Insect Low Temperature Biology
The Sinclair Lab at UWO

Jacqueline Lebenzon

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As a Sinclair lab member “for life”, I have been around for a while! I started out my journey in biology as an undergrad cricket wrangler in the Sinclair lab, where I quickly decided I was tired of cleaning cricket frass, and wanted to conduct some research of my own. After a brief stint working on insect ion and water balance at low temperatures for my Honour’s thesis, I started my MSc on cold tolerance of the Colorado potato beetle. In summer 2016 I transferred to the PhD program, and am now stuck here indefinitely!

In my PhD, I am studying the overwintering physiology of the Colorado potato beetle. These pesty insects originated in Mexico, and have spread throughout North America, Europe and Asia over the last 100 years. Colorado potato beetles overwinter in diapause as freeze-avoidant adults, where they suppress their metabolism by ~40% and upregulate HSP70 during diapause and sub-zero temperature exposures. I am particularly interested in the relationship between diapause and cold tolerance in insects, and have a system in our lab to create both diapausing, and cold-tolerant beetles. I will be using the Colorado potato beetle as a model to study the physiological mechanisms of insect diapause and cold tolerance.

Some questions I hope to answer with my research are:

    1) Which molecules, metabolic pathways, and expressed genes are shared and differ between diapausing and cold-tolerant beetles?

    2) How do diapausing beetles suppress their metabolic rates in diapause?

    3) What is the role of heat shock proteins in diapause entry, mitigating cellular damage during diapause, and in the acquisition of cold tolerance?

Outside of the lab, you will find me indulging my volunteer tourette’s via involvement with the Society of Biology Graduate Students in the department of Biology at Western, various science outreach events, and teaching first year biology course prep with Beat Your Course. If you want to get in touch with me about my research, feel free to connect with me on Research Gate (, check me out on twitter (@JackieLebz), or visit my personal website.


Toxopeus, J., Lebenzon, J.L., Mackinnon, A.H, and Sinclair, B.J. (2016) Freeze tolerance of Cyphoderris monstrosa (Orthoptera: Prophalangopsidae). The Canadian Entomologist. Doi

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