Past Participants

Haiyan Chu

Portrait of Haiyan Chu

Haiyan Chu was a postdoctoral researcher from April 2007-August 2010.

"I am studying the structure and function of microbial communities and their response to freeze-thaw stress in arctic tundra soils using molecular techniques."

Current status: Haiyan is a Research Scientist at the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Soil Science in Nanjing, China.


Graduate Students 

Meghan Hamp

Portrait of Megan Hamp

Meghan Hamp was an M.Sc. thesis student from September 2019 to March 2022. She was awarded a NSERC M.Sc. scholarship for 2019-2020, a Weston Family Award in Northern Research (Master's level) for 2020-2021, and a Queen's University McLaughlin Fellowship for 2020-2021.

Thesis title: Ecosystem-level responses to increased atmospheric nitrogen deposition in an Ontario meadow hayfield of varying soil texture.

Current status: Meghan completed her M.Sc. in April 2022, and is currently writing up her thesis data for a journal publication. She began a Ph.D. with Dr. Trevor Lantz of University of Victoria in the summer of 2022.

Sarah Gordon

Sarah 2022

Sarah was an M.Sc. graduate student who started in September 2020, and withdrew from the lab in February 2023. Sarah began a course-based M.Sc. in Environmental Studies at Queen's in September 2023.

"I am particularly interested in how plants interact with their environment.  My research is exploring decadal changes in the understory plant community of a local forest, and the potential impacts of white-tailed deer. I aim to interpret my research results through the lenses of climate change, intersectionality, and sustainability." 

Qian Gu

Portrait of Qian

Qian Gu was a Ph.D. student who started in September 2015 and successfully defended her thesis in April 2020.

"I am interested in exploring if ecological stoichiometry is useful in explaining impacts of environmental changes on arctic tundra plant communities. Do species differ in stoichiometric homeostasis characteristics for nitrogen and phosphorus contents, and if so, are these differences indicative of species responses to changes in air temperature, snow depth, and soil nutrient availability?"

Qian has a M.Sc. from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and was the recipient of Chinese Scholarship Council and Ontario Trillium Foundation International Ph.D. Scholarship support.

Ph.D. thesis title: Evaluation and improvement of the stoichiometric homeostasis model for understanding and predicting the structure and functioning of a low Arctic tundra plant community.

Current status: Qian was awarded a two year Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences post-doctoral fellowship in October 2020 to work with Dr. Qiang You at the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing.  She applied for a lecturer position at Beijing Forestry University in summer of 2023.

Casper Christiansen

Portrait of Casper

Casper Christiansen completed his Ph.D. in January 2016, having started in September 2011.

"My primary research interests are rooted within arctic ecosystem ecology. What drives litter decomposition on the tundra, how do biogeochemical properties fluctuate with season and soil depth, and how will these characteristics influence ecosystem responses to a changing climate?"

Casper was awarded an Ontario Trillium International Student Scholarship from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for the years 2011-2015.

Casper was awarded a Dean's doctoral travel grant from Queen's in April 2014.

Ph.D. thesis title: Seasonal controls on litter and soil carbon and nutrient cycling in arctic tundra ecosystems and potential impacts of climate change.

Current status: Casper is currently a Carlsberg Foundation Reintroduction fellow with the Terrestrial Ecology research group at the University of Copenhagen, where he began his European Union Marie Curie Fellowship in 2021. He previously completed a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Hanna Lee at the University of Bergen Norway which began in February 2017, and prior to that he was the Scientific Leader of Arctic Research Station at Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island off the west coast of Greenland from February 2016.

Casper's personal website

Tara Zamin

Portrait of Tara Zamin

Tara Zamin completed her Ph.D. in May 2013, having started in January 2009

"I am interested in the interactive relationships between caribou herbivory, tundra vegetation community dynamics, and ecosystem biogeochemistry, all in the context of potential impacts of climate change."

Tara received second prize in the best poster competition at the British Ecological Society Symposium on Plant Secondary Metabolites in Brighton in April 2010. Tara was awarded an Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship D from NSERC for the years 2011-2013, and was the recipient of OGS (Ontario graduate scholarship) support in 2010-2011.

Ph.D. thesis title: Integrating the Effects of Climate Change and Caribou Herbivory on Vegetation Community Structure in Low Arctic Tundra

Current status: Tara is a science strategy/policy analyst manager with CSIRO (Australia's National Science Agency) in Melbourne, Australia since 2018. From October 2016, she had been an Environmental Consultant with the Nous Group in Melbourne, and from January 2015, she was a postdoctoral researcher in plant community ecology and conservation with Prof. Joslin Moore at Melbourne's Monash University. Previously, she worked as a Research Analyst with the Canadian Polar Commission in Ottawa.

