Collaborating globally to make impactful discoveries in biology

Master’s student Daniel Kostyniuk is seen wearing a red lifejacket and holding a large northern pike. To his left is his grandfather, Ernie Shume, wearing a purple baseball cap and looking down at the fish. Behind them, we see Lee River, Manitoba, Canada

Photo by Laura Kostyniuk

Daniel Kostyniuk, supervised by Professor Jan Mennigen

Department of Biology

As a Master’s student working under the supervision of Professor Jan Mennigen, Daniel Kostyniuk conducted research to characterize changes in expression of the liver’s ‘microRNAome’ in rainbow trout under nutritional and social stressors. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNA molecules that function in RNA silencing and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. The hepatic microRNAome represents all the microRNAs expressed in the liver at a given time. Daniel discovered a novel salmonid-specific gene involved in hepatic gluconeogenesis (metabolic pathway that results in the generation of sugars), which he named pck2b. He explored epigenetic mechanisms and their potential contribution to glucose metabolism in rainbow trout, which has implications for sustainability in commercial aquaculture as well as for the advancement of research in comparative physiology and metabolism. This incredibly engaging work allowed Daniel to combine basic comparative research with targeting a specific applied problem.

Prof. Mennigen quickly recognized Daniel as a hard-working and ambitious student. He encouraged Daniel to present his research at various conferences and workshops, including the International Congress of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry in Ottawa and the Canadian Society of Zoology conference in Newfoundland. Moreover, Daniel first- and co-authored a remarkable ten scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. He secured a Mitacs Globalink Research Award, which led him to complete an international internship at the National Institute of Agronomical Research (INRA) in France. Daniel is immensely appreciative of the extraordinary support and mentorship he received from Prof. Mennigen and the entire comparative physiology group at uOttawa, as well as from his INRA lab supervisor Dr. Lucie Marandel and the Nutrition, Metabolism and Aquaculture team at INRA.

After completing his MSc, Daniel decided to pursue career opportunities in industry to broaden his experience and apply his acquired molecular biology skills to solve market problems. He is now a Technical Support Specialist/Lab Technologist at DNA Genotek, an Ottawa-based biotechnology company. Some of his projects include supporting the global fight against COVID-19 with DNA Genotek’s ability to provide safe and convenient biological sample collection.

“An often overlooked part of research is the connections you make along the way. You never know who you may end up collaborating with in the future.” Daniel shares this advice with future students as he reflects on his experience at the University of Ottawa and at the INRA where he met researchers, learned new techniques, and experienced different cultures during his graduate studies.

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