Graduate student profiles

Current students

Rebecca Smith, MSc candidate

imageRebecca 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.

Audrey Popa, MA candidate

 imageAudrey is a graduate student with Dr. Ana María Peredo. After completing a Bachelor of Commerce in Sustainability and Social Impact at the University of British Columbia, Audrey worked in sustainability advisory and social finance research positions in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. She will be continuing her studies by pursuing a MA in Environmental Studies to research the intersection of environment and business and its impacts on communities. Specifically, her research will investigate the effects of conservation economies in British Columbia and explore grassroots conservation initiatives. Outside of her research, you can find her hiking, skiing, cooking, and reading lots of fiction.

 Sydney Goward, MSc candidate

imageSydney Goward is an MSc candidate in Dr. Jason Fisher’s ACME lab, co-supervised by Dr. Trevor Lantz of the Arctic Landscape Ecology Lab. Partnered with the Gwich’in Renewable Resource Board, Sydney is studying Divii (Dall’s Sheep) in the Northern Richardson Mountains, NT. Her research focuses on the use of camera traps and engagement with Gwich’in communities to investigate Divii population changes. In 2018, she graduated from Thompson Rivers University with an Honours degree in Natural Resource Science, where she conducted research studying spatial and temporal characteristics of raptor nesting habitat in a managed forest in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Sydney is a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) and has a working background in wildlife and habitat management in both BC and AB. Outside her studies, she is an overall backcountry enthusiast, dedicated fly fisher, and amateur wildlife photographer.

imageGrant Francis, PhD candidate

Grant is a doctoral student with Dr. Trevor Lantz of the Arctic Landscape Ecology Lab and Dr. Robert Fraser of the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing. Grant’s research will increase the accuracy and capability of semi-automated detection of permafrost thaw disturbances by applying machine learning techniques to analyze multispectral satellite data, and aims to determine the biophysical parameters that contribute to terrain sensitivity in the Western Arctic.

Stemming from a background in physics and a passion for the natural world, he completed a M.Sc. in Climate Physics from Utrecht University with a research emphasis on the detection and identification of organics and nanoplastic pollution in the cryosphere. As an accomplished climber and always eager to work with his hands, Grant has conducted his own research campaigns in the French and Austrian Alps, and has worked as a laboratory assistant for both the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht (IMAU). Now at the University of Victoria, he looks forward to continuing field work and pushing the boundaries of scientific computing for climate research.

Emma Lowther, MSc candidate

imageEmma is excited to be a masters student in Dr. Mathews ethnoecology lab. After completing an BA Hons. in archaeology at Simon Fraser University she is planning on expanding those skills to apply archaeological research techniques to the study of past and continuing environmental stewardship. For her thesis, Emma is studying the sedimentary and pedological formation of a Lekwungen cultural meadow near Victoria, BC. This research is being guided by expertise from the Songhees First Nation and Dr. Mathews. In good weather you can find Emma digging in the soil either for research or gardening (but she still prefers to call it dirt).

Cassandra Buunk, MSc candidate

imageCassandra is from St. Catharines, Ontario, but has found another home here on the west coast. Her educational background includes an Environmental Technician Diploma (2012) and a Graduate Certificate in Ecosystem Restoration (2016) from Niagara College Canada, followed by completion of her BSc in Environmental Practice at Royal Roads University (2018). She is currently working on her MA in Environmental Studies under the supervision of Dr. Eric Higgs. Her research centers around ongoing repeat photography work by the Mountain Legacy Project in Waterton Lakes National Park, and a series of interviews she conducted with park staff about their experience with the Kenow wildfire in 2017 and how they are thinking about park management in times of rapid climate and ecological change. Alongside her scholarly and professional activities, she is an artist, meditator, traveller, and old-growth forest activist.

Astra Lincoln, MA candidate

imageAstra Lincoln is a writer, community organizer, and mountain athlete. In the Fall of 2020, she joined Dr. Eric Higgs' lab as an MA candidate, where she hopes to focus on ensuring environmental justice during periods of rapid ecological change.
Astra's environmental praxis is informed by activist work she's done with Indigenous organizers, groups working for police and prison abolition, and various economic justice movements. From 2018-19, Astra worked with the Sierra Meadow Partnership to study the potential of restored alpine meadows to sequester greenhouse gases and thereby leverage carbon markets to ensure sustainable water futures. Previously, Astra worked in backcountry trail construction across the intermountain West. As a trail builder, she specialized in antique tool use and dry-rock masonry.

In 2019, Astra won an American Alpine Club grant to use her bicycle to link up several technical alpine climbs across the Rocky Mountains in the US and Canada, cycling more than 5000 km in total. She subsequently wrote about the trip for Alpinist magazine.

Maia Wikler, PhD candidate


Maia Wikler is an anthropologist, climate justice organizer, and writer. Her most 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 recently 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. 

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

Maia will begin her PhD studies in Political Ecology at the University of Victoria in May 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Kara Shaw and Dr. James Rowe. Her research will focus 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.

Jennie Long, MA candidate

imageJennie Long is a settler MA Candidate in Dr. James Rowe’s Political Ecology lab. She grew up in Toronto and earned her BA from the University of Ottawa in 2017. Jennie’s extensive work as an outdoor educator and river guide across parts of northern Canada led her to live in Australia for two years post-undergrad, where she guided for an outdoor adventure school in the alpine regions there. One particular highlight includes an all-girls, 30-day hiking and whitewater rafting expedition through some of Australia’s best alpine terrain. Guiding young people on expeditions through remote outdoor spaces continues to be important to Jennie, and in turn has helped guide her towards her research questions. Drawing on political ecology and feminist frameworks, Jennie’s work seeks to understand gender-based oppression in outdoor industries so that safe and environmentally-just workspaces can be possible for all.

Jennie is very grateful to be studying, living and playing on Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ Territories. When not working on her project, she can be found paddling, crafting, riding her bike, surfing and drinking heaps of tea.

Laura Eliuk, MSc candidate

imageLaura Eliuk is an MSc candidate in Dr. Jason Fisher’s ACME lab, co-supervised by Dr. Eric Higgs. Laura is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she completed her BSc. Honours in Biology at the University of Manitoba. She completed an undergraduate thesis in Dr. Jillian Detwiler’s lab studying trematode parasites and how they alter the behaviour of their snail hosts. Through her undergraduate work, Laura fell in love with field ecology, and has since worked in resource conservation with Parks Canada, worked with wolves, banded songbirds, and completed two seasons on the Kluane Red Squirrel Project in the Yukon. Her love for the boreal forest and desire to work in resource conservation and wildlife management led her to pursue studies with Jason and the ACME lab. She is an avid birder, hiker, and plant enthusiast, and is looking forward to exploring Vancouver Island and the west coast.

