Our Research

Our laboratory works on the identification of new antibiotic molecules that will allow continuing preventing and treating infectious diseases in humans, animals, crops…. We use Alberta plants as the source of our next generation of antibiotics, a new approach as all the commercialized natural antibiotics are produced by bacteria or fungi. We connect with First Nation knowledge keepers to compare the traditional knowledge of the plants with the scientific results obtained for them.

Our work align with the message of the World Health Organization urging to discover new antibiotics. Many industries depend on antibiotics; finding new antibiotics will serve a vast sector of activities: medicine, agriculture, food industry, cosmetics…


News & Stories

July 2020

Des antibiotiques dans les plantes en Alberta? Interview Radio Canada. (In French)

January 2020

Researchers studying prairie plants as potential medicine sources, Regina Leader Post. 26 January 2020

November 2019

Lethbridge College joins antibiotics campaign. Lethbridge College campus news November 2019

LC stressing education about antibiotic resistance- Lethbridge Herald 21 November 2019

Winter 2019

Research rooted in the local landscape: Wider Horizons Winter 2019

June 2019

Native plants could provide new antibiotics, Western Producer magazine 6 June 2019

May 2019

Prairie Plants into Antibiotics topic of LC discussion, Prairie Post 23 May 2019

November 2018

Bridge City News interview

November 2018

The Con of Antibiotics- Antibiotic awareness week.

Fall 2018

Research rooted in Alberta’s diverse landscape. Wider Horizon Fall 2018

Meet Our People

Sophie Kernéis, PhD

Principal Investigator

Sophie Kernéis is a scientist specializing in microbiology and cell biology. She obtained her doctorate degree in microbial ecology at the University of Paris XI, France. Prior to moving to Canada, Sophie Kernéis had a tenure position as a research scientist at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France, where she worked for 9 years. She did a Post-doctoral study in the laboratory of professor Jean-Pierre Kraehenbuhl at ISREC (Swiss Institute of Cancer Research), Switzerland and in the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Pringault. Her main scientific activity was to establish an in vitro cellular model of M cells of Peyer’s patch, known as the portal of entry of many microbes. Her work was published in the prestigious journal Science and her model is still used today around the world.

Sophie Kernéis worked for two years at the Electron Microscopy Platform of the Pasteur Institute, where she acquired her expertise in Scanning Electron Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy.  

Sophie Kernéis is an adjunct professor at the University of Lethbridge.

Phone: 403 332 3202 Ext 5655
Email: [email protected]


Leanne DuMontier, BSc


Bio to come.

Email: [email protected]


Student Researchers

Ms. Nadia Hand (2019-)

Fourth year biology student at the University of Lethbridge, adjunct research student at the Lethbridge College. Honours thesis student in the Microbial Research Lab.

Bacteria clumping Project

“The microbial research lab brings me a space to learn about and gain experience in microbiology as well as collaborate with others.” NH

Ms. Kaitlyn Grisnich (2019- )

Third year student in nursing program at Lethbridge College/University of Lethbridge

The Antibiotic Alberta Plant Project, the Green Antibiotic Project.

“I enjoy working in the lab because it provides me the opportunity to engage in hands on research and see the real life implications of the growing antibiotic resistance.” KG

Ms. Tianna Gerber (2019- )

Second year student in Environmental Assessment and Restoration program. Tianna Gerber was selected to attend the CICAN in Ottawa in 2020.

The Antibiotic Alberta Plant Project, the Green Antibiotic Project.

 “Working in the Microbial Research Lab allows me to gain hands-on research experience where I am developing important laboratory skills and collaborating with others to solve real-world problems.” TG

Ms. Apsara Srinivas (2020- )

Second year student in Microbiology and Immunology - UBC

The Antibiotic Alberta Plant Project

“Working in this lab allows me to understand how theoretical ideas are applied practically to solve real life problems in various fields including health, cosmetics, and medicine!" AS

Current Projects

Antibiotic Research project

The microbial Research lab is working on the identification of Alberta plants with antibacterial activities that will be used to identify new antibiotic molecules. The Microbial Research Lab focus on bacteria from the ESKAPE group. Following the identification of the active plants, the microbial Research Lab in collaboration with Professor Raymond Andersen group, in UBC, Vancouver identify the antibiotic molecules from the plant extracts selected. The Microbial Research lab has been able to identify X plant extracts with antibacterial activities and to identify two antibiotic molecules.

