"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." -Albert Einstein
I am currently on maternity leave but will be starting as an assistant professor of conservation science at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada), in September 2023 and am looking forward to welcoming students into our research group!
A little bit about my academic mentorship philosophy Science has much to offer to society, but without appropriate education most people are unlikely to know or care about that. This is what drives my passion for science education. Through teaching and mentorship, I strive to ignite curiosity and enthusiasm for conservation sciences, equip learners of all kinds with the skills required to actively engage with scientific advancement, and move through their lives with improved understanding of science and the contributions it has potential to make to society. I seek to accomplish these objectives all while providing a safe, fun, and inclusive learning environment that helps guide the students and research group members I work with toward meaningful careers.
Working with students to help them to put the scientific process into practice from start to finish on a research project they develop and lead is one of the most rewarding parts of my job - it is something I look forward to everyday!
What being a member of our research group looks like As a student or post-doc working in our team your primary goal is to produce quality research related to the topics we work on and make that research available to the public so that it can contribute to the advancement of science. Getting there takes hard work and perseverance, but it can be a lot of fun! It is my job to help guide through this process in a fun way that allows you to learn while you're at it and move on to doing something you love when you finish your time with us.
Program requirements Carleton's biology graduate programs require that research you produce be packaged into a thesis at the end of your degree, but I also expect it to be (at least partially) published in scientific journals. I expect Masters students to produce at least one scientific publication over of the course of their degree, and PhD students to produce at least three. I will work directly with you to help guide you through this process in a fun and constructive way. I am also really keen to discuss ways your research can be shared in alternative formats (e.g. video, podcast, art exhibitions, etc.). While producing high quality research is at the centre of Carleton's graduate programs in Biology, there are also other program requirements (e.g. classes). You can find out more about these here: https://carleton.ca/biology/graduate-programs/.
Regular one-on-one meetings and written feedback When leading research projects you become the boss of your projects. You are expected to be the person making sure the project is completed in a timely manner and is of the outmost quality. However, as a student, you are not expected to do this alone! It is my job to guide you through this process and help make sure it is a fun one for you. I cannot do the work for you, but you can expect me to help you make a plan for how to get there, and guide you through the process as you see that plan through. To achieve that, I have regular one-on-one meetings with each of my team members. There is no fixed number of meetings, but this looks something like one meeting/week when you start your program, and a little less as you advance through it and gain independence. During these meetings I will expect you to provide updates about the work you've done, or are planning on doing so we can discuss this together. During discussions we will brainstorm any problems you are facing and I hope to be able to provide constructive feedback. I am also committed to providing feedback on any written work you submit to me within a two-week timeline and answering all e-mails within a week (expect while I am on vacation or doing field work - which you will of course know about!). These meetings are also the time to check in about funding opportunities and plan for grants you will apply to, as well as activities or collaborations you'd like to engage in that go beyond the scope of your core program requirements (e.g. you would like to go to a special workshop, participate in a working group, attend a conference, etc.).
Annual mentorship check-ins and reviews At the start of every academic year I am committed to having an annual career mentorship and feedback meeting with each of my team members. During this meeting we will speak about your short and long-term career goals and work together to identify ways to help you achieve them. This may mean me providing you with advice, or connecting you with people that can (e.g. folks outside the academic sector). We will also seize this time to explicitly give each other feedback in a structured and constructive way regarding our experience working together. This time is important so we can work to maintain a good relationship throughout the completion of your degree (and hopefully after as well!).
Bi-weekly team meetings The research projects you lead will require a good amount of work done on your own, but that doesn't mean that working in our group won't also be a team experience. We organize a group meeting once every two weeks where we have sessions on special topics, provide each other with feedback, work on collaborative projects, or catch up about we are all up to. Special sessions include things like discussions about work-life balance and strategies that can be used to attain academic goals all the while maintaining mental health, phenomena like imposter syndrome, the normalcy of rejection, and ways to overcome hard emotions associated with these phenomena. Collective constructive feedback is provided on specific things group members are working on (e.g. a conference presentation, a publication, a workshop being hosted, a course being taught, etc.). You can also expect to be invited to participate in a few social group events every year.
Stipend and timing Graduate studies in science are hard work. In my view, they are a job - after all, you are producing quality research that in turn contributes to scientific advancement! This is why I am very thankful that in Canada it is the norm for graduate students in biology to receive a stipend. Stipend ranges vary greatly across institutions and groups, but I am committed to providing a living wage for members of our group. This means having sufficient funds to cover your tuition fees, the cost of housing, purchasing food and other essentials. Figuring out exactly what this value is can be hard as some people may have more financial responsibilities and needs (e.g. paying for childcare, need to house alone in an apartment vs. sharing an apartment, etc.). The minimum annual stipend I guarantee for graduate students is 27K, which I hope is sufficient for essential costs. If this is insufficient for you given your circumstances but you are still interested in working in the group I would welcome a discussion about the topic - please feel free to reach out to me! All students applying to work in the group will be asked to submit applications for relevant external funding to help cover these costs (e.g. NSERC, Mitacs, etc.). I will help prospective students identify these sources and prepare applications for them. Your stipend will also partially be covered by teaching assistantships (which are paid positions offered to graduate students in the department of biology). I want to note that I do sincerely wish that all people in our group could make more than this and am committed to work to try and make that possible.
Masters degrees typically take two years to complete and PhD degrees take four. This can be shorter or longer depending on your work style and what you aim to accomplish during your degree. I am committed to providing funding for a minimum of two years for Masters students and four years for PhD students. As a result, I expect you to work hard when you work and communicate with me regularly about how things are going. I also expect you to take time off, both on a day-to-day level and over the course of the year. A typical work week need not include more than 40hours of work (but also shouldn't be less than ~35hours), and three weeks of vacation time per year is the norm.
Interested in joining? If you are interested in joining the team to conduct an undergraduate thesis, or a Masters/PhD degree centred around the research themes we work on, please feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com. Make sure to include a CV, a copy of your academic record, and a cover letter outlining why you interested in working with our group, the related skills you have or are interested in acquiring, and what specific types of research topics you picture yourself working on with us. You will need to talk to me directly and have my go ahead to join our group before applying through the graduate admissions portal: https://graduate.carleton.ca/. I am also very open to co-supervisions - these are a really fun way to get guidance in multiple different areas of expertise! Please note that I am unfortunately unable to accept any international (non-Canadian) MSc students until the fall of 2025.
Although I welcome applications from folks who want to develop their own project ideas I also occasionally have some pre-developed and funded ideas I'm specifically looking for students to work on. When available these positions are listed below. You can click on the below project titles to find out more.