Kate Buckeridge

Portrait of Kate Buckeridge

Kate Buckeridge completed her Ph.D. in September 2009, having joined the lab in September 2004.

"My research interests include investigating the relationship between microbial community characteristics and soil biogeochemical processes, and, in particular, the effect of seasonal perturbations, such as freeze-thaw cycles, on microbial community changes and soil nitrogen cycling."

Kate is a recipient of a Garfield Weston Award for Northern Research (2007-2009) from the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS-CNST).

Ph.D. thesis title: Controls on seasonal nitrogen cycling in Canadian low arctic tundra ecosystems. (2009)

Current status: Kate was appointed as a Senior Researcher in soil microbiology at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology ( in April  2021. Prior to that she was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Liz Baggs at the University of Edinburgh since late summer, 2018. Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Lancaster University in the U.K., and before that she worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Sharon Billings at the University of Kansas, after completing a 2.5 year postdoctoral research position in Josh Schimel's lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was awarded an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship for 2010-2012.

Harris Ivens

Portrait of Harris Ivens



Harris Ivens was an M.Sc. thesis student who started in September 2015, and successfully defended in December 2017. He is currently writing up his thesis as a manuscript for submission to a journal. Harris was a faculty member at Fleming College Ontario in their Sustainable Agriculture Program prior to joining our lab

"I am interested in the possibilities of reducing fertilizer use in agricultural ecosystems by increasing and transforming greater amounts of the inherent nutrient supply in soils." 

Harris won the C.F. Bentley award for best student talk at the Canadian Society of Soil Science annual meeting in Peterborough in June 2017.

M.Sc. thesis title (2018): As above so below? -Impacts of water limitation on growth and nutrient accumulation of a crop plant and its soil microbes across a fertility gradient.

Current status: Harris has his own Kingston-based consultancy business providing on-farm plant and soil assessments, management recommendations and financial advice (business e-mail is: He is also a project manager with Canadian Wollastonite.

John Serafini

Portrait of John Serafini

John Serafini was an M.Sc. thesis student who started in September 2015 and was working jointly with Profs Aarssen and Grogan. He successfully completed his thesis in October 2017.

"My research will explore how plant community composition and productivity is influenced by belowground water and nutrient availability, and aboveground deer herbivory in a meadow grassland near the Queen's University Biological Station." 

Current status: John is a senior policy analyst with Natural Resources Canada.  Prior to his current position, he completed a Masters in International Affairs at Carleton university in Ottawa which he started in Fall 2018.

M.Sc. thesis title: Effects of soil resource and herbivory manipulations on temperate mesic grassland vegetation under a changing climate (2017).

Nishka (Veronika) Wright

Portrait of Nishka (Veronika) Wright

Nishka (Veronika) Wright was an M.Sc. thesis student who started in September 2013 and successfully defended in December 2015.

Thesis title: Warming and chronic high nutrient manipulations yield differing legacy efects on the soil microbial community and nutrient pools in the low Arctic.

Nishka was awarded an NSERC M.Sc. scholarship in April 2014, and a R. Samuel McLaughlin Fellowship to support her graduate studies in September 2013.

Current status: Nishka is now working as a Land Resource Intern position with OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs), having been the lead researcher on an Environment Canada-funded local soil erosion project. Before that she was an Environmental Stewardship Technician with the Lower Trenton Conservation Authority.

Alexandra Djorjevic

Portrait of Alexandra Djorjevic

Alexandra Djorjevic was an M.Sc. thesis student who started in September 2011. She was almost finished, but left the program for personal reasons in December 2013.

"My research focuses on the relationship between deer browsing and forest regeneration in the Eastern Ontario region. The ultimate goal of my research is to investigate the feedback mechanisms that come as a result of the deer-induced changes to individual plants and plant communities, looking for evidence of the potential community shift towards an alternate stable state."

Current status: Alex is working with the Earth Rangers Center whose mission is to educate kids about the importance of biodiversity and empower them to protect animals and their habitats.

Matthew Vankoughnett

Portrait of Mathew Vankoughnett

Mathew Vankoughnett started his M.Sc. in May 2007, and completed in September 2009.

"My research interests include investigating how snow-shrub interactions and winter processes contribute to the expansion of shrubs in the Arctic, and the effects of such vegetation change on biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nitrogen."

