Staff Profiles

Aaron A. Heiss, Ph.D

Post-doctoral Researcher

  • Education

      • Doctor of Philosophy (Biology), 2012, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (supervisor: Alastair G. B. Simpson).
      • Master of Science (Botany), 2006, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (supervisor: Patrick J. Keeling).
      • Bachelor of Science (Biology), 2002, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA.
      • Bachelor of Arts (Music), 1995, Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont, USA.
  • Research Interests

    Research Interests

      Eukaryotes include most familiar forms of life: all animals, plants, and fungi.  But there are many other lineages of eukaryotes, most primarily or exclusively microbial, that are lumped together as "protists", a term that undervalues their diversity.  Dr Heiss's research explores that diversity, both investigating the differences between "kingdom-scale" lineages and discovering features in common between them that may have been characteristics of the last common ancestor to all eukaryotes.  His primary activities are: (1) Collection, isolation, identification, establishment, description, and maintenance of cultures of eukaryotic microbes.  (2) Preparation and sequencing of RNA and DNA from particularly interesting cultures, and evolutionary analysis of sequence data, both for the generation of evolutionary trees and for investigation of genetically-determined traits.  (3) Computer-based modelling of subcellular anatomy of eukaryotic cells, determined through high-resolution transmission electron microscopy.  Dr Heiss focusses on 'incertae sedis' organisms, with no known close relatives, which may prove to be the key to resolving questions about the (currently poorly known) relationships amongst eukaryotes in general.

  • Publications