Welcome to 2020.



Bragging about students.

Congratulations to former Honours student Anna Murphy (co-supervised by Dr. Mike Stokesbury) for publication of her Honours research. The reviews were excellent and included the following:

“The detection of blood and inflammatory proteins in the present study demonstrates that non-invasive sample collection can provide a picture of internal systems, may be useful for detection of other commonly measured stress markers, and may provide further depth of information if coupled with genetic studies to correlate findings with gene activity.

This is an elegantly simple study that demonstrates an unexpected (to me) depth of information that may be gained from an easily obtained mucus sample, through non-invasive and non-destructive means, and potentially in situations where anaesthetics in the field cannot be used and which would limit the range of physiological data that could be acquired. It is an example of applying new technology to old techniques to bring new value. I enjoyed reading this manuscript and found little to edit within.”


Congratulations to Honours students William, Aileen and Kassandra for successful completion of their Honours research projects in light of isolation and the introduction of social distancing.

Research Projects were as follows:

William Bauer: (Co-supervised with Dr. Don Stewart): A tale of two mussels: molecular characterization of unionid mussels in guanacaste province, Costa Rica.

Aileen Feschuk: (Co-supervised with Dr. Todd Smith): Exploring differential gene expression of antimicrobial peptides of the green frog, Rana clamitans.

Kassandra Kelbratowski: (Co-supervised with Dr. Kirk Hillier): Plasticity of pheromone chemistry and female olfactory sensitivity in the tobacco budworm moth Heliothis virescens



There remains considerable uncertainty over summer research plans but we are moving ahead with preparations for when restrictions may ease.

Incoming Honours students Jenna, Melanie and Sydney are working diligently on literature reviews and experimental design so they will be ready to jump back in to the research environment. But of course safety is priority and virtual learning the order of the day.

Their respective projects are as follows:

Jenna Nauss: Exploring Differential Gene Expression in Striped Bass in Response to Exposure to Mercury

Melanie Smith: Differential Expression of Endocannabinoid Receptor Molecules in Fish in Response to Stress

Sydney Tonner: Exploring Stress Biomarkers in Leach's Storm Petrels Over the Duration of Breeding Season on Bon Portage Island, NS

And thanks to NSERC for USRA awards to fund two of these projects.

As the world struggles with the fall out from COVID-19 we professors continue to interact with our students to help bring the 2020 winter academic semester to a conclusion that is fair for all. No Easy task - personally, in name only but realistically no. The events of late are indeed tragic for everyone however we can get through this with knowledge, patience, knowledge, perseverance, knowledge, patience and knowledge. We encourage you to seek out fact-based news sources and avoid the misinformation that is very easy to find at all levels.

I look forward to a time in the (hopefully) near future when we will discuss the COVID-19 crisis as a part of our lives that challenged us as academics and students but we overcame these challenges and were all the better for it.  A time remembered for personal sacrifices and sorrows and from which we have l(hopefully) learned so much - to be better prepared for the future.


Former Easy Lab Honours student Leah McLean recently received a cancer research trainee position with the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute. Congratulations Leah - well deserved.  See Leah MacLean, BSc Hons. Biology

See this cool story about our lab presented by Science Atlantic https://scienceatlantic.ca/member-story-entry-one-dr-russell-easy/


2019 ended with a trip through Costa Rica. We traveled approximately 2000km around the country in two weeks from Atenas to Canas to Mount Arunal volcano, to Bejuco to Jaco to Manuel Antonio to Carellas, from San Gerardo de Dota to Mount Irazu to San Jose. Spectacular country with great people and excellent food - when you dine away from the touristy areas.

Was able to visit an aquaculture site in Costa Rica and meet with future collaborators. Hope to start a research program exploring parasitism in fish and general fish health as a collaborative effort between Acadia and the Universidad Nacional Costa Rica.

Then from Costa Rica to Austin, Texas for the Annual Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Conference. Unfortunately, Masters student, Jackson Yang (co-supervised with Dr. Avery) was unable to enter the states as his VISA application was held up by the American authorities. Though I did present his work and it went very well it is unfortunate Jackson could not attend. Looking forward to positive changes there in the future.

Starting the year with a publication in Parasitology Research with former Honours student Hillary Dort, her fist publication. Congratulations to Hillary who is working hard in dental school.

A new group of research topics is on board studying zebrafish immunity, sea star wasting disease, fish parasitism and biomarkers in fish skin/mucus. Check back for highlights.


Congratulations to Honours students William Bauer, Aileen Feschuk and Kassandra Kelbratowski for successfully completing their Oral Comprehensives. You make us proud.

Congratulations to Laura Ferguson, Todd Smith, Kirk Hillier and myself on our successful application for the Infectious Disease and Climate Change Fund. This project will include graduate students and PI's in an effort to explore mosquito range expansion and vector potential in Nova Scotia.  

Very happy to have received five years of NSERC funding for the Easy Lab. We also received MITACS funding for our Masters student and Springboard Funding for our lobster bait project. Therefore, funding is in place for a productive span of research.

Congratulations to all outgoing Easy Lab students, Allie Scovil, Zachary Visser, Jack Guthrie and Anna Murphy. To see their respective projects see the Stress Response Team page.

Science Atlantic at Crandall University brought together some of the brightest minds at Atlantic Canadian Universities. Congratulations to Sarah Roberston of the Coombs Lab at Acadia University for winning best Oral presentation. See Science Atlantic Biology 2019.

Congratulations to Carter Feltham for winning the Association of Graduate Studies (AGS)  best talk for Masters. Congratulations also to Anna Murphy for winning second place in the poster competition at the AGS.  

Lobster Science Meeting in Truro brought together harvesters, researchers, industry and government personnel for a day filled with discussion on strategies to maintain this lucrative fisheries. See Ocean to Plate-Lobster Industry Research Forum

And the beat goes on...

We are very pleased to say that we have received Tier 2 funding for our project with The Saltbox Microbrewery. See "Acadia Profs, South Shore Brewer Collaborate to Cultivate Nova Scotia Wild Yeast"

We will be exploring the proteomics of yeast isolated during the first phase of the project. This is an extension of our collaboration with the Walker lab exploring novel yeasts in the Nova Scotia environment.  See https://lighthousenow.ca/article.php?title=Saltbox_brews_up_a_plan_with_Acadia_University[nbsp

Atlantic Canada Association of Parasitologists 2018 meeting was another success and we are all reveling in the glow of another Saturday filled with outstanding student and PI presentations and scientific discussions. Set in the beautiful town of Pictou approximately 35-40 of us meet to talk parasites, eat well and enjoy what Pictou has to offer well into the wee hours of the night. 

The Miramichi Striper Cup was another success for Acadia researchers, fishers and the town of Miramichi. We sampled ~ 550 fish this year with a 0.01% mortality rate. Thanks to Jeff McTavish and Jeff Wilson for all their support. 

Thrilled to be part of the Aqualitas team who are going full ahead with their aquaponics facility on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. The aquaponics facility at Acadia has been moved to the company site in Liverpool. See (http://www.aqualitas.ca/)  The possibilities are endless.  

And of course we continue to explore novel parasites in fish with collaborators Eric Leis from Wisconsin and Dr. David Cone in Nova Scotia. With another paper accepted with revisions we await word on our latest submission.

In addition I am always exploring novel teaching methods and how to make the world of molecular biology and protein chemistry as fascinating to students as it is to me :-) 
More exciting news to follow. Never a dull moment in this 'stressful' world :-)  Don't forget to S.M.I.L.E.

If you are interested in learning more about our lab or setting up collaborations please contact me.