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Read below for an overview of research being done in the department, which encompasses ecology, behaviour and evolutionary biology, physiology, cellular and microbiology, molecular biology and bioinformatics. Applications of our research range from conservation to agriculture and industry to human and animal health. Researchers accepting inquiries or applications from prospective graduate students or post-docs are indicated below.

Robert Anderson
Associate Professor, Biting Fly Ecology and Behaviour

My research involves experimental studies of the behaviour and ecology of hematophagous arthropods, especially mosquitoes, with respect to blood feeding, pathogen transmission and the applied public-health aspects of vector control.

German Avila-Sakar
Associate Professor, Plant Evolutionary Ecology

I study the evolution of 1) plant sexual systems, and 2) defence against herbivores. Both topics are connected through resource allocation theory. How should plants partition their resources between the male and female reproductive functions to achieve greater fitness? How much should plants invest resources on growth, defence and reproduction at the different stages of their life cycles? I approach these questions from both evolutionary and physiological perspectives.

I am happy to consider student applicants who want to conduct masters or doctoral studies in any aspect of plant evolutionary ecology, especially in plant-animal interactions, plant defence, sex allocation, and pollination biology. Unfortunately, due to my current lack of external funds for research, it will be difficult for me to accept anyone who has not already secured a scholarship or fellowship to conduct graduate studies (e.g., NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships).

Website: http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/~gavila 

Alberto Civetta
Professor, Evolutionary Genetics & Genomics

Work in my lab focuses on the evolutionary genetics/ genomics of reproductive traits. We use a combination of classical genetics and molecular approaches to identify genetic variation that contributes to differences in traits such as sperm development, sperm competitive ability and fertility. We make use of genomic data in combination with the characterization of phenotypic differences within and between species to establish associations between gene polymorphisms and phenotypes. The tools of comparative genomic, phylogenetic and bioinformatics are used to test the role of selection during the evolution of genes responsible for reproductive adaptations and differentiation between species.

I am currently accepting applications from prospective graduate students or post-docs.

Lab website: http://ion.uwinnipeg.ca/~acivetta

Scott Forbes
Professor, Behavioural Ecology & Fisheries

My research is currently focused in two areas: the behavioural ecology of families; and fisheries and fish population dynamics. My work has both empirical and theoretical dimensions. I have conducted long-term field studies on the behaviour and ecology of marsh-nesting blackbirds as model systems for the study of family dynamics. I am interested in the resolution of conflict and cooperation among family members, and how finite resources are shared. I am also beginning new projects on the fish and fisheries of Manitoba. This work will look at the potential for the commercial exploitation of non-traditional species, and whether new bioproducts can be developed from the freshwater fish of Manitoba.

I am currently accepting applications from prospective graduate students or post-docs with full or partial funding.

Jens Franck
Associate Professor, Molecular Biologist

My research is in the area of molecular evolutionary biology and genetics.  Research in the laboratory is focused on the molecular evolution and expression of a family of intracellular calcium release channels known as ryanodine receptors (RyRs).  RyRs are integral components of a signal transduction pathway that involves the release of calcium from intracellular stores which is critical in diverse cellular processes including muscle contraction. Students in my lab have revealed how the RyR gene family has undergone several gene duplication events in the vertebrate lineage leading to gene subfunctionialization, the process describing the partitioning of ancestral gene function. Using fish model systems, including zebrafish and medaka my laboratory is investigating the genetic basis for the regulatory difference in expression for the RyR genes and other genes involved in calcium homeostasis.

I am currently accepting applications from prospective graduate students or post-docs.

Sara Good
Associate Professor, Molecular Genetics and Bioinformatics

In my research group, we combine laboratory techniques in molecular genetics with tools in bioinformatics, phylogenetics, and molecular evolution to study the evolution of genomes and gene families. The two main study systems in the laboratory concern the evolution and expression of relaxin family peptides in vertebrates, especially teleost and the evolution of self-incompatibility systems in plants. The relaxin family of ligands are a diverse group of peptides hormones involved in neuroendocrine and reproductive functions. We are studying the evolution of the gene family across vertebrates and focussing on the expression and evolution of genes in fish. I also perform molecular population genetic analyses of diverse study organisms, especially those that are of concern for conservation, and welcome collaboration on molecular population genetics of plant and animal species.

