Alumni

Isla Francis

Isla is a fourth-year student taking a dual Honours degree in Environmental Science and Environmental Design, with a focus in ecology and conservation. She joined the WildCo Lab as an undergraduate research assistant in May 2020. Isla is interested in landscape ecology, particularly the integration of large-scale natural systems with increasingly human-dominated environments. She is currently assisting recent MSc graduate Joanna van Bommel in identifying human/mammalian carnivore overlap in the Greater Victoria Area. Isla also works on a large-scale restoration and environmental stewardship project on an ecologically degraded B.C gulf island ecosystem. Broadly, Isla’s research interests are: biogeography in the context of climate change, herbivory on native plant communities, and restoration ecology.

Debra Sinarta

Debra is a fourth-year student in Global Resource Systems, concentrating in Conservation Biology. She is interested in understanding the impacts of anthropogenic activities on wildlife behaviour, developing non-invasive monitoring methods, and improving the involvement of local communities in conservation efforts. She joined the WildCo lab in January 2021 as a research assistant and is excited to work with the team on ongoing research projects. Currently, she is assisting MSc student Mitchell Fennell with camera trap image processing through the Cathedral Provincial Park camera network. Her past research experience focused on restoration ecology and citizen science in the Asia-Pacific. She is keen to build on her passion for wildlife conservation by learning alongside members of the lab.

Christopher Colton [Masters 2019-2021]

Chris Colton was born and raised in Pickering, Ontario and moved to Vancouver in 2014 to pursue a BSc. in Natural Resource Conservation at UBC. He is now a second year master’s student in the IRSS and WildCo lab, where his research focuses on how forest harvesting affects grizzly bears in their North American range. He finished a literature review summarizing grizzly bear habitat use in response to forestry and is currently working with an established camera trap grid in and around the South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park to evaluate how ongoing and historical forest harvesting is affecting grizzly bear habitat use. He is particularly interested in how satellite based remote sensing can quantify forest harvest and how it can be applied to wildlife management. In his spare time you will usually find him snowboarding, otherwise he’ll be playing or watching basketball!

Jamie Clarke [Research Tech 2021]

Jamie graduated from UBC Biology in spring 2020 and joined WildCo as a research technician in May 2021. Over the summer, she worked on the lab’s BC Parks projects, servicing camera trap networks in Golden Ears, Garibaldi, Joffre, Cathedral and Southern Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Parks. She will be staying on over the winter to process images and analyze data. Her past research experience runs the gamut – she has studied/help study necrosis in rodent jaw bones, bacterial diseases in honeybees, a three-woodpecker-species hybrid zone, the movement patterns of Western toadlets, and Western screech-owl genomics. Jamie also worked with the Beaty Biodiversity Museum as a science communicator on the Researchers Revealed project (https://explore.beatymuseum.ubc.ca/researchers-revealed/).

Caroline Seip [Masters 2018-2021]

Caroline joined the lab as an MSc student in January 2018. Her research interests include using non-invasive methods to understand the distribution, ecology, and interactions of terrestrial mammals to inform conservation decisions. She is currently employed as a caribou recovery biologist for the Government of Alberta, from which her Masters project stems. Caroline’s project uses camera traps to monitor the effects of caribou management activities on wildlife in west-central Alberta. Prior to her employment with the Government of Alberta, Caroline graduated with a BSc Hons. in Wildlife and Fisheries from the University of Northern British Columbia where she used camera traps to study habitat use of marten in a harvested landscape.

ResearchGate | Twitter

Taylor Justason [Undergrad/Research Tech 2018-2021]

Taylor is currently a WildCo research assistant, assisting Robin Naidoo’s work on the impacts of recreation on grizzly bears and other large mammals in the South Chilcotin Mountains, after graduating from UBC (and WildCo!) with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. He originally joined the lab in Fall 2018 as an undergrad to help design, deploy, and maintain camera grids in Golden Ears and Cathedral Provincial as well as further the establishment of the WildCAM network. He subsequently worked with WildCo research scientist Jacqui Sunderland-Groves in Indonesia in Fall 2019. There, he helped set up a pilot camera trap study evaluating the success of a reintroduced orangutan population. His research interests broadly include large mammal ecology and conservation, particularly the impacts of recreation in protected areas on their large mammal communities and the potential of species reintroductions to restore landscape-level processes.

