Early Career Award 2021

Deadline for receipt of all application materials: Friday 26 February 2021

Award Description:  The CSEE Early Career Awards recognize outstanding accomplishments and promising future research potential in ecology and evolution by scientists early in their career. The selection committee will consider the candidate’s application through the lens of CSEE’s Diversity and Inclusivity Statement. Awards will be given to two candidates each year.  They consist of a 10-year membership to CSEE/SCEE, $500 cash award, up to $1000 allowance to cover expenses associated with attending the 2021 CSEE meeting in August 2021, and an invitation to give a keynote lecture at the annual meeting.

Eligibility:  Applicants must be active researchers in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology who received their doctorate within five years of the application deadline, not including time taken for parental leave (i.e., one year of parental leave extends the eligibility period to six years post-Ph.D.).  Candidates need to be Canadian citizens, or landed immigrants, or have completed their PhD at a Canadian University, or be currently working at a Canadian University. Candidates must support the goals of the CSEE Diversity and Inclusivity Statement.

Application/Nomination Procedures:  Candidates may apply directly or may be nominated.  Established researchers are encouraged to nominate outstanding young scientists.  Applications must contain all of the following supporting materials in the stated order: (1) a completed Applicant Information Form, including names and email addresses of 3 referees (indicate the nominating scientist where applicable) who will provide supporting letters, (2) a curriculum vitae, (3) a summary of research accomplishments (maximum 2 pages), (4) a 2-page statement of research plans for the next 5 years, (5) three recent publications (a list is sufficient; attachments not required).
The three letters of reference must be sent separately from the candidate’s nomination package.  In addition to commenting on the candidate’s accomplishments and future research potential, letters of reference must specifically address the candidate’s commitment to CSEE’s Diversity and Inclusivity Statement. All nomination materials and reference letters must be sent as PDFs to either of the co-chairs of the CSEE Awards committee, Julie Sircom (jsircom@grenfell.mun.ca) or Jasmine Janes (jasmine.janes@viu.ca).

Time lines:  The deadline for receipt of all materials including letters of reference is 26 February 2021.  The recipients will be notified of the award in April and they will formally receive their award at the annual meeting.


CSEE Excellence in Doctoral Research Award 2021

Deadline for receipt of all application materials: Friday 26 March 2021

Award Description:  The CSEE Excellence in Doctoral Research Awards aims to showcase excellent student research from within the society. Successful applicants will have conducted high-quality research that addresses fundamental questions or is of an applied nature in the fields of ecology and/or evolution. In addition to demonstrated scholarship and merit, the selection committee will aim to promote diversity in science through the lens of CSEE’s Diversity and Inclusivity Statement, and to balance field of study and institutional representation. Awards will be given to five candidates each year.  They consist of a $500 cash award, up to $1000 allowance to cover expenses associated with attending the 2021 CSEE meeting in August 2021, and an invitation to present their research in our Graduate Student Award Symposium at the annual CSEE meeting.

Eligibility: Applicants must have been (i) registered in a Ph.D. program at an advanced stage of their dissertation (typically the final two years) and (ii) a member of CSEE at the time of application. There is no citizenship or residence requirement. Successful applicants are expected to attend the CSEE annual meeting and to present their work as part of the CSEE Graduate Student Awards Symposium (exceptions will be considered on an individual basis). Applicants from last year who were not selected for the award but still meet the eligibility criteria are encouraged to re-apply. Applicants must support the goals of the CSEE Diversity and Inclusivity Statement.

Materials: Applications must include the following sections:

  • Applicant information form
  • Thesis Summary (300 words maximum): A summary of your thesis (i.e., thesis abstract). You may use subheadings for different thesis chapters if desired. The applicant should make it clear how their research advances the state of knowledge in their field.
  • Other Relevant Activities (300 words maximum): In this section, describe any professional and extracurricular activities that demonstrate your communication, and leadership skills including mentorship, academic and civic engagement, community outreach and/or involvement with EDI initiatives.
  • Select Awards and Contributions (1 page maximum): Using three headings, highlight (i) awards that you have received, (ii) talks or posters that you have given and (iii) papers you have published. Do not include papers that are in preparation, submitted, or being revised for a journal (including preprints)—only include manuscripts that are published or have been given final acceptance and are ‘in press’. If in press, provide the manuscript number. The applicant must remove their name from all publications and replace it with “Applicant”, in bold.
  • Letter of support (1 page maximum) from your PhD advisor or a committee member. Letters should speak to the criteria listed above and should clearly state that the applicant is close to completion of their thesis. Letters must not contain the name of the applicant but rather non-identifying terms such as “The Applicant”, or similar. For example, “The applicant has been a member of my lab…”. In addition to commenting on the candidate’s accomplishments and research potential, letters of reference must specifically address the candidate’s commitment to CSEE’s Diversity and Inclusivity Statement.

