Spring 2024

The spring has begun with the usual wind and rain and a scattering of sunshine. The world of sabbatical continues with a trip to California to visit LA and to present a talk at the University of the Pacific.


* Annual Atlantic International Chapter (AIC) of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) meeting in Saint John, New Brunswick. Congratulations to Emma-Jean Freeman (Supervisors: Dr Don Stewart & Dr Russell Easy (me)) for winning best Oral presentation at the conference.

*Honours students, Roman Javorek, Allison Murphy and Natalie Campbell successfully defended their Honours research

*Planning is ongoing for the Atlantic Chapter of the American Fisheries Society Meeting (AFS) in New Hampshire in October

* 4th year course entitled: The Biology of Cancer. This course will be offered starting in September 2024 and will discuss the many forms of cancer and traditional and current treatments. Cell replication is inarguably the most essential biological process of living organisms. All living organisms. Cancer messes with that process and as such is an outstanding paradigm for exploring organismal growth, replication, evolution and pathology. The course description is as follows: " This course will explore the cellular and molecular basis of human cancers. Topics will include the various forms of cancer, genetics of cancer, and historical and modern treatment strategies. The goal is to remove the mystery behind cancer and understand the biological processes behind development, diagnoses and treatment of cancer."

Always more to post but all in good time. 

Embrace life. All you need is health. Hope to hear from you in the future.

Russell and The Easy Lab

In the lab

Masters Students

Emma-Jean Freeman (Co-supervised with Dr Don Stewart)

Emma-Jean will be exploring the parasitic life cycle of freshwater mussels and their relationship with host fish. Her project will contribute to previous work done in the Easy and Stewart Labs in collaboration with aquaculture biologists in Costa Rica. A vital part of the life cycle of freshwater mussels is the temporary attachment of mussel larvae, also called glochidia, to the gills of fish. Traditionally, this relationship between mussel glochidia and host fish was thought to be commensal. However, recent studies have found that glochidial infection may harm the fish in many ways, suggesting a parasitic relationship. Emma-Jean recently travelled to Costa Rica where she met with our Costa Rican colleagues at the National University of Costa Rica in Heredia.

Mckenzie Brown

Mckenzie is be exploring differential expression of CBD1 and CBD2 that are found in cannabis. Using a zebrafish model she will see how target gene expression differs in stress vs unstressed fish.

Sam Nunn

Sam is exploring the effects of environmental contaminants on the expression of target genes involved in the Major Histocompatibility Complex of striped bass. Success of this project will result in biomarkers for future studies as well as some answers as to what is causing the declining health of striped bass.

See https://easylab.acadiau.ca/stress-response-team.html for more details.

Honours Students

Roman Javorek

Roman’s project focuses on a catastrophic and mysterious disease that has decimated sea star populations on the Pacific Coast and may emerge in Atlantic populations, including in Nova Scotia. Working towards understanding the root cause(s) of this disease, as well as if we can prophylactically detect vulnerable populations, will be essential for mitigating its impacts on these keystone species and their ecosystems. Thus, this project is timely and of great importance for Atlantic marine ecosystems.  

Mia Lauzon (Co-Supervised with Dr Laura Ferguson)

Mia is looking at how Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) impacts the winter physiology and behaviour of the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). To do this, she will observe how infection with Lyme disease affects: (1) host-seeking behaviour in the winter and; (2) the regulation of target genes related to cold-tolerance and questing in wild-caught black-legged ticks. From Mia's research, we hope to learn how pathogen infection may influence black-legged tick’s ability to survive and find hosts under increasingly variable winter climate conditions.



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 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.