Some of the diverse faces of ACE Lab: Our on-campus members gather for a group photograph on campus at a Fall 2016 lab meeting. Not all are able to attend; several are off-campus on various projects and professional engagements.
Staff & Students
Lingfeng Mao, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Caitlin Willier, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Brian Hinrichsen, Research Assistant
Eleanor Stern, Summer NSERC student
Claudia Castillo-Ayala, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Catherine Denny, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Jian Zhang, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Andrew Braid, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Aaron Bell, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Jennine Pedersen, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Quinn Barber, M.Sc. (Forest Biology)
Tyler Bateman, B.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Nikhil Lobo, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Claudia Lopez, Ph.D. (Wildlife Ecology)
Krista Fink, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Cassidy van Rensen, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
David Roberts, Graduate Research Associate
Kristine Teichman, M.Sc. (Ecology)
Carl Morrison, M.Sc. (Ecology)
Sarah Rovang, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Ruth Greuel, Research Assistant
Aaron Shafer, Post-Doctoral Fellow
James Glasier, M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Kim Ives, M.Sc. (Wildlife Ecology)
Sean Coogan, M.Sc. (Wildlife Ecology)
Quiting Chen, B.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Kelsey Bernard, B.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Faculty & Staff
Scott Nielsen
Associate Professor & Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair (2008-)

Scott is the associate professor of conservation biology in the Department of Renewable Resources. He is also one of the two new Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chairs at the University of Alberta; he and Dr. Stan Boutin are both directing research projects focused on key biodiversity challenges related to the energy sector. When he's not blissfully engrossed in his research projects, Scott enjoys canoeing, experimenting with perennial agriculture, woodlot management and prairie restoration on his northwest Wisconsin farm, and most of all spending time with his family.
Tobias Tan
Research Technologist (2013-)
Focus Project(s)
Developing low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle systems for conservation and monitoring applications
The Range and Natural History of the Ronald Lake Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) Herd
Blue Ridge Lumber Lodgepole Pine Genetics Tree Plot UAV Survey Trails

Tobias is the lab's staff research technologist and UAV operator. His diverse backgrounds range from environmental biology, robotics and emergency response to programming, graphical design, GIS and computers, making him somewhat of a technical and creative swiss-army knife for research and development. He loves wildlife, crafting, and travelling.
Diana Stralberg
Research Associate (2016-)
Focus Project(s)
Identifying locations and drivers of multi-species climatic macro-refugia for North American trees and songbirds

Diana's research focuses on broad-scale conservation planning in the context of a changing climate, with an emphasis on boreal forest systems. She is currently working with the AdaptWest project to develop methods for predicting common macro-scale climate refugia for North American songbird and tree species in the face of future warming. Diana completed her PhD at the University of Alberta in collaboration with the Boreal Avian Modelling project, and previously worked as a Landscape Ecologist at Point Blue in California.
Ashley Hillman
Research Assistant (2017-)
Focus Project(s)
Estimating ground lichen biomass using UAVs in support of caribou habitat monitoring
Blue Ridge Lumber Lodgepole Pine Genetics Tree Plot UAV Survey Trails

Ashley is the ACE lab's coordinator and research assistant. She has a broad background in field research, and has spent many seasons in the boreal trudging through peatlands and swatting away insects. She spends most summers conducting plant surveys and measuring forest characteristics, but is also dabbling in UAV research. Ashley is involved in several research projects, including abiotic factors of seismic line recovery and UAV surveys of lichen biomass. When she's not in the field, Ashley enjoys birding, photography, and climbing mountains.
Catherine Denny
Research Assistant (2017-)
Focus Project(s)
Spatial heterogeneity of buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis) in relation to forest canopy patterns and its importance for grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) resource selection
Estimating grizzly bear carrying capacity using models of available kilocalories of plant and ungulate food resources

Catherine Denny completed her M.Sc. in ACE Lab on Grizzly bear fractal ecology in 2016, and has since stayed on at the lab to assist Scott with further research on grizzly bear ecology as well as publish the results of her thesis project. She enjoys spending time outdoors in the mountains and forest, doing yoga, dancing, gardening, and drinking chai tea.
Sean Coogan
Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-)

Sean, one of ACE Lab's first graduate students, returns from completing his doctorate on nutritional ecology in Australia to conduct farther research into grizzly bear nutritional ecology. He is working on the Grizzly-PAW research project, a joint research collaboration between the U of A, UBC and the Foothills Research Institute investigating the ecology and health of the grizzly bear population in west central Alberta. In his spare time, he enjoys climbing, guitar, hiking, travelling, resting, and numerous other activities.

