Kerr lab members

 
 

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 President of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution. I am an alumnus of the Global Young Academy and have had research successes that are important to me, including Young Researcher of the Year, Early Researcher Award from Ontario, and most recently the Excellence in Media Relations prize for Research. I am very active in the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering, a project of the Royal Society of Canada.

 

Jeremy Kerr, Professor

Juan Zuloaga, PhD candidate

Dr. Bronwyn Rayfield, Visiting Researcher

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.”
- HHGTTG

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 (http://www.monteregieconnection.com/). 


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

The Kerr lab alumni have gone on to great things!


PDFs:

Dr. Shawn Leroux - Professor, Memorial U

Dr. Maxim Larrivée - Director of Research, Montreal Insectarium

Dr. Paul Galpern - Professor, U Calgary

Dr. Manisha Kulkarni - Professor, uOttawa

Dr. Alana Taylor-Pindar - Researcher, UoGuelph


PhD:

Dr. Adam Algar - Professor, Nottingham

Dr. Rachelle Desrochers - Data Analytics, CIHR

Dr. Laura Coristine - Liber Ero Fellow (PDF)


MSc:

Emily Acheson - spatial epidemiology PhD, UBC

Cassandra Robillard - Museum of Nature

Rosana Soares - Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

Heather Kharouba - Professor, uOttawa


We have been lucky in having extraordinary research visitors also, like:


Professor Diane Debinski, Iowa State University

Dr. Bronwyn Rayfield, McGill University

Dr. Barbara Frei, Postdoctoral Fellow

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

I started a MSc in Biology, specializing in Environmental Sustainability, in September of 2016 but I’ve been working in Jeremy’s lab since summer 2015 during my undergrad. My master’s thesis is focusing on the effects of climate change and land-use change on North American bumblebees, specifically on species richness, community composition and trait distributions. While my current research focuses on pollinators, I’m interested in a broad range of topics. Previously projects I’ve worked on include looking at the value of opportunistic citizen science programs for generating global change biology data, and looking at the origins of the evolution of sex, using filamentous fungi as a model. In the future. I hope to work on applying and implementing biodiversity conservation strategies. And to be a rapper.

Peter Soroye, MSc candidate

Bé Leduc, MSc candidate

Before starting my Master’s in the Kerr lab, I had the chance to work with Dr. Anders Knudby from the Department of Geography using drones, aircrafts, and satellite imagery to develop a method of monitoring the distribution of wild leek in Gatineau Park. I discovered that remote sensing has incredible conservation potential, especially at the macro-ecological scale, as it delivers continuous and global observations of the Earth.


I decided to combine my passion for protecting our precious pollinators with remote sensing techniques. My research focuses on demonstrating the contribution of remote sensing in capturing processes underlying patterns of bumblebee species occurrence in North America and Europe. I’m pursuing this project to gain a better understanding of the changes that are occurring at the macro-ecological scale on species distribution. If conclusive, this will be valuable for the long-term monitoring and protection of biodiversity, especially in areas where data can be hard to obtain.

Jessica Saigle, Honours student

I am currently doing my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ottawa. I am specializing in biostatistics, with particular interested in epidemiology. I am currently doing my honour’s project co-supervised by Dr. Jeremy Kerr and Dr. Rachelle Desrochers. I have always been interested in the multidisciplinary aspects of science and am currently working on a project using environmental modeling to help predict malaria outbreaks. I do not come from an ecological background, but projects like this have always interested me. I appreciate the support from the research team as I continue to learn and develop my skillset. Working with the Kerr lab has been a great experience. 

Constanza Maass, Honours student

I am a 4th year undergraduate biology student at the University of Ottawa, conducting my honours thesis research with Dr. Kerr. I am looking at distribution data for 29 different butterfly species that have been observed throughout Canada.  I am using GIS techniques to visualize both changes in temperature and species' distributions patterns through time. The purpose of my project is to determine changes in Canadian butterfly distributions over the last 100 years, and assessing whether any observed trends are linked to the change in surface temperatures that Canada has experienced.

I am a nature lover: from chasing frogs and insects as a child to educational nature excursions while travelling with family. I’ve always enjoyed learning about animals, both in the form of adaptations as well as how they fit into their ecosystem. Evidently, I ventured down the path of physiology during my undergraduate research at UOttawa, studying the critical thermal maximum of the Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) and how high temperatures impact this species internally. As a graduate student, I am continuing the work I started under the helpful guidance of Dr. Charles Darveau and now also have the ecological insight of Dr. Kerr as my co-supervisor to bridge my research in physiology with ecology. By studying the physiological effects of high temperature using thermolimit respirometry on the different castes within colonies of B. impatiens, I hope to provide insight into how climate change may impact this species. Bees are an important part of our ecosystem and, with their populations in decline, I hope that my research will provide a step in the right direction in understanding the threats faced by these important insects.

Tiffany Bretzlaff, MSc candidate

My fascination for nature, its organisms, and its intricate ecological interactions, led me to obtain my Bachelor’s degree of Biology at the University of Montreal. During this time, I completed two entomology research internships. I worked on the geolocation of Odonata specimens from the Ouellet-Robert entomological collection, and on the molecular analysis of a mitochondrial gene of Phylloxera species of the collection. Afterwards, I completed a plant ecology internship involving fieldwork to analyze the vegetation dynamics of plants indigenous to Québec, at the Station de Biologie des Laurentides.

Currently, I am working on my Master’s of Environmental Sustainability thesis in Jeremy Kerr’s macroecology lab, on bumblebee conservation. Many bumblebee species are unable to range-shift under rapid climate change, requiring urgent attention. For this reason, we are exploring managed relocation as a conservation option using species distribution models. The main objective is to model climatically suitable areas under various climate change scenarios, and identifying potential locations for the managed relocation of bumblebees.

Catherine Sirois-Delisle, MSc candidate