Alexis Williams
Director of the Biophilium

Alexis Williams is an artist, writer, amateur mycologist, bird nerd and the director of the Biophilium. She designs and hosts research expeditions for artists to explore wildlife and science laboratories and to meet non artists who are doing research with living systems. She enjoys giving biology lessons from an artist’s point of view and to encourage appreciation of living things that are often overlooked. She gives workshops on wild mushroom appreciation and on sterile techniques for studio mushroom cultivation. Alexis is devoted to sharing her passion for ecology and supporting the development of conceptual art.


Alyssa Ellis, Alberta
Biophilium Expedition Leader

Ellis is an Albertan born artist who has an ongoing love affair with botanical poison. She studies, documents and seeks out poisonous plants that can be found growing naturally within the province of Alberta. Through the process of her work, she studies the relationships between plants and people, and the dependence one has on the other.

“I’m in a constant ongoing, revolving and dissolving love affair with botanical life. We work together, play together and by all means narrate together in order to further develop our complicated relationship. While multidisciplinary in nature, the experimental research of our stories fluctuates between textiles, drawing, performance and installation. Despite always connecting back to the idea of plant storytelling, I strive to do nothing more than to unearth stories that delve into nature’s darker side.”



Michelle Bunton, Ayatana Expedition Leader
Ontario, Canada

Rooted in a space of paradox, my practice attempts to question the mnemonic capacity of technology as an archival medium, dismantling the notion of the video or sound record as an absolute or concrete preservation of the body/psyche. Creating multi-media, sculptural installations, my work aims to mirror a high-intensity atmosphere in which technological, human, and material bodies compete and grate against one another in a perseverance towards preservation. My practice is further influenced by a critical interest in neutrality, passivity and Quantum Theory’s concept of “potentia,” which is defined as an intermediary layer of reality that exists halfway between the physical reality of matter and the intellectual reality of the image. I consider technology-based archives to occupy this intermediate reality, offering a critical venue through which to examine larger themes, such as gender, sexuality, death and decay.


Katie St Clair, North Carolina

Assistant Professor of painting at Davidson College

Biophilium Expedition Leader

The natural world has always seemed to me extremely complex and impossible to truly comprehend. Lying on the forest floor, even the simplest forms and structures: a leaf, twig or mushroom is ripe with mystery. An alchemy is realized as the living world decays and transforms.  The layers of soil below us are in an earthly cosmic dance, one  where the whole composition is more important than any one functioning individual aspect.

 As an artist, I find myself in awe of the endless connections, the symbiotic and beneficial partnerships as well as the parasitic relationships, that are in constant flux. We are one organism in an impossibly complex web of being. My sight specific installations are spheres of made of locally collected refuse and natural pigment and ice. The spheres are hung above a canvas and melt. Eventually the water and pigment settle into large pools on the canvas that evaporate over time, leaving an inky crust of marks that result in a painting. 

 The installation exposes all the different stages of transformation in the painting process that viewers don’t normally see in a gallery. As opposed to my painting practice, the melting of the spheres is a natural act of painting without an artist’s hand. The normality of the roadside has been restructured to direct attention and heighten awareness to what is so commonly overlooked.



Suus Agnes Claessen
Biophilium Expedition Leader

I am an author-illustrator and comics artist with a background in science communication, literary studies, and beekeeping. My work takes a particular
interest in environmental ethics and the underdog. As a PhD candidate at the Centre for Sustainability, Otago University, New Zealand, I currently work on a graphic novel about human relationships with 'unloved' microcommunities of invertebrates, moss, and fungi. This is part of my interdisciplinary research that explores visual narrative as a method for cultivating attentiveness to nonhumans.

I look for ways to better coexist with my environments through different ways of knowing them —from folklore and myth to traditional and contemporary ecological knowledges— and let these stories colour my daily observations and actions, as I’m learning to read my surroundings intimately; perhaps even communicate with them. Who am I to them? Who responds to the seeds and spores I spread?

By engaging story and sense in processes of getting to know other beings, my creative practice seeks to bring them to wider cultural imaginations. It’s too easy to overlook or disregard them as backdrops to human life. By reviving forgotten wisdoms, I wish to contribute to a broader recognition of nonhumans in all shapes and sizes, not just for their importance and wondrousness, but also as life forms in their own rights, alive and aware, creatures full of story and for who things matter.



