I prioritize student-driven collaborative research consistent with MacEwan University’s mandate as a learner-focused undergraduate University. My research program is designed with the goal of incorporating undergraduates in all aspects of the scientific process including experimental design, data collection and analysis, and dissemination. Exposure to research enriches the undergraduate experience and provides students with opportunities to develop critical skills that will support achievement of their academic and career goals. Finally, I value research as an opportunity to remain current in my discipline and to engage with my peers.
1. Current: Urban Invasives – Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), a recent invader in Alberta [MacEwan University]
Garlic mustard is a highly invasive biennial plant which dominates forest understory, displacing native species. First introduced to North America in the 1800s, it has spread to more than 35 US states and to 6 Canadian provinces including Alberta, where it was first recorded in 2010. The current known range in Alberta is limited to three urban natural areas; two within Edmonton and one in St. Albert. Invasive species have a significant impact on natural biodiversity and are associated with substantial economic losses. Urban invasives provide an excellent system for undergraduate research as populations are accessible and can support a wide variety of small-scale research projects. We have been coordinating our work with both the City of Edmonton and the City of St. Albert who are actively engaged is control of this prohibited noxious species.
2. Environmental biosafety of transgenic crops [University of Alberta, MacEwan University]
I worked with Professor Linda Hall from the University of Alberta whose research involves biosafety assessments of species being considered as platforms for improvement via genetic engineering. In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for regulating the environmental release of PNTs. This process involves a rigorous assessment of aspects of plant biology which may result in weediness or impact biodiversity. Aspects of the species biology including seed bank persistence, population dynamics, and inter- and intra-specific outcrossing potential are evaluated.
3. Regulation of flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana [Australian National University, CSIRO]
My doctoral research focused on understanding the function and regulation of Flowering Locus C (FLC), a repressor of flowering.
4. Mapping root maggot resistance in Canola (Brassica napus) [University of Alberta]
My honors research contributed to a project mapping root maggot resistance in canola introduced through an inter-specific cross with white mustard (Sinapis alba).