Plato's cave allegory: What is it to know, and how is true learning achieved?
My research interests are broad. I am happy to supervise students in any aspect of terrestrial ecosystem ecology provided I feel that I can be of substantial assistance, and that the process of ongoing refinement of whatever questions/hypotheses/experiments are being addressed will both develop the student, and lead to innovative science. Prospective graduate (and Queens undergraduate honours thesis students) who may be interested in joining the lab should e-mail me. Mature (i.e. older) students, and students with a Northern background, are particularly encouraged to apply, even if they are unsure about whether they have the necessary pre-requisite knowledge and experience. If possible, please provide some preliminary ideas and research questions that you would like to work on, and indicate why they are innovative. In developing those ideas, you might find this list of our lab's current research themes and questions useful.
In addition to the general call above, I am currently seeking students to work with me on the following projects:
The influences of warmer climate and enhanced nutrient availability on the ecology and biogeochemistry of birch hummock tundra. One of the questions we are specifically interested in is: How do the differences between nitrogen and phosphorus biogeochemistry influence our understanding of the functioning of low arctic tundra ecosystems, and what are the implications of these differences for predicting climate change impacts on these ecosystems?
The biogeochemical significance of percolating snowmelt water into frozen porous soil in late winter on soil microbial communities and nutrient cycling.
The impacts of high deer populations on the ecology of mixed deciduous forests in Ontario.
The relative importance of top-down (deer herbivory) and bottom-up (water and nutrient availability) controls on primary production and plant community composition in temperate grasslands.
The significance of
tundra-forest differences in soil microbial and mesofaunal community composition
on biogeochemical cycling under an advancing treeline.
Queen's has many other research groups working in the Arctic and other Northern environments (see http://www.queensu.ca/research/environment/arctic). Our lab group can and does collaborate with several of them. Furthermore, these faculty across Queen's work together to optimise the learning potential for our students by encouraging interdisciplinarity as well as by building ‘a sense of community’ that stimulates potential collaborations and ‘critical mass’.