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Principal Investigator
Haruka Wada, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University

Research Interests: Stress physiology, effects of stress during development on behavior and physiology, cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying stress phenotype


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Current graduate student




Wonil Choi, PhD student

Research interests: Physiology, embryology, and immunology

Wonil has a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and he is currently studying the effects of hypoxic and heat stresses on embryonic development on zebra finches. 













Tori Coutts, PhD student

Research interests: Nutritional stress, gene expression, epigenetics

Tori is broadly interested in phenotypic plasticity and how animals respond to environmental changes. Using poor nutrition as a stressor, Tori is investigating how zebra finches respond behaviorally and physiologically, and the genetic mechanisms behind these responses.







Alex Hoffman, PhD student


Research interests: Stress physiology, ecophysiology


Alex is interested in stress induced adaptive responses and their underlying mechanisms. Specifically he is studying the direct effects of heat stress on developing zebra finches, as well as the indirect effects on the phenotype of their offspring. 




Meg McGrath, PhD student


Research interests: Stress physiology, hydric stress, heat stress, ecophysiology


Meg is studying how environmental stressors such as water restriction and heat challenges affect physiological mechanisms, thermal tolerance, and behavior in zebra finches.










Kayci Messerly, PhD student


Research interests: stress physiology, heat stress, gene expression, epigenetics


Kayci earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee in ecology and evolutionary biology with a minor in statistics. Her research interest is focused on how environmental stressors such as heat affects physiological mechanisms, gene expression, and the heritability of these effects.








Kevin Pham, PhD student


Research interests: Ecophysiology, stress physiology, neuroendocrinology, ecotoxicology

Kevin is broadly interested in environmental stressors and how animals modulate their physiology and behavior to combat these perturbations to maintain individual health and fitness. Currently, he is investigating the effect of continuous light on zebra finch stress physiology, oxidative stress, and behavior. 



Thalia Williamson, PhD student


Research interests: stress physiology, immunology, embryology & ecotoxicology

Thalia is broadly interested in understanding how organisms cope with stressors and the fitness consequences that occur in response to these coping mechanisms.









Current Undergraduate Students




Wada Lab Alumni

Leslie Dees, Graduated from Auburn High School (2019)
Sejal Srivastava, Graduated from Auburn High School (2020)
Alex Rubin, M.S. (2019)
Shelby Still, M.S. (2019)
Madeline Choi, M.S. (2022)
James Utt, M.S. (2022)
Cara Brittain, Ph.D. (2023)

2024 Graduate students of the Wada Lab

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