MAYDIANNE CB ANDRADE, Ph.D, FRCGS
PROFESSOR/UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO SCARBOROUGH
Maydianne Andrade is a University Professor at the University of Toronto. With a PhD in Neurobiology & Behavior from Cornell University, Andrade’s award-winning research at the University of Toronto Scarborough uncovers links between mating behaviour, ecology, and evolution in variable environments. For many years she maintained the largest captive population of black widows in the world as a central part of her research program, and she is known by some as ‘the Spider Woman’.
A sought-after speaker, Andrade has engaged with broad audiences in a podcast examining issues of equity during the pandemic lockdown (The New Normal), interviews and panel discussions on radio (CBC’s Quirks and Quarks, Ideas), and on television, including The Nature of Things (arachnologist on The Great Wild Indoors, and guest host of First Animals).
Andrade’s innovative leadership includes co-founding and acting as inaugural President of the Canadian Black Scientists Network/ Réseau Canadien des Scientifiques Noirs, a national, multidisciplinary coalition advocating for Black inclusion in STEM. She also founded and co-Chairs the Toronto Initiative for Diversity and Excellence, a group of faculty providing peer education and leadership advising on equity and inclusion. As an equity educator, she created a set of animated education modules on interrupting bias, now in use across Canada.
DR. ANDREW MASON Ph.D
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO SCARBOROUGH
Andrew Mason is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto. He earned a PhD in Neuroethology from the University of Toronto, and followed this with post-doctoral training at Cornell University. He has most recently been heavily engaged in the work of being a barely competent administrator while cultivating a cantankerous demeanor to discourage any further advancement in so-called leadership roles within the university.
As a researcher Mason is best known as “Fly Guy”, official side-kick of the The Spider Woman. His work has tended to focus on the obscure and esoteric, reflecting an obsessive interest in behavioural and neurobiological aspects of sound and vibrational communication among insects and spiders. He documented the astounding acuity of directional hearing in a parasitic fly, which inspired other researchers to do useful things like design microphones based on the flies’ ears that might make for better hearing aids. Mason also studied the production and detection of ultrasound (what’s the use of sound you can’t even hear?) in tropical insects, and has been trying for years for figure out the best way to record vibrations in spider webs (which may yet turn out to have a utility that some one else can discover – spoiler alert, cobwebs are super-robust material).
DR. CATHERINE SCOTT Ph.D
NSERC POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCE SCIENCES
McGILL UNIVERSITY, MONTREAL, CANADA
Dr. Catherine Scott is an arachnologist and behavioural ecologist who studies spider communication, mating, and foraging behaviour. They completed their Master of Science in Biology at Simon Fraser University and Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Their research here was focused primarily on the sexual behaviour of western black widow spiders. Dr. Scott is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University.
The former arachnophobe is passionate about shifting perceptions about these fascinating creatures. To do this, Scott engages in science communication and participatory research projects like “Recluse or Not?”, which tracks the range of recluse spiders in North America by providing expert spider identification to anyone who submits a photo of a suspected brown recluse.
Dr. Scott blogs at spiderbytes.org, and you can also find them on Twitter (@Cataranea), where they are always happy to answer questions about spiders and other arachnids.
DR.ANITA AISENBERG Ph.D Ph
RESEARCH PROFESSOR AND DEPARTMENT HEAD ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
CLEMENTE ESTABLE BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Dr. Anita Aisenberg has a Degree in Biological Sciences (Facultad de Ciencias) and a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences within the Programa de Desarrollo de Ciencias Básicas (PEDECIBA) at the Universidad de la República in Uruguay. She is currently Head of the Laboratorio de Etología, Ecología y Evolución of the Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente Estable in Uruguay. She is also a researcher of the Sistema Nacional de Investigadores (ANII, Uruguay) and a researcher of PEDECIBA.
Her research focus is Animal Behavior, Ecology and Evolution, using arachnids and insects as study models. She is interested in understanding why animals behave as they do and how this can change according to the social and ecological environment.
Aisenberg is also involved in several outreach projects that have to do with the democratization of science and promoting STEM careers at different educational levels. As part of her commitment to spreading science within the community, she is also a member of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) to strengthen and promote female representation in the field.
DR. DARYL GWYNN
DEPT. OF ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MISSISSAUGA, CANADA
Dr. Darryl T. Gwynne received his Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Toronto in 1974 and his Ph.D. in Zoology and Entomology at Colorado State University in 1979. He was a Professor of Biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus from 1987 to 2020 and remains an Emeritus Professor of Biology today.
Gwynne’s research broadly covers the sexual selection and mating behaviour in arthropods, particularly the study of insects and spiders, to understand factors that control sexual selection and sexual differences. His lab research has covered a diversity of mating systems, including the extreme sexual selection of males, harem defence and male weaponry in New Zealand “crickets” known as weta — and central study systems that include species such as dance flies and katydids in which there is the potential for sexual selection and the evolution of ornaments in females as they compete for goods and services (like “nuptial gifts”) offered by males.
Publications to date include 130 primary publications (refereed papers and chapters, book reviews and scientific commentaries), 31 additional papers (from research under my supervision) solely authored by my graduate students, two books (one edited), and eight popular articles.
DR. ROSALIND MURRAY Ph.D
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MISSISSAUGA, CANADA
Rosalind Murray is an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). She received her Ph.D. from the University of Stirling in Scotland before returning to Canada to work as a postdoctoral researcher in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto.
In 2021, she started as faculty at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Rosalind studies insects, and her research focuses on how male and female insects differ in size, shape and behaviour and how those differences change in different environments.
