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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Coordinators & Assistants
Matthew Coghill (2015 – Current)
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.
Keenan Baker (2020 – Current)
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.
Scott McLachlan (2021 – Current)
I am currently in my fourth year of a Bachelor of Natural Resource Science program here at TRU and have been lucky enough to be apart of the lab since 2021. My main interests fall within grassland ecology and reclamation although I truly enjoy the diversity of different projects that I assist with at the Fraser Lab. Currently I’m taking part in the TRAITDIVNET project, an international project being led by the University Tartu that is looking to reduce sampling and literature inconsistencies of both above and below ground species traits, promoting better application of trait-based ecology on a large scale. I really enjoy assisting the master students and Post docs on current projects in the lab and truly appreciate all the knowledge and connections I gain along the way. On my free time, I work on my many Hondas and get out skiing/ biking a as much as possible!