Alys Granados [Post-doc 2020-2021]

Alys Granados is a postdoc in the WildCo Lab and is using data from a BC-wide camera trap network, WildCAM, to study how mammal species and communities respond to changes in land use and disturbance. Alys earned her PhD from the Department of Zoology at UBC and joined the WildCo Lab in 2020. Prior to starting her postdoc, Alys studied the impacts of logging and hunting on mammals in Malaysian Borneo and managed an Orangutan research project in Indonesian Borneo. She is looking forward to applying her knowledge from tropical forests to informing wildlife management plans for mammals in Western Canada.

ResearchGate | Google Scholar  | Twitter

Alexia Constantinou [Masters 2018-2021]

Alexia joined the lab in September 2017 to work on her undergraduate thesis with Dr. Burton. Her thesis focuses on ungulate abundances in clear cuts and second-growth forests at John Prince Research Forest in Fort St. James, BC. She is also working with Dr. Suzanne Simard and Dr. Burton on a project that focuses on moose abundance in different harvest retentions across BC’s interior. Alexia spent a summer working for Metsahallitus in northern Finland as a forestry intern, exploring different ecologically sensitive areas (where she also ran into moose). She is excited to learn more about wildlife camera trapping and to expand her knowledge of how wildlife and silviculture are linked. Alexia will be starting her MSc with WildCo in September 2018.

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An Hoang [Undergrad 2021]

An is a third-year Natural Resources Conservation – Global Perspectives student who joined WildCo Lab as an undergraduate research assistant in January 2021. She is excited to work with Dr. Cat Sun in analyzing vegetation phenology in Cathedral, Golden Ears, Joffre Lake, and Garibaldi Provincial Parks as well as Malcolm Knapp Research Forest using R. An’s interests lie within understanding human impacts on areas that humans and wildlife share, as well as ways to mitigate these conflicts. In particular, her past research projects have centered around community conservation projects with an emphasis on just benefits-sharing schemes. She is also eager to hone her R data analysis skills and learn new skills from everyone at WildCo.

Gerlissa Chan [Undergrad 2020]

Gerlissa is a third-year Urban Forestry student who joined the WIldCo lab in May 2020. Her interests lie with understanding human-wildlife coexistence, familiarising with conducting GIS research, and the intersections of them both. She is excited to be learning alongside MSc students Michael Procko as well as Mitchell Fennell with assembling environmental GIS data and processing camera trap pictures through species identification. These research projects are within the Golden Ears Provincial Park and the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest. She is always eager to be outdoors and hopes to get the opportunity to help out with fieldwork this season.

Jess Low [Undergrad 2020]

Jess is a fourth-year Science Co-op student doing an Integrated Sciences B.Sc., which focuses on Terrestrial Ecosystems and Sustainability by integrating Environmental Sciences, Forestry and Conservation courses. Her interests lie in improving wildlife and human coexistence through a better understanding of the impact human developments have on an ecosystem and the wildlife that inhabits it. She hopes one day to possibly study the change in large animal distributions in the Amazon due to increasing human infrastructure and movement throughout the rainforest. She joined the lab in June 2020 with the hopes to aid in supporting different students projects, such as Mitchell Fennell’s Cathedral Provincial Park camera network, and to learn more about ecological research utilizing the noninvasive method of camera trapping.

Francis Aurich Rodriguez [Masters 2017-2020]

Francis’ research interests focus on the ecology and conservation of large mammals, particularly Andean bears in northern Peru. She has been involved in the study of this species since 2014, working with the Spectacled Bear Conservation Society-Peru. Andean bears require large, intact, and interconnected habitats, however, in recent years due to anthropogenic disturbances, human and bear conflicts have risen in remote and rural communities. In the lab, Francis sought to answer research questions that help mitigate human and bear conflict and collected reliable data to aid in our understanding of the ecological needs of Andean bears, such as temporal and spatial habitat use and bear-cattle coexistence. These data are vital to guide wildlife management and conservation.

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Tom Howey [Undergrad 2020]

Tom joined the lab in January 2020. He analyzed time-lapse photos from camera traps in R. For this project, he looked at the timing of plant life cycle events along seismic lines in Northern Alberta, and compared them to the timing of wildlife phenological events across sites with varying levels of disturbance. Previously, he assisted with a project comparing the survival of Douglas-fir seedlings across climate gradients, as well as under increased nitrogen and warming treatments.

