The Herd

Current members

Graduate Students

Amelia Hesketh (she/her) | PhD candidate

Amelia thinks a lot about how intertidal invertebrate foundation species are affected by ocean & climate change. Her ever-changing PhD thesis includes experiments 1) looking at the effect of single vs. successive hot summers on barnacle bed communities, 2) determining how salinity and thermal stress affect mussel bed communities, 3) examining how Pacific oysters’ performance and survival is affected along natural abiotic gradients in the Salish Sea, and 4) figuring out how the effects of barnacles on associated species differ between their native range in BC and invaded range in Argentina. You can almost never find her on Twitter @invertebroad and can find outdated details about her research on her personal website. Really, you should just send her an email if you want to get in touch. Thanks to COVID-19, Amelia’s hobbies now include gardening, sewing, refinishing furniture, baking pastries, and (perhaps most strangely) running.

Sandra Emry (she/her) | PhD candidate

Sandra is broadly interested in how anthropogenic change is affecting coastal communities. Her research is focused on looking at how the ecophysiology of various habitat forming seaweed species such as Nereocystis luetkeana, will respond to multiple stressors, including identifying critical thresholds and implications for community structure.

Fiona Beaty (she/her) | PhD candidate

Fiona studies the impact of humans on British Columbia’s coastal ecosystems and communities. She brings together natural and social science research approaches to understand how social-ecological systems are adapting to climate change, pollution, and resource extraction. Her dissertation research includes: a meta-analysis on the interactive effects of ocean warming and acidification on marine ectotherms; a series of lab and field-based experiments to test the adaptive capacity of a marine snail (Nucella lamellosa) to climate change; and a community-based participatory research study to characterize and map the distribution of diverse values associated with Howe Sound/Átl’ka7tsem (Squamish Nation place name). She is strongly motivated by action-oriented research, bringing together diverse ways of knowing, advancing reconciliation through research, and very passionate about connecting her research to conservation and marine spatial planning within the Salish Sea and beyond! Fiona also loves puzzles – they are such a prime escape and meditation in this COVID life. Twitter: @fionabeaty. Personal website:

Graham Brownlee (he/him) | MSc student

Graham is broadly interested in understanding how the physiology of marine foundation species can support the resilience of marine communities to climate change and human impacts. Currently, he is studying the plasticity of lethal and cardiac thermal tolerance of the California mussel, how this plasticity can promote resilience to extreme temperatures and heatwaves,
how thermal tolerance changes through seasons, and the associated reproductive consequences of expressing plasticity. Additionally, he is exploring the thermal ecology of a host-parasite relationship between the California mussel and endolithic microbes through field experiments on the central coast to determine whether shell erosion, and the subsequent colour lightening of mussel shells, can facilitate the expansion of mussel beds by allowing for lower body temperatures in the high intertidal zone.

Jess Kennedy (she/her) | MSc student

Jess’s research centers around intertidal mussel freeze tolerance. Many temperate intertidal mussel species have the remarkable ability to survive being frozen alive and she is really interested in the physiological mechanisms that enable mussels to be freeze tolerant. She is also investigating what some potential consequences of experiencing freezing stress might be, such as potentially increased predation susceptibility and/or lowered feeding rates. Her research is not only super cool but it also has implications for predicting and understanding Northern range limits of mussel species. Jess also loves baking (and eating) baked goods. Twitter: @jess_kennedy98

Postdoctoral Researchers

Alyssa Gehman (she/her)

Alyssa’s research builds on the theories in population, community, thermal and disease ecology to address the pressing questions around how climate change will alter species interactions. Specifically, she works to understand how parasites and disease will respond to the changing environment. She works mostly with hosts that reside in the intertidal zone – a system with high environmental variability which inspired the foundational ideas of ecology. And she focuses on invertebrates, which are relatively easy to work with both in the field and in the lab. When possible, she pairs empirical results with epidemiological models to highlight generalities across host-parasite systems.  Alyssa is a hobby collector – her current ones include skiing, acroyoga, needle felting, and cooking. See Alyssa’s web page and Twitter (@alyssamina) for more details.

