The Rainey Lab
Dal logo Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada


I arrived as a faculty member at Dal in November 2006, and am also new to Atlantic Canada. Halifax is a really picturesque and historic city with more than its fair share of restaurants, as far as I can tell. I'm also looking forward to exploring more of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. The little guy in the photo with me is Donovan - there are some more photos of him under the "Photos" link.

Before moving to Nova Scotia's capital, I was the last postdoctoral fellow in the no longer existing Protein Engineering Network of Centres of Excellence in Brian Sykes' laboratory at the Univeristy of Alberta, located in Alberta's beautiful capital city - Edmonton. Our work concentrated on using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine the three-dimensional arrangement and motion of atoms within membrane proteins. Proteins we studied included the mammalian Na+/H+ exchanger, E. coli membrane proteins, apolipoprotein-E nanodisks, and model membrane-spanning helices. The underlying goal was development of methods to allow succesful structural study of diverse classes of membrane proteins.

Prior to moving to Edmonton, I spent four years in the sprawling, but highly enjoyable, metropolis of Toronto. This is not entirely coincidentally the capital of Ontario - my wife Mary Ellen was an economist with the Ontario Ministry of Finance, followed by Alberta Finance. In Toronto, I did a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry under the supervision of Cynthia Goh at the University of Toronto. My focus was on understanding the self-assembly of collagen (which is a rather large protein) into complex fibrous structures resembling those found in skin, tendon, and other tissue. We employed physical techniques such as atomic force microscopy and a variety of spectroscopic techniques alongside bioinformatics styled statistical analyses.

As an undergrad, Guelph, Ontario was my home for close to five years. Here I did a B.Sc. in Biochemistry with a biomedical science focus (at the time, I wanted to be a vet) along with a bunch of extra chemistry courses, which came as a result of spending 8 months at DuPont Canada Research  as a co-op student, plus 4 months each at the University of Toronto and at Cornell University. All of this finally led me to grad school, instead of vet school. All in all, the University of Guelph treated me pretty well. This amazing city still has a strong lure for me - as I know it does for many fellow alumni.

Before all this went on, I grew up in the fairly quiet, very scenic city of Kingston, Ontario. This was really nice not only for its setting at the junction of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, its proximity (by Eastern Ontario standards!) to Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, and a lot of outdoorsy stuff in the Canadian shield (such as Algonquin Park) or Northern New York state's Adirondack Mountains, but also because we could take advantage of lots that  Queen's University had to offer. Since my dad (Trevor) taught computer engineering at St. Lawrence College, I also started playing with computers at a very early age (with a good old Commodore VIC 20 to start with), and did spend a fair bit of time around the electronics, instrumentation and computer labs at St. Lawrence. My mom (Joan) and dad immigrated to Kingston from Northern Ireland several years before I was born. Since the rest of the family was/is still in the Ireland/UK area, I've spent more than my fair share of time in those lovely islands.

Outside of science, things that I enjoy are canoeing, hiking, backcountry camping, cooking new things, playing piano and listening to music, golfing, and seeing new places (which can often be combined with science, fortunately). I am now also working on mastering kendo, a traditional form of Japanese sword fighting. I guess spending time with Donovan would also count. <grin>

Last Update: Nov 2 2006