Hurd Lab Members

Prof. Peter Hurd: Pete Hurd (webpage) Dr. Hurd's background is in biology, specifically in the evolution of animal behaviour. He has been investigating the biology of aggressive behaviour in one way or another since his M.Sc fieldwork investigating threat display use in American coots.

Grad Students:

Matt Ian Helgesen: was a Ph.D. student in the Lab. Ian arrived with a B.A. in Statistics and Psychology from the University of Minnesota-Morris, and some graduate schooling in Statistics from Iowa State University. He had also been a Research Intern at the Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key, FL, and a Statistical Programmer Analyst a the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. His research projects in the Hurd lab were centered on theoretical models of aggression and territoriality. Ian passed away in the Summer of 2011, and is greatly missed by everyone in the lab, the Department, the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters' Society and beyond.

Brittany Hope: is a M.Sc. student in the Neuroscience program studying the effects of stress during early life on adult brain and behaviour in convict cichlids.

  • Kennedy Fjellner: M.Sc. student studying examining the relationship between developmental stress, growth rate, telomere length and social behaviour in cichlid fish.
  • Taylor Irvine: Studying hormonal correlates of social behaviour and the effect of birth control medication in humans.
  • Undergraduates:

     Past Lab members

    Former Graduate Students

    Nathan Bartlett: M.Sc. student, investigating the links between social behaviour and epigenetic aspects of sexual differentiation of the human brain. Nathan is also interested in the relationship between genetics, sex, handedness and goofy foot vs. regular stance.

    Michele Moscicki

    Michele Moscicki: (website) Ph.D. student, successfully defended in the Fall of 2014. Michele completed her M.Sc. in Chris Sturdy's lab examining bioacoustics in the chickadee genus. She did her B.Sc. in the Honours Behaviour, Cognition, and Neuroscience program at the University of Windsor, where she studied female responses to male hormones in fish. Her research projects in the Hurd lab were centered on stress effects on brain asymmetry, behavioural lateralization and social behaviour in cichlids. She was supported by an NSERC CGS-D scholarship, an Alberta Ingenuity Studentship Graduate Scholarship and a UofA Dissertation Fellowship. Michele is currently the lab manager, and teaching several exceedingly highly evaluated courses in the Department. Summer of 2015 she will be moving to Baltimore to launch into her post-Hurdlab career.

    Cheryl Sedlak Seaver: M.Sc. student, Cheryl has a B.Sc. in the Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies from Sweet Briar College. Prior to joining the Hurd lab she was a statistician at Westat in Rockville, MD. Her research projects in the Hurd lab focus on cerebral lateralization, social behavior, and sex differences in the brains of Pelviachromis pulcher.

    Adam Reddon

    Adam Reddon: (website) graduated with an M.Sc. in the Summer of 2009. Adam had previously completed his B.Sc. Honors Degree in the lab, examining colour morphs and aggression in the convict cichlid. Adam's thesis work investigated the relationship between cerebral lateralization of function and personality in cichlid fish. Adam went on to do his PhD with Sigal Balshine at McMaster University and is now a post-doc with Simon Reader at McGill.

    Reginia Yan

    Reginia Yan: graduated with an M.Sc. in Dec 2008. Formerly an NSERC USRA Summer student for 2005. Reginia graduated from the University of Alberta with a BA in Psychology before realizing that her decision to abandon biology back in high school would come back and haunt her. Her Masters work examined effects ranging from how the fetal intrauterine environment can contribute to the development of a mouse's sexually dimorphic traits, to how a range of different putative indicators of prenatal testosterone exposure relate to each other and to behavioural variation.

    Steven Hamblin

    Steven Hamblin: (website) graduated with an M.Sc. in the Summer of 2007, he worked on the evolutionary dynamics of game theoretical models of communication. He has an enduring interest in the evolutionary bases of behaviour in both human and non-human animals. Steven went on to do his PhD with Luc-Alain Giraldeau at UQAM, followed by post docs with Mark Tanaka at UNSW in Australia, and at then at USC LA in the Program in Molecular and Computational Biology and the Keck School of Medicine. He (et al.) has a podcast called Breaking Bio that is pretty interesting. He is currently Senior Data Scientist and Head of Artificial Intelligence at Babylon Health.

    Alisha Brown

    Alisha Brown: Alisha graduated with an M.Sc. in the Summer of 2007. Her research spanned developmental influences on navigational behaviour in Convict cichlids, human behaviour in playing game-theoretical models of aggressive communication, and studying digit ratio in anolis lizards, and chickadees. Alisha went on to be Program Manager at the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Northern Alberta, and is now at work with the Dogwood Initiative.

    Walter Santos-Espinoza

    Walter Santos-Espinoza: Walter grew up in Oliver, B.C. and completed a B.A. in psychology at the U of A in 2003. Following his B.A. degree, Walter completed a MSc. in Neuroscience in 2006 under the supervision of Prof. Sergio Pellis (University of Lethbridge) and Dr. Peter Hurd. Walter's primary research interests focus on sexual differentiation, neurobiology, and behavioural variation. Other interests include sexual selection, endocrinology, and fine ales. He is currently working for the Province of Alberta as a Manager in the Strategic Energy Secretariat.