Colin MacLeod (he/him)

Colin’s research integrates parasite ecology and global change biology in the marine environment. Parasitic infection can alter every aspect of host physiology and behaviour, from reproduction to survival, and from predator evasion to resource competition. Any of these infection-mediated effects could be significantly modified by changes to the abiotic marine environment. During his postdoctoral fellowship at UBC, Colin will investigate the combined effects of ocean acidification, ocean warming, and trematode infection on the physiology and behaviour of four species of littorinid snails found in Barkley Sound and the Strait of Georgia.

(W)undergraduate Students

Madeleine Abbott (she/her) | Undergraduate researcher, Honours student

Madeleine’s research explores the host-parasite relationship between hermit crabs and rhizocephalan parasites. She is interested in how rhizocephalans affect host behaviour and thermal tolerance, as well as what determines the distribution of these parasites in the field. She is investigating these ideas through a mix of field surveys and laboratory experiments. Madeleine loves to hike and horseback ride! Twitter: @mad_abbott

Miranda Andersen (she/her) | Undergraduate researcher, Honours student

Miranda’s research focuses on the ecological relationships of the orange-striped green anemone, Diadumene lineata, a widely distributed clonal species that has been introduced to the coastal habitats of British Columbia. She took a particular interest in D. lineata because it is relatively understudied for such a successful global invader. Through this work, she hopes to gain an understanding of how D. lineata interacts with indigenous species and influences local diversity, while spending lots of time in the field. The results from this project will describe the trophic relationships of the species and inform whether D. lineata should be properly classified as an invasive species in B.C. Outisde of work, Miranda is always in the water! Swimming, kayaking, and diving are her favourite activities! 

Lara Calvo (she/her) | Undergraduate researcher

Lara is interested in exploring how the habitat-forming foundation species, Fucus distichus and Balanus glandula, impact diversity, abundance, and community structure of associated species. Through conducting field manipulation experiments and surveys, she investigates factors that determine the upper limits of rockweed and barnacles. Lara is also gaining undergraduate research experience under Fiona Beaty, where she is helping her on a meta-analysis that investigates how ocean acidification and warming impact marine ectotherms. Lara loves anything outdoors, and some of her favourite things to do are backpacking, kayaking, and snowboarding!

Jessica Li  | Undergraduate researcher

Carter Burtlake  | Undergraduate researcher

Carter is a SURE summer student in his 5th year at UBC studying Biology. He is passionate about all things marine. Carter investigates how abiotic factors predict sessile organisms’ habitats in the intertidal zone. A large portion of his work is dedicated to investigating how substrate orientation influences temperature through altering angle of incidence. In particular, he analyzes the upper growth limits of mussels (Mytilus trossulus) on intertidal boulders to capture the effects of their orientation on mussel growth. Further, he is spending lots of his time collecting mortality data from the 2021 heat dome in British Columbia to help quantify its effect on the many intertidal organisms in hopes that it will aid in predicting how our coasts may look in the future under climate change. Carter hopes that in the future he can continue to explore how important mussel beds are in facilitating species diversity to quantify the affects that climate change, and a reduction of mussel species, may have on our coasts.

Kiana Stark | Undergraduate researcher

Kellan Woo  | Undergraduate researcher

Past members

Danja Currie-Olsen (she/her) | Undergraduate researcher, Honours student

Danja’s research focused on the freezing tolerance of predators in the intertidal zones along the West Coast of British Columbia, specifically Pisaster ochraceus, Evasterias trochellii and Nucella lamellosa

Cassandra Konecny (she/her) | MSc student

Cassandra is interested in how communities will respond to climate change. More specifically she is investigating how increased thermal variation will influence community structure and composition in tidepools. She is combining field manipulations with mesocosm experiments to see how thermal variation will influence algal-herbivore interactions and ultimately the composition of these communities. Check out her website here!

Angela Stevenson (she/her) | Postdoc (@deepseaslug)

Glass sponges are cosmopolitan in the deep sea (>70 m), but uniquely form dense reefs as shallow as 30 m in British Columbia. Angela used mesocosm experiments to understand the sensitivity and resilience of reef building glass sponges to ocean warming and acidification. She also used field and mesocosm experiments to study the impacts of thermal stress on arm regeneration of crinoids (intra- and interspecific), with broader implications for paleoecology, species resilience to climate change, and cascading effects on the benthic community. She used extensive diving technologies to access specimens from shallow to mesophotic depths. See Angela’s blog to learn more about sponges, crinoids and the mesophotic.