Ashlee Mays, Pigeon Forge, TN

Director of the Museum of Infinate Outcomes

Biophilium Expedition Leader

It is one thing to say something, it is another thing to write it down, and it is a completely different thing to carve, engrave, design, and print that same thing. My work focuses on these symbols that signify our human desires, and their motion. Their motion through both their mechanization of production, and the way they disseminate into banality. Many of my pieces move from place to place, sometimes through space and sometimes through ownership. Printmaking provides the conceptual spine that supports my interdisciplinary practice. My art pieces are almost always interactive, asking the viewer to physically place themselves in this portrait of connectivity. Nowadays we do not rely on movable type to get us our daily news. It seems that we no longer rely on the accuracy of the artist’s hand to illustrate scientific information. Printmaking mobilized the first information revolution. We are experiencing another one, and this one did not appear out of thin air. I am looking to expose the seemingly invisible lines that connect our day to day experiences with a larger mechanism. It appears to me that Botanists are sometimes doing the same thing. The parking ticket you got last week, the souvenir from your last vacation- these artifacts all have a complex history. They quietly shape an experience that you are actively participating in.


Dawn George
Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia

Teacher's Assistant at the Biophilium

I work with film and video because movement and sound fascinate me. I’m interested in recording natural objects that have very minimal movements like a seed, a plant, an insect, or mold and then reveal how they communicate through subtle often time-lapsed movements. I develop ways to enhance the visuals through subtle animation, colour changes, and sound design. The films I create are rooted in environmentalism with subtle elements of science fiction.

When working with film I prefer to use eco-processing developers made from the plants I am filming to bring a multifaceted quality to the image. When I work digitally, I use editing techniques, masking, compositing, time-lapse photography, and computer animation to create subtle changes in the moving images. Audio design plays a large role in my practice. I prefer to source sounds found in nature or create my own sounds (usually from my kitchen) and then use audio editing programs to adjust a sound’s features to compliment the video.

Nature provides me with a sense of inspiration and peace, and I am always seeking ways to work with it and in it. I believe that nature holds universal truths and through careful observation, it speaks to us. Through these observations, I look for the connections that help me understand life on this planet and incorporate this into my work.



Tiffany Deater, Fulton, NY
Assistant Professor of Environmental Film & Literature at Oswego State University of New York

Teacher's Assistant at the Biophilium

We live in a culture that thrives on drama and conflict; a barrier between the imagined and the real. This desire for social tension extends beyond the human, and we impose our ideologies onto the animals and environment around us.

We overlook quiet spaces and moments of stillness, forgetting what it means to simply exists as living beings.

My work is about reimagining our relationship with animals, the environment, and each other. Though my video works I seek to connect the viewer with other forms of life, sometimes journeying though their perspective seeking to answer the questions: how do we connect and empathize with other animals? What insight can we gain from their world?

Shelly Smith,

Washington DC
Biophilium Expedition Leader

My paintings are based on microscopic life I find in water samples taken from all over the world. My process includes collecting water samples, documenting the site locations, and observing the contents with a laboratory microscope. I work both from direct live observation as well as from a series of videos and pictures I record via my microscope camera.

The work I produce is inspired by the tradition of scientific illustration and popular decorative motifs. Done in pen and ink with gouache washes, the illustrated paintings reflect the protozoa, diatoms, algae, and other microscopic life that lives in abundance, hidden from the naked eye but a vital part of our living world. The jewel like beauty of microorganisms sparkles through in glistening colors and metallic sheen, with bold line work reflecting the outlines of these small creatures under a slide.

Ashley Czajkowski
Biophilium Expedition Leader

The human relationship with nature is a tenuous one. We are at once a part of the natural world, yet intentionally set apart from it. I am interested in this disconnect; our refusal as a species to admit that we, too, are animals. There is a sense of savagery that comes with being an animal, being wild. We have been taught to become something other, to become domesticated. There is loss in this becoming. Though all experience this (false) dichotomy between humans and nature, the accepted social construction of femininity is much further removed from the nature of the human animal.

Historically, women who exhibited wild, uncontrollable, or generally undesirable behavior were considered dangerous and mentally unstable. Witch hunts and medical disorders like hysteria illustrate the collective psychoanalytical fear of the “female monster,” and this chastising of unbecoming female behavior lingers to this day. Because femininity is the gender I learned to perform first-hand, the relationship of women and nature is highlighted in my work, drawing connections to sensuality, fertility and the maternal instinct.

Exploring these intrinsic, wild tendencies deep-seated in us all challenges societal expectations of women and men, our relationship to the natural world, our own corporeal existence, and ultimately, our mortality. I'm interested in how harnessing these innate primal desires presents the possibility of reclamation; of re-wilding the human, of unbecoming.


Biophilium Specialists
The Ayatana Artists' Research Program relies on the generous information sharing of experts. Thank you scientists, naturalists, aficionados and connoisseurs for your enthusiasm and for teaching and inspiring our artists in residence.



