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Graduate Students

Current grads

BADA, Esteban – supervisor Singh
BATCHELDER, Eliza – supervisor McClenachan
BERTUOL GARCIA, Diana – supervisor Shackelford
BIRD, Sarah – supervisor Shackelford
BOUCHER, Nicole – supervisor Starzomski / Fisher
BRAUN, Megan – supervisor Fisher
BURTON, Lauren  – supervisor Ban
CASTILLO, Pete – supervisor Lantz
CLARKE, Jamie – supervisor Fisher
CURTIS, Kate – supervisor Lantz
DEL VALLE, Elias – supervisor McClenachan
DEUTSCH, Isabel – supervisor Fisher
DICK, Jared – supervisor Ban
DIEDERICHS, Kaitlyn – supervisor Lantz
DONALD, James  – supervisor Shaw
DUNN, Findley – supervisor Shaw
D'EON-EGGERTSO, Faye – supervisor Fisher
EARLEY, Nathan – supervisor Starzomski
FARALHI DAOLIO, Marcela – supervisor Singh
FISHER, Alina – supervisor Higgs
GENTES , Hannah – supervisor Shackelford
GUZMAN SKOTNITSKY, Sabrina – supervisor Shaw
HAYES, Brooke – supervisor Volpe
HAMP, Meghan – supervisor Lantz
HOMEWOOD, Walter – supervisor Mathews
HURD, Emilia – supervisor Higgs
IGNACE, Lawrence – supervisor Ban
JOSEPH, Alyssa – supervisor Mathews
KEEFER, Justine – supervisor Curran
KRUG, David – supervisor Shackelford
KYRIAKIDES, Matthew  – supervisor Volpe
MARTINEZ, Ilse – supervisor McClenachan
MCLEOD, Logan – supervisor Lantz
MOORE , Karoline – supervisor McClenachan
OLSON, Erica – supervisor Ban
PENG, Lauren – supervisor Shaw
POPA, Audrey – supervisor Peredo
SEGOVIA, Ricardo – supervisor Peredo
SLEIGH, Laurel  – supervisor Ban
STEEL, Jade  – supervisor Ban
STREET, Emma – supervisor Lantz
STUART , Mary – supervisor Rowe
TAJARLOO, Shima – supervisor Higgs
TOLMIE, Maddison – supervisor Mathews
TUCKER , Daniel – supervisor Starzomski
TRICKER, James – supervisor Higgs
WEBSTER, Hayley – supervisor Lantz
WEDER, Julia – supervisor Rowe
WIKLER, Maia – supervisor Rowe / Shaw
WOODWARD, Bryan – supervisor Singh
WRIGHT, Claire – supervisor Higgs
VOICESCU, Sonia – supervisor Higgs

Grad profiles

Murray Ball, PhD candidate

Murray is working under the supervision of Dr. Deborah Curran to examine how water governance structures in British Columbia can be de-colonized through reconciliation with Indigenous water law. Murray is also engaged with the Aboriginal Water Law project, led by Dr. Val Napoleon and Dr. Deborah Curran.  Murray’s experience includes three years working as Manager Water Resources for the Government of Canada in Nunavut, where he held responsibility for water monitoring across the territory and helped coordinate interventions for environmental impact assessments and licensing of major mining projects. Prior to that, Murray worked in a volunteer capacity for six years in source water protection planning and the creation of watershed stewardship organizations in Saskatchewan.  Murray has a BSc in Environmental Management from Royal Roads University and an MSc in Geography from the University of Saskatchewan.

