Matthews Lab

Comparative Respiratory Physiology


Lab Members



Prospective students

Phil Matthews


Assistant Professor


Phil Matthews completed his PhD at the University of Adelaide in South Australia (2008) before taking up an ARC funded APA and DECRA postdoctoral fellowship in Dr Craig White's lab at the University of Queensland where he studied breathing patterns in insects. He joined the ComPhy group in the Zoology Department at UBC in 2014.


His research focuses on the comparative respiratory physiology of insects. His goal is to understand the adaptations that allow insects to breathe in different environments, as well as how they sense and respond to changes in oxygen, carbon dioxide and pH level.


Courses taught:

Biol 325 - Introduction to Animal Mechanics and Locomotion

Zool 503 - Comparative Animal Physiology Seminar Series

Biol 548Q Advanced topics in Biology - Respirometry

Current Lab Members

Daniel Lee


M.Sc. student


Daniel started in the lab on an Undergraduate Student Research Award in 2015, before expanding his summer research project on dragonfly hemolymph (blood) into an Honours thesis. He is now undertaking an MSc in the lab, studying the respiratory adaptations of developmentally amphibious insects.




NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship - Masters

Evan McKenzie


M.Sc. student


Evan started in the lab in 2017. He is currently investigating the buoyancy control mechanisms of Chaoborus midge larvae

Ryan Sprenger


Ph.D. student (co-supervised)


Ryan completed his BSc. and MSc. at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. His undergraduate and graduate research, under the direction of Dr. Courtney Kurtz and Dr. Hannah Carey, focused on immune function and adipose accumulation in hibernating ground squirrels.


His current research is directed at the control of breathing in a torpid state, specifically the function of chemoreceptors and the pontine influence on central pattern generators in the brainstem of several hibernating ground squirrel species.


Ryan is co-supervised with Bill Milsom.


Funding (none of this is current):

Student/Faculty Collaborative Research grant (small)

Student/Faculty Collaborative Research grant (full)

STEM student research assistant grant

Kephra Beckett


Hons student


Kephra joined the lab in the summer of 2017 as an NSERC USRA scholar, investigating the respiratory physiology of spittlebugs. She is currently undertaking Honours in the lab, co-supervised with Michelle Tseng.





Raman Ubhi


Directed studies student


Raman started in the lab in 2016 as an NSERC USRA scholar. He is currently working on understanding the relationship between cockroach activity and gas exchange patterns using respirometry and video activity/behavior analysis.





Lab Alumni

Anna Robertson


M.Sc. student


After completing her Honours thesis at Mt Allison University, Anna joined the lab as an MSc student in 2015. She completed her thesis entitled "Fluorescent implantable elastomer tags for the measurement of oxygen in insects" in 2017. This work was directed towards developing implantable fluorescent oxygen sensors to non-invasively monitor O2 levels within animals. She is profiled on the UBC Graduate School website here.



Zoology Graduate Fellowship

NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship - Masters

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