Angela Mele, Slime mold whisperer
and science illustrator

Angela is an interpretive planner and illustrator with over ten years of experience in museums, design firms, and public engagement. She especially enjoys interpreting lesser-known aspects of histories and environments. Angela's work has been published and implemented by Chicago University Press, Yale Press, the National Park Service, and various museums. Currently, Angela works for The Watershed Company, a landscape architecture firm in western Washington. Working with clients and their communities, Angela develops narratives around environmental and cultural topics through trail signage and other media.



Nicky Clayton, Neurobiologist, Cambridge University 

Nicky studies the development and evolution of cognition in members of the crow family (including jackdaws, rooks and jays) and humans. Her work has challenged many of the common-held assumptions that only humans can plan for the future and reminisce about the past, and that only humans can understand other minds as well as other times. This work has led to a radical re-evaluation of animal cognition, and raises important issues about the evolution of cognition.

She is Scientist in Residence at Rambert working with Artistic Direct Mark Baldwin on choreographic works inspired by science e.g. Comedy of Change.

Nicky's most recent collaboration is with artist and writer, Clive Wilkins,

who is Artist in Residence in the Psychology department. It arose out of their mutual interest in mental time trave. They also regularly dance tango together.



Elizabeth Carlin, Pigeon Stalker

My postdoctoral research focuses on the impacts of urbanization and environmental racism in Eastern Gray Squirrels. I received a PhD in Biological Sciences from Fordham University in New York City, where I worked in the Munshi-South lab. My PhD work, on how urbanization affected the evolution of feral pigeons in the Northeastern Megacity (Boston, MA to Washington, DC), was featured on Saturday Night Live and led The New York Times to refer to me as the “Pigeon Stalker”. In addition to my dissertation research, I am a co-founder and editor of the urban evolution blog Life in the City: Evolution in an Urbanizing World. 

Dr. Amanda Adams
has been studying bats for the past 18 years and is now the Conservation Research Program Manager for Bat Conservation International (BCI) and a Senior Lecturer at Texas A&M University in the Department of Biology. Her research focuses on bat ecology, specifically studying echolocation as both a tool for understanding bat communities with acoustic monitoring and echolocating bat behavior when flying in groups. Through her work at BCI, she also studies scalable solutions for combating White-nose Syndrome and works closely with the North American Bat Monitoring Program.


Barbara J King is emerita professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary and a freelance science writer. The author of six books including How Animals Grieve, Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat, and Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion, she focuses on animal emotion and cognition, the ethics of our relating with animals, and the evolution of culture, language, and religion. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, NPR, Aeon, and Undark. Barbara is a frequent media guest on radio and TV shows, and has enjoyed doing science outreach at places like the 92nd St Y and the National Academy of Sciences’ Science & Entertainment Exchange “science speed dating” night.

KEWDr Laura Martinez-Suz, Mycologist, Kew Gardens

I have a strong interest in fungal ecology, particularly in mycorrhizal symbiosis with a focus on ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi. I am especially interested in (1) the link between taxonomic and functional diversity of ECM fungi in forests and their implications in ecosystem processes; (2) the environmental factors that drive their diversity in the face to future forest changes and; (3) the specialization between ECM fungi and their tree hosts. The cryptic, below-ground growth of these fungi has been an obstacle to our understanding of them despite their pivotal role in terrestrial ecosystems.  In general, my research involves the application of molecular methods, which largely overcomes this obstacle, to address fundamental biological and ecological questions



Marie-Jeanne Musiol,
Krilian photographer

Marie- Jean is a Gatineau based artists who uses Krilian photography to record the luminous imprints of a plant’s electromagnetic field. She exhibits photographs of botanical energy in Canada and around the world. Her recent work explores fields of light surrounding plants, revealing a mirror image of the cosmos. Her electrophotography speaks the importance of magnetic fields as information carriers and speculates on the holographic nature of the universe.


Cassandra Robillard,
Botanist, Canadian National Museum of Nature

Cassandra Robillard is a botany technical assistant at the Canadian Museum of Nature. She has produced botanical illustrations for Volumes 1 & 3 of the Flore des Bryophytes du Quebec-Labrado, and for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

deth doula

Erin Bidlake
Death Doula

Erin Bidlake, PhD, is a hospice volunteer, death doula, and community deathcare educator in Ottawa, Canada. Community deathcare is a grassroots movement working to empower families (biological or chosen) to care for their dying and dead loved ones. The goal of community deathcare is to normalize deathcare in every home, so that families can return to doing what they have done for centuries, care for their own. The work of caring for people before and after death used to be a family- and community-led endeavor, and still is in many parts of the world. However, in the west, the professionalization of deathcare via long-term care facilities, hospices, and the funeral industry has all but removed families from the important and healing work of deathcare. Erin’s work is grounded in her belief that greater intimacy with death awakens greater intimacy with life.