Current Students
Courtney Hughes
Ph.D. candidate (2011-)
Thesis Project
Understanding social acceptability of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) conservation in Alberta: Implications for sustainable conservation of a threatened species

Courtney is interested in applying sociological and qualitative inquiry to grizzly bear conservation. Research findings will be provided as recommendations to the Ministry of ESRD, whom she works for. In her spare time, Courtney loves to travel, volunteer and stay fit!
Jessica Stolar
Ph.D. candidate (2011-)
Thesis Project
Climate change effects on rare plant and butterflies of Alberta

Jessica's research is on conservation planning in the presence of climate change. Specifically, she is using environmental niche modeling to describe current species distributions for 200+ rare vascular plants and butterflies in Alberta and projecting changes in their distribution (potential habitat) with climate change. This will be used to identify gaps in the current conservation reserve design in Alberta and to recommend important sites in Alberta for future conservation. The output of this work will be posted on the Alberta Species Conservation Atlas page.
Clayton Lamb
Ph.D. candidate (2014-)
Thesis Project
Population Regulation and Habitat Selection of Grizzly bears

Clayton's research is on population regulation and habitat selection of grizzly bears. In particular, he is interested in examining how spatial and temporal factors affect regional patterns in population density, including patterns in huckleberry, and how these factors interact to regulate grizzly bear populations. When not collecting grizzly bear hair, he spends his time in the backcountry hunting, fishing and backpacking.
Co-supervised by Dr. Stan Boutin
Caroline Franklin
Ph.D. candidate (2014-)
Thesis Project
Plant and mammal responses to variable green-tree retention harvesting in the boreal mixedwood forest

Caroline is studying the effects of variable green-tree retention harvesting on furbearer distribution and understory plant communities at EMEND. She is comparing activity of lynx, coyotes, wolves, fisher, marten, squirrels, and hares on 15-17 year-old cut blocks in the boreal forest of northwestern Alberta. In addition to furbearer distribution, her research includes investigations of plant functional traits that contribute to the resilience, resistance, or disappearance of understory plant species in varying levels of green-tree retention.
Co-supervised with Dr. Ellen Macdonald
Jacqueline Dennett
Ph.D. candidate (2014-)
Thesis Project
Detection and translocation of rare plant species in boreal forests

Jacqueline is interested in rare plant species associated with fens in boreal Alberta. Her research is on both survey methodology for improving rare plant detectability during environmental assessments and the effectiveness of using translocations as a mitigation tool for developments.  Her work will assist with developing standardized guidelines for these practices. Jacqueline likes to joke about self-torture in choosing to study fen species but genuinely finds these environments to be some of the most beautiful in Alberta.
Federico Riva
Ph.D. candidate (2015-)
Thesis Project
Effects of forest fragmentation from situ oil sands on butterflies

Federico is studying how linear disturbances associated with in situ oil sands developments in northern Alberta affect butterfly communities, movement rates and populations of rare species such as the cranberry blue butterfly. He is broadly interested in ecology and conservation, as well as ethology and evolution. He is interested in using butterflies as a model system to assess environmental conditions and ecological processes (e.g. mimicry, cryptic species, parasitism, etc.).  Besides his scientific interests, Federico loves to play basketball, hike, travel and generally to explore new places. He also loves Italian cuisine and blues music.   
Co-supervised with John Acorn
Zachary MacDonald
Ph.D. candidate (2015-)
Thesis Project
Island butterfly biodiversity & biogeography

Zachary is studying what island traits (size, isolation, habitat heterogeneity, etc.) may be contributing to patterns of biodiversity (butterfly, plant and bird taxa) observed on islands occurring on Lake of the Woods, ON. The main focus of his research is on butterfly ecology—specifically on how butterflies perceive and utilize their island habitats. When dealing in matters of conservation, investigating how the taxa we wish to preserve perceive their environments is paramount. Though studying biodiversity on these naturally occurring islands, Zachary hopes to shed light on how habitat fragmentation may be affecting levels of biodiversity found on anthropogenic habitat islands, which are created through various human practices and developments. Apart from catching butterflies, Zachary enjoys both playing and coaching tennis, as well as travelling, mountain biking, backpacking, and fishing. 

