Life After NRES Graduate Studies

Allan Carson M.Sc, R.P.Bio, P.Ag
Graduated 2013
Plant Ecologist and Re-vegetation Specialist
Cooper Beauchesne and Associates Ltd.

Since I first began my studies in post-secondary education, I have always pursued a strong scholarly interest in the sciences of plant biology and ecology. In January 2009, I enrolled as a graduate student at UNBC in the Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Program (NRES). During my studies, I was provided with unlimited resources and support that enabled me to continue with my professional development as a research biologist. I was constantly informed of, and encouraged to participate in, professional events such as conferences, workshops and lectures, by both the university and my supervisors. Laboratory facilities at UNBC (e.g., Then Enhanced Forestry Laboratory) allowed me to practice techniques for the collection and germination testing of native plant seeds for revegetation of disturbed environments. And, the courses I completed in soil and plant science helped me to develop a working knowledge of soil processes and how to construct adequate mediums for plant growth.

Most importantly however, my supervisors, along with a variety of other professors, researchers and university staff, provided me with the unconditional support I needed to succeed in all the challenges I encounter during my studies. I am extremely grateful for everything UNBC has provided me, both in my personal life and in my professional development.


Darin Brooks, MSc NRES
Graduated 2013
Instructor - GIS Applications Specialist Program (post-diploma), Instructional Coordinator
Natural Resources, College of the North Atlantic

I am very proud of my University of Northern British Columbia Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies degree and feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to earn that degree at such an acclaimed university under the supervision of highly respected experts. Dr. Phil Burton, Dr. Roger Wheate, and Dr. Michael Gillingham (my committee members), provided me with more than a path to earning my MNRES degree.  They taught me that the successful defense of my thesis was not the end of my journey, but rather just the beginning of a much more rewarding path.  They showed me that my educational experience at UNBC was more than the pursuit of scholarly achievement.  It was an opportunity to pursue critical thinking skills, to establish effective research habits, and the time to question commonly accepted paradigms.

In the end, UNBC allowed me to continue pursuing my Master’s degree from a distance when my life circumstances changed.  My supervisors showed great faith in me and stuck their necks out on more than one occasion, providing me with more latitude than I deserved.  I can confidently state that the successful completion of my thesis would not have been possible without their patience, guidance, and support. They are incredible mentors ... and consequently I am a better student, teacher, and mentor for having worked with them.

UNBC is a world class educational institution and provides its graduates with the opportunity to change the world around them.  I would not hesitate to recommend UNBC to undergraduates looking for an exceptional educational experience.


Nick Ehlers, MA NRES (Geography)
Graduated 2013
Biology/Environmental Science Teacher at High Tech High Chula Vista (southern California, U.S.A)

After graduating from Oregon State University (Biology major), I moved to southern California and had the pleasure to work at the Dana Point Ocean Institute (a nonprofit marine science educational facility). I met my now wife, Libby Williamson - who also received her Master's at UNBC (MSc. NRES), and we moved to Yellowstone National Park to study wolves on the Wolf Project.
Three years later, Libby found Dr. Chris Johnson at UNBC and applied to take her experience in the wolf world north. I followed and worked on campus as the Director of the Prince George Public Interest Research Group (PGPIRG). I then found out about Dr. Zoë Meletis and her research in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Soon enough I  was interviewing locally living people and kayaking throughout the canals of Tortuguero gathering information to better understand impacts of ecotourism-related motorboat use. This was an amazing experience! I was combining my passions for people, the outdoors, and the environment. I now work at a Project Based Learning (PBL) charter school in San Diego county, where I share my passions with 11th grade students.
Thank you Dr. Meletis and the wonderful community at UNBC for providing such a warm and welcoming place to learn.


