The Sunday Lab
The Sunday Lab is a group of graduate students, post-docs and undergraduate student researchers working on similar though varied topics. We are committed to creating an inclusive and open research environment; we value enthusiasm and a commitment to learning, share a philosophy of reproducible and open science, and we challenge ourselves to rigorously address key questions in climate change biogeography. Interested in getting involved? See advice for prospective students.
Research Associates and Post-docs
Eden Tekwa - Research Associate
Eden is a transdisciplinary scientist developing dynamical theory, statistical method, and data synthesis. Their study subjects include marine ecology, global macroecology, fishery, socioeconomics, and the science of science. Currently they are focussing on developing bias correction methods for biodiversity metrics based on sampling methodology and spatial ecology. These methods will be applied to both survey and eDNA data in order to infer species richness across space, temporal trends, environmental causes, and optimal sampling protocols.
Sam Straus - Postdoctoral Researcher
Sam is a field biologist turned computational ecologist who aims to use existing data on species occupancy, movement, and the strength of species interactions to deepen our understanding of how parasites and pathogens spread through host populations over time and space. She is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher with the CIEE-Living Data Project, supervised by Drs. Jennifer Sunday and Laura Pollock at McGill University. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia with Leticia Avilés, where she studied the host-parasite interactions in a social spider system. In her free time, you can find Sam enjoying the outdoors, knitting, or both.
Ben Millard-Martin - PhD
Ben is studying how environmental DNA (eDNA) compares with traditional visual surveys in marine nearshore environments. He is using various approaches to ask how community assemblage patterns vary across space, time, and habitat types, in order to develop the eDNA approach for future long-term biodiversity monitoring. Ben comes to us from the Hakai Institute, where he was the field-lead on several marine biodiversity monitoring projects. (he/him)
Kate Sheridan - PhD
Kate is applying her interest in biogeography and bioinformatics towards understanding change in marine communities across time and space using environmental DNA (eDNA). Kate comes to science from a very diverse background in fine-arts, museum curation, and phylogenetics. Very excited to see how it all comes together! (they/them)
Jake Lawlor - PhD
Jake is studying how ocean currents, species traits, and climate change interact to shape species' distributions in coastal oceans. He plans to use time-series data across large spatial scales combined with hydrodynamic dispersal modeling to ask what kinds of organisms shift their distributional ranges in response to climate change, and under what conditions they do so. Jake is most interested in applying techniques in data science and computation to questions in ecology. (he/him)
Nikki Moore - MSc
Species are already shifting their range limits in response to climate warming. However, variation in the sensitivity of species ranges to warming indicates that the importance of temperature in restricting ranges varies, both between species and across the different edges of a range. I am interested in understanding the role that temperature plays in driving the geographic distribution of life by studying how and why the relationship between temperature and range limits differs interspecifically (between species) and geographically (across the edges of a species’ range). My other current research interests include understanding the ecological consequences of changes in climate variability, identifying drivers of intraspecific differences in thermal tolerance limits, and investigating the link between thermal safety and population decline. (she/her)
Jory Griffith - MSc
Climate change is predicted to impact ecological communities is by altering the way species interact with one another. For example, resource competition, or the ability of species to compete with other species for a single limited resource, is expected to change with temperature, potentially impacting the abundance and distribution of species in a community. My project is testing theoretical predictions about how temperature affects competitive ability using marine phytoplankton as a study species. I am running pairwise competition experiments under tightly controlled conditions to evaluate whether we can use species traits to predict the winner of a competitive interaction in different temperature regimes. This will help in our understanding of how species interactions will change under future climate scenarios, and how climate change will impact ecological communities as a whole. (she/her)
Gaëlle Mével - Research trainee / Technician
Gaëlle is a recent BSc graduate in Biology, and will start a MSc in Geography at McGill in fall of 2023. Growing up in the French countryside and travelling often with her family gave rise to a profound love for the natural world. She’s an interdisciplinarity enthusiast and passionate about biodiversity conservation and human development in coastal environments. Over the past years, she took part in an oceanographic campaign in the Arctic, studied permafrost in the framework of the EU Nunataryuk project, worked on food security and women development in Haiti, as well as on phytoplankton physiology in Paris. She is contributing to the Pacific eDNA Coastal Observatory project, while setting up our brand new lab at McGill University. There, she will oversee our first photobioreactor experiments to study competitive outcomes of marine microalgae under climate warming. When not at work, you will find her baking, crocheting, hiking or camping. (she/her)
Tessa is a fourth-year undergraduate studying Honors Biology at McGill. She is originally from Golden, BC, a tiny mountain town near the Rock Mountains, where she fell in love with being outside in any capacity. She is deeply interested in freshwater and marine ecology and conservation. During her time at McGill, she has worked on accessing the state of Canada’s diversity through eDNA approaches by searching for genetic resources in public repositories. This summer, she is conducting research on west coast marine habitats with the Sunday lab. She will be developing my video analysis skills and investigating novel methods used to study species interactions in diverse aquatic habitats.
Clare is a third-year undergraduate student studying Biology. She hopes to continue applying herself in the research field and strives to highlight the importance of protecting the world’s ecosystems through her research efforts. She is currently working on a reading project to understand the relationship between dispersal and body size of range-shifting species, and has also contributed her time to gathering body size data for a variety of range-shifting species.
