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  1. Staff
  2. Ph.D. Students
  3. M.Sc. Students
  4. Undergrad Thesis Students
  5. Undergrad Project Students
  6. Research Assistants
  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.

Ph.D. Students

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.

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.

Matthew Salena

Matthew joined ABEL in May of 2018 to help with the ongoing population monitoring of the round goby in Hamilton Harbour. In September, he will begin research on social cognition in cichlid fish using comparative analyses between cichlid species. Matthew recently completed his B.Sc. in Biology and Environmental Sciences with a minor in Sustainability from McMaster University. In his senior year, Matthew worked on a research project within the department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, at McMaster, where he furthered the development of aptamer-based biosensors for the detection of various species of pathogenic bacteria.

Caitlyn Synyshyn

Caitlyn joined ABEL in May of 2018 to help with various lab projects and the ongoing population monitoring of the round goby in Hamilton Harbour. In September, she will begin research on round goby characteristics in an invasion front verses established areas. Caitlyn completed her B.Sc in Biology at Queen’s University. She completed her undergraduate research thesis with Dr. Bruce Tufts examining the historical and seasonal changes in the Bay of Quinte fish community. Caitlyn is interested in the conservation and management of fish communities in Ontario, particularly in the Great Lakes. Outside of the lab, she just can’t get enough fish as she has her own little half-moon male betta named Saru and three neon tetras.

Undergrad Thesis Students

Cassandra Disanto

Cassandra is a fourth year Biology and Psychology student who joined the lab in January of 2018 as a volunteer in the round goby room. She is starting her undergraduate thesis in the lab this summer as well. Her research focuses on how individual behaviour differences among round gobies might influence trappability and sampling bias.

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 currently back in British Columbia collection data for his thesis!

Hailey Schultz

Hailey is a fourth year Life Science student who joined the lab in September 2018 as an undergraduate thesis student. Her research is focused on examining the ecological and environmental impacts of wastewater by exploring the use of zooplankton as a potential bio-indicator of water quality

Nicole Yee

Nicole is a fourth year Life Science student who joined the lab in September 2018 as an undergraduate thesis student. Her research focuses on how observed parental care behaviour in plainfin midshipman fish is affected by fluctuating environmental conditions.

Undergrad Project Students

Simi Dhanota

Simi is a 3rd year Honours Life Science student who joined the lab in September 2018 as a project student. She is working alongside Nick to explore the impact challenging environments have on offspring development.

Melissa Muzzatti

Melissa Muzzatti is a fourth year student in Psychology, Neuroscience, and
Behaviour (PNB). Melissa is working as a Research Assistant for her first
time for ABEL. She is responsible for population monitoring round gobies
(Neogobius melanostomus) in Hamilton Harbour. Melissa is also working on a
summer project seeking information about the sex ratios of the round gobies
looking at data over the past 16 years of our research.

Avani Pathak

Avani is a second year BioPsych student that joined the lab in April 2018. She is completing a summer project that explores the relationship between different capture methods and the personalities of the fish caught by them. She also helps out with the population monitoring of round gobies in Hamilton Harbour. 

Amir Pishva

Amir is a third year Life Science (honours) student that joined the lab in December 2017. Currently, he is completing a project that explores the types of benthic organisms in wastewater treatment plants in the Hamilton Harbour; with a hope to provide new insights on having a more beneficial and ecosystem-friendly methods of wastewater treatment. Additionally, he also assists in population monitoring of round gobies in Hamilton Harbour.

Maha Siddiqui

Maha is a third year student in the Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour program. She joined the lab in September 2018 as a project student, and her work focuses on how environmental factors affect the reproductive quality of plainfin midshipman fish. 

Eliza Wu

Eliza is a third year Chemistry student and joined the lab in April 2018. Eliza has a keen interest for water contamination and sustainability. In the fall, she will be conducting a project on how the contaminants in treated wastewater influence fish biology. As well, she will assist in monitoring the population of round gobies in Hamilton Harbour.

Research Assistants

Kate Brower

Kate Brouwer is a third year student in environmental life sciences at Queen’s University. Kate is working as a Research Assistant at ABEL for the first time this year. She is working on a summer project about the husbandry of fathead minnows, a new species to ABEL, as well as population monitoring round gobies.

Tabitha Mirza

I am a high school co-op student and joined ABEL in the summer of 2018 as a component of my SHSM - the e program - at Pauline Johnson C&VS.  I am very interested in marine biology and I have had the opportunity to gain experience in the lab by participating in population monitoring of the round goby and zone of impact, assisting in trials for an undergrad thesis, conducting dissections and overall lending a hand wherever and whenever I can. 


Shagufta Bi Bi

Shagufta recently completed her degree in Honours Biology this past April at McMaster University. Shagufta has joined the ABEL lab in September 2018 and can be found admiring her plants during her spare time." 

Jeff Deminchuk

Jeff is an escaped university student who has recently been returned to school after spending several years in the wild. Joining ABEL as a volunteer in September 2018, he’s interested in the evolutionary factors that lead to cooperation and conflict. If he’s not in the lab finding his inner freshwater Nemo, he can be spotted playing cards at a poker table or at the gym training in Muay Thai kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Jacqueline Garnett

Jacqueline joined ABEL in September 2017 to volunteer for the round goby project. As a project student in the Winter 2018 term she collected information on the presence of accessory glands in teleosts. She now continues on that project as a volunteer.

Anna-Lisa Nguyen

Anna-Lisa is a first year student in the Health Sciences program. She joined ABEL in September 2018 as a volunteer and when not in the lab, can be found weightlifting at the Pulse!