Laboratory People

Grad student Nicole Charlton on top of a mountain beside directional signs

Nicole Charlton
Nicole is quietly but efficiently trying to drag the CEDaR lab toward research that has practical applications.  Or, as she likes to call it, "Something that somebody might actually want to fund." For her MSc she is arguing with Ze'ev about whether analyzing historical air photos for evidence of changes in forest structure due to fire suppression is more important than analyzing metrics of wetland complexity and bird diversity.  As usual, Ze'ev is losing this argument.

Grad student Anabela Bonada on the side of a cliff hidden in vegetation

Anabela Bonada
For her doctoral research Anabela is studying the genetic variability and climate sensitivity of southern beech along environmental gradients in Argentina.  We've always been keen to hitch the CEDaR cart to a bona fide scientific horse, so welcome to the lab Anabela!  She also brings the best wine to CEDaR social events, so it's a double win for us.  Rumours that Anabela is a recovering table-tennis addict are apparently greatly exaggerate.

Emma Davis

Emma Davis
Emma is also a MADLab alumnus (thanks Colin!), with a detour through Carleton to complete her MSc.  Emma is probably the smallest but mightiest member of the lab, perhaps due to her background as a competitive highland dancer (that much bagpipe music has a lasting effect on you!).  For her doctoral research Emma is studying "Anything that doesn't poop on me when I try to measure it."  "How about standing on a raft on a lake in a lightning storm with a bunch of metal rods?"  "Sure."  She is also going to measure the smallest trees the CEDaR lab has ever looked at, if we can get them to grow.

Ze'ev Gedalof

Ze'ev Gedalof
Ze'ev is a thrower of retrievable objects, and might someday make an important source of protein for the remaining members of the lab when one of his "shortcuts" finally goes horribly wrong. He is also useful to have around during hunting season, since his fashion sense runs the full spectrum of orange. It is not clear that he serves any other useful function in the CEDaR command structure, although since travel claims still require his signature we continue to humour him during field season. Ze'ev's dream is to someday "get those meddling kids!"

Seb Dalgarno [MSc 2016]
Sooner or later every biogeographer has to work with birds, and Seb was our man for the job.  Seb is an honourary member of the CEDaR lab due to his guitar-playing skills, his life as a pirate on the high seas of Hecate Strait, and his gift of rum to the remaining lab members.  He almost lost his honourary position by losing a satellite beacon overboard, but subsequently regained it with more rum and guitar playing.  Seb studies black oystercatchers, and hopes to one day not be mistaken for a hippie.

Vanessa Stretch PhD

Vanessa Stretch [PhD 2016]
Vanessa liked her MSc so much that she came back for more.  For her doctoral research she is linking sedimentary charcoal records of wildfire with the tree-ring record in order to assess landscape-scale controls on the fire regime.  She chose this topic because finding the Higgs seemed too easy.  Go Vanessa go!

Laura Benakoun

Laura Benakoun [MSc 2016]
Laura is a woman of the 90s… the 1790s!  When she’s not re-enacting the war of 1812 she can be found wandering the forests of Northern Ontario, evaluating forest health and decline – or as she likes to put it: “Open Your Trunk and Say "Aaah."

Will Gillam

Will Gillam [MSc 2017]
Will is almost the only bona fide ecologist in the CEDaR lab hierarchy.  He was cured of that aspiration following one field season in the Coast Mountains, though:  somewhere between the 1500 metre scrambles up mountain sides, the 6+ km treks down washed-out logging roads, the biting insects the size of mountain goats, and the inability to get a "McGangbang" sandwich after a particularly grueling day in the field he opted to enter the world of biogeochemical modeling and global food security.  Will's goal is to get into Nature.  Or to invent a new sandwich, we're not sure...

Theresa Dinh

Theresa Dinh [MSc 2014]
Theresa was brave enough to hop into a dusty pickup truck with us and cross the country to play with chainsaws, mud, and microwave popcorn, so we figured she'd make a good addition to the lab.  It was only afterwards that we learned of her unnatural fondness for Justin Bieber.  Theresa's dream is to drive a bigger truck through deeper mud.  Or to move back to Mississauga, we're still not sure.