Veronika Franzova (she/her) | Undergraduate researcher 2017-2019

Veronika was an undergraduate student avidly and hectically pursuing a degree in Marine Biology. She is currently working on a project looking at the effects of climate change on trematode parasites collected on Vancouver Island.

Em Lim (they/them) | Undergraduate researcher

Em was a URSA student studying the effects of ocean acidification on an invasive parasite. They were previously researching the direct and indirect effects of ocean acidification on caprellids, a marine amphipod. Find Em on twitter @sea_en_emily or check out their blog here.

Charlotte Matthews (she/her) | Undergraduate researcher (@charmatthews_)

Charlotte is interested in subtidal ecology and the impact of climate change on these sensitive habitats. Her undergraduate research experience, under Dr. Angela Stevenson, includes observing crinoid infestor diversity and distribution along the bathymetric gradient in the Philippines. As well as, testing the effect of thermal stress on assimilation rates of our local crinoid, Florometra serratissima. 

Mikalyn Trinca Colonel | Undergraduate researcher 2019

Mikalyn is an enthusiastic undergraduate student who is fascinated in all thing’s subtidal ecology and environmental science. Her research experience under Dr. Angela Stevenson, has brought her to the depths of Philippine’s oceans working on feather star community ecology. She is currently interested in the impacts which marine plastics have on the glass sponge reefs of coastal British Columbia.

Emma Foxcroft | Undergraduate researcher

Emma is in her third year of honours animal biology, and has enjoyed volunteering with Dr. Stevenson and helping with her research on glass sponges and feather stars. She is interested in looking at the impact of climate change on marine communities, and hopes to focus on this in her honours thesis project next year.

Josianne Haag | Undergraduate researcher

Josianne is an undergraduate student interested in the human impacts of re-suspension of sediments and acidification on glass sponges in Howe Sound.

Maya Brassard | Undergraduate researcher

Maya is an undergraduate student interested in the how biodiversity or lack thereof  affects people’s overall health in Indigenous communities within Canada. She is interested in learning more about how the environment can influence the social determinants of health and hopes to better connect the biological to the social.

Carli Jones | Undergraduate researcher

Gillian Trotter | Undergraduate researcher

Emma Green | Undergraduate researcher

Emma was a USRA summer student looking at how climate change warming may affect different populations of two species of intertidal snail, Littorina sitkana and Littorina scutulata, along the BC coast.

Olivia Schaefer | Undergraduate researcher

Heather Reid | Undergraduate researcher

Jenny Hwang | Undergraduate researcher

Norah Brown | PhD student

Norah worked on the effects of climate change on fouling communities, with an emphasis on the effects of invasive species. She manipulated carbon dioxide in the field using mesocosms and measured the resulting changes in community structure. Norah expanded her work to naturally acidified sites in the Mediterranean Sea.

See Norah’s web page for more details.

Carla Di Filippo | Undergraduate researcher

Kat Anderson | PhD student

Kat was interested in the effects of anthropogenic stressors, particularly ocean acidification, on plant-herbivore interactions. Her experimental work included laboratory investigations of algal growth and invertebrate feeding rates and field manipulations of carbon dioxide concentrations in artificial tide pools.

See Kat’s web page for more details.

Gabby Doebeli | Undergraduate researcher

Sarah Endenburg | Undergraduate researcher

Sachi Ouchi | Undergraduate researcher

Sharon Kay | Undergraduate researcher

Sharon studied how the intertidal sea star community of the Burrard Inlet changed following sea star wasting disease. She specifically looked at how differential disease susceptibility may result in disproportional declines of certain sea star species, and even indirectly benefit some sea star populations.

Sarah Ho | Undergradaute researcher

Sarah was interested in studying human impacts on marine ecosystems and how we can reduce these threats. Her honours thesis focused on the effect of human trampling on rocky intertidal communities in Taiwan.

Kelsey Flynn | Undergradaute researcher

Katie Marshall | Postdoctoral researcher

Jake Dytnerski | Undergraduate researcher

Jennifer Jorve | PhD student

Jenn was interested in the effects of climate change on marine algae, particularly kelp. She studied the ability of seaweeds to adapt to climate stress. She was co-supervised by Patrick Martone.

