A current focus of our coalescent-based work is the development of models to support inferring historical processes that shape an ecological community, from genes to ecosystem processes. These models have applications across the domains of life, from microbial communities to grasslands. A corollary to this work is theory in support of the interpretation of metagenomic data. In the area of polyploid population genetics, our work is currently focusing on models of multilocus selection, with potential application to understanding the evolution of recombination rates and diploidization.Learn More
Research in the Crease lab uses freshwater crustaceans in the genus Daphnia as a model organism to study evolution of the ribosomal (r)DNA multigene family, and of the DNA transposon, Pokey, which inserts in a specific region of the Daphnia rDNA repeat as well as other genomic locations. Current projects involve comparing rates of evolution in ribosomal proteins that bind to conserved and variable regions of rRNA genes, determining the impact of breeding system (cyclic or obligate parthenogenesis) on the evolution of rDNA and Pokey transposons, determining the relationship between rDNA copy number and Pokey distribution, and measuring rates of Pokey transposition inside and outside of rDNA.Learn More
Skeletal muscle is a remarkable tissue which regulates many metabolic processes, generates heat and is the basic motor of locomotion allowing us to meaningfully interact with our environment. When a muscle is activated at various lengths it produces a given predictable amount of force. However, when that muscle is actively lengthened or shortened those predictions go out the window. We actually know very little regarding dynamic muscle contraction. My research program focuses on muscle contractile properties and gaining a deeper understanding of how muscle works. I use altered states to tease out some of these fine muscle details such as muscle fatigue, aging, and training.Learn More
Our research centres on the application of physical activity and other acute/chronic perturbations to human physiology to understand how and why the body adapts to these stresses. We take an integrative systems approach, with our work focusing on interventions and assessments of cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular physiology. Specific focus areas include projects to understand the effects peripheral blood flow manipulation, the consequences of particularly stressful exercise, and novel training methods to optimize targetted physiological adaptations. From a health perspective, we are interested in understanding how exercise can be used to prevent and control risk factors for cardiovascular and cardiometabolic disease.Learn More
The role of physical properties in determining the metabolic and health effects of foods is often overlooked. We aim to better understand the relationships between food properties and metabolic response, particularly for dietary lipids. After chemical and structural analyses, real and model food systems are exposed to simulated gastrointestinal conditions using static and dynamic models. This generates insight into how food properties interact with the biochemical and biophysical aspects of digestion to determine nutrient release and absorption. We couple these experimental approaches with human clinical trials to relate material properties and their digestive behavior with metabolic endpoints (e.g. absorption, satiety, inflammation, lipemia, gastrointestinal symptoms).Learn More
Dr. Cezar Khursigara's research focuses on understanding how bacterial pathogens respond to their environment to cause disease. They are particularly interested in factors involved in biofilm formation and chronic infection. His research group is taking a multidisciplinary approach to answer fundamental questions related to how bacteria form biofilms to cause persistent infections. By combining advanced systems biology and imaging techniques, his goal is to identify potential therapeutics that can target a broad spectrum of disease-causing bacteria.Learn More
Our research typically involves assessing animals' preferences for and responses to 'enriched' housing conditions that are more complex and naturalistic than the standard norms; investigating abnormal behaviours like stereotypic pacing; validating potential welfare indicators (e.g. facial expressions), and we also analyse multi-species datasets to looks for species-level welfare risk and protective factors. We have worked or are working with mink, rats, mice, rhesus monkeys and zebra fish; and with large datasets from elephants, Carnivora, parrots and lemurs.Learn More
Protein synthesis involves the translation of ribonucleic acid information into proteins, the building blocks of life. The initial step of protein synthesis consists of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) binding to the 5' cap of mRNAs. However, many cellular stresses repress cap-dependent translation to conserve energy by sequestering eIF4E. This raises a fundamental question in biology as to how proteins are synthesized during periods of cellular stress and eIF4E inhibition. Research in our laboratory will build upon the discovery that cells switch to an alternative cap-binding protein, eIF4E2, to synthesize the bulk of their proteins during periods of oxygen scarcity (hypoxia).Learn More
Dysfunctional lipid metabolism is a key feature of cardiometabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. My research program has three primary areas of interest:
First, we are using cell and mouse models to determine how omega-3 fats regulate lipid metabolism. We are investigating how omega-3 fats control adipogenesis, as well as lipogenic, lipolytic, and triglyceride synthesis pathways in adipose tissue and liver.
Second, we are studying how different nutrients regulate omega-3 synthesis in the body using both mouse models and human clinical trials.
Third, we are interested to personalize nutrition to improve human cardiometabolic health. We continue to be active in this area through various national and international collaborations.
