Hart Summer Research Faculty Sponsors

The following is a list of CBS faculty who are looking for candidates to endorse for the Hart summer research assistantship in aquatic biodiversity. Please read the faculty's research interests to see who may match with your personal and professional goals, prior to submitting your application to them. Students may approach other CBS faculty not listed on this page however please note not all faculty are looking for summer research assistants. 

Department of Integrative Biology

Dr. Josef Ackerman 

Environmental stressors of aquatic ecosystems including eutrophication, sedimentation, and climate change can impact biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Our lab examines links between the physical environment and the ecology of aquatic organisms (algae, plants, mussels, zooplankton) and ecosystems (rivers, lakes). Student assistant opportunities exist to support projects investigating: (1) threats to/recovery of endangered mussel species in Southern Ontario; (2) nutrient/resource flux between the benthic plants and/or invertebrates and the water column, (3) the effect of turbulence on the zooplankton feeding/interactions; and (4) relationship between hypoxia (low O2) and fish in western lake Erie.  Student assistants will engage in both field and lab work throughout the summer with the opportunity to continue as an honours research project in the F21– W22 semester. Please contact Dr. Joe Ackerman (ackerman@uoguelph.ca) if interested (http://www.uoguelph.ca/~ackerman)

Dr. Sarah (Sally) Adamowicz 

Our research group explores the evolution and distribution of biodiversity and develops new tools for efficient biomonitoring and environmental protection. We especially focus on using DNA sequence data for studying Arctic, aquatic, and invertebrate biodiversity. Up to two undergraduate projects are available for summer 2021. The first involves using DNA sequence data to investigate the population genetic structure of Arctic organisms. The second involves collaborating with other lab members to assist with developing and testing software for biodiversity analysis using high-throughput DNA sequence data. These projects would be a valuable experience for students considering graduate studies in Bioinformatics or interested in a future DNA-focused Honours or graduate project in Integrative Biology.

Dr. Todd Gillis 

Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii) can fully recover from 36 hours of anoxia exposure. During anoxia exposure, cardiac function is maintained and there is little change in metabolic capacity (Gillis et al., 2015; Gattrell et al., 2019). This project is examining the metabolic pathways that support cardiac function in hagfish during anoxia exposure as well as the cellular mechanisms that help protect the hagfish heart from ischemia reperfusion injury when these animals return to normoxic waters. Ischemia reperfusion injury is a cause of cardiac damage in humans following myocardial infarction. This work involves the use of live animal studies, and the use of advanced analytic techniques (GC/MS) to study metabolic and cellular pathways 

Dr. Andreas Heyland 

My lab is interested in gaining insight into the mechanisms underlying life history trade-offs in the cladoceran Daphnia magna. Specifically, we are using functional genomics approaches to analyze the multi-generational response of D. magna to nutrient levels to better understand how reproductive, immunity and neuronal allocations are made.  This work is part of the CFREF Food From Thought project, an interdisciplinary research program focusing on sustainable agriculture production.

We are interested in developing novel approaches for sustainable aquaculture practices using algae. We developed a novel photobioreactor that allows us to remove nutrients from recirculating waste water systems while growing algae. This system is being tested in the lab and field to assess its productivity and commercial viability

We are studying the evolution of metamorphosis in marine invertebrate groups with specific emphasis on echinoids (sea urchins and sand dollars). We are taking a molecular and cellular approach to analyze the mechanisms underlying this fundamental process.

Dr. Fred Laberge 

Research topic: Validation of brain size and neuron number estimation methods in the HuC-GFP transgenic zebrafish line

The HuC-GFP transgenic zebrafish line is a powerful tool to study phenotypic variation of the fish nervous system because these fish express Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) in neurons, allowing visualization of the nervous system under fluorescent microscopy in both live and fixed specimens (Park et al. 2000 Dev. Biol. 227:279-293). Using our breeding colony of HuC-GFP zebrafish in the Hagen Aqualab, the main aim of this summer’s research project will be to compare the accuracy of methods used to estimate brain volumes in small zebrafish. The high-throughput estimation of the HuC-GFP signal of brains reconstructed from image stacks enhanced by deconvolution microscopy will be compared to volumes obtained from histology of serially sectioned brains. An additional aim will make use of double-labelling immunocytochemistry to compare the proportion of cells expressing different neuronal markers (i.e. HuC, NeuN, βIII-tubulin) to find the best pan-neuronal marker in zebrafish. Future work in this project will test for sublethal neurotoxic effects of environmental contaminants by measuring brain size and neuron number in transgenic zebrafish raised in a medium supplemented with different concentrations of contaminants.

Dr. Patricia Wright

We are interested in understanding the variety of strategies that amphibious fish use to cope with life out of water.  We study a diversity of fishes, some that are completely aquatic and others that tolerate terrestrial exposure.  The aim of this laboratory project is to link plasticity in physiological traits in multiple fishes with performance in water and/or on land to understand the characteristics that are most important in tolerance to air exposure.