WCS Canada

Our Staff

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Justina C. Ray
WCS Canada 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, WCS Canada
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
Ontario Northern Boreal Landscape Leader
Cheryl is the leader for Ontario's Northern Boreal Landscape at WCS Canada, applying her experience in academia, field based research and varied partnerships with First Nations, Government and NGOs to help develop tools to support regional and community-based conservation planning in Ontario’s Northern Boreal landscape. Cheryl’s research is focused on developing a monitoring program to assess thresholds for key wildlife species and ecological processes under strain from resource extraction and climate change in the boreal. Cheryl joined WCS in 1998 as a Policy Analyst at WCS headquarters in New York and later became a Program Officer. Building on her experience at WCS, Cheryl completed her PhD working on identifying and designing local wildlife corridors for cougars and grizzly bears within two key areas of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, Canmore and the Crowsnest Pass. This research has guided the application of land-use planning within increasingly fragmented habitats outside of protected areas.
Christopher Andrews
Conservation Intern
As Conservation Intern Christopher is responsible for administering the W. Garfield Weston Fellowship Program and providing support to our conservation programs. Christopher completed his MSc at Dalhousie University's agricultural campus in Truro, N.S. His research examined the landscape characteristics that affect the growth rate of native pollinators, within the context of lowbush blueberry farms. During his studies, he has collaborated with landowners, civil servants, and stakeholder interest groups to help inform sustainable land use decisions. He continues to expand upon a working knowledge of the spatial (ArcGIS) and statistical analysis (R, Minitab, SAS) programs that have enabled his work. He is also a practised and passionate science communicator, having won several awards for effectively communicating his work including an ESRI GIS award, and as a finalist in Dalhousie’s Three Minute Thesis competition.
Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle
Conservation Planning Biologist
Dr. Chrystal Manteca-Pringle joined the Northern Boreal Mountains Landscape Team in 2019 as an applied biologist and conservation planner. She 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, and minimizing the risk of invasive species. 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, including social and ecological consequences, and on informing policy and planning processes around conservation for species at risk and climate change mitigation. Chrystal has received several distinctions, including a 2017 Mitacs Research Fellowship in partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the 2015 Thomson Reuters Citation & Innovation Award for her work on the effects of climate change on habitat loss and conservation decisions. She is an Adjunct Professor of Conservation Biology with the School of Environment and Sustainability at U of S.
Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne
Canada KBA Coordinator
Dr. Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne supports the KBA Coalition in Canada to identify and map Key Biodiversity Areas in Canada, as a vital tool to assist in the conservation of biodiversity. 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 or co-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 has worked directly with governments at different scales that are trying to operationalize approaches to managing human-nature interactions within their policies and programs. Ciara completed her Ph.D at McGill University in 2010, analyzing how bundles of ecosystem services and biodiversity are distributed across landscapes, and what their arrangements might tell us about current and potential landscape management. 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.
Connie O'Connor
Associate Conservation Scientist
As Freshwater Conservation Scientist with WCS Connie leads the Ontario's Northern Boreal Landscape Freshwater Program. With a lifelong passion for fish and freshwater ecosystems Connie completed her PhD at Carleton University, where she used advanced telemetry and field physiology techniques to study how environmental stressors impact fish in eastern Ontario. Next Connie completed a postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University, where she researched the ecology and evolution of cichlid fishes in eastern Africa. Connie’s research has greatly contributed to the developing field of ‘conservation physiology’, and she was awarded the prestigious Alice Wilson Medal from the Royal Society of Canada in 2013. In addition to a successful research career, Connie is a leader in science communication, outreach, and student mentorship.
Cori Lausen
Associate Conservation Scientist
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. Cori 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. Since 2007, she has taught bat acoustics courses, completed several independent research projects, and remained active in the field both summer and winter, surveying bat diversity in unsampled areas of NW North America.
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
Northern Boreal Mountains Landscape Leader
As a Conservation Zoologist with the WCS Canada, Don leads conservation research and planning projects in theYukon and northern British Columbia. His primary research interests are in the spatial and temporal dimensions of ecosystem dynamics, and how these affect conservation needs, opportunities and planning. Since 2006 Don has been a lead scientist on an International Polar Year study of the terrestrial tundra food web in northern Yukon, with central focus on the trophic interactions of lemmings and their predators. He has also led a team of biologists in gathering and interpreting ecosystem and wildlife habitat data for a strategic land use plan in the Peel Watershed of northern Yukon. This planning process has produced recommendations for substantial new protected areas, and is now undergoing political review. His focus is shifting to conservation issues in the Northern Boreal Mountains, spanning northern British Columbia and southern Yukon. Large areas of wilderness with robust wildlife populations are at risk from new natural resource extraction projects, conversion of land to agriculture, and climate change. Don is leading work in this emerging WCS landscape, including forest resource planning, analysis of protected area options, and capacity building with First Nation governments. Don joined WCS Canada in 2004, based in Whitehorse, Yukon, when the Canada Country Program was getting started. He has helped establish the Country Program, including its strategic planning, and has assisted in the development of the North America Program’s strategic planning. His work in northwest Canada is now strengthened with the inclusion of Hilary Cooke as a research biologist based in Whitehorse. Don has advanced degrees in animal ecology: MSc (Calgary), PhD (British Columbia). His research background includes river otters, beavers, lynx and snowshoe hares in boreal Canada, giant pandas and Asiatic black bears in the eastern Himalaya of China, and lemmings, foxes and raptors on nearctic tundra. His conservation activities include analysis of wildlife habitat and distribution data for land use planning processes, management planning for protected areas, and integration of wildlife habitat needs in forest management.

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