People

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Prof. Nicholas E. Mandrak

Nicholas E. Mandrak is a Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) in Toronto, Ontario. He is Director of the Conservation and Biodiversity stream of the professional M.Env.Sci. program at UTSC. Nick is a Research Associate of the Royal Ontario Museum and South Africa Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity. He is the Co-Chair of the Freshwater Fishes Species Specialist Subcommittee of COSEWIC. Nick is an Associate Editor of Biological Invasions and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management. He is President of the Canadian Aquatic Resources Section of the American Fisheries Society. His research interests are the biodiversity, biogeography, and conservation of Canadian freshwater fishes, with emphasis on endangered and invasive fishes. Nick has co-authored over 100 primary publications, over 100 government reports, 40 COSEWIC reports, and three books, including the ROM Field Guide to Ontario Fishes.


Post-Doctoral Fellows:

Dr. Sara Campbell

Dr. Anas Mohamed

 

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Dr. Alex Van Nynatten

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Mandrak lab. I recently completed my PhD with Belinda Chang and Nathan Lovejoy at the University of Toronto, where I functionally characterized the molecular evolution of visual pigments in fishes that have adapted to highly turbid and tannin-stained freshwater environments. My postdoctoral research uses a combination of genomic techniques, bioinformatics analyses, and experimental assays of visual pigment function to investigate visual evolution in North American freshwater fishes. In general, my research interests include sensory systems, molecular evolution, genomics, and phylogenetics, but I am also passionate about data visualization, bicycling, agriculture, and sports.

 

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Dr. Lifei Wang

I am a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences, co-supervised by Dr. Nicholas E. Mandrak and Dr. Dak de Kerckhove from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto.  My research interests include species distribution modeling, time series modeling, aquatic and fisheries ecology, aquatic invasive species ecology, and aquatic heavy metal pollution.  My current project attempts to explore various methods of fish production estimation, determine the range of fish production across Lake Ontario wetlands, examine possible correlates (e.g., Index of Biotic Integrity, Habitat Productivity Index) of fish production, and investigate the efficiency (catchability) of boat electrofishing surveys.

 

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Dr. Piatã Marques

I am an Evolutionary Ecologist who sees wonders beyond the concrete of our cities.  In my research, I use a trait-based approach to understand the mechanisms determining the persistence and adaptation of freshwater biota to urbanization. My research also considers how differences in culture and governance further shape urban freshwater biota and the ecosystem services provided by it. My current research goal is to assess whether urban-mediated changes to food availability lead fish species such as round goby and creek chub, to change their characteristics in the same direction, converging phenotypes to similar adaptive states. I completed my PhD at the Biology Department at the University of Victoria, Canada. Then, I was a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now I am back to Canada for my current position as a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Research in the Anthropocene-CERA in Mandrak lab. Visit my website to learn more about my research: piatamarques.wixsite.com/website.
As a Black scientist, I am committed to help BIPOC students navigating academic racism. If you are a BIPOC student struggling to walk the path of science, the Odu initiative can help you: oduinitiative.wixsite.com/my-site.


PhD Lab Members (UTSC):

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Thaïs Bernos, MSc

After graduating with an M.Sc from Concordia University (Montreal) in 2016, I worked as a research associate in Dr. Fraser’s lab and as a fisheries research intern for non-governmental associations in Sainte-Marie Island (Madagascar). I had the opportunity to contribute to several projects, including evaluating the relationship between population size and effective population size, testing existing guidelines on genetic rescue, or evaluating social-ecological dynamics in reef fisheries. Broadly, my research interests lie in eco-evolutionary dynamics and using genetics as a tool to inform conservation management. Outside of science, I like to run, bike, and drink hoppy beers.

 

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Paul Bzonek, MSc

I am a PhD candidate with Nick Mandrak at UTSC. My current research interests are centred around the behaviours and movement patterns of fish, and how this can impact movement and dispersal across geographic bottlenecks. For my MSc, I evaluated how Common Carp respond to non-physical behavioural barriers such as acoustic and visual stimuli. This work pertains to invasive Asian Carps and their potential dispersal into Great Lakes ecosystems. I completed a BSc at the University of Guelph with a major in Ecology and minor in Zoology.  My non-academic interests include travel, SCUBA diving, reading, and water-skiing. For more about my work visit http://paulbzonek.wordpress.com.

