CFER Members, past and present


I did my undergrad at U of O in Biology and my honours project with a pioneer of macroecology, David Currie. I did my PhD at York University with an incredible biologist, Laurence Packer, from whom I learned totally different things, including that Mahler isn’t my thing and that butterflies are beautiful and scientifically fascinating. I went on to do a postdoc in Oxford with Bob May and Dick Southwood. I can’t do either of these legendary scientists justice here. I ended up back in Ottawa as a research scientist in remote sensing and then full circle to Biology at University of Ottawa. I try to give back more than I use up.

I am strongly engaged in public science and at the science-policy interface. Activities I’ve helped lead include improving endangered species legislation in Canada and Ontario, boreal conservation, malaria challenges in East Africa and, recently, as a voice opposing the increasingly Orwellian perversion of facts and evidence at the federal level in Canada. I have been working intensively on science advice in the federal government, looking to give evidence a clear voice to inform decision-making.

I hold the University Research Chair in Macroecology and Conservation and am Vice President and President-elect of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution. I am a member of the Global Young Academy and have had research successes that are important to me, including Young Researcher of the Year and the Early Researcher Award from Ontario. I am very active in the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering in the Royal Society of Canada.


Jeremy Kerr, Professor

Kerr research group - 2013-2014

Dr. Alana Taylor-Pindar, Postdoctoral Fellow

Laura Coristine, PhD candidate

Juan Zuloaga, PhD candidate

Rosana Soares, MSc candidate

Emily Acheson, MSc candidate

Cassandra Robillard, MSc candidate

Dr. Barbara Frei, Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Bronwyn Rayfield, Visiting Researcher

I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa working under Dr. Jeremy Kerr. My research program investigates climate change impacts to species distributions using a macroecological approach. Insufficient climate change related geographic shift is expected to become one of the major drivers of biodiversity decline in the coming decades, yet relationships between climate and range response are poorly understood. Currently, I am working on conceptual advances that can be used to mitigate climate change impacts to wildlife through landscape connectivity efforts.

Prior to coming to the University of Ottawa, I obtained my BScH in Biology (2000) at Queen’s University, doing an honours project that examined species specific vocalization patterns among wolves and other canids (Algonquin wolves, timber wolves, coyotes, and hybrids) under the supervision of Dr. John Theberge and Dr. Peter Boag.  This research led to several opportunities that included working on a district level natural heritage strategy for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources as well as collaborating on conservation initiatives through Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and Algonquin to Adirondacks.

When devoting my time to research, I love to drink coffee. When not devoting my time to research, I love to skate ski, paddle, and hike in nearby Gatineau Park with my children. 

I am a passionate field biologist and spatial ecologist interested in conservation planning. I am constantly looking for opportunities to work with any living organism. I have tracked mammals using camera traps and collars in Colombia, bird banding in Canada, and monitored sea turtles in Costa Rica.

I did my undergraduate degree in Biology at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and my honors project tracking the biggest wild cat in South America: the magnificent jaguar. As a result of my field work, I was invited to the ‘Jaguars in the New Millennium Survey’ organized by Wildlife Conservation Society to build a model for conservation planning. I completed my graduate certificate in GIS at Ryerson University and my Master’s degree in Environmental Studies at York University using ecological niche modelling techniques to help ecological restoration in Toronto.

Then, I moved to the macroecology world! I am currently a PhD candidate in Biology at the University of Ottawa where I research biodiversity patterns and mechanisms of diversification across mountain systems in the Americas. I am interested in looking at how environmental barriers in montane environments might affect patterns in species richness, composition similarity, and species traits. If they do, how might climate change affect these historical environmental barriers, evolutionary processes, and biodiversity?  Will it compromise the vital ecological services that mountains provide?

“The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paul Neil Milne Johnstone of Redbridge, in the destruction of the planet Earth. Vogon poetry is mild by comparison.”

I am drawn to ecological research due to my endless curiosity and love for the natural world around me, especially the wildlife within it. I am passionate about conservation and using science, communication, and outreach to find feasible solutions to enable humans and wildlife to co-exist in a healthy and sustainable natural world. I remain an ever-optimistic conservation biologist, which in today’s world may be an endangered species of its own.

I obtained my B.Sc. honours degree from Carleton University in Ottawa in 2004. Next I went to the Dept. of Natural Resource Science at McGill University for both my M.Sc. and Ph.D where I researched the ecology, conservation, and behaviour of two different threatened bird species, the Bobolink and the Red-headed Woodpecker. Through my research and interactions with farmers and landowners, I began to appreciate the complexities and dilemmas faced by conservation biologists in an ever changing, economically driven world.

My postdoctoral research explores and contrasts different approaches to land use planning in agroecosystems, and their ability to conserve biodiversity and provide ecosystem services, in southern Québec and Ontario. I am especially interested in the benefits and drawbacks of the two approaches, and how they may differ with scale. I feel very lucky to be involved with both the Kerr lab at the University of Ottawa and the Bennett lab at McGill University.

