Karen Y Lo, Ph.D.

Sessional Assistant Professor of Biology; Biosafety Officer

Dr. Karen Lo is a biology educator with a lifelong passion for science and learning. As a sessional assistant professor at TWU, she teaches cell biology and molecular genetics, supervises biology undergraduate researchers, and manages biosafety on campus as the Biosafety Officer. Since joining Trinity Western University in 2017, she consistently strives for innovative ways to mentor and build students into critical thinkers with competent research skills.

Karen cultivated her fascination for experimentation by pursuing research and collaboration across multiple disciplines in both academia and industry. She has worked in seven different labs in biophysics, protein crystallography, neuroscience, cell biology, genetics, and microbiology. For her PhD, she studied host liver cell alterations following Francisella tularensis bacterial infections at Simon Fraser University. She pursued her interest in cellular microbiology as a postdoctoral researcher at TWU, examining how C. elegans genes play a role in raising immunity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria in worms. Her current collaboration with Dr. Stringham investigates endosomal vesicle movement during bacterial infections in C. elegans using live fluorescence microscopy. To date, she has authored seven peer-reviewed publications (five co-authored with mentored undergraduate students), including one high-impact paper in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Karen desires to excite genuine awe and wonder for the natural world in those around her through teaching and research. She lives in Burnaby with her husband. When she is not teaching or in the lab, she enjoys obsessively researching and experimenting with gardening, crafting, and cooking with her family.

  • Ph.D. (Cellular Microbiology), Simon Fraser University, 2017
  • Certificate in University Teaching and Learning, Simon Fraser University, 2015
  • B.Sc. (Biology), Simon Fraser University, 2008


  • cellular microbiology
  • cell biology
  • molecular biology
  • microscopy
  • biochemistry

Awards & Honors

  • Phyllis Carter Burr Graduate Scholarship in Developmental Biology & Cell Biology (2015)
  • President’s PhD Scholarship (2015)
  • Shaughn Clements Biological Sciences Graduate Award (2014)

Recent Publications

  • Lo, K. Y.*, Kolappan, S.*, Shen, C. L. J., Guttman, J. A., and Craig, L. (2017). Structure of the conserved Francisella virulence protein FvfA. Acta Crystallographica Section D: Structural Biology. 73(10):814-821. *authors contributed equally to this work
  • Lo, K. Y., Visram, S., Vogl, A. W., Shen, C. J., and Guttman, J. A. (2016). Morphological analysis of Fransicella novicida epithelial cell infections in the absence of functional FipA. Cell and Tissue Research. 363:449–459.
  • Lo, K. Y., Chua, M.D.*, Abdulla, S.*, Law, HT, and Guttman, J.A. (2013). Examination of in vitro epithelial cell lines as a model for Francisella tularensis infections. Journal of Microbiological Methods. 93(2):153-160. *authors contributed equally to this work
  • Lo, K. Y.*, Kuzmin A.K.*, Unger, S., Peterson, J., and Silverman, M.A. (2011). KIF1A is the primary anterograde motor protein required for the axonal transport of dense-core vesicles in cultured hippocampal neurons. Neuroscience Letters. 491(3):168-73. *authors contributed equally to this work
  • Decker, H, Lo, K. Y., Unger, S. M., Ferreira, S. T., and Silverman, M. A. (2010). Amyloidß Peptide Oligomers Disrupt Axonal Transport through an NMDA    Receptor-Dependent Mechanism That Is Mediated by Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3ß in Primary Cultured Hippocampal Neurons. Journal of Neuroscience. 30(27):9166-71.
  • Kwinter, D. M., Lo, K. Y., Mafi, P., and Silverman, M.A. (2009). Dynactin regulates bidirectional transport of dense-core vesicles in the axon and dendrites of cultured hippocampal neurons. Neuroscience. 162(4):1001-10.
  • Wu, T. and Lo, K. (2007). Healthy aging for caregivers: what are their needs? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1114:326–336.

Affiliations & Memberships

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation

  • Cell Biology (BIOL 223)
  • Molecular Genetics (BIOL/CHEM 372)
  • Protein Structure and Function (BIOL/CHEM 475) – course pending approval