Principle Investigator: Paul Craig

Paul received both his BSc (2002) and MSc (2004) in the Zoology Department (now Integrative Biology) pcraig pic.jpgat the University of Guelph. His MSc, under the guidance of Dr. Nicholas Bernier , focused on the stress response in trout during seawater acclimation. Paul then moved to McMaster University where he completed his PhD (2009) with Dr. Grant McClelland, where he examined the toxicogenomic effects of chronic copper

exposure in zebrafish. This was in collaboration with Dr. Chris Wood, who recently retired from McMaster and has taken up a position as Adjunct  professor at UBC.  After his PhD, Paul moved to Ottawa where he completed his postdoctoral studies in association with Dr. Tom Moon. At the University of Ottawa, Paul undertook numerous projects all falling under the theme of energetics and metabolism in fish. It was at Ottawa where Paul found his passion in studying epigenetics in fish, which is the current theme of Paul’s research as an Assistant Professor in the biology department at the University of Waterloo.  In addition to his lab research, Paul maintains field based research at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre studying the physiological adaptations of the plainfin midshipman found along the Pacific coast of North America.

Paul currently lives in Waterloo with his wife Karlee, his 2 children, a dog, and 1 blue fish named Elsa.

Graduate Students

Heather Ikert (2017-2021) PhD Thesis title: “Impacts of multiple stressors on fish DNA & RNA production and release”


Heather joined the Craig lab in the fall of 2015 as an undergraduate thesis student, and graduated in May 2016 with an Honours Biology degree. Heather continued on in the Craig lab as a Master’s student starting in May 2016, followed by a switch to a PhD in the summer of 2017. Heather’s research is examines epigenetics and multiple stressors in the aquatic environment. As part of the “next generation solutions to ensure healthy water resources for future generations”, Heather is focused on the effects of multiple stressors on the persistence and rates of shedding of environmental DNA to better model the dynamics of eDNA in the Grand River watershed. She also hopes to extend this study to include the effects of multiple stressors on the nature of environmental DNA in order to identify biomarkers of stressed fish to be used in biomonitoring.

Ivan Cadonic (2017-2019) MSc thesis title “Exosomes as a method for whole organism epigenetic regulation in response to stress in teleosts”


Ivan joined the Craig lab as an undergraduate thesis student in Fall 2016 and received his Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Biology in April 2017. His project began as a study of the exosome profile of fish, specifically how this profile changed in response to environmental changes. For his Masters thesis, he is studying the effects of handling stressors on exosomes and whether stress produced exosomes help to propagate the stress response at a whole organism level through miRNA shuttling.

Nathan Bennoit (2017-2019) MSc thesis title “Energetic and Immunological responses of zebrafish (Danio Rerio) when presented with a pathogen challenge”


Nathan is a first year masters student that joined the Craig lab in September of 2017. Nathan’s Project will be looking at the energetic changes involved in zebrafish fighting off a pathogen. Specifically, he will be looking at changes in the resting metabolic rate of zebrafish when presented with viral and bacterial pathogens. Future research will be looking at the changes in expression of proteins and microRNA in the tissues of zebrafish that were presented with the pathogen challenge.

Current Undergraduate Thesis Students

Shivan Kalnins (Sept 2017-May 2018) BSc thesis title “Effects of extended freezing on mitochondrial function”


Chelsea Reitzel (Sept 2017-May 2018) BSc thesis title “Analyzing the effects of multi-stressor exposure on embryonic zebrafish (Danio rerio)


Vanesa Tomic (Sept 2017-May 2018) BSc thesis title “Analysis of male and female zebrafish responses to hypoxia, venlafaxine, and elevated temperatures: A multi-stressor exposure.


Rhiannon Hodgson (Jan 2018- Aug 2018) I’m in 4a biology, with an animal biology specialization. I have had jobs related to both animal and plant physiology but enjoy animal physiology more mainly because of my love for animals. I hope to work in conservation or some form of related government work when I am finished with school.


Former graduate students

Hossein Mehdi (2015-2017) MSc thesis title: “Multi-stressor impacts on fish energetics and stress response: A comparison between lab and field studies” Current position – PhD candidate in Dr. Sigal Balshine’s lab at McMaster University


Former undergraduate thesis students

Ivan Cadonic (2016-2017) BSc thesis title “Analysis of exosomes produced by goldfish exposed to heat, hypoxia, and venlafaxine and the tissues targeted by the microRNA they contain”

Fiona Dickson (2016-2017) BSc thesis title “Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors on Grand River Rainbow Darter Energetics.” – Fiona is currently applying to the MSc program in cell biology at the University of British Columbia.

Kevin Lee (2016-2017) BSc thesis title “Analysis of miRNA in embryos of zebrafish exposed to heat, hypoxia, and venlafaxine in a multi-stressor approach.” – Kevin is currently in an Environmental MSc at University of Toronto

Heather Ikert (2015-2016) BSc thesis title “Analysis of miRNA in eggs, spearm, and embryos of zebrafish exposed to heat, hypoxia, and venlafaxine in a multi-stressor approach.

Christopher Kuc (2015-2016) BSc thesis title “Exploring microRNA effects on DNA methylatransferases in response to benzo(A)pyrene exposure.” – Currently a MSc candidate in Dr. John Vessey’s lab in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Guelph.

Shahithiya Santos (2015-2016) BSc thesis title “Assessing the toxicity of venlafaxine on digestive and antioxidant enzymes of the intestine of adult Danio rerio when subjected to multiple environmental stressors.” – Currently working in Scarborough.

NSERC USRA students

Erin Laidley (NSERC USRA student; summer 2015) – Current COO of Acorn Cryotech (Velocity Labs;

Samantha Johnson (NSERC USRA student; summer 2015) – Currently a veterinarian student at OVC in Guelph.


Rhiannon Hodgson

Nicole Csonka

Joavann Lisulov

Sara Canini