Co-supervised by John Acorn
Angelo Filicetti
Ph.D. candidate (2016-)
Thesis Project
Forest recovery and successional trajectories on seismic lines

Angelo is studying the recovery/regeneration of seismic lines created by oil sands exploration and extraction, the largest contributor of forest fragmentation in northeastern Alberta. Seismic lines contribute to changes in biodiversity and in particular, to declines in woodland caribou. However, natural rates of recovery on seismic lines are largely unknown. Understanding where natural recovery is occurring or is arrested, as well as how fire affects these processes, is therefore a priority. Lastly, Angelo is examining the effectiveness of active restoration treatments and where they will be most beneficial.
Christopher Souliere
Ph.D. candidate (2017-)
Thesis Project
Assessing landscape carrying capacity in grizzly bears to forest harvests and wildfire through modeling and simulation

Christopher Souliere is a PhD student in the Applied Conservation Ecology (ACE) Lab at the University of Alberta. He obtained his Masters in Biology at Carleton University, which focused on simulating the detection patterns of birds flying past marine radars. His PhD research focuses on modeling and simulating grizzly bear food resource supply, distribution and behavior in the Alberta Foothills. In particular, he is examining the effects of fire and forestry clearcuts on bear food supply, as well as exploring optimization analyses that consider bottom-up factors within forest harvest planning tools. He is also interested in investigating methods that estimate population size; and developing agent-based models to simulate grizzly bear population dynamics and behavior in changing landscapes, with the aim of answering questions that remain pertinent to management objectives. Apart from research, he enjoys climbing, skiing, golf and flying RC aircraft. Prior to graduate school, he worked as a research assistant at the National Wildlife Research Centre (NWRC) in Ottawa.
Lee Hecker
Ph.D. candidate (2017-)

Lee is a PhD student who is investigating the ecology of the Ronald Lake herd of wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) in northeastern Alberta. This small herd roams a home range that expands from the oils sands north to the south eastern tip of Wood Bison National Park, putting them at the front lines of conversation biology. Specially, Lee is exploring the herd's response to anthropogenic and natural (i.e., wild fires) disturbances, the selection of specific calving grounds, and the how wood bison transform their landscape. In his spare time, Lee enjoys backpacking, diving, skiing/snowboarding, playing basketball and soccer, photography, and biking. When he is adventuring, Lee is happy.
Charlie McLellan
M.Sc. student (2012-)
Thesis Project
Distribution of grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) and their food resources within fire disturbed and forest thinned areas in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks

Charlie is interested in enhancing wildlife habitat with prescribed fire and other forest management applications. In his spare time, he can be found mountaineering, surfing, ski touring, mountain biking and traveling.
Matt Robinson
M.Sc. student (2014-)
Thesis Project
Effects of variable retention timber harvesting on amphibian populations in Northwest Alberta

Matt is interested in how human-caused landscape changes influence wildlife populations and habitats, and the mechanisms that allow different species to persist in altered landscapes. He is studying the effects of variable retention timber harvesting on amphibian populations in the boreal forest of Northwest Alberta. When not chasing frogs, Matt enjoys skiing, hiking, aimless wandering, and idle time in Value Village.
Zoltan Domahidi
M.Sc. student (2014-)
Thesis Project
Distribution, habitat use and breeding ecology of the Boreal owl and Northern Saw-whet owl in Alberta

I am interested in research studies on bird populations related to the impacts of global change and human activities. I am motivated to better understand how forestry practices like emulating natural disturbance influence bird populations in order to contribute to future conservation and natural resource management. My research focuses on populations of the Boreal owl (Aegolius funereus) and the Northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus) in the managed boreal landscape at EMEND. I am examining what forest characteristics these owls prefer and how this relates to current and future landscape change. Although I can never get away from birds, I enjoy playing sports, gardening, watching movies and spending time with my family.

