Laura Weber Ploughe
Laura Weber Ploughe

Laura Weber Ploughe

Post Doctoral Fellow, 2018 - current

I am a plant community and ecosystem ecologist with a general interest in how systems respond to climate change.  Currently, I am a postdoctoral fellow at TRU and am currently working on mine reclamation projects that include soil amendments, such as biosolids.  I am interested in understanding how different soil amendments affect plant community composition, productivity, and invasive species success and how climate change may impact these site.  I received my PhD from Purdue University where my research focused on climate change, specifically on precipitation changes, and the impacts on plant communities and ecosystem processes.  I am involved in several international experiments, including DroughtNet and NutNet.

Website: http://ploughel.wixsite.com/ploughel
Email: ploughel@yahoo.com


Matthew Coghill
Matthew Coghill

Matthew Coghill

Lab Manager and M.Sc. Student, 2016 - current

Project: Assessing the Soil Legacy Effects of Spotted Knapweed.

Spotted knapweed is an invasive and noxious weed that can spread quickly and cause a loss of biodiversity and forage for grazing animals. My research will look at the legacy effects that spotted knapweed leaves behind in soils after being established in an area for a long period of time. Greenhouse studies with an ash soil amendment will take place to assess its use in grassland restoration of knapweed affected areas.

Email: matthewcoghill@live.ca


Sabina Donnely
Sabina Donnely

Sabina Donnely

M.Sc. Student, 2013 - current

Project: Using genetics to restore grasslands.

I am a graduate student at Thompson Rivers University interested in restoration ecology and population biology. Currently I am studying the importance of seed source during restoration of grasslands and the impact of climate change on grassland species with broad spatial distributions. Bunchgrass biogeoclimatic zones are a valuable ecosystem in British Columbia and are difficult to restore after a major disturbance, especially in light of climate change. Restoration attempts may be hindered because seeds used may be sourced from locations with different climates, different soils and different evolutionary histories. I collected seeds of Pseudoroegneria spicata (Bluebunch Wheatgrass), Festuca idahoensis (Idaho Fescue), Hesperostipa comata (Needle and Thread Grass) and Calamagrostis rubescens (Pinegrass) from various geographically distant populations in a north to south range from California to British Columbia. These population groups were tested for (1) their physiological and morphological response to transplantation to a common garden in Kamloops, British Columbia and (2) the relative competitive impacts of selected distant Bluebunch Wheatgrass genotypes on Kamloops populations. The results will ultimately provide important information on selection of the most appropriate genotype for grassland restoration in the BC southern interior and give insight into the potential of intraspecific migration.

Email: sabina.donnelly@gmail.com


Nicholas Peterson
Nicholas Peterson

Nicholas Peterson

M.Sc. Student, 2015 - current

Project: Use of Native Seed of British Columbia’s Interior Grasslands, Seed Storage & Germination Trials Using Smoke Application on First Nations Traditional Foods and Medicines.

Having a First Nations heritage from the Lower Nicola Indian Band, the importance and health of the grasslands of British Columbia is of a paramount concern for me. My research interests include revegetation and restoration of grasslands in British Columbia. I want to ensure higher success rates of native seed used in future restoration and reclamation projects. I also want to help broaden the understanding of cultural restoration by using plants significant to local First Nations people.

Email: nicholas@growinggarlic.ca


Jordann Foster
Jordann Foster

Jordann Foster

M.Sc. Student, 2016 - current

Project: Effects of the invasive plant spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) on grassland arthropod communities: Use of genomic barcoding tools for ecosystem reclamation management.

My research interests include grassland and wetland ecosystem remediation, human environmental impacts, plant community ecology, and animal behaviour. In British Columbia’s interior, human activities such as mining, recreation, and in certain instances heavy livestock grazing are altering grassland ecosystems, which may leave them susceptible to the colonization of invasive species. Invasive species can cause changes to native plant communities, nutrient cycling, and may alter the amount and quality of habitat available for animals at multiple trophic levels. Arthropods are diverse and contribute to energy flow and nutrient cycling and are therefore an important group to study as a way of determining the effects of changes to ecosystem functioning. My current research focuses on Spotted Knapweed, a perennial forb native to Eastern Europe, which is considered one of the most ecologically harmful invasive species in Western North America. I will be looking at the effects of the presence of Spotted Knapweed on grassland arthropod communities. I will also DNA metabarcode all arthropods specimens, a process of identifying organisms through specific genetic markers, which is a methodology that could be implemented to improve mining site restoration efforts in the future. Research that adds to our grassland species catalogue can be applicable to both invasive species conservation efforts and in helping to improve remediation efforts in disturbed grassland sites.

