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 3ZZ3 (Topics in Physiology), Biology 3AA3 (Introduction to Pharmacology),  Biology 4C09/4F06 (Senior Project/Thesis) and Biology 726 Topics in Integrative Physiology.

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.

Outside of the lab, I am active with community volunteering, science outreach to local schools and of course, hanging out with my kids.

Current Lab Members

Lisa Stoa, Research Technician

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

Meghan Fuzzen, Postdoctoral fellow

Allison Kennedy, Postdoctoral fellow

Shamaila Fraz, Ph.D. Candidate

Lana Shaya, Ph.D. Candidate

Andrea Michelle Murillo Ramos, Ph.D. Candidate

James McEvoy, Ph.D. Candidate

Jessica Preston, M.Sc. Candidate

Ushma Purohit, Honours Thesis Student

Taylor Wiseman, Honours Thesis Student

Jasmine Bhatti, Honours Thesis Student

Simon Pollard, Honours Thesis Student


Former Students

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 is currently working 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 a PDF 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 Assistant 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 currently a PDF at the University of Ottawa.

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 school.

Lana Shaya, MSc 2014 “Expression of cytochrome P450 3C and 3B genes in teleost fish” Lana is currently a PhD student in the Wilson Tox Lab

Chris Dejong, MSc 2014 “The cytochrome P450 superfamily complement in Capitella teleta” Chris is currently 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” Nina is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto

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

Women of Distinction: 2018 Edition

That special time of year is almost upon us again, the chance to celebrate Hamilton’s Women of Distinction.  And like many years, the McMaster community is out in full force.  I’m not sure exactly what it is about our community that produces so many exceptional women but in many years McMaster women make up over half of all nominees and every single Young Woman of Distinction.  That is an achievement for which the McMaster community should be very, very proud.  I encourage you to read their biographies and hear their stories to find some great inspiration.  These women are smart, enthusiastic, energetic, exceptional and contribute to our community in so many unique ways.   For me, the best categories to read about are at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Life Time Achievement nominees and the Young Woman of Distinctions.  I am really not sure how anyone in either category can achieve so much.

2018 is a special year for our lab because Ushma Purohit is a nominee in the Young Woman of Distinction category.  Ushma has been a Wilson Tox Lab member since her 2nd year of university, when she asked me to supervise her in an experiential learning course.  She was keen to get into a lab and gain some hands on experience and excited to join a new area for our lab.  Ushma worked with another stellar undergraduate researcher, Abby Lee, to develop hydra as a model system to study the impacts of human pharmaceuticals on aquatic species.  Abby was completing her senior thesis, assessing the effects of chronic exposure of hydra to an anti-epileptic and an anti-depressant pharmaceutical.  Ushma learned how to prepare, stain, and count the different cell typess from hydra so we could identify whether there were changes in the proportions of cell types after exposure.  That research is now being written into a manuscript for publication.  I often point to this area of our research program to demonstrate how impactful undergraduate researchers can be.

Ushma has continued to volunteer and complete research course work in my lab and is now in her senior year.  She has gone from assisting others on research to running her own.  Her senior thesis research focuses on the anti-microbial compound triclosan and whether this impacts compound negatively impacts hydra biology.  She is a bright and independent researcher with a great future.  Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Beyond her classes and research, Ushma has been contributing to her communities at McMaster, in the larger city of Hamilton, and beyond.

So what does it take to be a Young Woman of Distinction?  Well let’s just list two of Ushma’s accomplishments outside of the lab.  Ushma founded the first Canadian chapter of the organization She’s the First, which champions education of girls in low-income countries.  The McMaster chapter has focused on raising funds and education campaigns including conferences, art showcases, recreational events, and awareness videos, to encourage the conversation around intersectional feminisim within the McMaster community. Within Hamilton, this club has hosted educational workshops at the local Native Women’s Centre on health, self-care and other topics and in Hamilton’s elementary schools to educate students on topics such as communication and the media, body image and bullying, and female leadership. Not so surprisingly, this club has won two awards within its first year; a McMaster Student Union award for the Best New Club of the Year and an award from the parent organization for Outstanding Achievement in Community Engagement.

Ushma is the current President of the UNICEF club at McMaster University, a club she has been active in for over 3 years.  It is one of the largest clubs on campus and raises funds to support the health and education of children and raise awareness of humanitarian issues within the McMaster community.  The McMaster UNICEF club sends over 100 volunteers to the Children’s International Learning Centre and supports education of young children through a variety of initiatives.

What has Ushma’s nomination meant to her?

“The experience of becoming a nominee for the Women of Distinction awards has been a lot more meaningful for me than I could have imagined. This nomination provided me with the opportunity to learn about and interact with some of the most driven, hard-working and talented women in Hamilton. As an individual who is currently at the advent of her career, experiences like this play a pivotal role in moulding my ambitions and aspirations for the future. Regardless of who wins the Young Woman of Distinction Award, I believe that as nominees, we have won an eye-opening experience that we will carry with us in the years to come.”

Feel inspired yet?  This isn’t a complete list of all she does, but just a couple of highlights of what this young woman of distinction has already accomplished.  Ushma is just one of 34 nominees for the 2018 YWCA Hamilton Women of Distinction awards.  Take a few minutes and read about who they are and what they do.  Regardless of who wins the awards, McMaster and Hamilton are the big winners here because these women are exceptional.

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