Current Lab Members

Marcus Dillon, Principal Investigator (he/him) [CV]


I am an evolutionary geneticist and microbiologist focussing primarily on how infectious diseases emerge via critical evolutionary transitions. I received my BA in Biology from Wake Forest University in 2011 and my PhD in Microbiology from the University of New Hampshire in 2016. Between 2016 and 2020, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto St. George. I joined the University of Toronto Mississauga as an Assistant Professor in July 2020. Over the past decade, my research has been published in a wide range of journals, including Genetics, Evolution, Genome Biology, and Science. In my spare time, I like to stay active alongside family and friends, with whom I can be irritatingly competitive. I consider myself somewhat of a professional lawn games player.


Hind Emad, Postdoctoral Fellow (she/her)

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto Mississauga studying how environmental stressors impact plant physiology and host-microbe interactions. I obtained my BSc in Biology, MSc in Microbiology, and PhD in Biotechnology from the University of Khartoum where I was also a member of the academic teaching staff. In 2019, I moved to the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Germany as a Postdoctoral Fellow. I joined Department of Biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga in 2021. Beyond research and teaching, I enjoy cooking and spending time with family and friends.


Viplav Agrawal, PhD Student (he/him)

I am a PhD student in the University of Toronto Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) program studying the evolution of type III secreted efectors in Xanthomonas species and the impact of effective populations size on the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Escherichia coli. I previously completed my integrated BSc-MSc degree from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Bhopal, India. Outside of the lab, my other interests include quizzing, PC gaming, and crime fiction.


Tsz Chung (David) ChanPhD Student (he/him)

I am a PhD student studying the evolutionary dynamics that enable bacterial infections to emerge in different environmental and biological conditions. My research background is in ecology, having earned my BSc in 2018 and my MSc in 2021 from the University of Hong Kong (HKU), where I focused on the population genetics of the American goldfinch. Following my MSc, I worked at HKU's School of Public Health, investigating the genomics of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in human, food, and farm samples. During my spare time, I enjoy music, photography, and birdwatching.


Elise Bull, MSc Student (she/her)

I am a MSc student in the University of Toronto Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) program studying how virulence factor diversification in strains of Xanthomonas campestris contribute to patterns of host specificity using a genome-wide association approach. Prior to working in the Dillon Lab, I completed my Honours BSc at the University of Windsor in Behaviour, Cognition and Neuroscience. Outside of the lab, I am an avid concert goer, and like to stay active by playing badminton and going to the gym.


Mateja Perc, Undergraduate (he/him)

I am a third-year undergraduate student specializing in molecular biology with a particular interest in plant physiology and genetics. My research focusses on investigating interactions between diverse type III secreted effectors and the plant immune system. Specifically, I am developing a high-throughput assay to screen for effector trigerred immune interactions between the pathogen Xanthomonas campestris and the model host Arabidopsis thalianaOutside of the lab, I enjoy spending as much time as possible outdoors being active and taking in the sun. 


Sean Yam, Undergraduate (he/him)

I am a third-year undergraduate student specializing in biotechnology with a particular interest in synthetic biology. My research focusses on investigating virulence interactions between diverse Xanthomonas pathogens and the plant host Arabidopsis thaliana. Specifically, I am exploring how various virulence factors contribute to host specificity in different A. thaliana cultivars using a combination of wet-lab and computational approaches. Outside of the lab, I can be found watching anime or playing video games with friends.

Sienna Valley, Undergraduate (she/her)

I am a fourth-year undergraduate student specializing in molecular biology with a keen interest in pathogens and their interactions with plant hosts. My research focusses on the regulation of plant metabolites in response to infection by bacterial pathogens, with a particular focus on the role of small molecules in plant responses to host invasion. I am also interested in gene therapy and its potential for targeting treatment-resistance diseases. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy drawing, painting, crocheting, and watching my favourite shows.


We are a new and growing research group with multiple funded positions available to study the evolutionary genomics of disease emergence in microbial pathogens. I am always excited to discuss current opportunities in the Dillon Lab. You can find more information about these opportunities here.



Jacy Newfeld, MSc Student (2021-2023)

Affan Ahmed, Undergraduate (2022-2023)

Simran Rakhra, Undergraduate (2022-2023)

Zain Nassrullah, Undergraduate (2021-2023)

Rachel Stubits, Undergraduate (2021-2022)

Erka Shata, Undergraduate (2021-2022)

Nial Navaratne, Undergraduate (2021-2022)

Elana Maria, Undergraduate (2021-2022)

Joshua Hung, Undergraduate (2020-2021)