Sections 1 through 3 should be submitted as a single pdf file with the filename “<lastname_firstinitial>_CSEE_PhDaward.pdf” to cseestudent@gmail.com (e.g., Smith_J_CSEE_PhDaward.pdf). The letter of support should be submitted directly from the referee to the same email address and should have the same format as the application with “_Letter” added to the end (e.g., Smith_J_CSEE_PhDAward_Letter.pdf). All materials are due by the deadline indicated above. We will respond to each email to confirm receipt within one week.

The name (first or last) of the applicant must not appear anywhere within the application other than the file names. This anonymization is meant to reduce bias during the evaluation process. Failure to properly anonymize applications could result in disqualification.

Other Important Information
Successful applicants will give a 30-minute talk (23 minute talk and 7-minute question period and transition) in the Graduate Student Award Symposium and will not be able to give a separate talk during the conference. Awardees can present a poster if space is available. Successful applicants must respond to accept the award and confirm their registration within one week of notification. Successful applicants will be may ineligible for Student/Post-doc travel awards as they are already given a stipend.



CSEE Stands in Solidarity with Mi’kmaw Fishers

The Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution (CSEE) supports the Mi’kmaw people in their efforts to manage and conduct sustainable fisheries in accordance with their treaty rights.

As scientists, we would like to emphasize that respecting the rights of the Sipekniꞌkatik First Nation is not in conflict with our understanding of relevant fisheries and conservation biology. There is no evidence that the lobster fishery currently being conducted by the Sipekniꞌkatik First Nation poses a threat to lobster populations. We are deeply concerned about the misuse of science to support acts of violence against Mi’kmaw fishers and their communities.

We join the calls for the federal government to take immediate and decisive action to protect Mi’kmaw fishers. In addition, the CSEE urges immediate action by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to work with the Mi’kmaq and develop fisheries management policies that incorporate the best available science advice.

Additional discussion about conservation issues related to the lobster fishery can be found in this recent article by Vanessa Minke-Martin in Hakai Magazine. https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/mikmaw-fishery-dispute-is-not-about-conservation-scientists-say/


CSEE BIPOC Spotlight Library Microgrants

One barrier to entry of underrepresented minorities, including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour), into STEM is the shortage of visible models.  CSEE can help by drawing attention to BIPOC ecologists and evolutionary biologists.  This project will build a library of short videos by both emerging and established BIPOC scientists, and make that library available to university and K-12 instructors, youth groups, etc. across Canada.  By shining a spotlight on BIPOC models – who are underrepresented, but not absent – the library will create opportunities to support better representation in future.  It will also help our community diversify its teaching, its seminar series, and so on.  The program will also address another barrier to increasing BIPOC participation in science, which is financial; the library microgrants will provide direct remuneration plus no-cost membership and conference registration.

The microgrants

CSEE offers a microgrant to ecologists or evolutionary biologists who identify as BIPOC (up to the program’s budget limit).  A microgrant consists of $200 cash a free 2-year membership in the Society, and reimbursement of registration fees for one CSEE annual meeting within the 2 years following the award.

Microgrant recipients are asked to make two short videos of themselves:

  • One (2-3 min) video of them talking about who they are; what their current position is; how they got interested in E&E or their study system and (optionally) something about the path they’ve taken to their current position; and mentioning one exciting question in E&E they’d like to answer in their career.
  • The other (6-10 min) would include the same elements PLUS one question in E&E (big or small) that the recipient has answered, or is answering, in their work (not a Powerpoint, simply video of them).

The two videos constitute different resources for the community. The shorter videos will be appropriate for use at any level, and stress membership in the scientific community.  Because they are short, they will lend themselves well to being shown in combination.  The longer videos will be more appropriate for use in classes at the high school or postsecondary level, and demonstrate in addition contributions to knowledge.  It is perfectly appropriate for the content of an applicant’s shorter video to be reprised in the longer one – that is, we expect the two videos to overlap considerably.

