LESA Lab Alumni


Dr. R. Troy McMullin

photo by Brennan Caverhill

photo by Brennan Caverhill

Dr. McMullin is collaborating with me on my lichen field work. He came to Newfoundland for the month of October to learn about the wonders of field work here, and lucked out with weather. He and I continued to collaborate on data analysis and write-up while he was at his home base (Biodiversity Institute of Ontario). Read about some of Troy’s lichen work at the University of Guelph Arboretum here.

Troy recently took up a position at the Canadian Museum of Nature as Research Scientist in Lichenology

Graduate Students

Miguel Mejias (MSc)

Hometown: Hamilton Parish, Bermuda.

tropicbirdPrevious Education: Bachelors of Science with a Specialization in Conservation (Trent University).

About Me: I’m a keen and passionate conservationist whose primary focus is on the biology and ecology of birds. When I’m not being swallowed by academia, or socializing, you can often find me out in the field birdwatching. I’m also a pretty solid taxidermist and have prepared numerous bird skins. My interests in avifauna originated from my mentor and grandfather figure, Bermudian ornithologist Dr. David B Wingate. My dream is to ultimately return to my home country of Bermuda and continue avian research as a Conservation Officer. My skill set include building linear, logistic and generalized linear models, as well as utilizing Akaike information criterion for model selection within R Studio. I also have the basics of ArcMap under my belt.

Thesis Project: My thesis is investigating the breeding and non-breeding ecology of cavity nesting seabirds. More specifically, the first half of my thesis is addressing nest-site selection, nest success and vulnerability to predation from introduced predators in a cavity nesting seabird. The second component of my thesis will be mapping the non-breeding movements of a cavity nesting seabird with the use of tiny light-based geolocators. Breeding White-tailed Tropicbirds (Phaethon lepturus catesbyi) from Bermuda are serving as my model species. I’m hoping my results will assist nest cavity programs for seabirds and fill in knowledge gaps of the natural history of seabirds wintering at sea.

Roman Lukyanenko, PhD, Faculty of Business Administration

Roman completed his PhD (passed with distinction) in Information Systems in the Faculty of Business Administration. His primary supervisor was Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, but we have been working together (and will continue collaborating) on research related to citizen science and eScience, using nlnature.com as a platform for experimentation. He already has a large number of publications, but the one we are most proud of is in Information Systems Research.

Roman went directly from Memorial to an Assistant Professor position (tenure-track) at Florida International University in Miami, which he held for two years, before relocating back to Canada to take up a tenure-track position at the University of Saskatchewan.

Julie Andersen, PhD

Julie investigated factors influencing movement dynamics, habitat use and diving behaviour in hooded seals in the North Atlantic. She was co-supervised by Dr. Garry Stenson of DFO. She has published chapters of her thesis in the Journal of Northwest Fisheries Science, and ICES Journal of Marine Science and two papers in PLOS One. Julie now works for the Department of Environment on water management in Norway.

Matt McWilliams, MSc(Env)

mattMatt came from from Cincinnati, OH, USA. He has worked with AmeriCorps over the last several years building trails in the National Forests and Parks of California, Arizona, and Colorado. He graduated from Miami University of Oxford in 2009 (Bachelors) completing a Thesis Project titled “Fishing & Folklore: A Means to Sustainable Cohabitation.”

Matt did some great work with the fishermen of Fogo before withdrawing in June 2016.

Troy Davis, MSc

Hometown: Most recently Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Currently residing and working in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee

Estimated Completion date: I’m halfway though my expected lifespan, kids. If I ain’tcompleted by now, I never will be.

About myself: I’m that guy not working with marine wildlife or seabirds.

Distinctive Skills: Stringing together tenuous seasonal employment gigs for the last 13 years, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service; comfortable in the presence of bears, bison, rutting elk, snakes, horses, cougars and other neotropical felids; intimidated by mules, academia generally and stats particularly; no skills involving R

Education: Bachelor’s in Biology, University of Texas at Austin (they kicked me out into the world with nary an ‘Hons’ to my name)

What he does when he is not doing science: Excitedly examining tracks and scat; exploring (including the cumulative hours spent lost in St. John’s); trying to adapt my rural Rocky Mountain sensibilities to the metropolis and climate of St. John’s; trying find places to hike; trying to find time to write; trying to re-learn gull identification . . . trying . . . trying . . .

Achievements of Note: I jammed my entire life into a 1994 Toyota pickup and drove 6000 km to get here from Montana. In February. I managed to return back to the USA in the same truck, but in more temperate conditions (spring). {supervisory note: Troy then made 3 more trips of similar length (in the same truck) within the US, before settling down in Utah, where he is working for Utah State Fish and Game}.

