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Science Associates


Fenja Brodo, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Zoology
Work is underway on the Inventory of the Crane Flies (Diptera: Tipulidae, Limoniidae and Cylindrotomidae) of Churchill, Manitoba, in collaboration with Chen Young, Ph.D., (Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA). A project started years ago, a monograph on the subgenus Tipula (Arctotipula), is also now in progress, as is another on the genus Angatoripula. My participation in local BioBlitzes, especially night-time collecting, has increased the number of crane flies found within the Ottawa district.

François Chapleau, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Zoology
Chapleau has ongoing research on the phylogeny and systematics of flatfishes, and regularly involves Claude Renaud and Noel Alfonso from the Museum of Nature, as well as graduate and senior undergraduates from the University of Ottawa. Chapleau also has research projects dealing with the biology of rare and endangered fish species in the National Capital Region. He often uses the museum collection in his research and teaching, including when he brings his entire class to the Natural Heritage Campus. Chapleau is an award-winning teacher, and imaginative in his approaches to involving students and the public in collection-based science.

Francis Cook, O.C., Ph.D.

Researcher Emeritus, Research Associate, Zoology
Work will concentrate on two book projects. One is entitled The History of the Canadian Museum of Nature, 1842 to Present: Surveys, Analysis, Exhibits, and Public Outreach, a project done in collaboration with Paul Hamilton. Part of the work includes tributes to former staff for publication in The Canadian Field-Naturalist.

The other is entitled Canadian Amphibians and Reptiles, an ongoing work that includes updating text and references, expansion of species accounts to cover variation, distribution, behaviour and ecology.

Original research will examine the museum's collections for geographic variation in garter-snake and toad morphology, and colour in Lithobates frogs and trilling chorus frogs in Canada. The findings will be analyzed to understand post-glacial spread and hybridization.

Jean Lauriault, B.Sc., C.S.E.

Museum Associate
Jean Lauriault is an environmental specialist and the author of the Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada. For the past 20 years, he has been travelling to Mexico on a regular basis for the conservation of the monarch butterfly. He participated in the development of the North American Monarch Conservation Plan. He produced videos on his work with the monarchs for the media.

Through ecotourism in Mexico and Canada, he reached a large number of people and sensitized them to the importance of conservation of the monarch.

In addition, Lauriault is a professor-trainer for the conservation of the monarch biology, as well as the preservation of trees. In collaboration with the Agence de la Francophonie and the Université de Montréal, he has provided biodiversity training in Morocco, Tunisia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast and Vietnam.

Jarmila Peck, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Zoology
Research will continue on the evolution and diversification of insect wings and other structures, at the level of taxonomic order. The approach is to deliver objective and easily verifiable evidence on concrete wing characters to resolve the much disputed phylogenetic tree of winged insects (Pterygota). Results will be published in an atlas of detailed characters of the wing structure of modern orders.

Stewart Peck, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Zoology
Peck will continue research on systematics of beetles and other arthropods, with emphasis on cave dwellers, Leiodid beetles (small carrion and fungus beetles), and beetle of the West Indies. Present research is on the taxonomy of the small carrion beetle genus Dissochaetus from Mexico and Central America. In this geographic region, about 20 species have been described, but each is presently known only from very few specimens and localities. Now, collections of about 15 000 specimens from hundreds of localities will contribute greatly to understanding the species and their distributions.

Claude Renaud, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Zoology
Renaud is an ichthyologist and was a Research Scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature for almost 30 years. His area of expertise and research are lamprey (order Petromyzontiformes) taxonomy and systematics, as well as lamprey biology in general.

Fred Schueler, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Zoology
Schueler is a long-term contributor of natural history specimens to the national museum from the Ottawa region and abroad. He is currently collaborating with museum research scientist André Martel, Ph.D., and senior research assistant Jackie Madill on a survey of Unionid clams in the Ottawa River.

Chang-tai Shih, Ph.D.