Gabriel is an undergraduate student in his final semester, studying Biology and Geographic Information Systems. He turned to GIS near the end of his degree to complement his biology knowledge. He hopes to work on large scale conservation efforts in government or NGOs in the future. In the lab, he is completing a project that compares near shore in situ sea surface temperature observations from the Hakai Institute in B.C. with satellite SST measurements to assess their accuracy. Specifically, he is combining his coding and GIS skills to determine which sampling parameters produce the most accurate satellite measurement.
Past lab members
Dr. Joey Bernhardt - Post-Doctoral Researcher
Joey's research aims to understand how populations and communities adapt and persist in changing environments. She combines theory, experiments in aquatic ecosystems and synthesis to study the metabolic underpinnings of biodiversity. She aim to integrate observation and theory across levels of biological organization, and to quantify how flows of energy and materials at the level of the individual cascade up to shape populations over environmental gradients. (she/her)
Joey is now a Hutchinson Postdoctoral Fellow working in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and recent recipient of the L’Oreal-UNESCO-NSERC Women in Science Award.
Dr. Juan G. Rubalcaba - Post-Doctoral Researcher
Juan G. Rubalcaba is a Marie-Curie fellow interested in biogeography and the effect of climate on animal physiology and behaviour. He uses biophysical models to predict how heat, water and oxygen constrain the distribution and physiology of organisms across broad climatic gradients. In his post-doctoral work, he will be applying biophysical models to predict the biological impacts of climate change. (he/him)
Dr. Joseph Burant - Teaching/Research Post-Doc for the Living Data Project
Joey is a population ecologist with broad interests in conservation, animal behaviour, and population dynamics. His research aims to understand how the seasonal timing of environmental stressors like habitat loss influences the detection and patterns of population decline. This research integrates a number of different approaches, including experimental biology and demographic modelling, and data from both individuals and populations, to develop a holistic understanding of how populations respond to environmental change. As a Living Data Project teaching/research postdoc, he works with an incredible team from across Canada to develop and deliver training for graduate students on best practices is data management, reproducibility, and synthesis.
Julia Briand - MSc
Julia is co-supervised by Hector Guzman at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and is part of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and Sustainability training program at McGill. Julia is studying how coral diversity has changed in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama, using repeat-dive surveys covering a time scale of over 20 years. Julia is broadly interested in understanding how human impacts can be reduced to protect biodiversity. (she/her)
Nuha Anver Mohamed Rizan - Undergraduate Research Student
Nuha did a summer position and directed studies in our research group, testing experimentally how resource competition changes across temperature. Nuha asked specifically how thermal performance curves of marine microalgae relate to their competitive dominance across a gradient of temperatures. Nuha continues to work with us as we turn her work into a publication! (she/her)
Danielle MacRae - MSc
I have always been fascinated with the natural world, specifically how each element in a system is interconnected and affecting one part can create consequences elsewhere in the web. As a passionate environmentalist, a huge influence in my interest in ecology has stemmed from wanting to understand how climate change and anthropogenic landscape change has been and will continue to effect natural communities. During my undergraduate studies I performed a research project on the presence of brook trout populations. My goal was to determine a specific set of environmental factors that could be used to predict the presence, or absence, of a population. Moving forward I will be looking at the functional diversity of dispersal traits in marine communities off the Atlantic coast, to determine how variation in dispersal rates effects community stability and resistance in the face of climate change. (she/her)
Sarah Gravel - Undergraduate Research Student
Sarah did a directed studies in the Sunday lab in 2018, working on various projects from building a species-trait database, extracting methodological parameters for an analysis of thermal tolerance limits, and helping to analyze and write a paper on thermal tolerance limit variation across latitudes, elevations, and temperature gradients (Sunday et al. Phil Trans. B. 2019). We wish Sarah the best in her new graduate position at SFU!
Brit Van Ameron - Undergraduate Research Student
Brit did a directed studies project and an NSERC USRA placement in the Sunday Lab, focussing on a systematic review of species' range shift studies around the world. Brit worked on data extraction, and data visualization, working with PhD student Jake Lawlor. Brit has now moved on to graduate studies at SFU!
Anya is assisting in our eDNA research in several ways: she has built a species-traits database for west coast marine fauna, run initial analyses on many of our DNA TRACE projects, and is now working in collaboration with Parks Canada to analyze eDNA samples. Here she is asking how marine habitats differ across sites in Haida Gwaii, and how effective habitat restotation has been to restore associated marine communities. Anya has recently received the BIO2 undergraduate scholarship for training in computational ecology. (she/her)
Urchin increases and overgrazing have contributed to shifts from kelp forest ecosystems to expansive urchin barrens along the coastline, which provide far fewer ecological services to the on the North-American West-Coast. Victor is a Computer Science and Statistics Major tasked with implementing time series forecasting statistical and machine learning models to predict urchin recruitment in that region. As part of a SURA scholarship, He will assist Jake in developing a tool that leverages these models in an attempt to help identify kelp forests sites that may be at risk, or urchin barren sites that may be prime for kelp restoration efforts.