Research

Researchers in the Department of Biology expand our knowledge base in a variety of fields. These fields range from cell and molecular biology through ecology and the environment to physiology and paleontology and combine many different methods to understand biological processes. Leading-edge, collaborative research is done in several major areas:

  • Evolution & Ecology
  • Neuroscience & Physiology
  • Development, Cell & Molecular Biology
  • Global Change Biology & Biodiversity

Our research involves studies in animal and plants and uses both model and non-model species.

A range of state-of-the-art research resources are the basis for diverse and collaborative research and can be found here https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/biology/resources

Name Office/Email
Website
Research Area

Research Description

Braeutigam, Katharina
Assistant Professor
Office: DV3035
katharina.braeutigam@utoronto.ca
https://plant-epigenetics.com/
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Functional Genomics, Molecular Biology, Physiology, Plant Biology, Systems Biology
My general research interest lies in the interaction between genome, epigenome, and phenotypic performance in plants with emphasis on persistent effects of past experience and molecular memory systems.
Cheng, Hai-Ying (Mary)
Professor 
Office: DV3044
haiying.cheng@utoronto.ca
https://utmchenglab.wordpress.com/
Animal Biology, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology, Psychology & Behavior
In the Cheng lab, we seek to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern circadian rhythms in mammals using our animal model of choice, the lab mouse. We are also interested in other aspects of cellular or brain function, including neurodevelopment, neurodegeneration, neurogenesis, mood regulation, cellular metabolism, protein trafficking, and transcriptional regulation.
Currie, Mark
Assistant Professor
 Office: DV3047
mark.currie@utoronto.ca
Epigenetics, Genome Biology, Gene regulation, Structural Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Cell Biology
We seek to understand the mechanisms that govern genome organization, epigenetic gene regulation, and genome stability in health and disease. We combine structural biology, biochemistry, and cellular model systems.
Ensminger, Ingo
Associate Professor
Office: DV3050
ingo.ensminger@utoronto.ca
http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/ensminger/
Physiology, Plant Biology
Research in the Ensminger lab is focusing on the physiology of plants to understand the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms underlying adaptation and acclimation of plants to their environment.  not simply for scientific interest.
Erclik, Ted
Assistant Professor
Office: DV3046
ted.erclick@utoronto.ca
https://www.ercliklab.com/
Developmental Biology, Neurobiology, Molecular Biology and Genetics
Our lab's goal is to understand how complex neural circuits develop from an initial population of stem cells. As a model system, we use the Drosophila optic lobe, which is the visual processing center of the fruit fly brain.
Espie, George
Professor  
 Office:DV3036
george.espie@utoronto.ca
Biotechnology, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Physiology, Plant Biology, Structural Biology
We are interested in the understanding the structure and function of the cyanobacterial CO2 concentrating mechanism and how it affects photosynthetic activity and photoautotrophic growth under a variety of environmental stresses.
Gwynne, Darryl T
Professor
DV3051
darryl.gwynne@utoronto.ca
http://labs.eeb.utoronto.ca/gwynne
 
 
Behaviour, Physiology & Anatomy of Organisms;
Ecology of Populations, Communities & Ecosystems
A key focus has been how male investment in reproduction (particularly mate-feeding) controls the operation of sexual selection and the evolution of sexual differences in mating, ornaments, and weaponry used in sexual competition. The systems under study have included insects and spiders in which males feed their mates, particularly orthopteran insects (crickets, katydids and New Zealand weta). One focal species, the Mormon cricket, appears to show variable life history not only in sexual behaviour but also in apparent "phases" (solitary versus gregarious).           
Johnson, Marc
Associate Professor
DV3040
marc.johnson@utoronto.ca
http://www.evoeco.org/
 
