Dr. Leah Martin-Visscher

Assistant Professor, Chemistry P: 780-465-3500 Ext. 8169
  • PhD Organic Chemistry, University of Alberta, 2010
  • BEd Secondary Education, University of Alberta, 2002
  • B.Sc, Chemistry, The King`s University College, 1999, 2004


Leah graduated from King’s in 1999 with a 3-year undergraduate degree in chemistry, and then completed a B.Ed. after-degree from the University of Alberta in 2001. After teaching high school for a short period of time, she returned to King’s in 2003 and converted her 3 year degree into 4-year B.Sc. majoring in chemistry, and made the decision to continue studying chemistry as a graduate student. Leah completed her Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Alberta, in the lab of Professor John Vederas, where she studied the structure and mode of action of bacteriocins produced by lactic acid bacteria.  In 2011, Leah returned to King’s, this time as a faculty member. She is an associated professor of chemistry, teaching introductory, organic, analytical, and industrial chemistry, along with a senior synthesis, purification and spectroscopy course. Her NSERC funded research program focuses on natural approaches to food preservations through the use of a bacteriophages and bacteriocins. In addition, Leah is a devoted teacher, and with her colleagues, is committed to developing a chemistry program where students draw connections between chemistry curriculum and their daily lives.

Research areas

  • Natural approaches to food preservation using bacteriophages and bacteriocins
  • Using learning outcomes to help guide teaching and learning in the chemistry classroom
  • The use of rich-contexts in the chemistry classroom

Outreach activities

  • Kindergarten Career Day: What does a chemist do?
  • Grade 5 Chemistry: Hands-on learning activities
  • The Annual King’s Grade 9 Chemistry Show
  • Grade 12 Chemistry: An afternoon in the lab


Britton, A.P; van der Ende, S.R.; van Belkum, M.J, Martin-Visscher, L.A. The membrane topology of immunity proteins for the two-peptide bacteriocins carnobacteriocin XY, lactococcin G and lactococcin MN show structural diversity. MicrobiologyOpen, 9:e00957 (2020).

Mahaffy, P.G.; Holme, T.A.; Martin-Visscher, L.A.; Martin, B.E.; Versprille, A.; Kirchhoff, M.; Towns, M.; Beyond “Inert” Ideas to Teaching General Chemistry from Rich Contexts: Visualizing the Chemistry of Climate Change (VC3). J Chem Ed. 94, 1027-1035 (2017).

Acedo, J.Z.; Towle, K.M.; Lohans, C.T.; Miskolzie, M.; McKay, R.T.; Doerksen, T.A.; Vederas, J.C.; Martin-Visscher, L.A.; Identification and three-dimensional structure of carnobacteriocin XY, a class IIb bacteriocin produced by Carnobacteria. FEBS Lett. 591, 1349-1359 (2017).

Kleijn, H.J.L.; Oppedijk, S.F.; 't Hart, P.; van Harten, R.M.; Martin-Visscher, L.A.; Kemmink, J.; Breukink, E.; and Martin, N.I.; Total Synthesis of Laspartomycin C and Characterization of its Antibacterial Mechanism of Action. J Med Chem. 59, 3569-3574 (2016).

van Belkum, M.J.; Martin-Visscher, L.M.; and Vederas, J.C., Structure and genetics of circular bacteriocins. Trends Microbiol. 19, 411-418 (2011).

Martin-Visscher, L.A.; van Belkum, M.J. and Vederas, J.C. Class IIc or circular bacteriocins. In Prokaryotic Antimicrobial Peptides from Genes to Applications. D. Drider and S. Rebuffat (Eds), Chapter 12, pp 213-236, 2011, Springer Verlag. (invited book chapter)

Martin-Visscher, L.A.; Yoganathan, S.; Sit, C.S.; Lohans, C.T.; and Vederas, J. C. The activity of bacteriocins from Carnobacterium maltaromaticum UAL307 against Gram-negative bacteria in combination with EDTA treatment. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 317, 152-159 (2011).

van Belkum, M.J.; Martin-Visscher, L.A. and Vederas, J.C. Cloning and characterization of the gene cluster involved in the production of the circular bacteriocin carnocyclin A. Probiotics & Antimicro. Prot. 2, 218-225 (2010).

Martin-Visscher, L.A.; Gong, X.; Duszyk, M. and Vederas, J.C., The 3D structure of carnocyclin A reveals that many circular bacteriocins share a common structural motif, J. Biol. Chem. 284, 28674-28681 (2009).

Gong, X.; Martin-Visscher, L.A.; Nahirney, D.; Vederas, J.C.; and Duszyk, M. The circular bacteriocin, carnocyclin A, forms anion-selective channels in lipid bilayers, Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 1788, 1797–1803 (2009).

Martin-Visscher, L.A.; van Belkum, M.J.; Garneau-Tsodikova, S.; Whittal, R.M.; Zheng, J.; McMullen. L.M.; and Vederas, J.C., Isolation and characterization of carnocyclin A, a novel circular bacteriocin, produced by Carnobacterium maltaromaticum UAL307, Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 74 , 4756-4763 (2008).

Martin-Visscher, L.A.; Sprules, T.; Gursky, L.J.; and Vederas, J.C., NMR solution structure of PisI, a group B immunity protein that provides protection against the type IIa bacteriocin piscicolin 126, PisA, Biochemistry, 47, 6427-6436 (2008).