Biological & Geological Sciences 3020
Biological & Geological Sciences 3010
(519) 661-2111 x 84057
My research program aims to understand how the metabolic systems of animals adapt to environmental challenges. In particular I am interested in the strategies used by endothermic animals to deal with cold environments. When challenged by the cold, most endotherms increase metabolic rate and heat production. We study enzymatic and mitochondrial “futile cycles” in bumblebees and rats as possible mechanisms of non-shivering thermogenesis.
Some small endotherms use an apparently opposite strategy by entering hibernation or torpor during the coldest parts of the year. These states involve profound reductions of body temperature and metabolic rate, allowing for energetic savings at a time when food supplies are typically at their lowest. We study mitochondrial metabolism in hibernation (using ground squirrels) and daily torpor (using dwarf Siberian hamsters) to better understand the mechanisms of metabolic suppression, and potential interactions with temperature and diet.