Diana Bertuol Garcia, PhD candidate

Diana is a PhD student in the Restoration Futures Lab, advised by Dr. Nancy Shackelford. She is from Brazil, where she graduated with a BSc in Biology, a teaching degree in Biology, and an MSc in Ecology, all from the University of São Paulo. Her research interests span ecological restoration, community ecology, and mechanisms that maintain ecosystem function and resilience. Moreover, she is interested in sharing ecological knowledge beyond the walls of academia. For her master's thesis, she explored perspectives and perceived challenges for effective partnerships between ecologists and conservation decision-makers in Brazil. She also has extensive experience in education, using problem- and inquiry-based learning strategies to engage high school and undergraduate students with the natural world. After 4 years working in schools and in a conservation NGO, she is now excited to come back to research and help strengthen the scientific knowledge on how to reverse ecosystem degradation through ecological restoration. For her thesis, she will draw on trait-based and community ecology to synthesize data of grassland restoration projects throughout the world and untangle the biotic and abiotic drivers of restoration success in the face of climate change. When not on the job (but a lot of times also on the job), she loves to backpack and get acquainted with the local flora and fauna. You will always find her with her binoculars and a field notebook at hand.

Sarah Bird, PhD candidate

Sarah is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Shackelford exploring soil biodiversity and ecosystem function. In particular, her research focuses on how springtail diversity and decomposition are linked in the local Garry oak ecosystems, and the effect of changing plant communities on this relationship.

She has always been inspired by biodiversity, and started her BSc with a focus on zoology and an interest in big mammal conservation. There, she was introduced to the world of plants and soils and has shifted her focus to this under-appreciated area of conservation. Along the way she also developed a fascination with insects and small arthropods. After getting an MSc in ecological restoration theory and practice, she has worked in teaching, research, and policy. In her future work, she plans to advocate for the "uncharismatic" invertebrates and plants, and contribute to halting and reversing biodiversity loss.

Outside of work you'll find Sarah spending time in nature, dancing, undertaking assorted crafting/art projects, and in the garden both taking photos of tiny wasps and gardening.

Nicole Boucher, PhD candidate

Nicole works with Dr. Jason Fisher and Dr. Brian Starzomski to study moose calf survival and population dynamics in central British Columbia. Previously, she conducted her MSc research on spatial and temporal variation of stable isotopes in polar bears and ringed seals. She has diverse ecological interests, and has researched stress in elk, urban connectivity, bioacoustics (if you ever need a bird identified by song, she's your person) and more! In her spare time, she enjoys reading, drawing, hiking, board games and keeping up with her two energetic dogs.

James Donald, PhD candidate

James completed his MA in Economics and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen in 1998 and his MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College, London, in 2004. Upon finishing his MSc he worked in the renewable energy industry in the UK, initially for Shell and then for Iberdrola. During this time he became interested in the socio-economic barriers to transitioning energy systems away from fossil fuels. As a member of the 2060 Project research team he is currently working on his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Kara Shaw, Dr. Andrew Rowe and Dr. Peter Wild. The 2060 Project explores pathways to long term energy system de-carbonization and James is studying how social responses may influence the acceptability of different technology pathways. Outside of research James enjoys playing and watching soccer, listening to old records, and chasing after his three sons.

Findley Dunn, MSc candidate

Findley Dunn (they/them) is a settler MSc student in Dr. Kara Shaw's Political Ecology lab and is being co-supervised by Dr. Elin Kelsey. They are from Toronto, Ontario, land promised to and kept from nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. Findley graduated with a Bachelor of Knowledge Integration Joint with Biology, with a Science, Technology, and Society Specialization from the University of Waterloo. In 2018-19, they collaborated with other students to create Mashkawizii, a museum exhibit exploring the damaging legacy of the residential school system in Canada and the struggles and resilience of the Indigenous peoples who continue to survive it. Mashkawizii was developed in concert with the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre and was exhibited at UWaterloo, the City of Waterloo Museum, the Woodland Cultural Centre, and Kitchener City Hall. Findley has worked for several summers at the School for Social Entrepreneurs in Ontario to help develop social initiatives with community benefit; for the past four summers, they have worked at Shad Canada as a Program Assistant/Facilitator. Findley's thesis involves exploring change experienced by gender-diverse people in terms of gender expression and climate emotions. Findley is deeply grateful to be learning, living, and playing on the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən, Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, and recognizes the importance of Indigenous self-governance, protection of land, and other anti-colonial practices throughout Canada. Outside their research, Findley enjoys spending time outdoors, moving in ways that help them feel joy, eating good food, and reading every book they can get their hands on.

