Joanna Y. Wilson, Professor and University Scholar

Educational Background:

  • H.B.Sc. in Biology and Pharmacology, McMaster University
  • M.Sc. in Biology, University of Victoria
  • Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography, MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

I have taught in Biology 1A03 (Cellular and Molecular Biology), Biology 2A03 (Integrative Physiology of Animals), Pharmacology 3A06 (Introduction to Pharmacology), Biology 4C09/4F06 (Senior Project/Thesis) and Biology 726 Topics in Integrative Physiology.  For the past few years, I have been mostly teaching Biology 3ZZ3 (Topics in Physiology) in fall term and Biology 3AA3 (Introduction to Pharmacology) in winter term.

I am an Associate Member of the Department of Psychology, Neurosciences and Behaviour (McMaster University) and a Guest Investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). I am Special Faculty at the University of Guelph for Integrative Physiology.

Current Lab Members

Lisa Stoa, Research Technologist

Derek Alsop, Research Associate

Educational Background:

  • B.Sc. in Biology, McMaster University
  • M.Sc. in Biology, McMaster University
  • Ph.D. in Biology, University of Guelph

I am using zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a model organism in two projects. The first involves the CYP1 family of enzymes, examining their substrate specificities with high-throughput screening (McMaster HTS webpage). The second project is testing the potential for additive toxicity between priority contaminants and their underlying mechanisms of action.  Most recently, I am performing studies to examine the interaction between temperature and chemicals as independent stressors.

Not only do I enjoy my time in the lab, but getting to and from work on my bike is usually an adventure as well. “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.” -Mark Twain

Shamaila Fraz, Post-doctoral researcher

Educational background:

  • BSc, MSc in Pharmacy, Punjab University, Pakistan
  • MSc in Ecotoxicology, University of Göteborg, Sweden
  • PhD in Biology, McMaster University, Canada

I am interested in studying the toxicity of chemicals and other environmental stressors like temperature. I love working zebrafish for their suitability to ask basic research questions.  At present, I have been optimizing conditions for culture of yellow perch embryos in lab, and alongside I have been studying the effects of non-optimal incubation temperature regimes during early development of yellow perch. I am conducting studies to examine the endpoints like normal morphological growth, development and yolk utilization rates and behaviors. 

In addition to love working in the lab, I love to spend time in nature!

Andrea Michelle Murillo Ramos, Ph.D. Candidate

Educational Background:

  • B.Sc. in Biology, University of Florida 
  • Biology, University of Regina 

I am a marine biologist that is currently investigating the role of estradiol signaling in the polychaete, Capitella teleta. Outside of vertebrates, we know very little about the role of estrogen receptors in protosotomes. C. teleta has an estrogen receptor that is activated by estrogens at low concentrations. The goal of my thesis is to investigate different aspects of the estrogen signaling pathway in these amazing polychaetes. 

Besides doing science, I enjoy being really bad at trivia competitions.  




Shemar Williams, MSc Candidate

Educational Background:

  • BA in General Biology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Metformin is the most common first line oral therapeutic agent used in the treatment of type-2 diabetes. Due to its widespread use, metformin and its bacterial breakdown product, guanylurea, have been increasingly detected in freshwater systems. Metformin exposure in adult fish has shown impairments in behavior and reproductive activity however the literature concerning their effects in embryo and larval fish is scant. My thesis focuses on how these compounds impact certain developmental parameters (I.e., morphology, swim behaviour, and oxygen consumption) in embryo and larval zebrafish.



Avery Cochrane, Honours Thesis Student

I am a fourth year Honours Physiology student optimizing Zebrafish CYP2Y3 expression in a bacterial expression system in order to begin functional characterization and high throughput screening of environmental contaminants, to determine its metabolic profile.

Sophie Klein, Honours Thesis Student

I am a fourth year biology (physiology) student working on my thesis in the Wilson lab. My thesis is focusing Yellow Perch, and how their skeletal development may be affected based on water temperature.

Milena Gallucci, Honours Thesis and Work Study Student

I am a fourth year undergraduate student in the Honours Biology & PNB program working on my senior thesis project in the lab. I am studying the effects of constant incubation temperature on the growth and morphology of yellow perch embryos and larvae throughout their early development. 

Mariam Afridi, Senior Research Study and Work Study Student

I am a fourth year Biology student working on my senior research project. For my project, I aim to understand the effects of temperature on the development of Yellow Perch larvae and its impact on morphological function. 




Mellissa Easwaramoorthy, Undergraduate Volunteer


Former Trainees (Graduate and Post-doctoral)

Dwight Causey Post doctoral researcher, co-supervised with Richard Manzon at the University of Regina 2019-2022

Oana Birceanu, NSERC Post-doctoral Fellow 2019-2021.  Oana is an Assistant Professor in Physiology and Pharmacology at Western University

Carly Graham, Postdoctoral researcher 2019-2021 co-supervised with Chris Somers at University of Regina.  Carly is a researcher at McMaster University.

Meghan Fuzzen, Postdoctoral researcher 2017-2020. Meghan is a researcher at the University of Waterloo

James McEvoy, Ph.D. 2020  “Diagnostic exposure of ionizing radiation and its long term effects” Co-supervised by Dani Dixon. James is a postdoctoral researcher at Flinders University

Victoria Restivo MSc 2020  “Effect of wastewater on the gut microbiome of rainbow darter” Co-supervised by Karen Kidd.  Victoria works in environmental consulting (Risk assessment and toxicology).