Gabriel Schepens, MSc candidate


Gabe is beginning an MSc with Dr. Brian Starzomski in the Fall of 2019. Their project interests lie in investigating ecological legacies left by thousands of years of indigenous resource use. Broadly, how fishing and shell harvesting practices contribute marine nutrients to coastal ecosystems at habitation sites, which in turn shapes present plant communities. Gabe hails from Alberta (BSc U of A), but has spent time on the Pacific at the University of Auckland and at Bamfield Marine Science Centre; they are very excited to work on the central coast of BC! They have previously worked on projects with red squirrels and lynx in the beautiful Kluane region of the Yukon. Gabe’s favourite weekend activities include (but are not limited to) exploring, climbing, cooking and inatting.

Nicola Shipman, MSc candidate

imageNicola Shipman was born in Basel, Switzerland to two West-Coast-grown Canadians. Growing up in the concrete jungle of southern Ontario, she lived for summer vacations that offered access to mountain hiking and perpetual ocean swimming of the mainland and southern Gulf Islands of BC. At the first opportunity, she fled west at the ripe age of 17 to Kelowna, BC where she completed a BSc with Honours in Zoology from the University of British Columbia – Okanagan. After graduating, Nicola dabbled in many marine-fueled endeavours including as an At-Sea Fisheries Observer in the Pacific Northwest and as both a Field Naturalist and a Deckhand/Dive Tender/Cook for the Pacific Wild film crew in the Great Bear Rainforest. After testing the waters – literally, she eventually made the change permanent and settled (for now) in Victoria.

Nicola is fascinated by how changes in greater ecological processes as a result of climate change are affecting the interactions between wildlife populations and their habitats. She is currently interested in how increased frequency and intensity of marine storm surge events along the northern coastline of the Northwest Territories and the Beaufort Sea is affecting recovery of critical habitat for Arctic migratory and breeding shorebirds.

Alina Fisher, PhD candidate

imageAlina is a PhD student who joined Dr. Eric Higg’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.

Kyle Nelson, MSc candidate

imageKyle is working on his MSc under the supervision of Dr. Brian Starzomski. He is applying bioacoustic and stable isotope methods to study the migratory movements of bats on the south coast of BC. Kyle has conducted numerous ecological studies while working at a variety of Parks Canada protected areas in the Rocky Mountains and coastal BC. His passion for studying bats began while working in Waterton Lakes National Park in 2016. As a Resource Management Officer in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, Kyle now leads the bat monitoring program for the park reserve. He graduated with a BSc in Geography and Environmental Studies from UVic in 2017.

Leigh Joseph/Styawat, PhD candidate

imageLeigh Joseph/Styawat is doctoral student in Dr. Darcy Mathews’ Ethnobotany lab in the School of Environmental Studies. Leigh is a member of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nation. She completed her Masters of Science in ethnobotany at the University of Victoria under the guidance of Dr. Nancy Turner, Dr. Trevor Lantz and members of her Sḵwx̱wú7mesh family and community in 2012.

Having worked with a number of different First Nations communities within the field of ethnobotany over the past five years Leigh is now focusing her doctoral work on exploring linkages between Indigenous plant relationships, land-based practices and health. Specifically she is focusing on how the Type 2 Diabetes crisis in two Indigenous Communities can be addressed through increased access to Indigenous foods, plant medicines and culturally related exercise.

Leigh deeply values the importance of getting out onto the land and learning in a hands-on way about culturally important plants and how they connect us to place. She is motivated to share this aspect of her own learning with the Indigenous communities she works with.

Katie Baillie-David, MSc candidate

image Katie is an MSc candidate in Dr. Jason Fisher's ACME Lab, co-supervised by Dr. John Volpe. She completed her BSc in Biology (Ecology, Evolution, & Behaviour) at the University of Ottawa in 2017. Katie is fascinated by the drivers of species' distributions across landscapes. Using camera trap technology, she is now researching how carnivores in the Alberta boreal forest are responding to wildlife management in light of intense industrial development on the landscape.


James Tricker, PhD candidate

imageJames 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 M.Sc. 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

imageSonia 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.

Nicole Boucher, PhD candidate

imageNicole 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 M.Sc. 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.

Jordan Seider, MSc candidate

imageJordan is an MSc candidate in Dr. Trevor Lantz's Arctic Landscape Ecology Lab. Jordan completed his BSc in Environmental Science with a minor in Earth Science at the University of Waterloo. Through the co-op program in his undergrad, he had the opportunity to work in education and outreach, consulting, and research. After a winter work term at a remote field centre in northern Manitoba, Jordan became fascinated with the Arctic and Arctic research. He is now interested in studying spatial trends in Arctic vegetation with the goal of contributing to the broader understanding of how Arctic tundra ecosystems are responding to climate change.

Kalina Hunter, MSc candidate

imageKalina is a MSc candidate in Dr. Brian Starzomski’s Biodiversity lab as of September 2018. She graduated with a BSc in Geography and Environmental Studies from UVic in 2017, and afterwards joined the 100 Islands project as a field technician. Now an expert at bushwhacking through salal and cedar, she still has a love for the plants in the Great Bear Rainforest and is focusing her research there in Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv territories. She is studying the relationship between plants and people over long time scales, and will use a combination of ecological field methods and GIS modelling to answer questions about culturally important plants.

 James Donald, PhD candidate

imageJames 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-carbonisation 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.

Isabelle Maurice-Hammond, PhD candidate

maurice_hammondIsabelle 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.

Murray Ball, PhD candidate

Murray Ball

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.

Jaime Ojeda, PhD candidate

Jaime Ojeda

Jaime is a student of the doctoral program in Environmental Studies under the guidance of Dr. Natalie Ban. Previously, he did a Master's degree in science at the University of Magallanes, Chile and an undergraduate in Marine Biology. His experience of research has been developed on three topics: i) Coastal Ecology of Sub-Antarctic and Antarctic environments, he has worked on spatial and temporal scales with macroalgae, mollusks, fish, and seabirds. ii) Ethnoecology and socio-ecology, he has had the opportunity to share and live with first nations on the southern tip of South America as the Yagan culture, in where he has investigated the great value of their traditional ecological knowledge. He has also worked with artisanal fishermen observing their biocultural interactions with marine ecosystems. iii) Environmental ethics, he has worked with an interdisciplinary methodology such as the Field Environmental Philosophy, which links ecological, social and philosophical research. Currently one of his main challenges is to investigate about intrinsic, instrumental and relational values with the objective of conserving the deep-rooted biocultural interactions in the rural and urban coastal ecosystems.

