Step into the world of conservation science at Assiniboine Park and Zoo and get to know the dedicated individuals driving our impactful initiatives!
Our team of conservation scientists focuses their expertise on three critical areas: Arctic and subarctic species conservation, Manitoba species conservation, and the protection of international species at risk. Our goal is to educate Zoo visitors and the community through conservation initiatives and educational outreach, inspiring a deep appreciation for the wonders of the natural world. This will ultimately help to conserve animals and their habitats around the world.
We are happy to introduce you to the minds behind our conservation and research projects, that work towards the well-being of animals in our care at the Zoo and their counterparts in the wild.
Director of Conservation and Research
Hello, I am the Director of Conservation and Research and lead an amazing team of conservation scientists. This involves a combination of office work, writing grant applications, reports, and papers and much more enjoyable field work, like studying seals and beluga in Churchill, Manitoba. I also serve on the Committee for the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) which evaluates and recommends whether species in Canada should have a status of Endangered to Not at Risk. My education includes research on shrews (BSc., University of Alberta, Alberta), Southern flying squirrels (MSc., Acadia University, Nova Scotia) and polar bears, peary caribou, and ringed seals (PhD., Trent University, Ontario). I have been a wildlife biologist for more than 20 years and have been studying Arctic marine mammals (whales, seals, polar bears) for over 10 years. I feel very privileged to be able to work with a team that cares so much for wildlife!
Conservation Programs Manager
Hi! I am a Conservation Programs Manager and I lead the Zoo’s recovery program for Endangered prairie butterflies, where we breed, rear, and release the Poweshiek skipperling and the Dakota skipper in Manitoba. I also coordinate on-site wild bird conservation initiatives such as bird-window collision monitoring, and artificial nest installations for tree swallows, purple martins, and chimney swifts! I finished my Master of Science degree from the University of Guelph in 2013 in Environmental Biology specializing in Entomology (the study of insects), and before joining the Conservation team at the Zoo in 2017, I worked on field research programs across Canada on a variety of wildlife. You may have found me taking blood samples from grassland songbirds, counting butterflies on invasive flowers, tracking down elk via radio telemetry in the Rocky Mountains, or finding squirrel nests in the Yukon. I am interested in using wildlife translocations (e.g. reintroductions) to recover species from the brink of extinction, protecting wildlife in our backyards and communities, and connecting people to conservation science – all of which makes working for the Zoo a dream job!
Conservation Programs Manager
Hello! I am a Conservation Programs Manager and my role is to support and develop conservation programs for our northern and Arctic species, such as beluga, seals, and polar bears. I focus on developing new ways to understand how stressors, like climate change, impact species and how we can use advancing technologies, such as satellite telemetry data (locations and movement), biologging devices (heart rate, acceleration, behaviour), and statistical models, to reveal new information about the lives of animals when we can’t see them. I have worked on marine mammals and marine biology for over a decade in the north around the world, focusing on research in zoos and aquariums, like Assiniboine Park Zoo, as well as in wild populations. My education has focused on endangered sea lions in Alaska (MSc), understanding activity, energy, and 'personality' in grey seals in Scotland (PhD), and changes in the migration patterns of narwhals as a result of climate change (Post-doctoral Fellowships). My passion for teaching, training, and capacity building has also led to partnering with northern communities to monitor animal health and new approaches for Arctic species, as well as training for students and researchers.
Hello! I am a Conservation and Research Intern. This role has allowed me to expand my horizons, gaining valuable experience with several programs run by the Conservation and Research team! My main focus is with the Grassland Butterfly Conservation Program working with endangered Poweshiek skipperling and Dakota skipper butterflies. My work also includes exploring Western Hudson Bays’ invertebrate diversity, assisting with genetic analysis in the lab, learning about a diverse array of wild birds while participating in wild bird conservation initiatives, contributing to burrowing owl habitat restoration, and conducting routine polar bear behavioural monitoring. I earned my bachelor’s degree specializing in Ecology and Environmental Biology from the University of Manitoba, immersing myself in the intricate world of Entomology (the study of insects) and forming a profound connection with native bees. From there I spent time curating the university’s insect collection and engaging in hands-on fieldwork leading up to a research project focused on the social behaviours of native sweat bees. For me, each research venture into the natural world represents a step towards understanding, caring, and, ultimately, contributing to the preservation of our delicate ecosystems. Working with this team has been the ultimate dream!
Hi, I am a Conservation and Research Intern and that means I get to dip my toes into all the programs we run at the Park and Zoo! My main focus lies with the Grassland Butterfly Conservation Program, where we aim to bolster the populations of Poweshiek skipperling and Dakota skipper. My work at the Zoo extends beyond grassland butterflies, encompassing projects such as polar bear behaviour, wild bird conservation initiatives, habitat restoration, and public education. I completed my undergraduate degree in Natural Resources Management from Lakehead University and continued my education with a Master of Science in Forestry, with a focus on Wildlife Management in 2021. Before joining the Conservation Team, I had the privilege to work on studies such as caribou diets and movement within the Canadian boreal forest, vegetation succession, urban forestry (preserving native tree species in urban environments and managing canopy cover), as well as the abundance and morphometrics (body measurements) of American and Morelet’s crocodiles in Belize. I am incredibly thankful to be part of such a knowledgeable and driven team!
Hello! I'm part of the team as a Conservation Technician, specializing in the Beluga Whale Conservation Program. My work mainly involves using underwater photographs of Western Hudson Bay belugas taken annually in Churchill, Manitoba. We capture thousands of these images each year, and with a dedicated group of community scientists, we classify them based on age, sex, and distinct features. This helps us gain insight into beluga health, threats, and social structure. I have been in the marine mammal research field for almost 10 years, largely focused on studying beluga whales. My initial work with belugas started as a volunteer at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, where I quickly learned how intelligent and unique belugas can be. Academically, I explored how acoustic signals relate to behaviour in an endangered beluga population (MSc, Bangor University, Wales). My PhD. (University of Manitoba, Canada) involves studying the movements, dive behavior, and age structure of endangered belugas in eastern Canada, and establishing a photographic-identification program to track individuals. I am excited to be a new member of this amazing team and continue contributing to the research and conservation of beluga whales!
Learn more about the projects our team is working on and how you can get involved here!