Owen Clarkin
, Tree Activist, Bio-chemist

I have been fascinated with trees (and shrubs) for my whole life and I love to share this passion. From the perspective of ecological conservation/change I am especially interested in uncommon native species and naturalizing non-native species, and methods for species-level identification.  As a chemist by training, plant biochemistry is a strong secondary interest

ufAmber Westfall, Herbalist

Amber Westfall is the owner of the Wild Garden, a small business in Ottawa, ON. Through plant walks, workshops and teaching courses on herbalism at the International Academy of Natural Health Sciences, she shares her passion about wild food and medicinal plants.
Amber is the caretaker of a 1/2 acre parcel of land as part of Just Food’s Start-up Farm Program. This site is in the early stages of becoming a certified organic, medicinal food forest. At this location Amber also runs a Young Herbalist's Apprenticeship program for youth, ages 8 and up. The Wild Garden provides community members with a variety of local, organic and sustainably harvested wild food and herb products such as herbal teas and wild food preserves.
Connecting people and plants in this way imparts a kind of nature connection that fosters a greater intimacy and deeper understanding of the local landscape, while encouraging stewardship, co-creative relationships and regenerative care of the spaces we inhabit.

Bernie La Douceur
, Owl Whisperer, Ottawa Field Naturalist Clib

Interested in all animals for as long as he can remember, Bernie soon developed a special affinity for birds (because dinosaurs were extinct and African animals were far away); and, while he enjoys both the scientific and sporting aspects of birding, he believes it is primarily an artistic pursuit: form and colour perception, attention to detail, memory of movement, melody, pitch, and sound quality. He loves video and audio recording and, like many who enjoy these pursuits, he loves the night life. 

Stephanie Williams, Ayatana

I am a lapsed silver smith now retired from teaching visual art to elementary and secondary students and at the Faculty of Education, Ottawa University. My teaching practice focussed on encouraging problem solving and creativity through visual art and the integration of art with other disciplines such as drama, physics, marketing and media literacy.

Since retirement I have put my art history degree to use as a docent at the National Gallery of Canada, and the art exhibits at the Canadian War Museum giving public talks and conducting tours. I have also joined several community theatre groups and designed & built costumes & props as well as producing five operas. I am president of a competitive women’s barbershop chorus and co-chair of a community group sponsoring a Syrian family who have finally been able to come to live in Canada.



Andrew Pelling, Synthetic biologist

Andrew Pelling is a Canada Research Chair and Professor at the University of Ottawa where he directs the Laboratory for Biophysical Manipulation, an openly curious and exploratory space where scientists, engineers and artists work in close quarters. The lab is dedicated to understanding the limits of living systems and how biological entities can be controlled, manipulated and re-purposed using non-genetic and non-pharmacological means. Andrew is ultimately interested in creating functional, living, biological composites that do not naturally exist in nature.



Paul Sokoloff, Botanist, Canadian National Museum of Nature

Paul Sokoloff is a botanist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, where he has been working since finishing his M.Sc. in 2010. Following a trip to Victoria Island in Canada’s Western Arctic, Paul seeks any opportunity he can to get back to Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and is now a veteran of nine expeditions working to catalog plant life above the treeline. A lifelong stargazer, Paul also conducts research on the biodiversity around the Mars Desert Research Station in southereast Utah.

Jody Allair

Jody Allair, Bird Studies Canada

Jody is an avid birder and naturalist who enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for the natural world. He is the Director of Citizen Science and Community Engagement at Birds Canada where he is the co-editor of BirdWatch Canada Magazine and the Coordinator of eBird Canada. Jody delivers various education and outreach programs to audiences across Canada and has written numerous articles on birds, birding and connecting with nature. In addition to his work at Birds Canada, Jody has been leading birding tours with Eagle-Eye Tours since 2008. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @JodyAllair


Beth McLarty Halfkenny
, Geological Technician, Carleton University

As Outreach Coordinator at Carleton University, I organize classroom visits, field trips and presentations, create Earth Science teaching resources and provide teacher training opportunities.  My background includes an Honours Geology degree from University of Western Ontario, summer field work with the Ontario Geological Survey, a University Research Assistantship and several years as a Geological Technician. This together with my years working as a high school Science Teaching Assistant has shaped my mission to ensure students and teachers at all levels of education have the resources they need to learn about Earth systems and processes. I am constantly looking for new ideas to improve Earth Science literacy and help motivate students, educators and community  groups to engage with the natural world and to see the links between the “stuff” in our lives and where it comes from.  My job allows me to interact with young people and I find it incredibly gratifying to see how kids  connect with science when given the opportunity to explore for themselves.  I am a member of the Canadian Geoscience Education Network, the Ottawa Gatineau Geoheritage Project and am Co-Chair of the EdGEO Canadian Earth Science Teachers Workshop Program.



