We combine biochemical, molecular and evolutionary biology techniques to look at how animals regulate their metabolism in response to bioenergetics stress. We are particularly interested in the regulation of mitochondrial gene expression in the context of development and environmental stress and how these regulatory pathways have evolved over time in vertebrate lineages.
Over the years, I have studied a variety of animals models. Although I have been working primarily with fish species (zebrafish, goldfish, toadfish), I have also used a number of mammalian model species (rat and mouse), invertebrates (waxworm) and cell culture techniques.
I have also taken my research out of the lab, and worked on some neat species in their environment such as the climbing gobies and the midshipman fish. I am interested in these species as they exhibit incredible metabolic adaptations to survive extreme conditions through their natural lifecycle. These collaborative efforts have allowed me to spend some time doing field work in some unique places such as Bamfield Marine Science Center and Guadeloupe Island.
The climbing gobies (pictured above and below) are cool fishes that posses a suction disk that allows them to climb onto vertical surfaces allowing them to pass obstacles during their upstream migration. We work on these fish species to better understand how they can power diverse modes of locomotion (swimming vs. climbing).
I have also done recent work on various aspect of urea metabolism in vertebrates, looking at it from a variety of angles including the ontogeny of ureogenesis in fish, the evolution of a family of urea transporters in vertebrates, and an examination of the relative contribution of the different biochemical pathways leading to urea production at the cellular level.
More recently, we have been working on the effects of plastics and microplastics in organisms. We’ve been using the zebrafish, and we are collaborating with the Cassone lab on a number of projects focusing on the greater waxworm and its outstanding ability to degrade plastics.
My laboratory in Brandon is setup to pursue these and many new research avenues. I have a fully operational freshwater fish facility, including a zebrafish colony, and have access to state of the art CFI funded facilities to undertake a variety of projects looking at metabolic plasticity at the biochemical, molecular and whole organismal level. Current efforts are focused on the metabolism of zebrafish, the climbing gobies and the waxworm but I am interested in a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate model systems. Students interested in gaining research experience in these areas of research should contact me directly via email.