Scholarship Recipients

Each year, the rare Ages Foundation Fellowship and Bursary Program is offered to students undergoing research on the property. The scholarship program is open to graduate students in any discipline, and helps ensure that successful candidates have the necessary resources to conduct and report their research at rare. It also provides the monetary support to allow the students to present his/her work at a conference in his/her discipline. For more information on the rare Ages Foundation Fellowship and Bursary Program, contact the Program Scientist, jenna.quinn at raresites.org.

Current scholarship recipients:

Ages Foundation Fellowship Recipient

Victoria MacPhail photo2017: Victoria MacPhail, PhD Candidate, York University, Faculty of Environmental Studies
Project: Understanding the decline of native bumble bee (Bombus spp.) pollinators in Canada using citizen science data
Supervisor: Dr. Sheila Colla

A message from Victoria: “Pollinators are critical for healthy ecosystems, being responsible for the reproduction of up to 90% of all flowering plants, but we know very little about them. I am interested in understanding the reasons for declines in some bumble bees in Ontario and Canada. I believe that my work will fill knowledge gaps, improve conservation status assessments, recommend recovery actions and influence policy for actions related to bumble bees. I encourage everyone to submit photos of bumble bees from their backyards or local parks or wherever your travels take you in North America to www.BumbleBeeWatch.org – you could help us find new locations of declining species and learn more about these important pollinators!”

Ages Foundation Bursaries

Heidi van Vliet photo2017: Heidi van Vliet, M.Sc Candidate, York University, Department of Biology
Project: The effects of agricultural intensification on the breeding success, juvenile survival and migration movements of Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
Supervisor: Dr. Bridget Stutchbury

A message from Heidi: “Grassland birds are steeply declining throughout North America. These declines are primarily due to habitat loss and degradation from agricultural intensification. I am studying the nesting success, fledgling survival, and migration movements of Savannah Sparrows breeding on intensive farmland in southern Ontario. I am using rare as one of my non-agricultural grassland sites to use as a comparison to the birds breeding on farmland. Studying grassland birds breeding on farmland is an important step in better understanding why they are declining and if breeding on farmland is negatively impacting them. I am thrilled to have received this award and excited for a second field season working at rare!”

 

Heather Cray photo2017: Heather Cray, PhD Candidate, University of Waterloo, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability
Project: Community assessment of invasive earthworms in restored southern Ontario tallgrass prairie
Supervisor: Dr. Stephen Murphy

A message from Heather: “With less than 1% remaining in Ontario, tallgrass prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America. Unfortunately, they are also facing new challenges. While we know that 17 species of exotic earthworms are spreading across Ontario and that they eat and bury seeds, key information about the presence, community structure, and population density of these novel seed predators is lacking. I will be addressing this knowledge gap by assessing the earthworm population in tallgrass prairie at rare. This research will inform future prairie restoration by adding another piece to the complex food web of establishing habitats and will deepen our understanding of factors related to earthworm invasion. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work with rare to shed light on the ecology of our new subterranean neighbors.”

 

Jonas Hamberg photo2017: Jonas Hamberg, PhD Candidate, University of Waterloo, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability
Project: Reducing noise pollution through ecosystem restoration
Supervisor: Dr. Stephen Murphy

A message from Jonas: “My interests lie in the intersection of restoration ecology, novel ecosystems and ecosystem function and services. One of the least studied services provided by nature is relative peace and quiet both through not being a source itself but also by the ability of vegetation, soil and topography to block noise. The rare research reserve provides a getaway for humans and habitat for animals through conservation and restoration. I am exploring how restoration and conservation of tallgrass prairie and forest attenuates noise pollution. I’ve enjoyed rare as a great place to hike, look for interesting plants and I’ve taken part in the Walk for rare. I was very happy to hear about getting the bursary, which will help with research equipment and travel.”

 

Previous recipients of the scholarship are listed below:

Mason Stothart Photo2016: Mason Stothart, M.Sc Candidate, University of Guelph- Department of Integrative Biology
Project: Synanthropic stress physiology and significance for sylvatic disease dynamics in city-dwelling Sciurus carolinensis
Supervisor: Dr. Amy Newman

A message from Mason: “Urban environments are among the fastest growing and most widely distributed ecosystems in the world, and although not naturally occurring, can host unique community assemblages. However, species seeking to colonize urban habitats must first overcome a wide suite of human generated stressors and selective pressures. Understanding the mechanisms that enable wildlife encroachment into these densely populated landscapes is important from both a human-wildlife conflict, and public health perspective. I will be investigating the effects of “city-life” on the stress and immune physiology of arguably the most successful of these fur-bearing urbanites, the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). As a preserved island of green in a sea of urban sprawl, the rare property is an invaluable foil for this urban v. exurban comparison. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside rare both in conducting this research, and in piloting a novel citizen science initiative for the local community. For more information regarding the CitiSci(urid) Project and how to get involved visit citisci.org, and stay tuned for our other upcoming wildlife monitoring citizen science initiatives!”

