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.
Venkatesh Krishna S.Post-Doc
I graduated with a Ph.D in Neurobiology, from the University of Cologne, Germany in the lab of Prof. Dr. Sigrun Korsching. I investigated Olfactory receptor-ligand interactions governing a specific behavior in Zebrafish (Danio rerio). As a post doc in the Thiele Lab I employ a host of different molecular biology techniques, imaging, and behavior studies to study neural circuit function. Currently, I work on a HFSP funded collaborative project that involves using Zebrafish and cichlids (Astatotilapia burtoni) as models for studying visual circuit adaptation to natural scenes. This work involved field research expeditions to Zambia and India, the native habitats of these species.
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.
Rida AnsariGraduate Student
Why do we forget? My research is a collaborative project with Dr. Paul Frankland at SickKids Hospital and focuses on understanding how new neurons regulate memories and cause forgetting. I am developing behavioural paradigms for adult zebrafish in addition to characterizing how increased neurogenesis effects various cell populations across the whole brain and in regions related to memory processing using tissue clearing and whole brain imaging. Outside the lab, I enjoy aquascaping and watching documentaries.
Isabelle TateGraduate Student
My M.Sc. research focused on testing a novel behavioral-based drug screening platform for the discovery of neuroactive compounds using the larval zebrafish as my model system. By coupling high-resolution behavioral tracking with optogenetics, we can optically activate genetically defined circuits in the brain thus allowing for a targeted screening approach.
Christopher MarkUndergraduate Student
I am a third year undergraduate student at UTSC, where I am currently majoring in Human Biology and Neuroscience. I am undergoing a work study program at the lab as a zebrafish technician. My roles include taking care of the zebrafish and performing upkeep on the aquatic system to ensure the fish live in a healthy environment.
Ennie OlajideUndergraduate Student
As an undergraduate student at UTSC, I am studying Human Biology and Neuroscience. As a work-study student at the lab, I’m a zebrafish technician that’s tasked with nursing the fish and ensuring an optimal environment for their upkeep. In my spare time, I enjoy playing the guitar and working out.
Sinan ShariffUndergraduate Student
I'm a fourth-year undergraduate co-op student currently doing a Neuroscience specialist. Right now I'm volunteering in the lab, helping take care of the zebrafish.
Former Team Members
Helen ChasiotisResearch Associate
Helen completed her PhD in Fish Physiology at York University and was a post-doc and research technician at various labs across Toronto that ranged in foci from lung development, cardiovascular disease to osmoregulation in mosquito larvae. In the Thiele lab, Helen developed and established molecular, immunohistochemical and in situ protocols for detecting various neuromarkers.
Indira RiadiResearch Associate
Indira started working in the Thiele lab in 2015 and completed an undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Tod Thiele. Indira characterized 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. Indira is also an amateur artist and in her free time sketched sometimes, as well as haphazardly danced (by herself).
Vernie AgudaGraduate Student
Vernie is a firm believer in hard work, good karma, and balance. Vernie completed her undergraduate degree at U of T St. George before switching over to U of T Scarborough for graduate school. In the lab, Vernia utilized cutting edge molecular techniques to determine whether the striatum (an important brain region that helps control voluntary movement) in zebrafish is similar to humans. Outside of the lab , Vernie loves 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.
During her time in the lab, Laura was 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, she correlated tail kinematics with 2 photon calcium imaging. In her free time, Laura enjoys running, swimming and hiking! Also, in order to live up to her (last) name, she likes to "koek" (cook) a lot. What beats waking up to the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls?
Nisma was a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Human Biology and Neuroscience at UTSC. Nisma was a Work-Study student; her position was the Fish Facility Technician. Her duties included monitoring and taking care of the zebrafish to ensure they are healthy and in optimal living conditions.
Malak was a third year undergraduate student, specializing in neuroscience at the University of Toronto. Her research interests lie within neurobiology and understanding sensorimotor circuits at a cellular level. She hopes to further explore zebrafish midbrain motor circuits and the overall process of research along the way.
Sara completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. Her research aimed to quantify the effects of exercise on neurogenesis levels in the zebrafish adult brain. Sara enjoyed listening to lifestyle podcasts, shopping and talking about science.