Tara Anderson, MSc NRES (Biology)
Graduated 2011
Wildlife Biologist
United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, Idaho

As a graduate student at UNBC, I studied the winter ecology of barren-ground caribou in the Northwest Territories.  While completing the field portion of my project I was lucky to experience some of the most wild and remote places on the continent and meet amazing people in the Indigenous communities of Gamètì and Wekweti.  Days in the field consisted of flying in a single-passenger plane, tracking collared caribou, and snowshoeing into sites to measure snow conditions.  During the summer, we revisited these sites to measure lichen abundance, and of course, to donate blood to the local insect population.  Besides the fun and challenging times in the field, my experience at UNBC taught me what it takes to execute a research project. 

About 2 ½ years ago, I was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in south central Idaho as a wildlife biologist.  The sagebrush steppe is nearly polar opposite from the Canadian taiga, but the biological principles really aren’t so different.  My primary job is to monitor wildlife habitat, including upland and riparian areas.  We restore burned tracts with native vegetation, including sagebrush, perennial grasses, and forbs.  In accordance with BLM’s multiple-use mandate, a portion of my time is spent reviewing proposals for projects on public land.  I’ve also had the opportunity to collar and study greater sage-grouse, a sagebrush-obligate species that has experienced marked population declines throughout its range.  Similar to my research on caribou, I am investigating the effects of climate and fire on the bird’s decline.

I am appreciative of my time at UNBC and the opportunities my education there has since afforded me.  As a biologist working for the BLM, I have a great opportunity and responsibility to help manage public lands to benefit wildlife.


Bruce R. Muir, MA NRES
Graduated 2011

I was born and raised in eastern Ontario, Canada.  My decision to attend the main campus of the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George, British Columbia (BC), was based on the opportunity to experience the developing issues and concerns of environmental studies firsthand.  And that’s exactly what I received!

Over the course of roughly a decade, I earned an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and a master’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from the College of Science and Management at UNBC.

Much of my work post-UNBC has been in northern BC and Canada.  The academic skills that I acquired have proven to be invaluable, particularly in my work with Aboriginal groups.  They provided me with a structural foundation from which I have been able to help protect the procedural and substantive interests of Aboriginal groups with regard to their territories.  My appreciation for their philosophies, worldviews, and cultures in general is grounded in the unique teachings of my traditional teachers.

My recent work on the protection of endangered species, specifically caribou, has arguably been the most rewarding and challenging endeavour of my career thus far.  The multidisciplinary basis of my degrees has provided me with the ability to participate in nearly all aspects of the process.  This includes: the collection of telemetry data via GPS collars from caribou (as shown in the picture), the collection of traditional knowledge from Aboriginal peoples via interviews and mapping exercises, development of a land use plan that satisfies Canada’s Species at Risk Act, and policy-implementation with industry-proponents and government regulators.

Currently, I work with many northern communities on matters relating to land use planning, participation and engagement, cultural traditions and practices, spatial analysis with GIS, environmental and social impact assessments, and natural resource management.  Training in the graduate program, which prepares students for leading their fields in research, has enabled me to put forward scientific research papers that have been well received by academic journals, books, and conferences at the national and international levels.  In my spare time, I volunteer as a Research Associate with the David Suzuki Foundation on conservation projects.

It’s not often that degrees and universities prepare a student for such diverse roles in the environmental field.  But that is exactly what I obtained from UNBC. The distinct experience has definitely paid dividends in my career.       


Domenico Santomauro, MNRES
Graduated 2009
Director of Great Bear Environmental and Cultural Consulting Ltd. (Great Bear)

Domenico Santomauro is the Director of Great Bear Environmental and Cultural Consulting Ltd (Great Bear). Dominic obtained a Bachelor Degree in Geographic Sciences (B.Gs) from the University of Bologna (Italy), a EAP diploma from the University of California Santa Barbara (US), and moved to Canada in 2005 where he received a Master’s Degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (M.NRES) from the University of Northern British Columbia.

After completing his master Dominic moved to Fort St. John where he was employed as environmental and cultural technician and as project ecologist. In this time he achieved certification as Environmental Professional (EP) specialized in natural resource management, fisheries and wildlife, policy and legislation; as Applied Science Environmental Technologist (AScT), and became a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners (MCIP).

