Current Lab Members



Chow Chow Officer (CCO) of Derda Lab since July 2017

Click to see more about SVEKY...

SVEKY (a.k.a. Ser-Val-Glu-Lys-Tyr) joined Derda Lab in June 2017 as a 3 months old puppy and quickly rose through the ranks to become the CCO of Derda Lab. She has been named after a peptide sequence SVEKNDQKTYHA featured in numerous publications from Derda Lab:

1. V. Triana, R. Derda*, “Tandem Wittig / Diels-Alder Diversification of Genetically Encoded Peptide Libraries“, Org. Biomol. Chem.2017, 15, 7869-7877

2. Y. Chou, E. N. Kitova , M. Joe, R. Brunton, T. L. Lowary, J. S. Klassen, R. Derda*, ”Genetically-encoded fragment-based discovery (GE-FBD) of glycopeptide ligands with differential selectivity for antibodies related to mycobacterial infections“, Org. Biomol. Chem2018, 16, 223 – 227

3. S Ng, MR Jafari, W Matochko, R Derda* “Quantitative Synthesis of Genetically Encoded Glycopeptide Libraries Displayed on M13 Phage“ ACS Chem. Biol.2012, 7 (9), 1482–1487

4. K. F. Tjhung, F. Deiss, J. Tran, Y. Chou, R. Derda*, “Intra-domain phage display (ID-PhD) of peptides and mini-domain proteins censored from canonical pIII phage display2015 Front. Microbiol6:340.

5. S. Ng, K. F., Tjhung, B. M. Paschal, C. J. Noren, R. Derda*, “Chemical Posttranslational Modification of Phage-Displayed Peptides“, Methods in Molecular Biology, Volume 1248, 2015, pp 155-172


Welcome to Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS), home of Derda Lab


SVEKY in the office working on water quality detection

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SVEKY says “Always wear eye protection when working in the lab”


SVEKY, the CCO: hard day at work..

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SVEKY measuring its melting point

Nicholas Bennett


  • Ph.D., Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  • Post-doctoral fellow in Derda Lab January, 2016-2017
  • Research Associate in Derda Lab since January 2017


Click to see more about Nick...

Nick is developing new technologies and platforms for genetic encoding and presentation of diverse molecular structures on phage. He is applying these technologies to identify ligands for immune lectin DC-SIGN. The ultimate goal of this project is discovery of molecules and constructs that facilitate DC-SIGN-mediated delivery of antigens to dendritic cells, their internalization, processing and subsequent presentation to immune cells.


1. Sattar S., Bennett N.J., Wen, W.X., Guthrie, J.M., Blackwell, L.F., Conway, J.F., Rakonjac, J. (2015) Ff-nano, short functionalized nanorods derived from Ff (f1, fd, or M13) filamentous bacteriophage. Front Microbiol April 20;6(316)

2. Lacbay, C. M., Mancuso, J., Lin, Y. S., Bennett N., Gotte M., Tsantrizos Y. S. (2014). Modular Assembly of Purine-like Bisphosphonates as Inhibitors of HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase. J Med Chem 57(17): 7435-7449.

3. Bennett N, Götte M. (2012) Utility of the Bacteriophage RB69 Polymerase gp43 as a Surrogate Enzyme for Herpesvirus Orthologs.Viruses.  Jan 8;5(1):54-86.

4. Bennett NJ, Gagic D, Sutherland-Smith AJ, Rakonjac J. (2011) Characterization of a dual-function domain that mediates membrane insertion and excision of Ff filamentous bacteriophage. Journal of Molecular Biology. Sep 2;411(5):972-85.

5. Rakonjac J, Bennett NJ, Spagnuolo J, Gagic D, Russel M. (2011) Filamentous bacteriophage: biology, phage display and nanotechnology applications. Current Issues in Molecular Biology. 13(2):51-76.

6. Bennett, N.J. & Rakonjac, J. (2006) Unlocking of the filamentous bacteriophage virion during infection is mediated by the C domain of pIII. Journal of Molecular Biology. 356, 266-273.

Raja-01Raja Mukherjee


  • PhD in Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Chemistry Department in Boston College 2014-2016
Click to see more about Raja...

I am developing new chemical strategies for the synthesis of genetically-encoded macrocycle and bicycle libraries.

