The Heard Lab

Understanding ecological controls on the evolution of biodiversity

Stephen B. Heard


Ph.D. (Pennsylvania)

B.Sc.  (Waterloo)


Steve has a short academic attention span and gets interested in topics all over the ecological and evolutionary map.  He also teaches courses in ecology, evolution, entomology, and field biology.  That is, when he isn’t playing Boggle. 










Ken Dearborn

M.Sc., 2015

B.Sc. (Guelph)


Ken studied the interaction between an invasive wood-boring beetle and the native community it is invading., finding evidence for displacement of native by invasive and invasion slowing by native parasitoids. Ken was cosupervised with Deepa Pureswaran.




Former (recent) lab members


Principal Investigator

Tobi Oke

M.Sc., 2013


Tobi documented phylogenetic community structure among plants of rock barrens.  He used species distribution modeling to derive implicit ecological traits of rock barren species and show that local community assembly is likely controlled by habitat filtering.  Tobi was cosupervised with Dr. Jeremy Lundholm and is now a PhD student at Guelph.


Ian Zinck

Ph.D., 2012 (cosupervised with Dr. Om Rajora)


Ian explored patterns in population genetic and phylogeographic structure in eastern white pine across its North American range.  Ian was particularly interested in the interplay between natural and anthropogenic influences on the population genetics of large-range species with long-distance gamete transfer. 


Insect images © Roger Smith

Justin Ancheta

M.Sc., 2009


Justin studied impacts of insect herbivory and environmental stress on the threatened Gulf of St. Lawrence Aster. High salinity is typical for wild populations, and herbivory occurs where populations occur close to more abundant relatives with which herbivores are shared.


Chris Kolaczan

M.Sc., 2008


Chris used molecular methods (AFLPs) and mate-choice experiments to test for reproductive isolation and host-race formation in Copidosoma gelechiae, a common parasitoid of a goldenrod gall-making herbivore.  Copidosoma appears to be at a very early stage of host-race formation, with differentiation at some loci but not across the genome.


Dennis Wong

M.Sc., 2007



Measures of the topology and branch lengths of molecular phylogenies are commonly used to make inferences about the macroevolutionary history of clades. Dennis used computer simulations of macroevolution to test the ability of these methods to correctly reconstruct known history, finding that multiple evolutionary mechanisms can lead to similar phylogenetic patterns.


Yana Shibel

M.Sc., 2015

B.Sc. (Toronto)


Yana studied the impact of insect herbivores on their host plants, and how this impact evolves in recent vs. ancient herbivore-plant associations.  Consisten with theory, Yana found that goldenrods and their herbivores evolve towards reduced virulence  and increased tolerance.


Mischa Giasson

B.Sc. Student


Mischa is an undergraduate assistant in the lab.  She’s interested in both plant and insect ecology and helps with several projects, while also measuring tolerance of goldenrods to herbivore damage (both simulated and real). 


Holly Abbandonato

B. Sc. student, 2012


Holly is a plant aficionado who spent summer of 2012 in the lab.  She did barrens field work and gathered field data on how insect herbivore respond to individual-level variation in traits of their host goldenrods.  She then completed an M.Sc. program in Arctic plant ecology  at the University of Tromso, Norway, with field work on the island of Svalbard.


Julia Mlynarek

B.Sc., M.Sc. (McGill)

Ph.D. (Carleton)


As a postdoc in the Heard lab, Julia studied the evolution of leaf miner-plant associations.  She is now a Research Scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in southwestern Ontario, studying population and community dynamics of insects in major and minor field crops. Her research interests include the evolutionary ecology of species interactions, pest management in healthy agroecosystems, and insect systematics.


Mallory MacDonnell

M.Sc. Student

B.Sc. (St. FX)


Mallory is investigating the ecological and management implications of interactions between the invasive brown spruce longhorn beetle and native spruce budworm.  When not studying insects, Mallory enjoys playing soccer, watching movies, and swimming. Mallory is cosupervised with Rob Johns.


Bethany Nordstrom

B.Sc. Student, 2014-15


Bethany assisted with several projects in the lab, and after graduating went to work for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  She is now an M.Sc. student at Dalhousie,  studying distribution and abundance of jellyfish (which are prey for leatherback sea turtles) on the Scotian Shelf.


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Lauren Stead

M.Sc. Student

B.Sc. (UNB)


Lauren is working on the ecology of the southern range limit for spruce budworm, and its potential to respond to climate change.  She is is cosupervised with Rob Johns.


Munaha Mostafa

B.Sc. Student (Honours), 2014-15


Munaha was a Biology/Chemistry student doing an Honours thesis on distribution of ploidy in goldenrods from Minnesota and New Brunswick.  When she is not slaving over her studies, she loves to paint, read, and do bad karaoke.  And play boggle, of course.


Jennifer Anderson

M.Sc. Student

B.Sc. (UNB)


Jennifer is studying hybridization between the invasive beetle species Tetropium fuscum and the native bark beetle T. cinnamopterum.  In her spare time she likes spending time with her 6 year old son, hiking, waterfalling, and studying foreign languages.  Jennifer is cosupervised with Deepa Pureswaran.


Chandra Moffat

Ph.D, 2016

M.Sc. (British Columbia—Okanagan)

B.Sc.  (Victoria)


Chandra investigated the role of host-trait variation in driving divergence and speciation in the goldenrod-insect model system. Her work suggests that adaptation to within-niche variation may facilitate colonization of novel niches and thus drive ecological speciation. She is now a Research Scientist at Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada in Fredericton.


Allyson Heustis

M.Sc., 2016

B.Sc. (St. FX)


Allyson studied the phylogenetic community structure of forest pests on red and Norway spruces, with particular reference to brown spruce longhorn beetle (native in Europe, invasive in North America).  Allyson was cosupervised with Deepa Pureswaran, and now works for Forest Protection Ltd. as a Lab and Field Technician.


Rylee Isitt

Ph.D. Student

B.Sc, M.Sc. (UNBC)


Rylee has research interests in insect ecology, population biology, and pheromones. His PhD research will test for host and pheromone races in the North American spruce beetle Dendroctonus rufipennis and the ecologically similar European  Ips typographus. Rylee is cosupervised with Deepa Pureswaran.


Emily Owens

M.Sc. Student

B.Sc. (UNB)


Emily is working on her M.Sc. with a project combining spruce budworm population dynamics with citizen science.  She is also the full-time Budworm Tracker project manager at the Canadian Forest Service.  Emily is cosupervised with Rob Johns.


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