After taking a lead role to increasingly larger and complex development projects in 2012 Dominic incorporated Great Bear Consulting. As its director he worked on contracts for industry, government and First Nations in British Columbia, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan.
Samples of projects from Dominic's portfolio include environmental management and monitoring plans for multi-year infrastructure projects and trans-provincial pipelines, wildlife surveys, regulatory approvals for the upstream oil and gas sector, First Nation training, community-based sampling programs, reclamation programs and land use planning consultation.
In 2014 Great Bear Consulting and Corvidae Environmental Consulting Inc. entered into a strategic Joint Venture to expand personnel and expertise capacity across western Canada. Dominic currently divides his time between Yellowknife and Fort St. John.


Travis G Gerwing, MSc NRES (Biology)
Graduated 2009
PhD Candidate and Instructor
University of New Brunswick

I am currently finishing my PhD at University of New Brunswick working on the interactions of the living and nonliving components of an ecosystem. Modern technologies are expanding our understanding of just how connected our ecosystems are. Such an understanding will help us not only predict changes to our environment, but perhaps help our remediation efforts as well.

Growing up in a small mountain town exposed me to the many wonders of nature at an early age, and it is no surprise my research career also focuses on Canada's magnificent ecosystems. However, my passion to understand nature is equalled by my passion to teach, as well as understand how to improve the way individuals and institutions educate the next generation.


Kyle Kusch, MA NRES (Geography)   
Graduated 2009

Since September 2012, I have been working as an archivist with the Arrow Lakes Historical Society in Nakusp, BC. My task has been to re-scan, reorganise and re-catalogue around 11,500 photos, 7,000 negatives, and 2,000 slides (plus work with the countless additional documents in our archives), as well as provide appropriate metadata and historical information for all of them (as well as doing the same for all of the new accessions constantly coming in). It's probably the last thing I'd figured I'd wind up doing when I first enrolled to write my Masters thesis ten years ago, but my time at UNBC absolutely led to this position, and I couldn't imagine doing anything else right now. My time in the NRES programme and with the Community Development Institute has informed everything I do here - rural, small-town, and historical research; data collection and harvesting; public interaction; oral history analysis; working professionally in a team environment - all of those skills I owe to my time at UNBC. I'm very loyal to UNBC and I actually still maintain and update the Community Development Institute website for Greg Halseth and his team to this day.

Prior to my current job, I operated the local community radio station here in Nakusp after completing my Masters in 2009 and operated a (surprisingly, at least to me) popular 'geo-oddity' website called The Basement Geographer which concluded its run in November 2013 once real life got too busy.


Pierre-Paul Bitton, MSc NRES (Biology)
Graduated 2007
PhD Candidate
University of Windsor

Throughout the Masters’ process I was able to publish 4 papers, one of which was my undergrad thesis.
I worked in consulting for (at the time) Manning Cooper and Associates, now called Cooper Beauchesne and Associates, in 2007 and 2008.
In 2009 Cory Ochs (BSc 2007 Biology UNBC) and I travelled 50 weeks in South America travelling 8 countries.
In 2010 I started my PhD in Windsor, studying the evolution of plumage in tropical birds. Cory and I also got married that year, and we now have an 8 month old son. Cory started an MSc in Neurobiology which should be completed at the end of this year.
I have so far published 5 papers during my PhD, and should complete my degree in August of this year. Last semester, I was fortunate to be hired as a sessional lecturer at the University of Michigan for a 4th year course in Ornithology. I have already been asked to teach the class again next Fall.

Of course, my degrees at UNBC are the reason why I have been able to succeed so far. The ability to start conducting research in my first year as an undergrad gave me a lasting head start. I use daily the skills I have acquired while working with Russ Dawson.


