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Post-Doctoral Fellows

Moro Akin-Fajiye (2019 – Current)

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Fraser Lab, working on understanding how priority effects of early and late successional native species interact with soil amendments and erosion control to shape plant communities after heavy disturbance, such as that which occurs after pipeline construction. I am also studying the implications of seed mix diversity of grasses, forbs and legumes on species diversity, cover and invasion resistance in the presence/absence of soil amendments. I am generally interested in plant invasion ecology and understanding the response of invasive species to changing environments. I received my PhD from Stony Brook University, where my research focused on understanding the response of spotted knapweed to disturbance and competition.

Email: makinfajiye@tru.ca

Jay Singh (2019 – Current)

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Fraser lab at Thompsons Rivers University, Canada. I received my Ph.D. from Montclair State University, USA. As a soil microbial ecologist, my research focuses on understanding microbial community dynamics and soil functions in disturbed soil ecosystems. I use high throughput sequencing and bioinformatics to study the microbial community. I am currently involved in a couple of exciting projects seeking to understand ecosystem functioning in mines and arid grasslands. The first project focuses on studying the impacts of relic DNA on microbial diversity and soil enzymatic activities in reclaimed mines. The other project examines the effect of grazing on the microbial community, plant community, and ecosystem function. My research, in general, attempts to understand whether microbes can be used for bioaugmentation to improve soil functionality. In my free time, I like taking pictures of bugs.

Email: jsingh@tru.ca

Laura Weber Ploughe (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: https://ploughel.wixsite.com/ploughel

Email: ploughel@yahoo.com

Master of Environmental Science Students

Gillian Spencer (2021 – Current)

Reducing wood volume loss of Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) trees in a strip harvesting system

Clearcuts are the most dominantly used method of harvesting in British Columbia, but they have more negative ecological implications compared to retention harvesting. My research focuses on refining a type of retention harvesting, strip harvesting by reducing the loss of tree volume commonly observed by trees growing on the edges. The site used for this study, in Kelowna, B.C. (within Syilx Okanagan People’s territory), has a variety of orientations and widths of harvested strips. As there are more trees growing on the edges of an area that is strip harvested, they are subjected  to more “edge effects.” Those effects can be differences in soil moisture, foliage growth, exposure to sunlight, and transpiration. Using LiDAR and manual measurements we will determine what strip harvesting treatment results in the least loss of wood volume. This research will hopefully increase confidence in and alternative harvesting method to clearcuts that is less harmful to ecosystems.

Email: gillian.spencer98@gmail.com

Adetola Ajayi (2021 – Current)

Invasive Plants: Invasive Plant Species on British Columbia’s Grasslands: A policy valuation for Control

My research will investigate the economics and control of non-native invasive plants on grasslands in British Columbia. I’m particularly interested in the socio-economic impacts and losses, risk analysis and assessment, and the management, monitoring, and communication channels used for selected non-native invasive plants in BC grasslands. In addition, I will examine the public perception about invasive plants, estimate the costs associated with non-native invasive plants, and calculate the “willingness-to-pay” in order to control non-native plants on BC grasslands. This research will improve the understanding of invasive species management’s benefits (i.e., the avoided damage costs) to inform economically efficient invasive species management and policy. 

Email: tioluwanimi38@gmail.com

Shesley Callison-Hanna (2021 – Current)

Planning for the Future Climate: Using Native Plant Species for Mining Reclamation

My name is Shesley (Shes’lē/ Sloode’kwo); I am a member of the Tsesk’ye Clan from the Tahltan Nation and the Hanna family of the Nlaka’pamux Nation. My sites are located at a reclaimed Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) in the Southern Interior of British Columbia within Nlaka’pamux territory. The top of TSF is roughly 1500 m above sea level and is located within the Montane-Spruce BEC zone. Climate change projection models show that the TSF will shift from being in the Montane-Spruce BEC zone to the Interior Douglas-Fir BEC zone, and drought intensity and frequency will increase. Reclamation has included the application of biosolids and seeding of agronomic grasses. Presently the sites are low in diversity and dominated by agronomic grasses. The goal for the TSF is a native grassland plant community. My project will address how native plant species can promote biodiversity to combat drought. I will also be looking at how organic amendments influence native plant recruitment, heavy metal uptake, and soil nutrient availability. My project encompasses a field experiment, a greenhouse experiment, and semi-structured interviews with community members.  

Email: shesley@me.com

Behnaz Bahroudi (2021 – Current)

Influence of Topsoil-Till Cover Depths on Hydraulic Infiltration Rates for Reclaimed Tailings Facilities

I am working on the reclamation of tailing storage facilities (TSF). The primary goal of my research is to ensure the return of a sustainable ecosystem to former degraded land through determining the appropriate depths of cover. One way to reach this goal is through studying the impact of water infiltration rates on the growth of local plant species in the tailings through different cover depths. I am also researching the influence of different types of amendments, topsoil and subsoil ratios on vegetation growth to determine the most effective treatment for reclamation of TSF’s. Through this research, I will evaluate the influence of different amendment types and ratios on metal uptake by examining sequestration of metals in the plant tissue and collecting the leachates to analyze for heavy metals. This research has three components: a field lysimeter trial of water infiltration in mine tailings, a field soil amendment, and a greenhouse trial to address the mentioned objectives. My research will help determine the best suitable treatment to return a sustainable native ecosystem to TSF’s, especially for copper and gold mines. 

