TRU Science


Faculty name: Dr. Naowarat (Ann) Cheeptham

Research organisms: Actinomycetes, Fungi, and Bacteria

Field of research: My research has centered on microbial diversity, and searching for potential natural products and bioactive compounds for use in fields such as agriculture and pharmaceuticals. Other topics related to industrial microbiology will also be considered. General topics that I am willing to supervise: 

  • Cave microbial diversity and drug discovery
  • Development of probiotics for white-nose syndrome in bats
  • Microbial roles in cave formation and degradation (biomineralization and bioprecipitation)

Faculty name: Dr. Tom Dickinson

Research organisms: Wildlife, particularly birds.

Field of research: I am generally interested in any aspect of animal behaviour as it relates to vertebrates. I am specifically interested in how animals communicate vocally. For many years now I have examined how forestry affects populations of wild birds that breed in the forests near Kamloops. I often have funds for this work and have hired numerous summer students over the years that have taken on aspects of their work for directed studies.

Faculty name: Dr. Nancy Flood

Research organisms: Primarily birds, but I have also supervised work on various other vertebrates and on insects. I am fortunate to be able to work with various colleagues on research projects in their field of interest, from plants to animals to microorganisms.

Field of research: Ecology, evolution and behaviour of birds. However, my interests cover not only birds but all aspects of conservation and population biology. I'm also, of course, very keen on analysing data - I love numbers! Students that I have supervised or co-supervised have studied such things as insect biodiversity, endangered species hotspots in B.C., the effect of capture on stress levels in wild elk, the abundance of pollinators in urban gardens, and the effects of Kamloops' wastewater effluent on fish.

Faculty name: Dr. Lauch Fraser

Research organisms: Grassland and wetland plants

Field of research: Community and ecosystem ecology of grasslands and wetlands. In my research I focus on two ecosystems that are among those most affected by anthropogenic and natural disturbance; temperate grasslands and freshwater wetlands. To understand the processes that control grassland and wetland plant communities it is necessary to take an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach. Rather than look at community properties or ecosystem processes in isolation I merge the two traditionally disparate fields by exploring plant trait/ecosystem function relationships and trophic interactions. My research is conducted in multiple sites (marshes, wet meadows, and prairie bunchgrass grasslands) and across a wide range of spatial scales: from single-plant pot experiments in a controlled greenhouse setting, to multi-species outdoor microcosms, to natural controlled field manipulations, to landscape modeling.

Faculty name: Dr. Louis Gosselin

Research organisms: Marine invertebrates, such as snails, mussels, barnacles, hermit crabs, seastars and tubeworms. I also work on invertebrates living in alkaline ponds, such as crustaceans, rotifers and nematodes.

Field of research: Marine invertebrate ecology. Honours and Directed Studies students get to spend 2-4 months in the summer at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, on Vancouver Island, carrying out field and lab work for their research project. Examples of research areas in which I could supervise a student project:

  1. Predator-prey interactions: foraging behaviour, predator avoidance.
  2. Movement behaviour and habitat selection by snails or crabs.
  3. Reproduction and development of snails or barnacles.
  4. Population growth, distribution, and evolution in snails.
  5. Physiological tolerance of marine animals to extreme weather conditions. 

Ecology of pond invertebrates from the BC interior. Experimental work takes place in ponds of the Kamloops region and at TRU. Examples of research topics are:

  1. Dispersal of dormant stages of pond invertebrates.
  2. Physiological tolerance of invertebrates to alkaline conditions.

Faculty Name: Dr. Rob Higgins

Research organisms: Insects (particularly ants) and arachnids (particularly ticks). 

Field of research: Entomology with a focus on ants but an interest in most insects and arachnids. While my work historically examined ant adaptations to living in cool northern climates, more recently I have been active in taxonomy and invasive species biology. I am currently working on developing the first comprehensive keys to ants of the Pacific Northwest while working on control approaches for invasive ant species. I am also planning to begin a survey of tick species in the Thompson area.

Faculty name: Dr. Don Nelson

Research organisms: : I have worked with a variety of organisms from E. coli to yeast, nematodes (C. elegans), fruit flies (D. melanogaster) and vertebrates (mice, rats, snakes), as well as mammalian and insect tissue culture.

Field of research: My research interests include most anything involving the storage, expression and transmission of heritable information in eukaryotes (genetics with a molecular bent). My expertise lies in the application of molecular techniques to the study of embryonic development (in flies) and neuroscience. My current research involves the construction and characterization of a ‘toehold’ sensor for rabies virus and the cloning and characterization of ‘intrinsically disordered protein domains’ thought to be involved in learning and memory in flies. Future directions may include the development of cell-free expression systems for the rapid in vitro characterization of synthetic genetic circuits.

Faculty name: Dr Mark Rakobowchuk

Research organisms: Humans 

Field of research: My research focus is in exercise and vascular physiology focusing on exercise training adaptations. My research often involves endothelial function, arterial and cardiac structural adaptations and cardiac autonomic modulation changes with acute and chronic exercise. Currently I am examining the role of microvesicles in vascular function and health. Topics around, human physiology, nutrition and metabolism are also of interest and can be developed into projects.

Faculty name: Dr. Matthew Reudink

Research Organisms: Primarily birds 

Field of Research: My primary research interests combine behavioural ecology, evolution, and conservation of birds. In particular, I am interested in understanding how events occurring throughout the year interact to influence the evolution and ecology of birds. Among other things, my students and I study 1) migration ecology, sexual selection, and colour evolution in Bullock’s Orioles and Mountain Bluebirds, 2) movement, behaviour, and the effects of urbanization on Mountain Chickadees and other winter residents, 3) conservation biology and the effects of climate change on the migration ecology of a range of species, and 4) broad-scale evolutionary drivers of colour and moult.

Faculty name: Dr. Jonathan Van Hamme

Research organisms: Microbial, insect and fish communities, pure bacterial and fungal cultures.

Field of research: The TRUGen Applied Genomics Laboratory and Biocatalyst and Bioproduct Development Facility ( engages in a range of collaborative research projects in environmental, food, agricultural, and human systems. The laboratory is equipped with infrastructure for high throughput sequencing, quantitative PCR, proteomics, protein purification, molecular cloning and large volume fermentations. Of particular interest is biodegradation of environmental pollutants, eDNA for wildlife detection, brewing science, and applied genomics.

Faculty name: Dr. Natasha Ramroop Singh

Research organisms: Humans.

Field of research: My primary research involves the identification of genes and genetic markers [in specific populations] which increase susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and cancers and investigating single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which may be predictive of disease as well as an individual’s response to certain nutrients. Such information can be applied to clinical settings to reduce the incidence and mortality of CVDs and cancer. Secondarily, other projects involving the biochemical characterization of natural products derived from traditional medicines/herbs are also possible.

Faculty name: Dr. Lyn Baldwin

Research organisms: Plants and neighbors, including humans

Field of research: : I am an interdisciplinary plant conservation biologist. While my previous research has examined the ecology of plants on temporal or spatial margins, I am increasingly interested in how the relationships we humans cultivate (or fail to cultivate) with plants can influence ecological conservation. Student in my lab have investigated the role of ABC books (combining creative writing/art/illustration) in combating society’s plant blindness, written bee-friendly school-age curricula, used citizen science to monitor native bees in urban gardens, investigated the value of field-journaling in environmental education and completed floristic analyses across diverse habitats. In 2021/22, I am beginning a multi-year project investigating the ecology and art of exotic (both agricultural and invasive) species in Kamloops and beyond.