 

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Emily Chenery, MEnvSc

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, co-supervised by Péter Molnár and Nicholas Mandrak. Originally from the UK, I graduated in 2016 from the University of Toronto with a Masters of Environmental Science, specializing in Conservation & Biodiversity. My main interests lie in predicting species’ survival under changing environmental conditions, particularly invasive species, parasites and diseases of wildlife health concern. My Masters research used a novel combination of expert opinion surveys and mechanistic modelling to investigate the transmission potential of aquatic invasive species in the Laurentian Great Lakes. My doctoral research focuses on understanding the ongoing range expansion into Yukon of the winter tick, a parasite of cervids but particularly moose, the pathology of which ranges from mild to severe. Using a combination of fieldwork, modelling and citizen science, I aim to develop new approaches to understanding population dynamics of species with little data but potentially large implications for conservation policy and practice.

 

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Erik Dean, MEnvSc

I am a PhD student investigating invasive fishes’ populations under future environmental conditions. My background is in Ecology and Evolution (HBSc, UofT 2015), and Environmental Science (MEnvSc, UTSC 2017). Now, under the co-supervision of Nick Mandrak and Andrew Drake, my research explores how freshwater habitats may transition to alternative states in step with climate change, and how this will impact populations of freshwater fishes. More specifically, I intend to apply this research towards the development of models that predict how populations of invasive carp species will fare under future climate scenarios, within the Canadian Great Lakes Basin. My challenge is to employ both traditional approaches along with promising techniques from the fields of Machine Learning, and High Performance Computing to provide comprehensive answers to these questions. In my free time, I enjoy a laundry list of hobbies ranging from recording music to home renovation. Feel free to check out my website erikdean.ca if interested!

 

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Justin Hubbard, MSc

I am a PhD student in the Department of Physical and Environmental Science at UTSC, co-supervised by Nick Mandrak and Andrew Drake. I completed my MSc in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology where I studied how climate change will alter the survival probability of potential aquatic invasive species in freshwater systems. I completed my BSc in Environmental and Resource Science at Trent University and my diploma in Environmental Technology at Sir Sandford Fleming College. Broadly, my current research interests are in how climate change will be a driver of freshwater biological invasions at species and biogeographic scales. Beyond research, I prefer to spend my time outside and camping in the backcountry.

 

Kyla Greenham, MSc: I am PhD student in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences. I graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Marine Biology. My research interests centered on the combined impact of environmental pollutants and human cleaning surfactants on the microscopic trophic level. I then completed my Masters degree at the University of Guelph in Aquaculture studying fish health management as a result of stressors in husbandry practices. I am currently the Curator of Conservation & Environment and Acting Curator of Fishes & Marine Invertebrates for the Toronto Zoo. I specialize in the impact of climate change on native wildlife and engaging the public in taking action to mitigate climate change. I also oversee the Zoo’s Sustainability platform to reduce its ecological footprint. I am currently interested in assessing the resiliency of native fish species to invasive species and climate change. I hope to expand the Toronto Zoo’s conservation programs for saving local freshwater fishes with hands on programs to stop the introduction of invasive species and create fish recovery programs to improve the resiliency of fish populations and aquatic habitat against climate change. With what time I have left in my day, I enjoy camping with my husband and son, running the Ontario Bioblitz program and SCUBA diving.

 

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Meagan Kindree, MSc

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, co-supervised by Nick Mandrak and Nick Jones from the OMNRF. I completed my BSc in Marine Biology and Oceanography at Dalhousie University, graduating with certificates in Environmental Impact Assessment and Geographic Information Systems. For my MSc, I evaluated the effects of gear type and sampling effort on the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) in the Huron-Erie Corridor Areas of Concern. My current research interests are to examine the synergistic effects of climate change and invasive species on a native fish abundance using modelling, laboratory, and field experimental approaches. This research will test the prediction that per capita effects of invading species are higher at temperatures that approach a species’ thermal optima, which reflect projected water temperatures and flows in the Great Lakes under climate change. Outside the office, I spend my time fishing, hiking, scuba diving, and reading.

