David Zechel grew up along the Winnipeg River in the Whiteshell Provincial Park in southeastern Manitoba and attended Whitemouth School. Following graduation he studied chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Toronto (1991-95) as a U of T Arbor scholar, supplemented with summer research experiences with Ronald Kluger (bioorganic) and Ian Manners (organometallic polymers). David moved on to PhD studies (1996-2001) with Stephen G. Withers at the University of British Columbia where he focused on engineering the reactions catalyzed by glycosidases. He was supported by NSERC and Killam fellowships, which was very helpful as he became a father of two during his studies. As a postdoc David studied the structures of glycosidases (2002) with Gideon Davies (York University, UK) and protein engineering (2002-2004) with Andreas Plückthun (University of Zürich), the latter position supported by a Human Frontier Science Program postdoctoral fellowship. In 2004 David started his independent research career in the Department of Chemistry at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario). He was promoted to full Professor in 2017. He has had the privilege of spending two sabbaticals (2010-11, 2017-18) in the lab of Andreas Bechthold (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) where he did a deep dive into natural product biosynthesis by Streptomyces. David had the honour of serving as Acting Head of Queen’s Chemistry (2020-21), an experience that was unfortunately coloured by the covid-19 pandemic. He is currently the Associate Head and Graduate Coordinator for his Department, as well as a member of the NSERC Discovery Grant evaluation group for Chemistry (1504). David’s current research focuses on the discovery and characterization of unusual enzyme reactions from microbial biosynthetic and catabolic pathways. His lab has made significant discoveries in the degradation of phosphonates by bacteria, and in the biosynthesis of rare natural products such as fluorometabolites. He is currently co-lead of the Open Plastic consortium, a Genome Canada funded research program that seeks to harness bacteria to degrade plastics. When David is not thinking about strange enzymes he is planning his next escape into Canada’s hinterland by canoe or snowshoe.
DLZ’s current CV can be found in the link below.