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Post-Doctoral Fellows

Ghassen Chaieb (2023 – Current)

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Fraser Lab, Thompson Rivers University, Canada. I earned my PhD from the University of Bordeaux in France, where I studied plant-plant interactions in North African drylands. My research interests revolve around understanding the drivers that cause shifts and changes in plant diversity at both regional and local scales. To conduct my research, I utilize a wide variety of tools such as fieldwork, experiments, statistical analysis, and laboratory work. Currently, at the Fraser Lab, I am engaged in various projects, including silvopasture, plant invasion, and mine reclamation.

Email: gchaieb@tru.ca

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: jsingh@tru.ca

Master of Environmental Science Students

Zhaohui (Sunny) Han (2024 – Current)

I have had a broad interest in environmental science since graduating from McGill University with both a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (Environment) and a Master of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM).

I like to travel around the world. During my studies, I participated in a field semester and travelled to Barbados to explore improving community design. I also participated in the McGill exchange program at the University of Queensland (UQ) to explore soil science in an Australian context.

I also enjoy volunteering in community activities. I went to Bandung, Indonesia, to teach English to local kids and experience their lives. I volunteered in a McGill community garden to recognize different types of herbs and share knowledge of their “hidden” uses.

I am co-supervised by Dr. Panagiotis (Peter) Tsigaris and Dr. Lauchlan Fraser. My research will involve sending out a survey to analyze sets of choices exploring Canadian people’s willingness to pay for mining reclamation. This will involve applying the multinomial logit model approach to rank people’s preferences for the hypothetical choices we provided.

The Fraser Lab also provides plenty of volunteer opportunities, allowing me to explore other research fields and potentially borrow research ideas from my colleagues. The members of the Fraser Lab have many connections in both industrial and academic fields; I am excited to be a part of this team to participate in a collaborative environment. 

Email: hanz23@mytru.ca

Tanya Brouwers (2023 – Current)

Measuring Carbon Cycling Changes in Soils Converted from Forests for Cattle Grazing to Cropping Systems for Cattle Grazing.

As climate change drives agriculture further north into areas previously unsuitable for farming, it becomes critical to understand the environmental impacts, like carbon emissions resulting from land conversion. The goal of my thesis is to understand how different agricultural management practices influence a soil’s capacity for carbon sequestration. To achieve this, I will use several soil health indicators to analyze carbon changes in soils converted from forests used for cattle grazing to cropped systems for cattle grazing.  The test site for this project is one of the BC Living Labs and is a collaboration between TRU, Devick Ranch, BC Forage Council and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to “help farmers mitigate climate change while improving the productivity and ecological benefits of farmland for future generations”.

Email: brouwerstanya@gmail.com

John Kang (2023 – Current)

Hello, my name is John and I am in the Fraser Lab! My research involves studying soil carbon sequestration in an interior silvopasture. My site is a Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) plantation that was strip-thinned into a silvopasture at three widths (10m, 15m, 20m) resulting in paired strips of pasture and forest. The cleared pastures were seeded with agronomic forage species and cattle graze the whole site throughout the growing season. I will be looking into how strip widths and grazing affect the soil carbon and microbial community. Besides my research, I have a background in botany and ecological restoration, and I love to try new things! Although I do prefer spending time enjoying nature, playing sports, and learning practical skills. I am a curious person who loves to chat about a variety of academic topics which helps me have a holistic understanding of natural resource management.

Email: johnk1105@gmail.com

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: samantha.gidora@gmail.com

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: gillian.spencer98@gmail.com

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: shesley@me.com

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: bahroudi.behnaz@yahoo.com

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: catherinexiao13@gmail.com

Coordinators & Assistants

Matthew Coghill (2015 – Current)

Lab Manager & Research Associate, MSc

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: mcoghill@tru.ca

Keenan Baker (2020 – Current)

Lab Manager & Research Associate, MSc Candidate

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: kbaker@tru.ca

Cheryllee McKenny (2021 – Current)

Greenhouse Associate, BNRS

I am a recent graduate from the Bachelor of Natural Resource Science program at TRU. I did my undergraduate research on the use of leonardite as an amendment for ecosystem reclamation. While working at the lab, I enjoy seeing the variety of ways that research can benefit the changing world around us while assisting master students with their projects. I love working with my hands to progress research in grassland and mine sites to increase knowledge in reclamation of disturbed sites. Away from the lab I am an avid vegetable gardener growing fresh vegetables for my family. I also have been actively involved in Girl Guides of Canada for the last 15 years with my daughters.

Email: cmckenny@tru.ca

Lorena Munoz (2022 – Current)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am a fourth-year biology student in the Bachelor of Sciences at TRU, where I have had the wonderful opportunity of being a Fraser Lab member since 2022. While I am mostly focused on ornithology and evolution, my time at the Lab has opened my eyes to the intricate world of plants, soils, and an entirely different spectrum of environmental studies! It has been an incredible learning experience, and I am absolutely honored to be apart of such an amazing team! As a research assistant, I get to help graduate students and postdocs in their research during all stages of their projects from setting up sites and collecting data in the field, to processing samples in the lab. In my free time I enjoy going hiking, birdwatching, reading, and hanging out with my 2 cats!

Email: lorena.m.comparan@outlook.com

Ashley Sutherland (2022 – Current)

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I’m a third-year undergraduate student in the Bachelor of Natural Resource Sciences at TRU. I’ve been a research assistant at Fraser Lab since May 2022. I love studying plants and soils, and being an RA gives me the opportunity to do so in an excellent balance of field work and lab work. Assisting in multiple research projects has inspired me to begin my own undergraduate research on the effect of canopy throughfall on soil properties and the soil microbial community. Outside of school and work, my interests include nature, hiking, cross country skiing, reading, music, the genre of horror and the macabre, as well as spending time with my two cats.

Email: ashleymsutherland@hotmail.com