Alina Fisher, PhD candidate

Alina is a PhD student who joined Dr. Eric Higgs’s lab in May 2019, to look at how wildlife communities in Canada’s Rockies are changing in response to human land use and climate change. Alina has a BSc in Zoology from the University of Alberta focusing on population ecology of yucca moths, and continued her MSc research in community ecology of Jack Pine forests in Alberta. Alina has diverse interests and has researched the impacts of escaped Atlantic salmon, the reintroduction of the locally extirpated western bluebird, and urban deer in greater Victoria. She is also an avid science communicator with a recent Masters from Royal Roads University focusing on SciComm. Alina is also the proud mother of two lovely daughters, and loves hiking with her family. 

Gill Gawron, MA candidate

Gill is an MA student working with Dr. James Rowe in the Political Ecology Lab. She holds a Combined Honours degree in Biology and Contemporary Studies from the University of King’s College in Halifax. After graduation, Gill spent a year working in environmental education, creating nature photography programs for kids, before fleeing to Victoria to complete her coast-to-coast education. Gill is currently exploring her interest in human/non-human relationships and their effect on environmental ethics through her research on green burial as a land use and philosophy. When she’s not trudging around outside thinking about death and burial, Gill enjoys the thrills of reading, fibre crafts, and baking.

Lawrence Ignace, PhD candidate

Lawrence Ignace is PhD student in Natalie Ban’s Marine Ethnoecology Research Lab. As an Anishinaabe from Lac Des Mille Lac First Nation within Treaty 3 Northwestern Ontario his passion lies at the intersection of science, ecology, and Indigenous knowledge. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration with an emphasis on Natural Resources Policy from the University of Alaska Southeast. As a lifelong learner, he is returning to school from an extensive career that has allowed him to engage on Indigenous rights, natural resource management and environmental issues at the international, national, provincial/territorial and community levels across Canada. Over the last thirteen years Whitehorse, Yukon has been his home and has held positions with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research, and the Government of Yukon. He is currently on the Board and the Research Management Committee of the Canadian Mountain Network. Plus is an active member on the Reference Group for the appropriate review of Indigenous research established by the three federal research funding agencies.

Lawrence’s proposed research on cumulative effects hopes to build upon his in depth knowledge and experience in the areas of fisheries, biodiversity conservation, Species at Risk and environmental management.

Isabelle Maurice-Hammond, PhD candidate

Isabelle is a doctoral student working under the guidance of Dr. Darcy Mathews. She works at the intersection of ethnoecology, ethnobotany, and coastal archaeology, focusing on the deep histories and resurgence of traditional First Nations methods of cultivation. Her research focuses on intertidal root gardens, cultivated plots of springbank clover (Trifolium wormskjoldii) and Pacific silverweed (Potentilla anserina ssp. Pacifica) once endemic to the Northwest Coast. Working on the islands of Tl'ches, with the permission and guidance of the Songhees nation, she is working to develop a method to better understand the morphological characteristics of these gardens.

Isabelle holds an MA in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Toronto (where she studied decolonial aesthetics as a way of (un) mapping and (re) mapping Vancouver as an Indigenous city on Indigenous territory) as well as a BA in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia.

Chris Rhodes, PhD candidate

Chris Rhodes is a PhD candidate in Dr. Natalie Ban’s Marine Ethnoecology Lab. He earned his MSc in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability at the Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden. Chris’ decade of experience leading river expeditions in the Arctic and abroad has inculcated his interest in how humans know about and understand their ecosystems. His PhD research explores the concept of shifting baselines syndrome in relation to northern abalone, an endangered gastropod mollusc of great cultural importance to many coastal peoples. He is guided by his supervisor Dr. Natalie Ban, and committee members Dr. Nancy Turner, and Dr. Wade Davis. 

Rebecca Smith, MSc candidate

Rebecca Smith is an MSc candidate in Dr. Jason Fisher’s ACME lab, co-supervised by Dr. Nancy Shackelford. Rebecca graduated with a BSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from the University of Guelph in 2018. She has contributed to research on insect diversity in Costa Rica, post-construction monitoring of amphibian/reptile populations in Ontario, and ecological monitoring with Parks Canada in the Mountain National Parks. Rebecca’s research will take place across the Western Canadian landscape where she will use wildlife camera trap data to assess mammalian biodiversity in relation to protected areas. In her spare time, Rebecca enjoys skiing, trail running, climbing, and drinking large cups of tea.

