Research Experience

My research interests have necessitated the development of a wide array of scientific abilities, spanning across field, laboratory, surgical, biochemical, histological, and analytical techniques.

I have gained valuable insight into the importance and limitations of fieldwork by conducting research on three marine research vessels and by participating in the capture of a variety of large, dangerous, and fragile fish species.

These experiences taught me appropriate fish handling, holding, and transportation techniques along with how sample, tag, and release fish. As a result of on-boat limitations I learned to design field-friendly experimental set-ups. I have also learned that carefully designed lab experiments are a vital pairing for field research.

In the laboratory, I have measured whole animal performance using techniques such as respirometry and fish swimming trials. I have also completed several biochemical assays of tissue metabolites.

As my research pairs whole animal performance with cardiovascular function, in-depth knowledge of different surgical techniques were essential skills I acquired.

During my MSc I successfully performed surgeries on hagfish, a notoriously difficult species to work with. I was able to refine my surgical techniques in a way that reduced knot tying and sliming behaviour in these fish and was the first to use ventral aortic cannulas and transonic flow probes to calculate cardiac power output. During my PhD continued to refine and increase my surgical skills.

I developed a surgery using transonic flow probes and cannulas that allowed for the simultaneous measurement of total coronary blood flow and cardiovascular function in sharks for the first time. I also developed a method of quantifying vascular parameters of the coronary artery in the spongy myocardial tissue of shark hearts using histology.

I used phylogenetically independent contrast analysis to look for evidence that environmental temperature played a role as a selective pressure for vascular morphology in sharks using 2D and 3D morphological data. During my post doc I was able to collaborate with geneticists, aquacultural scientists, developmental biologists, physiologists and toxicologists to tackle the question of how fish species will respond to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (the toxic components of oil) exposure from multiple angles.

I learned and implemented an “in situ heart preparation” technique that allowed me to measure cardiac performance (routine and maximal) on brain dead animals. During my postdoc I also learned new analytical techniques for cardiovascular data, increased my proficiency with the R statistical language, and also learned a great deal about the field of aquatic toxicology.