Current Lab Members

Dr. Jennifer Baltzer

Dr. Jennifer Baltzer

Principal Investigator

Academic Background

PhD (2005) Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto
BScH (2000) Department of Biology, Acadia University


2007-11, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Mount Allison University
2005-07, Postdoctoral Fellow Center for Tropical Forest Science, Harvard University

Dr. Jennifer Baltzer is a Canada Research Chair in Forests and Global Change at Wilfrid Laurier University, whose work focuses on the drivers of forest composition, structure and function and responses of these systems to global change. She has worked in a range of systems from the tropics to the tundra but currently leads an extensive boreal forest research program throughout the Northwest Territories. Her interdisciplinary research program examines the impacts of climate warming, including permafrost thaw, wildfire regimes, and biome shifts, on the distribution and function of high latitude boreal forests and its implications for northern communities.

Dr. Baltzer works closely with the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) through a 20-year Partnership Agreement between the GNWT and Laurier. Dr. Baltzer plays leadership roles in NASA’s ABoVE campaign, the Smithsonian Institute’s ForestGEO Network, and the CFREF-funded Global Water Futures program. In 2017, Dr. Baltzer was elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Recently, Dr. Baltzer was named Laurier’s 2020 University Research Professor.

Contact Information

Phone: 519-884-0710 ext.4188
Twitter: @forestecogrp


Raquel Alfaro Sanchez

Raquel is interested in how forest ecosystems, from Mediterranean, tropical and boreal regions, respond to the unprecedented increase in frequency and intensity of wildfires and climate extremes. Much of her research is focus on the use of tree-ring records to understand the response of growth, climate sensitivity and functional traits of trees to climate change hazards to ultimately provide direct management implications for both, risk mitigation and post-hazard recovery.

Twitter: @RAlfaroSanchez

Ana Sniderhan

Ana is Laurier’s Global Water Futures ecosystem resilience research associate. Ana is using FERG as her home base but supporting ecological studies across Laurier’s network of research sites.

Twitter: @DoctorSpruce

Cory Wallace

Cory is the interim ecosystem resilience research associate for Global Water Futures and is based out of FERG. Cory’s research focuses on the ecohydrological implications of landcover change in the north with a particular focus on shrub expansion.

Twitter: @CoryWallace7

Maria Belke Brea

Maria’s research focuses on plant-environment interactions and more specifically on environmental disturbances and the subsequent plant recovery in the boreal forest. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Forest Ecology Research Group, she will apply spectral analysis on remote sensing data from drones, airplanes and satellites to create large-scale vegetation and plant recovery maps.




Kristen Bill

Kristen’s research focus’ on the direct impacts of land cover change on water quality for indigenous communities. She is really interested in understanding shifts in ecosystem resilience and vulnerability to disturbances with climate change. 

Twitter: @kristenebill

Caitlyn Lyons

Caitlyn is interested in how nutrient release from thawing permafrost is impacting the boreal forest in the Northwest Territories. More specifically, she is focused on the ability of boreal trees to acquire and use these novel nutrients.

Twitter: @Caitlyn24Lyons


Nia Perron

Nia’s research interests lie in gaining a better understanding of plant physiological water use. More specifically, she is interested in patterns of water storage and transpiration in trees growing across Canada’s western Boreal forest and the environmental variables that alter these water-use patterns.  


Katherine Standen

Katherine’s research interests involve responses of plants to large scale disturbance. Specifically, Katherine is researching changes in plant community composition, structure, and function in response to permafrost thaw with a focus on how these changes may influence carbon cycling in boreal peatlands

Twitter: @StandenKM



Jocelyn Biro

Jocelyn is studying patterns of moose forage recovery following fire and how this is modified by post-fire forest management decisions in British Columbia. Moose populations are declining in some parts of the province and this will help us understand whether forage availability is contributing to this decline.


Alexis Jorgensen

Alexis is studying plant recovery in the boreal forest after fire and how this influences wildlife such as moose, caribou, and bison. She is also very interested in reconciliation and, though Covid-19 travel restrictions have cancelled her plans for a more direct working relationship, will be sharing her results and accepting feedback from a NWT community within her study area. 



Emily Ogden

Emily is studying the role of changing permafrost conditions on boreal forest productivity. Working in partnership with the Geological Survey of Canada, Emily is using a long-term ground temperature dataset to try to better understand variability in forest productivity changes over the last 30 years.

Twitter: @elogden


Jason Paul

Jason is interested in ground ice and vegetation interactions in regions of discontinuous permafrost. He also strives to support larger northern research efforts through data processing, analysis, and field work.

Twitter: @jason_r_paul


Cory Savage

Cory Savage

Cory completed her MSc in Biology at the University of Waterloo, during which she researched contaminants in lakes downstream of oil sands activities in northern Alberta. As the Project Coordinator for Northern Water Futures, Cory is interested in supporting interdisciplinary northern research through the management of daily project operations and execution of broader organizational goals.



Dr. Nicola Day (NSERC PDF, 2015-2019) Post-fire fungal and vegetation community dynamics

Dr. Katherine Dearborn (2017-2019) Forest dynamics in a thawing permafrost landscape

Dr. Matthew Dyson

Dr. Katie Marshall (2013) Analysis of climate data in the Taiga Plains Ecoregion.