    Allie Bailey

    Allie Bailey: (webpage) Allie graduated magna cum laude with a B.Sc. (marine biology) from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2001. After spending a year teaching marine biology at the University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium in Savannah, Georgia, she moved to Edmonton to pursue her M.Sc. in Psychology under Pete's supervision. In 2005, Allie successfully defended her thesis, "Digit ratio and personality: An organizational explanation for behavioral variation". Every chapter of Allie's thesis was published and can be found under the publications section of this website. Currently, Allie is taking a hiatus from the scientific realm and pursuing other interests.

      Former Honours Students

    Former NSERC USRA Students

    Former WISEST Students

      Some Other Former Undergrad Students

  • Nathan Brandwein: has been working in the fish lab, examining female preference for males of alternative life-history morphs, and serving as the wetlab lab manager.
  • Rose Driscoll: A student at Reed College working on a collaboration examining molecular mechanisms of environmental sex determination in collaboration with SCP Renn.
  • Sayeed Devraj-Kizuk: has worked on a dizzyingly wide array of projects in the lab as an undergraduate, he is now focussed on finishing up his study of the development of lateralization of brain and behaviour in subadult cichlids PSYCO 299 credit.

    Julie Couture: collected data on genetic effects on personality in humans for PSYCO 496 credit. Jason Cameron: has been working in the the lab variously as a volunteer, after-degree student, and employee on a collaboration with Adam Reddon and Doug Wylie examining nonapeptide expression pattern correlations to social behaviour in a cross-species sample of cichlid brains.

    Owais Yahya: ((NSERC USRA Summer 2012) worked on the relationship between neuropeptides and sexual strategy in cichlid fish for PSYCO 496 credit, he is currently in Med School.

    Karine Whiteside: is an Athabasca University student working in the lab on studies examining the relationship between personality and maze learning in a species of cichlid fish.

    Sydele Merrigan: Studied the role of social status on hormone producing neurons in the the hypothalamus of female cichlid fish. She is currently an intern at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury through the Department's Internship program.

    Kathryn Vaillancourt: (NSERC USRA 2008, 2010) has worked on behavioural lateralization and personality in cichlid fish. Her recent work in the lab has examined the relationship between digit ratio, behaviour, and genetic variation in humans. She worked at the Autism Research Centre of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital while serving as the Coordinator of Human Research, and Director of Molecular Genetics in the Hurd Lab and conducting all the molecular genetics labwork in the Sex and Violence lab before starting a PhD. with Gustavo Turecki at the The Douglas Institute at McGill University.

    Jasmine Mah: (NSERC USRA 2010 & 2011) Jasmine worked on a collaboration with Keith Tierney examining the effects of early exposure to neuroxotins on the development of fish brain and personality, and has also investigated the relationship between cerebral lateralization and body size in cichlid fry in the Sex & Violence lab. She is currently in UC Berleley studying Choanoflagellates with Nicole King.

    Maddalena Genovese: Worked as a directed studies student and lab volunteer (2005) examining agreement between physical markers of prenatal androgen exposure, and their correlation to behavioural traits. She went on to serve as Director of Client Services at the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, as well as graduating from the UofA's Counselling Psychology program. She now works as a Registered Counselling Psychologst.

    Nalin Fernando: (NSERC USRA Summer student 2006). Nalin's work investigated the effect of artificial selection for behavioural traits on digit ratio in mice. He has completed his B.Sc. in Genetics.

    Troy Iwanyshyn:. In addition to empirical work examining human behaviour in communication games, Troy applied his philosophy background to the problem of applying extensive form game theory to a project to clearly define various forms of signal "meaning". Troy may still be an itinerant surfer in Australia.

    Shaina Archer: (NSERC USRA Summer student 2005). Shaina examined aggressive and mate choice behaviours in convict cichlids. She then went on to graduate from the University of Toronto's Genetic Counselling program, and served at the University of Alberta Hospital's Genetic Counsellor before returning to Med School as a student.

    Honey Case: Lab technician (Summer of 2005). Honey worked on a directed studies project investigating digit ratio variation and behavioural variation in chickens.

    Andrea Becking: Vounteer (2004 to 2006). Andrea assisted many lab members on a wide range of projects from fish lab tasks to measuring lack-capped chickadee digit ratios and testing humans for behavioural effects of colds and flues. She has since graduated from the UBC School of Nursing, and has worked as a nurse in Calgary as Australia.

    Patricia Gongal: (webpage) Patricia worked in the lab as a technician Summer of 2004 after working on a directed studies project the previous term, in which she investigated digit ratio effects in mice. She completed her PhD in Biology with Andrew J. Waskiewicz, and a post-doc at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, and is now working as a Research Development Officer at the University of Aberyswyth.