Tod ThielePrincipal Investigator
I received my undergraduate degree from Hamilton College where I worked with Herm Lehman & Robert Barlow (SUNY Upstate Medical Center) on diurnal structural changes in the lateral eye of horseshoe crabs. Following graduation, I moved to San Francisco and worked as a technician in Steve McIntire’s lab at UCSF where I helped identify mutations in C. elegans that alter behavioural responses to ethanol. For my PhD research, I investigated the neural circuitry underlying C. elegans chemotaxis behaviour in Shawn Lockery’s lab at the University of Oregon. I was surrounded by zebrafish labs in Oregon (the birthplace of zebrafish research) and became excited about joining the growing number of labs that use this animal to study brain circuits. I next joined Herwig Baier’s group at UCSF for postdoctoral research looking into motor control circuits in zebrafish and later moved with the lab to the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich.
Vernie AgudaGraduate Student
I am a firm believer in hard work, good karma, and balance. I completed my undergraduate degree at U of T St. George before switching over to U of T Scarborough for graduate school. In the lab I utilize cutting edge molecular techniques to determine whether the striatum (an important brain region that helps control our voluntary movement) in zebrafish is similar to ours. Outside of the lab I love to read books recommended to me, lift heavy weights at the gym, and listen to true crime podcasts. Never doubt what a barbell and a pipette can teach you about humility.
Nicholas GuilbeautGraduate Student
I am interested in how the brain learns and how the brain controls complex movements in response to sensory stimuli. I use larval zebrafish to study how distinct swimming patterns are topographically organized in a specific region of the zebrafish brain, called the subpallium which is where striatal circuits are thought to reside. My research uses a combination of behavioural analysis, two-photon imaging, and optogenetics to assess the necessity and sufficiency of neural circuits in the subpallium for generating behavioural responses to specific visual stimuli.
Michael MartinGraduate Student
My PhD research focuses on the neural circuitry underpinning action selection. I am interested in the larval zebrafish subpallium which is believed to be homologous to the mammalian striatum, the primary input structure of the basal ganglia. To this end I present ethologically relevant stimuli to my fish and image the neuronal activity of their subpallium as well as their behaviour. Once I have determined candidate neurons through calcium imaging of neuronal activity, I will perform ablation and optogenetic studies. My strengths include calcium imaging, two-photon microscopy as well as classification of zebrafish behaviour.
Indira RiadiResearch Associate
I started working in the Thiele lab in 2015 and has since completed an undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Tod Thiele. I have been characterizing the dopamine receptor D1 in larval zebrafish forebrain using various methods such as immunohistochemistry and fluorescent in-situ hybridization in both whole-mount and brain sections. I'm also an amateur artist, meaning in my free time, I sketch sometimes, as well as haphazardly dance (by myself)
I am currently a third year undergraduate student, specializing in neuroscience at the University of Toronto. My research interests lie within neurobiology and understanding sensorimotor circuits at a cellular level. I'm hoping to further explore zebrafish midbrain motor circuits and the overall process of research along the way.
Former Team Members
Helen ChasiotisResearch Associate
I completed my PhD in Fish Physiology at York University and have since held post-doctoral and technician positions at various labs across Toronto that range in foci from lung development, cardiovascular disease to osmoregulation in mosquito larvae. In the Thiele lab, I develop and establish molecular, immunohistochemical and in situ protocols for detecting various neuromarkers.
I am currently interested in looking at the neuronal activity in the optic tectum of larval zebrafish across 3 different behaviors, namely prey capture, predator avoidance and optomotor response. To do so, I correlate tail kinematics with 2 photon calcium imaging. In my free time, I enjoy running, swimming and hiking! Also, in order to live up to my (last) name, I koek (cook) a lot because what beats waking up to the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls?
My research is currently focused on understanding the learning and memory mechanisms found in larval zebrafish. By developing a learning paradigm for these simple organisms, we hope to discover the neural mechanisms underlying learning. Seeing fish learn is pretty cool but you can also find me doing a wide range of different activities! Some of the things I enjoy doing include Muay Thai (kickboxing), graphic design, animation, playing competitive chess, listening to podcasts (shout-out to The Joe Rogan Experience and The NoSleep Podcast) and mentoring students. Hey, life’s short, gotta do as much as you can!
I'm a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Human Biology and Neuroscience at UTSC. I am a Work-Study student; my current position is as the Fish Facility Technician of this lab. My duties include monitoring and taking care of the zebrafish to ensure they are healthy and in optimal living conditions.