Jim des Rivières, Photographer, Moth Man

Jim des Rivières is a self-taught photographer and fine art printer. His stunning moth images are captured directly with high-resolution flatbed scanners, and printed on large format archival pigment-based inkjet printers. The large high-resolution prints allow the viewer to see them up close without a magnifying glass, opening up a marvelous world of intricate shapes, structures, and colours that surprise and delight viewers of all ages. The Canadian Museum of Nature's Winged Tapestries travelling exhibition includes 45 of his large moth prints, and has visited major nature museums in Ottawa, New York City, and Edmonton.

Fenja Brodo


Dr. Fenja Brodo, Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes

Fenja is an entomologist studying the taxonomy of a group of northern crane flies. She is awed by the diversity and beauty of insects and has amassed a sizeable collection of flies, butterflies, beetles, dragonflies, wasps, bugs, etc. that she uses to convey her love for these tiny creatures. As a long-time member of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club, she has led many insect outings and given several workshops on insect diversity. Fenja got interested in entomology as an undergrad at City College, New York, earned an MA in entomology from the University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. from Carleton University, Ottawa, where she has lived since 1965.


Estraven Lupino-Smith, Ayatana Expedition Leader
Victoria, BC

Estraven is an artist and researcher living in Victoria. Their current work explores the interactions of human and non-human animals in various environments: natural, cultural, and constructed.

I am an interdisciplinary artist whose work investigates the historical and social forces that shape our interactions with the natural world. I am specifically interested in ideas of home and belonging, urban wildlife and spaces of wildness, human and animal migrations, and relationships between place, space, and identity. I am consistently inspired by the transformative nature of artistic expression, the power of collective action, and the wonder of things found outside.

I work primarily as a printmaker to produce multiples and a sound artist who uses the guitar and baritone guitar. In my sound work I draw on samples from the Macauley Library, the largest online database of wildlife recordings. My practice also involves collaboration, both to produce visual and sound pieces, and is informed by interactions with varied environments: natural, cultural, and constructed. I am also a researcher and a writer. As a human geographer, I investigate spatial relationships, specifically the dynamics of natural and cultural spaces, and the human interventions in the imagined geographies of these places.

My most recent body of work depicts nocturnal and crepuscular species. The prints explore the connections between humans and non-human animals through our interactions in shared environments. Many of the animals featured as a part of this series have been vilified, and are still considered pests or dangerous. I wanted to celebrate these survivors, who live among us in cities and other complicated landscapes.


Bev McBride, naturalist

An amateur naturalist, Bev began studying birds after realizing that one of the sparrows she was watching in her front yard was not like the others. That led to great opportunities for travel, voluntary field work and even, combined with her degree in Environmental Studies, a real job that has endured in one form or another. Twelve years’ work in a former role in the Canadian office of the North American Breeding Bird Survey, and many hours every year counting birds in field surveys, gave Bev a knack for the sometimes tricky task of identifying bird species by their sounds as well as by sight. There is always more to learn! She is also a member, field trip leader and birds committee member with the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club. Her happiest birding (or birdwatching) moments are while looking for little brown birds in the shrubbery. She has never forgotten that first, odd sparrow.



Ginger Howell, Shepardess at Ferme Sol

Working to connect people to the land and animals that sustain us,  striving to practice regenerative land stewardship, respecting the earth and the living beings on it and participating in the cycles of life and death with gratitude. Ginger has a background in farming, Life Sciences/Biology, Waldorf Pedagogy and Outdoor Education.   She connects people with the nourishing, beautiful gifts from the bounty of nature and is collaborating to launch a local textile mill.

Products available from Ferme Sol:  Naturally tanned sheepskins in a variety of unique, natural colours and textures;  pastured lamb;  felted wool household products; raw wool for handspinning;  washed and carded wool for felting; spun yarn for knitting and crocheting


Jordan Bouchard, agriculturalist, seed saver

Jordan Bouchard is a program coordinator for Just Food that works primarily on seed programming & community gardens. Jordan is passionate about growing and (especailly) eating good food. Just Food is a food systems organization that operates in the Ottawa Region.  As part of their programming they work on a variety of food & farming related programming all the way up & down the food system.   The Ottawa Seed Library & Regional Seed Project, situated at Just Food Farm in the Eastern Greenbelt, are working to enhance seed skills in the Ottawa region to rebuild the base of our food system.  Why is seed important?  Nine out of every ten bites starts from seed!