 
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Noelle Stratton, M.Env.

I am a PhD student in the Department of Physical and Environmental Science, co-supervised by Nick Mandrak and Nicole Klenk. I completed my undergraduate Biology degree at Algoma University, conducting aquatic invasive species research. I then completed my Master of Environmental Sciences at University of Guelph. I am currently interested in exploring the linkages that exist between policy makers, public perception and scientific researchers, particularly as they relate to the implementation of early detection and rapid response (EDRR) for aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes. My hope is to discover some of the factors contributing to the favouring of some species as targets for action at the expense of others, and hopefully produce recommendations regarding how the barriers to effective EDRR might be overcome. Outside of academia, my interests include gaming (video and table-top), traveling, and reading.


PhD Lab Members (McGill University):

Suncica Avlijas, MSc: PhD Candidate co-supervised with Tony Ricciardi.

Dustin Raab, MSc: PhD Candidate co-supervised with Tony Ricciardi.

PhD Lab Members (Laurentian University):

Tharusha Wijewardena, MEnvSci: PhD Candidate co-supervised with Jacqueline Litzgus.


MSc Lab Members:

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Markelle Morphet, HBSc.

I am a MSc candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I completed my HBSc in Life Science (Origins of Disease) at McMaster University where I concentrated on behavioural ecology and ecotoxicology for my Honours thesis. My interdisciplinary background has guided my research interests toward applied ecology and conservation. Under the supervision of Dr. Mandrak, I plan on comparing conventional and novel fish community monitoring methods with the Nawash biology team in Georgian Bay wetlands. I hope to assess, and possibly recommend changes to current standardized fish sampling methods. In my down time, I enjoy playing board games, doing yoga, and exercising outdoors.

 

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Dominique Rumball, HBSc.

I am a Master’s Student in the Mandrak Lab. I completed my undergraduate at Queen’s University, earning a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Biology alongside a Business Certificate. My passion to make positive change for the environment and my desire to be a part of a lab with an inclusive culture brought me to the University of Toronto. As a part of the Ecology and Evolutionary Department, my research interests are rooted in understanding and reversing biodiversity loss. My research will focus on evaluating the effectiveness of habitat restoration projects across Southwestern Ontario. I am optimistic that this research will be a positive contribution to future restoration projects in the hopes of creating a healthy, sustainable ecosystem for all. When I am not studying, you will find me at the rugby pitch, spending time with my family, and enjoying a nice cup of tea. 

 

Yiminxue Zheng: I’m a Master Student studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, supervised by Nick Mandrak. I completed my BSc at UTSC as well, with a specialization in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Evolution. I have a broad interest in ecology in the context of conservation. In a warming world driven by anthropogenic stressors, my research looks at the thermal stress response of freshwater fishes to increasing water temperatures, using Brook Trout as my study organism.  I am a writer at heart, spending most of my doing so both academically and as a hobby.

MSc Lab Member (McGill University):


Lab Alumni:

Kavishka Gallage, MSc 2020

Dr. Tej Heer, PhD 2015-2020

Alexandra Leclair, MSc 2020

Courtney Leermakers, MSc 2020

Lindsay Potts, MSc 2020

Dr. Sara Campbell, PhD 2014-2020

Dr. Fielding Montgomery, PhD 2014-2019

Dr. Rowshyra Castañeda, PhD 2014-2019

Dr. Nathan Lujan, PDF 2016-2018

Brett Allen, MSc 2017

Shannon Ritchie, MSc 2017

Dr. Pasan Samarasin, PDF 2015-2017

Dr. Andrew Drake, PDF 2013-2016

Natalie Rook, MSc 2016

Gabrielle Malcolm, MSc 2015