WCS Canada

Our Staff

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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.
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).
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.
Matthew Scrafford
Wolverine Conservation Scientist
Matthew Scrafford is the Wolverine Conservation Scientist within Ontario’s Northern Boreal Landscape program at WCS Canada. Matthew works with government, indigenous groups, and trappers to advance the understanding and conservation of wolverine in Ontario. Matthew has experience with the U.S. Forest Service as an ecological research assistant in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on projects ranging from vegetation surveys, to beaver, grizzly bear, moose, wolverine, and snowshoe hare research. He received his MSc at Montana State University studying the ecology of reintroduced beavers north of Yellowstone National Park. After completing his MSc he worked for Environmental Defense Fund on the effects of climate change on wildlife, the restoration of meadow wetlands in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the restoration of wetlands within the Mississippi River delta. Matthew received his PhD from the University of Alberta with a research focus on the habitat selection, movement, foraging behaviour, and density of wolverines in industrialized habitats in the northern boreal forest of Alberta. This research required worked closely with indigenous groups, trappers, and NGOs. During his PhD, Matthew received two fellowships, a W. Garfield Weston Foundation Fellowship from WCS Canada and an NSERC CREATE-EI.
Meg Southee
GIS Analyst and Spatial Data Manager
Meg Southee is the GIS Analyst and Spatial Data Manager for Ontario's Northern Boreal Landscape Program at WCS Canada. She has worked with GIS technology for over 10 years and in 2017, she earned the distinction of Esri Certified ArcGIS Desktop Professional. Prior to joining WCS in 2013, Meg worked as a GIS Data Analyst to delineate watershed boundaries along the Canada/USA border under the direction of the International Joint Commission (IJC) and in collaboration with government organizations from both countries. In 2010, Meg obtained her MSc in Geography from Queen’s University, where her research focused on ecological land classification and soil moisture modelling in the boreal forest of Ontario using digital elevation models derived from LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) remote sensing data. Meg also holds an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Nova Scotia and a BSc. Honours in Environmental Science from the University of Guelph.

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