Tell us about yourself and your background.
I am a landscape ecologist with a focus on understanding how to manage human-dominated landscapes (like urban and agricultural ones) for people and nature. My research usually seeks to understand how the spatial patterns in these types of landscapes impact biodiversity, ecosystems, and the benefits that people receive from them (also known as ecosystem services). I work at a variety of spatial scales, from the plot level using ecological fieldwork approaches to national scales where I use remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) methods.
I was born in Williams Lake, British Columbia, the traditional territory of the Secwepemc Nation, but spent most of my formative years just outside Victoria, BC, on the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish peoples. During my university degrees and professional work I’ve had the privilege to live across Canada and in Australia. I’m also not new to UBC, previously completing a Postdoctoral Research Position at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and then a Research Associate Position in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.
What drew you to your work?
After I completed my M.Sc. degree I worked for a few years in environmental consulting in Alberta, completing environmental impact assessments for oil sands developments. Seeing how these studies incompletely valued ecosystems and biodiversity, and the negative effects that this had on the environment, created a strong desire to use science to improve our management of natural systems. My parents also had an influence and are likely why I ended up in ecology – my mom is a botanical watercolour painter and my dad worked in land use planning and protected areas in BC for the provincial government for over 30 years. Finally, I really love maps which led me towards landscape ecology!
What do you hope to achieve through your work here at UBC?
Society is facing large, complex, and urgent problems around climate change and biodiversity loss, which are often linked to how we manage landscapes. Through my work at UBC I hope to provide actionable knowledge that will be actively used by policy- and decision-makers to better confront these issues in BC, Canada, and internationally. I’m also excited about teaching students and playing a part in their development as future leaders who will tackle and help solve these issues.
What attracted you to UBC and UBC Forestry?
My work, while based in the natural sciences, is inherently interdisciplinary. I was drawn to the interdisciplinary expertise that UBC Forestry currently has and the emphasis that the Faculty is putting on interdisciplinary scholarship as the problems we face can only be solved through collaboration and the incorporation of diverse perspectives. I believe that UBC Forestry and the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (which I am cross-appointed with) are ideal places to do this type of work. Additionally, UBC Forestry’s strong international focus is something that I’m hoping to take advantage of in order to develop new international collaborations.
What are you most looking forward to in the Faculty of Forestry?
The reality of an academic career often means relatively short-term positions and having to move between cities, institutions, or even departments. I am really looking forward to building deeper connections with colleagues in the Faculty of Forestry; local and regional stakeholders and rightsholders; as well as with local ecosystems, forests, and landscapes.