Jennifer Adams (Post-doctoral Fellow, Earth Sciences)

My research aims to investigate the extent of anthropogenic disturbances and ecological change in northern freshwater systems. More specifically, my research aims to identiJen photo_Finkelstein lab group webpagefy potential sources and transportation pathways of contaminants (e.g. microplastics, trace metals, organic contaminants) to northern aquatic ecosystems, with particular interest in determining how recent climate change and human disturbance might impact the source and transportation of contaminants through northern aquatic systems. Further, my research aims to identify and assess ecological response and sensitivity to perturbations, both natural and anthropogenic, in northern aquatic and multi-stressor environments. My research involves paleolimnological and contemporary investigations, utilizing biological and chemical remains within lake sediments. To date my research has focused on environmental change in freshwater systems in the circumpolar Arctic and subarctic.

I recently completed my Ph.D in Physical Geography at University College London in the UK, where I undertook a combined contemporary and multi-proxy paleoecological approach to determine ecological responses within shallow lakes of the Selenga River basin, Siberia, to natural and anthropogenic disturbances.

My current research is co-supervised by Dr. Finkelstein and Dr. Miriam Diamond, and I am investigating spatial and temporal dynamics of microplastic pollution in freshwater systems in Ontario, including the critical systems of the Hudson Bay Lowlands.

For more information and complete publications list, click here.

Amanda Loder (PhD student, Geography)Amanda photo

I was born and raised in Nova Scotia, and completed my BScH in Environmental Science and MSc in Biology at Acadia University. During my undergraduate research, I studied the bioaccumulation of lead and arsenic in wetlands managed for wildlife habitat in the coastal Bay of Fundy region, where I worked out of the Beaubassin Research Station in Aulac, New Brunswick. I was keen to continue research on coastal ecosystems, and subsequently returned to Acadia University and Beaubassin to pursue a MSc in Biology, and studied restorative ecology and productivity declines in constructed wetlands. From these experiences, I developed a great interest for understanding and applying good science-based evidence in environmental management. Thus, I am excited to continue broadening my knowledge on wetlands by pursuing my PhD studies here at University of Toronto. My PhD research will focus on understanding carbon sequestration in undisturbed and restored coastal wetlands, and how wetland carbon budgets have been, and could be, affected by climate change.

Kristina Da Silva (Master student, Earth Sciences)

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I attended the University of Toronto for my undergraduate degree, where I received an HBSc with distinction specializing in Earth Sciences. The interdisciplinary nature of the Earth sciences allowed me to explore physical geography and the environmental sciences in addition to my core geoscience courses. Taking such a wide range of courses not only made me well rounded in the Earth sciences, but it also allowed me to identify what topics in Earth science interested me most. The topics that intrigued me most were paleoclimatic studies, environmental geology, sedimentology, and hydrology. In my third year of my HBSc degree, I completed an Honours thesis that focused on reconstructing a paleoenvironment in a subaqueous cave in Yucatan, Mexico. This thesis topic allowed me to apply learned concepts from my favourite geoscience subjects, while obtaining valuable lab experience and learning more about macro and microfossils. In my final year of undergrad, I worked with Dr. Finkelstein as a work-study student in her paleoecology lab. As a work-study student I not only gained more lab experience, but learned more about peat research and palynology.

Currently, I am a MSc student of Dr. Finkelstein’s at the University of Toronto. In my research, I will identify vegetative successions via pollen analyses of a peat core in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, to aid in reconstructing past changes in local climate and carbon accumulation in the Holocene. This research will add to other projects also aiming to reconstruct the paleoenvironment from which the peat core was extracted, with the overarching goal of understanding peatlands responses to past, present, and future climatic changes.

David Bysouth (Master student, Earth Sciences)

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I completed my undergraduate studies at McMaster University and received a B.Sc. (Honours) in Life Science with a minor in Biology. I took a variety of courses involving ecology, the environment, biology, geography and climatology, all of this led me to the multidisciplinary field of Earth Sciences. During my undergrad, I completed my thesis on the symbiotic algae present on coral reefs and how they can be used as a biological proxy for predicting regime shift occurrence due to changing ocean temperatures. For my Masters research, I am going to continue to look at biological proxies (pollen, testate amoebae, etc.), but in a way that allows me to reconstruct paleoclimates and their effects on ecosystem services, function and succession during the Pleistocene and Holocene, as well as how this relates to carbon accumulation and dispersal in the peatlands of the Hudson Bay Lowlands in Northern Ontario. It is important to have an understanding of how ecosystems responded to past environmental change so predictions can be made about future shifts in climate. A goal going forward is to continue doing research in the Earth Sciences at the PhD level.

