Current Research Group Members

Simon Landhäusser

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

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Sophie Aasberg, MSc Student

Sophie is originally from New Brunswick and comes from a family heavily involved in forestry. She moved to Edmonton in 2006, where she graduated from the University of Alberta in 2015 with a bilingual BSc in Biological Sciences. In 2017, she also earned her BSc in Forestry. Now a master’s student, Sophie’s thesis research project is divided into two parts. The first part examines the early development of vegetation on an operational scale forest reclamation site that explores the role of microtopography as a driver of plant colonization and community development. In the second part, Sophie investigates the early establishment and growth of planted and naturally regenerated trees in response to different microtopography treatments. This study will provide some knowledge on the overall recovery and sustainability of reclaimed forests on mine sites. Sophie’s favourite things to do in her free time are gardening, hanging out with her cats Wesley and Josie, camping with her husband, and collecting plants for her personal herbarium.

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.

Coral Fermaniuk, MSc Student

There is an increasing body of evidence, which suggests a linkage between non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) concentrations and tree survival under stress. Coral’s research focuses on investigating NSC storage and remoblization between organs in paper birch – a non-clonal, early successional species common to the boreal region. For her first project, she will monitor the seasonal movement and storage of NSCs in a mature paper birch stand and relate them to birch phenology. For her second project, she will investigate if NSCs are remobilized between organs when translocation is inhibited at two different positions along the stem. Coral enjoys baking, playing softball, tending to her garden, and being with her son, Jack.

Ashley Hart, MSc Student

Ashley’s background in tree ecophysiology has led to two projects focused on the redistribution and remoblization of resources, specifically water and carbon, in trembling aspen. For her first project she’ll be partnering 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!

Rachel Hillabrand, Postdoctoral Fellow

Originally from the great state of Michigan, Rachel completed her PhD in Forest Biology and Management at the University of Alberta in 2018. Following that, she returned to Edmonton and joined the Landhäusser Research Group in order to further study and understand the physiology of trees, especially under stress conditions. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys exploring the city, going on trips to the mountains, and reading in the sunshine.

Brittany Hynes, MSc Student

Brittany began her educational journey at NAIT where she graduated with a Biological Sciences Technology diploma focused in Renewable Resources. Afterwards, Brittany continued on at the University of Alberta to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental and Conservation Sciences majoring in Land Reclamation. Brittany’s research interests include forest restoration, plant physiology, and climate change adaptation, which led her to becoming a graduate student with the Landhäusser Research Group. Her Master’s project focuses on helping restore understories of reclaimed forests through targeted planting and seedling quality assessment. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, identifying and pressing plants, travelling, and spending time with her dog Bowie.

Krystal Isbister, PhD Student

Krystal was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, and has worked in northern ecosystems since 2007. She is frustrated by the lack of available native plant material and few examples of mining revegetation success in Yukon. Krystal’s research aims to explore community interests in mining revegetation and develop feasible and culturally relevant revegetation techniques. She believes the best results will be achieved by integrating local, traditional and technical knowledge. When not nerding out on plants, Krystal enjoys hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing and knitting the occasional sweater.

Emmily MacDonald, MSc Student

Emmily is a passionate student whose primary focus is to contribute to sustainable development and knowledge of functioning ecosystems to foster biodiversity. Her initial education comes from NAIT, earning a Biological Science Technology Diploma specializing in Environmental Science, and later a BSc. in Environmental and Conservation Science, majoring in Land Reclamation. Throughout her education, she has worked at the University of Alberta in both the SWAMP Lab and Landhäusser Lab. Her current research as an MSc. candidate is to determine applicable phytocapping measures for phosphogypsum piles by monitoring various vegetation stress responses. Outside of her research she enjoys spending time with her two huskies, reading, renovating homes, and working on the farm.