Lana Shaya, Ph.D. 2019 “Characterizing the function and regulation of orphan CYP3 genes in zebrafish (Danio rerio)” Lana is a scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Shamaila Fraz, Ph.D. 2017  “Carbamazepine and gemfibrozil affect zebrafish reproduction” Shamaila is a post-doctoral researcher at McMaster University

Jessica Preston, M.Sc. 2019 “Effect of radiation in utero on mouse cardiovascular function”

Adomas (Adam) Kulesza, MSc 2017 “The combined effects of thermal and radiological stress on the embryonic development of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis).” Adam is in medical school

Shayen Sreetharan, MSc 2017 “Prenatal Ionizing Radiation Exposure Effects on Cardiovascular Health and Disease in C57Bl Mice.” Shayen is a PhD candidate at McMaster University

Michael Lim, MSc 2016 “Thermal, morpholine, and radiation stressor effects on the embryonic development of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and round whitefish (Prosopium cylindraceum). ” Mike is a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph

Kristine Hammill, MSc 2016 “The Effects of Parental Carbamazepine and Gemfibrozil Exposure on Sexual Differentiation in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)” Kristine is a senior regulatory policy and risk management advisor for Health Canada.

Charles Mitz, Ph.D. 2016, co-supervised with D. Boreham; “The cost of hormesis” Charles works for Golder Associates.

Chris Thome, Ph.D. 2015, co-supervised with D. Boreham;  “The effects of thermal, chemical and radiological stressors on embryonic development in lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis)” Chis is an Assistant Professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

John Eme, Postdoctoral Fellow  John is currently an Assistant Professor at California State San Marcos.

Casey Mueller,
Postdoctoral Fellow  Casey is currently an Associate Professor at California State San Marcos.

Michal Galus, Ph.D. 2014 “Chronic Exposure to Environmentally Relevant Pharmaceutical Concentrations Effects Reproductive and Developmental Physiology in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)” Mike is a science officer for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Eugene Choi,
M.Sc. 2014 ” The effects of chronic acetaminophen exposure on the kidney, gill and liver in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)” Eugene is a pharmacist

Lana Shaya, MSc 2014 “Expression of cytochrome P450 3C and 3B genes in teleost fish” Lana is a science officer with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Chris Dejong, MSc 2014 “The cytochrome P450 superfamily complement in Capitella teleta” Chris is a bioinformatics analyst in biomedical sciences.

James Harskamp, MSc 2012 “Functional screening of cytochrome P450 activity and uncoupling by capillary electrophoresis” James is a teacher.

Nina Kirischian, MSc 2010 “Phylogenetic and in silico functional analyses of the cytochrome P450 families 2 and 4” Nina is an academic advisor at University of Toronto

Lucas Bowley, MSc 2010 “Endocrine disruption in round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) from Hamilton Harbour” Luke is a physician

Emily Smith, MSc 2009 “Cytochrome P450 drug metabolism and protein induction and inhibition in fish liver microsomes” Emily is a teacher

Marcus Scornaienchi, MSc 2009. “Functional characterization of zebrafish cytochrome P450 1 and 3A genes using heterologously expressed proteins” Marcus is a compliance and enforcement officer with Health Canada

Recent Posts

Research Leave is where?

Research leave has rolled around and again, it seems to follow family catastrophe.  I *thought* we would be in Bergen, Norway right now but new elder care duties seriously cancelled that plan. So now I am local.  Research Leave in Hamilton!!!  At the end, it looks like COVID might have cancelled things anyways because I am not sure relocating in the middle of the largest wave of the pandemic would have been so attractive.  Still, it was Norway and I am missing the sea.

My priority for research leave has always been to do something significant for my research program.  For my first, I spent 13 months in Sweden and this was where I fist started doing behavioural research with fish.  I also learned to experiment with primary hepatocytes, although this hasn’t been incorporated in my lab in the same way.  That is mostly because the results of the experiments were a bit blah and unexciting for the compounds we were testing in hepatocyte culture.  But the behavioural research is a different story.  Now we have added in a suite of behavioural assays in different life stages.  For juvenile and adults, we have used courtship, aggression, behavioural choice experiments with odorants and thermal preference tests. For larval fish, we now do a whole range of swimming (general swimming, light:dark response, thigmotaxis), startle responses and feeding behaviour.  My year away pushed us in a new direction that has been rewarding.

So what is on the table this year?  Planning is still an active process but one thing is for sure is that I have some training and planning to do. First, is training to work with human subjects as we have some projects that will cross into social sciences.  The other major training need is to brush up on transcriptomics analyses and R so that we are better equipped for some of the new data we will be generating in the next few years.  Second, is planning for both the lab and field for our perch embryo experiments. We learned so much from last year’s experiments and have to adjust. We will adjust the lab for better rearing protocols and really minimize some of the labour issues we encountered last year. We are adding  new lights to help with feed training the larval fish too. We are also adjusting our field sites and I need to get new permits in place. This is really exciting and I already have new Windermere traps under construction with the engineering lab.  I can’t wait for perch spawning.

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