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     Current Bonier Lab Members

Fran Bonier, Assistant Professor

My research interests are broad and varied, from ecology to behavior, physiology to evolution. In general, all of this varied work is organized by one theme: response to challenges.
I am fascinated by the challenging conditions that organisms face, and the myriad ways that they respond to those challenges. In addition to being a biologist, I am also a mom to two boys and an amateur equestrian.


Sarena Olson

Sarena Olson, MSc student

I am interested in how parental life history events can affect offspring, specifically how the presence and degree of parasitism in adults can affect their offspring’s growth, development, and response to infection later in life. I have chosen to study avian malaria in red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) and to look specifically at the maternal effects of this disease on future generations in the field. To look at these effects, we are conducting large-scale field experiments in a population with exceptionally high rates of infection with avian malaria.

Liam Harrison, MSc student

Environmental factors such as temperature play a major role in shaping individuals, populations, and ecosystems. For my MSc thesis, I am describing plasticity in life history traits of a species of burying beetle, Nicrophorus orbicollis, facing natural variation in temperature. I am also measuring the fitness correlates of this plasticity. This species is ideal for my research because it is sensitive to changes in temperature and exhibits biparental care - a form of parental care that is relatively rare in the insect world. My work will contribute to our understanding of how recent and future climate change might affect this species, and ectotherms more generally.
Liam Harrison


JieYuen Ong, MSc student

I am interested broadly in how selection on behavioral variation in animals leads to adaptation. I am also curious about the physiological mechanisms responsible for variation in behavioral responses to changing environments. Hence, for my project, I am working with Nicrophorus orbicollis, a burying beetle that has complex biparental care and reproductive strategies, looking at how changes in its environment affects life history traits. 

Amelia Cox, MSc student

I am broadly interested in how humans are impacting the other species that surround us, often by causing population declines. Tree swallows are members of a guild of birds that forage on flying insects (i.e., aerial insectivores), many of which are in decline across the globe. Tree swallows are an ideal focal species for testing hypotheses to explain population declines because we have monitored a box-nesting population of tree swallows at the Queen’s University Biological Station for breeding success and individual metrics like timing of breeding, disease status, growth rate, body condition, and survival since 1975, spanning before and during periods of population decline. My MSc research aims to identify likely demographic and environmental causes of tree swallow population decline.


Ivana Schoepf, Postdoctoral associate

I am an evolutionary biologist particularly interested in behavioural endocrinology. My primary research aims to understand adaptive phenotypic plasticity in individuals facing severe challenges, being environmental or parasitic in nature. My research is mostly empirical and typically employs the use of field experiments performed in wild species in their natural environment. I typically employ a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle my questions, often looking at proximate mechanisms and ultimate reasons leading to individuals displaying certain traits. Some of the topics I have addressed so far include: sociality (mating systems in particular), dispersal, life-history trade-offs, performance, and personality.


Currently I am working on maternal effects and host-parasite interactions in the Bonier lab. My work is aimed at understanding how haemosporidian parasitic infections change across life stages, and how parasites from different genera interact within a single host, ultimately affecting its fitness. To do so, I am experimentally medicating wild red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) in a population with an exceptionally high prevalence of avian malaria, to treat their infections, and measure medication effects on behaviour and reproduction of adults as well as growth, physiology, immune function, behaviour, and survival of their offspring. Overall, this research aims to understand how infection impact fitness and reproduction. Find out
more about my research here


Kennedy Everitt, BSc Honours Thesis Student

I am broadly interested in physiological and behavioural responses to stressors like temperature and disease. Looking at the Tree Swallow population near QUBS, my honours thesis focuses on the impacts of these stressors and how they influence offspring hatching, growth, and fledging.
Kennedy Everitt

  Zoe Walter

Zoe Walter, BSc Honours Thesis & NSERC USRA Student

My NSERC project contributed to the Bonier lab's ongoing studies on malaria in red-winged blackbirds. I provided, and critically evaluated, care of captive red-winged blackbirds from egg
to fledging, and also completed a broad review of the fitness costs of haemosporidian infections, with a focus on effects of maternal infection on offspring.

For my undergraduate honours thesis, am examining biparental care behaviour in Nicrophorus orbicollis, a burying beetle native to Ontario. My study is following up on a pilot project in our lab that revealed that temperature may influence male parental behaviour more than female behaviour in this species.

           Former Lab Members