The World Health Organization is seeking to identify new antibiotics to face antibiotic resistance seen as the next threat.

This research will serve the agriculture, medicine and cosmetic industries as they all depend on antibiotics.

The Green Antibiotic Project

The Microbial Research Lab is identifying from the plants that are given to food animals the one with antibiotic activities to serve the meat industry. Antibiotics have been used for many years to prevent and treat infections in food animals to face the new way we raise animals. Since December 2018, farmers are not able to use Medically Important Antimicrobials (MIAs) to prevent infection in order to limit the antibiotic resistance towards these antibiotics.

Bacteria clumping Project

The Microbial Research laboratory has identified a new bacterial phenotype for Staphylococcus epidermidis when in presence of certain plant extracts. The bacteria are organized in large clumps. Depending on the results obtained regarding the characterization of these clumps. This particularity could serve in helping the removal of bacteria in applications such as water filtration, or it can give a model to study Biofilms.

Ms. Nadia Hand has done her independent thesis on this project, and will be completing her Honour thesis at the University of Lethbridge by doing the characterization of the clumps formed.

Traditional versus scientific knowledge:

In collaboration with M. William Singer III, First Nation knowledge keeper (Blood Tribe/Kainai of the Blackfoot Confederacy) and Ms. Shanda Webber (Manager of the Indigenous Services at Lethbridge College), we will compare the traditional knowledge of the medicinal properties of Alberta plants to our scientific knowledge of the plants identified for their antibiotic activities.


Past Projects

Bio sandFilter and their efficiency at removing coliforms bacteria (2015-2016)

The Microbial Research laboratory completed a study to assess the efficiency of the Bio sand filter of the Manz Engineering Ltd, from Calgary, Alberta at removing coliforms bacteria. Dr. Manz has established water sand filter that are set up around the world. It is estimated that there are around 2 million with a number increasing every day. Dr. Manz received the Alberta Order of Excellence Award in 2018.  Ms. Karli Tremel, second year student in the Nursing Program (2015-2017) was responsible of performing the testing. Ms. Karli Tremel was selected to present her work at the CICAN conference in Ottawa (2018).

View report

Ozone as a way to disinfect E.coli contaminated surfaces. (2017)

The Microbial Research laboratory completed a study for Mr. Harker businessperson in Lethbridge. The goal being to evaluate the efficacy of its ozone providing system at killing E.coli. E.coli O157:H7 are bacteria frequently found in hamburger and that are pathogenic. This bacterium is normally present in cows without making them sick, but is highly pathogenic for humans. It is also essential to be able to remove them from trucks that are living the feedlots. Mr. Ron Harker has designed a device that can provide ozonized water that can be used to kill E.coli from any surfaces. Ms. Ashtin Halmrast, second year student in the Nursing program was in charge of this study. Ashtin was selected to present her work at CICAN in Ottawa (2018).m.


Reports and Publications

View Sophie Kernéis Google Scholar page


  1. Lethbridge and District Horticultural society. Lethbridge, Alberta. The Antibiotic Properties of Plants: A solution to fight antibiotic resistance. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OkYNuEUOD_uOB5lJbEn5Khp0TjLHI_6h/view?usp=drivesdk. 24 November 2020.
  2. Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatchewan. How Plants Can Be the Source of New Antibiotics. 25-26 January 2020
  3. URSCA 2020. Characterization of the “clump” phenotype induced by natural products in Staphylococcus epidermidis ATCC 12228. 25 May 2020
  4. Carmangay library, Carmangay, Alberta. Finding new antibiotic molecules from Alberta plants. 26 March 2019


Funding Partners



Industry Partners

Dr. Manz Engineering

Mr. Ron Harker