Alumni Profiles


Emily McKinnon (PhD 2014)

a photo of PhD alumna Emily McKinnon (2014) doing her field researchAfter completing her undergraduate degree in science (Queen's University '06) and a Masters in Forestry (University of New Brunswick '09), Emily did her PhD at York U on the winter ecology and migration of the Wood Thrush, a threatened songbird.

During the Canadian winters she did her field work in the hot and buggy rainforest of Belize where wood thrushes are common, then Emily 'migrated' back to York each spring.

Emily is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Windsor where she is studying the migration and ecology of an arctic-breeding migratory songbird, the Snow Bunting. Emily hopes to continue to study migratory birds in the future as a professor in Canada.


Lubna Nadeem (PhD 2011)

photo of Dr. Lubna NadeemDr. Lubna Nadeem has obtained her PhD in 2011 from York University, Toronto, under the supervision of Dr Chun Peng. Her research focused on the role of the cytokine Nodal /ALK7 signaling pathway in the human placenta. During her PhD, she discovered that Nodal inhibits trophoblast proliferation and exerts a fine control over their level of invasion in the uterus. She also reported abnormally high levels of Nodal and its receptor ALK7 expression in placenta from patients with preeclampsia which may indicate that Nodal contributes in the development of this pregnancy complication.

Following the completion of PhD she joined Dr Stephen Lye laboratory at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital, for postdoctoral training. Dr Nadeem’s research focus remained on Women’s and Infants Health. She is currently exploring the mechanism of labour onset in human. The precise molecular mechanism by which labor-associated genes are induced is poorly understood – contributing to our inability to prevent labour when it occurs preterm Progesterone is critical for the maintenance of pregnancy in all species. The initiation of labour in all mammals, excluding humans, is caused by systemic P4 withdrawal. Lubna investigated one of the most perplexing dilemmas in reproductive biology: how human labour could be initiated despite elevated circulating P4 levels. Dr Nadeem has recently made major discoveries that cast new light on these processes and suggest new targets for intervention and with them novel therapeutic possibilities.

Lance Woolaver (PhD 2010)

photo of Dr. Lance WoolaverLance completed an undergraduate degree in Biology (Dalhousie University) and a Masters in Wildlife Ecology (Acadia University) en route to a PhD at York U studying the ecology and conservation genetics of one of the world’s rarest raptors, Ridgway’s hawk of the Dominican Republic.

Lance’s career has taken him around the world, working on reintroduction projects for some of the planet’s most threatened birds including the California condor, kakapo and takahe in New Zealand, and echo parakeet and pink pigeon in Mauritius, and our own Eastern loggerhead shrike here in Ontario.

Lance is now Head of Species Conservation and Research for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Madagascar, managing research and species recovery projects for some of the world’s most threatened animals.