Interested in joining the lab? Please email

Current members

Justine Karst - PI

Justine is a mycorrhizal ecologist who does much of her research in the boreal forest. Her interests include restoration ecology, community ecology, disturbance ecology, and rhizosphere carbon dynamics.

University of Alberta bio

Joseph Cooper - PhD candidate

Joseph is pursuing a PhD in Forest Biology & Management. His research is focused on mycorrhizal network topology, dendroclimatology, and forest demography. He combines traditional drendochronology measurements in novel ways to address climate sensitivity of forests. Prior to starting at the University of Alberta, he received his undergraduate B.Sc. 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.

James Franklin - PhD candidate

James is a PhD student interested in plant-fungal interactions. After completing his BSc at the University of Victoria, he worked as a lab technician at Wildlife Genetics International. He then returned to school and completed an MSc 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  Pedro M. Antunes.

Jean Carlos Rodríguez-Ramos - PhD candidate

Jean 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 is co-supervised by Nadir Erbilgin.

Nicholas Brown - MSc student

Nick is primarily interested in enhancing remediation of contaminated soils through the application of plant-microbe interactions. He earned is BSc in Land Reclamation through the University of Alberta, and has developed field and lab experience as a lab technician in grassland and forest ecology. Nick is investigating how we can use native plant species to enhance degradation of hydrocarbons in soils, and is assessing the effects these species have on the enzyme activity of soil microbial communities.


Josh Wasyliw - technician

After working for years as an archaeologist in northern British Columbia, Josh returned to university with an interest in plant biology and mycorrhizal ecology. Josh’s MSc research examined whether older pine stands with fewer fine roots relied more heavily on ectomycorrhizal fungi to explore soils for them. The answer was 'no.' Josh has stayed on with the lab as a technician.