Assistant Professor of Biology
- Ph.D. Michigan State University
- M.Sc. University of Windsor
- B.A. University of Windsor
My research uses the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) as a model for studying vertebrate evolution in multiple contexts. The sea lamprey is invasive to the Great Lakes and in Michigan, the USGS works to control their population. My research attempts to understand the molecular physiology behind some of the control strategies to enhance and refine efforts to reduce the numbers of sea lamprey in the Great Lakes.
Mature male sea lampreys release a pheromone, 3-keto petromyzonol sulfate (3kpzs), to attract females to nests for mating. Synthetic 3kpzs is used to bait traps to remove females from the breeding population. My current research centers on my recent discovery of a secondary olfactory pathway in sea lamprey that may be homologous to the vomeronasal system of tetrapods. Since vomeronasal pathways are typically associated with pheromone detection and processing, this secondary pathway may be how 3kpzs is processed in the brain. Future works will continue this line of questioning, employing fluorescent microscopy to examine cell type and tissue organization of the brain as well as neural tract tracing to fully understand this pathway and discover ways to block it.
Sea lamprey larvae, called ammocoetes, are killed by administration of a chemical, 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM). While remarkably effective, not all larvae are killed by this method and there are some non-target species effects. Moreover, the molecular method of how this chemical is processed is unknown. Cytochrome P450 genes comprise a large family that are involved in detoxification. My current work is characterizing the P450 gene complement in sea lamprey and determining which of these genes are activated after exposure to TFM. Future works will reduce the candidate list I have compiled to better understand exactly how sea lamprey larvae are able to process TFM and thus survive treatment. The goal of this work is to design more effective chemicals that specifically target sea lamprey.
Student Comments about Dr. Chang:
Though he had taken over for an instructor that I had really enjoyed (she left on maternity leave), I took to Dr. Chang’s teaching style and demeanor immediately! He was very enthusiastic and easy to find after lab hours. He’s a great fit for the UDM Biology Department and it was a pleasure to work with him.
Made explicitly clear that he was here to help and asked multiple times throughout the semester for students to come to office during office hours. Easily accessible.
As a person, I liked him. He has a funny sense of humor and can think of real life examples.
I just wanted to say thank you for imparting your knowledge upon me this semester. I really did learn a lot from you and your lectures were both informative and interesting. I also liked your teaching style where you went over the material being covered on that exam, and if we finished a little early then you stopped there instead of just plowing right into the next test materials. That really helped me to not get side-tracked or be confused by moving onto what we would not be tested on during the next lecture. I also appreciate the fact that you made yourself available through those many extra help hours in addition to your regular office hours. I feel that you are an asset to the school, and by adding you to the faculty it has improved the value of education here at Detroit Mercy. Thanks again.