Andrew Roberts, MES


Hometown: Clarenville, NL.Env. Sc. Project: Andrew’s project was a proof-of-concept report that evaluated whether we could use remote sensing techniques and software on in-situ observations. He took images of lichen growth in a tree stand on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador. This analysis will be used to determine how micro-climate and stand attributes might influence lichen diversity. Andrew is currently working with SEM Consulting.

About me: My interests include sports (hockey/football/soccer), music, computers and all the typical “Bayman” activities: fishing, boating, hunting, hiking, etc… In the past I have proven to be fairly good with technology and I have experience using mulitbeam SoNAR, LiDAR, positioning systems and data loggers. Ask me about ArcGIS, I’m a big fan.

Emma LeClerc (MA, Geography)

Emma’s first home was in the Geography department, where her primary supervisor, Dr. Arn Keeling resides. Read about Emma’s work by clicking here.

Emma’s first chapter has been published in Extractive Industries and Society. Emma is currently working as an instructor for the Intro to GIS course in the Geography Department.

Nyssa Van Vierssen Trip, MSc

Nyssa investigated the impacts of ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) on the Maritime Barrens Ecoregion of Newfoundland; specifically within the Avalon Wilderness Reserve and surrounding area.

Nyssa recently completed a short-term contract with DFO helping map and plan Ecological and Biologically Sensitive Areas off the coast of Labrador and is back in Ontario. She went on to do some contract work with the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement – Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Working Group. Work from her thesis has been published in Natural Areas Journal in 2015. Nyssa has gone on to start the PhD program in Enviornmental Science at York University.

Shad Mahlum, MSc

Shad continued work on the dendritic connectivity index (DCI). He validated the current DCI and passability measures using data from Terra Nova National Park and Ontario, which has been published in Transactions in American Fisheries Research and Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science. This will allow managers to choose an appropriate method to fit individual management goals. Shad is currently doing a PhD at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Shad’s website.


Megan Lafferty (MES)

Megan investigated whether different types of forest management (protected areas, hands-off, and active management) resulted in different landscape patterns and biodiversity responses. She collaborated with Dr. Darren Sleep of NCASI. Currently Megan is working as Conservation and Stewardship Coordinator for the Nature Conservancy of Canada in the Newfoundland & Labrador chapter office.

Karla Letto, MSc

Karla investigated the impacts linear features, including trails, powerlines and highways, have on Newfoundland’s small mammal abundance and movement patterns. Karla has worked part time as the Executive Director of “Let’s Talk Science” – Newfoundland and Labrador chapter and completed a second short-term contract at DFO. She’s since moved north to Iqaluit for some  Arctic adventure where she is working as a Wildlife Management Biologist.

 Tony McCue, MSc

Tony McCue, M.Sc. student Tony developed spatial models to investigate coyote space use on the island of Newfoundland, which was published in a special issue on Spatial Ecology of the International Journal of Geographic Information Science. He then completed a contract at DFO working on a project investigating Ecologically and Biologically Sensitive Areas off the coast of Labrador before re-locating to the west, where he could re-connect with topography. He is currently residing in Kamloops, BC where he got a job as an Environmental Scientist with Stantec.

 Randy Skinner, MSc(Env)

Randy developed a model of habitat suitability for Boreal Felt Lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum), a critically endangered species worldwide.The island of Newfoundland holds 99.9% of the world population of EP, and understanding and researching the spatial destribution,a nd predicting suitable habitat for this species may help landscape management and resource management relating to Ep. The ultimate goal in developing the predictive habitat model is to help research in the predictive occurrence of rare species that are hyper-sensitive to global anthropogenic changes. His work was published (and is avaiable as an Open Access article) in Endangered Species Research.

Randy is now working as a Lab Instructor and Research Assistant at Memorial University’s Corner Brook campus and doing contract work with the Canadian Forest Service.

Shaun Garland, MSc (no photo)

Shaun Garland tested propogation methods for 4 native species for use in ecological restoration. He then carried out field experiments in a real-world restoration site at the Granite Canada, in south-central Newfoundland. He was co-supervised by Dr. Wilf Nicholls at the MUN Botanical Gardens (but now at the University of Georgia Botanical Garden). He works as a Researcher with the Environmental Consulting firm Amec.

Stacey Camus, MSc

stacey_gradStacey carried out research on one of the island of Newfoundland’s non-native species, the moose. She investigated the browsing impacts that current varying moose densities across the island and its influence on forest regeneration and was co-supervised by Dr. Luise Hermanutz.

