Meet our Staff
Prof. Mohammed Ahmad, Founder and former Director of the Biotehcnology Centre, retired on September 30, 2011. He was subsequently appointed as Professor Emeritus in February 2012. As a scientist, his are of specialization and research include agricultural and food biotechnology, plant and microbial biotechnology, molecular biology and applied microbiology.
Prof. Ahmad has successfully supervised numerous postgraduates, who have themselves since successfully supervised other M. Phil and Ph. D. candidates. He remains an important contributor to the advancement and life of the Department.
Prof. Wayne McLaughlin is Proressor of Molecular Biology in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences. Much of his research focuses on characterizing and eradicating plant diseases caused by virus and bacteria. He has done work on crops such as scotch bonnet, pepper and citrus.
He has over 30 original publications in international peer reviewed journals. In 2005 Prof. McLaughlin established Caribbean Genetics (CARIGEN) and has become well known for this initiative. It is the first and only private facility in the English-speaking Caribbean which assists in establishing biological relationships through DNA testing.
Prof. McLaughlin is the recipient of the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) Silver Musgrave Medal for Science (2001) and two Fullbright Fellow awards, once in 1994 and again in 2004.
Prof. Paula Tennant is a Research Plant Pathologist working with virus diseases of fruit crops at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. Her work involves the identification of viruses of vegetables and fruit crops with an emphasis toward developing management strategies using Biotechnology as well as natural sources of tolerance or resistance from diverse gemplasm, including domestic and wild species. Close collaboration with Cornell University (New York, USA), The Biotechnology Centre, University of the West Indies, and the Jamaica Agricultural Development Foundation (JADF) has led to the establishment of the approrpiate regulatory structures to oversee the use and importation of agricultural biotechnology products in Jamaica and the development of virus resistant transgenic papaya.
Prof. Tennant joined the staff in the Department of Life Sciences in 2001 and continued to work with papaya as well as initiated work on the characterization of viruses affecting citrus, curcurbits and root crops. She was promoted to the rank of Professor in May 2012 and currently teaches undergraduate courses in Molecular Biology, Virology, and Plant Biotechnolgoy, as well as she co-teaches a graduate course on "Standards and Risk Management in Agricultural Production Systems".
Dr. Sylvia Mitchell, Lecturer, is Head of Medicinal Plant Research, which she initiated in 1999. She is trained in various aspects of technology commercialization and has over twenty-eight years experience with tissue culture including seven years at the Scientific Research Council.
Dr. Mitchell supervises undergraduates, postgraduates, and post-doctoral research which includes tissue culture, anti-microbial and molecular aspects of research. Her own resarch includes development of miccropropagation protocols and soil ameliorants such as biochar, and has over 233 publications in refereed journals, newspaper and magazines, including technical reports, monographs, as well as an e-book. She believes the Caribbean has real potential to realize sustainable utilization of its' native plant biodiversity for food, herbs, spcies, medicine, aromatherapy, furniture, and biofuels through the judicious use of biotechnology, a goal towards which she is diligently working.
She is presently a board member of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) and also serves as an Education Officer for the Society for In Vitro Biology, and an Editor for the Third World Academy of Science Medicinal Plant Network.
Dr. Marcia Roye has spent more than 21 years investigating the genetic diversity of begomoviruses from Jamaica and the Caribbean region. More than 30 begomoviruses which infect plants such as red peas, cabbage, tomato, hot pepper and cauliflower, have been identified in Jamaica and other countries in the region. This has contributed to the control of these devastating plant pathogens. She has received several awards in recognition of her work in molecular virology which includes the Scientific Research Council Young Scientist Award (2000), UNESCO-L'Oreal Fellowship for Young Women in Science (2000), a Fulbright Fellowship (2003), and l'Oreal-UNESCO Special Fellowship award "In the footsteops of Marie Curie" (2011).
In 2010, Dr. Roye, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and UHWI, initiated a research project to determine drug resistance in HIV patients in Jamaica. The results of the project are expected to improve long term drug therapy, prolong life span, and improve the quality of life of those infected with HIV.
Currently, Dr. Marcia Roye is Associate Dean for the Faculty of Science and Technology in the Graduate Studies and Research Department of the UWI, Mona.
Professor Helen N. Asemota, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, was appointed as Director of the Biotechnology Centre on August 1, 2013. She has served UWI for more than two decades and has lectured for over 30 years at the undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral levels collectively in different parts of the world. She also served as an International Biotechnology Consultant to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
Prof. Asemota's work is pivotal to yam research, application of new biotechnologies to crop production, and improvement and exploitation for sustainable development in Jamaica for yam production, and in different parts of the world for yam, potato, dasheen, and coco. She has supervised over 25 Ph. D's and M. Phil Studies. She is noted for leading large international multi-disciplinary grants for technology transfer and has served PI roles in USA National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) grants. Professor Asemota is a reknown biomedical research expert in experimental diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, health disparities, and cancer research and well into bioactive phyto-materials and by products. With some 300 publications, Prof. Asemota also has 4 patents from her research.