WCS Canada

Our Staff

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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.
Gillian Woolmer
Director of Finance and Operations, WCS Canada
While WCS Canada’s scientists are focused on delivering conservation outcomes Gillian is responsible for ensuring WCS Canada is a well-managed organization, from financial management to human resources to regulatory compliance. Gillian comes to this role with a strong background in conservation with WCS. Since joining WCS in 2000, Gillian has led and collaborated on a diversity of projects, including; mapping the global Human Footprint, adapting the Human Footprint methodology to the Northern Appalachian Ecoregion, developing web-based conservation mapping tools, estimating rates of deforestation in Sumatra, assessing the impacts of Sudden Oak Death Syndrome in California, mapping mandrill habitat use in Gabon, and the identification of wolverine range and caribou wintering grounds in Ontario. Gillian has a Masters degree in Geology and Mineral Exploration with extensive field experience ranging from the Highlands of Scotland and the mines of central Queensland, Australia to the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile and a variety of gold exploration projects in Ghana, Mali and Eritrea. In addition, Gillian holds, and a Certificate in Conservation Biology from Columbia University, an Advanced Diploma in GIS from the College of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Nova Scotia, and a certificate in Human Resource Management for Not-For-Profits.
Gretchen Lescord
Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Gretchen Lescord is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the WCS Canada's Ontario Northern Boreal program examining contaminants in food fishes in the far north. Dr. Lescord's postdoctoral fellowship, co-supervised by Drs. John Gunn and Al Lock at Laurentian University, focuses on chromium which is a contaminant expected to be a growing concern in the far north of Ontario, as mining begins in the "Ring of Fire". This region is a crescent-shaped area of the far north that is rich in chromium and other valuable metals. However, monitoring chromium is a challenge because multiple forms naturally exist, including both nutritionally-essential (you'll find chromium in most multivitamins!) and toxic species. Dr. Lescord's project will focus on developing a laboratory method to differentiate these different types of chromium in food fish, which will enable monitoring of whether industrial activity increases the toxic forms, and will allow us to better understand impacts of chromium mining and smelting on the environment and human health. Dr. Lescord recently completed her PhD at Laurentian University, where she examined patterns of mercury contamination in food fishes from the Far North in Ontario. Her doctoral research was partly supported by a WCS Garfield Weston Fellowship.
Heather Gates
Conservation Assistant
As the Conservation Assistant with the Bat Program, Heather works with Dr. Cori Lausen to understand the distribution and winter ecology of bats in Alberta and British Columbia. Heather holds a BSc in Biology from the University of Victoria. Before joining WCS Canada in 2014, Heather worked for several years as the head grower for a leading forest nursery.
Hilary Cooke
Associate Conservation Scientist
Hilary Cooke joined WCS Canada in 2010 as Research Associate for the Northern Boreal Mountains landscape. Here she is partnering with First Nation, territorial, and federal governments to identify priority areas for conservation and to fill information gaps for species and ecosystems of conservation interest, such as songbirds in valley-bottom habitats, with the goal of bringing science-based conservation solutions to resource management and land-use planning. Hilary began her career with WCS as a member of the North America Program in 1998, where she worked with WCS Researcher Dr. Steve Zack on riparian conservation issues in semi-arid regions of the western United States. Through field studies in Oregon, California and Wyoming, they linked healthy riparian bird communities with alternative riparian management practices used by private and public land managers. Throughout her academic and professional career, Hilary has been committed to developing and communicating science-based solutions for wildlife conservation in landscapes managed for resource use. Her research and conservation focus has been linking wildlife habitat ecology, primarily for birds, with best management practices in threatened or at-risk ecosystems. Her field studies have taken her from the high deserts of the western United States to the boreal forests of Canada. Hilary has a breadth of experience partnering with governments, industry, academia, private land managers, and non-governmental organizations. After earning a M.Sc. in Wildlife Management at Humboldt State University in 2002, Hilary returned to her native Canada in 2003 to complete a Ph.D. in Ecology at the University of Alberta.
Jaime Grimm
Conservation Intern
As conservation intern, Jaime is responsible for supporting the WCS landscape programs and administering the W. Garfield Weston Fellowship Program. Jaime completed her MSc at McGill University, with a research focus on the conservation threats posed by aquatic invasive species. Her research involved comparing the ecological impacts of crayfish species and populations from disparate geographic locations and allowed Jaime to collaborate with scientists throughout eastern Canada, the northeastern USA, and Europe. She is a skilled field researcher with strong taxanomic expertise on marine and freshwater fishes and invertebrates.
Jason Rae
Bat Program Manager
As a member of our Bat Program team, Jason is responsible for providing management and research support for the program from his base in Nelson, British Columbia. Jason joined WCS Canada in early 2016 and spent a year in the position of Conservation Intern. Jason completed his BSc in Ecology at the University of Calgary, and a subsequent MSc in Environmental and Life Sciences (Ecology and Conservation Biology) at Trent University. His passion for the natural world and experience from two research assistant positions have led him to develop a diverse set of multidisciplinary skills used to collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data to address unique scientific questions. Jason has worked in the field and in laboratory studies across Canada, including the far North Atlantic. He is well versed in amphibian, insect, plant, and mammal taxonomic identification, and proficient with statistical analyses in R.
John Weaver
Senior Conservation Scientist
John Weaver is a carnivore conservation biologist for WCS based in Missoula, Montana with field programs in the western United States and Canada that are focused on large landscape conservation, wildlife connectivity and adaptation to climate change. Over the past 25 years, John has played many key roles in large carnivore conservation in the United States and Canada. His dissertation research was on the ecology of wolf predation in the high-diversity ungulate environment of Jasper National Park, Alberta. John has held leadership positions with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on endangered species and has served on several recovery teams, including for both wolves and grizzly bears. Over the years, he has perfected hair snaring techniques for lynx and bear surveys and invented a lynx lure that is now widely used. He has authored more than 20 scientific publications and served as a reviewer for five scientific journals. John has an academic appointment at the University of Montana. He is particularly interested in conservation strategies that address the resiliency mechanisms of vulnerable species.
Lila Tauzer
Research Assistant
Lila holds the position of Research Assistant with the WCS Northern Boreal Mountains Landscape based in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she is responsible for providing research and field support. Lila received a B.Sc. in Biology from Humboldt State University and an M.Sc. in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has worked for over 10 years as a field biologist and her experience reflects her diverse interests. Besides her most recent work investigating habitat associations of western boreal songbirds, she has assisted with research on amphibians in the California Sierra Nevada mountains; raptors in Kenya; rattlesnakes and plants in the Great Basin desert; sheep and wolves in the Canadian Rockies; and birds in the Amazon. She is interested in landscape ecology, ecosystem function and climate change impacts on northern fauna, especially birds.
Liset Cruz Font
Freshwater Postdoctoral Fellow
Liset’s research focus is on applying advanced ecological modeling techniques to understand the impacts of climate change and future development scenarios on lake sturgeon populations in Ontario’s Arctic watershed. Liset completed her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with focus on Aquatic Ecology and Limnology at the University of Toronto. She uses a combination of field and laboratory experiments to understand the effects of climate (and climate change) on the behaviour, spatial movements and dynamics of fish populations, as well as the implications in management and conservation. Liset’s Master’s degree focused on the age and growth of fish and she has many years of experience with marine fisheries management having worked as a Fisheries Scientist in the Caribbean (Cuba).

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