Stacey is currently a Wildlife Biologist with Stantec.

 Christina Bourne, MSc

Journal Cover002Christina investigated the effects of culverts on fish passability in 2 Atlantic region national parks. She used this information to measure overall stream network connectivity as a measure of aquatic ecological integrity. Christina has been employed as a Fisheries Research Scientist at DFO since near the end of her second year of graduate school. Her first chapter has been published in Aquatic Ecology, as the cover story.

Honours Students

Rebecca Bowering, Honours Student

boweringHometown: Blaketown, Newfoundland

I am currently working on my undergraduate degree and honours project. I enjoy most areas of ecology but I have a preference for landscape and population ecology. I also have an interest in computer science and enjoy working with programs like GIS and R. I would like to be able to continue to improve my skills in these areas and apply them to ecological problems.

Rachel Winsor, BSc(Hons) – Biology

Rachel completed her Honours research at MUN Botanical Garden. She looked at the biodiversity of lichen species currently growing throughout the garden. The objective of this project was to look at what species of lichens are growing in MUN Botanical Garden and analyze how its diversity changes in different habitats throughout the garden.

Rachel is currently finishing up her B.Sc. (Hons.).


Sheldon Kallio, BSc(Hons) – Biology

The objective of Sheldon’s research was to test the reliability of citizen-based bird observation networks, such as eBird and nlnature. Through comparison of his own sightings of birds within Pippy Park, St. John’s and bird sightings reported by citizen birders, he determined whether citizen reports are accurate and representative of the birds actually present within the park. Sheldon completed an MSc in the GLEL Lab at Carleton University, supervised by Dr. Lenore Fahrig and has gone on to do a PhD at the University of Alberta in Dr. Fangliang He’s Biodiversity and Landscape Modelling Group.

 Patricia Howse, BSc(Hons)-Biology

Patricia investigated the effect of hare browsing on balsam fir and black spruce, and the interactions in stand with and without moose browsing. Patricia presented her Honours work at the APICS conference in Halifax in March 2011 and was awarded 3rd place in the poster competiton. After completing her Honours BSc degree she has worked in a law firm, completed a diploma in Clinical Epidemiology and is currently an MSc student in Clinical Epidemiology here at Memorial.

 Karla Letto, BSc(Hons)-Biology

Karla investigated nest success as a function of nest location for bald eagles in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. Karla carried out her research in collaboration with the provincial Wildlife Division and as an NSERC-USRA. She stuck around to do an MSc student in the lab.

It took awhile, but her Honours work has finally been published in ACE-ECO! Persistence pays off!

 Roman Lukyanenko, B.Tech. (Hons)

Roman worked to help develop my Citizen Science website nlnature.com. He used the site to experiment with methods to motivate participation in eScience. He went on to do a PhD in Information Systems at the Faculty of Business Administration here at Memorial.

Allysia Park, BSc(Hons)- Biology

Allysia’s project was the comparison of density and the ideal-free distribution of foraging bat species among three selected habitats of western Newfoundland. The habitats consisted of an urban influenced site, an agricultural site and a forested site. Her project entailed spending two hour intervals at each of these sites with a bat detector set to pick up bat calls at a frequency specific to their species. The bat calls were then be studied to determine the activity of bats at each location, which were compared to the characteristics of each habitats, as well as the time of the night. To determine the ideal-free distribution, insect traps were set out at each site as well which will also be compared spatially and temporally with bat abundance. She also had some experience identifying bats via live trapping efforts. Overall, the research was extremely interesting and fun.

Allysia’s work was profiled in the Western Star. Click here to read about it. Anyone in the province who finds a dead bat should contact the wildlife division. This press release has information about the larger study. Allysia completed a Master’s degree with Dr. Hugh Broders at St. Mary’s University with her field work in Newfoundland and is now back in the province working as a contractor with the Wildlife Division.

Other Undergrads

Christa Simonson, Honours Student

Christa worked as an NSERC-USRA on a GIS-based project that investigated the effects of human impact in and around Canada’s national parks on species losses at a variety of spatial scales. Christa’s worked was published in Parks Science.


Olga Trela, USRA

trelaOlga was an NSERC-USRA in summer  of 2016 in the LESA lab and Dr. Chapman’s lab. She is helping Rebecca Bowering with her Honours project, and designing a display case for the LESA lab. Before that, she has worked in several different biology labs, including genetics, microbiology, and vertebrate biology. Olga is interested in marine and environmental biology. She is currently working on her B.Sc.

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