Ecology of Populations, Communities & Ecosystems; 
Genetics, Genomics & Molecular Evolution
My lab's research bridges the diverse questions and techniques from community ecology, genetics and evolution. Our interests are broad, but all aspects of research in the lab seek to understand the dynamic interplay between the ecology and evolution of species interactions, particularly as it relates to plant-animal interactions.
Kotanen, Peter
Professor
DV3041
peter.kotanen@utoronto.ca
http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/~w3pkota/
Ecology of Populations, Communities & Ecosystems
I study ecological interactions between plants and their natural enemies (herbivores and pathogens). My recent research has centred on the effects of natural enemies on non-native species; ongoing projects focus on the question of whether escape from natural enemies promotes the survival and spread of exotic plants, and whether escape from enemies is more likely in marginal populations. Other research has included studies of seed ecology and of the effects of grazing by northern goose populations.
Lange, Angela
Professor  
Office: DV3200G
angela.lange@utoronto.ca
http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/lange-lab/
Animal Biology, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology
I am an insect physiologist who studies how the nervous system and visceral tissues communicate and integrate information allowing for coordinated behaviours such as egg-laying, digestion, and circulatory function.
Levine, Joel
Professor  & Chair
Office: DV3030
joel.levine@utoronto.ca
http://levinelab.com/
Social Interaction Networks (SINs), Perception and Recognition of Others in the Group, Biological Clocks
We study social networks and how the social environment influences individual behaviour.
Liu, Baohua
Assistant Professor
 Office: DV3049
baohua.liu@utoronto.ca
Systems Biology, Animal Biology, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology
We are interested in the circuit mechanisms underlying the orchestration of the ocular motor behavior and visual information processing, which is essential for proper vision.
McCauley, Shannon
Associate Professor
DV3038
shannon.mccauley@utoronto.ca  http://www.shannonjmccauley.com/
 
Ecology of Populations, Communities & Ecosystems;
Freshwater Ecology
I am a freshwater ecologist with research interests in how processes act across spatial scales to affect community structure and species distributions. At the local scale I am particularly interested in how predator-prey interactions affect community structure, while at the regional scale I have investigated the role of dispersal in shaping communities and species distributions. 
McMeans, Bailey
Assistant Professor
DV4005
bailey.mcmeans@utoronto.ca
baileymcmeans.com
winter physiology& ecology
fish & food webs
Our research explores how aquatic animals respond to changes in the environment (e.g. temperature) via changes in their physiology (e.g. lipid profiles) and ecology (e.g. feeding behavior). We are also interested in the ramifications of these organism-level responses for the structure and stability of food webs.
We combine theory with field-based methods in Arctic seas, temperate lakes and tropical floodplains. These study systems all share drastic seasonal fluctuations in environmental characteristics.
Ness, Rob
Assistant Professor
DV3043
rob.ness@utoronto.ca
https://ness.bio
 
Genetics, Genomics & Molecular Evolution,
Theoretical & Computational Biology
The genetic variation required for evolution by natural selection is generated by mutation, which creates new variants, and recombination, which shuffles those variants into new combinations. In my lab we combine experimental evolution, computational biology, population genetics and genomics to uncover how the generation of variation at the molecular level interacts with genetic drift and natural selection to drive patterns of biological diversity.
Orchard, Ian
Professor 
 Office: DV3035
ian.orchard@utoronto.ca
Animal Biology, Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology, Proteomics
We examine the functioning of the nervous system, using insects as experimental models. We establish the mechanisms by which the nervous system communicates; examining hormonal, synaptic, and modulatory mechanism.
Phillips, Michael
Assistant Professor
 
Office: DV4003
michaelandrew.phillips@utoronto.ca
http://plantmetabolism.blogspot.com
Cell Biology, Chemical Biology, Metabolomics, Molecular Biology, Plant Biology, Quantitative Biology, Systems Biology
My research focuses on the control of flux in plant metabolic networks and the adaptive responses of the plant metabolome to stress at the interface of primary and secondary metabolism.
Ratcliffe, John
Associate Professor
DV3037
j.ratcliffe@utoronto.ca
 www.batsandmoths.com
Ecology of Populations, Communities & Ecosystems;
Behaviour, Physiology & Anatomy of Organism
My students and I study the auditory neuroethology and cognitive ecology of echolocating bats, focusing on acoustic signal production and reception for the purposes of locating prey and discriminating good food from bad. We also study the design and evolution of hearing and defensive signals in moths and other insects with bat-detecting ears.     
Reisz, Robert
Professor
DV3005
robert.reisz@utoronto.ca
https://reiszlab.weebly.com/
Paleontology, Paleoecology, Biodiversity & Systematics, Vertebrate Evolution
Vertebrate Paleontology. During much of my career I have studied the evolution of terrestrial vertebrates with a focus on the origin of amniotes, their anatomy, phylogeny and ecology. Paleozoic amniotes not only record the first successful adaptation of vertebrates to a fully terrestrial mode of life, but are also at the base of subsequent adaptive radiations that eventually gave rise to modern reptiles, birds and mammals. These fossils therefore provide a unique opportunity for studies of the origin and evolutionary radiation of all amniotes.
I have also studied the anatomy, embryology and growth, and evolutionary relationships of a variety of other vertebrates, including lungfish, dissorophoid amphibians, diadectomorph tetrapods, and basal dinosaurs.
Rhee, Ho-Sung
Assistant Professor
 
