Dr. Hernandez Office Hours for Fall 2019: Mon-Wed- Fri: 9:40 – 11:20 am. Other times can be arranged by making an appointment.
Biology Department Office: Building 370 room 117
COURSES FALL 2019: BIOL 210 Microbiology I, BIOL 336 Bacterial Genetics
COURSES SPRING 2020: BIOL 211 Microbiology II, BIOL 436 Pathogenic Microbiology
BIOL 491 : My areas of Interest for Undergraduate Research Projects
Antibiotic resistance in potentially pathogenic bacteria has been the subject of attention in the news for a few years now. Although there has always been antibiotic resistant strains in nature, there seems to be an unusually large increase in the amount of antibiotic resistant strains in heavily populated areas. There are many explanations for this surge, one of which is the widespread overuse of antibiotics. My main research interest is to determine how common are antibiotic resistant strains in the urban environment, and in the future try to identify underlying factor that contribute to this problem. Another aspect of my research interest, involves the study of the effect that the use of antibacterial products may be having in the same population of bacterial strains. Are we going to see an increase in the number of “antibacterial products” resistant bacteria? Some recent research has suggested a correlation between the use of “antimicrobial products” and antibiotic resistance. In some instances, it seems that genes associated with antibiotic resistance may be linked to genes that convey “antimicrobial products” resistance. Another interesting project (a research collaboration with Dr. John Amaral) is the survival of S. aureus (and MRSA) on different materials which was initially the undergraduate research work of our students Fernando Polanco and Danielle Peters.
Recently, I have started to look for MRSA and the presence of additional virulence genes such as the leukocydin toxin PVL among Staphylococcus spp. isolate from the environment and samples isolate from volunteers noses. My BIOL 491student Cole Van Pykstra compared nursing students with biology students for the carriage of this bacteria in their noses and found that the % of MRSA carriers were well within the Canadian average. This project was followed up by the student Tristan Douglas (2014-2015) , who collected samples from these students again to determine if the % carriers changes after the nursing students start their practical work in health care facilities. The results of this project did not show a significant increase of MRSA carriage on the students sampled
Recently Dr John Amaral and myself started to co-supervise student research involving the detection of Extended Beta-lactam resistance among coliform bacteria. The 1st project (2014-2015) had the student Dilbir Parmar collecting water samples from lakes in the Nanaimo area to determine if there was evidence of Extended Beta-lactam resistance among the coliform bacteria isolate on these water samples. A number of isolates showed resistance to Carbapenems (specific type of B-lactam antibiotic). We are also interested in studying the effect of treatment of sewage water at the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Centre in the elimination of Extended Spectrum Beta-lactamase (ESBLs) genes as well as a the methicillin resistance encoding MecA, which is typically associated with MRSA.
In the past few years our student Graeme Benzie (2015-2017) focused his research in the detection of specific genes encoding for Extended Spectrum Beta-lactamases (ESBLs) in samples collected from Sewage from the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Center. These enzymes give the bacteria that produces them the ability to inactivate all currently used beta-lactam antibiotics, thus make them the potential to become “superbugs”. This project was continued by the student Jake Baas (2016-2017). Jake collected a number of samples during the summer and fall months to determine if there are fluctuations in the presence of these bacteria between the summer and fall. In (2017-2018) the student Scott Britney looked for evidence of these genes on differently treated sewage water as well as in samples of recreational waters around Nanaimo. The student Hailey Tomm (2016-2017) worked on the detection of the MecA and the specific S. aureus associated pvl gene in samples collected from Sewage from the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Center. Jeremy Kalicum (2017-2018) studied the effect of the treatment on the ability to detect these genes in the waste water samples and also looked for these genes recreational waters. Although the ESBLs & MecA were detected on the waste water, none of the recreational water samples tested positive for these genes. In the year (2018-19) students Trevor Michalchuk & Chase Ennis were looking looking for evidence of antibiotic resistance genes in soil samples and commercially available meat samples, respectively. Trevor was able to detect ESBLs on the soils of some public parks and trails in the Nanaimo region. Chase found ESBLs on several of the meat & poultry samples tested, but interestingly enough none of the locally produced meat samples was positive for these genes. The last phase of this ongoing project will involve testing household kitchen sponges donated by students & faculty. The student Andre Gauvin (2019-2020) will be testing DNA extracted from the biological material in the sponges for the presence of both ESBLs and MecA genes.
HOWEVER: If you have some interesting idea and you would like to work with me for you BIOL 491 project , I would be prepare to consider it as long as you have done some preliminary literature research on the subject and have some specific experiment in mind. Just follow the link below to check the complete list of projects that I had supervised over the 18 years I had been here at VIU