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  1. Staff
  2. Postdoctoral Fellows
  3. Ph.D. Students
  4. M.Sc. Students
  5. Undergrad Thesis Students
  6. Undergrad Project Students
  7. Volunteers

See also:   Past Members    Group Photos


Sigal Balshine

Sigal's research interests are centered on evolutionary behavioural ecology with a special focus on sociality, breeding system evolution and anthropogenic impacts on behaviour. Sigal received her B.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Toronto, a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and conducted post-doctoral research at Tel Aviv University, the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology in Vienna and the University of East Anglia in Norwich.  Sigal joined the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour in 2000 and was granted tenure in 2006 and full professor status in 2011. She is also an associate member of the Department of Biology at McMaster University and is a member of the Animal Behaviour Society and the International Society for Behavioural Ecology.

Sherry Du

Sherry is ABEL's lab manager this summer.  Sherry is working hard to keep all the various ABEL projects running smoothly but has a special place in her heart for those projects based on the impacts of wastewater.  

Postdoctoral Fellows

Erin McCallum

Erin became part of the lab in September 2011 and studied how pharmaceutical compounds found in treated wastewater affect aggressive, social, and exploratory behaviours in the round goby. Before joining ABEL she received her B.Sc. from the University of Western Ontario where she worked with Dr. Scott MacDougall-Shackleton looking at developmental stress and female mate choice in song sparrows.  After completing her PhD she remained in ABEL as a postdoc for 6 months and then moved to the University of Umea in Sweden to work with Dr. Tomas Brodin.

Ph.D. Students

Aneesh Bose

Aneesh joined ABEL in September 2012 and studies offspring cannibalism and brood abandonment in the plainfin midshipman fish, Porichthys notatus. He is investigating what selective factors that drive these behaviours, and what type of conditions that make these behaviours adaptive. His field-based work is in the intertidal zones of the Pacific Northwest. He received his B.Sc. in Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Guelph, where he worked with Dr. Beren Robinson to study autotomy as a defence mechanism in larval odonates.  Aneesh is supported by an NSERC CGS.

Adrienne McLean

Adrienne Joined ABEL in September 2016.   Her PhD work will focus on the role of behaviour in the various stages of a species invasion. She is studying how behaviour can impacts invasion success, and can be most effectively used to inform management, assessment, and reproduction of invasive species.   Her research is based on the invasive round goby, in Hamilton Harbour, at the western end of Lake Ontario, and in tributaries leading into Lake Ontario.


Adrienne received her B.Sc. in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Guelph, where she worked with Dr. Beren Robinson testing direct and indirect effects of invasive spiny water flea on walleye. She also received her M.Sc. from the University of Guelph in Integrative Biology with Dr. Robert McLaughlin where she tested behavioural explanations for low trapping success of a parasitic invasive fish species, the sea lamprey.

Hossein Mehdi

Hossein joined ABEL in September 2017. He studies the impacts of wastewater effluent contamination in the Hamilton Harbour on the physiological and behavioural responses in round goby and other freshwater fishes. He received his MSc in Biology (Water) from the University of Waterloo where he worked with Dr. Paul Craig studying the impacts of multiple stressors on energetics and stress response in fishes using lab and field approaches.  Earlier, he received his BSc in Biology at the University of Windsor where he completed an Honour’s Thesis project with Dr. Christina Semeniuk investigating Atlantic salmon behavioural plasticity in predation-sensitive context.

M.Sc. Students

Nick Brown

Having rounded off a study of antipredator behaviour in sea cucumbers for his undergraduate thesis, Nick decided to skip a few rungs on the taxonomic ladder and join the midshipman project at ABEL. Unlike many students in the lab, he has a degree in psychology, and is very interested in field-based behavioural experiments. Nick will work closely with the Jaunes lab at UVic to study the midshipman's social calling environment, and how it influences mate choice and reproductive success. Outside of his academic life, Nick is an avid rock climber. After graduating with a B.Sc. from Memorial University in Newfoundland, he dedicated 6 months of his life to live in a 1980's campervan and climb in fantastic destinations across North America.