Co-supervison with Dr. John Spence
Amy Macleod
M.Sc. student (2015-)
Thesis Project
Sympatric relationships between grizzly & black bear in Glacier National Park, Montana

Amy is interested in ecology and conservation of Rocky Mountain bears, her masters is focused on using DNA and stable isotope analysis to investigate the diet of bears in Glacier Park, Montana. In her spare time, she can be found hiking with her dog, cross country skiing, and traveling.
Thea Carpenter
M.Sc. student (2015-)
Thesis Project
Songbird responses to in situ energy extraction in lowland boreal forests

Over the past few years Thea has had the opportunity to take part in projects that involve traipsing under mature pine, blundering through willow thickets, tromping over old spruce downfall, and squelching in peatlands to monitor boreal songbird populations.  She is keen to gain a better understanding of how we can apply ecological principles to further the conservation and management of these captivating habitats.  In particular, she is interested in mechanisms driving songbird responses to habitat modification by anthropogenic disturbances.

Co-supervised by Dr. Erin Bayne
Michelle Knaggs
M.Sc. student (2015-)
Thesis Project
Effects of forest fire severity on boreal bird communities in the Northwest Territories in the absence of salvage logging

Michelle is interested in boreal songbirds and their response to natural disturbances. She is studying how forest fire severity alters boreal bird communities in the Northwest Territories in the absence of salvage logging. Michelle’s passions are rock climbing and cats.
Co-supervised with Dr. Erin Bayne
Rob Belanger
M.Sc. student (2015-)
Thesis Project
Where do the wood bison roam? Habitat selection of the Ronald Lake herd

Rob is interested in studying wood bison movement patterns within their home ranges. Specifically, he is interested in bison response to insect harassment and how that may affect their habitat selection. The understanding of wood bison habitat selection is informative for the management and conservation of wood bison in Canada. Rob best enjoys spending his time exploring the great outdoors afoot in hiking boots, riding bikes, strapped to skis, or paddling a canoe. He looks forward to spending summers in the field with a herd of free-roaming wood bison in northeastern Alberta.
Caroline Martin
M.Sc. student (2016-)
Thesis Project
Breeding songbird responses to roads and powerlines in the grasslands of Southeastern Alberta

Caroline is interested in the effects of powerlines on breeding grassland songbirds in southeastern Alberta. When not in the mountains, she can be found birdwatching from her apartment window, cycling, or reading.

Co-supervised by Dr. Edward Bork
Emily Cicon
M.Sc. student (2017-)
Thesis Project
Assessing the conservation value of grizzly bears to other taxa (surrogacy & umbrella effects)

Emily is studying the surrogacy effects of grizzly bears on songbirds on both localized and large scales, including using autonomous recording units (ARUs) to record bird presence at sites of known grizzly bear use. She is a licenced songbird bander and enjoys educating the public about bird conservation and other environmental aspects.
Ryan LaPointe
Masters of Forestry student (2017-)

Ryan is interested in forest ecology (post-disturbance succession) and its implications for conservation and reclamation. He is part of the TRANSFOR-M program, a transatlantic partnership with the University of Freiburg designed to explore central European concepts of sustainable forestry and environmental sciences. When he isn’t too busy with school he can be found exploring the great outdoors by bike, foot, skis, or kayak.
Stephanie Jean
M.Sc. student (2017-)

Stephanie is studying trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) response to above ground disturbances on reclamation areas in Northern Alberta. She is also looking at trembling aspen and black spruce (Picea mariana) regeneration after the Fort McMurray fire. Part of this research includes examination of black spruce seedling microsite preferences. Apart from research she enjoys exploring the outdoors with her dog, bird watching, and wildlife photography.


Co-supervised by Brad Pinno, Natural Resources Canada

Collaborators & Co-supervisors
John Acorn
Faculty Service Officer
Areas of Expertise: Entomology & Environmental Communication
Lu Carbyn
Adjunct Professor
President, Nature Alberta
Areas of Expertise: Wolf & Bison Ecology
Mark Edwards
Adjunct Professor
Curator of Mammalogy, Royal Alberta Museum
Areas of Expertise: Population & behavioural ecology of mammals; wildlife conservation & management
Lingfeng Mao
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Brian Hinrichsen
Research Assistant
Eleanor Stern
Summer NSERC student
Claudia Castillo-Ayala
M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Catherine Denny
M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Jian Zhang
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Andrew Braid
M.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Quinn Barber
M.Sc. (Forest Biology)
Tyler Bateman
B.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
David Roberts
Graduate Research Associate
Carl Morrison
M.Sc. (Ecology)
Ruth Greuel
Research Assistant
Aaron Shafer
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Sean Coogan
M.Sc. (Wildlife Ecology)
Quiting Chen
B.Sc. (Conservation Biology)
Kelsey Bernard
B.Sc. (Conservation Biology)