Alex Culley


Assistant Professor

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A critical aspect to predicting the breadth and magnitude of the impact of climate change in the Arctic is elucidating how the organisms endemic to this region are being affected. As in the majority of ecosystems on Earth, the most abundant and diverse groups of biological entities in the Arctic are the microbes. The overarching objective of my research program is to characterize the diversity and dynamics of viruses that infect microbes and elucidate their role in Arctic microbial ecology. For more, please click here.


Miriam Labbe

PhD Candidate

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I graduated from UL with a BSc in Microbiology in Spring 2015 and joined the ViDEL shortly after. My Phd project focuses on the diversity of viruses infecting phytoplankton near Ward Hunt Island in the Canadian Arctic where the effects of the climate change are drastically transforming the environment and giving access to ecological data that had been isolated from the atmosphere and oceans for centuries. The project involves a broad metagenomics approach through next-generation sequencing, characterization and isolation of virus-host systems and identification of auxiliary metabolic genes crucial for viral infection.

Outside of the lab, I enjoy traveling and learning languages: I spent a semester at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium in Fall 2014 and travelled a few times in Europe and Amercia(s). I am currently learning Hungarian and should definitely practice my Spanish and German more often!


Alice Lévesque

Master's student

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I grew up in Chicoutimi (Saguenay) where I have spent all my life. In 2012, I moved to Quebec City to study Microbiology at Laval University. I completed my degree in 2015 and I have now started a master’s degree in Microbiology with Dr. Alexander Culley as director and Dr. Warwick Vincent as co-director who are professors in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Bio-informatics and Department of Biology, respectively. Previously, I did a research project in the summer of 2013 at Héma-Québec in which I worked to optimize a cord blood sterility test. The next summer, I participated in another research project in the ViDEL (!!!) in which I investigated the diversity of viruses in the St-Lawrence River. My specific objective was to characterize the diversity of large viruses with DNA genomes that infect phytoplankton in the three major salinity zones of the St-Lawrence. My master’s project will focus on the diversity and dynamic of viruses in microbial mats in northern lakes (thermokarst) of the Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik region. Outside of work, my interests include travelling, tv shows (Game of Thrones forever), reading and animals! A part of me always wanted to go study biology…but viruses are the best.

Perrine Cruaud

Postdoctoral Fellow

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Following my PhD in environmental microbiology at the French marine institute IFREMER and my postdoctoral position in molecular biology and bioinformatics at the French agronomic institute INRA, I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the research groups of Alexander Culley, Manuel Rodriguez, Caetano Dorea and Steve Charette. My present research projects are focused on the dynamics of the microbial communities that inhabit one of the main drinking water sources of Quebec City: the Saint-Charles River. Based on water samples collected over a one-year period, this characterization of the freshwater microbial communities should allow us to identify the environmental factors (climatic or anthropogenic) that shape the microbial diversity and activity in this environment. Part of my project is also to identify any potential dangerous bacteria in the drinking water source of Quebec City and to adapt decontamination techniques in drinking-water treatment plants. A large part of my job requires the application of DNA sequencing technologies from sampling to statistical analyses, including DNA extraction, and development of powerful bioinformatics tools to analyze the large datasets generated. All of these tools allow me to better understand the roles of microbial communities in overall ecosystem functioning and their amazing adaptations to live and survive under various environmental conditions. I really enjoy developing tools to explore this invisible world thanks to the detection of some of their even smaller molecular compounds. In the end, I wish my work could contribute to a better understanding of the world around us. (Photo Ville de Québec).

Valérie Langlois


Master's student

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Since I was little I always had so many questions about every living thing and I  always wanted to discover something new. I always loved learning about ecology and I can’t wait to discover how viruses play a role in the northern environment. I was born and grew up in Québec City where I studied biology at Université  Laval. I graduated in 2014 and started a second BSc in Bioinformatics in the fall of 2016. I am now joining ViDEL to pursue a Master’s degree project focused on the viral ecology of microbial mats under the direction of Dr. Alexander Culley (director) and Dr. Warwick Vincent (co-director). My project is a comparative study of viral populations in microbial mats in thermokarst lakes in the region of  Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik and Ward Hunt Island. Given that thermokarst lakes are significant contributors to global warming, understanding the diversity and dynamics of these microbial populations might give us key information about what we can expect going forward. Outside the lab, I enjoy sports and travelling. I did competitive cheerleading and figure skating for years. I also love to be near water, there are no troubles in life that a walk or a short stay on the side of a lake/river/the ocean can’t help to make better.


Marie-Stéphanie Fradette


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Even as a child, the sciences, and biology in particular, have always fascinated me. This is why in 2014, I started a B.Sc. in Microbiology at the Laval University in Québec. I wanted to discover more about the curious and mysterious world of the microorganisms present in the environment. During my academic progress, I joined a multidisciplinary research team composed of PhD Alexander Culley, PhD Steve Charette, PhD Manuel J. Rodriguez and PhD Caetano C. Dorea. In 2016, Together, we began a project characterizing the microbial communities of the Saint-Charles Lake watershed here in Québec. Presently, I am one step away from finishing my Bachelor’s and I will begin my Master’s in January 2018. For this summer, my project is about the detection and the quantification of harmful protozoa in samples from the Saint-Charles Lake watershed. I’m developing more sensitive molecular protocols to better detect these organisms.

Outside of the lab, I really enjoy reading novels, listening to music, watching television shows and going to the cinema.  Give me a glass of lemonade, a sunny afternoon plus a good book and to me, that's a great time!