My postdoctoral work in 2015-2017 will examine the effects of oil sands contaminants on wood frogs. By partnering with the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics, I will seek to create sensitive new tools for performing medical check-ups on Canada’s frogs. Frogs are sensitive creatures—like the canary in a coal mine, frogs provide an early warning system for problems with the health of the environment, and even our own health.
Some chemicals, such as those produced through mining of oil sands, are suspected of disrupting the hormone system of animals. Because the transformation of tadpoles into frogs is tightly controlled by hormones, exposure to hormone-disrupting contaminants mayimpair normal frog development.
My research will take a magnifying glass to the genetic information hidden within the cells of frogs in the hope of finding the keys to these developmental defects. This may lead to the discovery of innovative techniques for assessing the well-being of frogs and other amphibians in polluted ecosystems.