I was born in Hildesheim, Germany but received my early education in Winnipeg, Manitoba. My initial exposure to scientific research was in an insect ethology laboratory at the University of Manitoba and I was very much influenced by the writings of Karl von Frisch on the behavior of honeybees. This early influence of ethology has had a lasting impact on my interest in behavior from a zoological perspective and led to a foundation of evolutionary thinking in my pursuit of understanding the relationship between brain and behavior, in the kinds of research questions that have intrigued me, and in the methodological approaches that I have used in my various research programs.
I obtained my B.A.(Hons) in Psychology from the University of Manitoba in 1971. Following receipt of a Certificate in Education I taught high school for a year but realized that a research career was really what I would be most happy with. I pursued this goal by completing my M.A. in Experimental Psychology at Manitoba in 1975 and my Ph.D. degree in Biopsychology at York University in Toronto in 1978. I then spent 2 years as an NSERC post-doctoral fellow in Dr. C. H. Vanderwolf’s laboratory at the University of Western Ontario studying brain electrophysiology in relation to behavior in rats. From 1981-1990 I held a NSERC University Research Fellowship at the University of Western Ontario.
I am currently a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology and a core faculty member in the Graduate Neuroscience Program. My previous positions have all been at the University of Western Ontario, as an assistant professor from 1980-1986 and an associate professor from 1986-1989 in the Department of Psychology. I served as Chair of the Department from 2003-07. I was also associated with the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology from 1989 to 2001. As a co-director of Bioelectromagnetics Western, a research group interested in the biological effects of electromagnetic fields, I have been able to continue my research interests in this area and to assist with the organization of symposia and presentation of public lectures.
My general research interests are in the area of behavioral neuroscience with an emphasis on brain-behavior relationships. There are two general themes in my current research interests: (a) biological defence mechanisms related to the solution of a variety of problems that organisms encounter in attempting gain resources from the environment (b) development of animal models of behavioral disorders. However, I have diverse interests and have done research on such topics as the biological effects of electromagnetic fields as well as general issues related to methodology and statistical analysis in behavioral neuroscience.
My general research interests are in the area of behavioral neuroscience with an emphasis on brain-behavior relationships. The general theme of my current research interests deals with biological defence mechanisms related to the solution of a variety of problems that organisms encounter in attempting to gain resources from the environment. Several core research projects consist of: a) examining how animals obtain food and water while minimizing exposure to associated toxins; b) how animals cope with, and defend against, infectious agents; c) how animals learn to navigate in the environment in search of required resources and defend against the risk of predation. These projects attempt to relate both proximate and ultimate factors to the particular neural and behavioral mechanisms, with special focus on sex differences and the role of gonadal and stress hormones. I also have an interest in the biological effects of electromagnetic fields and, more recently, in the psychobiological basis for autism spectrum disorders in humans.
My laboratory uses a number of automated techniques to a) quantify locomotor activity (VersaMax Automated Activity System) in rodents (rats, mice, voles) b) to continuously monitor food and water intake c) to monitor licking patterns during a liquid meal, and d) to quantify locomotor motor activity and chamber preference in an automate Place Preference Conditioning apparatus. We also use an automated light-dark apparatus to examine anxiety related behaviors. We employ detailed behavioral scoring from videotape to quantify behaviors in the Taste Reactivity Test, the Conditioned Anticipatory Nausea Paradigm, and in social interaction tests. We also have access to a large Morris Water Maze, Plus Maze, Barnes Maze, and a variety of radial mazes. Recently we have acquired a system to measure startle responses, both acoustic and tactile, and pre-pulse inhibition in rats and mice.
I have collaborated on a variety of research projects with a number of faculty members from our department (most notably Martin Kavaliers), the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, as well as from other Universities in Canada, the USA and Europe. I am also involved with the “Kilee Patchell-Evans Research Group for Autism and Related Disorders” and the “Neuroendocrinology and Behavior Research Group”.
