Dr. Nancy McAllister-Irwin

BSc (Dalhousie),
PhD (Dalhousie)

  • Teaching & Research
  • Students' Research Topics
  • Publications
  • Links   
  • Teaching & Research
    animal physiology, animal nutrition, aquaculture nutrition, physiological principles

    Dy childhood was spent in the country on a farm, where wondrous things occurred on a daily basis to tweak my curiosity. Why was it that frogs could live in a frozen brook? Why did the pigs act silly after eating fermented apples? How could the birds return to the same place year after year? I didn't know it at the time, but I was asking the same questions a physiologist asks. I was fortunate enough to go on to university and study how animals function and what allows certain individuals to survive in extreme environments.

    Classes in which Nancy currently teaches:

    I now teach those basic physiological principles. Meeting the demands of survival results in changes to an organism's physiology and biochemistry. Failure to meet those demands means certain death. It is also necessary for those basic physiological principles to be "plastic" and bend to suit an individual's needs. Life at extremes can be anything from oxygen concentrations that are very low in aquatic environments to freezing temperatures on land.

    Nutrition plays a large part in the general health of an organism and, as a consequence, its ability to grow, repair tissue and reproduce. Every day, several times a day, an animal makes food choices. Each day's choices may benefit or harm its health only a little, but when these choices are repeated over the years, the rewards or consequences may become major. This concept is taught in my two nutrition courses and covers topics that range from understanding what individual nutrients are to how to read a pet food label.

    Administratiave Duties - Biology 3070/3071/3074, Co-ordinator and Chair of Graduate Stream 'D' , Organismal Biology.

    Examples of Students' Research Topics
    In the lab
    Nancy Irwin at work in the Lab
    Honors BSc Students
    • Pickett, Brian. Intracellular ion concentrations in anoxic goldfish erythrocytes: evidence of channel arrest.
    • Comette, Mellisa. Glycerol as a possible cryoprotectant in the nudibranch Dendronotus frondosus.
    • Patriquin, Michele. Freeze tolerance in the intertidal invertebrate Littorina littorea.

    Graduate Students
    • Gonzalez-Duran, Enrique A. Effects of dietary lipids on growth, fatty acid composition, and lipid metabolism of the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis.
    • Blair, Tammy. Feed Acceptance by Window Pane Flounder Larvae.
    • Brun, Nicole T. Biochemical Responses in Scallops and other Bivalves to heat and cold shock.
    • Lewis, Leah. Causative Factors of various skeletal abnormalities in hatchery-reared larval and juvenile Atlantic Halibut. (Hippoglossus Lippoglossus)
    Selected Publications

    Conference abstracts:

    Patriquin, M. and N.L. McAllister-Irwin. Freeze tolerance in the intertidal invertebrate Littorina littorea. AUUBC 1999.

    McAllister-Irwin, N.L. The effects of chemical stress on fish physiology. AWIC 1995

    McAllister-Irwin, N.L. and R.G. Boutilier. The relationship between membrane ion transport and metabolism in fish erythrocytes: the effects of anoxia and adrenergic stimulation. Soc. Exp. Biol. 1992


    McAllister-Irwin, N.L. General Physiology I and II Laboratory Guide 2001 - 2002, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS.

    Designer and Author:

    WebCT for General Physiology I (Biology 322.1) and General Physiology II (Biology 323.2). Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS.


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