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Katherine Duncan

Katherine R. Duncan MChem AMRSC
Research Interests:
Investigating actinobacterial diversity from sediments as a source of bioactive secondary metabolites.
K. Duncan1, B. Haltli2, R. Kerr1, 2
1. Department of Biomedical Science, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown. PEI.
2. Department of Chemistry, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown. PEI.
Prokaryotic microorganisms represent the largest reservoir of generic diversity on Earth and provide the highest potential for producing bioactive metabolites, enzymes and polymers with extensive biotechnological applications. Approximately 60% of antibiotics are derived from microbial natural products thus highlighting the importance of investigating microbial species and metabolic diversity. Marine microbial communities account for more than 80% of life on earth, providing a vast resource for bioprospecting and drug discovery.
The marine environment provides a variety of unique, relatively unexplored habitats which harbor a plethora of organisms yet to be studied thus providing a huge potential for the discovery of novel bioactive natural products. Sediment from Atlantic Canada has not been extensively studied in comparison to tropical habitats, additionally; the extreme environmental conditions which prevail in Atlantic Canada undoubtedly exert significant influence on bacterial species and secondary metabolic diversity.
Filamentous actinomycetales produce over forty-five percent of all bioactive microbial metabolites, many of which have been applied in drug discovery programs against various therapeutic targets. Marine Actinobacteria are numerous, and have been less extensively exploited than their terrestrial counterparts, thus they present an opportunity from which to discover novel chemistry. Sediment samples from the Bay of Fundy (New Brunswick); Bonne Bay (Newfoundland) and San Salvador (Bahamas) have great potential to yield unique actinobacterial species, which will in turn provide a novel source of biologically active natural products.
Culture-independent techniques have been employed to assess the actinobacterial diversity present in each sample. Additionally, cultivable actinobacterial diversity has been studied by employing two pre-treatment methods and several specific isolation media, the resulting isolates will be taxonomically identified by 16S rRNA gene analysis, and this taxonomic understanding will be used to prioritize culture fermentation and extraction. Bioassay guided fractionation (antimicrobial) will be carried out to focus on extracts of interest, followed by LC-MS chromatographic analysis to profile their chemical diversity. Structures of active compounds demonstrating chemical novelty will be elucidated by NMR spectroscopy. 
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Travel award 2012
Graduate student travel award, Student Union, UPEI 2012
Let's Talk Science National Post-Secondary Volunteer of the Year Award, Nomination 2012
Graduate student travel award, Office of Graduate Studies, UPEI. 2012
Innovation PEI PhD Fellowship 2011-2012
International Fees Scholarship, Department of Biomedical Sciences 2010-2011
International Fees Scholarship, Department of Biomedical Sciences 2009-2010
International Fees Scholarship, Department of Biomedical Sciences 2008-2009
Departmental award (Chemistry), University of Aberdeen 2004
Graduate Courses:
Medicines from the sea
Principles of biomedical science
Directed Studies: Current trends in marine biotechnology
PhD Comprehenisve Exam:
Completed May 2010
Topic: Metagenomic profiling of bacterial diversity and polyketide metabolic potential in Arctic sediments.
Conferences & workshops attended:
May 2011: Graduate student recognition day, UPEI. poster presentation.
May 2011: Graduate student & research days, UPEI, Oral presentation                                                                                                     February 2011: Bioprosp. Tromso, Norway, Poster presentation.
February 2011: Bioprosp. Tromso, Norway, Oral presentation (selected from abstract)
November 2010: Applied Maths Bionumerics Workshop, Austin TX.
June 2010: Maritimes marine natural product conference, UPEI, Oral presentation
June 2009: Maritimes marine natural product conference, UPEI, Oral presentation
May 2009: Graduate student & research days, UPEI, Oral presentation
May 2008: Graduate student & research days, UPEI. Oral presentation
PhD in Biomedical sciences (in progress) September 2008-Present
University of Prince Edward Island, PE, Canada.
Masters International Research Project in Marine Natural Products 2005
Florida Atlantic University, FL, USA.
Royal Society of Chemistry accredited 5 years Masters degree in Chemistry (MChem) 2000-2005
University of Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Work Experience:
Research & Development Chemist

Baker Petrolite

Chemist (III)
University of Aberdeen
Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
Analytical Chemist
Researching elemental composition of sediment from Aberdeen Harbour
Volunteer Work
Let's Talk Science
November 2009 - present
NRC-INH (national research council institute for nutrition & health)
October 2008 & October 2010
Chemistry at Work
Aberdeen University / MI SWACO
September 2008
University of Aberdeen
Chemisty Department Open Day
Tour Guide
Canadian Society of Biochemistry, Molecular & Cellular Biology
April 2011 - present
Royal Society of Chemistry
Associate Member
September 2007 - present
Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS)
September 2007 - present
Royal Society of Chemistry
Affiliate Member
September 2000 - September 2007
Additional Activities
VP External UPEI GSA
Vice president of external affairs for the University of Prince Edward Island Graduate Student Association
April 2011 - present
UPEI Sustainability committee
member of the University of Prince Edward Island sustainablity committee
April 2011 - present
Graduate student & research days
Moderator for Fish Health & Marine Research oral presentations.
13th May 2011
Graduate Student Recognition Day
Moderator for oral presentations
25th May 2011