M.Sc. thesis title: Shrub expansion in the low Arctic: The influence of snow and vegetation feedbacks on nitrogen cycling. (2009)

Current status: Mat began a Research Scientist position at Nova Scotia Community College in May 2017.  Previously, he completed a Ph.D. in terrestrial ecology with Dr. Hugh Henry (University of Western Ontario) in 2013, lectured at St Lawrence’s College in 2014, and then became an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Richland, USA until April 2017.

Robyn Foote

Portrait of Robyn Foote

Robyn Foote was an M.Sc student who started in September 2005 and completed in December 2007.

"I am interested in the carbon sink potential of abandoned agricultural lands in Eastern Canada as they change with succession toward shrub-dominated and forested ecosystems. I will use a chronosequence approach to look at the rates and potential for carbon sequestration, and also do experimental manipulations that will aid in the understanding of the controls on carbon sequestration."

M.Sc. thesis title: Soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics along replicated chronosequences of abandoned agricultural lands in southeastern Ontario. (2007)

Robyn received the C.F. Bentley award for best student talk at the Canadian Society of Soil Science annual meeting in Quebec in June 2007.

Current status: Ecosystems Biologist responsible for managing a diverse range of species and ecosystems across the Thompson Okanagan region, and based at the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Sonia Nobrega

Portrait of Sonia Nobrega

Sonia Nobrega was a M.Sc. student from January 2004-April 2006.

"The objective of my Masters thesis was to use a combination of field biogeochemical experimental methods and laboratory analyses in order to answer my questions relating to spatial and temporal differences in nutrient cycling, CO2 fluxes and microbial composition amongst tundra ecosystems of varying natural moisture gradients."

M.Sc. thesis title: Seasonal carbon dynamics along a natural moisture gradient in Canadian low arctic tundra. (2006)

Sonia received the Department of Biology award for the best M.Sc. thesis submitted in 2006.

Current status: Sonia took on the position of Senior Manager of the Queen's University Biology Station in July 2016. Prior to that, she was a science program manager at Queen's university, having spent two years as a Scientific program manager with Dept. of Indian and Northern Affairs, in Iqaluit, Nunavut.


Undergraduate Students 

Molly Gautreau


Molly was an honours thesis undergraduate student from August 2023-April 2024.

“I am interested in exploring how environmental factors influenced by climate change, such as drought-driven declines in soil moisture, can affect below-ground properties of old field meadow grassland ecosystems.”

Thesis title: Going Underground: Assessing Root System Responses to Experimental Water and Nutrient Manipulations in a Temperate Mesic Old-field Meadow Grassland

Julia White

Julia photo

Julia was an honours thesis undergraduate student from May 2022-April 2023, and continues to be associated with the lab because of her driving interest in the influence of soil water dynamics in this region on local plant growth.

Julia won first prize for Best Poster Award in the Ecology and Evolution category at the 35th Annual Ontario Biology Day Conference that was held at Brock University on March 25th, 2023.

"I am mainly interested in investigating how climate change will disrupt natural ecosystems and the ways that we can counteract the negative effects. My thesis project describes spatiotemporal soil moisture patterns at an old-field meadow in southeastern Ontario and the relationship with ecosystem productivity. I hope that the results will help in predicting how the relationship will change with future climate." 

Thesis title (completed April 2023):  How important is soil moisture for ecosystem productivity? Describing soil moisture spatiotemporal variability within an old-field meadow in a southeastern Ontario grassland

Chris Lewis

Chris in the field

Chris did a research mentorship (BIOL 539) over the Winter of 2023/24.  

"I am interested in ecosystem dynamics, bryophytes, and environmental conservation and restoration"

Brian Pham

Brian was an honours thesis undergraduate student from May 2020-April 2021. 

"I am interested in whether deepened ‘awareness’ (achieved through mind-calming exercises, meditation, reflection etc.) can significantly impact our environmental behavior."

Thesis title: Does student awareness of mindfulness and of connection to nature correlate with consumption behavior, and do these relationships differ among undergraduate programs? 


Current status: Brian started a master’s program in cognitive neuroscience at University College London in the U.K. in September 2023.

Mike Hann

Mike Hann was an undergraduate honours thesis student from May 2019-April 2020, and also a summer work experience program (SWEP) lab and field assistant in 2019.

"I am interested in understanding how climate change will affect biogeochemistry in agriculture. In my thesis research, I am using recently developed methods to understand the fundamental mechanisms influencing water-mediated soil nutrient fluxes."