 

Photo of Kirsten McMillan

 2015: Kirsten McMillan, Ph.D. Candidate, Laurentian University, Genetics and Ecology of Amphibians Research Group
Project: Spatial epidemiology of co-infecting amphibian emerging infectious diseases
Supervisor: Dr. David Lesbarrères
**This scholarship was funded by the Nature Conservancy of Canada**

A message from Kirsten: “In recent decades, at least 43 % of amphibian species have declined, 32.5 % are globally threatened, 37 species are extinct and an additional 88 species are possibly extinct. Extinction is more than the loss of a species. With the extinction of any species, we also lose unique features and detailed adaptations which cannot be replaced. Additionally, these declines may be indicative of larger environmental problems with potentially systemic implications. Amphibian declines may be an early indicator of the impending loss of freshwater aquatic ecosystem services throughout the world. Due to the ecological importance and the expansive geographic range of amphibian decline (in both human-disturbed and seemingly pristine habitats) this matter has been acknowledged as a global conservation priority.”

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2015: Lindsey Clairmont, Ph.D. Candidate, Wilfrid Laurier University
Project: Characterizing the effects of water quality and wetland plant species on the structure and function of microbial rhizosphere communities
Supervisor: Dr. Robin Slawson
**This scholarship was funded by RBC Bluewater**

A message from Lindsey: The interactions occurring between microorganisms and plants within the rhizosphere are very complex and poorly understood. Many of the remedial capabilities of wetlands rely on processes occurring at the level of the rhizosphere in wetland plants. In order to optimize the remedial capabilities of constructed wetlands a better understanding of the factors that drive the microbial rhizosphere community structure is needed. My goal is to gain a better understanding of how microbial rhizosphere communities differ among different wetland plant species, and to determine the factors that drive these differences. I am particularly interested in the effect of varying water quality on rhizosphere community dynamics. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to conduct this exciting research at rare.”

 

2014 05 21 Scholarship Awarded_25K_6thyear_photo2014: Nimalka Weerasuriya & Sarah Allan, M.Sc Candidates, University of Western Ontario
Project: Disturbance effects on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in tallgrass prairies and native forests.
Supervisor: Dr. R. Greg Thorn

A message from Nimalka & Sarah: “Studying the responses of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to disturbances is a recurring theme in our Fungal Ecology lab. These are cryptic soil organisms that are intricately tied to the health of the plant communities, but are notoriously difficult to cultivate in a lab. We rely on genetic identification to help us determine the impacts of soil disturbances, such as agricultural tillage or invasive species growth, which may be changing the functional diversity of these fungi. We are very excited to have this opportunity to conduct this research at rare!”

 

2013: Eric Harvey, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Guelph
Project: Metacommunity dynamics and community assembly of restored tallgrass prairie
Supervisor: Dr. Andrew MacDougall

A message from Eric: “The complexity found in nature still stands unchallenged amongst sciences. I’m amazed by the nature and the characteristics of the interactions between species and how these interactions contribute in shaping ecosystem structure and functioning. This is exactly what ecology is, the study of the interactions between every living creature and with their environment. Ecology is the best science ever!”

 

 

2012: Stefan Schneider, M.Sc. Candidate, University of Guelph
Project: Spatial and temporal foraging behaviour of small mammals and their impacts on the plant community of a restored tallgrass prairie: an annual cycle
Supervisor: Dr. Andrew MacDougall

A message from Stefan Schneider: “Tallgrass prairie has all but disappeared in southern Ontario and what little that is left may be highly impacted by what small mammals are not eating. As cryptic consumers, their impacts go unnoticed yet can take an enormous toll on the plant community of a grassland system.”

 

2011: Martin Kastner, M.Sc. Candidate, University of Waterloo
Project: Ecological restoration of meadows in an urban environment
Supervisor: Dr. Stephen Murphy

 

 

 

 

2010: Stefan Weber, M.Sc. Candidate, University of Guelph
Project: Floral interactions and the role of pollination-niche traits in the assembly of spring ephemeral communities
Supervisor: Dr. Christina Caruso

2009: Heather Andrachuk, M.Sc. Candidate, University of Waterloo, Department of Environment and Resource Studies
Project: Monitoring pollinators: examining the efficacy of Citizen Science observations
Supervisor: Dr. Steve Murphy

2009: Rashad Bhamjee, M.Sc. Candidate, University of Guelph, Department of Geography
Project: Monitoring stream network extent in agricultural headwater streams
Supervisor: Dr. John Lindsay

2009: Jessica Grealey, M.Sc. Candidate, University of Waterloo, Department of Environment and Resource Studies
Project: Monitoring butterfly abundance and diversity along an urban gradient in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario: using butterflies as biodiversity indicators in a changing landscape
Supervisor: Dr. Stephen Murphy

2009: Adam Brunke, M.Sc. Candidate, University of Guelph
Project: Characterizing the role of rove beetles (Staphylinidae) in complementing coccinellid predation of soybean aphids
Supervisor: Dr. Rebecca Hallett
**This scholarship was funded by The Cloverleaf Foundation**

rare Charitable Research Reserve
1679 Blair Road
Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8
(519) 650-9336
Charitable Registration:
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