Sensory Experience & Brain Development

The Zach Hall Lab at the University of Alberta

Parya’s URI award, Kayla’s I-STEAM award, the Team and the upcoming Summer of Research!

The labspaces are renovated, the equipment purchased, the fish are growing up, and maybe winter will end in Edmonton someday–we are ready to truly kick off our research program this summer!

Some of our very first trainees have already secured stipends and awards that will pay for their work throughout the summer in the Hall lab:

Parya Pourbehi was awarded an University of Alberta Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) award to begin testing whether muscular disease, by impairing movement early in life, has indirect impacts on concurrent brain development.

Kayla Lottin will be working in the lab this summer on a collaborative project with Dr. Tamzin Blewett looking at the effects of hydraulic fracturing wastewater exposure on nervous system development in embryonic and larval zebrafish.

Micaiah Achtymichuk will be working in the summer as a research assistant, flexing his molecular biology knowledge to help develop, test, and rear some new transgenic zebrafish strains central to future research projects.

I am also very proud to announce that Gabriel Dillenburg was accepted into the University of Alberta Graduate Program and will be moving to Canada to begin his Ph.D. program in our lab in the fall, studying the importance of movement on postembryonic development of the peripheral sensory nervous system.

Finally, and more immediately, I am helping co-supervise Arash Shahriari from Dr. Keith Tierney’s lab as he pivots his Ph.D. work on the effects of odourant complexity and aging in adult zebrafish olfaction towards anatomy. Arash will be investigating age-dependent changes in the anatomy and function of the olfactory epithelium over the coming summer!

We are fortunate to have such a wonderful group of trainees starting in the research program. As well, I am still looking for new trainees at an undergraduate/graduate level to start from Fall 2022 onward. If you are interested or know someone else who might be, check the Contact page for ways to reach out to me!

Lab (Re-)Opened, October 2021! Looking for students.

Both my dog, Zeke, and I have made the move back to Edmonton and the lab space is open for business (science)!

Don’t worry if the lab looks a little empty–over the coming weeks, I will be outfitting our space with new equipment to enable the many different, exciting approaches my lab will use to investigate the role of sensory experience in early brain development in zebrafish.

But lab equipment is nothing without students to use it! Accordingly, I am actively looking to recruit students of all levels (undergraduate, MSc, PhD) to help start up my research program at U of A.

Are you interested in the mechanisms through which the things we sense early in life guide ongoing brain development, but need a supportive supervisor eager to study the same thing? Check out the “Research” and “Opportunities” sections of my website and reach out to me (see “Contact”) to see if we could be a good fit in research using exciting, new approaches to experience-dependent brain development.