Biology 4999E

A major laboratory or field project in Biology that emphasizes experimental design, instrumentation, collection and analysis of data and communication of experimental results by oral and written presentations.

Biology 4999E provides an opportunity for students to conduct an independent research project in the lab of a Biology Faculty member or Adjunct Faculty member. The Regulations for Biology Research Projects are listed in the course outline (see below for the 2018/19 course outline). You can also see the slide deck for the information session. Spaces are limited, and students wishing to pursue a research project must do two important things:

1. A list of faculty able to support research projects for any given academic year is posted within the Department early in the Winter term - but students are encouraged to visit faculty profiles on the Department of Biology website and view the research interests of Biology faculty to find one or more who's research interests them. They should then make an appointment with potential supervisors to discuss possible projects.  Students should also take an unofficial transcript with them to these meetings.

2. Submit an application to the Department. The application form should be downloaded and completed with appropriate signatures.  Email completed application form to the Biology 4999E Course Coordinator Susanne Kohalmi:

Potential Supervisors

Potential Undergraduate Supervisors
Name Research Area
Email and Office Address
Dr. Jeremy McNeil Behavioural and Chemical Ecology of Insects

BGS 3066

Dr. Yolanda Morbey Data analysis or modelling projects in avian migration ecology. Projects are geared towards students with an interest in quantitative methods and who are pursuing a module in Biodiversity & Conservation, Animal Behaviour, Biology (with an emphasis on ecology), or Environmental Science.

BGS 2074

Dr. Bryan Neff Molecular and Behavioural Ecology of Fishes

Collip Bldg. CB 204

Dr. Ben Rubin Study the population biology for forest trees or the dynamics of treefall gaps caused by emerald ash borer infestation on facilitating the spread of invasive vegetation.

BGS 3072

Dr. Brent Sinclair We’ll be investigating the molecular underpinnings of freeze tolerance in the spring field cricket Gryllus veletis. There will be bioinformatics-based options should in-person research be impossible. Students need to have Biology 36101 and/or 3602 under their belts. Dr. Sinclair's research page.

BGS 2056/GH13

Dr. Graeme Taylor Evolution and ecology of animal design (biomechanics)

BGS 3072

Dr. R. Gregory Thorn Various projects in fungal systematics and ecology

BGS 3047

Dr. Vera Tai Environmental microbiology and bioinformatics

BGS 2028

Dr. Liana Zanette

Predator-prey interactions and the 'Ecology of Fear'

research may be conducted On-line or On-Campus depending on the Covid-19 circumstances.
For more information on the work we do in my lab, please see my webpage:

Collip Bldg. CB 207

Dr. Paul Mensink

Marine ecology and Educational Technology

Projects will be data related (no lab or field work) and able to be completed remotely and online. Projects will explore a long-term data sets in the abundance of marine species from systematic and haphazard surveys. Students will focus on elucidating the complex relationships between multiple species and across developmental life stages (e.g., juvenile stages versus adults). In addition, there will be an emphasis on examining how temporal variation in abiotic variables (e.g., temperature) determines the abundance and distribution of marine populations. Students will be responsible data quality control, data management, data visualization and data analysis and will be working primarily in R.

NCB 443

Dr. Kathleen Hill

Researchers in the K Hill lab study patterns in biological data.

1] We study patterns in the composition of genomes.

2] We study patterns in cell responses recorded in trace files or spectral data.

3] We study patterns in mutations across the genome landscape.

We use the patterns to classify our data into species types, mutagen exposure type, genome instability type and diseases type.

Undergraduate research in the Hill Laboratory [2022-2023] will focus on:

1] the use of genome signatures for the classification of organisms [taxonomic classification] and biological samples [disease classification]. A genomic signature describes the pattern in the base composition of the primary DNA sequence that is pervasive across a genome. The inherent composition of a primary DNA sequence is considered as a genomic signal that is associated with a species or a phenotype. We are examining the capability of classifying genome sequences by particular environmental mutagen exposures, and genomic instabilities associated with different cancer types.