Lisa Wood, MSc NRES (Forestry)
Graduated 2006
Senior Researcher
Spectrum Resource Group, Prince George, BC

I graduated with my BSc. - Forestry in 2004 and MSc. NRES-Forestry in 2006 - both from UNBC. Since then I attained my RPF designation with the ABCFP, and completed my PhD from UVIC studying climate and wood anatomy through dendrochronological techniques. I taught a few courses at UNBC and was employed as a Senior Lab Instructor in ESM from 2010 to 2012. 
In April of 2012 I got a position as the Senior Researcher at Spectrum Resource Group in Prince George, and since then have been working on developing a research program to study various aspects of Spectrum's vegetation management operations.  My current research is centered around 3 main studies: 1) The efficacy and consistency of herbicide applied in a variation of natural conditions to invasive weeds and other competitive vegetation; as well as a comparison of herbicide to other chemical, mechanical, and biological management techniques; 2) The development of a combustion model for mountain pine beetle log piles and its relationship to  beetle mortality; and 3) The survival and growth of native plants on disturbed and/or reclaimed soil substrates.

I definitely would not be where I am today without my degree experiences from UNBC.  I live and work in the north, and UNBC not only introduced me to the environments and landscapes of the north to gain a basic and fundamental understanding of my surroundings, but also provided necessary networking opportunities to work in this part of the world.  I benefited from the fact that the undergraduate degree in Forestry is certified with the ABCFP, allowing me to gain my RPF designation, which in combination with my PhD, allowed me to transition into my current position at Spectrum Resource Group. I feel that the learning environment that UNBC offers to students is invaluable for work in natural resource management.  As a student coming to UNBC from Winnipeg, I gained an appreciation for the forest industry, and an understanding of its importance to community and economy as well as how it can work in conjunction with a healthy environment, which is something that I don't think I could have experienced at any other University.


Brett Boukall, MSc NRES (Biology)
Graduated in 2006
Regional Habitat Lead Biologist
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
Government of Alberta

I graduated with a MSc from NRES in 2006 on a thesis investigating territorial quality influences on peregrine falcon productivity.

I worked on various projects around Western Canada largely focusing on habitat related wildlife research and management. In 2008 I started with the Alberta Government as the Provincial Wildlife Habitat Biologist, responsible for development of policy related to wildlife habitat management. I took a new position within the Alberta Government in 2013 as the Senior Wildlife Biologist in Calgary.
The MSc from UNBC gave me an ability to think objectively and logically about resource management, with the skills to critically evaluate research and wildlife management. 


Adrian Clarke, MSc NRES  (Biology)
Graduated 2005
Vice President Science
Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC

I enrolled at the University of Northern British Columbia as a mature student at the age of 27 and obtained my BSc in Fisheries Biology.  I later did my MSc at UNBC, in Natural Resources and Environmental Science.  My project examined the migration patterns of eulachon, bull trout and arctic grayling.  Along the way, I developed a new technique for determining the age of eulachon, since traditional methods don’t work with this species.  By looking at the composition of their ear bones (otoliths), which grow like tree rings, I was able to identify movement patterns, age at maturity and other life history characteristics.

After graduation my career started as a Fisheries Biologist with the Ministry of Environment in Prince George. After three years in this position ,  I was hired by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC in 2007 as the Head of the R&D unit. Currently, I am of the VP of Science and a member of the Society’s Senior Management Team. The focus of my position is to lead several business areas for FFSBC including Fish Health Services, Research and Evaluation as well as Program Support and Business Development. In my role I work closely with not only our own staff but also with provincial fisheries managers and many other partners including universities and other levels of government. All of our activities are focused on the FFSBC and provincial fisheries priorities – i.e. to enhance and conserve the freshwater fisheries resources of the province for the benefit of the public.

Part of my job involves managing funding for the Small Lakes Management and Conservation Initiative. This program aims to improve the management of small lake fisheries while protecting wild fish populations. Funds for the initiative are derived through angling license fees (another good reason to buy your fishing licence). Supported projects range from specific lakes to regional or provincial issues and include: stocked lake assessments, wild fisheries assessments, stock development and evaluation, small lakes management, development of new management tools, and angler use and preferences.

I also represent FFSBC on the Provincial Angling Advisory Team, made up of angling stakeholders, resort and guide outfitters, and provincial government fisheries managers and biologists. The team’s main goal is to assist the Director of Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management in managing freshwater fishery resources sustainably, economically and in consideration of First Nation and stakeholder interests.