Brett Matthew Culbert

Brett joined the lab in May 2016 as an NSERC USRA student.  In September he started his MSc research studying social ascension in the African cichlid, Neolamprologus pulcher. He is investigating the behavioural and physiological changes associated with acquiring breeder status, specifically those dealing with the stress (hypothalamic-pituitary-interrenal) axis. Brett received his B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Ottawa, where he worked with Dr. Katie Gilmour studying chronic social stress in rainbow trout.

Jessica Miller

Jessica joined the lab in September 2015 and is studying reproductive morphology and post-fertilization competition in plainfin midshipman fish. She is investigating the form and function of male reproductive accessory glands with interest in sperm competition. Jessica received her B.Sc in Marine Biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, where she studied effects of stress on immunity and behaviour in crickets with Dr. Shelley Adamo, and managed an industrial micro-algae research lab supervised by Dr. Hugh MacIntyre.

Undergrad Thesis Students

Joseph (Joe) Jodoin

Joe is back this year to complete an undergraduate thesis in ABEL.  He is working on how social behaviour and specifically cooperative breeding in cichlid fishes influences cognition in general and more specifically learning.


Vanessa Ng

Vanessa is completing her fourth year of Honours Biology and joined the lab in April 2017. She previously worked with Jessica Miller to analyze sperm surface area in guarder and sneaker males of plainfin midshipman fish. She is now focusing on midshipman parental behaviour in lab versus field conditions with Aneesh Bose.

Kirsten Nikel

  • Kirsten will be starting her thesis in the autumn but for now is working as a summer research assistant. Her research focuses on the fish community structure and the impact of wastewater effluent on this structure. She is also working on sorting out how wastewater influences fish behaviour and physiology.

Emilie Rayner

Emilie is a 4th year BioPsych student working on her thesis project in ABEL.  She has been volunteering and working with ABEL since February 2016.  She works on the invasive round goby  in Hamilton Harbour and is exploring population and individual behavioural biases with various gear types.   Emilie really loves field work and being outdoors, and has a particular interest in how waste water affects aquatic organism behaviour.

Sanduni Talagala

Sanduni joined ABEL in September 2015 as a volunteer helping maintain the fish rooms.  After   assisting Aneesh Bose in a assessment of the biodiversity found in plain fin midshipman nests on the west coast of North America, she decided to stay in ABEL for her undergraduate thesis.  Sanduni has been conducting research on the significance of operculum markings in a social context in the cichlid, Neolamprologus pulcher.  

Undergrad Project Students

Nicolas Tsui

 Nicholas Tsui is a fourth year student in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour (PNB). This is Nicholas's first year in ABEL and currently, he is a undergraduate project student responsible for population monitoring round gobies in Hamilton Harbour.  Aside from setting traps and collecting gobies in the field, he measures, weighs and dissects samples for our ongoing round goby studies.


Jaqueline Garnett

  • Jacqueline is a third year Integrated Science student. She has a keen interest in evolution and social behaviour. She joined the lab in September 2017 and will be helping with the round goby project.

Noah Houpt

Noah was the summer 2017 USRA student.  He helped out with the plain fin midshipman project in British Columbia in May and June and  in July and August helped with various ABEL round goby research projects.  Noah is particularly interested in the costs of living in the dynamic intertidal zone and is investigating predation risk and the.costs of air exposure in plain fin midshipman  Noah is now volunteering in the lab.

Maria Pricop

Maria is our grade 12 co-op student. She has a lot to learn and helps out our lab members in anything they require an extra pair of hands with, although most of her contributions so far have pertained to the round goby project. Her beliefs align with those of our fish; just keep swimming and you won't drown (in school work and poor time management skills). Fortunately, she is gaining a lot from her placement and is happy to report she now has an inkling of what she wants to do with her life, having a keen interest in evolutionary biology and animal behaviour.

Lianne Ralph

Lianne is one of our newest volunteers and is helping out with both the diet study and with video coding for our studies of the effects of wastewater on fishes.  Welcome Lianne!

Alex Limin Wang

  • Alex joined the lab as a volunteer in May. She is helping with the round goby population monitoring project and with lab maintenance and fish care. Welcome Alex.