Emma Street, PhD candidate

Emma is a doctoral candidate supervised by Dr. Trevor Lantz in the Arctic Landscape Ecology Lab.

Emma’s research focuses on traditional knowledge related to permafrost, the historical range of variation in permafrost conditions, and observations of anomalous permafrost conditions in Inuvialuit and Gwich’in communities. Emma hopes to better understand the implications of thawing permafrost in this region and contribute to the development of an observer-driver permafrost monitoring program.

Emma has a (Honours) Bachelor of Social Science from the University of Ottawa in Anthropology and Environmental Studies and a Master of Environmental Studies form York University where her research focused on the social, cultural, and economic consequences of thawing permafrost in Churchill, Manitoba.

Emma is happiest outside, covered in dirt.

James Tricker, PhD candidate

James is interested in understanding the drivers and patterns of rapid ecological change in mountain environments using repeat photography. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and Geography from Rhodes University in South Africa and a MSc in GIS from the University of Leeds in the UK. Under the supervision of Dr. Eric Higgs, his doctoral research will focus on developing new image classification techniques to identify and map "new natures" in Canadian Rockies using the Mountain Legacy Project image collection.

Sonia Voicescu, PhD candidate

Sonia is a PhD student who joined Dr. Eric Higgs’s lab in September 2018. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and an MSc in Integrated Water Resources Management, both obtained from McGill University in Montreal. After being involved with the Federal Government for a few years in various projects ranging from environmental noise pollution to policy and regulations, she moved to Victoria in 2016 in order to complete a diploma in Restoration of Natural Systems. Her interests combine principles of ecological restoration with elements of environmental history and geography. She is excited to pursue research as part of the Mountain Legacy Project, where she will be looking at how to manage novel ecosystems within a changing climate.

Maia Wikler, PhD candidate

Maia Wikler is an anthropologist, climate justice organizer, and writer. Her recent work appears in Teen Vogue and VICE. In June 2019, as a member of The North Face New Explorers Arctic Expedition, Maia journeyed to the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to report the impacts of the ongoing environmental and human rights crisis from the fossil fuel industry and climate change. She returned to the Arctic in March to direct a short documentary film with an all-female crew on the women leading the fight to protect the Arctic Refuge, supported by The North Face, which will be released in 2021. Maia was selected as a National Geographic Early Career Explorer 2020 in collaboration with Salmon Beyond Borders and SkeenaWild to document cross-border salmon stories and raise awareness about the threats to wild salmon from mining in Northern British Columbia. 

Her academic work in anthropology, and as a writer, filmmaker and community organizer, has compelled her toward focusing on the intersectionality of climate justice and wielding storytelling as a tool for justice. 

Maia's supervisors are Dr. Kara Shaw and Dr. James Rowe. Her research focuses on storying corporate abuse and shifting baselines and how to effectively mobilize corporate accountability for climate justice via storytelling and memory methods. Maia seeks to connect dynamic and diverse audiences on issues of climate justice and corporate abuse through dynamic mediums of academia, film, writing and community organizing. 

Claire Wright, PhD candidate

Claire Wright is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Eric Higgs interested in exploring ecological restoration in the Canadian Rockies. Claire completed her BSc in Environmental Science Sp. Toxicology and a certificate in Geographic Information Science at Queen’s University on the territory of the Anishinabek and Haudenosaunee. For her undergraduate work, she focused on climate change and carbon dioxide exchange in the High Arctic. She started her MSc in Environmental Studies at UVic in 2021 but soon realized her research dreams exceeded the scope of a master’s degree and transferred to a PhD after her first year. Claire is currently exploring the use of repeat photography to study the eastern slopes of the Rockies in order to better understand restoration in our current era of rapid ecological change. She is grateful to live, learn, and play on the lands of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples including the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ. When not at work, she can be found setting off on her next adventure in the mountains.