Dr. Elaine Humphrey

Dr. Elaine Humphrey
Project manager
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Office: BWC A007/A015

BSc (UCNW), MSc (Southampton), PhD (Southampton)


Dr. Humphrey began work at the University of Victoria on March 1, 2009 as the laboratory lab manager and STEHM technologist for the new Advanced Microscopy Facility. This position entailed building a world-class microscopy facility with responsibility for all aspects of running the lab.

Prior to this position Dr. Humphrey ran the UBC BioImaging Facility. This position included supervising the operation and maintenance of a multi-user, multi-instrument imaging and microscopy facility, guiding and supervising individuals learning microscopy techniques, developing, modifying and testing new methodologies and equipment, organizing and managing training sessions for researchers on various aspects of microscopy and imaging technology, overseeing the billing of investigators, providing advice and technical assistance, providing educational tours, preparing and administering the budget, hiring staff, communicating facility events to the user group, and website content, writing grants, evaluating instruments, managing the budget, hiring staff, and creating a welcoming atmosphere. It also involved developing training programs to allow researchers to be independent of staff, three credit graduate programs in light microscopy (including confocal) and in electron microscopy whilst also offering a service lab, and hosting internationally renowned short courses.

The UBC BioImaging Facility became a region-wide centre for modern microscopy, unique in Western Canada in emphasising multidisciplinary, cutting edge confocal and electron microscopy technology combined with high pressure freezing and cryo techniques. The top research groups in cell and molecular biology in Western Canada were represented in the user groups, including Members of the Order of Canada, Killam Scholars, Howard Hughes Scholars, and Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dr. Humphrey's experience with electron microscopy began when she needed to look closely at the ultrastructure of a gland in the foot of a marine snail that bores holes in oysters during her PhD research at the University of Southampton (UK) using the Southampton General Hospital EM Facility. Here, Chris Inman trained her in TEM, SEM, and immuno cytochemical techniques.

Dr. Humphrey's experience in running a facility began in 1996 at the BioImaging Facility at UBC with ageing equipment and no assistants (budget cuts that year). At the beginning, she had to keep an elderly Zeiss 10C (film only) TEM and an ancient SEM functioning. Several times, she dissassembled the TEM with assistance of the service representative over the telephone.

Over the next ten years, Elaine brought in about $5 million for equipment with service contracts and money for personnel. Facility staff grew to include three full time technicians, a part time office person and a clientele of about 900 users. One of these grants was the laboratory's first successful CFI grant of $2.25 million, which purchased a 120kV TEM, a field emission SEM (both with cryo and telepresencing), cryo preparation equipment, and a multiphoton.

With the upgrade to digital photography, the facility's productivity increased enormously. In 2006, the Facility won $4.5 million as a CFI LEF, which is based on showing the successful use of a previous CFI. This grant included a 200kV TEM with tomography.

Dr. Humphrey served on the Microscopical Society of Canada committee becoming the president 2003-2005 and has been a regular attendant of the Microscopy Society of America meetings. She coordinates the  Family Affair, an annual meeting hands-on session for delegates, their families and friends and is a co-chair of ProjectMICRO, an MSA outreach middle school program.