Both videos should be pitched to a non-specialist audience – even if they are used in postsecondary ecology courses, a non-specialist pitch will make them accessible to all students. The editorial committee will supply advice on making a video like this (e.g. equipment, things to consider before/during filming, minor editing) and is happy to provide feedback or advice on proposed content, etc.  Applicants will also be connected with each other, when possible, so they can swap tips and experience.

All the videos will be shared on CSEE social media, hosted on the CSEE Youtube and made available on our web site for use in classes and presentations by professors, high-school teachers, outreach groups like Pint of Science, Let’s Talk Science, and youth groups like Scouting, etc.  CSEE will actively reach out to these organizations to publicize the video library.

Applying for a microgrant

Applicants should send a very brief proposal (no more than 200 words, describing very briefly the videos’ intended content) to the Chair of the Editorial Committee, peter.soroye@gmail.com.

Applicants should be members of CSEE, or non-members of CSEE who are Canadian or working or studying at a Canadian employer or institution.  Applicants are welcome from any career stage, but CSEE will seek to balance awardees between faculty, industry professionals, and students.  Should senior applicants wish to participate while waiving financial compensation, CSEE will use the budget room to recruit more early-career participants.

Editorial committee

CSEE Council will establish a committee of 3 Society members, at least 2 of them BIPOC, to provide guidance and insure that submissions align with the goals of the project.  It will report to the chair of the Awards Committee.  This is the same committee that will handle Resources Library submissions (see below).  BIPOC members of the editorial committee who do not serve on CSEE Council will receive a stipend for their service.


CSEE has budgeted $3000 in 2020 for this initiative (but we envision the project continuing into future years).  The cash payment portion of the microgrant is crucial, because it is unfair to ask BIPOC to do unpaid work to fix a problem that isn’t of their making. The cash amount is intended to represent fair market pay for the labour involved.


CSEE BIPOC Resources Library Microgrants

One barrier to inclusivity for underrepresented minorities, including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour), in STEM is that most course materials lack representation of contributions from BIPOC. Similarly, most resources available for early-career researchers (or those mentoring them) do not reflect the experiences and additional challenges that BIPOC might face in STEM.  CSEE will commission the creation of two kinds of written materials: (1) articles highlighting research contributions of BIPOC researchers (worldwide, past or present) to E&E, that can be used as examples in undergraduate and/or K-12 curricula, and (2) articles written to help BIPOC navigate experiences in undergraduate or graduate school or in the field. Via our website and via direct outreach, CSEE will make these resources available to instructors, researchers, and departments of biology and cognate fields across Canada. The program will also address another barrier to increasing BIPOC participation in science, which is financial; the library microgrants will provide direct remuneration plus no-cost membership and conference registration.

The commissions

CSEE will commission the creation of (1) “Foundational research” articles and (2) “Navigating” articles.  While we suggest topics of interest below, CSEE is open to all proposals.

  1. “Foundational research” articles.
    • These will highlight foundational contributions by BIPOC researchers in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. An applicant might write about any BIPOC researcher, worldwide, past or present.
    • Articles should include appropriately licensed photos or other illustrations, and should be relevant to commonly covered topics in introductory biology, ecology, evolution, or conservation courses. Photos of living human subjects must have photo releases.
    • An article could emphasize a particular piece of research or a researcher’s career contributions.
    • We encourage contributions from non-BIPOC authors, but these will be on a volunteer basis (non-remunerated). We encourage all career stages to get involved.
  2. “Navigating” articles. These will provide guidance for BIPOC navigating common situations in ecology and evolution, whether in learning or research.
  • Articles could address navigating situations in field work as a BIPOC; navigating situations in undergraduate study as a BIPOC; or navigating situations in grad school as a BIPOC.
  • “Navigational” articles are authored by, and share the views of, BIPOC members. We encourage all career stages to get involved.

 “Foundational Research” essays should be 500-1000 words, and BIPOC contributors will be paid $200 per essay.  “Navigating” essays can be longer upon agreement of the editorial committee, and will be paid at the rate of $200 per 1,000 words.  These rates are competitive with open-market freelance writing rates.

Applying for a microgrant

Applicants should send a very brief proposal (no more than 200 words, describing the article’s intended content/message) to the Chair of the Editorial Committee, peter.soroye@gmail.com.