  Brian Carson, Botanical poison connoisseur

Brian’s career included farming, market gardening, underwater salvaging, masonry contracting, geophysics and mine supervision. As an enthusiastic gardener, prolific plant hunter and grower he enjoys sharing and astonishing fellow gardeners with his floral treasures. In the Ottawa region he lectures frequently, leads field trips and conducts workshops.    His current obsessions, plant hunting and photography have brought international recognition to the Ottawa Valley for its double Trilliums and many marvelous mutations. A few years ago he discovered a large colony of a new orchid for North America.

He has been a stalwart member of several local garden clubs running their plant sales, library and serving as director and president. For the past two decades he has been a member of the Ottawa Valley Rock Garden and Horticultural Society, North American Rock Garden Society, Royal Horticultural Society, Scottish Rock Garden Society, Alpine Garden Society and Ottawa Cactus and Succulent Group. For the next few decades he looks forward to more travels with his wife, treks with his dachshunds, teasing his grandchildren, and playing in his gardens in many locales throughout the Ottawa valley.


Chad Cliffard, Bushcrafter, Sound Scaper

Works at his business Wilderness Rhythms, specializing in outdoor survival, nature lore, and bushcraft instruction. He is a natural sound recordist for measuring density and diversity of species. 



Lauren Moretto, Biologist (Bat specialist)

Lauren Moretto is currently a Masters student at Carleton University, hoping to protect and inform the effective management of biodiversity. She is particularly interested in how urban development influences biodiversity and how wildlife can persist in urban environments. She is currently studying bats in Toronto, Ontario, and examining the landscape extents at which natural habitat should be managed for them in urban environments. She also worked with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for a year protecting wetlands in the Greater Toronto Area.  Lauren recognizes the importance of engaging the public in wildlife protection, and loves to share her knowledge to hopefully inspire others to take action.


Sean Butler, agriculturalist

Sean’s enthusiasm for growing food came first from a passion for eating good food. When he realized that one could grow or gather foods far superior to 99% of what’s available on the market, there was no looking back. He WWOOFed, apprenticed and worked on organic farms from BC’s Cortes Island to an abandoned Newfoundland outport. In 2014 he began Ferme et Forêt with his partner, Genevieve LeGal-Leblanc, on 150 acres near Wakefield, QC. Laying hens were one of the first things they got, though they also produce maple syrup, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, asparagus, wild foods, baking, and berries.


Iola Price, biologist (Invasive species specialist)

Iola Price, is a retired biologist.  Her volunteer work now includes being President of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council one of 12 federal/provincial councils dealing with the issues of invasive species in Canada and North America.  A former member of the Rockcliffe Park Residents Association’s Board of Directors, she chairs its Environment Committee and actively works to manage invasive plants in the natural areas surrounding McKay Lake.

She started her career as a wildlife biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, initially working on contaminant effects on fish-eating birds on the Great Lakes.  Other exciting parts of her work included releasing young Peregrine Falcons in an urban setting, and directing the CWS Latin American Program of contact and joint research with countries in Latin America. 

She moved to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as the Director, Aquaculture and Oceans Science, responsible for national coordination of programs on aquaculture research and biological and physical oceanography.



Lori Bennett, Nature Interpreter

Lori's love for nature was obvious to everyone!  ...  right from "babyhood"  The youngest of 4 with 9 years  between them, she grew up in a beautiful old neighborhood in Ottawa but was happiest at her beloved cottage. With no electricity or running water, a lot of her time was spent in the woods, exploring, collecting, enjoying each scent and sound, and admiring wildlife.  Her favorite past time was hand feeding the chipmunks!  The "Good 'ol Days" they were.  Adulthood found her working for Bell Canada for 14 years where she gained much knowledge in the world of business until the company started cutting back.  She attended Algonquin College and earned her certificate in home decor but ended up starting and running a horseback riding school offering birthday celebrations, summer camp and riding excursions for the next 20 years instead.    In 2012, she was asked to submit her resume to the Friends of Gatineau Park as they were looking to hire a nature interpreter.  Since then, Lori has been passionately offering guided tours to groups and the general public in the Gatineau park on various themes from animal tracking in the snow to the history of the first settlers in the Gatineau Hills.  She feels right at home.



Christian Gigault, Physicist

Originally from the shores of the Saguenay fjord in Quebec, Christian spent some time in southern Ontario in the 1990s, completing a Ph.D. degree in experimental polymer physics at the University of Guelph in 2000. That year he moved to Ottawa to work in telecommunications research and development, and since 2003 he is with the Department of Physics at the University of Ottawa. There, he is heavily involved with teaching and outreach to the community. Scientific research interests have included polymer physics, biophysics, optics, taking part in the development of a 'Cesium Fountain'-type atomic clock at the National Research Council.