Magdalena Sobol (PhD candidate, Earth Sciences)


I received my B.Sc.H in Archaeological Science and Biological Anthropology from University of Toronto. For the last two years of my undergrad, my fascination with human evolution lead me to South Africa where I have been involved in isotopic studies and archaeological excavations. Simultaneously, at the university I have been working in Dr Finkelstein’s lab acquiring expertise in various paleoecological techniques (i.e. analyses of pollen, diatoms and plant macrofossils). Upon graduation I decided to combine my archaeological background with the research experience gained at the laboratory. My PhD research will investigate the impact of changing climate during the late Pleistocene through Holocene on regional vegetation in the context South African Early and Middle Stone Age. To this end a variety of paleoenvironmental analyses will be conducted and correlated with archaeological records. Of particular interest are the effects of such conspicuous events as the Last Glacial Maximum and Younger Dryas.


Marissa Davies (PhD candidate, Earth Sciences)

IMGP3763I completed my B.Sc. (Honours) at the University of Victoria in Biology and Earth and Ocean Sciences Combined and my M.Sc. in Earth Sciences at Carleton University. During my undergraduate degree I became interested in the earth sciences because of its multidisciplinary nature. This led me to an honours project that investigated how climatic and successional changes influenced local and regional Holocene bog vegetation records and carbon accumulation on northern Vancouver Island. My master’s project investigated the relationships between benthic paleo-redox conditions and global transgressive-regressive cycles in the Late Cretaceous Polar Sea and how these factors influenced foraminiferal community assemblages. For my PhD research I am interested in investigating linkages between carbon flux variation in peatland ecosystems and biotic and climatic changes through the  Holocene, focusing on the Hudson Bay Lowlands region of northern Ontario.

Eunji Byun (PhD student, Earth Sciences)


I finished my B.Sc. and M.Sc. at School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Korea. For my Master’s thesis, I studied permafrost and analyzed Alaskan soil cores to see the vertical distribution of CH4. During my undergraduate years, I took a class which gave me insights into paleoclimatology and global carbon cycles. It was fascinating to understand how the atmospheric CO2 and CH4 levels varied in the past by interactions between carbon reservoirs of the Earth system. As I learned more, I found that high uncertainties still remain for evaluating the Earth’s carbon pools including global peatlands. Regarding this, now I am working on a project to figure out any relationships between the extent of temperate wetlands and the variations of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG), especially for the last 2000 years.


  • April Dalton (PhD, 2017), Durham University [UK] Junior Research Fellow (current)
  • Sarah Kivisto (MA, 2016), Environmental Consulting
  • Maara Packalen (PhD, 2011-2015), Research Scientist; Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
  • Dr Joan Bunbury (PDF, 2010-2012), Assistant Professor; University of Wisconsin Lacrosse.
  • Dr Carlos Avendano (M.Sc., 2005-2006, Ph.D., 2007-2012), Associate Professor; San Carlos Guatemala State University, Paleoecologist Proyecto Salinas Nueve Cerros
  • Jennifer Shiller (M.Sc., 2011-2012), MPP Liaison; Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Kristen Beck (M.Sc., 2011-2012), PhD candidate; University of Melbourne
  • Jane Devlin (M.Sc., 2010), Management Biologist; Ministry of Natural Resources (Aurora District / Greater Toronto Area)
  • John-Paul Iamonaco (M.Sc. 2011), Waterford Tax and Advisory.
  • Jennifer Adams (M.Sc., 2009), University College London [UK] PhD; Environmental Change Research Centre, University of Toronto PDF (current)
  • Benjamin O’Reilly (M.Sc., 2009-2011), Watershed Resources Technician: Data Management; Credit Valley Conservation
  • Charlotte Friel (M.Sc., 2009-2011), Policy and Decision Analyst; Environmental Commissioner of Ontario