Researcher Emeritus, Research Associate, Zoology
Shih specializes in systematics and biogeography of marine zooplankton, particularly in hyperiidean amphipod and copepod crustaceans. His research is instrumental to clearing up the taxonomy of marine zooplankton of Canada and to compile literature of free-living aquatic invertebrates (insects excepted) of Canada. His biogeographical studies led him to develop interest in the east-west diversity of marine zooplankton. After retirement, he has continued to study marine calanoid copepods of the western North Pacific.

Andrew Smith, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Zoology
Smith investigates the systematics of scarab beetles through natural history collections-based research and field work. He currently has two large survey and inventory projects investigating the scarab beetle fauna of both southern South America and Canada. He also has other ongoing research on New World beetles (Melolonthinae and Rutelinae), using the extensive scarab beetle collections at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Valerie Tait, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Zoology
Work will progress in collaboration with museum research scientist Kathleen Conlan, Ph.D., and senior research assistant Ed Hendrycks to develop a taxonomic guide and key for the identification of Antarctic Corophiidae (crustaceans commonly called skeleton shrimp). Research will also continue with the detailed descriptions and confirmation of identifications of Tanaidacea collected from South Australia. Two potentially cryptic species, Hexapleomera spp. and Tanais dulongii, have been found in the samples. The large number of individuals may be useful for examining the variation in morphological features for the species and possibly also as a source of DNA for molecular studies. Finally, a compilation of an inventory of available samples of Tanaidacea from the shores and coastal waters of Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of St. Lawrence will be done.


Michael Caldwell, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Caldwell is a vertebrate palaeontologist, a Professor at the University of Alberta and Chair of the department of Biological Science. His programme of research involves fossil and living snakes and lizards (squamates), and takes place in the field and the laboratory. The goal of his research is to learn everything possible about the palaeontology, origins and evolution of squamates, as well as extinct marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. His study techniques provide data about anatomy, morphology and, in some cases, molecular genetics from specimens collected all over the world.

Steve Cumbaa, Ph.D.

Researcher Emeritus, Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Cumbaa is a vertebrate palaeontologist whose research is primarily on fossil marine-vertebrate faunas, palaeoenvironments and palaeoecology in western and Arctic Canada. Current projects include

  • the description and analysis of fish, marine reptile and bird fossils recovered from 90 to 100 million-year-old deposits of the Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway in eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba
  • the description and analysis of 400 million-year-old Early Devonian fossil fishes from deposits along the Anderson River in the Northwest Territories
  • a description of the unique anatomy of a specimen of the giant Late Devonian arthrodire Dundleosteus.

Steve is also an Adjunct Research Professor in Earth Sciences at Carleton University.

Richard Harington, O.C., Ph.D.

Researcher Emeritus, Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Papers nearly ready for submission:

  • evidence for human breakage of Pleistocene mammoth bone radiocarbon-dated before 40 000 BP with archaeologists S. and K. Holen
  • an extinct Pliocene bear from from Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, with Xiaoming Wang et al.
  • the Kyle Mammoth, Saskatchewan.

Harington is also partaking in a study with museum research associate Natalia Rybczynski, Ph.D., on a study to be published on a small horse, camel and bison remains from NW Banks Island, NWT, supporting the idea that Eastern Beringia included that part of the Canadian Arctic archipelago.

Sanja Hinić-Frlog, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Hinić-Frlog is a vertebrate palaeontologist interested in evolution, functional morphology and mechanics of swimming in vertebrates, particularly birds. She has been involved in several, ongoing research projects at the Canadian Museum of Nature since 2009, and is teaming with museum research scientist Natalia Rybczynski, Ph.D., to study the specializations of the skeletons of aquatic birds, considering what is known about their systematics and ecology. She is also working with fellow research associate Steve. Cumbaa, Ph.D., on the systematics of bird-fossil material from Saskatchewan.

Robert Holmes, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Holmes is co-supervising a master's student at Carleton University who is working on species of the genus Chasmosaurus; many of the relevant specimens are in the museum's collections. This work will help clarify future work on the stratigraphic occurrence of the chasmosaurine specimens held in the museum's collections and assess how all of the Chasmosaurus specimens in the museum's collections fit into this new taxonomic framework.