Aisha Uduman [Masters 2017-2019]

Broadly, my research interests include using science to inform ecosystem conservation, resource management and to identify and promote practical methods to foster greater human-wildlife coexistence in increasingly shared landscapes. My MSc research looks at the expanding dairy industry in Sri Lanka, and explores its effects on a) forest cover and habitat degradation, b) Sri Lankan leopard prey dynamics and resource availability and c) finding potential methods of sustainable cattle husbandry which act to reduce instances of leopard-livestock conflict. The research outcomes can help shed light on the methods, techniques and considerations to employ when facing the inevitable dilemma of how to reduce carnivore-livestock conflicts within shared landscapes. Economic development and poverty alleviation are essential, but they must allow for coexistence with species (e.g. leopard) that compete with humans for habitat and potential prey (e.g. cattle).

ResearchGate | Twitter

Joanna van Bommel [Masters 2017-2019]

Joanna is a MSc student who joined the WildCo lab in September 2017. She graduated with a BSc Hons. in Environmental Biology from the University of Saskatchewan, studying the behavioural ecology of feral horse bands on Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Prior to that, Joanna spent a summer as an intern at the South African Shark Conservancy researching endemic shyshark feeding behaviour and conversion efficiency. Joanna is now looking to study areas of human/mammalian carnivore overlap in the Greater Victoria Area (southern Vancouver Island). Her project will examine species distribution and relative abundance to gain an understanding of where conflict may occur, and devise solutions for the coexistence of livestock and predators.

ResearchGate | Twitter

Joanna Burgar [Post-doc 2017-2019]

Dr. Joanna Burgar joined the lab as a postdoctoral researcher in January 2017. Joanna specializes in wildlife and restoration ecology; her main interest area is wildlife interactions across human influenced landscapes, particularly the use of applied ecology and adaptive management to conserve biodiversity. Her research examines the interconnectedness of species interactions and how shifts in species abundance and community composition vary across landscapes. Joanna received a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from Murdoch University, Australia, and M.Sc. in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from Oxford University, UK. Joanna recently spent two years working as a Wildlife Biologist for the Government of Alberta, Lower Athabasca Region. Her current research estimates the density of unmarked mammal species using advanced spatial capture-recapture models.

Erin Tattersall [Masters 2017-2019]

My research interests focus on mammal community ecology and responses to anthropogenic disturbances. My current research project uses camera traps to monitor large boreal mammals in a seismic line network in northeastern Alberta. Energy extraction in this region has a significant impact on mammal population dynamics, altering species distributions and land use. This is of particular concern for threatened woodland caribou herds. My project examines how caribou predators interact within a seismic line network, as well as how seismic line restoration efforts affect mammal community interactions. My past research experience includes completing an Honor’s thesis at McMaster University, studying wound healing in the wing membranes of captive big brown bats.

 

Dacyn Holinda [Undergraduate 2017-2018]

I am a fourth-year Honours Ecology student who joined the lab in May 2017. My primary research interests lie in the field of conservational ecology, specifically in the exploration of the anthropogenic impacts on mammalian ecosystems. My current thesis project involves studying the impact that bait and habitat can have on influencing the detectability of camera traps. Baiting camera traps is a common technique used by researchers in the hopes of increasing detection of focal species. The impacts of baited vs non-baited camera traps on detectability is not well known. A better understanding of how bait, along with habitat changes across camera sites, influences detection rates will help future research methodology and the protection of conservational species of interest.

Robin Glover [Undergraduate 2018-2019]

Robin is currently in her 2nd year of her undergrad at UBC. She is majoring in biology and has an interest in studying wildlife and environmental conservation. Over the 2018 summer, Robin studied coyote behaviour in the St. Clair lab at the University of Alberta. She is excited to be continuing this project under Dr. Burton as a Biol 448 research course. Beginning in September 2018, she will be using a coyote reporting database to learn more about coyote behaviour as well as to develop an improved survey tool to extract information from future reports.

Meghna Bandyopadhyay [Visiting PhD student 2018]

I joined the WildCo lab as visiting student in June, 2018. I pursued the Bachelor degree in Chemistry and M.Sc. in Environmental Science from Calcutta University.  Currently I am working as a PhD scholar at the Forest Research Institute with Wildlife Institute of India. My study focuses on the community dynamics of small carnivores along the elevation gradient. It’s interesting to study the response of these elusive species to rapidly changing climatic behaviour coupled with increasing human disturbance in a harsh and complex landscape. My study site is the Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Having interest in large carnivores, my Master’s dissertation was based on leopard density estimation in a semi-arid landscape.