Current Personnel

To see profiles of LESA Lab Alumni – Please click here.

Graduate Students

Madan Bhandari (MES)

Home country: Nepal

About me: I completed my Undergraduate degree in Forestry Science from Tribhuvan University, Nepal in 2019. After which I worked for some organizations and projects related to sustainable forest management and forest research. At present, I am enrolled in a Master of Environmental Science at MUN and a part of LESA Lab. I love spending time in nature and in a peaceful environment. I am more worried about environmental degradation and more focused on landscape level management. I think the best way to conserve nature is to utilize it in a sustainable manner. Working for conservation of nature and wildlife with minimum disturbance are always my priority. I am looking forward to contributing some effort from my side towards conservation and management of natural resources. 

Robin McKim (MES)

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario

Previous education: BSc in Biology (Spec in Ecolgy, Evoltion, and Behaviour) from the University of Ottawa

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a fascination with the natural world and how everything connects and interacts. This led me to my undergrad in biology as I wanted to know how everything worked down to the smallest component! However, through investigating my honours thesis on the role of heterochromatin in budding yeast, I realized my interest in research went beyond the scope of cells. After re-evaluating what I was most passionate about, I rediscovered my love for the environment and its conservation, leading me to join the LESA Lab and pursue a masters of environmental science in St John’s.

I hope to continue pursuing knowledge within the field of conservation and connecting with others who have a love for science and the environment. While enjoying my time in St. John’s you can find me hiking, playing pool, trying the various local restaurants or curled up reading a good book.

Jeremy Hussey (MSc)

Bio: I recently completed my undergrad at Carleton University in biology where I developed a keen interest in understanding how ecosystems operate at a larger scale. As I have a strong ancestral connection to the island, I was instantly drawn to furthering my education by pursuing an MSc in biology at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. I am currently working in conjunction with Parks Canada to understand the effects that moose and other disturbances have on lichen biodiversity. In my spare time I’m usually up on the hills hunting or fishing with my dog, or just generally exploring! I am extremely new to the world of lichen’s, but I am very excited to learn as much as I can with the LESA lab!

Katrina Cruikshanks (MSc)

Hometown: Brookside Nova Scotia 

Bio: I completed my undergrad at Saint Mary’s University, where I was fortunately introduced to lichens! My world expanded as I spent a couple of months venturing outdoors and constantly finding new things I failed to notice in the past. I then got the chance to study lichens growing in old tree crowns across Nova Scotia, which inspired me to continue my education in Newfoundland with an MSc. I hope to keep looking at this understudied habitat while investigating questions relating to forest management from a lichen-minded perspective. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, music, and trying new things. During my time in St. John’s, I look forward to improving my lichen knowledge while learning all sorts of new things with the LESA lab!

Jillian McGroarty (MSc)

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Previous Education: BSc in Zoology from University of Guelph

About Me: While completing an honours thesis investigating arthropod diet behaviours, I quickly learned to appreciate all parts of our ecosystems, especially those that are hardest to see. Without ever having visited beautiful Newfoundland, I moved to St. John’s to join the LESA lab and study lichen as model systems for larger landscapes. When I’m not studying this life form, I hope to see puffins, whales, caribou and other native animals. Much of the rest of my time will be spent trying new recipes, adding to my nature collection, taking film photos, and being by the ocean!

James Michael McDowell (PhD in Environmental Science, primary supervisor is Dr. Gavan Watson)

Hometown: New Glasgow, Nova Scotia

Previous education: BSc (St. Francis Xavier), Grad Dip Ed (Edith Cowan), MSc (Oxford)

About me: In May 2011, just days after graduating with my BSc, I travelled to South Africa where I participated in a volunteer tourism program. This changed my life, as I was then offered the opportunity to help run the program in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa off-and-on for two years. My travels then brought me to Western Australia, where I completed a degree in secondary education (science, mathematics). Since January 2015, I have been teaching full-time, including four and a half years in Broome, a town in the remote Kimberley region of Australia, and now in northern Nova Scotia. Overlapping my time in WA and my return to NS, I completed my MSc (Learning and Teaching) with the University of Oxford, focusing on environmental sustainability education. Having now relocated back to NS with my young family, I am excited to pursue my PhD part-time with MUN’s Department of Environmental Science, building ties across Atlantic Canada. Applying my varied background and perspective, I like to use an interdisciplinary approach when investigating questions related to conservation and climate change. In my personal life, I enjoy sports, singing and playing guitar, experiencing cultures and places, and have recently become a firefighter in New Glasgow.

Hayley Paquette (PhD)

Hometown: Honeywood, Ontario

About Me: I recently completed an MSc. in Biology at Carleton University in Ottawa where my research took me to Forillon National Park on the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. I spent almost two months combing the park for lichens, collecting voucher specimens and documenting their habitat to establish a baseline species list for the park. I think simple questions can have the most interesting answers, especially when it comes to lichens, and I am thrilled to be joining the LESA lab to continue researching lichen ecology and biogeography in Canada. Outside of academia, I have worked in a factory, bakery, bar, NGO, and iron mine, to name a few. I bike, paddle, ski and anything else that takes me outside; and I love talking about trips (past and future).

Hayley Paquette

Undergraduate Students

None currently

Post-docs and Visiting Researchers

None currently

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