Dr. Gord McNickle (Banting PDF 2013-2015) Games in the boreal forest: A model for tree allocation to roots, wood, and leaves based on evolutionary stable strategies.

Dr. Chris Pappas (Swiss National Science Foundation PDF; 2016-2020) Boreal tree hydrodynamics

Dr. Rajit Patankar (2011-2013) Implications of gall-inducing arthropods on plant ecophysiology and forest structure.

Dr. Kathe Todd-Brown (2019) Carbon stocks in protected areas

Dr. Craig Simpkins

Dr. Sabine Dietz (PhD, UNB, 2017) Living at the edge – peripheral plant populations and climate change.

Dr. Anastasia Sniderhan (PhD, Laurier, 2017) Growth dynamics of black spruce (Picea mariana) across northwestern North America.

Katherine Black (MSc, Laurier, 2017) Influence of topography and moisture and nutrient availability on green alder function on the low arctic tundra, NT.

Melissa Fafard (MSc, Laurier, 2014) The impacts of climate warming-related permafrost thaw and increased hydrological connectivity on wetland plant communities in Scotty Creek, Northwest Territories.

Allison McManus (MSc, Laurier, 2015) Implications of galling herbivory on ground thaw in Canada’s northern boreal forest.

Jason Paul (MSc, Laurier 2019) Near surface permafrost ground ice characteristics and ecological and physical drivers of transient layer ice content in discontinuous permafrost

Kirsten Reid (MSc, Laurier, 2017) Effects of wildfires on tree establishment in conifer-dominated boreal forests in southern Northwest Territories.

Alison White (MSc, Laurier, 2018) Drivers of post-fire vascular plant regeneration in the conifer-dominated boreal forest of the southern Northwest Territories.

Jenna Rabley (BSc Honours, Laurier 2017) The influence of topographic gradients and environmental drivers on the nodulation rate of Alnus viridis at a low arctic site.

Kirsten Reid (BSc Honours, University of Ottawa 2015) Productivity drivers in stands of Picea mariana and Picea glauca in the Northwest Territories

Jill MacDonald (BSc Honours, Laurier 2015) The role of changing climate in the frequency of larch sawfly outbreaks in high latitude boreal forests.

Greg Lynch (BSc Honours, Laurier 2014) Growth responses of tamarack to recent climate warming: a dendrochronological study from Canada’s northern boreal peatlands.

Dan Marshall (BSc Honours Laurier, 2013) Examination of the gall-inducing mite community within Scotty Creek, a subarctic forest with a prevalence of galling arthropods.

Brendan Moore (BSc Honours Laurier, 2013) Mycorrhizal community structure and composition within the permafrost impacted wetland-forest mosaic of Scotty Creek, NWT.

Robyn Cox (BSc Honours, Truro Agricultural College, 2009) examined patterns of salt marsh plant communities across a range of tidal conditions on the Bay of Fundy and Northumberland Strait in New Brunswick.

Felicia Pickard (BSc Honours, Mount Allison 2008; co-supervised, Colin Laroque) examined the contribution of local versus climatic factors in the radial growth responses of boreal forest tree species across a latitudinal gradient in western Labrador.

Jon Schurman (BSc Honours, Mount Allison 2008) examined the role of abiotic resource availability in determining distribution and performance in juveniles and adults of common Acadian forest tree species at Fundy National Park, New Brunswick.

Katie Thebeau (BSc Honours, Mount Allison 2008) worked on the quantification of shade tolerance in trees. Katie’s work will help to elucidate relationships among different shade tolerance metrics and the contribution of soil resources in light-growth relationships.

Dorthea Grégoire (BSc Honours Mount Allison, 2007) examined wood anatomical characteristics in Southeast Asian tree species differing in distributions with respect to rainfall seasonality.

Geneviève Degrè-Timmons (2016-2019)

Kate McDonald (Research Assistant, 2018-2020)

Heather Baehre (Field Assistant, 2018)

Stephanie Roy (Field Assistant, 2017)

Liam Manning (Field Assistant, 2017)

Parhani Ragu (Co-op student, 2017)

Jenna Rabley (Field Assistant, 2017) Plant functional traits in boreal forests

Ian Tom (Field Assistant, 2017) Fire ecology project

Emily Way-Nee (Field Assistant, 2016) Tundra shrubbing project

Jenna Rabley (Field Assistant, 2016) Tundra shrubbing project

Franco Alo (Field Assistant, 2014) Scotty Creek Forest Dynamics Plot crew

Quinn Decent (Field Assistant, 2014) Scotty Creek Forest Dynamics Plot crew

Stephanie Feeney (Co-op student, 2014)

Vincent Hamann (Field Assistant, 2013) Scotty Creek Forest Dynamics Plot crew

Litza Coello (Field Assistant, 2013) Scotty Creek Forest Dynamics Plot crew

Hanna Johnson (BA Biology, 2012) focused on the potential impacts of different land uses on canopy structure, understory light environment and patterns of forest regeneration in the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve in Southeastern New Brunswick.

Juliet Manning (EMAN Science Horizons Intern; 2010) focused on patterns of tree health in the Fundy National Park.

Murdoch Taylor (EMAN Science Horizons Intern; 2009) examined patterns of understory vegetation in the Fundy National Park.