Pamela Spalding, PhD candidate

Pamela SpaldingPamela has extensive experience in analyzing the challenges in using traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) when applied to issues within government, land use planning, and aboriginal rights. Through her professional and academic experience, she has explored ethical and methodological problems associated with representation, authority, and use of TEK when it is removed from its cultural context. Prior to joining Dr. Nancy Turner's research team at the School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria (UVic) in 2011, she engaged widely with First Nations' communities in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, as well as with consultants, academics, and community workers on issues such as First Nations' traditional use studies and land use and treaty negotiations. She began her doctoral research with Dr. Turner in May 2015. Her research asks: If Indigenous people’s relationships to culturally-significant plant species are an expression of Aboriginal rights, how can these rights be affirmed and exercised through long-term sustainable co-management arrangements between First Nations and state governments? Pamela received her BA in Anthropology from UBC and her MA in Anthropology from UVic.

Chris Rhodes, PhD candidate

Chris RhodesChris 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.

Fiona Hamersley Chambers, PhD candidate

Fiona Chambers

Fiona Hamersley Chambers is an ethnobotanist whose research focuses on how northwest coast First Peoples managed and co-evolved with their plant resources. Her PhD work on BC’s central coast investigates how key berry plants were in cultivated and owned in ‘gardens’. The importance of these species, which were historically significant in terms of food, culture, trade and landscape management, today has not been fully acknowledged or studied. Her goal is to define the features of a traditional berry garden, understand how these were created and managed, then scientifically test the efficacy of traditional management methods in controlled experiments. Ultimately, the hope is for this applied research to act as a link between traditional knowledge and practice and the needs of First Nations communities today. Fiona is a long-time organic farmer and commercial seed grower specializing in food plants and soft fruit production and has lectured at UVic since 1999. She grew up in the First Nations communities of Nitnaht Lake (Clo-oose) and Penelakut Island, where she maintains close ties. Supervisor: Dr. Nancy Turner.
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2021 graduates

Catriona Mallows, MA

imageCatriona was in the Political Ecology lab under the supervision and guidance of Dr. Karena Shaw. She grew up in the Highlands of Scotland and received an MA in Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh in 2016.  She has worked in community development in the public and private sector in Scotland and New Zealand and has been a trustee for 2050 Climate Group, Scotland's youth climate organisation. She is interested in the ways coastal communities are adapting to and responding to rapid environmental change. Through the use of ethnographic methods, she hopes to explore the socio-economic impacts of climate change on communities around Vancouver Island to inform better policy and practice. She is grateful to have the opportunity to live and study in BC. When not reading or asking questions, she is either by the sea or in the mountains.

2020 graduates

Libby Chisholm, MA

chisholmLibby Chisholm was an MA Candidate in Dr. Darcy Mathews’ Ethnobotany lab in the School of Environmental Studies. She has an BA in Anthropology from the University of Guelph (2012) and several years experience providing research support in Indigenous-led socio-economic, health, and Traditional Use Studies in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario. With this background, she continues to have a strong interest in the social determinants of health, and the pathways for Indigenous and local communities to define their own nourishing and culturally appropriate food systems. For her MA research, she is collaborating with members of the Neskonlith Band to research the intersections of land based education, health and wellbeing, language revitalization and Indigenous food sovereignty. We are currently establishing a community garden in Neskonlith’s Switzmalph community to grow a mixture of garden vegetables and traditional Secwepemc root foods.

Emily Paige Bishop, MA

bishopEmily Paige Bishop completed a Master of Arts degree in Political Ecology under the supervision of Dr. Karena Shaw. She earned a BA in International Relations and Human Geography from Mount Allison University in 2014. Her interest in the human dimensions of climate change brought her to grad school at the University of Victoria. Seeking to understand how resistance to fossil fuel infrastructure can help us build a stronger movement toward a just energy transition, her MA research analyzes community responses to LNG in BC.

 Tanya Tran, MSc

tanya tranTanya has been an MSc Candidate in Dr. Natalie Ban's Marine Ethnoecology Research lab since September 2017. She earned her BSc Biology from McGill University (Montreal, QC) in 2011, and a diploma in Integrated Environmental Planning from Selkirk College (Castlegar, BC) in 2016. With many years experience working in the academic, government, and not-for-profit sectors, she has always been interested in the intersection of science, policy, and community. In collaboration with a Coastal First Nation’s stewardship department, this research partnership is working towards the development of a new Indigenous-led protected and conserved area for the Nation in the heart of what is currently known as the Great Bear Rainforest. This research will highlight the rational and processes for a new model of Indigenous-led conservation initiatives. Tanya is deeply grateful for the support and guidance provided by Indigenous collaborators and community members, as well as from Dr. Ban and others within the Environmental Studies community.


2019 graduates

Karine Lacroix, PhD

Karine Lacroix

Karine is motivated by a desire to increase public awareness of environmental issues and their solutions in everyday life. Her research takes place in the context of climate change and she is particularly interested in the role of climate change risk perception, values, beliefs and social norms on behaviour patterns. Her current research focuses on the design of tailored interventions targeting high-impact pro-environmental behaviour.

Tracey Proverbs, MA

proverbs 2018Tracey obtained a BA & Sc. from McGill University and spent years working in outdoor education, guiding, and therapeutic adventure before beginning her MA with the Arctic Landscape Ecology Lab in 2016. Her MA has brought her to the Northwest Territories through a partnership with the Gwich’in First Nation to examine socioecological change in the Mackenzie Delta. This work is broken into two interconnected but unique projects: part one is exploring connections between changes to Gwich’in fishing livelihoods, access to fish/fishing, and community well-being through interviews with Gwich’in community members and land-based trips. Part two is utilizing spatial analysis to examine impacts of environmental disturbances upon cultural resources in the Gwich’in Settlement Region. Tracey began her affiliation with the lab in 2015 as a Research Assistant, contributing to projects on vegetation change, ground temperature dynamics, and community-based mapping.

Sarah Friesen, MSc

sarah friesenSarah started her MSc research with Dr. Natalie Ban in September 2016. Coming from a biology background, she is keenly interested in the intersection of natural science and policy. She has been working in coastal British Columbia for years as a researcher, educator, and scientific diver. Over this time, she has become passionate about the conservation of these waters and the threats that they face. Her research is on connectivity via adult movement in the Northern Shelf Bioregion, focusing on evaluating the existing marine protected areas (MPAs) with respect to connectedness, exploring regional connectivity, and how these patterns of connectivity may shift as climate change progresses. The goal of her project is to identify highly connected sites that could be prioritized for protection as new MPAs in the future.

Elena Buscher, MA

Elena BuscherElena completed her BSc at the Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Elena has a lifelong passion for marine conservation. Before attending graduate studies at UVic, she worked for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Shark Specialist group where she completed elasmobranch Red List status reassessments for the European Union. Currently, she works with the Songhees First Nation on creating a marine use plan that aims at garnering official conservation status for part of Songhees traditional territory. As part of this project, she will employ an underwater drone to survey culturally important species in the marine environment as well as assist in conducting interviews with Songhees traditional knowledge holders.