Applicants should be members of CSEE, or non-members of CSEE who are Canadian or working or studying at a Canadian employer or institution.  Applicants are welcome from any career stage, but CSEE will seek to balance awardees between faculty, industry professionals, and students.  Should senior applicants wish to participate while waiving financial compensation, CSEE will use the budget room to recruit more early-career participants.

Editorial committee

CSEE Council will establish a committee of 3 Society members, at least 2 of them BIPOC, to provide guidance and insure that submissions align with the goals of the project.  It will report to the chair of the Awards Committee.  This is the same committee that will handle Spotlight Library submissions (see above).  BIPOC members of the editorial committee who do not serve on CSEE Council will receive a stipend for their service.

Posting and promotion

Materials will be made available online as they are approved, with promotion on social media etc. Links will be periodically sent to CSEE membership, and created materials will be promoted during the CSEE annual meeting. Applications will be accepted year- round (until all budgeted grants are awarded).

“Navigating” essays will have a two-week public comment period, after which the author would be asked to make any appropriate revisions. Public comment will help each article reflect multiple voices and lived experiences, without diminishing the experiences of the main author.


CSEE has budgeted $3000 in 2020 for this initiative (but we envision the project continuing into future years).  The cash payment portion of the microgrant is crucial, because it is unfair to ask BIPOC to do unpaid work to fix a problem that isn’t of their making. The cash amount is intended to represent fair market pay for the labour involved.


CSEE Early Career Award 2020

We are thrilled to announce the 2020 recipients of the CSEE Early Career Award: Dr. Diana Rennison and Dr. Kiyoko Gotanda. Dr. Rennison is an Assistant Professor at UC San Diego, where she uses methods from the fields of evolution, ecology, and genomics to investigate the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity (https://rennisonlab.com). Dr. Gotanda is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge whose contributions span ecology, evolution, behaviour, and conservation (http://www.kiyokogotanda.com/).

In lieu of giving plenary lectures at the annual meeting, Diana and Kiyoko will give online research talks on Friday, June 26th at 4pm EDT, and Friday July 3rd at 4pm EDT:

June 26 4pm EDT – Dr. Diana Rennison: Uncovering the genetic and ecological underpinnings of parallel adaptation

July 3rd 4pm EDT – Dr. Kiyoko Gotanda: Human influences on adaptation on the Galapagos Islands

Both talks will be streamed live to our CSEE YouTube channel and will feature a live question period: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP8jVN1m84wvV5PQKS8ziQ .

Thank-you to the awards committee for their effort and care with this process, and for their attention to CSEE’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity. We had an incredible group of applicants for this award. While this made our deliberations difficult, it also filled us with excitement for the future of ecology and evolution research in Canada and beyond.

Early Career Award Talks: Friday June 26th, 4pm EDT

 Dr. Diana RennisonRennison

 Uncovering the genetic and ecological underpinnings of parallel adaptation.

This talk will give an overview of the integrative work I conduct to determine the mechanisms central to the origin and maintenance of the spectacular species diversity we see in the world today. The core questions I seek to address are: How do sources of selection interact to shape the course of evolution and the generation of biodiversity? & Why do organisms follow certain evolutionary trajectories when many are possible? To tackle these questions I integrate population genomics, field collections and experimental estimates of natural selection. I will give an overview of two of my studies which have shed light on these important questions. The first study uses a manipulative selection experiment to test whether evolutionary divergence between species is caused by differential predation. The second study takes a comparative approach to establish what genetic and ecological factors constrain or promote adaptive evolution.

Early Career Award Talks: Friday July 3rd, 4pm EDT

Dr. Kiyoko GotandaGotanda

 Human influences on adaptation on the Galapagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are renowned for their unique, endemic biodiversity which inspired Charles Darwin to develop his theory of evolution by natural selection. In particular, Darwin’s finches are an iconic example of adaptive radiation due to natural selection, where ~18 species have evolved from a single, common ancestor. Adaptive radiations can occur when exploitation of new ecological niches can lead to speciation, that is, the formation of entirely new species. Each species of Darwin’s finches is able to specialize on niche specific food items as well innovate in order to take advantage of new food sources, for example, by utilizing tools. Humans can pose major threats to such adaptive radiations by changing selection pressures on Darwin’s finches, and thus, influence their adaptation and evolution. On the Galápagos Islands, humans have direct and indirect effects on the adaptation of Darwin’s finches. My research focuses on three human influences: introduced predators, novel foods, and urbanization, and how these iconic finches are adapting to the presence of humans on the islands.



