Matthews Lab

Comparative Respiratory Physiology

Phil Matthews

 

Associate 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

 

Ph.D 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 PhD in the lab, studying the respiratory adaptations of developmentally amphibious insects, including dragonflies (Odonata, Anisoptera) and stoneflies (Plecoptera).

 

Funding:

NSERC CGS D

Evan McKenzie

 

Ph.D student

 

Evan started in the lab in 2017 as an MSc but has since transferred into the PhD program. He is currently investigating the unique buoyancy control mechanism used by aquatic Chaoborus midge larvae. Chaoborus larvae are the only animals, other than Teleost fishes, that regulate their buoyancy using flexible, gas-filled hydrostatic organs.

 

 

Tormod Rowe

 

M.Sc. student

 

Tormod started his MSc in the lab in January 2018. He is working on understanding how insects generate episodic ventilatory rhythms by implanting cockroaches with fiber-optic PO2 and PCO2 probes to monitor how these parameters are regulated during continuous and episodic breathing.

Elisabeth Bergman

 

M.Sc. student

 

Elisabeth joined the lab in September 2018. She is working on understanding the mechanics and energetics of xylem feeding in froghoppers and leafhoppers. She is using a range of techniques, including respirometry, histology, and micro-CT imaging, to determine the metabolic cost of extracting xylem under tension, as well as predicting the force production of the insect's cibarial pump.

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 Prof. Bill Milsom.

 

 

Emma Green

 

Summer Scholar student

 

Emma undertook an NSERC USRA in the lab in 2019. She worked with Elisabeth Bergman on the morphology of cibarial pumps, generating 3D renderings of the pump's musculature and morphology from micro-CT scans.

 

Funding:

SURE Award (2020)

NSERC USRA (2019)

Lab Alumni

Kephra Beckett

 

Hons student

 

Kephra joined the lab in the summer of 2017 as an NSERC USRA scholar, investigating the respiratory physiology of spittlebugs. The paper that resulted from this work was covered by the New York Times and can be seen here. She recently completed her Honours degree in the lab, co-supervised with Michelle Tseng, examining the critical PO2 of damselfly nymphs, and how this alters their predatory interactions with their zooplankton food.

 

Funding:

NSERC USRA (2017 and 2018)

 

Auguste de Pennart

 

Summer Scholar student

 

Auguste started in the lab in 2018 on a SURE summer scholarship. He is studying how dragonfly nymphs become bimodal-breathers, accessing atmospheric oxygen using their rectal gill as pre-final instars, before developing functional thoracic spiracles for air-breathing as late final instars.

 

Funding:

SURE Award (2018)

 

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.

 

Funding:

NSERC USRA (2016)

 

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.

 

Funding:

Zoology Graduate Fellowship

NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship - Masters

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