Kim Kendall, MA

Kim KendallKim Kendall worked as a Clinical Psychologist for 30 years in Seattle before coming to the University of Victoria to explore the nature of impediments to ecological behavior change in a master's project. Her research involved interviewing people from the local area who had adopted very low-carbon livelihoods and lifestyles regarding barriers they experienced and the factors that enabled their successful creation of a livelihood outside of traditional growth-based economic sectors. She hopes to use her findings to make low-carbon occupational opportunities more visible and viable for others on a community wide basis. Kim is supervised by James Rowe with the support of Ana Maria Peredo.

 Desirée Bulger, MSc

Desiree Bulger

Desirée completed her BSc in Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Guelph before joining the Volpe Lab in September 2016. She is passionate about conservation and understanding the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. Desirée's research takes place in the inshore waters of British Columbia.  Using remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), she is evaluating the efficacy of artificial reefs in achieving conservation objectives for rockfish and other marine fauna.

Becky Miller, MSc

millerBecky joined the Starzomski Lab in 2016 as a member of the 100 Islands Project. That project is a multi-student effort to understand ecological responses to nutrient exchange between ocean to land, a process called ‘ecological subsidization’. Becky is studying the effect of ecological subsidies in the Great Bear Rainforest using two approaches. First, she is quantifying environmental drivers of forest structure and determining how structure mediates the flow of marine nitrogen from ocean to land. Secondly, she is demonstrating bald eagles’ ecological role as vectors of marine nutrients. She proposes that long-term deposition of eagle guano and prey remains at nesting sites may alter soil chemistry and influence plant community composition.

Prior to graduate school, Becky completed a BSc at Oregon State University where she conducted research in forest and fire ecology. She currently partners with the US Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy on landscape-scale forest restoration and ecosystem monitoring projects in eastern Oregon.

Thomas K.F. Campbell, MSc

Dana Cook, MA

Claire O'Manique, MA

Charlotte Whitney, PhD

Sebastian Bonet, PhD

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2018 graduates

Siobhan Darlington, MSc

siobhan darlingtonSiobhan is a displaced maritimer who graduated from Dalhousie University with a B.Sc. in Biology and Sustainability and worked for the Nature Conservancy of Canada before swapping coasts to complete her M.Sc. with Dr. Jason Fisher & Dr. John Volpe in the Surf & Turf Lab. Her research interests are in applied wildlife conservation and management with a particular interest in species at risk. She is using camera trap and telemetry data to model predator-prey interactions between white-tailed deer, wolves, and coyotes on disturbed landscapes in Northern Alberta and the implications for threatened woodland caribou. When she’s not mapping in GIS she enjoys hiking or biking to her favourite birding hot spots around Vancouver Island.

Kim-Ly Thompson, MA

Kim-Ly ThompsonKim-Ly is an MA student in the Marine Ethnoecology Research Group. She is motivated and inspired by the ancient relationships that exist between people and place. In partnership with the Gitga’at Nation, her research will inform a program to monitor the quality and abundance of traditional coastal and marine resources based in the knowledge and observations of Gitga’at harvesters, fishers, and Elders. She was first welcomed to Gitga’at Territory in 2013 while pursuing her B.Sc. in Biology at McGill University, and went on to work for the Gitga’at Department of Lands and Marine Resources prior to starting her Masters. She is grateful for the guidance and support she has received from her supervisor, Natalie Ban, the School of Environmental Studies, and leaders of the Gitga’at Nation.

Eryn Fitzgerald, MA

fitzgeraldEryn is a settler Canadian pursuing an MA in Political Ecology on the traditional and unceded lands of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. She has an enduring interest in public and political engagement and has worked in the public, private, and not-for-profit sector as a community relations professional since graduating from the University of Alberta in 2008. She now researches Indigenous-owned renewable energy projects under the supervision of Dr. Karena Shaw and Dr. Judith Sayers. Eryn cares deeply about the transformative and disruptive power of small-scale, community-led energy projects and she is grateful to Kanaka Bar Indian Band and Sts’ailes First Nation for their guidance and collaboration.

Jemma Green, MSc

Jemma Green

Jemma completed her undergraduate degree in Natural Resources Conservation at the University of British Columbia and worked for years in the fields of wildlife recovery and habitat restoration before coming to the University of Victoria to pursue her Master’s Degree. Jemma is interested in exploring the potential of restored, enhanced, and novel urban ecosystems to contribute to biodiversity conservation and support species persistence in the face of rapid global change and extinction crises. Determined to learn how urban communities can co-exist with even the most vulnerable species, her research investigates the patterns of occurrence of native frog species in unconventional urban and peri-urban aquatic ecosystems on southeastern Vancouver Island. Jemma was co-supervised by Dr. Eric Higgs and Dr. Purnima Govindarajulu of the Ministry of Environment.

Stefania Gorgopa, MSc

Stefania GorgopaFrom teaching SCUBA to photographing Blue Whales to designing aquarium exhibits Stefania has always had a passion for the ocean. Her research interests include marine conservation and the potential of public engagement strategies like citizen science.  For her MSc project she is looking at the reliability of citizen science SCUBA diver data for conserving marine species like Pacific Rockfish.  Stefania was supervised by Dr. John Volpe.

Emilia Belliveau-Thompson, MA


Emilia is pursuing an MA in Political Ecology with the supervision of Dr. James Rowe. Her current research focuses on the fossil fuel divestment movement and how Climate Justice approaches shape the experience of campaign organizers and the Canadian climate movement. Broadly concerned with human dimensions of climate change and environmental justice issues, she is motivated by her experience community organizing to explore the politics of social change and strategic intervention for climate action. Emilia also attended the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s COP21 during her first year at UVic to further her interest in Canadian energy and international climate politics through the BCCIC. Emilia holds a combined honours BA in Political Science and Environment, Sustainability, and Society from Dalhousie University.

Sandra Frey, MSc


Sandra Frey is pursuing a Masters of Science studying carnivore community ecology using remote wildlife cameras. Her research takes place in the mountain landscapes of Alberta, specifically the Willmore Wilderness Park and the east slopes of the Rockies in the Kananaskis region. Co-supervised by Dr. Jason Fisher and Dr. John Volpe, she is looking at the impacts of landscape development on carnivore interactions and behaviours, including top predators such as wolves and cougars down to mesopredators such as lynx, coyotes, and marten.

