My lab focuses on understanding how native Canadian fish species respond to environmental stressors, including anthropogenic contaminants (pulp and paper, municipal sewage) and climate change (northern regions). We are particularly interested in how fish respond to environmental endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are contaminants that alter fish reproduction, development and growth via impacts on the reproductive hormone system.
I was (and continue to be) drawn to this work because it combines many aspects of science (physiology, ecology, chemistry, engineering), as well as applications that include working with industry, government, municipalities and communities. It really is "science in action." We have outcomes that not only improve our fundamental understanding of fish biology but allow us to make evidence-based recommendations on how humans can better manage our impact on aquatic environments.
I started working with a coastal fish species (the mummichog or killifish, Fundulus heteroclitus) 20 years ago, using it as a model fish species to understand endocrine disruptor effects. It turns out, this species has some very unique properties that affect how it responds to endocrine disruptors that we still haven’t completely figured out. We are still looking to find our "eureka" moment; this is what makes research both fun and interesting.
Deborah MacLatchy is also Laurier's Provost and Vice-President: Academic.
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