Joanna Y. Wilson, Associate Professor

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

Andrea Michelle Murillo Ramos, Ph.D. Candidate

Shemar Williams, MSc Candidate


Avery Cochrane, Honours Thesis Student

Sophie Klein, Honours Thesis Student

Milena Gallucci, Honours Thesis and Work Study Student

Mariam Afridi, Senior Research Study and Work Study Student

Raveen Muzaffar and Mellissa Easwaramoorthy, Undergraduate Volunteers

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

Former Trainees (Graduate and Post-doctoral)

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).”

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 works 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 scientist 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 has gone into pharmacy.

Lana Shaya, MSc 2014 “Expression of cytochrome P450 3C and 3B genes in teleost fish”

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”

Nina Kirischian, MSc 2010 “Phylogenetic and in silico functional analyses of the cytochrome P450 families 2 and 4”

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

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

Marcus Scornaienchi, MSc 2009. “Functional characterization of zebrafish cytochrome P450 1 and 3A genes using heterologously expressed proteins”

Recent Posts

Recruitment begins

I’m not sure I can adequately describe the size or scale of the impact in our lab over the last year+ but this pandemic was dishing things out left, right and centre.  I feel like we are at a nexus of where the pandemic really delayed and harmed our research program.  The personal impacts for many in my group have likewise been large and the largest goal was to try to keep all of us upright, in science, and keeping our heads above the water.  In that regard, we need to reassess and redefine success over the last year.  We have survived (!!) and this was largely from the resilience of our group, as much as I think that is an overused term.  But we did get through this year together, pivoting efforts, helping each other, focusing on what we could do, taking things one step at a time.  Now we are starting to see progress in projects again and productivity is starting to leap back up.  That provides some space to look forward and plan for the future.  Let’s start with some lab success stories.  I’ll add in where we will be recruiting in the upcoming year in these projects.  A detailed outline of our open positions in 2021-2022 will be posted, so please check them out and get in touch if you are interested in our research program.

When the pandemic shut down McMaster, yellow perch were spawning and we were about to launch into working with a brand new species.  Waiting a full 12 months to restart was very hard but spring 2021 saw us undertaking the experiments we canceled the year before (and then some!) with very good outcomes.  The lab (especially Shamaila Fraz) came roaring back with ambitious plans that were very fruitful and lots of experiences in testing new protocols to help move research plans forward.  I am quite excited to see the data collection from our new samples and the analyses from the data already collected.  It will shape the direction of our research into developmental plasticity and impacts of temperature on fish development.  Much of our work this year focused on embryogenesis and immediate post-hatching periods while we work on the juvenile rearing stages. Perch are definitely a bit tough to rear post-hatching, compared to the other species we have worked on.  No surprise but we certainly learned some things not to do to keep them happy.  We are looking to recruit for this project in the upcoming months so we are ready to take on spring 2022 spawn.

While we graduated two graduate students from the lab in 2021, clear success stories, these were students who were done data collection prior to university shut down.  Other graduate students in the lab faced much bigger challenges. With major lost experiments and one totally new project later, we forged a new plan to get back on track. I’m really excited about these new directions.  Andrea Murillo has a freezer full of samples taken from our culture of the marine polychaete worm, Capitella teleta, and she is now extracting those samples to get geared up for gene expression and steroid hormone analyses.  Shemar Williams has completed a suite of experiments in zebrafish embryos and on track to finish his MSc.  Its great to see these project humming along.  This also means it is time to think about new graduate students in 2022 interested in the function of cytochrome P450 enzymes using either zebrafish or Capitella as a primary species of interest.

Success, of course, has also been obvious in more traditional ways. We have been so happy to celebrate Oana Birceanu’s success this year as she starts her new role at Western’s Physiology and Pharmacology department as an Assistant Professor. I look forward to continued collaboration and engagement with her research group in the years to come.

**  If you are interested in our lab, please check back under “Recruitment Opportunities” for more details in the upcoming days. I will be posting specific information there.  The much needed refresh of the lab website is just beginning.


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