ECOLOGY, EVOLUTION, & BEHAVIOUR DEPARTMENT
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Aarcha Thadi did an integrated Bachelor's and Master's degree at the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research in Pune, India. There, she worked on experimentally evolved populations of Drosophila melanogaster to understand the behavioural and life-history adaptations needed to become better dispersers.
Thadi is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour at the University of Minnesota (UMN), Twin Cities. Here, under the guidance of Professor and Primary Researcher Marlene Zuk, Aarcha studies how reproduction in Hawaiian crickets is altered under extreme or novel conditions in the Zuk Lab at UMN.
PROFESSOR LISHA SHAO PH.D
ASST PROFESSOR DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE NEWARK USA
Dr. Lisha Shao earned her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at Tsinghua University in China. During her Ph.D. training, Lisha established the first genetic model for schizophrenia susceptibility genes in Drosophila under the supervision of Dr. Yi Zhong. She then moved to the Janelia Research Campus of Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Virginia to continue her postdoctoral research.
Now, Shao is an Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences Department and the principal investigator of the Shao Lab at the University of Delaware. Lisha Shao’s research program investigates the genetic and neural mechanisms underlying reward-driven behaviours in healthy and diseased states. Her laboratory has three complementary research directions: (1) identifying the molecular and neural pathways that mediate reward-driven behaviours, (2) characterizing the interaction and competition between different reward-driven behaviours, (3) investigating the regulation of reward-driven behaviours by internal states and environmental stress, especially pathological social stress.
Her previous work aimed to identify and functionally classify reward neurons in Drosophila by developing a high-throughput behaviour assay coupled with multidisciplinary approaches. The systematic study of one of the identified candidate reward circuits led to the discovery of a mechanism by which the female brains receive mechanosensory inputs during copulation. Her discovery provides the first neural mechanisms that demystify the “copulation effect,” which refers to the reduction of female receptivity after mating independent of sperm and male seminal fluid and has remained a biological enigma for fifty years. This work also laid the groundwork for current projects on delineating the molecular and neural mechanisms of sexual reward in female Drosophila.
Terrence Chang is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Toronto Scarborough studying male-male competition in Cyphoderris monstrosa, known generally as the great grig or monster haglid, a species of hump-winged cricket in the Prophalangopsidae family. His projects integrate behaviour, physiology, and biochemistry to understand how traits interact to influence success in a fight.
Ph.D. CANDIDATE DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO SCARBOROUGH
DR. MARLENE ZUK
REGENTS PROFESSOR DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY EVOLUTION AND BEHAVIOUR
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, TWIN CITIES USA
Dr. Marlene Zuk grew up in California and attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, for her undergraduate education. After a three-year hiatus, she attended the University of Michigan, where she acquired her Ph.D. studying what else but the mating behaviours of crickets. Dr. Zuk did postdoctoral work at the University of New Mexico and then took her first faculty position at the University of California, Riverside. There, Marlene worked on both birds and insects before joining the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota in 2012, where she is now a Regents Professor. Zuk was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2019 and has published several books about animal behaviour and evolution for the general science-loving audience.
Our lab focuses on emerging questions in behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology. We use invertebrate systems to study the evolution of mating behaviour and secondary sexual characters in natural populations. I and others in my lab seek to understand how natural and sexual selection pressures shape animal behaviour, life history, and morphology. Currently, we are studying the conflict between sexual and natural selection in Pacific field crickets, Teleogryllus oceanicus, which are subject to an acoustically-orienting parasitic fly.
AGRICULTURE AND AGRI FOODS CANADA
Dr. Sean McCann is an entomologist and natural historian with a passion for photography, especially of insects and spiders. He completed his MSc in Medical Entomology at the University of Florida and his Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University. There, McCann studied the Red-throated Caracara, a Neotropical falcon and specialist predator of social wasps. He now works as a Crop Entomologist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Newfoundland.
Throughout his career, Dr. McCann has studied the biology and behaviour of diverse animals, including mosquitoes, wasps, ants, beetles, spiders, and birds. He blogs and shares his photography at Ibycter.com and tweets as @Ibycter.
DR.JOHN T. ROTENBERRY PH.D
PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF EVOLUTION, ECOLOGY AND ORGANISMAL BIOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA RIVERSIDE
ASS. DEPT. OF ECOLOGY, EVOLUTION & BEHAVIOR
UNIVERSITY OF MINNNISOTA
John T. Rotenberry is an Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). He also served as the UCR Natural Reserve System's Campus Director and Associate Director of the UCR Center for Conservation Biology.
He subsequently moved to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, as a special assistant to the Dean of the College of Biological Sciences to begin the development of a network of biological field research areas for the College.
He has worked on the ecology and population biology of birds in arid shrublands and grasslands for over 40 years, with particular emphasis on habitat and diet selection, reproductive biology, and community ecology. More recently, Rotenberry’s research has expanded to include the impacts of phonotactic parasitoid flies on ecology, behaviour, and the evolution of acoustically-signalling Pacific field crickets, Teleogryllus oceanicus, in the Hawaiian Islands.
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO SCARBOROUGH
Dr. Luciana Baruffaldi is a Research Associate in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She acquired her Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in Biological Sciences from Universidad de la República, Uruguay, and her Doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Toronto.
Her research focuses on Animal Behaviour, in particular, communication, mating behaviour and phenotypic plasticity, using spiders as study models. Baruffaldi is interested in understanding how females and males communicate during courtship and mating and how social and ecological environments could influence such interactions. In addition, she is involved with the organization and design of several outreach activities at different educational levels.