2018 Alumni Awards of Excellence

Alumni Valerie Langlois and David Morris Johnston-Monje posing in front of the uOttawa backdrop with Dean Louis Barriault

David Morris Johnston-Monje, Dean Louis Barriault and Valérie Langlois

Created in 2015, these awards of excellence recognize the outstanding achievements of Faculty of Science alumni. In 2016, the Faculty introduced a new category aimed at recognizing young alumni.

2018 Alumni Award of Excellence

David Morris Johnston-Monje (BSc in Biology, 2001)

Alumni David Johnston-Monje working on samples in a lab

A Canadian citizen, David Morris Johnston-Monje was born in Bogota, Colombia, and grew up in Peru and Jamaica before moving to Ottawa at the age of ten. Perhaps wanting to best his good ol' dad, the meat scientist, David figured out by age 15 that he would study plant biology. He began his profession at the University of Ottawa, focusing on the chemical ecology of medicinal plants with John Arnason, and then undertook a master’s degree in wood genetics at the University of British Columbia with the late Carl Douglas, before earning a PhD in the microbial ecology of maize, studying with Manish Raizada at the University of Guelph. He has further enriched his experience in plant biology by working as a visiting researcher at Biodiversity International in Italy (education policy), at the International Potato Research Institute in Peru (nutrient genetics of potatoes), at EMBRAPA Agrobiology in Brazil (microbial ecology of maize) and most recently at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia (dynamics of plant microbiomes). He conducted post-doctoral research with George Lazarovits at A&L Biologicals, where he focused on discovering what causes an emerging disease called tomato vine decline.

After he discovered that the most abundant parts of the maize microbiome are transmitted through seed, a fact that came as a surprise to the entire field of plant microbial ecology, he went on to help found an endophyte-focused company called Indigo Agriculture, in which he bioprospected for beneficial microbes, studied plant microbiomes, tested formulations for seed inoculants, and assayed plant-microbe interactions in field trials, all with the goal of developing yield-enhancing probiotics for plants. Since its foundation, Indigo Agriculture has become the most well funded agricultural start-up company in the world. David Morris Johnston-Monje has now moved to Cali, Colombia, to study the plant microbial ecology of one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, and is working as Principle Investigator and Max Planck Tandem Group Leader at Universidad del Valle, in cooperation with Paul Schulze-Lefert at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany.

2018 Young Alumni Award of Excellence

Valerie Langlois (BSc in Environmental Science, 2005 - PhD in Biology, 2010)

Valerie Langlois posing in front of a white wall

For over eight years, Valérie Langlois has been an associate professor at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), a graduate university located in beautiful Quebec City. Professor Langlois holds a Canada Research Chair in Ecotoxicogenomics and Endocrine Disruption. She is an ecotoxicologist and animal physiologist who specializes in characterizing the effects and mechanisms of environmental contaminants on non-mammalian species, with a focus on amphibians. Dr. Langlois mainly uses an “omics” approach to address her research questions and she has long worked with contaminants known to be endocrine disruptors. Her research team currently comprises three post-doctoral fellows, six PhD students, two MSc students, one undergraduate and a laboratory manager. She graduated from uOttawa in 2005 with a BSc in environmental science.

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