Holmes, in collaboration with fellow research associate Michael Ryan, Ph.D., will study ceratopsid specimen CMN8804, identified by Sternberg as Brachyceratops because of its small size. It is possible that this specimen represents a new, primitive, previously unknown subgroup of ceratopsid, and will hopefully expand our knowledge of this important group of dinosaur.

Work continues on a nearly completed description of the postcranial skeleton of Vagaceratops irvinensis that is currently on display. 

Hillary Maddin, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Maddin is a palaeontologist and Professor at Carleton University. She studies the origin of the diversity of animals over large time scales, with a special interest in the development and function of the skull, and the evolution of its shape and size. Her work involves the study of both living and fossil species, with a special interest in amphibians.

Michael Ryan, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Ryan has an active research program that involves the palaeontology and osteology collections at the Canadian Museum of Nature, with interests in birds, fishes and dinosaurs. He is working with museum research scientist Jordan Mallon, Ph.D., to describe a new ceratopsid dinosaur that was collected by former museum curator Wann Langston, from Alberta. Ryan is working with fellow research associate Steve Cumbaa, Ph.D., in the description of placoderm fishes. Ryan involves several students from Carleton University in his research.

Natalia Rybczynski, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Rybczynski is a palaeobiologist who specializes in fossil mammals from the Neogene (~23 to 3 million years ago) High Arctic. Today, the High Arctic landscape of North America is tundra and polar desert. However, the Neogene fossil record preserves evidence of ancient polar forests, and in rare cases, fossil mammals. Her current research collaborations focus on uncovering the evolutionary history and biology of these mammal lineages, many of which are related to modern mammals (e.g., beavers, camels, seals, bears). In addition, she contributes to paleo-environmental research studies which investigate climate and landscape change in the Neogene High Arctic (e.g., PoLAR-FIT: Pliocene Landscapes and Arctic Remains—Frozen in Time). See also Nataliarybczynski.com.

Tamaki Sato, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Sato is engaged with several projects in conjunction with museum research scientist Xiao-chun Wu, Ph.D., including research on an Arctic plesiosaur from Prince Patrick Island (CMN 10428), sauropterygians of the Triassic from both Canada and China, a thalattosaur of the Triassic (ROM specimen), and a Cretaceous plesiosaur (skull and some postcranial elements from the Manitoba Museum).

Robin Smith. Ph.D.

Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Smith specializes in palaeobotany and paleoecology with a research focus on paleoclimate reconstruction. Her work includes field and laboratory studies with museum research scientist Natalia Rybczynski, Ph.D. They have amassed a large quantity of exceptional plant fossil material during their expeditions that is the subject of publications, ongoing work, and future studies, such as Eocene fossil floras of British Columbia.

Kathlyn M. Stewart, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Palaeobiology
Kathlyn Stewart collects and studies fossils of fish, bird and mammal bones from across Canada and Eastern Africa to better understand what life was like for these long-dead animals and what evolutionary forces shaped their existence. Her research provides insight into the environment of these creatures, including their interactions with humans.


Robert Gault

Research Associate, Mineralogy
Research will continue on the mineralogy of Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, contributing to a complete re-write of a publication from 1990; since then, the number of mineral species from this world-famous site has doubled to approximately 420. Mont Saint-Hilaire is the type locality of 60 of these species. This collaborative effort will describe each species in detail, including compositional data when possible. The next step is to complete the history, regional geology and the geology of the Mont Saint-Hilaire pluton, to complete maps and various tables and to choose appropriate photographs and SEM images; completion is anticipated in 2017. This publication will be a complete reference for both amateur and professional mineralogists. This project complements Piilonen's Evolution of Alkaline Environments project.

Curatorial assistance continues with the museum's mineral, rock and gem collections in cataloguing the backlog of material, preparing for the eventual transfer of the Geological Survey of Canada's mineral collections to the museum's collection, and in choosing specimens for the new travelling exhibition.

Willow Wight, B.A.