  • Internationally recognized leader in the field of high quality training workshops
    • Organized 10-day International summer courses at UBC each with International Faculty and manufacturer support: 2001-2006 International Cryo-EM Course, an advanced electron microscopy course held annually; and 1996-2000 3D Live Cell Microscopy Course for confocal microscopy. When the Cryo-EM Course was moved to UC Berkeley in 2006, Dr. Humphrey was invited as faculty.
    • Organized the Microscopical Society of Canada annual meeting at UBC in 2003.
    • Developed very successful 1.5-day training workshops to enable researchers to use the highly technical instruments independent of staff.
  • Acknowledged leader in lab management and microscopy
    • Invited to be the leader of the focus interest group for facility and operations managers in the Microscopy Society of America, 2006 (2 year term).
    • "Great Laboratory Manager" in Laboratory Equipment US magazine (January 2006).
    • Leading Edge story (January 2006)
    • Invited to be an external reviewer of the EM Facility of Rocky Mountain Labs, an NIH facility in Montana, September 2005.
    • President of the Microscopical Society of Canada, 2003-2005.
    • CIHR Equipment Grant Committee, February 2006.
    • Invited to be on NSERC peer review committee, July 2007.
  • Other
    • Microscopy Consultant 2007 - present
    • Hosted "Small Wonders" on Discovery Channel @ Discovery Canada.
    • Worked as a scientist in residence in the Vancouver school district, here you can read testimonials of her involvement.
  • Invited speaker
    • 2008: NWAC 2008 Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi Symposium, Victoria (April); International Cryo-EM Course, UC Berkeley (June); Microscopy Society of America meeting, Albuquerque, session chair and talk (August); Western Museums Association meeting, Anchorage, Alaska, talk about using microscopy to analyse hair samples from early first nation blankets (September).
    • 2007: World Congress of Mummy Studies, Lanzarote (February); International Cryo-EM Course, UC Berkeley (June); Scanning 2007, Monterey Bay, session chair and talk (April); Microscopy Society of America meeting, Florida, session chair and talk (August).
    • 2006: Teachers workshop, using microscopy in the classroom (March); Scanning 2006, Washington DC, session chair and talk (April); Microscopy Society of America meeting, Chicago (August); Vancouver Natural History Society (October); FEI meeting, Hilsboro, Tomography talk (November)
    • 2005: Scanning 2005, Monterey Bay, Microwave Processing in a Modern Microscopy Facility; Microscopy Society of America meeting, Hawaii, "Teaching Microscopy" session Virtual Electron Microscopy for Undergraduate/Graduate Classes and "Family Talk" Solve the Mystery, and served as a discussion group panelist for high pressure freezing panel organized by Boeckeler Instruments, Inc. and Bal-Tec; PNMS mini-meeting, at FEI, Hillsboro, Oregon, Microwave Processing; UBC Research Week, Imaging in the Bio-Imaging Facility; Mouse Symposium UBC 2005, Microwave Processing Mouse Parts.
    • 2004: Port Townsend Marine Science Center Low Tide Fest.
    • 2003 Microscopy Society of America meeting in San Antonio How to increase the use of a core facility with a corresponding increase in revenue; Port Townsend Marine Science Center Low Tide Fest.
    • 2002 Microscopy Society of America: Chairperson Confocal and Deconvolution for Biologists session; Port Townsend Marine Science Center Low Tide Fest.
    • 2001 Microscopy Society of America meeting, Teaching Microscopy by Workshop.

Microscopy is an excellent avenue for Elementary and Middle School teachers to be comfortable in Science. Since 95% of these teachers in BC come from the Arts program, any way to encourage them into teaching science lessons has to be good. Microscopy can do that. Dr Humphrey's extensive experiences have led to offering "Microscopy in the Classroom," "Microscopy in the Library," "Microscopy in the Garden," "Microscopy in the Park" sessions based on 10 different activity stations from "Microscopic Explorations."

Research areas

  • Director for Education of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC
  • Wooldog blankets
  • Hair ultrastructure for different species
  • Ultrastructure of accessory boring organ
  • Ultrastructure of cryo preserved ancient man (KwadayDan Tschini found in a glacier in northern BC)
  • Dentalium shells
  • Immuno-gold labelling brain slices, blood-brain barrier.