CSEE Council will hold the Annual General Meeting June 22 at 11 am-12:30 pm PDT (2 pm-3:30 pm EDT) over Zoom.

Our current By-Laws do not allow for an AGM by electronic means, and so CSEE council has moved two changes to the Bylaws to allow for an electronic meeting.

Please see the following items for discussion at the 2020 AGM:

1. Minutes from the 2019 AGM in Fredericton
2. Two (2) proposed changes to the By-Laws, and one change to the Standing Rules.

Agenda and Zoom invite for the 2020 AGM to follow by email.


Elections 2020

Vice President/President-Elect

Jeannette Whitton

whitton-bio-picI am a plant evolutionary biologist in the Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia. Like so many scientists, my first research experience was funded by an NSERC USRA, allowing me to see how lifelong learning could be a job description. My main research focus is on understanding the origin and establishment of novel diversity in plants.

I am running for VP of CSEE because I value the role that the society plays in bringing together and supporting Canada’s ecology and evolution community, and I believe my past leadership experience aligns well with CSEE’s mission and mandate. I served on COSEWIC (the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) from 2007-2013, and am currently appointed to a 3-year term as Group Chair for the NSERC Evaluation Group in Ecology and Evolution, for which I had previously served as an Evaluation Group Member and co-chair.

Many aspects of our personal and professional lives will be changed by the current global pandemic. CSEE is also likely to change, and we will need to be open to new ways of exchanging ideas and supporting our membership. I will encourage CSEE to further support students, early career researchers and field researchers highly impacted by the pandemic. CSEE can respond through our own initiatives, and through our working relationships with NSERC and other academic and non-academic groups (like CIEE, for example). This crisis also underscores the critical importance of open science, public communication of science, and public trust in data and evidence, areas where I will work to support training and engagement opportunities for a broader and more diverse segment of our membership.

Chris Eckert

eckertpicRaised in the biodiversity hotspot of downtown Toronto, I got hooked on evolutionary ecology during my undergrad in zoology at Western University. Work as an itinerate field biologist, an MSc in behavioural ecology, a stint as an environmental educator, and a PhD in evolutionary botany took me to Queen’s U where my students and I investigate adaptation, with a particular focus on reproductive systems and species’ range limits. I was a CSEE councillor from 2015-2019 and editor of the CSEE Bulletin. As VP, I want to ensure that the CSEE continues to promote a sense of community among diverse researchers across Canada and sponsor annual meetings that are an inclusive scientific and social forum for researchers at all stages of their careers. But in particular, I’d like to (1) continue to develop a more flexible email communication strategy with our membership to not only deliver society news but also bring scientists together around common research and teaching interests; (2) ensure that we are on top of NSERC program developments and prepare our members, through online and conference workshops, to make the most of new and existing NSERC grant programs; (3) develop and promote workshops and funding opportunities that enhance the outreach and engagement activities of ecologists and evolutionary biologists in Canada.


Julien Martin

julien_martin-web1I am an evolutionary ecologist working with long-term data in the wild investigating the process of selection and evolution in a changing environment. I obtained a Msc in 2006 at Université du Québec à Montréal and a PhD in 2010 at Université de Sherbrooke. I then went to do a postdoc at University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) for 2 years before moving to the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland in 2013 as a Marie-Curie research fellow and being hired there as an assistant professor in 2015. In 2019, I moved to the University of Ottawa as an associate Professor in quantitative ecology. In times when misinformation and lack of information are exacerbated, I believe it is crucial that all efforts are made to promote the maintenance of good communication and trust in science. Consequently, I see the role of the CSEE to be more important than ever in facilitating communication between researchers but also with the public and the governments. I wish to help the society fulfill its crucial role and hope to help it develop even more.