Email: jordann-f@hotmail.com


Janelle Paulson
Janelle Paulson

Janelle Paulson

M.Sc. Student, 2016 - current

Project: Drought Legacies in Temperate Grasslands.

I am a graduate student at Thompson Rivers University investigating long-term drought in Lac du Bois. My research builds on my previous Honours work and utilizes rain-out shelters to simulate drought in the field. I have been researching drought in grasslands for the past 4 years and I am interested in the interactions between drought disturbance and invasive species. My project involves field and greenhouse studies to look at drought legacy effects and how it may influence plant growth. Drought legacies occur when a previous season’s drought influence the current year’s growth positively or negatively. This may occur due to the accumulation of soil resources, changes in the microbial communities or the reduction of resource usage. The field study of this project involves yearly plant surveys starting from 2015 and consistent soil moisture and temperature monitoring. For the greenhouse study, soils that were subjected to a multi-year drought were removed from the field and used to grow plants in. Using a randomized block design, I will investigate these drought legacies to determine a positive or negative effect on plant growth. The species of interest are the invasive, spotted knapweed and the native bunchgrass, rough fescue. These species will allow me to look at drought interactions with invasiveness and are relevant to the area. This research will help provide some insight in the potential outcomes of long-term drought and may further warn about the dangers of climate change and invasive species. Link to honors thesis.

Email: JanellePaulson@outlook.com


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Steven Kega

M.Sc. Student, 2017 - current

Project: Agroforestry: Evaluating the potential for increased forage productivity in mid-rotation forested rangeland sites through an integrated forage, cattle and timber management. 

The major investigation throughout my research is based on evaluating the potential for increasing understory plant yield and quality, enhancing soil carbon storage and soil water availability on native forested range, as well as assessing the impact of the integrated forage- trees model on carbon sequestration for climate change mitigation. My work will assist foresters and ranchers to work together to optimize their operations on a shared land base.

Email: stevenkega@yahoo.fr


Piotr Dzumek
Piotr Dzumek

Piotr Dzumek

M.Sc. Student, 2017 - current

Project: Nitrogen cycling in soil amended post-mine tailings. 

I am an international student from Poland, where I worked in forestry and resource exploration. Since I was young, I have had a great interest in the environment and ecology, and I often find myself outside during my free time. My Masters project involves the observation of nitrogen cycling in degraded post-mine soils. I’ll be running an experiment where various soil amendments will be mixed with tailings in order to form a complex substrate which I will use to compare the growth of various plants. During the course of my experiment, samples of soil will be collected and analyzed to detect the soil microbial communities engaged in the nitrogen cycle. My other hobbies include photography, riding my motorcycle, and travelling.

Email: dzumek.piotr@gmail.com


Rachel Whitehouse
Rachel Whitehouse

Rachel Whitehouse

M.Sc. Student, 2018 - current

Project: Ecologically based Weed Management in Rangelands.

I am a graduate student at Thompson Rivers University interested in finding long term practical solutions to invasive weed problems to help preserve our native ecosystems and benefit the ranching sector. Currently I am studying integrated weed management in spotted knapweed infested rangelands in Merritt BC by using combinations of herbicide, soil amendment and seed mixes. I hope to change the status quo of weed management and shift the focus from killing the weeds to long term ecosystem restoration.

Email: rwhiteho@ualberta.ca


Chantalle Gervan
Chantalle Gervan

Chantalle Gervan

M.Sc. Student, 2018 - current

Project: A Bug’s Life: Invertebrate Response to Mine Reclamation

My study addresses how the age of reclamation and the type of soil amendment used affect invertebrate community composition. Invertebrates are a good environmental indicator because they mediate the relationship between plants and ecosystem processes, are sensitive to the environment, and are high in abundance and species richness. The objective of this study is to further understand the reclamation trajectory as well as evaluate invertebrate community composition compared to un-mined sites. Plant community data and invertebrate samples were obtained in 2017 and 2018. Moving forward, I am going to conduct an experimental study looking at the invertebrate response to drought, using rainout shelters, on reclaimed mine sites.

Email: chantallegervan@hotmail.com


Ashley Grant
Ashley Grant

Ashley Fischer

M.Sc. Student, 2018 - current

Project: Grassland Reclamation Post-mining: Investigating Topsoil Stockpiling and Local Soil Inoculations.

Through my MSc research, I aim to provide new information on the approaches of ecological restoration with an emphasis on aboveground-belowground linkages. Specifically, I am investigating the compositional nature of stockpiled topsoil and the ability to facilitate native grassland reclamation post-mining. Additionally, my work will investigate the approach of applying native microbial communities through local soil inoculations as an amendment to degraded soils.