2] Another project will examine spectral data from physiological assays and cell response assays and use machine learning approaches to classify the responses into disease types. Our research projects are primarily bioinformatics and computational projects designed to use supervised and unsupervised machine learning approaches to classify biological data based on similarities in composition. The projects are designed to learn about signals in biological data.

The projects provide learning regarding:

1] genomic signatures, genome instability, mutational mechanisms, and mutation signatures or

2] cell response assays [RAMAN spectroscopy, electroretinography]. The skill sets to be developed are basic introduction to R, python, machine learning and statistical analyses associated with comparisons of signals in biological data. The goal is to see how well we can classify biological data into informative classes. The research can be applied to identification of an emergent species or identification of a disease type.

3] Wet bench projects associated withmutation detection are associated with ongoing research aimed at understanding the mutations that arise with development in different somatic mouse tissues.

WSC 333

Dr. Jim Karagiannis Molecular genetic analysis of the regulatory networks governing cytokinesis

BGS 3080

Dr. Greg Kelly Cell Signaling in Vertebrate Embryos

WSC 359

Dr. Susanne Kohalmi Gene families and their regulation using ADTs in Arabidopsis thaliana as a model system.

WSC 319

Dr. Amanda Moehring Research Research Area: The genetic and neural basis of receptive behaviour

BGS 2080

Dr. Anthony Percival-Smith Drosophila developmental genetics

WSC 305

Dr. Graham Thompson Evolutionary bioinformatics analysis of animal behaviour

BGS 2068

Dr. Alexander Timoshenko Cell biology, galectins, cellular stress responses, endoplasmic reticulum stress, cancer biology

BGS 3032

Dr. Christopher Guglielmo Physiological and molecular studies of migratory flight performance in birds.

BGS 3012

Dr. M. Bernards Projects will be related to plant interaction with the environment, with focus on biochemistry and natural products.

BGS 2025

Dr. Sheila M. Macfie Uptake and tolerance of contaminants in plants, with projects falling within each of the ecological, physiological and biochemical domains. Interested students must have completed Biology 3603 prior to registering in Biology 4999E under my supervision.

BGS 2051

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Potential Supervisors [1391 Sandford St., London, ON N5V 4T3]
Dr. Sangeeta Dhaubhadel

Phenylpropanoids in legumes

Phenylpropanoid pathway produces a plethora of plant specialized metabolites with human health benefits. They play an important roles in plant-environment interaction such as plant defense against biotic and abiotic stresses. We study the genes and their regulators (such as transcription factors) involved in the biosynthesis of a subset of these compounds such as isoflavonoids and proanthocyanidins. Knowledge of the pathway producing these compounds will allow us to tailor production to aid human health, nutrition and crop yield.

Prospective 4999 students can look forward to working with direct mentorship of a PhD candidate. During the course of the project the student will be exposed to a broad range of molecular biology, bioinformatics and genetics and analytical chemistry techniques and equipment. My research lab is situated at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Station, which houses state of the art facilities and is located just 10 minutes from the University of Western Ontario campus.

Dr. Abdelali Hannoufa Molecular physiology of abiotic stress response in plants

Dr. Frédéric Marsolais

Protein chemistry of pulse crops

We recently identified a gene expressed in the seed coat of common bean involved in the regulation of seed water uptake. This gene encodes an enzyme, pectin acetylesterase, which hydrolyzes acetyl groups in the carbohydrate polymer, pectin. Removal of acetyl groups favors interactions with calcium ions, making the seed coat impermeable. The gene also affects physical dormancy resulting in delayed germination of older seed. Evidence indicates that the gene was selected for during the domestication of the crop. A prospective 4999 student will investigate synteny and functional conservation of this gene in related legume crops. While the initial stages of the project will involve bioinformatics, there may be opportunities to use molecular and biochemical techniques, including gene cloning, DNA sequencing, Western blotting and quantification of pectin acetylation in seed coat of different species.

Dr. Rima Menassa Producing virus-like particles in plans as vaccine candidates for animal diseases.

Dr. Ed Topp Work on antibiotic resistance in food production systems.

Dr. Aiming Wang A possible project will be related to virus-induced immunity response and counteracting mechanism in plants.