Our lab is located in the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience building at the University of Lethbridge. To support our research, we have dedicated access to several pieces of equipment for both lab and field projects.
Within our dry lab area, we have a Zeiss Axioplan epifluorescent microscope with a motorized stage and the latest StereoInvestigator software for counting cells, measuring cell sizes and calculating brain region volumes.
Next to the microscope, is our Olympus VS-120 high-resolution slide scanner. The slide scanner enables us to create virtual slides of any of our sectioned brains using brightfield, darkfield or fluorescence and it can accommodate a range of slide sizes. We have used it to scan many brains in our collection from hummingbirds to turkey vultures.
With oil immersion 40x and 100x objectives, we also use the slide scanner to create virtual, 3D slides of our Golgi stained tissue. From these images, we can analyze neuron morphology on our Neurolucida workstation.
Tissue processing and dissections occurs in our wet lab space where we have a dedicated dissection microscope and two freezing stage microtomes. In addition, we have access to cryostats, a vibratome and an ultramicrotome, all of which have been used by our lab to section brains and nerve samples for autoradiography, Golgi staining and transmission electron microscopy. Shared access confocal microscopes and a transmission electron microscope are also available just down the hall, as is our resident microscopy technician Maurice Needham.
To support our fieldwork, we have Song Meters (Wildlife Acoustics) and several trail cameras for remote monitoring of grouse behaviour and a workstation with Avisoft SASLab Pro for bioacoustic analyses. Getting to and from field sites is enabled by our field vehicle, a twin-cab 4x4 pick-up truck (2016 Ram 2500). The truck is also used to haul our new lab trailer, which houses a benchtop -80°C freezer, fumehood, dissection microscope and all of our perfusion gear and traps. Together, this allows us to travel to remote parts of western Canada and process and prepare tissue samples in the field effectively.