Dr. Denina Simmons – Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II)

Denina (Nina) joined the Faculty of Science at Ontario Tech University in July 2018, where she is the Principal Investigator of the Aquatic Omics Lab, and is also responsible for the Aquatic Facility, and the BioMETRIC (Biomolecular Excellence, Training, Research, & Innovation Centre) Facility.

Nina received her Undergraduate degree from Ryerson University and then completed her Master’s and Doctoral degrees at Trent University. Nina completed two consecutive postdoctoral fellowships at Environment Canada and after that, she had two consecutive contracts working on ‘Omics projects with the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks.

Theresa Warriner, MSc. – Aquatic Laboratory Technician

Theresa joined the lab in Jan 2022. She manages the Aquatic Facility, and does a wide variety of work in the lab. She assists students with experiments in the lab and with fieldwork.

Theresa has extensive background in fish research, with a special interest on fish behaviour. She completed her Master’s of Science at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at University of Windsor with Dr. Oliver Love and Dr. Cristina Semeniuk examining the effects of maternal and thermal stress on juvenile Chinook salmon. She completed her Bachelors of Science at McMaster University, completing her Honours thesis on the effects of wastewater effluent on Bluegill sunfish behaviour with Dr. Sigal Balshine.

Theresa is an avid naturalist, and likes to spend her free time hiking, camping, and gardening. She also likes some indoor activities such as crocheting or hanging out with her cats.

Adam Point – Postdoctoral Fellow

Adam joined the Aquatic Omics Lab in November 2022. Currently, he contributes his analytical chemistry background to two untargeted omics projects – identifying potential wastewater protein markers for human diseases and uncovering proteomic and lipidomic perturbations in zebrafish embryos caused by developmental exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Adam received his PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering from Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York in May of 2022. Under the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program, Adam studied spatiotemporal PFAS trends in top predator fish across the Great Lakes basin and compared PFAS concentrations and serum proteomes among three Lake Ontario fish species to determine whether the observed variability in PFAS bioaccumulation potential among species could correspond with interspecies serum proteome diversity. This proteomics research kindled Adam’s interest in applying omics approaches to environmental toxicology, and led him to the Aquatic Omics Lab.

Adam is an avid outdoorsman from the heart of the Great Lakes region. His life-long passion for outdoor recreation built his sense of stewardship that motivates his environmental research interest.

Keisha Deoraj – M.A., B.Ed., B.Sc.

Keisha (she/they) is a graduate student in the Applied Biosciences Program at Ontario Tech University. They have been a student at Ontario Tech University for over a decade, and have received multiple degrees and invaluable experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and STEM education. Keisha’s previous research explored the online identity development of Indo-Caribbean women in STEM, a project which was inspired by the experiences of the intersectional race- and gender-based discrimination she faced throughout her post-secondary STEM education. She brings an assets-based framework of equity and intersectionality to her current research, which is a collaborative research effort between the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and Moose Cree First Nation. Keisha is using LC-MS, chemoinformatics and bioinformatics to examine fine-scale measures of the health and condition of “Namew” (Lake Sturgeon) in the Moose River Basin. When not in the lab, Keisha can be found eating, acting, dancing, fishing, and spending time in the sunshine – sometimes all at once!

Cristina Henriques, H.BSc. – Ontario Tech University

Cristina is a graduate student in the Applied Bioscience program at Ontario Tech University. Her research will utilize proteomics and metabolomics to determine the toxicological effects of short-chain Perfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) on Fathead minnows. Her study is composed of both laboratory and field components to evaluate the effectiveness of using proteins and metabolite expression for biomonitoring. Through this, she hopes to aid in validating epidermal mucus sampling as a non-lethal sampling method for biomarker screening. Her research will also be examining the impact that short-chain PFAS has on the blood brain barrier as well as any consequential neurotoxicity.

In her spare time, Cristina enjoys drawing, hiking and reading. She has a strong love for aquatic life and has a deep appreciation for the ocean. She hopes to one day work for Environment Canada to help preserve aquatic ecosystems.

Raina Hubley – H.BSc. – Ontario Tech University

Raina is a graduate student in the Applied Biosciences (M.Sc.) program at Ontario
Tech and is currently studying the effects of quaternary ammonium compounds
(QACs) on Fathead minnows. Through this research, Raina hopes to better
understand the impact of environmental contaminants on the health of fathead
minnows; a sentinel (indicator) species.

In her spare time, Raina prefers to be outdoors hiking, birding, and camping. She
also likes to watch movies, create music, and spend time with her family and

Mohammed Faiz Chauhan – H.BSc.- Ontario Tech University

Faiz is a graduate student in the Applied Biosciences (M.Sc.) program at Ontario Tech and is currently working on finding optimal methods of protein and metabolite extraction from human saliva. Human saliva is a biofluid that contains a diverse collection of metabolites and proteins which can act as biomarkers and be used for potential diagnostic purposes in the future.

Mountain biking and hiking are two of Faiz’s favourite pastimes. Since he was a young child, science had captivated his interest, and the joy he had from comprehending the physical world inspired him to pursue a career in research.

Almira Khan – B.Sc., Ontario Tech University

Almira is a graduate student in the Applied Biosciences (M.Sc.) program investigating the effects of Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) on freshwater invertebrates specifically, snails! Almira is studying PFAS burden and effects using non-targeted proteomics and metabolomics.

Investigating lesser-studied, ecologically relevant aquatic organisms allows for a better understanding of PFAS contamination in water bodies, to predict the adverse effects of PFAS on pulmonate snails, and potentially prevent increased PFAS pollution and environmental impacts.

Almira is completing her research at the Environment and Climate Change Canada in Burlington, ON, working with Dr. Ève Gilroy. During her leisure time, Almira enjoys going for walks, baking, and listening to music.

Tyler Dow – B.Sc.

Tyler is a graduate student in the Applied Biosciences (M.Sc.) Program at Ontario Tech University. His research explores the utility of entomotoxicology and wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) in measuring opioids and associated metabolites. Specifically, he will be working to develop reliable methods to detect and quantify a selection of natural, semisynthetic, and fully synthetic opioids and their major metabolites in insect larvae and municipal wastewater. Tyler hopes this research will validate approaches for opioid detection in these environmental samples to better inform public health and law enforcement agencies.

Tyler’s research interests focus on identifying tools and technologies to better extract and quantify current and emerging drugs and their metabolites within collected toxicological samples. In his spare time, Tyler enjoys cooking, canoeing, listening to music, and watching scary movies.