Website: https://behnaz-bahroudi.jimdosite.com/

Email: bahroudi.behnaz@yahoo.com

Catherine Xiao (2021 – Current)

Restoration: The use of biosolids (and cover crops) to restore native plant communities in a semi-arid grassland.

My research involves the application of biosolids and seeds of herbaceous species and seedlings of shrubs for reclamation. Biosolid application can provide abundant nutrients for plant growth, thereby encouraging the growth of native species. Careful selection of native successional species can improve the stability and biodiversity of the restored ecosystem. My field experiment will take place during the 2021 and 2022 growing seasons at two sites: one in Kamloops, and one near Princeton. This experiment involves using various ratios of biosolids as a soil amendment within local soil types in order to determine the optimal ratio of biosolid inclusion. The results of this experiment will be used to verify the feasibility of seed- and seedling-based restoration on semi-arid grassland. 

Email: catherinexiao13@gmail.com

Nate Dungey (2020 – Current)

Restoration of a disturbed semi-arid grassland using priority effects and soil amendments to promote native plant communities and prevent invasion by exotic species

My research tests successional theory and priority effects to restore native grassland plants after a major disturbance using different soil amendments. Priority effects entail different sowing orders of native successional plants to determine the best combination which promotes the establishment and growth of native plant communities and prevents invasion of exotic species in grassland restoration. Grasslands provide numerous important ecosystem services, and once disturbed are challenging to restore or reclaim. My study will aim to understand how we can better restore grasslands after a major disturbance, such as pipeline construction.

Email: nate.dungey21@gmail.com

Sarah Bayliff (2019 – Current)

Examining the effects of irrigation, fertilization, and mowing on plant productivity and soil carbon levels of perennial cropping systems

My research examines the use of irrigation, fertilization, and mowing for production of perennial cropping systems. These three commonly used agricultural techniques can be used to alter plant productivity which also affects levels of soil carbon. Increasing soil carbon also increases carbon sequestration, allowing agricultural producers a way to combat their greenhouse gas emissions. My study attempts to better understand how these practices can be used to achieve optimum plant productivity and carbon sequestration, increasing the sustainability of perennial cropping systems.

Email: sarah_bayliff@yahoo.ca

Brandon Williams (2019 – Current)

Using prescribed burns to reclaim and restore native grassland habitat on disturbed mine sites

Mine reclamation and closure plans have historically focused on returning disturbed lands to a vegetative community, often without consideration of the pre-existing natural vegetation, resulting in sites dominated by non-native agronomic species. Once established, agronomic grass communities often dominate, restricting native species, and enter a stable state with little successional advancement. Regulatory standards, local community engagement and mines operating on Indigenous territories have now shifted their closure objectives towards community-engaged closure which places more value on ecosystem function and native biodiversity. Large scale disturbances, notably fire, have historically structured grasslands both naturally and through Indigenous cultural use, and can alter successional trajectory. My research is testing the effects of prescribed burning in a 24-year old mine-reclaimed, agronomic-dominated closed tailings storage facility as a means of shifting an agronomic community to a native grassland. Our objectives were to test the effects of prescribed burning in the field and in a controlled greenhouse experiment to assess: a) plant biodiversity; b) soil nutrients; and c) native plant ecosystem reclamation. Fire severity was modified within the greenhouse trial at three levels (high, moderate, low) and held constant (moderate) in the field. Fire severity adjustments were made via modifying the fuel load and time of burning per treatment. This experiment provides a novel approach in mine reclamation.

Website: www.brandon-j-williams.com

Email: Brandonwilliams@protonmail.com

Kristi Gordon (2019 – Current)

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

Kyle Gillich (2019 – Current)

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

Ashley Fischer (2018 – Current)

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

Chantalle Gervan (2018 – Current)

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

Nicholas Peterson (2015 – Current)

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

Sabina Donnely (2013 – Current)

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

Coordinators & Assistants

Matthew Coghill (2015 – Current)

Research Associate

I have been a part of the Fraser Lab in some capacity since 2015. During my time here, I have had the great fortune of participating in many other students projects as a helper as well as conducting my own Master of Science project where I looked at the soil legacy effects of spotted knapweed. I also collected data for a variety of international projects, including PlantPopNet, HERBDIVNET, and BIODESERT to a small extent. While I enjoy collecting field data, I have a great amount of experience with data analysis and spatial modelling using open source tools. I defended my Master of Science in March, 2021 and I am now back at the Fraser Lab to assist with ongoing projects, as well as to help coordinate the large lab.

Email: matthewcoghill@live.ca

Keenan Baker (2020 – Current)

Research Associate

I am a Research Associate and lab manager at the Fraser Lab, having recently graduated from the Bachelor of Natural Resource Science program at TRU. I am passionate about ecosystem reclamation and completed undergraduate research on the effects of simulated grazing on fire treated mine tailings to help transition agronomic species’ dominated grasslands to a more natural state. I enjoy being part of a variety of projects through hands on work and aiding in problem solving. I aim to help facilitate everyone to complete the best work that they can do while allowing students to take the lead on their research.

Email: keenan.e.baker@gmail.com