleic acids, especially the functional RNA molecules.

The Wetmore lab is a strong computational research group with a broad range of interests related to nucleic acids. The lab provides the opportunity to work with novel computational techniques and provides opportunities to learn new skills. The Wetmore lab actively contributes to the scientific community through its scientific interactions and group meetings.

The Wetmore lab is my first international working experience and I find it very refreshing to work with friendly and cooperative people. We constantly help each other in improving our scientific skills and moving forward constructively. We also like to ignite research interest in high school students and undergraduates who may be interested in discovering the secrets of life. Our group effort in happy hours helps take the edge off from the stress of research and refreshes us so we can tackle problems in research.


Sydnee Calhoun
Wieden Lab, University of Lethbridge
Joined RNA Innovation in May 2019

My name is Sydnee Calhoun and I am a first year Master’s student in the lab of Dr. Hans-Joachim Wieden. I decided to apply to be a part of CREATE as it combines my interests in science, communication, teamwork, and the application of science to identified problems. I am excited to work with my cohort on our deepYellow challenge and learn more about the diversity within the scientific industries. Outside of CREATE, I have been a part of the Lethbridge iGEM program since 2015 and I am excited to build upon the existing skills I have developed in iGEM through RNA Innovation.

Matthew Stuart-Edwards
Zovoilis Lab, University of Lethbridge
Joined RNA Innovation May 2019

I grew up in the small town of Morden, Manitoba before going to the University of Manitoba for my Bachelor of Computer Science degree. I worked co-op jobs at Resarch In Motion (now Blackberry), Frantic Films, and the National Microbiology Laboratory where I was introduced to the exciting field of Bioinformatics. I now live in Lethbridge with my wife, two huskies, cat and two gerbils. Because Bioinformatics is a multi-disciplinary field with a wide variety of uses, I joined the CREATE program to gain an understanding of what problems are being solved right now in the entrepreneurial side of things so I can better understand where my specific talents would be most useful.

My interests include ultimate (frisbee), curling, taekwondo, jogging/hiking (with my huskies), listening to podcasts (usually while jogging) and reading fantasy novels.

Kristi Turton
Wieden Lab, University of Lethbridge
Joined RNA Innovation in September 2019

I am a first year master’s student in Dr. HJ Wieden's lab at the University of Lethbridge studying biochemistry. I am currently working on a project related to bacterial micro compartments in an application based setting. In the third year of my undergraduate I fell in love with synthetic biology and have been working with the Lethbridge iGEM teams ever since. Besides science, I love playing musical instruments, singing and chugging coffee.


Keith Aubrey
Thakor Lab, University of Lethbridge
Joined RNA Innovation May 2019

I have always been interested in synthetic biology, specifically to make useful compounds from genetically modified organisms. My current primary project in Dr Nehal Thakor's lab focuses on making biodegradable bioplastics and fuel (biodiesel) from modified bacteria. For this purpose I aim to implement riboswitches to control the expression of enzymes involved in the creation of bioplastics and biodiesels to optimize enzyme expression in the bacteria.

Gayatri Namala
Kothe Lab, University of Lethbridge
Joined RNA Innovation May 2019

My name is Gayatri Devi and I completed my Masters in Biochemistry from the Indian Institute of Science. Currently i am doing my PhD student under the supervision of Ute Kothe at University of Lethbridge. Based on my long-standing interest in the biological sciences and its applications, the RNA Innovation program fascinates me as it introduces a new stream to graduate studies. In this program, I will get significant experience in team work, time management and leadership. This program will definitely serve a bridge between academics and industry thereby opening better and more career opportunities for me. Biotech industries are producing cutting-edge research and applications, and it would be a great distinction for me to be a part of this program and to learn in both an academic and industry setting.

Prakash Chukka
Wetmore & Thakor Labs, University of Lethbridge
Joined RNA Innovation September 2019

I’m Prakash and I am a M.Sc. graduate student in Biochemistry, co-supervised by Dr. Nehal Thakor and Dr. Stacey Wetmore at the University of Lethbridge. My present work is aimed at finding a potential drug target for EIF5B initiation factor using computational and biochemical methods. Previously, I worked as a Scientist at Biocon Research Limited, India. Working in the industry made me realize the need for bridging the gap between academia and industry. I believe RNA Innovation is an ideal program, which mainly aims to ligate industry and academia. I believe that the research and professional skills that I develop in RNA Innovation will make me more confident in achieving my career goals both in academia and industry.