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Adamo Lab

Invertebrate Behavioural Physiology

Email: Laura.McMillan@dal.ca

My academic adventure began at the University of Western Ontario in London, where I received my B.Sc. with honours specialization in Animal Physiology and a minor in Classical Studies. During these years, I worked with Dr. Brock Fenton to examine different morphologies of bat larynges using microcomputed tomography (MicroCT) technology. Being a part of Dr. Fenton's lab for a number of years is what really got me interested in research.

I then moved to Ottawa where I studied under Dr. Jayne Yack at Carleton University. I completed my M.Sc. in biology studying hearing in butterflies (yes, butterflies have ears!). I had a lot of fun in this lab as I acquired skills collecting extracellular nerve recordings, building a portable physiology rig, performing microdissections, and imaging with SEM and light microscopes.

Next, I worked with Dr. Jeff Dawson at Carleton University, where I started and reared my own solitary locust colony and took responsibility over the group's existing gregarious locust colony. I conducted research in an insect-sized wind flight tunnel looking at the difference in flight characteristics between solitary-bred and gregarious-bred locusts. Also, I had the chance to help Dr. Dawson develop an online bioacoustics course that has been made available to graduate students across Canada.

Presently, I find myself in this wonderful lab studying the effects of illness induced anorexia on invertebrates. My studies here centre around looking at possible trade-offs between the immune system and the detoxification system of the caterpillar Manduca sexta. While investigating this particularly interesting phenomenon I incorporate the use of behaviour, biochemical assays, as well as molecular genetic techniques. Using this variety of methods allows me to address my question of interest from a number of different angles.  


Dylan Miller (Ph.D. Candidate)

Well hey there!  My name’s Dylan, and I graduated in Spring 2015 from Michigan State University with my B.Sc. in Neuroscience and my B.A. in Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy. While there I first studied prefrontal cortex motor planning in rats with Dr. Karim Oweiss, then fell in love with ethology while studying sex differences in scorpion antipredator behaviour under Drs. Ashlee and Matthew Rowe. 


I have also interned, worked part time, and worked full time for Backyard Brains, a company that develops neuroscience educational technologies and materials. While there I managed scientific research, developed experiments for distribution, was in marketing and public relations, and represented the company at many conferences.  This helped me grow a fondness for neuroscience education and outreach that continues to this day.


I joined the Adamo Lab in Fall 2016 as a M.Sc. student in the Psychology and Neuroscience program.  I was drawn to work with this lab because of my fascination with neuroethology, particularly parasitic manipulation of host behaviour. Currently I’m studying feeding behaviour in the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta.  I’m curious about what signals tell caterpillars to stop eating.  From this I plan to move on to working out how parasitic wasps end the caterpillar feeding behaviour upon their emergence from the host. 

Laura McMillan (Ph.D. Candidate)

E-mail: dy882407@dal.ca

Hello, my name is Ryan Herbison and I have just started my PhD at Dalhousie University. I have the great privilege of working in Dr. Shelley Adamo's lab, looking at how the parasitic wasp Cotesia congregata impacts the behavior of the caterpillar Manduca sexta. Prior to working with Dr. Adamo, I was awarded my Masters at Otago University under Dr. Robert Poulin. We looked at how parasitic worms drive their insect hosts into water, by studying the proteomic composition of the hosts brain. We found evidence of alteration of synaptic functioning and formation.

I have a strong passion to discover how parasites manipulate the brain of their hosts and ultimately their behavior. Not only could this lead to a better understanding of neurophysiology and how behavior is generated, parasitic manipulators could one day inform pharmacological practices. After all, these parasites have been altering physiological systems for well over a millennium, and there will be much we can learn from their methods.


Ryan Herbison (Ph.D. Candidate)

I came from Lebanon to Canada in 2001 to join Dalhousie University. I completed my Bachelor of Science in 2006 and my Masters in Health Services Administration in 2008. I then completed two certificates in the health and legal interpreting field and I started working as a medical interpreter for all hospitals and as a legal interpreter for the Justice Department in Nova Scotia. Next, I completed my Masters in Science at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick under Dr. Vett Lloyd in 2016. I joined the Adamo Lab in May 2018 as a Ph.D. student in the Biology program. I study the interactions between Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease) and the tick Ixodes scapularis in Nova Scotia. I am interested in exploring what factors play a role in tick overwintering survival.  I study this issue in both the lab and field.




Amal El Nabbout (Ph.D. Candidate)

E-mail: rtotheherb@gmail.com

E-mail:  amalnabbout@hotmail.com