Research Associate, Mineralogy
Ongoing work with the curation of the museum's gem collection. Continued research on Canadian gems in the National Mineral Collection. Presentations on Canadian labradorite and Canadian amber were given recently at international conferences, as well as locally. Regular attendance at various gem and mineral meetings, symposia and shows will continue.

As Canadian Delegate and member of the Executive Committee, Wight participated fully at the International Gemmological Conference in Lithuania in August 2015. Preparations for the next meeting in 2017 have commenced.

Plants and Algae

George Argus, Ph.D.

Researcher Emeritus, Research Associate, Botany
Argus continues a long-term programme of systematics research on Salix. Currently, he and his associates are investigating phylogeny and biogeography from a molecular perspective. He also applies his expertise on this group in contributing to the Flora of Arctic Canada and Alaska project, in the Flora of Saskatchewan project and the Flora of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada project.

Irwin Brodo, Ph.D.

Researcher Emeritus, Research Associate, Botany
Brodo has just published an updated and expanded a set of keys for the lichens of North America, covering over 2000 species (Yale University Press, 2016). Work continues to produce the first comprehensive checklist of the lichens of Canada, for completion and availability online in 2017. Brodo's taxonomic research includes the description of new species within Lecanora, Ochrolechia, Bryoria, Haematomma and Trapelia, among others. He continues to address the significant backlog of lichen specimens in the herbarium and is identifying and databasing these specimens.

Danna Leaman, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Botany
The Canadian Museum of Nature is the secretariat for the Canadian Committee for IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Leaman leads the IUCN's Medicinal Plan Group, part of the Species Survival Commission. Her efforts include an assessment of the conservation status of economically important plant species (timber, palms, medicinal, crop, wild relatives), some of which are present in Canada. This work will continue with Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Royal Botanic Garden Kew, and the University of Birmingham. Conservation status assessments apply IUCN Red List categories and criteria, and uses distributed data about the Canadian Museum of Nature's collections and other sources. Leaman will also contribute to Red List assessment training and support to complete the assessment of European medicinal plants, those endemic to India, and the wild herbs in Lebanon that are commercially important.

Chris Lewis

Research Associate, Botany
Work at the Canadian Museum of Nature in the next year will focus on the ongoing floristic studies of the lichens of Algonquin Provincial Park and the lichens of the Hudson Bay Lowlands. Lewis will continue to maintenance and augment the Ontario lichen list, as well as finalize articles documenting new and interesting discoveries of lichen species in the province. He will continue work on lichen collections and identifications from across Canada with a focus this year on field work in Ontario and Manitoba. Lewis is a member of the COSEWIC Mosses and Lichens Specialist Subcommittee.

Peter Outridge, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Botany
Work continues on environmental contaminant research, including a manuscript on the relationship between mercury concentrations in sediment and algal productivity in northern lakes during the Holocene. The work involves examination of sediment cores from five lakes along the Tibbett Ice Road, N.W.T. Algal taxonomy and abundance counts will be used in association with the analysis of contaminants (mercury and others). The activities consider the impacts of climate warming in the north on the chemical properties of mercury. Support is by DeBeers Canada, Seabridge Mining, the Geological Survey of Canada and the Tibbett Ice Road Consortium.

Julian Starr, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Botany
Starr is a botanist and a Professor at the University of Ottawa. His research focuses on the cosmopolitan plant family Cyperaceae (sedges), and the discovery, classification and evolution of its 5000+ species. With his active group of students and collaborators, he conducts field and laboratory research worldwide.

Collection Services

Gerald Fitzgerald, M.Sc.

Museum Associate

Robert Waller, Ph.D.

Museum Associate
Current work includes a writing project with museum staff members Marc Chrétien (former staff) and Martin Leclerc for Papyrus, the newsletter of the International Association of Museum Facility Administrators. The project considers the setting of priorities for facility management related to the care of natural-history collections. Waller continues to work with the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNCH), on their Assessment subcommittee, to establish a protocol to determine "loss in value" during collection risk assessments. He also continues to be available as an advisor to the museum's conservators.