WCS Canada

Our Staff

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Justina Ray
President & Senior Scientist
Dr. Justina Ray has led the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada since its incorporation in 2004. In addition to overseeing the operations of WCS Canada, Justina is involved in research and policy activities in associated with conservation planning in northern landscapes, with a particular focus on wolverine and caribou. Although Justina worked for years in African and Asian tropical forests, North America has been her predominant geographic focus over the past decade. The questions that drive her research are rooted in evaluating the role of shifting landscapes in biodiversity decline and/or change in forested ecosystems. These issues include quantifying the impacts of development activities on biodiversity, including effects of forest changes on mammal population and community structure, and monitoring of species at risk. In Canada, Justina has been appointed to numerous government-led advisory panels, including: Ontario Wolverine Recovery Team, the Nova Scotia Marten and Lynx Recovery Team, the Ontario Caribou Science Advisory Panel, the federal Boreal Caribou Science Advisory Group for the Critical Habitat Science Review, Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO), the Lake Simcoe Science Advisory Committee, and the Ontario Far North Science Advisory Panel. In 2006-7, she served on the Endangered Species Act Review Advisory Panel for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources through to the passage of a new Act in May 2007. Since 2009, she has served as co-chair of the Terrestrial Mammal Subcommittee of The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Justina graduated from University of Florida with a Ph.D. in 1996; her dissertation subject was on the community ecology of forest carnivores in Central Africa. She has authored or co-authored more than thirty book chapter, journal, or popular articles, and is lead editor of the book Large Carnivores and the Conservation of Biodiversity (Island Press; March, 2005), co-editor of Noninvasive Survey Techniques for North American Carnivores (Island Press, 2008), and co-author of Caribou and the North: A Shared Future (Dundurn Press, 2008). She is Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto (Faculty of Forestry) and Trent University (Biology Department), and Research Associate at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the Royal Ontario Museum. She is co-chair of the Board of Directors of Two Countries, One Forest (a Northern Appalachians conservation network).
Biz Agnew
Director of Philanthropy
As the Director of Philanthropy, Biz leads fundraising and development for WCS Canada. Biz joined WCS Canada in December 2007. Prior to arriving at WCS Canada in 2007, she worked at Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) as Director of US Programmes and at WWF Canada focusing on several conservation portfolios: Eastern Arctic marine mammals, Canadian Prairie wildlife, WWF Canadian endangered species and the Latin American Programme focussing on Central America, Brazil, Guyana and Cuba. Biz has a BA from Queen’s University at Kingston and a Masters of Environmental Studies (Biological Conservation) from York University, Toronto.
Cheryl Chetkiewicz
Associate Conservation Scientist
Cheryl Chetkiewicz is a Conservation Scientist. Her current program of work includes cumulative effects, environmental assessment, land use planning and policy, monitoring at community and regional scales, and engagement with Indigenous Peoples across our programs in Canada. More recently, Cheryl led Ontario's Northern Boreal program where her work focused on conserving the boreal region in the far north in Ontario through applied and field research on fish and wildlife. Cheryl has a PhD in Ecology from the University of Alberta where she developed models to design wildlife corridors to conserve grizzly bears and cougars. Cheryl is a board member of the Ontario Association for Impact Assessment. In addition to her current work with WCS Canada, she has worked with governments, Indigenous Peoples, and interested stakeholders on wildlife management and conservation in Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and Peru.
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Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle
Conservation Planning Biologist
Dr. Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle specializes in understanding the impacts and interactions of climate and land-use change on biodiversity, and translating the implications into conservation planning. Much of her work is focused on developing systematic landscape planning approaches for conserving biodiversity, and working with expert/Indigenous traditional knowledge and empirical data to achieve science-based decisions. She is dedicated to working with First Nations, Governments and NGOs to provide the best available conservation science for policy approaches, land-use planning, and protected area management throughout the northern boreal mountains. Dr. Mantyka-Pringle holds a PhD from the University of Queensland’s Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions in Australia. She has worked for the Queensland State Government as a Research Projects Officer, managing water quality and aquatic ecosystem health. In Canada, she worked on the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) Indigenous-community led research programs on the impacts of multiple stressors on River Deltas, and on informing policy and planning processes around species at risk and climate change mitigation. Chrystal received a 2017 Mitacs Research Fellowship and the 2015 Thomson Reuters Citation & Innovation Award for her work. She is an Adjunct Professor of Conservation Biology with the School of Environment and Sustainability at U of S.
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Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne
Canada KBA Coordinator