Liv Monck-Whipp, zoologist (Bat specialist)

Liv did her BSc in Zoology at the University of Guelph, and then took off into the woods for awhile. She is interested in ways of mitigating the negative effects of human developments on wildlife, and in how animals survive in human-altered landscapes. She has worked on projects investigating nest protection for turtles, road mitigation for reptiles, and the effects of logging techniques on birds and vegetation communities. She is currently a Masters student at Carleton, studying bat communities in agricultural areas. She is hoping to discover if there are ways to arrange farmland that will benefit bats without reducing the amount of crops being grown. She also enjoys contributing to citizen science projects and creating web comics about nature and field work. 







Daniel Modulevsky, Biochemist

Daniel Modulevsky achieved his undergraduate Biochemistry degree at the University of Ottawa and now is a biology master student in the Pelling Lab for Biophysical Manipulation.  His main research project involves developing 3D cell culture scaffolds.  Recently, at the Pelling Lab, they optimized a protocol to decellularize plant tissue in an attempt to use the cellulose scaffolds to culture mammalian cells.  Their recent work has been published at PLoS ONE.  Daniel has collaborated with Bioartist Tristan Matheson in the past to develop paintings based on scanning electon microscope (SEM) images of decellularized apple tissue.   



Dr. Sandra M. Barr, Geologist

Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.  During her 40+-year academic career she has shared her passion for Earth science with thousands of students, helping them to better understand and appreciate Earth processes and history, while seeking through her own research to better understand the details of that history herself.  Her research has a strong emphasis on studying rocks in the field, and to see them she has hiked many of the rivers, streams, and shorelines in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  Dr. Barr has over 200 publications in peer-reviewed research journals, and numerous book chapters, government reports, maps, field trip guides, open-file reports, and a popular book co-authored with Martha Hild on the “Geology of Nova Scotia”.  She has presented the results of her work at conferences world-wide.  In addition to teaching and research, she has also been active as a volunteer. She is co-editor of the Atlantic Geoscience Society journal "Atlantic Geology".  In 2015, she received the Ambrose Medal of the Geological Association of Canada in recognition of her exemplary service to Canadian geoscience.



Rob Raeside, Geologist

Rob grew up in Scotland, studying at Aberdeen University, before coming to Canada to complete a Masters degree at Queen’s University.  He obtained his PhD from the University of Calgary, where he worked on rocks from the mountains in central BC.  He has taught at Acadia University since 1982. His focus is on minerals, metamorphism and mountain building, and the courses he teaches match that.  Outside the classroom, he has been department head for most of the past twenty years in the Earth and Environmental Science Department, and he conducts research into the origin of the Appalachian Mountain chain, mainly in Cape Breton Island and southern Nova Scotia.  Much of his work involves microscopic examination of mineral and rocks, and he always enjoys introducing his students to the mysteries and colours of the world of mineral optics.


Ruth E. Newell, Botanist

Graduate of both Acadia University (Wolfville, NS) and the University of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario) where she received degrees in biology and botany. Since graduating, she has worked for over thirty years at Acadia University as the Curator of the E.C. Smith Herbarium (part of the Irving Biodiversity Collection, in the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre). This position involves taking care of a collection of over 200,000 dried botanical specimens including flowering plants, ferns and fern allies, mosses, lichens and liverworts and fungi. This invaluable collection documents the past and current wild flora of the Acadian Forest Region and is utilized by researchers, students, artists, professional botanists and many others. Ruth is keenly interested in wild plants and their preservation and is currently a member of several rare plant recovery teams, and the Nova Scotia Species at Risk Working Group. She has recently co-authored (together with Marian C Munro and Nicolas M. Hill) Nova Scotia’s first e-flora entitled Nova Scotia Plants (  This document is a comprehensive guide to Nova Scotia’s wild flora.