Past and Present Research Interests:
• Immune system activation and sickness behaviors
• Environmental influences on the expression of sickness behaviors
• Behavioral tolerance development to immune system activation
• Toxin-induced conditioned “gaping” in rats as a model of anticipatory nausea
• Gustatory conditioning with food associated toxins
• Influence of stress hormones on learning and memory
• Sex differences and influence of gonadal hormones on learning and memory
• Influence of gonadal hormones on feeding behavior
• Influence of peptide hormones on feeding
• Social influences on feeding and gustatory learning
• Behavioral effects of vestibular lesions
• Animal models of motion sickness
• Influence of predator odors on learning and memory
• Animal models of behavioral disorders
• Open-field behavior in rodents
• Measuring locomotor activity as a methodological tool in behavior analysis
• Place preference conditioning in rodents• Animal models of autism
• Animal models of anxiety - sex differences and influence of gonadal hormones
• Dopamine system and behavioral sensitization development
• Influence of powerline electromagnetic fields on brain electrical activity
• Influence of powerline electromagnetic fields on drug-induced analgesia
Current Lab Members:
Caylen Cloutier, Ph.D. - Psychology student
Kelly Foley, Ph.D.- Neuroscience student
Amber Good, M.Sc. - Neuroscience student
Stacey Holbrook, M.Sc. - Neuroscience student
Alina Zaltzman, M.Sc. - Clinical Psychology student
Carly Barron - Undergraduate student
Lindsay Coome - Undergraduate student
Jessica Gold, - Undergradaute student
Alisha Vaz - Undergraduate student
Dr. Shelley Cross-Mellor, Dr. Christine Tenk
Postdoctoral Fellows (NSERC):
Dr. Elena Choleris, Dr. Cheryl Limebeer
Graduate Students: (Ph.D.) - Sharon Clarke, Shelley Cross-Mellor, Lisa Eckel, Chris Engeland, Melissa Fudge, Liisa Galea, Ricki Ladowsky, Tara Perrot-Sinal, Christine Tenk; (M.Sc.) - Jessica Benzaquen, Melissa Chan, Shelley Cross, Lisa Eckel, Kelly Foley, Melissa Fudge, Andrew Franklin, Jennifer Hoffman, Bill Kent, Ricki Ladowsky, Andrew Lockey, Lyndsay Martin, Jennifer Martins, Melissa Meeking, Jennifer Mepham, Lesley Ruttan, Soaleha Shams, Christine Tenk, Susan Tessier, Alex Thomas
External Graduate Student: (Ph.D.) - Isabel M. Picon (Universidad de Oviedo, Spain)
NSERC Summer Students: Sari Anderson, Melissa Chan, Kelly Foley, Magdalena Kazmierczak, Doreen Kinsella, Andrew Lockey, Julia McKay, Yacov Rabi
Undergraduates: T. Banisikowski; A. Good; E. Johnson; S. Holbrook; M. Kazmierczak; M. Rodowa; A. Hill; A. Zaltzman; M. Chan; C. Cloutier; E. Biagi; A. Campbell; S. Aronson; J. Gibson; M. Dekens; A. George; J. Martins; S. Devane; J. Hoffman; L. Martin; M. Gutz; C. Chariot; K. Newland; K. Zaki; D. Cheung; D. Nielsen; K. Sullivan; H. Ranu; N. Heidebrecht; D. Krieger; S. Millar; K. Shaw; M. Fowler; C. Marczinski; D. Kinsella; B. Navarro; Y. Rabi; D. Robinson; A. Splinter; L. Saksida; H. Song; E. Tan; N. Tordjman-Goodfellow; M. Tordorow; J. Krusky; T. McCarty; M. Bettin; G. Shearer; A. Prkacin; M. Bevan; L. Gabora; L. MacRae; K. Desborough; T. Wenske; P. Rose; M. Northcott; D. Tysdale; E. Viire.
Assistants and Technicians: Andrea Campbell, Smita Devane, Andrew Franklin, Nancy Frisken, Luigi Giugno, Melinda Rodowa, Susan Smith, Cathy Sutherland, Gemming Tu