Rebecca Kordas | PhD student

Becca studied the ecological impacts of climate warming by experimentally increasing temperature in the field. She was interested in the effects of global warming on interspecific interactions such as competition, facilitation, and herbivory, and on ecological processes such as succession. She was co-supervised by Ladd Johnson.

Manon Picard | MSc student

Manon investigated the impacts of ocean acidification on the early life stages of oysters, which are important for aquaculture in British Columbia. Much of her research was based in situ at the Island Scallops aquaculture facility on Vancouver Island. Personal website here.

Laura Tremblay-Boyer | PhD student

Laura was our resident fisheries biologist. She studied the ongoing range contraction of large pelagic predators in the Pacific Ocean, and conducted research in New Caledonia. She was co-supervised by Steve Martell.

Megan Vaughan | MSc student

Megan worked on the effects of ocean acidification on predator-prey interactions. Her species of interest included the sunflower star and the red sea urchin, and she investigated the impacts of OA on their behaviour and feeding rates. Personal webpage here.

Theraesa Coyle | Undergraduate researcher

Theraesa was a USRA / honors student who studied the effects of regional variation in salinity on plant-herbivore interactions. She combined field manipulations in West Vancouver, Lions Bay, and the Gulf Islands with laboratory studies on the physiological tolerances of limpets, snails, and seaweeds.

Jessie Clasen | PhD student

Jessie’s research interests included the diversity and functioning of microbial communities, and how these communities were related to other components of nearshore ecosystems (e.g., kelp beds). Her work complimented ongoing work on the re-establishment of sea otters in British Columbia (BCCES).

Jocelyn Nelson | MSc student

Jocelyn studied invasive tunicates in the framework of multiple stressors. She deployed settlement plates throughout British Columbia and as far south as California to better understand how factors like temperature and salinity facilitate or limit the spread and impact of these invasive species.

Heather Kharouba | PhD student

Heather worked on the impacts of climate change on butterflies, moths, and their host plants, with a particular interest in how warming affects the phenology of these species and their interactions. She was co-supervised by Mark Vellend.

Rebecca Gooding | PhD student

Becca’s research focused on the impacts of climate change on a predator-prey interaction: the sea star Pisaster and the mussel Mytilus. She showed that the sea stars actually grow faster in future climate conditions, and that these effects were likely to impact prey populations via changes in predation rates.

Rebecca Martone | Postdoctoral researcher

Rebecca co-coordinated an interdisciplinary project (BCCES) examining ecosystem service production in nearshore coastal ecosystems in response to sea otter reintroduction. Her work focused on the productivity, diversity, and stability of subtidal communities in response to trophic cascades in kelp forest ecosystems. Rebecca now works for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Ryan Crim | MSc student

Ryan investigated the effects of temperature and ocean acidification on marine invertebrates, particularly endangered abalone. His work ranged from climate change impacts on fertilization to larval development to adult growth and performance, and is showing that important non-additive effects emerge when temperature and carbon dioxide are manipulated simultaneously.

Kyle Demes | PhD student

Kyle worked on seaweeds – particularly kelps – at the intersection of biomechanics, ecology, and evolution. His work included studies of evolutionary context of variation in morphology and material properties across taxa, and on kelp phenotypic plasticity, growth, and survival in the field.

Sarah Nienhuis | MSc student

Sarah studied the effects of ocean acidification on calcifying marine invertebrates. Her research has examined the effects of OA on sea urchin growth, consumption, and population dynamics, and the effects of OA on calcification in dogwhelks.

Gerald Singh | PhD student

Gerald studied the productivity and diversity of intertidal communities, particularly mussel beds, in the context of sea otter reintroduction to areas they were formerly extirpated. He sought to provide policy relevant results that can help resolve disputes between resource extraction and species conservation. Gerald is now working on his PhD at UBC with Kai Chan.

Penny White | MSc student

Penny studied edible seaweeds in the genus Porphyra. She characterized the seaweed’s genetic population structure in British Columbia, and investigated the use of Porphyra by First Nations peoples. She was co-supervised by Sandra Lindstrom.