Name withheld by request
MSc NRES
Graduated 2005
Current Position:  Federal Government

My current work is not directly related to my MSc in NRES; however, I cannot stress enough about how important ALL the transferable skills have been!
The skills and knowledge I learned in my graduate studies, combined with the guidance, expectations, and opportunities from working with Greg are fully being utilized (i.e.: critical thinking, substantiating arguments with stats, clear/concise writing skills, public presentations at conferences).

One exceptional thing about UNBC is the integrated studies and the exposure to a variety of potential career paths. I am a western Canada regional policy consultant and, on any given day, I deal with labour market issues from any and all sectors - so having some critical awareness from different fields have been incredibly valuable in contributing to public policy refinements - especially when it impacts on small, resource-based communities!


David James Arkinstall, MSc NRES
Graduated 2005

My name is David James Arkinstall. I graduated as a mature student from UNBC in 2005 with a MSc. in Environmental Science, majoring in advanced analytic techniques.
I spent the following 6 years working as the laboratory manager for the Okanagan Region Chemical Analysis Center at UNCO in Kelowna, where I spent several years conducting stable-isotope analyses on wolf and grizzly bear hair for the BC MOE, and in the UBCO Chemistry Department as the Analytic and Physical Chemistry lab technician.
For the last 3 years, I have run SEMLAB, the UBCO scanning electron microscope facility. The facility boasts a state-of-technology Tescan MIRA3 Field Emission SEM with a full complement of analytic detectors: secondary electron, backscatter electron and in-beam detectors for high resolution images up to 1,000,000x magnification, EDX (energy-dispersive X-ray analysis) for discrete and elemental mapping analyses, and EBSD (electron back-scatter diffraction) for crystal-phase identification, characterization, frequency distribution  and crystal orientation.  The instrument has proven to be an extremely powerful tool for Engineering and Surface Sciences. This position is now being funded as full time, permanent. It is easily the best job in the University, a job made possible by the advanced instrumental training made available to me by Dr. Lito Arocena and Dr. Ellen Petticrew at UNBC. In my spare time (HA!), I double as the technician in the Fipke Laboratory for Trace Element Research, which houses an ICP-OES, a quadrupole ICP- MS, and a state of technology Element XR ICP-MS equipped with a 193nm eximer ablation laser.  Again, my training at UNBC laid the theoretical groundwork for expanding my skillset into these immensely interesting fields.
I have learned many things in the past… clearly, the most important being the value of advanced education. It will be yours for the rest of your life, and cannot be taxed or taken away. Avail yourself of it if you can.
David


Jason Llewellyn, MSc NRES (Environmental Science)
Graduated 2000
Director of Planning
Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako

I completed my degree as a part time student while working as a Planner for the City of Prince George.  Shortly after graduation from UNBC with a MSc. in Environmental Science I became Manager of Current Planning and Development for the City of Prince George. I  have subsequently worked for the Town of Smithers as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer / Director of Planning, and the Regional District of Nanaimo as Manager of Community Planning.  While I enjoyed my time on Vancouver Island I missed the north a great deal and was given the opportunity to serve as Director of Planning for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.  I have been in this position for 6 years.    

My time at UNBC in the NRES Program has had a significant positive impact on my career, and my personal life.  The NRES program at UNBC offered me an opportunity to obtain a degree while working in my chosen field.  The NRES Program allowed me the flexibility to focus my studies on the northern interior of the Province, and benefit from Professors with related research interests.  And, my NRES degree provided me with the knowledge and credentials necessary to achieve a career path that has been highly rewarding.

In addition to the above work I was able to stay connected to UNBC as an Instructor in the Environmental Planning Program, where I taught ENPL 410 (Professional Planning Practice), ENPL 104 (Introduction to Planning), and ENPL 204 (Principles and Practices of Planning) over a number of years.

On a more personal level many of my fellow students and Professors have remained my close personal friends to this day.  I believe that these long lasting friendships were facilitated by the high level of interaction that UNBC fostered between students and professors.        