Julie Lee-Yaw

julie_lee-yawI am an Assistant Professor at the University of Lethbridge, where I study the evolutionary ecology of species’ range limits and, more recently, the effects of wildfire on animal populations. Research in my lab integrates ecological niche modelling, genomics, observational studies, and synthesis work. My (somewhat meandering) academic path has taken me through four of our Canadian institutions (Queen’s, McGill, UBC, and now U of L), one American institution (UT Austin), and two international institutions (Université de Neuchâtel in Switzerland and CSIRO in Australia). These experiences, from several corners of our country (and beyond), have left me with an appreciation of the many contributions of Canadian scientists to ecology and evolution, and a desire to further strengthen and promote connections across our scientific community. I served as post-doc/student representative on the CSEE council from 2016 to 2018. During this time, I further developed the CSEE PhD Excellence and Diversity Award and organized a workshop focused on mental health and wellness in academia (held at the 2017 meeting in Victoria). I remain a strong advocate for diversity in science and think CSEE has an important role to play in this regard. I would also like to see our society continue to support wellness in academia. If elected, I will work to 1) enhance the membership experience; 2) further develop CSEE’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; and 3) support synergies across the academic landscape through communication with NSERC, CIEE, and other organizations. As an early career researcher, I believe I am well-positioned to bridge communications between our more junior and senior members and am excited to serve a society that I deeply value.

Jalene LaMontagne

lamontagneI am an Associate Professor at DePaul University, in Chicago, IL. I am a population ecologist and my students and I work on questions related to emergent patterns of variability and synchrony in systems ranging from reproduction in boreal conifers to urban ecology. I received my BSc and MSc from the University of Calgary, my PhD from the University of Alberta. Before moving to Chicago, I was a founding faculty member at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, where I began thinking more deeply about questions in urban ecology. I am a lifetime CSEE member because the society reflects my interests and values. I went to my first CSEE meeting in 2011, attend regularly with my students, and I am always impressed by the quality of science done by CSEE members and the supportive atmosphere of our society. I would like to support the society as a CSEE Councillor, and I would bring a perspective of a member who is outside Canada. I maintain strong ties to Canada, both personally and through my research on spatial patterns in white spruce cone production, and I have worked as an academic in two countries outside Canada. I have also served as an ad hoc and panel reviewer for funding agencies from multiple countries. I enjoy supporting and being involved in leadership of organizations, and I would like to help enhance science communication endeavors and the international scope of CSEE, support our student members, and grow and support our membership both within and outside Canada.

Jasmine Janes

janesI am an evolutionary biologist with a passion for plants (but I can be swayed to work on other groups). I have worked in both Australia and Canada on a variety of genomics-based projects, including native orchids, mountain pine beetle and eucalypts. I am a recent faculty hire at Vancouver Island University, but I have been a CSEE member since I moved to Canada in 2012. Over the years, I have enjoyed contributing to the society as a student presentation judge and mentor at graduate student events discussing the pros and cons of moving abroad for positions. As a CSEE councillor I will work towards greater promotion and inclusion of, and opportunity for: 1) early career researchers, 2) undergraduate research, 3) members from smaller institutions, and 4) postdoctoral fellows.

Student/Postdoc Councillor

Andrea Wishart

andreanominationWhile pursuing my BScH, MSc, and now PhD, I have contributed to scientific discourse both through research publications, research communications, and further into the public sphere through many media interviews and outreach events. I have begun training the next generation through the University of Saskatchewan’s Teacher Scholar Doctoral Fellowship program for which I have been teaching our undergraduate evolution course as the primary instructor this term. I am a strong supporter of graduate student community and advocacy through my involvement with – and in my current role as president of – our department’s Biology Graduate Student Association. I hope to similarly serve the broader CSEE community if elected to the CSEE Council. I have greatly enjoyed connecting with CSEE members through my work on the ad-hoc steering committee that advocated for the creation of the CSEE Section for Long-Term Research (LTR) in 2018, and I continue to work for the section. In addition to helping to organize the LTR Section’s inaugural symposium in 2019, I presented the results from a survey I conducted, with consultation from a social scientist, on the perceived benefits and challenges of working as a graduate student on a long-term project. This stimulated lively discussion of issues and actions that can be taken to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion in long-term research. I believe that these values I share with CSEE as a society are critical to the future success and excellence of ecological and evolutionary research in Canada, and my desire to continue and expand my work for these values is my motivation to pursue the position of CSEE Graduate Student Councillor.

Pooja Singh

pooja-singh-cropI am a postdoctoral associate working on local adaptation to climate in conifers at the University of Calgary (Prof. Sam Yeaman’s group). I am passionate about evolutionary genetics and biodiversity and would like to get more involved in promoting ecology and evolutionary research in Canada.  If elected, I would strive to promote the integration of ecology in evolutionary research and highlight conservation issues alongside basic and applied research. The latter is more important now than ever. I would also seek to get more students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, interested in evolutionary research in Canada. More importantly, I would work towards ensuring that they feel welcomed and valued as a part of the CSEE and realise how crucial their contribution is to our broader society. I could achieve this by developing a mentorship programme aimed at undergraduate and early stage graduate students, which would not only provide a forum for them to network and exchange ideas but also act as a support system. Senior members of CSEE could volunteer as mentors and lend their experience.