Jeff MacAdams, MSc

macadamsMy research was in environmental DNA (eDNA) detection of juvenile Coho Salmon and resident salmonid fish in small freshwater ecosystems. I joined the Starzomski lab at University of Victoria on a Directed Studies course, co-supervised by Morgan Hocking, to complete my biology BSc with a focus on fish ecology in 2013. That field study laid the groundwork for my thesis project, comparing conventional and eDNA fish detection on British Columbia’s Central Coast. eDNA detection of fish and other aquatic animals entails collecting and filtering water samples to capture DNA that animals shed to their environment; then identifying and quantifying it in the molecular lab. I tested eDNA detection methods on salmon streams in the Great Bear Rainforest (it works!), and ran experiments at a hatchery to determine how sensitive it can be, and how well detection probability correlates with density. Post-grad I am working to implement eDNA monitoring in the environmental assessment industry and for fisheries managers.

Nancy Shackleford, PhD

nancy Shackleford, PhD candidate

Nancy is a community ecologist working in the very wet hypermaritime zone of British Columbia. Her focus is on ecosystem resilience - in its many definitions and forms - and how it can be manipulated or impacted by human activity. She is interested both in the broad theoretical questions surrounding ecosystem management and the on-the-ground applications of ecological science.

Chanda Turner, MSc

Chanda Brietzke

Chanda is studying a charismatic rodent, the muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), in the Mackenzie Delta. Her research project was motivated by previous work documenting Inuvialuit and Gwich’in residents’ observations of environmental change in the region. She was struck by the importance of these animals in the social, ecological, and economic systems in the Delta, as well as concerns surrounding substantial declines observed in muskrat populations. Chanda is working on a two-part thesis: the first part will look at local knowledge of muskrat populations, habitat, and harvesting through interviews and trips out on the land with local knowledge holders in order to characterize the nature and extent of observed changes. The second component consists of an ecological study that will examine the relationships among biophysical parameters and muskrat habitat selection, in order to begin to understand the importance of different factors affecting muskrat populations in the Delta.

Julie Fortin, MSc

Julie Fortin

Julie completed her B.Sc. in Earth System Science at McGill University and is now doing her Master's of Science with Dr. Eric Higgs as part of the Mountain Legacy Project. Her research uses repeat photography to study landscape change in the Canadian Rockies. Specifically, she will apply species-habitat models to historic and modern photographs to assess changes in biodiversity in the Willmore Wilderness Area over the last century.

Frances Stewart, PhD

Frances Stewart

Frances is an ecologist interested in the intersection between ecology, genetics, and behaviour. Her research takes place in the mixed-use landscape of central Alberta's Cooking Lakes Moraine. Using a combination of genetic techniques and remote cameras she is investigating gene flow, species interactions, and the human impacts on behaviour and occupancy of mesocarnivores  within this area. Co-supervisers: Drs. Jason Fisher and John Volpe.

Kira Hoffman, PhD

Kira Hoffman

I am a community ecologist studying bog ecosystems in British Columbia’s very wet hypermaritime zone on the Central Coast. I study interactions between vegetation, climate and fire and how they have changed throughout the Holocene period. I am interested in both natural and cultural fires and my research attempts to understand the ecological legacies associated with traditional plant management through controlled burning practices. 

Owen Fitzpatrick, MSc

Jake McCloskey, MA

Lily Burke, MSc

Quirin V. Hohendorf, MSc

Charlie Gordon, MA

Gillian Fraser, MSc

Erika Bland, MA

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2017 graduates

Sara Wickham, MSc

Sara WickhamAfter completing her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Victoria, Sara joined Brian Starzomski's lab in September 2015 in order to pursue her Master in Science. She is interested in the bi-directional flow of nutrients across ecosystems and the impact this has on food web dynamics. Sea wrack is a pervasive, reliable source of marine nutrients that crosses ecosystem boundaries into the intertidal and terrestrial environments. Sara studies the contribution of beach cast sea wrack to these habitats as a component of the 100 Islands Biogeography Project, a collaborative effort that operates out of the Hakai Institute on BC’s Central Coast. Find out more about the 100 Islands Project here:

Lauren Eckert, MSc

Lauren Eckert

Lauren received a Master’s in Science under the guidance of Dr. Natalie Ban. After an undergraduate career at the University of Notre Dame replete with diverse ecological field experiences around the globe, Lauren’s exposure to wisdom of local communities motivated her to delve into interdisciplinary conservation in ethnoecology, which values local and traditional knowledge systems alongside empirical scientific studies for successful and inclusive resource management. This research brought Lauren to the Central Coast of BC, where she works collaboratively with Coastal First Nations (Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai'xais, Wuikinuxv, and Nuxalk) to bolster local Marine Use Plans and understand changes to groundfish populations over the last century. She is endlessly inspired by the "sea-marrying-cedar" vistas and wildlife adventures that the Great Bear Rainforest provides, as well as the wisdom and welcome emitted by the First Nations she works with.  Lauren's blog.

Heike Lettrari, MA

Heike Lettrari

The mountain pine beetle outbreak of the past fifteen years has been quite unlike historical outbreaks.  Exacerbated by climate, this outbreak has seen th beetle's population numbers swell into the trillions, enabling a range of expansion in altitude, whereby the beetles attached trees higher up mountains; geographically, from British Columbia, into Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the boreal forest; and altitudinally, where the beetle attached further north into the Nortwest Territories.  How does an ecological perturbation of this size disrupt the worldviews and practice of scientists researching this beetle and these landscapes?  What do our scientific experts make of such a disruption?  What changes when the mountain pine beetle trigger novel ecosystems that require non-traditional engagement responses?  These are questions Heike pursued under the guidance of Dr. Eric Higgs.

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2016 graduates

Tanya Taggart-Hodge, MSc

Tanya Taggart-Hodge

Tanya Taggart-Hodge is pursuing a Masters of Science as a member of the Mountain Legacy Project under the guidance of Dr. Eric Higgs and Dr. Bryan Starzomski.  An involvement in interdisciplinary science and interest in the connections between people and their natural environment has led Tanya to various corners of the planet, from the Arctic and Antarctic to the Tropics.  She has worked on climate change policy (Yukon Government, 2010), women’s economic rights (Bolivia 2011), marine protected area management and conservation challenges (Panama 2012), novel financing mechanisms and business solutions for environmental challenges (London, UK 2012), scientific photography and mountain research (Canadian Rockies 2014), and historical ecology and archeology (Galapagos Islands 2015). Tanya’s current research uses novel image analysis tools to measure land cover changes in the Bow watershed of Alberta over the past century. She is comparing historical oblique images with their modern repeats, particularly related to segments of the Bow and Elbow rivers.

Kristen Walsh, MA

Kristen Walsh

Kristen brings an Anthropology background to Environmental Studies. Her research focusses on how wind and its role in larger weather processes is experienced by Fire Lookout Observers who inhabit the Canadian Rocky Mountains. She is particularly curious about the weather’s capacity to engage on practical, sensorial, emotive and creative levels and how this may lend to intuitive ways of knowing. Kristen is a member of the Mountain Legacy Project and guided by Dr. Eric Higgs.