Rob Brown Rob Brown [MSc 2013]
We rescued Rob from the world of data loggers, dust emission, and giant budgets to bring him into the world of tree-rings and underfunded projects.  Rob is examining how high-elevation treelines have responded to climatic warming over the past 150 years, and the role that site factors plays in mediating treeline advance.  For reasons that are unclear to the rest of us, Rob insists that this project requires extensive wintertime reconnaissance.
Vanessa Stretch

Vanessa Stretch [MSc 2011]
Vanessa left the world of pollen, mud, and hydrofluoric acid to study tree-rings and global change.  Her thesis work will examine the tree-ring record for evidence of CO2 fertilization and increasing water use efficiency.  Her dream is to bring a little Quebecois glamour and class to the CEDaR lab.  The rest of us are all suckers for underdogs and lost causes, so we say "Go, Vanessa, go!"

Kerry Shutten

Kerry Schutten [MSc 2011]
Kerry is taking time away from her career as a professional frisbee player to study "umm, anything that has field work."  She got her start with tree-rings by keeping Vesta on the right side of the road, and finding the perfect vantage point for photographing mountains.  Kerry enjoys music, sports, community service, and long walks on flat paved roads.

Vesta Mather

Vesta Mather [MSc 2010]
Vesta is reconstructing the climate of the Kootenays from leftover scraps of wood, and the debris of previous projects.  She is not a fan of driving on the "conventional" side of the road, and prefers to walk to her study sites - the greater the elevation gain the better, she says! She can usually be found in front of WinDendro, staring northwards, misty-eyed and dreaming of snowier climes.

Graham Clark

Graham Clark [MSc 2009]
Graham is quite easily the grouchiest member of the CEDaR lab. He comes to us from physics, and can't believe that he's in a field that doesn't have its own Nobel Prize. He is researching the climate of the last millennium using tree-rings of the Niagara cliff cedars (Thuja occidentalis). His dream is to convince the rest of the lab that "fluid dynamics" has nothing to do with whose turn it is to buy beer. We remain sceptical, since we know it's his round.

Eric DaSilva

Eric DaSilva [MSc 2009]
Eric came from Toronto, but is slowly adjusting to life in Guelph. He now knows what an "antijito" is, even if he can't pronounce it or bring himself to eat one. His research is on fire ecology in mixed-severity fire regimes in the Kootenay Mountains -- or as he likes to call it "camping." Eric was expelled from High School for "riding a motorcycle through the halls", and from military school for "insubordination." He dreams of one day being a real child, just like Pinochio!

Lesley Davy

Lesley Davy [MSc 2008]
Lesley is studying the effects of exotic species on the soil moisture of Garry oak savannas. Her research involves the most sophisticated technology out of any CEDaR project, which means that she's often found surrounded by spaghetti-like piles of wiring, cursing and muttering to herself. Lesley's dream is to become a celebutante, and none of us has the heart to tell her that a Masters in ecosystem ecology will make her overqualified. And, since she's the only one who knows how to work the Stevenson data loggers we probably never will!

Jenny Franks

Jenny Franks [MSc 2008]
Jenny thinks that cross-dating is fun. The rest of us think she's crazy, but we're too appreciative to say anything. Her thesis research got her thrown out of Tibet, banned from three bars in Victoria, and nearly caused an international military incident. For her thesis Jenny researched the effects of stand density and composition on the climate signals of Garry oak and Douglas-fir. Her dream is to some day make sense of Ze'ev's fieldnotes (coincidentally that's one of his dreams, too), and to complete a marathon.

Tom Maertens


Tom Maertens [MSc 2008]
Tom comes to us from the USA. He has been to more universities than anyone can count. Some day we'll core him, and see how many rings there are. Tom is studying the effects of climatic variability and climatic change on the growth and distribution of Garry oak (or as he likes to call it "Oregon White Oak"). Tom can usually be found contemplating the mysteries of MatLab, and building the "perfect" chronology. Tom's dream is to make a one-to-one scale map of the distribution of Garry oak, and to find the perfect fish taco. We tolerate his mapping fetish as long as he keeps sharing his taco discoveries.

Shyanne Smith

Shyanne Smith [MSc 2007]
Shyanne was a pioneer in the CEDaR lab. She joined us when it was still in a storage locker, and left us when it was a pile of boxes in the hallway. She studied stand dynamics in Garry oak ecosystems, and introduced us to the world of broken increment borers, microwave popcorn, and dodging BC ferries. Although the budget may never recover, she did cure Ze'ev of his lifelong dream of becoming a pirate.


Redwood OaksOld-growth Douglas Fir near Whistler, BC.


Contact Information:
Phone: +1 519.824.4120  ext.56081
FAX: +1 519.824.5249

Mailing Address:
Department Geography
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1