My work involves tromping around in beautiful bogs, sea kayaking, canoeing and boating to remote and wild locations, experiments and working with the local community to conserve the Western Toad (the only indigenous amphibian on Haida Gwaii).

Research Description

I am currently researching conservation biology of amphibians on Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada as part of my PhD. My work involves tromping around in beautiful bogs, sea kayaking, canoeing and boating to remote and wild locations, experiments and working with the local community to conserve the Western Toad (the only indigenous amphibian on Haida Gwaii). Thousands of years of isolation from the mainland have evolved numerous unique subspecies on Haida Gwaii such as the largest black bear in North America. I am investigating an unexplored novel interaction between a toad isolated from all other amphibians for millennia that is recently in contact with introduced frogs.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

It means being accountable to the community and making my findings accessible to the community that I work with.

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

The PSI encourages PhD topics to be more relevant, making students well-rounded and more employable beyond academia.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

As part of my PhD I am working with various government agencies which is great because I am interested in working in government. I also really enjoy working with the community through my work, so I hope I can incorporate that part of science into my career too.

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

I believe that community involvement is of utmost importance in gaining sustainable long-term conservation outcomes. Last year I lived in Masset, Haida Gwaii for five months and made some special connections with the community and the local elementary school. During this time I ran a citizen science project which gathered over 50 observations and led to the discovery of several previously unknown toad breeding sites. I also worked with landowners to protect and monitor toad breeding sites and I hosted an interactive workshop with the local school. My involvement with the school resulted in children becoming so excited about toads that they performed a toad puppet show for the town while I was there. Through my project I have worked with the Council of the Haida Nation, Parks Canada, BC Parks and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development.

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

By igniting children’s curiosity in science through my citizen science work! I also hope to help conservation outcomes for the indigenous toad on Haida Gwaii which is very important for the Haida Nation.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I am passionate about using science to help inform conservation management and believe that doing conservation research is the best way for me to make a positive impact.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

A great university set in the mountains, what more could an outdoorsy student want?! A combination of a great grad student program and easy access to the outdoors.

 

I believe that community involvement is of utmost importance in gaining sustainable long-term conservation outcomes.