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

Name Office/Email
Research Area

Research Description

Braeutigam, Katharina
Assistant Professor
Office: DV3035
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)
Office: DV3044
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
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
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
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
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.

D'Aloia, Cassidy

Assistant Professor

Evolution & Ecology; Marine Science

We study the molecular ecology of aquatic species, with an emphasis on the patterns, causes, and consequences of marine larval dispersal.

Dillon, Marcus
Assistant Professor

EOffice: DV3260 one:
Office Locati 


Ecology of Populations, Communities & Ecosystems

Genetics, Genomics & Molecular Evolution

Theoretical & Computational Biology

Research in the Dillon Lab focusses on tracking how novel infectious diseases emerge, identifying genetic loci that direct disease emergence, and characterizing the evolutionary pathways that enable opportunistic pathogens to infect new hosts. They address these problems using a variety of techniques in the fields of evolutionary genetics and microbiology, including comparative genomics, bioinformatics, and experimental evolution. 
Gwynne, Darryl T
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
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
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
Office: DV3200G
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
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
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
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
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.
Murray, Rosalind
Assistant Professor

Office: DV3051

Ecology of Populations, Communities & Ecosystems

Integrative Biology


Ness, Rob
Assistant Professor
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.
Nguyen Ba, Alex N.
Assistant Professor

Evolutionary Biology, Genetics / Genomics, Systems Biology

Our lab studies quantitative genetics in precision medicine and evolution. We use high-throughput automation and high-resolution approaches to tackle the big questions in these fields by building on the latest advances in synthetic biology and computer science.

Orchard, Ian
 Office: DV3035
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
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
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
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.

Resulaj, Arbora

Assistant Professor



Neurobiology, Physiology, Systems Biology Playing a game of chess, driving a car, or even reading this sentence all require that the brain retain and integrate information over short periods of time. This retaining of information is accomplished by short-term memory. Pioneering work in humans and non-human primates has shown that several cortical areas have a memory trace during the short-term memory period. Yet, the causal contribution of each cortical area to short-term memory remains unknown. Furthermore, at a mechanistic level, short-term memory remains a mystery. On one hand, the timescale is too short for synaptic plasticity mechanisms classically associated with long term memory. On the other hand, the time course of short-term memory is much longer than the intrinsic neuronal dynamics. Indeed, neuronal activity rapidly ceases in the absence of continuous excitatory synaptic input. Theoretical models predict several ways that information can flow through a population of neurons to maintain the memory trace yet experimental data to test these models is lacking. We use the mouse, as a model system, to study 1) the role of the distinct cortical areas in short-term memory and decision-making, 2) how relevant signals are routed from primary visual cortex to other cortical areas, and 3) how neural circuits maintain the short-term memory trace. Our work builds upon our training in engineering, human cognition, mouse olfactory and visual behaviors, combined with our expertise in electrophysiology, anatomical and viral techniques and more recently calcium imaging.
Rhee, Ho-Sung
Assistant Professor
Office: DV3045
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
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
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
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
Office: DV3266
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
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
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
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.