Office: DV3045
hosung.rhee@utoronto.ca
http://sites.utm.utoronto.ca/rhee/
Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Molecular Biology, Systems Biology
We study how a unique neuronal cell type is specified and maintained during mammalian development. To understand these processes, we use cutting-edge stem cell differentiation and genomics approaches in neural development and disease.
Senatore, Adriano
Assistant Professor
 
Office: DV3033
adriano.senatore@utoronto.ca
http://SenatoreLab.com/
Animal Biology, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cell Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Functional Genomics, Neurobiology, Physiology, Proteomics
We seek to understand the function and dysfunction of several ion channels that play important roles in the nervous system, and further, how these and other electrogenic genes were adapted during nervous system evolution for complex cellular coordination and animal behavior.
Short, Steven
Associate Professor
DV3042
steven.short@utoronto.ca
https://www.aquaticvirology.com
Ecology of Populations, Communities & Ecosystems, Microbes
My research focuses on the molecular ecology of aquatic microorganisms. As the major primary producers in freshwater and marine ecosystems, phytoplankton are key components of aquatic food webs and biogeochemical cycles. Moreover, the discovery of abundant viruses in all aquatic environments suggest that they are important agents of phytoplankton mortality. Thus, my research focuses on the role of viruses in phytoplankton population and community ecology. To better understand the complex interactions of phytoplankton and their viruses, I use quantitative molecular techniques to examine their community composition and dynamics in natural environments and laboratory cultures.
Stefanovic, Sasa
Professor
DV3039
sasa.stefanovic@utoronto.ca
Plant (Molecular) Systematics, Heterotrophic Plants, Phytogeography, (Organellar) Molecular Evolution
My research employs molecular and traditional tools addressing plant systematics questions at both higher and lower taxonomic level as well as molecular mechanisms underlying organellar genome evolution in plants.
Stewart, Bryan
Professor
Office: DV3266
bryan.stewart@utoronto.ca
https://www.bryanstewart.ca/
Animal Biology, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology
Our research is aimed at understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern the function and development of neurons. We use a variety of genetic, molecular, biochemical, imaging and physiological techniques aimed at determining how neurons communicate with other cells.
Wagner, Helene
Professor
DV3048
helene.wagner@utoronto.ca
http://sites.utm.utoronto.ca/wagnerlab
Ecology of Populations, Communities & Ecosystems
Spatial Ecology: Assess spatial patterns within populations and communities to infer underlying processes and assembly rules.
Metacommunity dynamics: Relate scale-dependent components of species diversity within and among community to landscape structure and landscape change.
Landscape Genetics: Provide a mechanistic link by testing landscape effects on gene flow.
Walters, Brandon
Assistant Professor
 Office: CCT4061
brandonj.walters@utoronto.ca
Neurobiology, RNA biology, Learning and Memory, Epitranscriptomics, Epigenetics, Obesity, Alzheimers Disease.
The role of epitranscriptomic modifications in learning and memory.
Westwood, J Timothy
Associate Professor
Office: DV3034
t.westwood@utoronto.ca
http://www.erin.utoronto.ca/~w3hsflab/index.php
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Developmental Biology, Functional Genomics, Molecular Biology, Systems Biology
The Westwood lab primarily studies the regulation of gene transcription, using the Drosophila heat shock genes as a model system, as well as post-transcriptional gene regulation during early Drosophila embryogenesis.