  • Martens G, EC. Humphrey, LG. Harrison, B Silva-Moreno, J Ausio and HE. Kasinsky, High-Pressure Freezing of Spermiogenic Nuclei Supports A Dynamic Chromatin Model for the Histone-to-Protamine Transition Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, accepted 2009
  • Rathgeber C., Lince M.T, Alric J., Lang, A.S., Humphrey, E., Blankenship R.E., Verméglio A., Plumley F.G., Van Dover, C.L., Beatty, J.T. and Yurkov V., Vertical distribution and characterization of aerobic phototrophic bacteria at the Juan de Fuca Ridge in the Pacific Ocean. Journal Photosynthesis Research, accepted 2008
  • Monsalve M V, E Humphrey, D C. Walker, C Cheung, W Vogl, M Nimmo. Brief Communication: State of Preservation of Tissues From Ancient Human Remains Found in a Glacier in Canada. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 137:348-355 (2008)
  • Monsalve MV, E. Humphrey, DC Walker, C Cheung, T Swanston, H Deneer, P Hazelton, L Oda G, E Kahila, Bar- Gal G, M Spigelman, Report of a Multidisciplinary Workup of the Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi Human Remains from Canada: Micro-organisms analyses. Proceedings VI Congress on Mummy Studies (in press).
  • Monsalve MV, E. Humphrey, DC Walker M Nimmo, J Zhao, C Cheung, W Vogl. The use of cellular structure in ancient frozen human remains to predict DNA retrieval (submitted to the Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi – Long Ago Person Found – Royal British Columbia,).
  • Monsalve MV, E. Humphrey, DC Walker M Nimmo, J Zhao, C Cheung. Analysis of micro-organisms in bone and muscle tissues in Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi (submitted to the Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi – Long Ago Person Found – Royal British Columbia).
  • Rathgeber C., Yurkova, N, Stackebrandt E., Schumann P, Humphrey E, Beatty J.T., Yurkov V. Porphyrobacter meromictius sp. nov., an Appendaged Bacterium, That Produces Bacteriochlorophyll a. Curr Microbiol. 2007 Oct; 55 (4):356-61 17882507
  • Rathgeber C., Yurkova, N, Stackebrandt E., Schumann P, Humphrey E, Beatty J.T., Yurkov V. Metalloid Reducing Bacteria Isolated from Deep Ocean Hydrothermal Vents of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Pseudoalteromonas telluritireducens sp. nov. and Pseudoalteromonas spiralis sp. nov. Curr Microbiol. 2006 Oct 19: 17066332
  • Humphrey, E.C. Virtual Electron Microscopy for Undergraduate/Graduate Classes, Microscopy Today 13(3) (May 2005).
  • Humphrey, E.C. Microwave Processing in a Modern Microscopy Facility Proceedings of SCANNING 2005 27, 2, March–April (2005).
  • Humphrey, E.C. & I. Dworakowska The Natural History of Brochosomes in Yakuza gaunga (Hemiptera, Auchenorrhyncha, Cicadellidae, Typhlocybinae, Erythroneurini) Zikaden Leafhoppers, Planthoppers and Cicadas (Insecta: Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha) Denisia 04 zugleich Katgaloge des OO. Landesmuseums, Neue Folge Nr. 176 (2002) 433-454 Werner E Holzinger.
  • Humphrey, E.C. How to Promote a Facility in Order to Increase Use, Acquire New Equipment and, as a Result, Increase Revenue, Microscopy Today (2004).
  • Montagnes, D.J.S and Humphrey E.C., 1998. A description of Occurrence and Morphology of a New Species of Red-Water Forming Strombidium (Spirotrichea, Oligotrichia). J. Euk. Microbiol 45(5) 502-506
  • Grant, T., Humphrey, E.C. and Charles W. Myers. (1997) The Median Lingual Process of Frogs: A Bizarre Character of Old World Ranoids Discovered in South American Dendrobatids. American Museum Novitates Number 3212, American Museum of Natural History
  • Humphrey, E.C. & Marliave, J.B. (1995) Generating size frequency distributions of Pacific herring larvae by developmental staging. p13-21. In: Hay, D., and P.B. McCarter. 1995. Proceedings of the Seventh Pacific Coast Herring Workshop, January 27-28, 1994. Vancouver, B.C. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2060: 243p.
  • Humphrey, E.C., Marliave, J.B. and Kent, D.I. (1995). Poster Abstracts: Morphological staging of larval Pacific herring. p207. In: Hay, D., and P.B. McCarter. (1995) Proceedings of the Seventh Pacific Coast Herring Workshop, January 27-28, 1994. Vancouver, B.C. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2060: 243p.
  • Humphrey, E.C. (1986) A survey of the meiofauna of the Fleet. In The Biology of the Fleet (ed M. Ladle)