Kat Zimmer, MA

Kat Zimmer

A past undergraduate in UVic's Environmental Studies program, Kat is interested in the challenges and opportunities presented by permaculture in higher education for sustainability. Supervised by Dr. Duncan Taylor, she is researching the integration of permaculture design in undergraduate course curriculum at universities across North America. When away from her desk, Kat can be found hosting potlucks, cycling, hiking island trails, or learning from messy experience in her garden.

Andra Forney, MSc

Andra Forney As an Ethnoecologist, Andra is interested in the social-ecological relationships between people and their environments.  Her research focuses on the local knowledge and management of the black mountain huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum) in the East Kootenays of British Columbia.

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2015 graduates

Julia Fisher, MSc

Julia fisher

Julia joined the Starzomski lab in 2013 with a strong interest in learning more about the biodiversity on the central coast of B.C. A project soon developed with a focus on the link between people and their environment, leading to an immersion into the fields of archaeology and ecology of this region. Based out of Calvert Island, Julia recently completed a long and rewarding field season conducting vegetation surveys on past sites of human habitation. These were characterized by extensive shell middens.

Julia is also passionate about agriculture, cycle-touring and language studies.

Garrett Richards, PhD

Garrett Richards

Garrett is interested in environmental controversy, the political discussions that occur around contentious environment and resource issues such as nuclear energy and carbon taxation.

Specifically, he is investigating why the apparent consensus among climate scientists globally has not been translated into more substantial policy action regarding climate change in Canada.

As an interdisciplinary student also belonging to the department of political science, he explores this science-policy gap using multiple theoretical approaches including deliberative democracy, political ecology, advocacy coalitions, and epistemology.

Rod Davis, PhD

Rod Davis

Rod’s research is focused on evaluating conservation policy alternatives and adaptive social governance mechanisms to address wildlife resiliency, changing land use, and climate change in the Columbia Mountain region of British Columbia.


Jordan Dessertine, MA

Jordan Dessertine

Jordan’s undergraduate training was in the liberal arts. He later gravitated to environmental studies when he realized that they anchored his philosophical leanings—by drawing him away from the sterility of the ivory tower and into the complex pressing issues known today as the ecological crisis. Jordan’s focuses include ecopsychology, Deep Ecology, Jungian psychology, dialectical logic, and the history of thought. Under the supervision of Duncan Taylor, he elaborated an interpretation of the environmental project from an emerging Jungian-psychological perspective. His research leans heavily on the works of the analyst and psychotherapist Wolfgang Giegerich.

Nikki Heim, MSc

Nikki Heim, MSc candidate

Nicole Heim is a mammalian ecologist interested in how landscape-scale factors influence spatial distribution patterns and long-term population persistence of med- to large-sized carnivores.  She has 10 years of experience working as a wildlife technician on cougars, bears, badgers, wolverines, and lions. Her current research focuses on how natural biotic and abiotic factors as well as anthropogenic landscape alterations relate to carnivore occurrence and community composition throughout the central Rocky Mountains of Alberta.  She was co-supervised by Jason Fisher and John Volpe.

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2014 graduates

Jennifer Anne Sauter, MA

Jennifer Anne Sauter

Jennifer is interested in the planning and restoration of urban food systems. Through interviews with planners, educators, and urban farmers, she is developing site selection criteria to conduct a GIS based urban agriculture land inventory for the City of Victoria.She is also examining the underlying barriers and supports for allotting land to urban agriculture. The objective of her research is to provide an informed assessment of potential land for urban agriculture, while granting insight into the processes and perceptions that currently shape how land is allotted to urban agriculture and the role of urban agriculture in ecological restoration.

Her supervisor is Dr. Valentin Schaefer, Academic Administrator of the Restoration of Natural Systems Program.

 Valerie Mucciarelli, MSc

Valerie Mucciarelli

The nutrient rich waters and rocky coastlines of British Columbia support some of the greatest marine biodiversity in the world. While we have some of the most diverse subtidal ecosystems across the globe, factors that drive this species diversity have rarely been studied.

A few studies conducted in tropical subtidal environments have shown that habitat complexity increases the diversity of fish and gastropods.

I am interested in determining if this correlation is present among algae and sessile invertebrates located in the temperate subtidal environment of BC.

 Jenna Falk, MA

Jenna Falk

Jenna is studying the impacts of long-term remote landscape change on ecosystem management in two Canadian Rocky Mountain parks - Mount Robson Provincial Park in BC and Willmore Wilderness Park in AB.

She uses repeat-photograpy to assess the long-term landscape changes in both parks using historical survey images through the Mountain Legacy Project. With these image pairs, she is conducting focus group photo-elicitation activities with parks managers, rangers and area supervisors local to these respective parks.

Focus groups will identify what the inherent challenges are in managing and restoring remote ecosystems in these two parks, and how managers of remote ecosystems should best approach these issues in the face of rapid ecological change.

Jenna is a member of the Mountain Legacy Project under the supervision of Dr. Eric Higgs in Environmental Studies.

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2013 graduates

Michelle Beauchamp, PhD

Michelle Church

Michelle's research is concerned with the ways in which we come to understand, perceive, conserve and restore natural sacred spaces such as medicine wheels and henges, among others. She is interested in those places that are sacred to communities, rather than personal sacred places.

Michelle's PhD work will use the on-going disputes at Bear Mountain as a case study for finding ways in which we can come to respect and preserve such places, and will also look at developing a cross-culturally acceptable typology of sacred places.

This, hopefully, will mean that in the future, such disputes will be settled more peaceably, and with more respect for both culture and the environment.

Harneet Gill, MA

Harneet Gill

I am studying the effects of disturbance and landscape changes in arctic ecosystems, through both a scientific and social perspective.

I am working in the Peel Plateau in the Northwest Territories, in collaboration with the Tetlit Gwich’in of Fort McPherson.

My research goals are to test for differences in plant communities and microenvironment in disturbed sites, and to record local observations of landscape changes through participatory research.

Victoria Wyllie de Echeverria, MSc

Victoria Wyllie de Echeverria

In her research, Victoria learned about the different folk varieties of moolks, or Pacific crabapple (Malus fusca) that the Gitga'at Nation of Hartley Bay, BC regcognize.  In addition to identifying the characteristics that these people use to differentiate between each variety taxonomically, she also learned about differences in their ethnobotanical usage and Gitga'at landscape management techniques.  Using additional questions that came up in this reseearch, she is now studying how cultural and biological diversity is linked and how they adapt concurrently as the climate changes in the estuarine environment of the Northwest Coast of BA at the Univeristy of Oxford, UK.

