Current Graduate Students

Robin Churchill - M.Sc. Candidate

Robin received his B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Western Ontario in the spring of 2009. Since 2008 he has worked on a number of research projects associated with Long Point Waterfowl and spent a season nest-searching and flying aerial surveys for Delta Waterfowl. Robin began his M.Sc. at the University of Western in September 2009 after working with Long Point Waterfowl for the summer.

Robin’s Master’s is addressing the changes in the distribution and abundance of submerged aquatic vegetation and Dreissenid mussels in Inner Long Point Bay – Lake Erie over the last 15 years.


Matt Dyson – M.Sc. Candidate

Matt completed his Honours B.Sc. in Natural Resource Management with a major in Wildlife and Fisheries at the University of Northern British Columbia in May 2013.  While pursuing his undergrad degree, Matt worked as a field technician at Long Point and Big Creek National Wildlife Areas from 2010 through 2012.  Matt is also an active member of The Wildlife Society, where he was formerly the president of the UNBC Student Chapter and is currently the student representative to the Canadian Section.  He completed his undergraduate thesis researching trends in emergent vegetation biodiversity in a managed wetland at Big Creek NWA.  Matt has also spent time volunteering with Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Matt started with Long Point Waterfowl in April of 2013 as a technician working on the Wood Duck project and will begin his M.Sc. at Western in January 2014.  Matt is using radio telemetry to study survival and habitat use of breeding and brood rearing hens.  Matt’s research will help guide best management practices for Wood Ducks in Southern Ontario.

Everett Hanna - Ph. D. Candidate

After receiving a Fish and Wildlife Technician Diploma in 2007 and an Advanced Diploma in Fish and Wildlife Technology in 2008 from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Lindsay, Ontario, Everett went on to earn his B.Sc. (honours in biology) from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario in 2009. He has worked with Ducks Unlimited Canada as a nest search technician in southern Alberta for 2 years, with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department trapping/banding Mourning Doves, and with the Colorado Division of Wildlife nest searching and trapping/banding waterfowl.

Everett’s M.Sc. research investigated the expanding population of Sandhill Cranes breeding, staging, and migrating along the North Shore of Lake Huron, Ontario, including Manitoulin and St. Joseph’s Islands. Primary objectives included attaining a population estimate, determining local recruitment through age-ratio surveys, and establishing the migratory behaviour of both local and migratory cranes in the late summer and early fall using PTT-based GPS transmitters. Everett is transferring from the M.Sc. program to the Ph.D. program at the University of Western Ontario to lead further research on cranes in Ontario. Everett enjoys hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife photography and training his Labrador retriever, Tank, for hunting.


Matt PalumboPh.D. Candidate

Matt received his B.S in 2005 in Wildlife Science from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. During his undergraduate studies and employment afterward, Matt gained valuable field experience working on a variety of projects focusing on white-tailed deer, black bear, and Pacific fisher conservation. In 2010, Matt then received his M.S in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi, where he conducted a statewide gobbling chronology study of Eastern wild turkeys. Soon after graduating, Matt became employed as a regional co-operative wildlife biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation in Florida. After some time in Florida, Matt then became employed as a wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Services division of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Matt began his Ph.D at Western University in September 2013. Matt will study female Mallard habitat use and survival during autumn and winter in the Lake St. Clair region of Ontario. His research will provide area managers with useful information on how waterfowl use the landscape during autumn and winter and provide conservation planners with pertinent information that has the potential to guide the management of this species in Great Lakes region.


Lena Vanden Elsen - M.Sc. Candidate

Lena received her B.Sc. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Western Ontario in spring 2010. While completing her undergraduate degree Lena volunteered with Long Point Waterfowl on numerous research projects and in 2011 she worked for Ducks Unlimited Canada on their Spatial and Temporal Variation in Nest Success of Prairie Ducks (SpATS) study, as well as their Northern Pintail brood survival study.

Lena began her M.Sc. in May 2012 and she will be investigating factors that influence autumn-winter distributions of dabbling ducks in the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyways of North America. Lena will use available waterfowl survey and nearby weather station data to develop species-specific weather threshold indices for dabbling ducks such as Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Shoveler. These models, called Weather Severity Indices (WSI), predict when dabbling duck species are expected to migrate from northern locales with relatively severe weather to more southern latitudes where weather conditions are milder. A WSI has been developed for Mallards but additional species-specific weather threshold models will enable conservation planners to understand how changes in climate may influence species of dabbling ducks differently and which species may be most at risk under a warming climate. The weather models for each dabbling duck will be used to predict future distributions of dabbling duck species using future climate change scenarios.


Philip Wilson – M.Sc. Candidate

Philip was born and raised in the city of Toronto, where he quickly learned that he was not meant to live in an urban environment. Bedazzled by the natural environment, he took to the woods and learned rapidly about the interconnectedness of our environment. He fell in love with Georgian Bay and considers this his true home, the place where his mind was set free to learn.

Philip attended Sir Sandford Fleming College and graduated in 2005 from the Fish and Wildlife Technology program. He then transferred to Trent University on a scholarship and graduated in 2007 with an honours degree in Wildlife Biology. His main focus was and remains to be wildlife management. Since that time, Philip has worked in various places including Cuba, the Albertan Rocky Mountains, northern, central and southern Ontario, Jordan, and most recently finished working a two year contract with Environment Canada.

Philip is currently embarking on another academic journey as he prepares for a M.Sc. in Biology at the University of Western Ontario. His focus is on the movement patterns and habitat selection of an arctic breeding species, the Long-tailed Duck, while found wintering at Lake Ontario. Efforts from his research will be utilized by industry when planning offshore wind development projects.

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