Glynnis Hood, MSc NRM, PhD
Graduated 1999
Assistant Professor, Environmental Science
Augustana Campus
University of Alberta

After finishing my MSc in Natural Resources Management I accepted a senior park warden position with Parks Canada and moved to Wood Buffalo National Park (Fort Smith, NWT). After two years I was accepted into a PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta and moved to Edmonton. Early on in my PhD, Elk Island National Park accepted a transfer of my warden position where I worked until shortly after I completed my PhD. In July 2007, I took a position as an assistant professor in Environmental Science at the University of Alberta's Augustana campus and received tenure and promotion in October  2010.

My MSc from UNBC and wonderful mentorship from Dr. Kathy Parker were instrumental in my progress in both Parks Canada and the University of Alberta.


Carolyn Whittaker, MSc NRES
Graduated 1997
Ecologist and Science Extension Specialist
The Firelightgroup

Over the past 15 years I have worked as an ecologist and science extension specialist integrating quality science into resource management solutions for communities, managers, and governments. I have coordinated strategic stakeholder processes, provided communications and extension services, and done community-based research on species at risk and community-based monitoring.
I have significant experience in organizational development and multi-stakeholder processes, for example coordinating a process to set targets for the implementation of Ecosystem Based Forest Management on the Coast (retention of old growth forests) and designing a framework for policy development and business planning with the Ktunaxa Nation.

Recently my research has focused on developing community-based monitoring based on traditional ecological knowledge. I have developed forestry standards for the boreal as a steering committee member for Forest Stewardship Council Canada, completed species at risk and conservation studies, and developed community-based monitoring plans for First Nations communities.
I have coordinated cross-disciplinary research programs in Canada (the Sustainable Forests Management Network), the US (Rutgers University Center for Environmental Indicators), and the circumpolar Boreal (BorNet, a boreal network of scientists and forest practitioners).

In 2009 I worked with 8 colleagues to co-found a research group called the Firelight Group Research Cooperative. I was the founding CEO until 2013. I am now a Director and Lead of the Ecology business area. Our Victoria-based organization currently has a staff of approximately 20 and we work to provide First Nations across western Canada with high quality technical support in environmental assessments and other processes.  
My masters degree from UNBC was a great stepping stone for my career as it allowed me to take courses in a range of fields and to work across the disciplines of resource management and western science. Although there were many excellent teachers while I was at UNBC, a few mentors stood out. I was lucky to have Fred Gilbert as a supervisor to challenge me to be the best researcher that I could be. I was also privileged to learn about wildlife management from Mike Gillingham and to take Integrated Resource Management with Winnifred Kessler. Thanks also to professor Annie Booth for first reaching out to invite me to attend UNBC, for supporting me on my Committee and for contacting me after all these years.


Dan Bernier, MSc NRES (Biology), RPBio       
Graduated 1997
Senior Biologist and Environmental Scientist
Ecora Resource Group

I believe my MSc has been remarkably valuable as my career has progressed over the past 17 years since I left UNBC. At the beginning of my career, my MSc provided me with extra competitive advantage over many of my peers, allowing me to advance within my first few jobs substantially faster than those without an advanced degree. The degree gave me additional credibility as a consulting biologist, qualifying me for interesting research projects and allowed me to co-author numerous technical field guides on species at risk in BC.

These successes ultimately led to me starting Ecora Resource Group with 4 other professionals, one of which (Kelly Sherman) is also a UNBC graduate in forestry. Ecora has seen significant growth in the past few years and employs approximately 50 professionals full-time in BC, with additional part-time staff and contractors locally and internationally. Our core business is still in natural resource management, but our businesses also include an engineering consultancy, an international log home company, a property management group and a timber export brokerage.

Currently in my role as Chairman and COO of the Ecora Group of Companies, I rely on the critical thinking skills and communication skills that I first learned and honed from my mentors and supervisors at UNBC. I could not have succeeded in my chosen career path without the advantage of an MSc from UNBC.