Elizabeth Sears
Supervisor: Dr. Todd Gillis

Program: M.Sc Candidate in Comparative Physiology

Academic Background:
2011-present – M.Sc Candidate, University of Guelph, Department of Integrative Biology 2007-2011 – B.Sc.H, Marine and Freshwater Biology, University of Guelph, Ontario

2010 – Toronto Sportsmen’s Scholarship

Research Interests:
I am interested in the evolution of the vertebrate heart, and the diversity, both structurally and functionally, seen across phyla. My research focuses on the troponin protein complex, and the changes in amino acid sequence found in the evolution of endothermy. These changes in amino acids are at least partially responsible in differences in calcium sensitivity and adrenergic sensitivity between ectotherms (such as teleost fish) and endotherms (such as mammals). Generally speaking, ectothermic hearts have a much higher calcium sensitivity than endotherms, allowing their hearts to function at temperatures which would be fatal to mammals. I am interested how key changes in contractile protein function may be linked to the evolution of endothermy in vertebrates.

Thesis Topic:
Characterization of cardiac contractile proteins of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis): Investigating the evolution of cardiac contractile function

Conferences Attended:
2011 – Physiology and Biochemistry Workshop, Rice Lake, Ontario