M Danielle McDonald

Assoc. Professor

Phone:
(305) 421-4856
Locator Code:
VK

 
About

Associate Professor, Department of Marine Biology and Ecology - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Danielle McDonald is an Associate Professor of Marine Biology and Ecology at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). She is an expert in fish physiology and behavior with a focus on how physiology and behavior may change during times of environmental stress such as social stress, pollution (pharmaceuticals or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs] found in oil) or low oxygen levels (hypoxia).

Teaching and Mentoring

McDonald teaches undergraduate Marine Biology, Marine Animal Neurophysiology and Behavior, Oceans and Human Health, Environmental Toxicology, and Environmental Physiology.  She hosts undergraduate researchers in her lab and several undergrads have published their research in peer-reviewed journals. In 2015, McDonald won the Linda Farmer Award for Undergraduate Teaching in Marine Science, an award that was voted on by undergraduate seniors in the Marine Science Undergraduate Program.  McDonald has also taught graduate-level Physiology as well as Oceans and Human Health and has mentored several Ph.D. students.  Reflecting her success in graduate student mentorship, she was awarded both the University of Miami Graduate School Faculty Mentor of the Year and the RSMAS Outstanding Mentor Award in 2016.

Service at UM and the Wider Scientific Community

Since 2010, McDonald has served as a RSMAS undergraduate student academic advisor.  Amongst the broader scientific community, McDonald is an Editorial Board Member of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry and a Review Editor for the Frontiers of Aquatic Physiology.   She is a member of the Society of Experimental Biology, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Applied Chemistry, and the Canadian Society of Zoology.  She also reviews grants for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is serving on the Biological Systems and Functions Evaluation Group for the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada Discovery Grants Program.

Outreach to the Non-Scientific Community

Amongst the broader non-scientific community, McDonald has personally given at least two and up to four marine science demonstrations or lectures per year since her faculty appointment in 2006.  Her audiences range from preschool age children to the underprivileged and underrepresented in science to senior citizens and beachcombers in Key Largo.  Irrespective of the audience, the goals of her educational and outreach activities are always the four E’s: educate, engage, excite and empower.

Career

Education

1996B.Sc. Honours Biology McMaster University
2002Ph.D. Animal Physiology McMaster University

 

Career Summary

McDonald received her B.Sc. (Honors) in Biology (minor in Psychology) in 1996 and her Ph.D. in Animal Physiology in 2002, both from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  In 2002, she took up a postdoctoral position at RSMAS under the supervision of Dr. Patrick J. Walsh.  In 2004, McDonald received a highly prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC; Canada) to fund her salary for two years and was promoted to Assistant Scientist.  In 2006, she was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine Biology and Ecology (MBE) and in 2013 was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.  McDonald has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers in fish physiology, toxicology and behavior.

 

Career Summary

McDonald received her B.Sc. (Honors) in Biology (minor in Psychology) in 1996 and her Ph.D. in Animal Physiology in 2002, both from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  In 2002, she took up a postdoctoral position at RSMAS under the supervision of Dr. Patrick J. Walsh.  In 2004, McDonald received a highly prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC; Canada) to fund her salary for two years and was promoted to Assistant Scientist.  In 2006, she was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine Biology and Ecology (MBE) and in 2013 was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.  McDonald has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers in fish physiology, toxicology and behavior.

Honors & Acknowledgements

Honors & Acknowledgements

In 2004, McDonald was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC; Canada). In 2011, she was the Animal Section nominee for the Canadian Society of Zoologists Young Investigator Bob Boutillier Award.  In 2015, McDonald won the Linda Farmer Award for Undergraduate Teaching in Marine Science.  In 2016, she was awarded both the University of Miami Graduate School Faculty Mentor of the Year and the RSMAS Outstanding Mentor Award.

Research

Scientific Research

McDonald’s research program most broadly investigates the role of the stress hormone cortisol and the monoamine neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) in the control of fish physiology and behavior during times of environmental stress.  The research done by her lab not only advances our understanding of fish physiology and behavior, but can also be applied to marine mammal or human health, especially when considering that fish, in some respects, make better marine mammal or human health models than commonly used rodents.  Currently, McDonald’s research focuses on four main areas i. Alternative methods of chemical communication in marine fish; ii. Peripheral 5-HT dynamics: the role of the 5-HT transporter (SERT) and other transporters in controlling circulating 5-HT; iii. The impact of Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil exposure on the fish glucocorticoid stress response, and; iv. Mechanisms of ammonia tolerance in toadfish and their brain astrocytes.