I did my doctoral research in synthetic organic chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Amit Basak in the department of chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and post-doctoral research in chemical biology (especially on genetic code expansion) with Prof. Abhishek Chatterjee at the Chemistry Department in Boston College, U.S.A.

In my post doctoral research, I have developed a leucyl amino acyl tRNA synthetase (aaRS) which is orthogonal in mammalian cell and which can thereby site specifically introduce a huge range of cysteine based leucyl type unnatural amino acids (UAA) containing a broad range of bio-othogonal handles like terminal azides, alkynes, alkenes, thiols, alcohols, halides, keto functionalities etc. The incorporation of these UAA’s are proved by protein mass spectroscopy, fluorescent labeling followed by mass spectroscopy and in-gel-fluorescence.

My doctoral research was mainly focused on the area of diradical generating systems, especially their mechanisms and application towards natural product synthesis. I have synthesized a series of 1-indole-3-yl carbazoles by using Garratt-Braverman Cyclization as a key step and extended this strategy towards the synthesis of an advanced intermediate en route to the naturally occurring alkaloid pityriazole. I have studied the AChE (Acetylcholineesterase) inhibition with the synthesized indolocarbazoles. I have also worked on the total synthesis of marine alkaloid analogue 7’-desmethylkealiiquinone of kealiiquinone class. Following the methodology I have also made some advancement towards the synthesis of the natural products of kealiinine family. In the initial year of my Ph.D, I got acquainted with the field of asymmetric catalysis comprising 2, 2’-dihydroxy azobenzene templated peptide based ligand design, synthesis and their application in the asymmetric cyclopropanation of a, b-unsaturated carbonyl systems.

Daniel_Ferrer Daniel Ferrer Vinals


  • B.Sc. in Biochemistry, University of Havana in 2008
  • Ph.D. candidate in Derda Lab since Sept. 2013


Click to see more about Daniel...

Daniel’s research focus involves the development of genetically encoded glycopeptide libraries displayed in M13 phages and the use of these libraries to develop ligands for Galectin-3 protein.

Daniel has obtained his Bsc in Biochemistry from the University of Havana, Cuba in 2008. After completing his undergraduate training, Daniel  worked for a Biotech company in Havana, Cuba (Heber-Biotec.Sa) working for to the Clinical Research division on custom biochemical analysis of biological samples from clinical trials of biotech drugs. In the fall 2013  he joined to the Graduate Program of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta, and started to work within  Dr. Derda’s group  as a graduate student, since September,2013. Daniel has obtained a Visiting Research Scholar Position within Derda lab for the period October,2012  until April, 2013  as he was awarded with one of the Emerging Leaders for Americas Program scholarships, funded by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) from Government of Canada.



P Kitov, D F Vinals , S Ng , K F Tjhung , and R Derda “Rapid, Hydrolytically Stable Modification of Aldehyde-terminated Proteins and Phage Libraries”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136, 8149–8152.

jeffJeffrey (Ying Kit) Wong


  • B.Sc., University of Alberta (2016)
  • PhD Candidate in Derda Lab since Sept. 2016


Click to see more about Jeffrey...

Jeffrey is employing genetically-encoded chemical libraries to identify early drug leads that inhibit anti-tumor protein Nodal

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 12.35.31 PMYuki Kamijo


  • M.Sc., Applied Biological Sciences, Gifu University, Gifu, Japan (2016)
  • B.Sc., Applied Biological Sciences, Gifu University, Gifu, Japan.
  • Graduate student in Derda Lab since Sept. 2016
Click to see more about Yuki...

Yuki is developing new microfluidics and microdroplet-based technology for selection of genetically-encoded libraries, to study nucleation of supercooled water. Yuki is also supervising high school students in project related to heterogeneous and light-directed water nucleation. Yuki’s awards include Silver medal of iGEM2014 Competition, “Circular mRNA – the world’s longest protein”, October 2014, (Boston, USA) and Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) Student Exchange Support Program Scholarship in September, 2015.

MiratMirat Sojitra


  • B.Sc., University of Alberta 2017
  • Graduate student in Derda Lab since Jan. 2018
Click to see more about Mirat...

Mirat is working on genetically-encoded chemical libraries and discovery of instructive biomaterials.


Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 9.54.47 AMJasmine Maghera


  • Summer Research Fellow, 2017
  • Undergraduate research assistant 2017-2018
Click to see more about Jasmine..

Jasmine is developing next generation glycan array technology called “liquid glycan array”.

High-School Outreach with Harry Ainlay School

2017-2018: Zanib Pannu*,  Yi Meng Wang*, Jesse Lee *Sanofi BioGenius Canada 2018

Click to see more about Zanib, Yi Meng, and Jesse...

Zanib Pannu and  Yi Meng Wang, joined the lab in October 2017 and worked on project that aims to identify ice-nucleating bacteria and peptides. The team participated in 2018 Sanofi Biogenius Canada competition at the University of Alberta in April, 2018.

Jesse Lee joined the project for a few months in summer 2018 and helped developing emulsion-based screening for ice nucleators

2016-2017: Simran Dhillon*, Siddhant Gautam*, Denny Zhang* and Andre Truksa *Sanofi BioGenius Canada 2017 

Click to see more about Simran, Siddhant, Denny and Andre...

Simran Dhillon, Siddhant Gautam, and Xibu (Denny) Zhang joined the lab in October 2016 and worked on project that aims to identify ice-suppressing peptides. The team participated in 2017 Sanofi Biogenius Canada competition at the University of Calgary on April 13th, 2017.

Andre Truksa joined the project in May 2017

2014-2016: Rifah Chowdhury, Preet Lat, Garrett Corkey and Hallie Trono

Click to see more about Rifah, Preet, Garrett and Hallie...

High School students Rifah Chowdhury, Preet Lat joined Derda Lab as research volunteers in Fall 2014 and they worked on development of portable diagnostics for detection of antibiotics resistant bacteria.

In Fall 2015 to Fall 2016, Rifah Chowdhury, Preet Lat and two new high school students Garrett Corkey and Hallie Trono volunteer in the Derda Lab in a research project that aimed to identify materials that trigger freezing of supercooled water.


In 2017 Rifah Chowdhury and  Preet Lat graduate from high school and joined University of Alberta for their undergraduate studies. Preet continues her research volunteer position in Derda group working on phage-based selection of ice nucleation agents.

2013-2015: Patricia Yan and Amy Li *Sanofi BioGenius Canada 2015 winners

Click to see more about Patricia and Amy...

Fall 2013 to Spring 2015, Patricia Yan and Amy Li, high school students from Harry Ainlay High School, volunteer in the Derda Lab. They were involved in the development of the electrochemical detection of bacteria in paper-based culture devices. Patricia Yan and Amy Li were the winners of the  Sanofi BioGenius Canada competition in 2015 (1st and 2nd place at the All-Alberta competition!) and they represented Alberta in all-Canadian Sanofi BioGenius competition.


Amy Patricia Freddie

2012-2014 Jessica Wickware* and Falak Shah *Sanofi BioGenius Canada 2014 winner

Click to see more about Jessica and Falak...

Jessica and Falak joined the group in 2012 and worked on portable bacteria culture devices. In 2014, Jessica worked on paper based culture of cancer cells. In 2014, Jessica was a winner of Sanofi BioGenius Canada all-Alberta competition and represented Alberta on All-Canadian Sanofi BioGenius competition. Jessica started her undergraduate degree at the university of Alberta in 2014 and she continued her undergraduate research project in Derda Lab. From 2014 to 2017, she supervised research projects of over 10 high school students.

2011-2012 Ally Wu, Eszter Szepesvari, Pavitra Rajendran, Nicholas Kwan-Wong

Click to see more about Ally, Eszter, Pavitra and, Nick...

Fall 2011 to Summer 2012, four high school students–Ally Wu, Eszter Szepesvari, Pavitra Rajendran, Nicholas Kwan-Wong–were involved in development of portable diagnostic devices for developing countries. They were co-authors on the manuscript in Lab on a Chip:

MF Huacca, A Wu, E Szepesvari, P Rajendran, N Kwan-Wong, A Razgulin, Y Shen, J Kagira, R Campbell, R Derda* “Portable cultures for phage and bacteria made of paper and tapeLab Chip2012, 12, 4269-4278

Ally, Eszter, Pavitra, and Nick continue their undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta.

Derda Lab High School-Students