Most recent interest!
I have invented a novel approach to diagnose an important aspect of human eye health (read more below). Presently, I am spending 3 months doing market research to understand how this new non-invasive and rapid method of assess someone's macular pigment density could find a place in modern medical practice and specifically eye health exams performed by optometrists.
The device can give an estimate of someone's macular pigment density, which is an important indicator of eye health and has been correlated with your chances of going blind later in life from age-related macular degeneration.
My interests are generally in behaviour and sensory systems in the context of ecology and evolution, but specifically: visual ecology, comparative sensory physiology, neuroethology, visual psychophysics, and aquaculture.
Understanding the functional significance of intraretinal variability in spectral sensitivity
Quantifying polarization sensitivity, and the visual world in the polarized light dimension
Investigating the functional significance of visual pigment chromophore shifting
Identifying optimal conditions for rearing larval and juvenile fishes in captivity
Recent archerfish work was featured in Nature (News and Views)
New Scientist Online
Newspaper (Perth Now)
And several websites
innate respons es (startle responses, movement tracking, optomotor/optokinetic)
Direct observation of behaviours
Fishes: archerfish (Toxotes chatareus, T. jaculatrix); salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch); zebrafish (Danio rerio), snook (Centropomus parallelus); barramundi (Lates calcarifer);
Cephalopods: octopus (Octopus cyanea, Hapalochlaena fasciata, Abdopus aculeatus); cuttlefish (Sepia plangon, Sepia officinalis, Sepioloidea lineolata ); squid (Sepiotheuthis lessoniana)
Crustaceans: Stomatopods (Haptosquilla trispinosa); fiddler crab (Uca perplexa)
Primates: Human (Homo sapiens)
I spent my childhood in Ontario, Canada, mostly on a small farm in Hopetown. I moved to Ottawa as a teenager, and went to Lisgar Collegiate Institute. After high school I travelled to Togo, West Africa on an exchange, before attending the University of Victoria for my undergraduate degree. I spent one year at Carleton University in Ottawa taking courses not offered at UVic, as well as a summer at Bamfield Marine Station doing biology field courses. During my undergrad I was part of the Co-operative program that placed me in several work posts including: Saltspring Aquafarms (bivalve & salmon aquaculture), British Columbia Ministry of Environment (monitoring industrial pollution), Institute of Applied Sciences, University of South Pacific, Fiji (testing mangroves for tertiary sewage treatment), and on a Goshawk crew in British Columbia (species and population inventory of temperate rainforests).
My masters incorporated aquaculture studies and research at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as field research at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil.
For my PhD, I returned to the University of Victoria and worked on a multidisciplenary research project, joint funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, under the supervision of Prof. Craig Hawryshyn (investigating the functional significance of visual pigment chromophore shifting).
I received a NSERC postdoctoral fellowship, as well as postdoctoral fellowship from The University of Queensland, to support my continued visual ecology research in the Sensory Neurobiology Group, with Prof. Shaun Collin and Prof. Justin Marshall at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
I have invented a device that can rapidly assess a person's macular pigment density, which is a primary risk factor for AMD.
By adapting the technology we developed for testing polarization vision in cuttlefish and octopus, we have recently been testing how well humans can see the polarization of light. In so doing, we discoved a large amount of variability in the ability for humans to see a visual phenomenon called Haidinger's brushes (the human perception of the orientation of polarized light).
The variability in human polarization sensitivity may be linked to eye health, as the Haidinger's brushes phenomenon is due to the orientation and density of macular pigments (carotenoids: lutien, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin). These macular pigments are concentrated around your central retina and play an important role in protecting the eye from damaging short wave-length radiation and oxidative stress in an area of the eye with little to no blood flow.
Low macular pigment density has been correlated with increased likelihood of developing AMD, and because you can only acquire macular pigments through your diet it is important to assess you macular pigment density as an indicator of eye health. increasing one's acular pigments through diet has also been shown to help glare reduction and increase contrast sensitivity, to important factors in overall visual performance.
I plan to develop a market ready device that can pe incorporated into regular eye health checks to help people determine if their macular pigments are low so that they can correct the situation early in life to imporve their vision and reduce their chances of being at risk for central vision loss through age-related macular degeneration.
My philosophy on teaching is that university degrees are the highest level of education available and that the calibre of teaching and quality of information presented should reflect this, but also that students should be expected to put in the effort required to fully understand the information not just memorize it. I do not agree with the contemporary business-plan approach to teaching, in which students are consumers and we are selling an education. I think we are sharing and imparting knowledge, and that instructors have an obligation to package that information in a way that is captivating in order to help maintain student interest.
I like to challenge students to help them learn how to critically analyze all that they read, see, hear and learn. And I prefer to teach to the upper 25 % not the mean. Universities are full of resources and there is no excuse to not finding the information needed. On that note I, make it clear to my students that I am open to and available for further discussions.
2010 Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (The University of Queensland)
One of several lecturers, led critical thinking tutorials,responsible for part of the exam.
2007-2008 Neuroethology (University of Victoria)
Taught half of the course twice, developed course material from scratch, led critical thinking tutorials, responsible for half of the exam and marking
2007-2008 Animal Behaviour (University of Victoria)
Laboratory Instructor, wrote quizzes, marked major assignment and invigilated exam
2006 Advanced Marine Biology (University of Victoria)
Invited Lecturer, wrote exam questions related to lectures
2005-2008 General Biology I (University of Victoria)
Laboratory Instructor, wrote quizzes, marked major assignment
2005-2008 General Biology II (University of Victoria)
Laboratory Instructor, wrote quizzes, marked major assignment
2005 Neuroethology (University of Victoria)
Guests lectures on vision in aquatic animals
2004 & 2002 Sensory Biology (University of Victoria)
Led critical thinking tutorials, guests lectures on vision in aquatic animals, lateral line
2002 Upper level Course (Education Department, University of Victoria)
2001 Animal Behaviour (University of Victoria)
Laboratory Instructor, wrote quizzes, and marked major assignment
1999 General Biology (Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador
Laboratory demonstrator, assisted with marking
View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system
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