Thesis title: Effects of Experimentally Altered Precipitation and NPK Fertilization on Soil Ammonium, Nitrate, and Phosphate Fluxes in a Mesic Old-field Meadow Grassland

Current status: Mike finished his Remote Sensing course at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia, in late Spring 2022, and is now checking out job offers.

Adrian Kuchtaruk

Profile of Adrian Kuchtaruk

Adrian Kuchtaruk was an undergraduate honours thesis student from Sept 2018-April 2019 working with Dr. Grogan and Dr. Nate Basiliko (Laurentian University). He is now intending to continue and extend his thesis research by doing a M.Sc. with Dr. Basiliko.

“I am interested in microbial responses to human-induced environmental changes that can have consequences on greenhouse gas fluxes, pollutants, and carbon dynamics. I am also interested in microbial roles in forest biogeochemistry.”

Thesis title: Could a novel biosolid be more effective than conventional fertilizer-plus-lime addition to restore soils and vegetation affected by Sudbury's smelting pollution?

Current status: Adrian began studying dentistry at McMaster in 2021

Rhett Andruko

Rhett photo

Rhett Andruko was an undergraduate honours thesis student from May 2016-April 2017. He also assisted us in the summer of 2016 as an NSERC USRA.

"I am interested in studying changes in the growth and stature of low arctic shrubs in a warming climate, and the factors that will affect it, such as topography and soil conditions."


Thesis title: Primary controls on decadal growth patterns of birch shrubs across a low arctic landscape.


Current status: Rhett worked with Dr. Colautti as an NSERC USRA for the summer of 2017, and then completed a two year technical degree in forestry at N.A.I.T. college in Alberta, and is now working as a research scientist with an environmental consultancy company in Alberta.

Derek McLean

Portrait of Derek McLean

Derek McLean was an undergraduate honours thesis student from May 2016-April 2017 (cosupervised by Profs Colautti and Grogan) who had been a SWEP student assistant helping us in the summer of 2016.

"I am interested in investigating genomic variation in populations of dwarf birch species across the North American and European Arctic, and relating patterns to spatial distance, climate, glacial history and soil ecology."

Thesis title: Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of two Betula species in the North American Arctic.


Current status: Derek is working in kid's camp for the summer of 2017.

Sanna Masud

Portrait of Sanna Masud

Sanna Masud completed an undergraduate research mentorship (BIOL 538) for Fall 2014, and continued to work with us on the micronutrient project over 2015 (BIOL 594).

"I am researching the impacts of greenhouse warming on accumulation of various micronutrients in above-ground biomass of the principal plant species of low arctic tundra.

Current status: Sanna began a Ph.D. in microbial genetics at University of Toronto in the Fall of 2016.

Emma Hill

Portrait of Emma Hill

Emma Hill was an undergraduate honours thesis student from May 2014-April 2015.

"My research focuses on biogeochemical cycles in the Low Canadian Arctic. I am most interested in the effects of nutrient additions on microbial activity in different soil horizons."

Thesis title: Impacts of increased nutrient availability and warming on soil carbon in a
Canadian low Arctic ecosystem

Current status: Started an M.Sc. in Env. Science at UFT in Fall 2017.

Jordan Constant

Portrait of Jordan Constant

Jordan Constant was an undergraduate honours thesis student from May 2014 to April 2015.

"My research questions focus on determining if the impacts of increasing atmospheric nitrogen deposition on hay meadow grasslands will differ according to the texture of the underlying soil. I am most interested in the effects this interaction will have on plant communities and hay production in the Eastern Ontario region where clay- and sand-dominated soils often occur side-by-side."

Thesis title: Interaction of simulated atmospheric nitrogen deposition and soil texture on plant productivity in Ontario hay grasslands

Current status: Jordan began an M.Sc. in sports turf grass plant physiology at University of Guelph in the Fall of 2015.

Sean Doherty

Portrait of Sean Doherty

Sean Doherty was an undergraduate research mentorship student for Fall 2014.

"My project will approach the idea of sustainability through a creative non-fiction article that explores, and helps to explain, the psychological and sociological phenomena that prevent widespread adoption of sustainable practices in western society." 

Sean was awarded an 2014 NSERC USRA scholarship for summer lab/field training, and also was the recipient of a Queen's University Leadership award in April 2014.

Current status: Sean did an M.A. in creative writing at University of Guelph-Humber that started in the Fall of 2015.

Megan Rueckwald

Portrait of Megan Rueckwald

Megan Rueckwald was a 2013 summer SWEP assistant, and completed here undergraduate honours thesis over 2013/2014.

