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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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

Master of Environmental Science Students

Samantha Gidora (2022 – Current)

Investigation of eDNA air sampling as a tool for bat conservation and management: implications for mine reclamation and closure

Environmental DNA, or eDNA, sampling can determine the presence of organisms by detecting genetic material shed into the environment. This technique has been rapidly adopted as a powerful tool for monitoring aquatic ecosystems. The recent advent of eDNA air sampling for detection of terrestrial wildlife represents a revolutionary approach to evaluating biodiversity. My thesis project will test whether the presence of bats in underground mines can be detected by sampling the air from inside. My project includes a pilot field experiment at the New Afton Mine, and a broader field validation study at several inactive underground mines in BC’s dry interior region. The results of this research will provide insights into the value and limitations of eDNA air sampling as a tool for bat conservation and will inform our knowledge of bat use of mines in BC. With over 1,300 inactive underground mines in BC, effective, safe, and cost-efficient methods to identify and monitor underground mines used by bats are critical for balancing the needs of wildlife with mine closure and reclamation.

Email: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

Scott McLachlan (2021 – Current)

Research Assistant

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!

Email: [email protected]