What’s up in the lab?: Chris Martyniuk’s research on aquatic toxicology

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There is a lot of exciting research going on at UNBSJ, some of which is happening with Chris Martyniuk, doctor of biology in his lab.

Martyniuk, focusing on Neuroendocrinology, is a professor in the biology department at UNBSJ. He teaches genetics, molecular ecology and endocrinology. He has also been doing research in the field of molecular toxicology.

 The goal of his research is to better understand how toxicity has an effect on molecular events to understand stress and reproductive problems in aquatic life.

 Martyniuk’s lab focuses a lot on contaminants such as hormonal contraceptives, heavy metals, pesticides, industrial plasticizers and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH─found in items such as coal and crude oil), and their effects on reproduction, development and genetics.

 There are several UNBSJ honours, masters and Ph.D. students working in Martyniuk’s lab. They are working on projects such as looking at the effects of mercury in Perch, developmental effects of pollution on aquatic life and the effects of stress and contaminated environments on rainbow perch.

 Martyniuk supervises 13 people in his lab, most of whom study the effects of pollutants on fish. His lab also collaborates with doctor of biology, Kelly Munkittrick’s lab which is currently looking at changes in fish populations in response to environmental stressors.

 Rick Wood, a third year student who worked in Martyniuk’s lab over the summer, is currently doing an independent study under his supervision. Wood is studying the effects of a plasticizer on DNA methylation, which causes changes in gene expression without changing the DNA sequence. Wood appreciates the opportunity to work in the lab, “While working in [Martyniuk’s] lab, I have learned a lot of new techniques,” he says, “I’ve [had] the chance to get involved in a lot of really cool research.”

 When looking for students to supervise in his lab, Martyniuk looks for well rounded individuals, “Motivation, interest, independence, [and] ability to critically think are all things we look for.” he says “Those things are more important than taking a [certain class].”