Kate Proctor, MSc

Kate Proctor

Kate is exploring whether in situ propagation of camas using traditional management methods is compatible with the current approaches to ecological restoration of Garry oak meadows.

More specifically, she is interested in researching the effects that burning, weeding and tilling (aimed at increasing camas populations) have on the existing and subsequent plant diversity and composition.

Kate will be conducting her research at the Nature Conservancy's Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve.

Rick Kubian, MSc

Rick Kubian

Rick is a Fire/Vegetation Specialist working for Parks Canada in the Lake Louise Yoho Kootenay Field Unit.

He has been involved in Fire and Vegetation Management since 1990 when he began his career as a warden in Jasper National Park. Rick is an active member of the Fire Operations program and has been very involved in the Prescribed Fire program.

Rick's research interest is to develop a better understanding of historic fire regime conditions in order to set more definitive restoration objectives for Parks Canada's prescribed burn program. He hopes to use repeat photography in this endeavour. 

Lindsay Monk, MA

Lindsay Monk

Lindsay is interested in how change happens.

She will be looking at First Nations housing and assessing current changes to the on-reserve housing system, considering whether and how First Nation engagement – at both a policy and community level – could be supported to enable housing to serve as a focal point for the restoration of economic, environmental, cultural and social well being of First Nation communities.

Martina Beck, MSc

Martina Beck

Martina studies non-native smallmouth bass in British Columbia lakes. She uses visual snorkel surveys to document habitat utilization and gut-content / stable isotope analysis to determine smallmouth bass trophic dynamics.

The primary objective of this project is to determine variability of smallmouth bass habitat use and diet as a function of lake physical and biological diversity.

Martina is a member of the Seafood Ecology Research Group (SERG) under the co-supervision of Dr. John Volpe in Environmental Studies and Dr. Matthias Herborg, BC Ministry of Environment.

Ashley Park, MSc

Ashley Park

Ashley's research focuses on the dynamics between open-net salmon aquaculture and native species.

She is specifically interested in evaluating if emamectin benzoate (SLICETM), a crustacean neurotoxin administered in salmon feed to decrease sea lice abundance on farm salmon, has impacts on non-target benthic spot prawn (Pandalus platyceros) populations.

The ecological as well as food safety concerns posed with this question makes this research an important step in determining the dynamics of chemical residues in the marine environment.

Jason Straka, MSc

Jason Straka

When fertilization is needed,
For plants to assure they’ll be seeded,
If insects are missing,
When blooms are dehiscing,
Will their reproduction be impeded?

Jason is interested in factors affecting diversity and abundance of plants and pollinators in Arctic and alpine ecosystems. 

He is currently using experimental and observational approaches to investigate the potential demographic consequences of mismatches in the timing of interactions between flowering plants and their pollinators. 

The results of his studies will provide important information about the impacts of climate change on pollination services.

Hannah Roessler, MA

Hannah Roessler

Hannah finds the diversity of ways that humans grow, gather or cultivate their food simply thrilling. 

Her current research explores how organic farmers in the Pacific Northwest perceive climate change, and adapt to changing environmental conditions.  She is testing the effectiveness of using participatory video techniques in the learning and transfer of local farming knowledge and adaptive strategies. 

Hannah likes to misquote Margaret Mead by saying “dirt is just soil out of place”.

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2012 graduates

Thiago Gomes, MA

Thiago Gomes

Thiago is interested in how traditional ecological knowledge and wisdom can inform best restoration practice and interventions in order to promote ecological and cultural integrity and long-term sustainability for people and ecosystems in cultural landscapes. He worked closely with the Songhees First Nation and elder Joan Morris [Sellemah] on a study about the ethnoecological restoration of the home-islands of Tl'chés, Chatham Islands, in British Columbia. Thiago is a Brazilian student, born and raised in Curitiba, "the land of many Araucaria trees". Supervisors: Dr. Nancy Turner and Dr. Eric Higgs.

Carla Burton, PhD

Carla Burton

In collaboration with elders of the Nisga'a First Nation, Carla is documenting their traditional plant use.

In addition, she is comparing plant names and plant distribution on Nisga'a traditional territory with that of neighbouring First Nations, to look for evidence of cultural interaction and trade.

Edosdi (Judith Thompson), PhD

Judy's Tahltan name is "Edosdi" which means "someone who raises up children and pets." She is a member of the Tahltan First Nation and is an instructor of First Nations Studies, Science and Math at Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert.

Her research involves working with Tahltan Elders in regards to the role and importance of language and oral traditions in the maintenance and renewal of cultural knowledge of her people and their relationship to the land.

Her long-term goal is to develop curriculum that honours this knowledge and wisdom in culturally appropriate and respectful ways.

Anna Melnik, MA

Anna Melnik

Anna is interested in the human face of sustainability.

Currently, she is using qualitative inquiry, including interviews and narrative and thematic analysis, to explore the experiences of people engaged in sustainable lifestyle practices and communities of practice.

Her Master’s thesis research aims to empirically study experiences of needs satisfaction connected with engagement in sustainable lifestyles and associated communities.

Katharine Corriveau, MSc

Katharine Corriveau

Katharine is concerned for the threatened alpine tundra ecological zones of British Columbia.

Since biodiversity is known to enhance ecosystem resilience in the face of change, she is planning an epic journey in the southwestern Coast Mountains to examine the strength of the relationship between precipitation and alpine plant diversity.

Understanding the importance of climate parameters in maintaining diversity in the alpine tundra will be critical in our attempts to predict how this ecosystem will respond to the impacts of future climate change.

Leigh Joseph, MSc

Leigh Joseph

Leigh is a member of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations. Her graduate research focuses on the ethnoecological restoration of northern riceroot (Fritillaria Camschatcensis) in the Squamish estuary. Riceroot is known as lhásem in the Skwxwú7mesh language.

Historically, this plant was an important traditional root vegetable that was cultivated by indigenous people in estuary gardens along the coast of British Columbia.

Today, the population of this plant has been greatly reduced in the Squamish estuary and it has become a focal point for Squamish Nation members who are interested in renewing knowledge and practices connected to their traditional plant foods.

Leigh's research has produced a series of experimental restoration gardens in the Squamish estuary with the hope of these gardens developing into future food harvest sites.

Trevor Bennett, MA

Trevor Bennett

Trevor is using visual and participatory research methods to document and communicate local observations of environmental conditions in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, of the western Canadian Arctic. 

The objective of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of these methods to monitor environmental conditions to adequately communicate, and contextualize local hunter and trapper observations.  

Research supervisor: Trevor Lantz

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2011 graduates

Dane Stabel, MSc

Dane Stabel

Dane's research focuses on the epidemiology of groundfish populations in the Broughton Archipelago.

