Research for Department of Biological Sciences

Our faculty and their research

Faculty members are happy to involve students in their research projects, using state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, often collaborating with other departments, community members and employers, giving you the opportunity to get hands-on experience.

Students in Biological Sciences have the opportunity to participate in field studies or gain employment with local researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, various industries and other institutions.

Faculty profiles

Theresa Burg studies the molecular ecology of birds, the role of physical and non-physical barriers in the evolution of high latitude species, how individuals isolated in ice-free refugia during the last glaciation expanded into previously glaciated areas as the climate warmed, and how their dispersal was affected by barriers.

Keywords: Historical biogeography, Population genetics, Evolutionary ecology, Molecular ecology

Larry Flanagan employs experimental techniques from plant physiology, ecology, geochemistry and even meteorology to study the interactions between ecosystems and the atmosphere and how they are affected by environmental change.

Keywords: Ecosystem Ecology, Plant Physiological Ecology, Global Change

Cam Goater uses a combination of ecological, genetic, and cellular approaches to understand how parasites and hosts interact with each other under natural and semi-natural conditions.

Roy Golsteyn studies cancer cells under laboratory conditions. He treats them with drugs or irradiation under conditions that are similar to those used in cancer clinics. Roy then uses microscopy and molecular tools to identify the proteins that help cancer cells survive conditions that normally should stop their growth or kill them.

Keywords: Cancer, Cell cycle, Checkpoints, Inhibitors

Alice Hontela focuses on health assessment of aquatic species exposed to agri-chemicals and metals in Western Canada and investigations of the mechanisms through which adrenotoxic chemicals interfere with the normal synthesis of corticosteroid hormones.

Keywords: Physiology, Toxicology, Fish, Hormones

Igor Kovalchuk studies plant genome stability, with focus on internal influences, such as metabolic activity, biological clock, and development, as well as abiotic and biotic external influences, such as UVB, heavy metals, high temperatures and pathogens. A particular research focus is the epigenetic regulation of transgenerational adaptation to stress.

Olga Kovalchuk focuses on genetic and epigenetic effects of acute and chronic low dose radiation exposure and their relationship to radiation carcinogenesis. She looks at tissue- and sex-specificity of radiation-induced oncogenic signaling in mammals and works towards identification of novel plant-derived radio-protective compounds.

Rob Laird studies plant-insect interactions and the ecology and evolution of plant defence. He also studies theoretical biology with a special focus on the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of aging, cooperation, and non-transitive competition.

Keywords: Ecology, Evolution, Plant-insect interactions, Theory

Gregory Pyle studies the effects of environmental contaminants on the chemical communication systems in aquatic animals. He is able to study several aquatic species, including both vertebrate and invertebrate animals, representing different positions within a typical freshwater food web and thereby better understanding the subtle effects of environmental contamination.

Joseph Rasmussen is interested in aquatic ecology, food web energetics, and conservation. Specifically, he looks at the effects of human activities on ecosystem function, fisheries, and water quality.

Stewart Rood is interested in plant physiology, with emphasis on gibberellins, ecophysiology of river valley cottonwoods, and river regulation and restoration.

Keywords: Tree physiology, Riparian ecology, Cottonwoods

Tony Russell focuses on the structure, function and evolution of selected eukaryotic protein-RNA complexes (RNPs). His strategy employs single-celled eukaryotic microbes (specifically protists) as model systems in which to study cellular processes that are shared with more complex organisms such as humans.

Elizabeth Schultz analyzes plant development using genetic and molecular techniques. Specifically, she looks at the development of leaf shape and vascular pattern in leaves of Arabidopsis.

Brent Selinger studies the genetics and biochemistry of microbial hydrolytic enzymes. He also looks at biological control of cattle ectoparasites and the microbial ecology of surface waters.
James Thomas studies cell & molecular biology, biochemistry and environmental microbiology. In particular he has been involved in the microbial assessment of water quality and assessment of microbial diversity, as well as host-pathogen interactions.

Dmytro Yevtushenko studies potato (Solanum tuberosum L.). His major research interests are in the areas of plant biotechnology and genomics, with focus on crop improvement and food safety using modern techniques of molecular biology, genetic engineering, and plant tissue culture.

Keywords: otato, Plant Biotechnology, Crop Improvement