Canadian Society of Zoologists Annual Meeting 2019

This week I’ll be presenting some of my recent postdoctoral work on Rhagoletis pomonella cold tolerance at the Canadian Society of Zoologists Annual Meeting in Windsor ON. Travel to this conference is possible thanks to winning a CSZ postdoc travel award, generously funded by the Integrative Ecology and Evolution section of the society.

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Title slide for my presentation

New publication: Transcriptomics of freeze tolerance

And now some good news to start the new year: the second data chapter from my Ph.D. thesis is now published in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology D! In this article, we compared gene expression of crickets that survive freezing (freeze tolerant) and crickets that don’t (freeze intolerant) to better understand how insects survive internal ice formation. Freeze-tolerant crickets modify expression of all sorts of genes that likely help protect cells at low temperatures, and you can read all about it here (or contact me for  copy).

Graphical abstract
Graphical abstract of the article, illustrating how changes in gene expression may support processes that facilitate freeze tolerance

New publication: How crickets become freeze-tolerant

A bit of good news to end the year – the first data chapter from my Ph.D. thesis has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Insect Physiology! In this manuscript, we describe how the spring field cricket becomes freeze-tolerant when kept under ‘autumn-like’ conditions (i.e. decreasing temperature and day length) for six weeks. This is one of very few freeze-tolerant insects than can be grown in the lab, and allows us to do all sorts of neat laboratory experiments to better understand how some insects survive freezing. You can read more about what we found here (or contact me for a copy).

Graphical abstract
Graphical abstract for this article, illustrating the conditions that induce freeze tolerance, and how crickets change their physiology when acclimated to those conditions

My first invited conference talk, at the Joint Annual Meeting of Entomologists

This week, I attended my first entomology conference – and quite a cool one at that! The entomological societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia collaborated to put together a stunning joint meeting in Vancouver, where insect biologists from around the world gathered to share their latest science. I was invited to talk about my Ph.D. research in a session on ‘Orthopteroids: Small Orders, Big Ideas.’ It was my first invited conference talk, and it was awesome to see so many other people getting excited about cricket freeze tolerance!

ESA cover page
Title slide for my presentation on how crickets survive freezing

Ph.D. thesis defense!

Today, I successfully defended my Ph.D. thesis. Both the lecture and exam were open to the public, and it was wonderful to have the support of family, friends and colleagues on this last day of school! For anyone who wants to read my thesis, it’s freely available for download here.

Drinking from the Goblet of Knowledge (a Western University post-defense tradition) with Dr. Brent Sinclair (right) and one of my examiners Dr. Dan Hahn (left).

Attending the Canadian Society of Zoologists annual meeting in St. John’s

I have just returned from one of my favourite scientific conference – the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists. This year, the conference was held in the scenic and welcoming city of St. John’s Newfoundland, and I presented the latest results from my Ph.D. on insect freeze tolerance. This was my final year as a student councillor on the CSZ Council, and I look forward to continuing to attend these meetings in the future as a post-doc!

View of St. John’s from a post-conference boat tour

New publication: Review on insect freeze tolerance

My first review has been published! My Ph.D. supervisor and I wrote this long (but readable, I promise!) review on how we think insects survive internal ice formation for Biological Reviews. You can read all about it here (or contact me for a copy).

Update: Did I mention that Biological Reviews used one of our figures as their cover page? That’s a first for me!

Toxopeus and Sinclair 2018 Cover Page
The issue of Biological Reviews containing our review article, featuring a line-drawing of a freeze-tolerant cricket, created by Lauren E. Des Marteaux