He is using spatially explicit ecological models to explore the relationship between salmon aquaculture, the parasitic copepod (Phrixocephalus cincinnatus) and it's definitive host, arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias).

Shinsaku Shiga, MSc

Shinsaku Shiga

Shinsaku is interested in how ecological restoration can transform relationships between and within social and ecological systems.

He is also interested in how cultural perspective on nature influences such relationships.

His research focus is in restoration projects in Japan.

Abe Lloyd, MSc

Abe Lloyd

Abe's academic interest is in ethnoecolgy.

He is studying estuarine root gardens of the NW Coastal First Nations with an emphasis on learning how traditional management effects the root productivity and palatability of silverweed (Potentilla anserina).

Abe's passion is for wild edible foods, which he tries to regularly incorporate into his diet.

Sara Duncan, MSc

Sara Duncan

Sara's research focus is the potential to actively restore terrestrial lichens in caribou habitat that has been disturbed by industrial activity.

She will be investigating potential propagation and dispersal methods for the terrestrial lichen species used by caribou in forested and alpine environments, and hopes to determine whether the potential exists to establish lichen on reclaimed sites more rapidly than by natural ingress alone.

Helen Ford, MSc

Helen Ford

Helen's interests lie in the conservation and ecology of near shore marine ecosystems.

The focus of her research is on plankton communities surrounding Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) aquaculture sites along the west coast of Canada and the United States.

She aims to determine the trophic footprint of a Pacific oyster farm. This is particularly relevant in light of sustainability questions in shellfish aquaculture.

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2010 graduates

Carla Mellot, MSc

Carla Mellot

Carla is studying the autecology and ethnobotany of the mountain potato (Claytonia lanceolata) on Potato Mountain, British Columbia.

Valerie Huff, MSc

Valerie Huff

Valerie is studying restoration using native grasses in northeastern BC.

Her research focuses on plant traits in response to disturbance. It draws on the fields of traditional ecological knowledge as well as botany and biogeography.

Valerie will also consider practical policy aspects of revegetation using native species.Her work is part of a larger Northern Grass Project which is developing an online interactive key to grasses of northern BC, including a restoration decision support tool.

Ryan Hilperts, MSc

Ryan Hilperts

Ryan is studying the social and educational issues surrounding two impending dam removals on the Elwha River of Washington State.

She is interested in the ways a major restoration project, which necessarily involves a wide array of organizations, community groups and individuals, transforms the human community as it transforms ecological ones.

Ryan's specific areas of interest are: oral histories, environmental education and social justice, and community involvement in restoration.

Hilary Harrop-Archibald, MSc

Hilary Harrop-Archibald

A significant component of the landbase in British Columbia is composed of young second growth plantation forests. Due to their simplified nature these forests are often considered unsuitable habitat for many forest dwelling species and less resilient to potential climate change impacts.

Hilary is interested in the efficacy of alternative silviculture practices aimed towards increasing structural complexity and species diversity, and the effect of said practices on stand level carbon dynamics, particularly soil carbon.

Hilary is working in collaboration with the Pacific Forestry Center and is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Jennifer Gee, MSc

Jennifer Gee

Jennifer's research focus is aquaculture on a global scale.

Currently, intersecting ecological, economic and social dynamics widely prevent this sector from operating in a sustainable manner.

Jennifer is using meta-analysis to incorporate triple bottom line indicators to explore the facets of sustainable aquaculture operations.

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2009 graduates

Glenn Bartley, MSc

Glenn Bartley

Glenn is working with the Canadian Wildlife Service, CRD and a local First Nations community towards a conservation and restoration plan for one of Vancouver Islands rarest and most fragile ecosystems.

He is especially interested in the protection and enhancement of migratory bird habitat and in making connections between a variety of diverse stakeholders.

Karen Hurley, PhD

Karen Hurley

Karen's research aims to contribute to an understanding of what the dominant images of the future may, or may not, be doing to our ability to envision ecologically sound and socially just futures, and where change can happen.

Jeff Ralph, MA

Jeff Ralph

Ignorance and greed
Suffering ecosystem
Restoration heals

Jeff is focusing on the interconnectedness between the life, teachings and work of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa and the practice and promise of ecological restoration.

He is using Buddhadasa's interpretations of Buddhist dhamma (teachings, way of life) to assist the process of how we approach and conduct ecological restoration. The teachings of anatta (no-self), impermance, greed and ignorance are highlighted in his study.

Adrienne Shaw, MSc

Adrienne Shaw

The goal of Adrienne's research is to assess tree establishment in subalpine meadows in both Waterton Lakes National Park and the Castle Wilderness and address the implications for conservation and ecological restoration.

Over the past century fire exclusion and climate change have been factors in the advancement of forest in open meadow habitats throughout the Rocky Mountains.

Despite the ensuing habitat loss and its powerful consequences, comprehensive long term historical information detailing these changes remains sparse in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Lise Townsend, MSc

Lise Townsend

Lise's area of interest is the integrated management of water resources for sustainable development.

She is studying the Swan Lake watershed, an urban system that has been degraded over time but still provides valuable habitat, recreation/education and attenuation of stormwater flows.

Lise is using resilience theory (a.k.a. Panarchy) as a framework to assess the health of the watershed and to provide restoration recommendations. Components of her study include history and ethnoecology, Proper Functioning Condition assessment of the watershed components, hydrological monitoring, and vegetation ecology.

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2008 graduates

Severn Cullis-Suzuki, MSc

Severn Cullis-Suzuki

Severn is studying the use of Tsatsayem-- eelgrass (Zostera marina L.), by Kwakwaka'wakw peoples around Vancouver Island.

She works primarily with Dr. Nancy Turner at the School of Environmental Studies and Chief Adam Dick, Kwaxsistala, of the Dzawada7enuxw of Kingcome Inlet.

Among many other fascinating eelgrass aspects, Severn is investigating how this marine angiosperm figured into the year's traditional round of food harvesting, how this clonally reproducing plant was affected by the harvesting techniques of the First Nations, and how the observations of the land by today's elders can inform our biological evaluation of the health of our current ecosystems.

Jen Pukonen, MSc

Jen Pukonen

Jen is studying Nuu-chah-nulth traditional root gardens.

This research project was originally suggested by members of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation communities of Clayoquot Sound, as a way of promoting and maintaining important traditional knowledge about nutrition and the environment.

In collaboration with students and interested community members she will be helping to research and re-create a traditional root garden of a iits'uqmapt (springbank clover), tlitsy'upmapt (pacific silverweed) and kuuxwapiihmapt (northern rice root).

This community-based restoration project, will involve an interdisciplinary approach to ecocultural restoration, drawing on the fields of ethnobotany, ecology and social sciences.

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