Heath MacMillan


I completed my undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Western Ontario in 2008, with an honours project completed in my final year under the supervision of Dr. Brent Sinclair. Shortly thereafter, I returned to the Sinclair lab and completed a PhD co-supervised by Brent and Dr. Jim Staples. For my PhD work, I studied the physiological mechanisms underlying chill-coma and chilling injury using both Drosophila and the fall field cricket (Gryllus pennsylvanicus) as models. From 2013 to 2015 I had the pleasure of holding a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Johannes Overgaard in the Department of Bioscience at Aarhus University. There, I worked with talented students and collaborators on a range of projects, mostly centred around the electrophysiological mechanisms causing insect muscle failure at low temperatures.

I am currently a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at York University in Toronto. Here, I am working with  Andrew Donini and several other faculty members, including Carol Bucking, Jean-Paul Paluzzi, and Scott Kelly. Projects in the lab are focused on the effects of low temperatures on the insect renal system, how hormonal signalling may regulate thermal tolerance, and how physiological perturbation by various stressors affects the thermal tolerance of terrestrial and aquatic ectotherms. Most of these projects have talented students from York working on them, who are shown below. 

See the Publications page for a look at our research history or the Research page to see what we are currently up to in the lab.


Curriculum Vitae      ResearchGate

ResearcherID        Google Scholar


Basma Nazal (Honors)

Basma joined Dr. Jean-Paul Paluzzi’s lab as a practicum student during the fourth year of her undergraduate studies in biology. Working with Aedes aegypti initially, Basma conducted Ramsay assays to measure fluid secretion of Malpighian tubules. Currently in her final year of her undergraduate studies, Basma is working on an honour’s thesis project under the supervision of Jean-Paul and Heath, investigating the effects of CAPA peptide on cold tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster Malpighian tubules. Basma hopes to do her master’s next year and continue doing research in animal physiology.  

Gil Yerushalmi (MSc)

Gil joined the Donini lab at York University as a practicum student during the 3rd year of his undergraduate degree in Biology. Initially, Gil localized ammonia channels in the mosquito Aedes aegypti via immunohistochemistry. In the final year of his degree, Gil successfully completed an honour's thesis project with Heath in Dr. Donini’s laboratory. In his thesis, Gil assessed the effects of dietary salt intake on cold tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster, where he found that salt stress improves cold tolerance. Now, Gil is Master’s student in the Donini lab and is working to determine how ion-motive ATPases in the Malpighian tubules and gut epithelia contribute to thermal plasticity in Drosophila.