page shadow


Current members

Justine Karst – PI

Justine is a restoration ecologist who studies linkages between above and belowground components of forests. Her interests include mycorrhizal ecology, community ecology, disturbance ecology, rhizosphere carbon dynamics and molecular biology.

Justine Karst full bio


Paul Metzler - MSc student

Paul is a Masters student interested in plant and fungal interactions, above/below ground relationships, and restoration ecology. He worked as a biological science technician for the US Army Corps of Engineers while completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon. He has been involved in projects relating to biological soil crusts in the American southwest, tropical fungal endophytes, and threatened Kincaid’s Lupine in the remnant prairies of western Oregon. He will be working on establishing DNA based methods to identify plant roots in northeastern Alberta.



 Joseph Cooper - PhD student 

Joseph is pursuing a PhD in Forest Biology & Management. His research is focused on mycorrhizal topology, dendroclimatology, and forest demography. He is interested in combining traditional measurement techniques in novel ways to address aspects of forest ecology relating to climate sensitivity.  Prior to starting at the University of Alberta, he received his undergraduate B.S. degree in Conservation and Restoration Ecology from Utah State University located in his hometown of Logan, Utah. Previous work and research experience focused on old-growth forests within the western United States. Joseph is co-supervised by Suzanne Simard. 



Evan_smallEvan Fellrath -  MSc student 

Evan is interested in fungal-plant associations, including mycorrhizae, endophytes and pathogens, as well as community and disturbance ecology. He earned his bachelors in Environmental Biology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He has worked for the United States Forest Service in southeast Alaska, as well as for various New York State research projects such as the American Chestnut Foundation. Evan is currently studying communities of mycorrhizal fungi in beetle killed lodgepole pine stands across various landscapes, and is assessing the efficacy of inoculation of pine seedlings with fungi from healthy pine stands to counteract the effects of detrimental fungal taxa often occurring in high-mortality beetle-killed stands. Evan is co-supervised by Nadir Erbilgin. 

Marc_smallMarc La Fleche - MSc student

Marc is exploring the relationships between tree growth and rooting behaviour in reclaimed oil sand sites when compared to naturally occurring oil sand outcrops. Since graduating from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, he has developed extensive field experience conducting biological surveys across the Albertan boreal forest from the foothills of the Rockies to Wood Buffalo National Park. Stepping back into the academic world, he is hoping to deepen his understanding of ecology and its importance in improving our current reclamation practices

Josh photoJosh Wasyliw - MSc student

After working for years as an archaeologist in northern British-Columbia, Josh has returned to university with an interest in plant biology and mycorrhizal ecology. Josh’s current research project is focused on fine root distribution and its relation to stand age in jack pine stands. The abundance, diversity and distribution of ectomycorrhizal fungi will also be examined to see how it compares between sites.




James Franklin - PhD candidate

James is a Ph.D. student interested in plant-fungal interactions. After completing his B.Sc. at the University of Victoria, he worked as a lab technician at Wildlife Genetics International. He then returned to school and completed an M.Sc. at the University of Guelph, where he studied the tripartite symbiosis between plants, mycorrhizal fungi, and rhizobium bacteria. He is currently studying if plant-mycorrhizal associations change across soils that differ in oil sand concentration and screening for fungi specialized to occur in oil sands. His next goal will be to inoculate seedlings with fungi isolated from different origins to determine if the mutualistic benefits these fungi provide their host differ based on where the fungi were isolated from. James is co-supervised by Dr. Pedro M. Antunes.


Ariel Brown - MSc candidate 

Ariel is a Masters student interested in forest ecology, conservation and restoration. During her BSc degree at the University of the Fraser Valley she worked in several research labs, including a paleoecology lab studying ancient flood deposits, a biology lab isolating and identifying secondary metabolites from subspecies of Pinus contorta, and a biochemistry lab creating and loading lipid-nanoparticles with doxorubicin. After the completion of her BSc she studied agriculture and worked for the British Columbia Blueberry Council in partnership with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada as a research assistant in the small fruit breeding program. While the details are still under development, her current project is investigating the distribution of roots of northern forests as a function of soil type.

Dana_PicDana Hopfauf - Undergraduate study student

Dana is working towards a BSc. in Forestry at the University of Alberta. She is in her third year and hopes to graduate in 2019. When finished, she is interested in working as a silviculturist. She is also interested in forest ecology and is thinking about pursuing a masters. Dana was a research assistant in summer, 2017, and is now doing an independent study in the lab. She is eager to apply what she has learned in her courses as well as learn more about research practices and forest ecology. 



Chloe Christenson - Field/Lab Technician

Chloe is a research assistant helping out the team for the summer and fall. She is interested in getting both field and lab experience on all the projects happening in the lab this summer. She has had past field experience in Fort McMurray, Alberta collecting butterflies. This was for a community study, investigating the effects of seismic lines and other disturbances on butterfly populations. She just graduated from the University of Alberta from the Environmental and Conservation sciences program with a Conservation Biology major. She is excited to explore the possibilities after finishing her degree.


Jean Carlos Rodríguez-Ramos - MSc student

Jean Carlos will determine whether soil fungal communities vary in composition among forests impacted by individual and cumulative disturbances (i.e., fire, mountain pine beetle outbreak or harvesting).  As part of this project, he will also assess if lodgepole pine seedling growth improves when grown in soils amended with undisturbed soils and primer plantings. Jean Carlos is co-supervised by Nadir Erbilgin. 

Contact us


Interested in joining the lab?

Please email