"My research focuses on the impact of climate warming on tundra soil nutrient dynamics and vegetation growth in the Canadian Low Arctic. I am particularly interested in how soil nitrogen and phosphorous fluxes respond to climate warming, and how plant nutrient uptake varies over the growing season and between dominant plant growth forms."

Thesis title: Impact of experimental climate warming on tundra soil and plant nutrient dynamics and vegetation growth in the Canadian Low Arctic

Current status: Megan is a Community Planner with Frontenac County (2017), having completed an M.Sc. student in Urban Planning at Queen’s and an M.PL. at the University of Otago

Raeya Jackiw

Portrait of Raeya Jackiw

Raeya Jackiw was an undergraduate honours thesis student for 2012/2013. She was a summer work experience program (SWEP) student helping us with field and lab work over the summers of 2011 and 2012, and previously volunteered in the lab.

"I am interested in the roles that factors such as herbivory, climate, and competition play in the regeneration and management of forest plant communities." 

Thesis title: Is competition for soil resources by Carex pensylvanica restricting tree seedling growth in a temperate mixed hardwood forest?

Current status: Raeya is articling as an intern lawyer (2017) with a Toronto firm that specialise in environmental, Aboriginal and energy law. She completed a Master of Environmental Sciences at Guelph in 2013/14, and went on to Law School at UFT in Fall 2014 where she focussed on environmental and Aboriginal law, and completed her degree in June 2017.

Morgan Elias

Portrait of Morgan Elias

Morgan Elias was an undergraduate honours thesis student for 2012/2013. She was a summer work experience program (SWEP) student helping us with field and lab work over the summer of 2012.

"I am studying how varying levels of water and nutrient availability that might correspond with future climate change affect plant productivity and composition in a temperate grassland."

Thesis title: Effects of experimentally altered precipitation and nutrient availability on plant productivity and composition in a temperate old field meadow in southeastern Ontario.

Current status: Completed M.Sc. in Environment and Sustainability at Western in 2015, and worked as an Environmental Educator with the N.G.O. Ecosource. Completed B.Ed. (Laurier, 2016), and working as an elementary school teacher for Upper Grand School Board, Guelph (2017).

Sarah Farrow

Portrait of Sarah Farrow

Sarah Farrow was an undergraduate thesis student and a summer SWEP assistant in 2010/2011.

"I'm investigating the chemical response of dwarf birch to simulated caribou herbivory at different browsing intensities and under varying nutrient availability.

Thesis title: Climate, Caribou and Chemical Defense: Phenolic responses of arctic dwarf birch (Betula glandulosa) to enhanced soil fertility and simulated herbivory.

Sarah won first prize for best poster in the Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour group of the 2010/2011 final year undergraduate thesis students, and was one of seven among the entire thesis student cohort who received a commendation for best seminar.

Current status: Sarah finished her final year of Pediatric medicine training in 2018, having started medical school at the University of Toronto in the Fall of 2011.

Meghan Laidlaw

Portrait of Meghan Laidlaw

Meghan Laidlaw was an undergraduate in 2008/09. She completed a SWEP position in summer 2007.

"I am studying the relationship between the soil nematode community and nitrogen cycling in three low arctic tundra ecosystems, as well as seasonal changes in nematode abundance and diversity."

Thesis title: Nematode abundance and diversity in relation to soil nitrogen dynamics within three Canadian low arctic ecosystems.

Current status: Meghan went on to do an M.Sc. in forest ecosystem ecology with Sue Grayston and Cindy Prescott at University of British Columbia from Fall 2012 to Spring 2015. She now works as an ecologist in a mine reclamation environmental consultancy company in BC and Alberta.

Ian McCormick

Portrait of Ian McCormick

Ian McCormick was an undergraduate in 2008/09.

"I'm investigating the influence of sub-surface water flow on soil nutrient dynamics and whether this has any effect on vegetative productivity in a tall birch tundra ecosystem."

Thesis title: Late summer nutrient and subsurface hydrological characteristics in a tall birch patch and surrounding birch hummock tundra in the Canadian low Arctic.

Current status: Ian worked as an intern in a sustainable organic farm, then did an M.Sc. in soil science at Guelph, and is now (2014) working as an agronomy program manager and farm advisor for a non-profit organisation.

John Xu

Portrait of John Xu

John Xu was an undergraduate in 2007,and was jointly supervised with Prof. V. Walker.

"I am studying the variation in ice-nucleating activity of freeze-thaw resistant soil bacteria across a latitudinal gradient from temperate sites through to the High Arctic."