Dr. Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne supports the Canadian Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) Coalition to identify and map KBAs in Canada. Prior to joining WCS, Ciara worked as a researcher and consultant focused on understanding the different ways that people value and benefit from nature. Based in Montreal and affiliated with McGill University, she has engaged in research with colleagues in Canada and internationally on environmental management, system resilience, and futures thinking, and has authored over 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on these themes. Over the past decade, Ciara has also led the development of tools and methods to link science to the needs of decision-makers, with products that include an ecosystem services Toolkit for the Canadian government, and a mechanism for Technical and Scientific Cooperation for parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, developed in partnership with the Quebec Center for Biodiversity Science. Ciara completed her Ph.D in 2010 on the spatial analysis of ecosystem services and biodiversity across landscapes. This work was inspired by gaps identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, for which Ciara served as the coordinator of the Subglobal Assessment Working Group. Ciara also holds a graduate degree in tropical biology from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Twitter | KBA Canada Twitter
Constance O'Connor
Associate Conservation Scientist
Connie O’Connor is a freshwater ecologist and conservation biologist dedicated to finding conservation solutions for the globally important freshwater ecosystems of Canada’s boreal forests, and the people and the wildlife that rely on them. Connie leads WCS Canada’s research and conservation program in the Ontario Northern Boreal landscape. Some of her current program highlights include leading a lake sturgeon monitoring program in collaboration with Moose Cree First Nation; identifying priority areas for freshwater fish biodiversity using conservation planning tools; and applying research results to improve planning, management, and policy. Connie is also a member of the Freshwater Fish Specialist Subcommittee of COSEWIC, and an Adjunct Professor at Lakehead University. Before joining WCS Canada, Connie completed her PhD at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, where she used advanced telemetry and field physiology techniques to study how environmental stressors impact fish. Next Connie completed a postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University, where she was awarded the prestigious Alice Wilson Medal from the Royal Society of Canada for outstanding academic qualifications in science.
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Cori Lausen
Associate Conservation Scientist
Cori is a bat research and conservation biologist. She completed her PhD in Ecology at the University of Calgary in 2007. Both her Masters and PhD research were on bats, with the former focussing on behaviour and physiology, and the latter on landscape genetics. Cori Lausen joined WCS Canada in 2011 as part of her NSERC Industrial Research and Development Fellowship, investigating winter bat activity and hibernation in western Canada. Her program focuses largely on a science-based response to white-nose syndrome, a catastrophic disease impacting bats in North America, with 3 main tools: inventory and monitoring, disease prevention, and mitigation research.
Dana Blouin
Program Coordinator
As Program Coordinator with the WCS Canada Western Bat Research Program, Dana provides research and logistical support to our bat team. Dana has a B.Sc in Environmental Science from the University of Manitoba specializing in applied ecology and over 20 years experience in non-profit conservation biology work in Canada. Most recently, Dana worked as Manager of Science and Conservation Planning for the Nature Conservancy of Canada-Alberta Region implementing the Nature Area Conservation Plan program.
Donald Reid
Conservation Zoologist
Don Reid leads our Northern Boreal Mountains landscape program in northwest Canada, having helped establish Wildlife Conservation Society Canada by opening our Whitehorse office in 2004. He coordinates a team of biologists who are pursuing new protected areas through land use planning, improved land and wildlife habitat management policies, collaborations with indigenous governments on mutual conservation interests, and research on focal conservation issues including climate overheating and new road developments. His own field research involves river otters as indicators of aquatic ecosystem health, beavers as agents of change in riparian ecosystems, and spatial scale of forest disturbance as an influence on food webs where snowshoe hares are the dominant trophic species. Don has spent 40 years working as a wildlife biologist in academic, government, and non-government sectors, with an MSc (University of Calgary) and PhD (University of British Columbia). His experiences include Arctic trophic ecology (terrestrial food webs, seabird reproduction), boreal aquatic ecosystems (otter and beaver ecology), trophic ecology of temperate montane forests (eastern Himalaya), integrating wildlife in boreal forest management (numerous species), integrating wildlife conservation in land use planning (coastal rain forests, taiga cordillera, boreal cordillera), and protected areas management (British Columbia, Yukon, China).
Research Gate
Emily Darling
Research associate
Emily Darling is a marine ecologist and conservation biologist motivated to find conservation solutions for coral reef ecosystems and the societies they support. Emily is currently a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina where she is leading a large collaboration of scientists to identify climate refuges for coral diversity in the Indo-Pacific. She also leads a global coral reef fisheries monitoring initiative with WCS Marine to promote shared monitoring tools and data management for improved fisheries outcomes. Emily completed her PhD at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada where she won the Governor General's Gold Medal for distinction in doctoral research. She was a recent plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress and will be featured in the journal Nature on moving towards effective protected areas at the World Parks Congress. Find out more by following her on Twitter @emilysdarling or at her website www.emilysdarling.com.

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