Principle Investigator

Alisa Piekny

Current Lab Members

Daniel Beaudet (MSc cand)

Denise Wernike (PhD cand)

Karina Mastronardi (MSc cand)

Former Lab Members

Alexa Mariotti (MSc)

​​Alvaro Marte (BSc)

Chloë van Oostende, PhD (RA)

Connor Mustard (BSc)

Daniel Beaudet (BSc)

Dilan Jaunky (BSc)

Eric Haines (MSc)

George Stylianopoulos (BSc)

Husni Haji Bik (MSc)

Kevin Gomes (BSc)

Madhav Soowamber, MSc (RA)

Marko Gojgic (BSc)

Michael Loloyan (MSc)

Michelle Ricci (BSc)

Melina Jaramillo Garcia (MSc)

Melissa Stutz (BSc)

Mena Kinal (MSc)

Neetha Makil (MSc)

Nellie Fotopoulos (MSc)

Paknoosh Pakarian (MSc)

Paul Frenette (MSc)

Tara Akhshi (MSc, RA)

Younes Medkour (BSc)

Yun Chen (MSc)

Denise Wernike

Alisa Piekny's Lab - Concordia University
CALL US  (514) 848-2424 ext. 5983


PhD Candidate


BA Biology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
BA Romance Philology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Teaching Courses:

Biol 201 - Introductory Biology (TA) 
Biol 261 - Molecular and General Genetics (TA) 
Biol 368 - Genetics and Cell Biology Lab (TA)

Research Interest:

I am currently studying the formation of tissue, also known as morphogenesis, which is crucial for the development of multicellular organisms. Morphogenesis relies on a series of concerted cellular events such as cell shape changes, migration and adhesion. All of these events occur in response to changes in the cell’s architectural network, the cytoskeleton, and are tightly regulated via chemical or mechanical cues that come from neighbouring tissues. Understanding these events can also shed light on our understanding of metastasis, and how cells migrate in the progression of cancers.

In particular, my project aims to understand cytoskeletal-mediated regulation of tissue morphogenesis in metazoans. For my studies, I use Caenorhabditis elegans as a model due to its transparency and simple tissue organization. The nematode is also amenable to a variety of genetic methods, and more than 50% of its genes have human homologues making it an ideal organism to identify conserved mechanisms of morphogenesis.

In C. elegans embryos, I am investigating the mechanics that underlie ventral enclosure, a process where epidermal cells change shape and migrate to cover the embryo’s belly in an epithelium. Epidermal cells use underlying neuroblasts as a substrate, supporting a role for tissue-tissue interactions for this process. While it has been shown that F-actin and the catenin-cadherin complex are required for ventral enclosure, non-muscle myosin, a motor protein that generates contractility, has not been studied in this process. Therefore, my goal is to study the requirements and organization of myosin and its upstream regulators for ventral enclosure in both epidermal and neuroblast tissue.


Time-lapse images obtained via TIRF fluorescence microscopy show a C. elegans embryo during ventral enclosure expressing epidermal F-actin (VAB-10 (ABD):mCherry; red) and non-muscle myosin (NMY-2:GFP; green).​​