For additional information or to join the laboratory, you will find more information on my webpage at http://www.saragoodlab.com.

Caleb Hasler
Assistant Professor, Fish Biology and Aquatic Conservation

We study fish biology and aquatic conservation. Often, we seek to answer questions associated with the conservation of natural fish populations, particularly where abrupt and extreme changes in the environment occur. For example, our lab has experience with understanding the impacts of hydropower infrastructure and operations on fish behaviour and physiology; quantifying the biological effects of catch-and-release angling; and developing novel non-physical barriers to reduce the movements of aquatic invasive species. We also complete lab-based studies to understand the biological mechanisms underlying the responses we observe in the field. The techniques that we use span the gamut of organismal biology and freshwater ecology, and include: physiological sampling, respirometry, behavioural assays, sensor-based monitoring of animals and the environment, telemetry, and common fisheries and limnologic techniques. Our lab also has experience dealing with large datasets, complex statistical models, and geographic information systems. Overall, our aim is to understand the biological basis for conservation issues and work with stakeholders to improve natural fish populations in Manitoba, Canada, and across the globe.

We are always looking for new graduate and undergraduate students. Students do not have to have funding or project ideas when contacting us. 


Paul Holloway
Associate Professor, Microbiology

I am currently accepting applications from prospective graduate students.

Susan Lingle
Associate Professor, Behavioural Ecology

My lab group focuses on the evolution of prey defences against predation as these influence the social behaviour, ecology, and, increasingly, the psychology of animals. We continue to collect and analyse data on coyotes, deer and other prey to examine the interface between prey behaviour and predator hunting success, using exceptional field sites on the prairie grasslands of western Canada. Our most novel focus is to investigate the evolutionary continuity in distress calls (cries) of newborns and caregiver responses to these cries – from crocodiles to mule deer to humans. We do this work through acoustic analyses and playback experiments, in the field with species like deer and in the lab with humans.

I am happy to receive inquiries from prospective graduate students or post-docs.

Website: http://www.linglelab.org 

Rafael Otfinowski
Assistant Professor, Restoration Ecology

My research focuses on understanding links between plants and soils to conserve, manage, and restore prairie ecosystems. To accomplish these goals, I design greenhouse, field, and natural experiments to explore how the structure, composition, and diversity of restored prairie communities effects their function. I am fascinated by the vast root systems that link plants and soil food webs and aim to use my research to help refine how we measure restoration success. I am also interested in understanding how invasive species effect ecosystems and how to use this information to prioritize the management of exotic invaders in natural areas. In my research, I collaborate with conservation agencies, including Parks Canada, and beef and forage producers in Manitoba, to contribute to the restoration and sustainable use of prairies ecosystems. My greatest and most rewarding challenge is to teach students about the evolution and function of grasslands and to learn from Indigenous and community members about the history, cultural uses, and conservation of grassland ecosystems in Canada and around the world.

I always welcome inquiries from prospective undergraduate and graduate students.

Lab Website: www.prairielab.ca

Andrew Park
Associate Professor, Forest Ecology

My research interests are quite eclectic, but are united by a strong belief that sustainable forest management requires us not only to understand the dynamics of forest systems, but to actively manage them.  Over the last nine years I have led research programs on cattle grazing and forest regeneration, the role of local versus regional environments in forest restoration in the Republic of Panama, forest hydrology, and carbon storage.  My current research program is a wide-ranging investigation of the adaptation of forests and forest practices to climate change, involving modelling, research into assisted migration, and investigation of the link between plant functional traits and adaptability.

I welcome expressions of interest from prospective graduate students or post-docs, especially those who are funded through NSERC or another major granting agency.

