Alexander Clifford

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Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a comparative evolutionary physiologist with a broad experience in ion regulation and acid/base physiology (broadly defined as pH homeostasis). My research interests focus on understanding how aquatic animals cope with environmental stress such as hypoxia (low PO2), hypercapnia (high PCO2), temperature, salinity, and high environmental ammonia (HEA).  Such stressors require adaptive physiological mechanisms to prevent impairment of biological functions.  I am particularly interested in organisms living in extreme environments because, in general they have developed unique adaptations in order to survive and thrive. My research program uses a multidisciplinary approach, whereby I employ techniques in whole-animal physiology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and molecular biology to examine the relationships between environment and evolutionary adaptation. My Ph.D. project focuses on pH homeostasis, ionoregulation, and respiratory adaptations of the Pacific hagfish (Epataretus stoutii). Hagfish share an ionic profile similar to marine invertebrates and represent the evolutionary transition between the invertebrates and vertebrates. They are also scavengers that feed on decaying carrion (e.g. whale fall) which expose the organism to an array of environmental stressors including hypoxia, high PCO2 and HEA.  Hagfish are extremely tolerant of these perturbations and my PhD aims to characterize the transport mechanisms by which hagfish are able to accomplish these feats.

PhD Dissertation: Respiration, acid/base and ion regulation strategies of the Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii)

For full list of publications, see Alexander Clifford’s orcID: 0000-0002-2836-5832

Funding and Scholarships

(2013 – 2016) NSERC Doctoral Post Graduate Scholarship (PGS-D3)
(2012 – 2014) Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures Doctoral Scholarship (Omics & Environment)

Awards
2011 – Dr. Richard E. (Dick) Peter Memorial Graduate Scholarship – University of Alberta
2012 – Inspirational Instructor Award – University of Alberta Interdepartmental Science Students’ Society
2012 – Alberta Learning Graduate Student Scholarship – Government of Alberta
2013 – President’s Doctoral Prize of Distinction – University of Alberta
2014 – Donald M. Ross Graduate Scholarship – University of Alberta
2014 – President’s Doctoral Prize of Distinction – University of Alberta
2015 – Andrew Stewart Memorial Graduate Prize – University of Alberta
2015 – President’s Doctoral Prize of Distinction – University of Alberta
2015 – Dick & Leona Peter Residential Bursary – Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre
2015 – Western Canadian Universities Marine Sciences Society Graduate Student Award – Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre
2015 – Dr. Richard E. (Dick) Peter Memorial Graduate Scholarship – University of Alberta
2016 – Bill Samuel Graduate Student Service Award – University of Alberta