Thesis title: Characterizing the effects of latitude and freeze-thaw treatment on culturable soil bacterial communities: Can ice-nucleating bacteria be preferentially recovered?

Current status: John began medical school training at Queen's in Fall 2010.

Carolyn Churchland

Portrait of Carolyn Churchland

Carolyn Churchland was an undergraduate student for 2006/2007.

"I am looking at how different shrub species and nutrient additions each affect soil chemistry and soil microbial pools in sub-arctic ecosystems."

Thesis title: The effects of nutrient fertilisation and shrub species on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics in arctic tundra.

Current status: Carolyn started her Ph.D. in forest soil ecology at UBC in Fall 2008 and completed in 2012. She is now working in the environmental consulting firm Keystone Wildlife Research in B.C.

Erik Zufelt

Erik zufelt

Erik Zufelt was an undergraduate student for 2006/2007.

"I am interested in differences in belowground nitrogen cycling rates between shrub and hummock tundras in the Arctic, controls on these rates, and predicting how these rates will change with, and influence, further climate change"

Thesis title: Gross and net nitrogen transformation rates and availability in late summer in tall shrub and birch hummock ecosystems of the Canadian low Arctic.

Current status: Erik began medical school at Queen's in the Fall of 2007, and is currently pursuing family medicine.

Liesha Mayo-Bruinsma

Portrait of Liesha Mayo-Bruinsma

Liesha Mayo-Bruinsma was an undergraduate student for 2005/2006.

"My thesis project centers on nitrogen cycling in arctic soil during the spring thaw, and how it might be affected by the increased winter snow accumulation expected with climate change. I am also following up on work done by Alison Ronson (2004-2005) by investigating the fate of nitrogen that was added to the ecosystem last year."

Thesis title: Nitrogen in tundra soils: Spring-thaw and the impacts of climate change.

Current status: Liesha entered the Master's program in Epidemiology at Ottawa U. in 2007, specialising in respiratory health in aboriginal children. She has since received a CIHR M.Sc. award to pursue her research of primary care delivery.

Brendan Daly

Portrait of Brendan Daly

Brendan Daly was an undergraduate student for 2005/2006.

"My thesis project investigates the patterns of carbon sequestration across a chronosequence of abandoned agricultural land in southern Ontario by examining three carbon pools of varying recalcitrance."

Thesis title: Soil carbon sequestration in abandoned agricultural land of southeastern Ontario.

Current status: Brendan has been working as an outdoor environmental educationalist, and started an M.A. in Teaching at University of S.E. Alaska in Fall 2010.

Erik Coleman

Erik Coleman

Erik Coleman was an undergraduate student in 2004-2005.

"My thesis project investigates the effect of certain tree species on nitrogen cycling in mixed forest ecosystems in Southern Ontario, paying particular attention to the effects of geological substrate."

Thesis title: Influence of geological substrate and tree species on temperate forest nitrogen cycling.

Current status: Working in a landscape engineering firm. Erik completed a M.Sc. in Environmental Landscape Design in 2009 at University of Guelph. Erik is now working in a Kingston-based landscape engineering firm.

Alison Ronson


Portrait of Alison Ronson

Alison Ronson was an undergraduate student in 2004-2005.

"I am studying the effects of carbon and nitrogen additions to tundra soil microbes, and the influence of plants on nutrients in the soil solution for my fourth year honours thesis."

Thesis title: Soil nutrient cycling and plant-soil interactions following carbon and nitrogen amendments to arctic soil.

Current status: Alison is National Director (Operations) of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). Having completed her Queen's Biology undergraduate, she went on to train as a lawyer and received a J.D. (Juris Doctor) from the University of Ottawa and an M.A. in International Affairs from Carleton.  Her thesis investigated the Arctic Council and its ability to act as a forum for political dialogue for the Arctic Council member states.


Lab Assistants and Volunteers

Faith Hines

Faith -photo

Faith was one of our summer work experience program (SWEP) lab and field assistants in 2023, and helped Kira Henders with her research, as well as maintaining the Bracken Tract experiment, and assisting Paul with various tasks including forest chronosequence soil sampling. Faith also volunteered in the lab over the 2023/24 school year. 

Emilie Hart

Emilie hart photo

Emilie was one of our summer work experience program (SWEP) lab and field assistants in 2023, and helped Dominic Wood with his research in the Daring Lake experiments, and also helped everyone else out with various tasks.  Emilie also volunteered in the lab over the 2023/24 school year.

Mallory Sirimanne

Mallory Sirimanne

Mallory was a third year undergraduate Summer Work Experience Program research assistant with us from May 2021-August 2021. 