Regan Cross

regan-crossI am a PhD candidate at Queen’s University studying plant evolutionary ecology, and I’m so excited to be running for CSEE graduate student/post-doc rep! Getting involved in various committees at Queen’s has been so rewarding, so I can only imagine the great opportunities and fun to be had by getting involved at a larger scale. I attended my first CSEE conference last year – it was such an excellent event with a lot of positive energy – and I’d like to keep that going through the next two years.

I am currently the co-chair of the Biology Graduate Student Council at Queen’s, and have previously been the social coordinator and served on a faculty search committee, EEB seminar series committee, and Research, Tenure, and Promotion committee. In our department, I’ve strived to increase engagement from grad students by organizing a variety of diverse events, and to amplify our voices within the department and the university.

If I were elected CSEE rep, I think it would be great to introduce an award for best post-doc talk that could perhaps be evaluated (using clear and quantitative feedback forms) by interested graduate students. This could increase engagement of grad students, and give them an opportunity to better understand what makes a great talk (of course, post-docs would also benefit from award opportunities at such a critical stage of their careers). I think it could also be cool to introduce a buddy program where early-stage students are paired with later-stage students to help them navigate their first big conference. Overall, I would be honoured to serve as your CSEE student/post-doc rep and would work hard to ensure your voices are heard and your concerns are acted upon.

Charles Cong Xu

charles-cong-xuI am a 4th year PhD candidate in Rowan Barrett’s lab at the Redpath Museum & Department of Biology at McGill University. My research interests revolve around eDNA, metabarcoding, and metagenomics, especially how these methods can benefit conservation or natural resource management. I was born in Wuhan, China and moved to the Midwest of the U.S. and have lived in Iowa, Minnesota, and Indiana where I did my undergrad in environmental sciences at the University of Notre Dame. During my undergrad I also did research at Harvard University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I then did my masters in evolutionary biology in the MEME Erasmus Mundus Master Programme where I spent a semester each at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, University of Montpellier in France, University of California – Berkeley, Uppsala University in Sweden, and the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. I believe I can bring an international perspective to CSEE and I hope to make CSEE as exciting and fun as possible! For example, I would like to create a yearly contest to design various CSEE conference swag that will be available for sale to the CSEE community.  https://charlescongxu.weebly.com/


Winners of the Excellence in PhD Research Award!!

Wishing you had more science in your life?

For the month of May, CSEE will be premiering the five fantastic winners of the Excellence in PhD Research Award, with a 30-min research talk by them every Friday. Talks will streamed LIVE on Youtube starting at 4pm ET and you’ll have a chance to ask questions for a live Q/A session afterwards.

Full schedule below:
May 1, 4pm ET – Quinn Webber
May 8, 4pm ET – Anne McLeod
May 15, 4pm ET – Sarah Amundrud
May 22, 4pm ET – Ruth Rivkin
May 29, 4pm ET – Ken Thompson

Visit our Youtube channel or click here to watch: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP8jVN1m84wvV5PQKS8ziQ?view_as=subscriber

CSEE Excellence in PhD Research Award Talk
May 1st, 4pm ET
Quinn Webber
My core narrative as a PhD student has been to link animal social behaviour and space use. Animal social behaviour, habitat selection, and movement are inherently linked through density dependence and their effects on fitness. Using caribou (Rangifer tarandus) as a model system, I empirically tested these processes across scales and contexts. First, I tested whether social network position and habitat specialization are predictors of fitness in and vary as a function of population density. Second, I tested whether social group size varies as a function of population density. Third, I tested whether collective movement affects habitat selection. I found that social network position and group size are density-dependent, while habitat specialists tend to have higher fitness than generalists, but there was no effect of sociality on fitness. I found that individuals foraged alone, but moved together, highlighting that collective movement occurs between, but not within, foraging patches. The impact of my work is the establishment of the idea that social behaviour, habitat selection, movement, and population density are inter-related aspects of caribou socioecology. While much of my research is fundamental, caribou are federally threatened in Canada and my work has potential to inform caribou management.

