Scholarship Recipients

Each year, the rare Scholarship in Graduate Research is offered to a student undergoing research on the property. The scholarship 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 student to present his/her work at a conference in his/her discipline. For more information on the rare Scholarship in Graduate Research, contact the Program Scientist, jenna.quinn at

Current scholarship recipients:


Photo by A. Newman

2016: 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, and stay tuned for our other upcoming wildlife monitoring citizen science initiatives!”

NCC Scholarship

Photo provided by K. McMillan

Photo provided by K. 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

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.”

Previous recipients of the scholarship are listed below:

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

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: 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

rare Charitable Research Reserve
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