Soils and Ecohydrology Team

The soils and ecohydrology team’s strategic priority is restoring natural carbon dynamics in disturbed peatlands.


Maria Strack, Soils and Ecohydrology Team Lead

Maria’s current research focuses on peatland greenhouse gas fluxes in both natural and disturbed ecosystems. She collaborates on several peatland restoration projects across Canada involving restoration of sites used for horticultural peat extraction, former well-pads and roads related to oil extraction, and peatland construction in oil sands mining regions. Her interest in these projects is evaluating the conditions that help to return a carbon accumulation function post-restoration. She is also investigating the potential impact of climate change on peatlands through plot to ecosystem scale manipulation of temperature and water table and evaluating the subsequent changes in soil properties, plant community and greenhouse gas fluxes.

Scott Ketcheson, Canada Research Chair in Hydrological Sustainability

Dr. Ketcheson’s field-based research focusses on water and its availability for wetlands and streams in Alberta. Specifically, he is examining how water moves within and between forests, wetlands and streams. This research will help evaluate the sensitivity of ecosystems to natural and human disturbances, including wildfires, flooding and resource extraction.

Ellie Goud, Postdoctoral Fellow

Ellie is a broadly trained plant scientist and ecologist from Atlantic Canada. Her research addresses the underlying physiological mechanisms structuring patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem function. A common goal throughout her work is understanding how variation in plant traits scale up to impact species distributions and nutrient cycling, with a focus on carbon and water exchange. She is particularly interested in how we can apply this information to solve environmental problems. As such, she works on scientific questions at the interface of plant functional biology, ecosystem science, theoretical and applied ecology.

Marissa Davies, Postdoctoral Fellow

Marissa is a paleoecologist and earth system scientist. Her research broadly addresses how peatland carbon cycling is impacted by climate, hydrology, and disturbance on millennial time scales. Further, her research aims to quantify the relative contribution of peatlands to atmospheric carbon uptake and release on a variety of spatial and temporal scales. She is also interested in applying paleoecological techniques to establish baseline conditions for wetland restoration and effective climate mitigation practices. 

Nazia Tabassum, PhD Student

Nazia’s research interests lies largely in the area of carbon cycling and greenhouse gas exchange dynamics in boreal peatlands. She is doing her PhD research under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Maria Strack at the University of Waterloo. Within the BERA project, her PhD research will focus on the effects of seismic lines and restoration efforts on the carbon budget and greenhouse gas emissions of peatlands. As a peatland enthusiast, she has always been drawn to the complex physical and chemical processes unique to these ecosystems. Apart from her academic endeavors to facilitate the science-policy interface with evidence-based management decisions, she is passionate about her traditional music and art forms.

Maryam Bayatvarkeshi, PhD Student

Maryam Bayatvarkeshi is a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Maria Strack and Dr. Scott Ketcheson. Her research focuses on the impact of seismic lines disturbance on water balance in the Boreal region. The main purpose of her work is to visualize water balance changes between seismic lines and natural areas. She is passionate about modeling hydrological processes and discovering connections among components of complicated phenomena.

Christina Bao, MSc Student

Christina is an MSc student under the supervision of Maria Strack and Ellie Goud. She is applying her background in Biology to understanding shifts in plant community function in response to seismic line disturbance and recovery. Christina is applying a plant functional traits lens to determine whether changes in plant community composition and shifts in function of individual species contribute shifts in carbon and nutrient cycling in peatland affected by seismic lines.

Lelia Weiland, MSc Student

Lelia Weiland is joining BERA under the supervision of Dr. Scott Ketcheson for her MSc. She just moved from Ontario to Calgary in April. She loves visiting the mountains and experiencing the Alberta outdoors. She enjoys rock climbing, slacklining, and recently took up rowing.

Jennifer Fliesser, MSc Student

Jennifer Fliesser is an MSc student working with Dr. Maria Strack at the University of Waterloo. Her research focuses on restoration practices for tree regrowth along seismic lines. Her current work is examining the effects of mounding practices on tree growth and its effects on mycorrhizal associations in tree roots

Jasper Koch, MSc Student

Jasper Koch joined BERA as part of an exchange program with Ludwigs-Maximilian-University in Munich, Germany. Where he is currently completing his MSc in Environmental Systems and Sustainability. The focus of his work will be on remote sensing microtopography and the water table. In his free time he enjoys climbing, skiing, hiking and experiencing adventures.