Current Students:

Kristina Da Silva (Master student, Earth Sciences)

11947489_10153402704835845_3946263619270863129_n (5)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.

April Dalton (PhD candidate, Earth Sciences)

April Dalton PhD student Earth SciencesI grew up on Prince Edward Island and completed my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Ottawa. During my B.Sc., I took several courses on ecology and climatology, which introduced me to the connections between living organisms and the environment. My Master’s research at Carleton University was focused on Holocene climate change in the Northwest Territories. At the University of Toronto, my PhD work involves studying Pleistocene-aged stratigraphy in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, Northern Ontario, Canada. Since this region lies at the centre of growth of many Pleistocene ice sheet, these deposits may hold the key for understanding the dynamics of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the Wisconsin Glaciation. My focus is to establish a chronology for these deposits, which I have attempted via extensive dating of the non-glacial intervals (Dalton et al., 2016, Quat Sci Rev 146, 288-299). The next step is integrating these chronology data with regional stratigraphic records. My second focus is to characterize the paleoenvironments of these deposits; these records represent rare insight into landscape evolution and vegetation communities of the previously glaciated region. Since this area was a peatland for most non-glacial intervals during the Pleistocene, characterizing the age and regional extent of these ancient peatlands will contribute significantly towards developing and refining carbon models for the Pleistocene. My career goal is to become a lead researcher as well as project manager with a university-affiliated research program.

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 student, Earth Sciences)


I 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.



  • 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 candidate; Environmental Change Research Centre
  • 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