Kevin, Sound healer



Ridgeley Williams, Geologist

Since retiring as a museum scientist, Ridgeley Williams has enjoyed cooking and eating traditional European and Mediterranean foods as well as following interests in local history (for example, transcribing C19th Welsh census records) and family history (tracing the life of a serial-bigamist gt-great uncle). He was educated at the Universities of Exeter, U.K., and Ottawa, Canada, and led fossil-collecting expeditions to the High Arctic. He became Chief Curator of Mineral Sciences and Assistant Director of the National Museum of Natural Sciences (now called the Canadian Museum of Nature). Responsibility for exhibit production & education programmes highlighted the need for better information on how learning and communication actually takes place in museums and galleries. He helped establish and was President of the Visitor Studies Association, which sponsored research and published results of exhibit evaluations, science literacy levels, and studies of visitor behaviour in informal-learning environments.




sky diving


David Williamson, pilot, skydiver

David Williamson is a professional skydiver and owner of the Atlantic School of Skydiving. Having made close to 8000 jumps since 1975 David focuses on keeping skydiving active in Nova Scotia. He provides introductory training and progression to advanced skydiver levels. David also takes much pleasure in providing tandem skydiving opportunities for those wishing to experience a freefall skydive. Since skydiving is seasonal in Nova Scotia, David finds winter training and work opportunities in many southern countries.


Tom Cosman, beekeeper

In 1977 Tom Cosman saw some bee hives in the neighbour’s backyard. “You’d better not let your bees hurt my baby girl,” he said “Or else!”

“You’re overreacting,” said his wife, Mary Ann Whidden, when she got home from work. The next day she gave Tom a book: The Joys of Bee keeping by Richard Taylor. After reading it, Tom was hooked.

Tom and Mary Ann’s 1500 honeybee colonies now pollinate commercial fruit farms across the province. Cosman and Whidden Honey is available in most markets in Nova Scotia.




Chris Mansky, geologist

Chris Mansky, curator of the Blue Beach Fossil Museum & Research Center had a passion for fossils from childhood. He spent many years building his collection from the West Coast of Canada, but in 1995 found his way to the Eastern shores of Nova Scotia (Blue Beach, Kings County). A self taught citizen-paleontologist, Chris was intrigued to have a chance to find trace fossils and bones of the first creatures ever, to move out of water and walk on land 350 000 000 years ago, the tetrapods.  He spent the first three years of his time at Blue Beach wondering if he'd ever find the illusive bones or footprints; then he did and since has amassed the largest and most important track collections of this time period, the Lower Carboniferous.  Thirteen years ago, Chris and his partner, Sonja Wood set up the small home-based museum on their property to allow Local, National and International Visitors the chance to see some of the amazing collection gathered from the shoreline. Their mission is to build a new fossil institute at Blue Beach in order to house the ever-growing collection of world-class fossils and to host the ever-growing number of people who enjoy this amazing location on the head-waters of the Bay of Fundy.



Mathieu Gregoire, marine biologist, astronomer

My fascination with aquatic life began early when I received my first aquarium as a gift for my 8th birthday.  Since then I've developed a passion for aquarium-keeping which ultimately led me to enroll at Acadia.  I graduated with a B.Sc. in biology in 2013 after taking nearly every available marine or ecology related course.  Since graduation I have begun my own research as a part of an M.Sc. in Marine Biology.  My research involves the monitoring and evaluation of fish passage on fish ladders near the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border, and I hope to graduate in the spring of 2015.  
During my first semester I decided to enroll in an Astronomy course as an elective.  I was hooked immediately.  I excelled in the course and was asked if I would be willing to work as a Teaching Assistant the following year.  This fall will be the 5th straight year that I hold the position.






Jim Wolford, biologist

I am a retired university biology instructor from Acadia University, retired 1995, and before that I taught at the University of Alberta, Edmonton (1963 to 1975).  I have a Master’s degree in Biology from Univ. of Alberta, 1966, where I studied herons in southern cattail marshes.  My interests are diverse, from bacteria to whales (a biodiversity freak) but am especially interested in chimney swifts, local bald eagles, amphibians and reptiles, pond life, importance of extensive, representative, protected lands and their biodiversity, etc.  





Yvon Haché, aerial photographer

Passionate for kites and photography, Yvon Haché began building kites in 2003 and started using them for aerial photography in 2004 with a camera rig that he built. Being an electronic engineer, he likes playing with electronic circuits and microcontrollers to control his camera.  He built 4 different camera rigs so far and he's currently working on a fifth one to improve stability, add functionality and reduce weight.
Many of his aerial pictures have made the headlines in local newspapers and on television with Peter Coade and Kalin Mitchell on CBC weather reports.  
Yvon has been a kite flyer at the Dieppe international kite festival since 2004.  Since then, he built and experimented with different kind of kites to improve stability in different wind range for his camera and also to participate in kite creation contests.  He uses a technique called appliquee for his graphics on his kites which consist of pieces of different colors of fabrics sewed together.
In 2012, Yvon won first place at the Dieppe International Kite festival kite creation contest with his Olympic Maxi-Dopero and he won 2nd place in 2013 for his kite with a view of the Solar System from the moon.
Yvon is currently secretary/treasurer of the Dieppe kite club Sky-Lines and he participates/teaches kite building with the kite club members.