I have had the rare privilege to turn my childhood fascination into a career. I grew up catching snakes, turtles and toads in the forests and creeks near my house. As a professor, I have the opportunity to share my passion for these animals and their conservation with students in the classroom and in the field.
I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph. There I met turtle guru Ron Brooks, and so began my research career in herpetology. I did my MSc under Ron’s supervision at Guelph, studying the population ecology of Spotted Turtles at their northern range limit. In the summers, I taught biology to kids at a canoe-tripping camp, and so got to combine my interests in biology, teaching, and the outdoors.
Between my MSc and PhD, I worked as a Lab Coordinator in the Cryobiology Lab at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, USA. I worked with Rick Lee and Jon Costanzo, and their graduate and undergraduate students. I learned a whole new set of skills and gained an appreciation for physiological-ecology and the incredible adaptations that herps have for surviving winter.
After three years in the Cryo Lab, I decided it was time for me to return to graduate school, to answer the questions about latitudinal variation in turtle life histories that arose during my MSc research. So I left Ohio and moved to South Carolina to study the population ecology of Spotted Turtles at their southern range limit. I worked under the supervision of Tim Mousseau, also an ex-pat Canadian, at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
After completion of my PhD, I moved to Long Island, New York to live with my husband, Dr. Thomas Merritt who was doing a post doc at Stony Brook University (he is now a CRC here at Laurentian in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry). While in New York, I worked as an Adjunct Professor at Long Island University and as a research associate at Applied Biomathematics.
Then, in spring 2004, I was offered the faculty position here at Laurentian University, and so I moved back home to Ontario after 8 years in the USA. I have been a professor at Laurentian since July 2004.
- BSc, Wildlife Biology, University of Guelph, 1993
- MSc, Ecology, University of Guelph, 1996
- PhD, Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, University of South Carolina, 2003
- 2014-present Full Professor, Laurentian University
- 2009-2014 Associate Professor, Laurentian University
- 2004-2009 Assistant Professor, Laurentian University
- 2004 Adjunct Professor, Long Island University, New York