We are interested in microbial enzymes involved in the steroid and aromatic compounds degradation. These enzymes are important for bioremediation of organic pollutants and are potential targets for development of antibiotics against tuberculosis. In collaboration with Dr. Ting Zhou at Agriculture Agri-food Canada, we are isolating and characterizing enzymes capable of detoxifying the mycotoxins, deoxynivalenol and patulin. These mycotoxins contaminate grains and fruit juices.Learn More
In the next 5 years, I will shift my research strategy by consolidating 4 streams of my past research: temporal dynamics, host-symbiont interactions, small mammal metacommunity dynamics, and DNA-based species identification and bioinformatics. I will focus on a study system that combines my past strengths in metacommunity ecology at multiple scales, but will apply them to a novel system: microbial metacommunities nested within a matrix of metacommunity of different host species.Learn More
My research program investigates the ecological and evolutionary processes operating in plant populations, both wild and domesticated. Much of our work is conducted through the lens of plant reproductive systems, which control the quantity and quality of sperm and eggs, patterns of mating, and ultimately the transmission of genetic variation from one generation to the next. Current research projects include: 1) mating system variation and evolution, 2) polyploid speciation, 3) genetic and phenotypic consequences of whole genome duplication; 4) biology of small populations, and 5) impacts of hybridization between introduced species and endangered congeners. We work on a variety of study systems, including Arabidopsis, apple, strawberry, fireweed, American chestnut, and mulberry.Learn More
In this lab, we work to better understand the contemporary distribution of hyperdiverse, and often cryptic, species of insects across major ecological gradients in tropical and temperate environments. Our research is built upon projects designed to explore the causes and consequences of biodiversity across elevational, latitudinal and disturbance gradients and builds on long-term collections using phylogenetic, functional and physiological measures. I am committed to teaching, and learning from, diverse individuals and scientists, participating in outreach, improving how we communicate science, and publishing accessible research and data.Learn More
We are interested in characterizing the mechanisms of pathogenesis, adaptation, and survival in fungal and bacterial microbes from a systems biology perspective through mass spectrometry-based quantitative proteomics. Specifically, research in the lab centres around the following areas:
1) Systems biology to elucidate microbial proteome dynamics and interactions;
2) Mechanistic characterization of pathogenic proteins; and
3) Mass spectrometry-based proteomics for drug discovery and repurposing.
First, we have systematically generated inhibitors and activators for E3 ubiquitin ligases to discover new enzyme catalytic mechanism and new substrates. We continue to develop synthetic peptides and proteins to delineate biochemical mechanisms of E3 ubiquitin ligases.
Second, we showed that structure-based protein engineering enables development of anti-viral reagents for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus. Now we started engineering post-translational modifications to probe and rewire DNA damage signaling for cancer therapeutics.
Finally, we created molecular tools to increase CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing efficiency. Now we are developing new tools as "off-switch" for CRISPR-based gene editing through targeted protein degradation.
Prof. Dawson studies the impact of inherited changes in heart muscle proteins to understand what is going wrong in patients with heart diseases so that we can develop specific strategies to treat the problem. His research takes the research from molecules to organisms, studying the biochemistry of proteins and the development and physiology of zebrafish with changes in their hearts reflecting those seen in people with diseases.
Prof. Dawson's education research focuses on learning outcome assessment in general and the development, implementation, and assessment of critical thinking through higher education science curricula in particular.
Ongoing projects include:
1) Examining cardiac remodeling in zebrafish and trout in response to thermal acclimation.
2) Characterizing the role of the troponin complex in regulating the function of striated muscle.
3) Examining the function of the hagfish heart during prolonged anoxia exposure.
4) Examining the change in diaphragm function during the onset of heart failure.
5) Characterizing how bitumen exposure of sockeye salmon early life stages influences cardiac development and aerobic fitness.
Our research is dedicated to understanding mechanisms that dictate healthy function of the human spine, and ultimately the causes and consequences of low back injury and pain. To do this we study the mechanics and physiology of the lumbar spine and its musculature. We use both human and animal models to understand different aspects of how spine movement is achieved and what "normal" movement looks like, the role of muscle in producing this movement and stabilizing the spine, and how the spine and muscle both adapt to injury and how they can be rehabilitated from injury.Learn More
The primary aim of my research is to better understand the mechanisms that control, and functional consequences of, sympathetic outflow at rest and during stress in humans with and without cardiovascular disease. To uncover these mechanisms, my laboratory employs direct intra-neural recordings of postganglionic sympathetic traffic, studying both multi- and single-fibre preparations. Additionally, we are also interested in understanding the mechanisms responsible for the large inter-individual variability in blood pressure responses to stress, as well as testing novel interventions to reduce resting blood pressure, a major modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease.Learn More
The Cox lab aims to gain a better understanding of the molecular underpinnings of resistance mechanisms. Specifically, we study bacterial efflux systems, which will provide insight into their physiological functions and origins and will also support future drug discovery efforts and antibiotic stewardship. In addition, recognizing the need for innovation in the search for new antibacterial agents, we are exploring novel approaches to control bacterial infections by investigating the inhibition of bacterial adhesion to host cells.Learn More
Generally speaking, we are interested in understanding how biological structure, broadly defined to include structure of all biological forms, mitigates the stability and functioning of ecosystems. This question naturally leads to understanding how human impacts alter biological structure and so also how impacts may potentially alter the stability and functioning of whole ecosystems. This latter aspect of human impacts brings has our empirically motivated interests in developing practical biomonitoring techniques that span the ecological hierarchy. Our work is theoretical, empirical and experimental, and most often in aquatic ecosystems like streams, lakes and coastal oceans. We are highly collaborative and have worked globally on different ecosystems.Learn More
Work in the Laberge lab attempts to understand how variation in brain structure and size influences organismic function, and identify the factors that drive evolution and plasticity of the nervous system. Current projects on this topic study variation in structure and size of the brain in populations of fish and amphibians, the proximate mechanisms generating this variation, and the functional consequences of this variation. Additionally, the lab is involved in collaborative efforts aiming to develop novel indicators of ecological performance and chronic stress in wild fish.Learn More
The main goal of our research program is to understand how the intrinsically disordered late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins are able to protect plants from damage caused by cold, drought and high salinity. Our main focus has been on dehydrins, a group of abiotic stress response proteins that have been shown to protect plants from damage caused by drought and cold. Dehydrins are interesting in that they are composed of a variable number of conserved motifs that appear to have roles in protection of proteins, membranes and DNA from abiotic damage, as well as roles in localization.Learn More