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Click here to view of full list of my peer-reviewed (academic) publications. 

Pedagogy of science communication

Grounded in my practical experience as a science writer and workshop leader, I am interested in developing evidence-based approaches for improving science communication skills, particularly in subject matter experts like scientists.


What are the most effective way to develop science communication skills in scientists? How can we improve graduate and postdoctoral training so they can act as ambassadors of science, and who should be responsible for this training? 

Currently, I am co-leading a collaborative project analyzing the success of an NSERC-funded science writing internship program as well as general attitudes about science communication in Canada.

Key papers in this research area:

Ten simple rules for scientists engaging in science communication

Science communication in experimental biology: experiences and recommendations 

Effects of lampricides on native lampreys

Two species of lamprey native to the North American Great Lakes are listed as Special Concern under Schedule 1 of the Species At Risk Act (SARA). While it is likely that native lampreys are inadvertently targeted by sea lamprey control, potential conservation actions are hindered by lack of information.

I am Lead PI on a collaborative, multi-institutional grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (2024 to 2028) to study the effects of lampricides on native species such as American brook lamprey, silver lamprey, and northern brook lamprey.


We will address key knowledge gaps by quantifying how sensitive native lampreys are to lampricides, characterizing the biochemical, physiological, and transcriptional disturbances induced by sub-lethal doses, and assessing the capacity of native lampreys to recover from treatments.

This work synergizes with my previous work on mechanisms of lampricide toxicity (see below)

recording Borowiec - GLFC Board Meeting Preproposal talk  revised.jpg

Molecular biology of cycling hypoxia

Many fish species live in a state of constant, overlapping environmental fluxes including daily or hourly cycles in oxygen level. During these cycles, fish rapidly switch between periods of tolerance (hypoxia) and periods of performance (normoxia).

My current postdoctoral work investigates how fish co-ordinate tolerance-performance shifts at the molecular level. I'm focusing on mRNA and microRNAs, molecules that act as transcriptional or posttranslational regulators in many physiological processes. microRNAs turnover can be especially rapid and target specific organelles, and so it may be in modulating the coping response to oxygen cycles.

This work synergizes with my previous work on intermittent cycles of hypoxia (see below). 

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Mechanisms of lampricide toxicity

Sea lamprey invaded the North American Great Lakes in the early 20th century, and continue to threaten populations of native fishes. Control of these parasitic invaders involves regular application of specialized pesticides - TFM and niclosamide - to nursery streams containing lamprey larvae. 

My previous postdoctoral work investigated how niclosamide and TFM-niclosamide mixes directly affect the mitochondria of sea lamprey to cause their toxic effects.

Key papers in this research area:

Niclosamide is a much more potent toxicant of mitochondrial respiration than TFM in the invasive sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)

Exploiting the physiology of lampreys to refine methods of control and conservation

Upstream migrant sea lamprey show signs of increasing oxidative stress but maintain aerobic capacity with age 


Intermittent cycles of hypoxia

Periods of low oxygen are a fact of life for many fishes, and physiologists have a good understanding of how fish cope with stable, prolonged periods of low oxygen. However, we have much poorer understanding of how fish cope with repeated cycles between low and high oxygen, even though we know so called patterns of 'intermittent hypoxia' are very common in the wild. 


My PhD thesis investigated how killifish cope with low oxygen, and how these fish use different strategies to deal with daily cycles of hypoxia-reoxygenation compared to constant exposure to low oxygen conditions.

Key papers in this research area:

Distinct physiological strategies are used to cope with constant hypoxia and intermittent hypoxia in killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus)

Distinct metabolic adjustments arise from acclimation to constant hypoxia and intermittent hypoxia in estuarine killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus)

Interspecific variation in hypoxia tolerance and hypoxia acclimation responses in killifish from the family Fundulidae

Hypoxia acclimation alters reactive oxygen species homeostasis and oxidative status in estuarine killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus)

Rapid and reversible modulation of blood haemoglobin content during diel cycles of hypoxia in killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus)

Aside from killifish, I've also worked in this area in the context of intertidal plainfin midshipman fish from the west coast of North America, which endure long periods of emersion during low tide.

Key papers in this research area (in collaboration with the Balshine lab, McMaster University):

Parental males of the plainfin midshipman are physiologically resilient to the challenges of the intertidal zone

Nesting on high: reproductive and physiological consequences of living in the intertidal zone

killifish in respirometer jpg.jpg
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