Research in the EEAR Lab has been performed by Tara Perrot and many talented graduate and undergraduate trainees over the years. Please see below for a list of current lab members.
Below are biographies for the current graduate students in the EEAR Lab. Feel free to reach out with questions about their research.
This year, we also have three undergraduate students doing all or part of their Honours projects (Frances Hayward, Rebecca St. James, Jessica Telizyn) in our lab.
Tara Perrot, PhD
At Western University, where I completed my BSc Honours in Psychology, I spent a lot of my time in 3rd and 4th year working in various laboratories as paid help and also as part of completing a year-long independent project with Dr. Peter Cain, and also an Honours thesis with Dr. Mel Goodale. While I enjoyed the work that I did in the Goodale lab, I was intent to work with animal models as part of my graduate training. I had also become very interested in studying the effects of sex and gonadal steroids on modulating brain and behaviour. This was in large part due to the major influence of Drs. Kimura, Hampson, and Sherry, in the Psychology department at Western.
I began graduate studies in the Neuroscience Graduate Programme at Western in 1994 under the supervision of Drs. Martin Kavaliers and Peter Ossenkopp. Their ethological approach to the study of behaviour, the complementary lab and field experiments that were on-going, and their interest in modulation of behaviour by various hormones and environmental factors, was a perfect match for my interests. I spent the next 4.5 years at Western learning a lot about behavioural neuroscience, and in particular about the modulation of behavioural stress responding in male and female rodents.
When I received my PhD in December of 1998, I was ready to begin an NSERC-funded postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. For me, the goal of postdoctoral training was to gain some experience with molecular and cellular neuroscience while keeping within the topics that interest me. I chose to work with Dr. Peg McCarthy because of her solid reputation as a behavioural neuroendocrinologist. I spent 3 years learning various techniques that allowed me to probe the molecular basis of sexual differentiation of rat hypothalamus.
In January 2002, I joined the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University. Please visit the rest of the website for information on current research interests and members of the lab.
My interests in stress responding and the factors that contribute to resilience in the face of stress have led me down various paths. One of those paths is coming up with ways to help people manage stress and to that end, I have a fledgling registered company called Fit Brain (Stress Relief Workshops | Fit Brain | Nova Scotia). I enjoy giving public lectures and am actively engaged in creating workshops for stress management for specific groups.
Cory Munroe, BSc (Hons)
(Co-supervised by Dr. H. Neyedli, Dalhousie)
In 2019, Cory began his graduate training at Dalhousie University, fast-tracking into the PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience program in May of 2021. Broadly, his research focuses on relations between stress and executive function (i.e., cognitive processes involved in goal-directed behaviors). In particular, he is interested in whether various "lifestyle factors" (e.g., exercise, probiotic supplementation) can help mitigate the negative effects of stress on these processes, as well as in understanding the neurobiological mechanisms that may underlie these effects. To do this, Cory's research incorporates neuroimaging (e.g., functional near infrared spectroscopy; fNIRS) and neuroendocrine measures in conjunction with cognitive testing.
Outside of the lab, Cory is a fan of hiking, music, and exercising. He also enjoys spending time at his cottage in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
Esther Puiras, BA (Hons)
(co-supervised by Dr. J. Khoury, MSVU)
Esther graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University in 2022 with a BA in Psychology. Her honours thesis focused on brainwave activity – specifically, mismatch negativity and novelty P300 event related potentials - in individuals experiencing early phase psychosis.
She was raised in Cornwall, PEI and currently resides in Halifax, NS. Outside of the lab, Esther spends her time drawing, playing video games, and desperately trying to keep her plants alive.
Esther is currently enrolled in Dalhousie’s Experimental Psychology program and is co-supervised by Dr. Tara Perrot and Dr. Jennifer Khoury. Her master’s research examines how adverse childhood experiences influence intergenerational health outcomes, particularly in the perinatal period. A long-term goal of this research is to support the implementation of adversity screening in pregnant people in NS to improve lifetime health trajectories cross-generationally.
Elizabeth O'Leary, MSc
My interest in research began with my undergraduate degree at Dalhousie University. I was particularly taken with Dr. Tara Perrot's research, and how powerful early-life factors are in the programming of the stress response. I first volunteered in the lab in 2013 as an undergraduate student, and have since completed a BSc with Honours in Neuroscience (2015) and an MSc in Psychology and Neuroscience (2019).
Currently, I'm pursuing my Ph.D., and my work is in collaboration with Lallemand Health Solutions, Inc. This project focuses on the impacts of probiotics on maternal health and behaviour, and subsequent offspring outcomes (e.g., stress response programming, inflammation). The work I've done in my graduate degree under Tara's supervision and with Lallemand has given me a lot of experience investigating behavioural changes using our Long-Evans rat model, and many molecular techniques with which to analyze the resulting samples. This wealth of experience has reinforced my love for research, and I am looking forward to a career in research in one capacity or another.
Outside of the lab, I enjoy being active when the weather or my schedule allows it. I love a good hike and am well-prepared for a camping trip. I have a vintage Volvo that I tend to fuss over, which is great for day trips or packing for overnight stays! Balance is important, and friendships and family are very important to me. I make sure to make time for the people I love and enjoy the free time I do have together. At home I enjoy reading, podcasts, cooking and spending time with my cat, Sid. There is much to balance, but being well-organized helps me make it work whether I'm in the lab or not!
Libby Myles, MSc
Libby (she/her) has a Bachelor's Degree in Biopsychology from the University of New Brunswick (2016) and a Master's Degree in Neuroscience from Dalhousie University (2019). Libby was born in Saint John, NB and currently resides in Halifax, NS. In her free time, she enjoys biking, yoga, and spending time with her two dogs, Darwin and Rufus. Her previous research has focused on human motivations for self-harm and substance use, hormonal effects of stress and other environmental factors, and sex-specific health effects of experimental manipulations such as diet and probiotics.
Presently, she is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University, under the supervision of Dr. Tara Perrot. Her thesis work incorporates both behavioural neuroscience and molecular biology techniques and she is studying how probiotic treatment, combined with unhealthy or healthy diets, may impact the risk of developing obesity and anxiety in both males and females.
Specifically, Libby has experience with avoidant-approach behavioural assays (e.g., the Light Dark Box, the Novelty Suppressed Feeding Task), rat maternal care and feeding observations, syringe feeding rats probiotic and placebo solutions, and specific organ collection and microdissection of brain regions for molecular analysis. Libby's research is complemented by an extensive background in molecular biology, with specific familiarity with performing extraction techniques (DNA, RNA, and protein). She has further experience with ELISAs for studying changes in protein levels and RT-qPCR analysis for studying changes in the expression of specific genes related to mental and metabolic health.