May 8th, 4pm ET
Anne McLeod
Natural communities are undergoing accelerated changes due to human pressures such as habitat fragmentation, over-harvesting, and species invasions.  Here, I use bioinformatics and mathematical models to examine the environmental and ecological drivers of food-web structure and dynamics. First, I use a spatially expansive food-web to examine drivers of spatial turnover in food-web interactions across an environmental gradient. I demonstrate that predicting local realizations of community structure is very difficult, but critical since environmental perturbations occur at the local scale. Then, I integrate empirical data and mathematical models to explore the consequences of different structural metrics, including omnivory, on food-web stability and persistence. I demonstrate that the importance of omnivory depends on both the type of omnivory and the food-web within which it appears. Finally, I derive a novel multi-trophic metacommunity model which demonstrate how movement is a product of both a species’ ability to move and the landscape across which it moves. Treating patch connectivity as a species’ specific property can change our conclusions about multi-patch stability. Overall, my thesis integrates data and theory to test the impacts of environmental gradients and change on food webs and provide testable predictions to guide future research in spatial food web ecology.
May 15th, 4pm ET
Sarah Amundrud
Species distributions and the composition of ecological communities result from the interplay of three constraints: physical barriers to dispersal, species-specific environmental requirements, and species interactions. While the relative importance of these factors is known to depend on spatial scale, the effects of climate change on the interplay of abiotic and biotic constraints are still poorly understood. I combined manipulative experiments, observational surveys along environmental gradients, and species distribution models to explore the relative importance of abiotic and biotic constraints on aquatic invertebrate communities inside bromeliad plants across a range of spatial scales: the geographic scale (Central and South America), the landscape scale (elevational gradients in Costa Rica), and the local scale (the bromeliad system). While species interactions were the main drivers of community change at the local scale, biotic effects were not important in driving species distributions at the large geographic scale. Notably, the relative importance of abiotic and biotic processes at the landscape scale depended on environmental context, an important insight given that environmental conditions are already shifting as a result of climate change. This hierarchical set of studies demonstrates the scale-dependence of the interplay of abiotic and biotic processes in affecting species distributions and community assemblages, as well as the potential role of environmental context at the intermediate scale of the landscape.May 22nd, 4pm ET
Ruth Rivkin
Urban habitats are more fragmented and degraded than nonurban habitats, which can impact both the ecology and evolution of species interactions. Species interaction may be particularly sensitive to urbanization because the species involved may be responding to urbanization separately, and together through effects on the strength of and direction of the interaction. We studied the effects of urbanization on a mutualistic interaction and an antagonistic interaction. We measured reproductive success of Brassica rapa plants across 30 experimental sites in Toronto, ON, and tracked within-site pollen dispersal and pollinator community variation among these sites. We found that urbanization influences plants reproductive success, but whether the effects on fitness were positive or negative depended on season and pollinator dispersal. We also studied the interaction between Darwin’s finches and Tirbulus cistoides in towns on three Galapagos Islands. We tested the effects of urbanization on seed predation rates, selection on mericarp size and defense traits, and ground finch community composition across 40 sites per island. Predation rates were elevated in urban sites, which corresponded to stronger selection on mericarp morphology and altered ground finch communities due to urbanization. Together, our results demonstrate the sensitivity of the ecology and evolution of species interactions to urbanization.

May 29th, 4pm ET
Ken Thompson
In my talk, I’ll describe the progress I made during my Ph.D. to ‘push the peanut forward’ in arriving at generalities about the mechanisms of natural and sexual selection that act on hybrids in nature. Because the phenotype of otherwise viable and fertile hybrids determines their fate, we must document patterns and test theoretical predictions to better understand the mechanisms of so-called ‘extrinsic’ post-zygotic isolation and its importance for speciation. I’ll discuss the results of a systematic literature review where I find that hybrid traits are typically more dominant than intermediate, resulting in hybrids that are often quite ‘mismatched’ for divergent parental traits. Using recombinant hybrid sunflowers grown in a common field environment, I experimentally demonstrate negative fitness consequences of trait mismatches in the field. I’ll then talk about some preliminary results from ongoing work illustrating the extent to which mismatched traits are expressed in first-generation vs. segregating (backcross and F2) hybrids. Finally, I’ll conclude with a brief summary of an ongoing field experiment in threespine stickleback testing whether parallel phenotypic evolution is an engine of speciation in nature