Science & Tech

The StTEM building
The STEM complex houses the U of O's biophysics labs. Image: University of Ottawa/Provided
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Professors conducting research at these labs include Michel Godin, James Harden, Andrew Pelling, and Vincent Tabard-Cossa

With a multitude of different research labs located across campus, the University of Ottawa ranks amongst the top research universities in Canada. Biophysics, a field that bridges the gap between biology and physics, is a field where numerous advancements are being achieved in U of O labs.

However, if students wish to take a virtual tour of the biophysics lab facilities, they are brought to a highly outdated website where the virtual tour is disabled due to Adobe Flash no longer being supported. The website also lists MacDonald Hall as the location for the labs, which no longer exists. 

The biophysics laboratories are located within the STEM complex located where MacDonald Hall used to stand. Photo: University of Ottawa/Provided

Today, the biophysics laboratories are located within the STEM complex located where MacDonald Hall used to stand. There are four different labs each with a different processor specializing in different research topics in the field.

Professor Vincent Tabard-Cossa’s lab, located within the department of physics, focuses on single-molecule biophysics. His most recent discovery, highlighted back in January, is a tool that makes nanopores more accessible. 

Typically a long, slow process that requires lots of specialized training, the creation of nanopore membranes has been streamlined into a simple automated procedure, significantly reducing production time and allowing for increased throughput. You can learn more about his research on his website.

Professor Godin, another researcher using the labs, specializes in small scale fluidics in biomedical application areas. According to his website, Godin’s lab is involved with multiple projects including microfluidic encapsulation of cells, cell-biomaterial interactions, disease diagnostics with nanopores, and more.

In May and July of this year, Godin and his associates published three scientific journal articles with the latest detailing his discoveries while studying the impact of different factors on the regenerative potential of transplanted heart cells.

The STEM building is also home to professor Andrew Pelling’s lab, which specializes in augmented biology. He has delivered over one hundred keynote speeches around the world and according to his website, the Pelling lab has been featured on numerous news outlets for its work. They have a podcast, Quarantimes, that features each of the lab members and how they are continuing their research during the pandemic.

Finally, there is professor James Harden who focuses on a few major fields including biological physics, biomaterials, and soft condensed matter. His biological physics research includes applications of polymer physics as well as soft nanostructured materials.

All physics research labs are restricted to students and staff who are working directly with the involved professors. The majority of students are in their postgrad, however, it is possible for undergraduate students to obtain lab research opportunities through co-op, work-study, and other available research programs.

While there is currently no virtual tour available on the website, the U of O’s administration is creating a new virtual campus tour, that includes tours of the labs.