Lab website: http://andrewpark.org

Anuraag Shrivastav
Associate Professor, Cellular Signalling Mechanisms and Cancer Therapeutics

Cellular signaling mechanisms are intricately linked to homeostasis through events that control cell proliferation, survival and death. Aberrations in some of these mechanisms are often associated with oncogenic processes, which provide insights into the mechanisms driving development and progression of different cancers. These may also lead to identification of novel biomarkers and potential targets of therapy. Because the evolution of cancer specific therapeutics is intricately linked to our understanding of the unique pathways involved in different cancers, my lab is studying cell-signaling pathways linked to the onset and progression of human cancers.

I am currently accepting applications from prospective graduate students or post-docs.

Jacques Tardif
Professor of Biology & Environmental Studies and Sciences, former Canada Research Chair in Dendrochronology

The research interests pursued in our laboratory are centered on understanding forest dynamics and how trees and other plant species are responding to both small and large scale forest disturbances (wind, insect outbreaks, fire, etc.). We use tree-ring analysis to reconstruct forest disturbances and to analyze the response of trees to these agents of change. We also use tree-ring analysis and wood anatomy to study the impact of climate on tree growth. Dendrochronological reconstruction of past environmental conditions also helps us to better understand the linkages between climate variability and forest disturbances. Searching Manitoba for old living and dead trees and studying the ecology of tree species reaching their northern distribution limit are also major research activities of our laboratory.

I am currently accepting applications from prospective graduate students or post-docs.

Website: http://ion.uwinnipeg.ca/~jtardif

Richard Westwood
Professor, Dept. of Biology & Dept. of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Environmental Impact Assessment

My undergraduate and graduate students conduct research on environmental impact assessment in boreal forest, prairie and urban forest ecosystems. Areas of research include: 1. Use of arthropods and plants as biological indicators of boreal forest ecosystem health and function and as tools for environmental impact assessment for the forest industry; 2. The management and protection of urban forests which includes assessment of the impacts of biotic and abiotic stresses on the health of urban trees and development of new methods of effective tree protection; and 3. The pollination biology of endangered plants and conservation and enhancement of endangered butterfly species in Manitoba including studies on the biology and bionomics of endangered butterfly species in relation to habitat requirements and long term management requirements. I teach courses in Research Design, Urban Forestry, Forest Health and Protection, Urban Forestry and Environmental Impact Assessment.

Individual website:


Sanoji Wijenayake

Assistant Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology / Developmental Origins of Health and Disease

Maternal obesity is a major public health problem. In Canada, 22-24 % of women are diagnosed with obesity at the time of conception and this percentage extends to more than 50 % in the US. This means that a high percentage of infants born in North America are exposed to maternal obesity during critical periods of early development (in utero and after-birth) with long-lasting health complications. Breastfeeding is proposed as a solution to combat the risks of overweight/obesity in children. But we know very little about the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying this protective effect, and we know even less about how maternal obesity shape the bioactive components of milk. Especially, a group of small, fat-coated nanovesicles known as milk-derived exosomes that carry genetic information from mothers to their offspring.


 The main objective of my research program is to characterize the role of maternal milk as a biological regulator of early postnatal development and growth. My lab will use cell culture techniques, an obesity-centric rodent model, microscopy, advanced molecular and biochemistry toolkits, and Next Generation Sequencing technologies.

Currently accepting undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. www.wijelab.ca


Craig Willis
Associate Professor, Evolutionary Physiology & Ecology

We aim to understand what motivates small bodied mammals in their decisions about where to live, when to be active and inactive, and how to maintain a balance between energy intake and expenditure. We use insect-eating bats and small ground-living mammals as model organisms and a range of lab and field techniques including bio-logging to quantify physiology and behavior in free-ranging animals, and open-flow respirometry to quantify metabolism in the laboratory.  We are also conducting research to address two crises for the conservation of North American bats, mortality of migratory bats at industrial-scale wind turbines and the emerging infectious disease white-nose syndrome.

I am always interested in hearing from prospective graduate students and post-docs. Please check out http://www.willisbatlab.org for more information.