Kieran Macfarlane

Kieran MacFarlene 

Kieran is a third year undergraduate Summer Work Experience Program research assistant with us from May 2021-August 2021. 

Kayleigh Casmey



Kayleigh was a SWEP undergraduate research assistant with our lab for the summer of 2020, and helped Meghan with her field work at Stoke's Field near the Queen's University Biology Station.

Current status: Kayleigh completed her M.Sc. with Dr. Bendena (Queen's Biology), and started a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at McGill University in the Fall of 2022.

Luca Bonifacio-Proietto

Portrait of Luca Boifacio-Proietto

Luca Bonifacio-Proietto was a SWEP undergraduate research assistant in our lab for the summer of 2018, and helped Qian with her field work at Daring Lake, as well as various colleagues with field work at the Queen's University Biology Station.

Shannon Petrie

Portrait of Shannon Petrie

Shannon Petrie was a SWEP student assistant who helped us in the summer of 2017, and worked mainly with Qian Gu at Daring Lake.

Current status: Shannon will be entering the M.Sc. program of Environmental Science in Conservation and Biodiversity in Fall 2019.

Rachael Nagelberg


Rachael Nagelberg was a SWEP student assistant helping us in the summer of 2016, and continued to assist as part of the SEP program until Spring 2017.

Kristen Siegal

Portrait of Kristen Siegal

Kristen Siegal was a SWEP student assistant in the summer and continued to help us in the Fall of 2015 and winter of 2016.

Tova Pinsky

Portrait of Tova Pinsky

Tova Pinsky was a SWEP student assistant helping Casper in the summer of 2015.

Cristina Goncalves 

Portrait of Cristina Goncalves

Cristina Goncalves was a volunteer lab assistant helping Nishka in the spring and summer of 2015.


Tomo Nishizawa

Portrait of Tomo Nishizawa

Tomo Nishizawa was a summer work experience program (SWEP) student helping us with field and lab work over the summer of 2011. She went on to complete her teaching degree at Queen's, and began teaching high school biology and general sciences at a school in Venezuela in July of 2012. She returned to Canada in 2015 and will start an M.A. in Educational Studies, with a focus on science education philosophy at University of Victoria in Fall 2015.

Lillian Mak

Portrait of Lillian Mak

Lillian Mak was a work study employee research assistant in our lab for the summer of 2009. She went on to do an honours thesis project with Adam Chippindale.

Amy Angelo


Portrait of Amy Angelo

Amy Angelo was a work study employee research assistant in our lab for the summer of 2009. She went on to do an honours thesis project with Linda Campbell. Amy began a certificate course in Food Security at Ryerson in Fall 2012.

Dragana Rakic

Portrait of Dragana Rakic

Dragana Rakic was a lab SWEP summer assistant for summer 2008. She also completed a lab/field SWEP position in the summer of 2007...She just loved our epifluorescence microscope. She did an undergraduate thesis with Prof. V. Walker in 2008, and then completed an M.Sc. in Biology at McGill in 2012.

Current status: Dragana entered the graduate Law school program at the University of Toronto in September 2013.

Caitlin Chang 

Portrait of Caitlin Chang

Caitlin Chang was a lab SWEP summer assistant for summer 2008, and continued to volunteer with us in Fall 2008. She is currently in medical school.

Catherine Gieysztor and Alex Howard

Catharines Gieystor and Alex Howard
Catherine Gieysztor and Alex Howard were SWEP assistants over the summer of 2007.

Catherine and Alex built some great deer fence exclosures with the help of Floyd Connor (pictured on the left) for Lonnie Aarssen and I.

Brian Reid

Portrait of Brian Reid

Brian Reid held a summer Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) position in our lab in 2004 and 2005. Brian used aerial photographic records and extensive field surveying to identify chronosequences from abandoned agricultural land to regenerating deciduous forest in S.E. Ontario. This project was the starting point for us to investigate the biogeochemical controls on carbon cycling and the potential for soil carbon sequestration in this region. He also assisted us with field work at the Daring Lake tundra site including a major survey of plant species cover. He has developed a great passion for soil sorting.

Current status: Brian has completed the Queen's Outdoor Education program and is now working as a high school science teacher in Arnprior, Ontario. He assisted us with field work at Daring Lake in 2006, and developed a long-term monitoring project to investigate shrub growth and advance over the tundra landscape.

Tim Philpott


Portrait of Tim Philpott

Tim Philpott was a SWEP student in the summer 2006.

Tim just loved to core.

