I began studying biology as an undergraduate with a focus on ecology and entomology (H. B. Sc., Biology, 1994, Carletion University). I worked for the Canadian Forest Service testing the effectiveness of biocontrol agents on forest pests such as spruce budworm during my summers. I subsequently undertook a master's degree investigating the nutritional relationships between gall-inducing insects and their host plants (M. Sc., Biology, 1998, Laurentian University). Later, I joined a project studying ecosystem development on revegetated mine tailings using soil mites as ecological indicators. I was hooked for life from the moment I first stared down a microscope at a soil sample; I was rapt by the amazing diversity of microscopic soil animals, especially mites.
I went on to train in acarology at The Ohio State University and was accepted to the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Colorado State University (Ph. D., Ecology, 2005). There I worked in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and engaged in collaborations focused on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Most of my research took place at the Konza Prairie Biological Station—one of the last tracts of tall grass prairie left in the world. At this time I was selected as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies where I trained in advanced data analysis and modelling. After graduating, I divided my time between professional consulting (primarily biodiversity and data analysis solutions for university, government and private industry clients), and lecturing at two Canadian universities. Subsequently, I accepted a Scientist position at Landcare Research—the first-ranked ecological research institute in New Zealand—where I put my expertise in entomology, soil biology and data analysis to use researching issues such as invasive species impacts, ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration.
Pressing family matters tore me away from New Zealand, and my dream-position at Landcare, to return to Canada. Now I'm raising my son and staying current by contributing to ongoing collaborations with former colleagues, attending international workshops (e.g., sOILDIV) and by providing ecological and data-analytic consulting services.