Barbara works jointly with us at CFER and with Professor Elena Bennett at McGill University

An east coaster born and raised, I completed my BSc in 2004 at Acadia University in Nova Scotia.  I was lucky enough to land a student work position with the Agriculture Canada at the experimental farm in Kentville, N.S.  Fieldwork in blueberry fields sealed the deal and I was hooked on research, ecology, and more specifically…..bees!

My new fondness for bees led me to graduate school in Toronto with Dr. Laurence Packer.   I did my MSc and PhD work with him in oak savannahs in Southern Ontario.  While my MSc research examined impacts on samples collected based on historical fire events my PhD was the first research to investigate impacts of fire on bee communities experimentally.  I cannot even begin to explain how much I have learned under Laurence’s supervision.  Throughout my academic career, I have been fortunate to be a part of several international studies enabling me to travel and meet some marvellous people.    

As a post-doc in Jeremy lab, I am working on broad-scale global change and conservation priorities of specific pollinators over the past century.  Since joining Jeremy’s team, I have been able to increase my technical skill set and knowledge of remote sensing that I will need to succeed in my future independent research endeavors.  Working in the lab has been a tremendous experience and I feel lucky to be part of a group that facilitates learning and discovery every day. 

I am driven by the urgent need to find science-based solutions to protect species and their habitats. To this end, my research focuses on spatial ecology and biodiversity conservation. My approach to research draws upon my background in statistics, my experiences working on applied and theoretical conservation problems, and my collaborations with other conservation-minded scientists. 

I did my PhD at the University of Toronto with Marie-Josée Fortin who continues to be my most effective mentor and model of how to do collaborative science. During my PhD, I worked on developing methods to characterize habitat connectivity and incorporate connectivity into the design of protected areas. My main post-doctoral work is being done through McGill University with the ever-inspiring Andy Gonzalez who has shown me firsthand how scientific theory (derived from studies in both model and real ecosystems) can inform conservation policy. My post-doc research includes both experimental and applied projects. I am developing experimental microcosms to test the effectiveness of habitat connectivity as a means to allow populations to persist in fragmented landscapes. I am also applying connectivity conservation theory to identify spatial conservation priorities in the ecosystem surrounding Montreal ( 

I am excited to be visiting the Kerr Lab and to tap into their knowledge of and mutual passion for broad-scale biodiversity conservation.   

I have always been an animal lover with a very simple goal from a very young age: “save the animals.”  It was unclear exactly how I would accomplish this goal until I discovered the world of conservation while taking the Ecology class during my undergraduate degree at the University of Ottawa. My newfound passion led me directly to the heart of Brazil, the Amazon. I gained valuable experience working directly with the Amazonian Manatee, a species at the brink of extinction due to human induced threats. This experience led me to another amazing opportunity. I was hired by a PhD student as a research assistant with part of her research that focused on fishermen’s attitudes and behaviours towards pink river dolphins in the Mamirauá sustainable development reserve.

I am now very lucky to be part of Dr. Jeremy Kerr’s research team as a Master’s candidate. I am very interested in investigating how multiple stressors may interact across spatial and temporal scales and may potentially increase extinction risks. My current research focuses on how butterflies will respond to the interacting consequences of climate change with the primary driver of extinction: habitat loss/fragmentation. Predicting extinction risks from the interaction of multiple extinction drivers has implications for our ability to determine effective conservation efforts that will prevent biodiversity loss and prepare for future conservation challenges.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.”

― Baba Dioum

I like parasites!!!


The media usually portrays parasites as sinister creepy crawlies that must all be destroyed.  While that may often be true, I like to look at parasites and their arthropod vectors as powerful and persistent organisms that continue to stump researchers trying to find, track, and control them.


I completed my undergrad at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, and I am now a Master’s student in the Kerr lab.  I currently research the spatiotemporal patterns involved in malaria and sleeping sickness vector distributions in East Africa.  I hope to build my knowledge of disease vector epidemiology and combine this with the expertise of my macroecology peers to make some really unique projects.

“When I was a child, adults would tell me not to make things up, warning me of what would happen if I did. As far as I can tell so far, it seems to involve lots of foreign travel and not having to get up too early in the morning.” - Neil Gaiman

I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Ottawa. During that time I had the opportunity to spend 3 wonderful co-op work terms at the Canadian Museum of Nature's National Herbarium, where I learned to identify bryophyte species for vegetation surveys, conducted environmental monitoring of the property, and drew biological illustrations for a bryophyte flora of Quebec and Labrador. I continued to illustrate for this series after graduation. 

I started my Masters in Fall of 2013. I enjoy tackling questions that involve a cross-disciplinary understanding of problems; the degradation of the planet's resources is fundamentally a human issue, and protection of those resources cannot be effective without some understanding of the human element. My research focuses on the dynamics of land use change in Canada, and how these dynamics might affect the implementation of protected area planning and acquisition over time.

"We don't have to save the world. The world is big enough to look after itself. What we have to be concerned about is whether or not the world we live in will be capable of sustaining us in it."

- Douglas Adams: Parrots, the Universe, and Everything