Current status: Tim finished working on a soil biogeochemistry project with Neal Scott (Queen's Geography), and went on to graduate school in the Department of Forestry at UBC. He is currently a Research Soil Scientist for British Columbia's provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations.


Lab Technicians

Yvette Chirinian

Portrait of Yvette Chirinian

Yvette Chirinian was our part-time lab technician from November 2011 to August 2017. She is currently working as a Queen's University research assistant in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Kingston General Hospital.

Linda Cameron

Portrait of Linda Cameron

Linda Cameron was our lab technician from January 2007 to November 2011, when she moved to Vancouver for family reasons. She is currently working as a technical research assistant in Dr. Plettner's chemistry lab at Simon Fraser University.

Alison Fidler

Portrait of Alison Fidler

Alison Fidler was our lab assistant from 2004 - 2006.

Other Lab Assistants and Volunteers

  • Vicky Bui and Farrah Sherrard assisted with field work at Stoke's field and Pangman Tract in spring and summer of 2022.
  • Sarah Gordon helped us out with field work at Stoke's field and Pangman Tract in spring and summer of 2020.
  • Winston Chang helped Mike Hann with his data collection at Bracken Tract in summer of 2019.
  • Olena Kuntyj also helped Qian out with lab work in Winter of 2019.
  • Olena Kuntyj and Emily Elliott were helping Qian with lab work and sample preparation in the Fall of 2018.
  • Meredith Wilson was a volunteer assisting us in the late-Fall of 2015 and Winter of 2016.
  • Olivia RoDee was a summer SWEP assistant helping Casper with lab work in the summer of 2014, and continued to assist us in the Fall of 2014 and Winter of 2015.
  • Jin-Zhi (Gigi) Pao and Alyssa Filippi helped us with lab work in the Fall of 2014 and Winter of 2015.
  • Shelby Clarke and Tali Farine helped us with lab work in the spring and summer of 2014.
  • Julie Hovey was a summer SWEP assistant helping Alex with field work in the summer of 2013.
  • Catherine Li, Alistair Usher, and Yoon-Mi Bae helped us with lab work in the summer of 2013.
  • Jennifer MacMillanNicole Edwards, Evan Zaltz, Shikha Tandon, Serena WongLiz Favot, Adrian Usher and Catherine Li helped us with lab work in the Fall of 2012/Winter 2013.
  • Jillian Lemmen was a SWEP assistant who helped Casper with his work at Daring Lake in the summer of 2012.
  • Kevin Choi, Marlie Smith, Kerry Mendelsohn, Evan Zaltz, Mark Szenteczki, and Hongyi Geng assisted us at various time from Fall 2011 through to the summer of 2012.
  • Denise Punzal helped us in the Fall-Winter 2010-11 as part of the work study program.
  • Yamini Boddu assisted us through Fall 2010 and winter 2011 with Haiyan's molecular research as part of a student work experience project. Yamini is now a student nurse.
  • Yamini Boddu and Serena Liu were work-study assistants who regularly came in and helped us out with lab tasks in the winter of 2010.
  • Yamini Boddu and Gloria Lau were SWEP lab assistants to Haiyan in the summer of 2010.
  • Emma Bothwell, Katie FinertyChelsea Geen, Vanessa HallRachael HornsbySarah Jones, and Tomo Nishizawa were assistants to Tara at various points in the winter/summer of 2010. Vanessa and Katie (pictured in the convocation photo in the People page) began the M.Sc. program in Biotechnology at UFT in the Fall of 2012.
  • Sarah Farrow was a field assistant to Tara in Daring Lake, N.W.T. in August of 2009.
  • Leah Wolser and Max Luke were summer 2009 volunteers who regularly came and helped out with lab tasks.
  • Illa Kirupamoorthy, Lillian Mak and Erin Murphy were all work study employee research assistants in our lab from Fall 2008-Winter 2009.
  • Emma HillChristy BarbeauKaren DanteAmy Angelo and Sarah Farrow were all volunteers who regularly came to help out with lab tasks in Fall and Winter 2008-2009.
  • Tamara Hansen and Tyanna Steinwand were undergraduate and high school northern students from Kugluktuk and Yellowknife respectively who helped us out in our arctic research at Daring Lake in late summer 2008.
  • Ashleigh Reeve was a volunteer who worked with us in investigating factors controlling the distribution and expansion of the invasive plant Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) at Lemoine Point conservation area and other local areas in 2008 and 2009.
  • Anna Li helped Sonia in the lab with data management and soil sample processing. She was supported by the Queen's Work Study Program in 2005.