Current Research Group Members


Simon Landhäusser


Professor and NSERC Industrial Chair. Forest land reclamation and applied forest ecology.

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Simon Bockstette, PhD Candidate
Roots in reconstructed soils

Co-supervisors: Dr. Miles Dyck (University of Alberta), Dr. Brad Pinno (Canadian Forest Service)

Simon studies the rooting behaviour of boreal tree species in coal and oil sands reclamation in order to better understand requirements for healthy root growth, a key factor in successful tree establishment. This involves monitoring roots in place, harvesting and analyzing entire root systems, and measuring soil physical and chemical parameters to link environmental factors and rooting behaviour.  

Jana Bockstette, MSc Student
Growth performance of planted tree seedlings on differently treated reclamation sites

Co-supervisor: Dr. Douglass Jacobs (Purdue University, Indiana)

Jana’s field research investigates growth performance of boreal tree species (trembling aspen, jack pine and white spruce) planted on different reconstructed soils varying in nutrient status, water availability, and temperature in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region. She detected a difference in soil temperature and a lack of warming between two capping materials (peat and forest floor mix), which may explain differences in growth performance of planted seedlings. With this in mind, Jana established a growth chamber experiment with the aim of further determining the effect of low soil temperatures and different speeds of warming on jack pine seedlings during bud flush. Jana is also studying the planting success of aspen on an abandoned coal mine near Edmonton where topsoil was not available for reclamation purposes. In this study, she experimented with two different soil amendments (biochar and mineral fertilizer) with the intention of enriching subsoil by improving its water and nutrient retention. In her free time she enjoys Yoga, Zumba, knitting and playing with her sons, David and Aaron.  

Pak Chow, Lab Technician

Pak works as a laboratory technician in the Landhäusser Research Group. He conducts chemical analyses on plant tissue and soil samples to support plant ecophysiology studies, trains graduate students on these procedures, and maintains the labs. 

Ashley Hart, MSc Student

Hydraulic redistribution and carbon remobilization in trembling aspen

Ashley's background in tree ecophysiology has led to two projects focused on the redistribution and remobilization of resources, specifically water and carbon, in trembling aspen. For her first project, she'll be partnering up with Morgane Merlin to conduct a growth chamber experiment investigating the role of aspen root systems in handling fluctuations in soil water through a process known as lateral hydraulic redistribution. For her second project, she'll be investigating nonstructural carbohydrate storage and remobilization using grafted aspen seedlings and labeled carbon. Ashley enjoys spending weekends out at the lake, going for nature walks, and baking delicious desserts! 

Caren Jones, Research Assistant
Early vegetation community development and dispersal in upland boreal forest mine reclamation (Abstract)

Caren completed her masters with the Landhäusser research group in 2016. Her thesis work focused on how colonizing vegetation communities develop and disperse in upland boreal forest reclamation sites. As a research assistant she is continuing work on various reclamation related projects that the Landhäusser research group has been involved with over the years. When not pressing and identifying plants, Caren enjoys playing basketball, knitting and spending time with other people's dogs.  
Fran Leishman, Field Technician

Fran provides field and technical support to the Landhäusser Research Group. She is also conducting research on the upland areas of a reconstructed watershed where she is investigating the interrelationships between tree species and planting density, understory development and potential water use on sites differing in capping material, slope and aspect. In addition, Fran coordinates the laboratories for the forest plant identification course, Ren R 120.
Morgane Merlin, PhD Candidate

Morgane’s past research experiences with Antarctic mosses, temperate forests tree species and ectomycorrhizal fungi have led her to a deep interest in how plants (trees, shrubs or ground vegetation) respond to environmental change especially linked to climate change and water use. Her aim is to pursue this path as she starts her PhD with the Landhausser Group on reclamation sites. In her spare time, she enjoys riding horses in the mountains and being with horses in general, hiking, travelling and painting. 


Sheryl Ramnarine, MSc Student
Forest regeneration on coarse-textured oil sands exploration (OSE) sites
Co-supervisor: Dr. Miles Dyck

Sheryl is studying the changes to soil physical and chemical properties that may result from slow forest regeneration on coarse-textured OSE sites. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling to warm places, trying out nice restaurants and spending quality time with her friends.   

Natalie Scott, MSc Student
The progression of ectomycorrhizal communities in boreal forest restoration 
Co-supervisor: Dr. Justine Karst

Natalie’s project is the continuation of work conducted by Shannon Hankin and Stefan Hupperts. She will continue to monitor ectomycorrhizal community composition at a capping study established in the oil sands region and compare it to communities found at an ecological benchmark site. She will observe if, over time, reclaimed communities start to represent those found in a more mature forest type. For her second project, she is interested in studying the vertical distribution of fungal communities at the different soil depths at the capping study.  In her spare time, if Natalie is not hiking, camping, or fishing, she enjoys dancing, especially blues fusion and salsa.


Kevin Solarik, Post Doctorate Fellow

As a post-doctoral research fellow in the Landhäusser research group, Kevin’s research focuses on regeneration dynamics of trees in response to natural and anthropogenic changes in the environment. Kevin’s current work aims at better understanding the water use of trees within the reclaimed landscapes of the oil sands. Kevin’s other active research interests include: climate change, ecophysiology, forest dynamics, forest ecology, forest management/silviculture, drought, and fire. If you would like to know more about the research Kevin is conducting please visit his personal website:


Shauna Stack, MSc Student
Tree nutrient status and performance in upland boreal forest reclamation
In continuation of the work started by Jana Bockstette, Shauna's project focuses on the establishment of tree seedlings on a reclaimed upland site in northern Alberta. The research site was constructed on an overburden dump where a variety of soil types and capping depths were applied. Shauna's first study specifically looks at the response of tree seedling growth to these different soil capping treatments five years after tree planting. Based on the lower growth performance observed on sites capped with peat material where nutrients were limited, Shauna's second study will look into the effect of fertilizer application on nutrient deficient sites to see if the growth performance of the trees can improve given the expansion of their root systems after six years of growth. 

Erika Valek, MSc Student
Planted tree seedling success following compost use on a reclaimed coal mine

There are numerous challenges to overcome when reclaiming mined land including lack of soil moisture, increased soil compaction, low organic matter and soil fertility, extreme soil pH, and undesired vegetation invasion. With these factors in mind, Erika is working together with the Edmonton Composting Facility, Simon Landhäusser and the TransAlta Corporation to incorporate compost into the soil of a reclaimed mine site. Compost addresses the above mentioned problems by serving as a short term, slow release fertilizer that is able to provide planted trees with the organic matter they require in nutrient deficient soils while fostering the development of microbial activity.

Erin Wiley, Post Doctorate Fellow
Carbohydrate dynamics and allocation: carbon stress response in trees

Trevor de Zeeuw, MSc Student

Soil microsite variation and tree growth response on upland reclamation sites

Trevor’s experience with forestry and soil science sparked an interest in land reclamation. Specifically, Trevor’s study hopes to provide insight on growth responses of upland reclamation tree species on varying soil microtopographical treatments. His first project will analyse above ground growth of trembling aspen, jack pine, and white spruce planted on three different soil microtopographical treatments. The second study will analyse root growth response in relation to microsite. Trevor hopes that the data collected from these experiments will benefit the reclamation of upland sites and contribute to industry practices. In his spare time, Trevor is an avid rugby player, skier, and cyclist. He also loves playing with his cat, Lilly.