Dr. Farkhanda Khowaja

Director of Plant Sciences, Botanist

In 1984 Farkhanda Khowaja earned a B.Sc. in Plant Breeding from Sindh Agriculture University, Tando Jam, Pakistan. After completing her B.Sc., Farkhanda Khowaja went on to complete her M.Sc in Plant Technology from Wye College, University of London, U.K in 1997. Thereafter, in 2005, Farkhanda Khowaja completed her PhD in Plant Molecular Genetics from the University of Aberdeen, U.K.

From 2006 to 2008, Dr. Khowaja underwent further training and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Aberdeen. Her primary responsibilities focused on QC/QA aspects for laboratory material includes hundreds of personally extracted plant DNA/RNA (the most fragile genetic component)/cDNA from different rice cultivars, plants of genetic mapping population and plants which were personally developed by marker assisted selection, experimental commercial enzymes and several other chemical and biochemical compounds purity, quality, integrity, storage/archiving and track recording of all products/organization of inventories.

In addition, Dr. Khowaja maintained QC/QA of detached plant organs such as leaf samples, root samples and heads to be used under the designed procedures for data collection such as maintenance of tissue water contents for controlling the fresh or dried status of the plant detached organs as per requirement. Prompt archiving of tissues for downstream applications such as gene transcriptomic analysis, etc.

Furthermore, Dr. Khowaja maintained troubleshoots of simple to complex several instruments used in the laboratories independently and with technical support. She developed and troubleshoots of SOPs of growing plants under controlled and greenhouse conditions in soil or hydroponics based on experimental design and tests and developed SOPs to study morphology (such as number of tillers, leaf length and width, root length, root thickness, root branches, etc.), physiology (such as measurement of transpiration rate, leaf rolling in relation to tissue water holding capacity, efficiency of photosynthesis, hydraulic conductance by using pressure bomb, root swelling due to osmotic pressure, etc.) and genetics (detection of genome-wide allelic variation) of experimental plants

From 2008 to 2011, Dr. Khowaja was a postdoctoral fellow under the term of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Visiting Fellowship Program at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre in Alberta. Her primary role was to ensure quality controlled growth of thousands of experimental plants of different triticale strains/transgenics in growth chambers under controlled environments and in greenhouse conditions. In addition, Dr. Khowaja maintained QC/QA of laboratory material including personally extracted plant DNA/RNA (the most fragile genetic component)/cDNA and personally synthesized recombinant DNA molecules, enzymes and several other chemical and biochemical compounds purity, quality, integrity, storage/archiving and track recording of thousands of samples. During her 3 years research, plants were grown under greenhouse experimental conditions. From growing plants and conducting research in laboratories to data manipulation, strict QA/QC methods were controlled and SOPs were developed or modified in the laboratory.

From 2011 to 2013 Dr. Khowaja served as the Molecular Genetics Scientist for a new, at the time, Alberta Based Biotechnology Company: Phytocentric Biotech Inc. At this position, she worked as the Company’s Biotech Research Advisor and was involved with teaching Lethbridge College personnel and students from Lethbridge University to allow these individuals to gain the technical knowledge and experience currently needed in to work in the Canadian Biotechnology industry. Her responsibilities included ordering laboratory materials, managing the laboratory independently, and QA/QC.

Overall, Dr. Khowaja has extensive experience in working independently in different laboratories from analytical, physiological and molecular biological aspects and simultaneously in greenhouses to produce plant material for laboratory analysis and other experimental set-ups and inferences. Dr. Khowaja has the training and skills to screen Marihuana, against microbial and chemical contaminants, at all plant developmental stages and the dried plant products prior to human consumption. To this end, quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) measures were strictly subjected in the implementation of her research.

Dr. Khowaja currently serves as the Director of Plant Sciences for Phytosciences where she utilizes her vast amount of experience as a botanist in both an academic and industry environment to provide clients with her expertise in QC for plant. She currently oversees the Plant Sciences Division of Phytosciences and ensures all facilities are properly designed and have consistent, validated, analytical methods in place for as it pertains to QA/QC for plant production and testing.