StFX Alumni News - Summer 2021

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RESEARCH PROFILE What drew you to this area of study? What motivates you or excites you about it? I have been interested in how life survives in extreme or difficult environments for a long time. About eight years ago, I learned that some insects can survive ice formation inside their bodies, and I have been researching insect overwintering ever since!

Dr. Jantina Toxopeus ’11

What impact do you hope it will have? Insects are super important – both to humans (e.g. as pollinators or pests of our crops) and to the environment in general (e.g. as food for birds). Understanding how insects survive winter is important for understanding how climate change will affect these insects, and all the services they provide for humans and our environment. Resilience in the face of climate change is the most pressing issue of our time (we only have one planet!), and I hope to support this resilience with my research. Could you tell me a bit about yourself and any awards/accolades/ accomplishments/highlights? I come from a family with many strong, independent, intelligent women. My sister, my mother, my aunts, and my grandmothers have all thrived in challenging environments, and have been a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me as I navigate this career. My most recent career accomplishment is receiving an NSERC Discovery Grant in my first year at StFX. I was awarded this research grant in April 2021, and it will help fund my research program for the next five years!

DR. JANTINA TOXOPEUS Department: Biology Year started at StFX: 2020 Courses taught: Biology 111 (Intro Cell Biology), 201 (Animal Biology), 395 (Advanced Cell Biology) Could you tell me a bit about your research program? We study how insects survive winter, with a particular focus on how some insects can actually freeze solid and survive.



How did you become a researcher? In high school, I did a six-week Summer Research Program organized by WISEST (Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science, and Technology) at the University of Alberta. After that I was hooked, and pursued research opportunities during my BSc honours, MSc, PhD, and beyond. Along the way, I had truly excellent mentors and colleagues who supported my goals to build my own research program as a professor at StFX.

What excites you or what do you enjoy about being a researcher at StFX? I absolutely love mentoring undergraduate students. Helping students design and complete their first independent research project and seeing how this supports them in their education and career goals is the most rewarding part of my job. What’s something surprising about yourself that people wouldn’t know? I was born in Zimbabwe and lived there until I was 12 years old!