Email: ashley.grant.94@gmail.com


Kyle Gillich
Kyle Gillich

Kyle Gillich

M.Sc. Student, 2019 - current

Project: Hydrology: observing snow accumulation, melt rates, and soil moisture in strip-harvested forest stands.

The Goudie Agroforestry Pilot Project (GAPP) includes experimental silvopastures within a BC Southern Interior, lodgepole pine forest. Mid-rotation forest stands have been thinned with various widths of strip-selection (10m, 15m, and 20m) and seeded with agronomic forage species. Differences in hydrological function are being compared across various strip-widths and topographical aspects. // Analyses of the hydrological functions associated with these harvesting treatments are pertinent to forest, range, and watershed management. Greater understanding of the water balance at an operational scale will be applied to forage and timber production, as well as flood, wildfire and climate change mitigation.

Email: gillickk16@mytru.ca


Brandon Williams
Brandon Williams

Brandon Williams

M.Sc. Student, 2019 - current

Project: Using Prescribed Burns to Reclaim and Restore Native Grassland Habitat on Disturbed Mine Sites

Wild fire is an inevitable and unstoppable force. The media often times presents fire as disastrous even in circumstances where human livelihood is not being endangered. At an instant and without much notice fire can compromise our way of life and livelihoods. At the same time, and when managed properly, fire can provide a sense of belonging, uplift spirits and provide a feeling of security and warmth. Beyond these feelings, fire has great ecological importance in many ecosystems and our modern suppression tactics are often times putting human livelihood and ecological health in more danger than we think.

I am currently studying the use of prescribed burns as a reclamation tool for the recovery of native grasslands on disturbed mine sites. During my research and studies, I hope to start a positive conversation with the general public, industry partners, and policy professionals around the ecological benefits of prescribed burning and learning to live with fire. An additional aspect of my research is advocating for indigenous fire practice methodology and using traditional knowledge to aid my research and support continued use of this practice.

Email: Brandonwilliams@protonmail.com


Kristi Gordon
Kristi Gordon

Kristi Gordon

M.Sc. Student, 2019 - current

Project: Grazing trials: Quantifying the effects of cattle grazing management systems on native grassland health. 

My research will investigate the impacts of three cattle grazing systems (extensive, management-intensive, and targeted) on native grassland health. I'm particularly interested in monitoring the changes in invasive plant abundance, soil organic carbon, and forage quality. Additionally, I will test the addition of native seed mixtures post-grazing for their ability to increase plant biodiversity and decrease invasive plant abundance.

Email: kristi_gordon@hotmail.com


Alyson Gagnon
Alyson Gagnon

Alyson Gagnon

M.Sc. student in renewable resources at UQAC, currently doing an internship at TRU

Project: Effect of biosolids on plant diversity in restored mine tailings. 

Mining activities come with environmental challenges, including tailings restoration. There is a growing need to develop sustainable management practices for mines in Canada. In my project, I will test different restoration methods to establish the one that promotes vegetation diversity on reclaimed tailings impoundments. My research interests include vegetation biodiversity, ecosystems reclamation and ecology.

Email: alyson.gagnon1@uqac.ca


Colton Stephens
Colton Stephens

Colton Stephens

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2016 - current

At the Fraser Lab I assist master's students with their research, complete lab maintenance tasks, and occasionally have my own research project. In 2017, I completed the BIODESERT survey as a part of the global initiative sent out by Fernando Maestre at Juan Carlos University in Spain. This work will reveal the changes to dryland areas globally under increasing environmental pressures from climate change and grazing. In 2019, I plan to participate in the global Dark Div project to understand the factors involved in dark diversity in various habitats and ecosystems.

Email: sts.colton@gmail.com


Solenn Vogel
Solenn Vogel

Solenn Vogel

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2018 - current

This is my second year as a Research Assistant at the Fraser Lab. In addition to helping the masters students with field and lab work I have my own project which focuses on mine reclamation. I'm using a resistant and adsorbent mineral called zeolite to neutralize the heavy metals present in mine tailings. Then, I am growing two native grassland species in amended and unamended tailings to compare the heavy metals present in plant tissues.

Email: solennvogel@gmail.com


Sarah Bayliff
Sarah Bayliff

Sarah Bayliff

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2019 - current

I have just completed my undergraduate degree at TRU and am excited to be starting a research assistant position at the Fraser Lab. This summer I will assist Master’s students with their research projects. Alongside this work, I also have my own research project. This project examines the effects of targeted grazing of spotted knapweed, as well as how plant characteristics change in response to grazing.

Email: sarah_bayliff@yahoo.ca