BSc Research

accessory gland evolution

Evolution of reproductive accessory glands across fishes

As part of my fourth-year thesis, I explored the evolutionary history of  male reproductive accessory glands in fishes. Reproductive accessory glands can play vital roles in male reproductive success, and yet in fishes, very little is known of their form and function. I simulated the evolutionary history of these glands and determined that they are strongly correlated with the presence of male parental care, suggesting that parental care may have been a driving force in their evolution. I also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Ben Bolker to develop a new method for testing specific hypotheses of correlated evolution. Check out this talk I gave at OE3C about some preliminary results. Publication coming soon!

Collaborators: Dr. Sigal Balshine, Dr. Ben Bolker, Dr. John Fitzpatrick, Jessica Miller

Trapping bias in the invasive round goby

In the fourth year of my undergrad, I also tested a potential bias between different trap models when used to capture the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus). Round goby originated in Eastern Europe and the Middle East but have since spread rapidly throughout Western Europe and North America, particularly the Great Lakes region, in some cases having dire consequences on local ecosystems. Sampling gobies using minnow traps is instrumental for monitoring the spread of populations and other research on the species, and yet we determined that significant sampling biases are present depending on the type of minnow trap that is used. Published here!

Collaborators: Dr. Sigal Balshine, Adrienne McLean, Caitlyn Synyshyn

round goby ecology
Synyshyn et al 2023.pdf
bird conservation

Colonial-nesting  waterbird conservation in Hamilton Harbour

In the summer of 2019, I worked with Dr. Jim Quinn on the management of colonial nesting waterbirds in Hamilton Harbour, as part of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan. Hamilton Harbour is a notoriously contaminated area due to its industrial past (and present) but it also represents a hotspot for avian species. We worked on determining how to best protect and manage the various colonies of nesting waterbirds, including Common Terns, Caspian Terns (pictured here), Ring-Billed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Double-Crested Cormorants, and Black-Crowned Night Herons.

Collaborators: Dr. Jim Quinn, Natalie Palumbo

Resource partitioning among tree-foraging birds

In the second year of my undergrad, I completed an independent project under the supervision of Dr. Chad Harvey.  I aimed to determine if tree-foraging birds displayed significant resource partitioning or habitat preference in a nearby conservation and research forest. Rest assured that the findings of MacArthur and his warblers stood the test of time.

Collaborators: Dr. Chad Harvey , Chelsea Aristone

bird ecology
integrated science research

Undergraduate Research Projects

The research-based curriculum of the Integrated Science program allowed me to undertake research projects in all realms of science, from galaxy evolution to plant-animal interactions to forensics. Check out this article (page 61) I wrote with my peers for our wine science component on the use of oak chips in the wine ageing process, or this video I made about off-label usage of an anticonvulsant.