Dr. Merritt Turetsky

Principal Investigator

Dr. Turetsky has more than 20 years of experience working in boreal and arctic ecosystems. Her work contributes to theoretical predictions of ecosystem structure and function, but it also applies to regulation of carbon in a global change world.


Dr. Turetsky has provided leadership to the Permafrost Carbon Network, NASA's ABoVE campaign, and the recently formed Canadian Permafrost Network. She sits on the executive committees of several international research networks and was selected last year as a AAAS Leshner Science Engagement Fellow.  She currently sits on the National Academies' Polar Research Board.


She is passionate about northern ecosystems and the people who depend on them. Through her research and teaching, she hopes to train the next generation of scientists in the interdisciplinary skills required to tackle ongoing challenges in the north related to food and water security, energy sustainability, carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, and landscape change.

A complete list of papers and publications can be viewed here.

       merritt.turetsky@colorado.edu             @queenofpeat

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Dr. Catherine Dieleman

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Catherine was recently awarded a prestigious NSERC postdoctoral fellowship and has played a central role in several NASA ABoVE funded projects related to wildfire activity in Canada. In the past couple of years, she also initiated an ambitious experiment testing the effects of deep nitrogen fertilization on permafrost ecosystem greenhouse gas emissions.


Ph.D. Students

Carolyn Gibson

Ph.D. Candidate

Carolyn is interested in landscape change and its impacts on communities in the north. Her MSc research at the University of Alberta quantified rates of wildfire-induced permafrost thaw and carbon losses associated with thaw. Carolyn's Ph.D research focuses on interdisciplinary approaches melding permafrost geoscience with Traditional knowledge to address the ecological and social consequences of landscape change associated with fire-permafrost thaw interactions. 

       cgibso04@uoguelph.ca          carolyngibson.weebly.com          @CarolynG_22

Will Cox

Ph.D. Candidate

Will spent the summer of 2018 in Alaska as part of the APEX crew and recently arrived in Guelph to begin his PhD. A self-described moss lover, we are excited to see what questions he comes up with regarding changes in these cryptic species!

​​       wcox@uoguelph.ca 


David Bysouth

Ph.D. Candidate

David recent completed his MSc research on peatland paleoecology at the University of Toronto and will be developing his PhD work to focus on agroecology in peat-rich soils of the Northwest Territories. This is an emerging topic of research in the Turetsky lab and we are excited to see how David's ideas develop!

​​       dbysouth@uoguelph.ca


Christine Dulal-Whiteway

Ph.D. Candidate

Christine completed her BSc. in Marine and Freshwater Biology at Guelph. Following this, she completed her Master's in Biology at Western University, where she studied the effects of environmental parameters on the toxicity of a harmful algae species. As part of the Food from Thought initiative at Guelph, Christine will focus on the effects of agriculture on the biogeochemistry and metabolism of stream ecosystems within the Lake Erie watershed.

​​       cdulalwh@uoguelph.ca


Zhichao Jiao

Ph.D. Candidate

After completing a MSc thesis on soil science at the University of Alberta, Zhichao joined the lab to gain more experience in soil ecology. He is utilizing the Bonanza Creek LTER regional site network to examine long term changes in soil carbon and nitrogen stocks and quality in response to wildfire and shifts between conifer and deciduous dominance.

​​       zjiao@uoguelph.ca

M.Sc. Students

Kristen Bill

M.Sc. Candidate


Kristen is currently researching post-fire succession in Canadian boreal forests, specifically in the Northwest Territories' Taiga plains ecozone. She completed her BSc. in environmental science at UoG and has crossed the path to the Integrated Biology department. Kristen is interested in the mechanisms causing forest state shifts from coniferous to deciduous after moderate to severe fires. 

       kbill@uoguelph.ca         kbill8.wixsite.com/kristenbill          @kristenbill95


Jessica McCuaig

M.Sc. Candidate

Jessica is studying wildfire and permafrost thaw in the Sahtu region of Northwest Territories. She completed her BSc in biology at the University of Guelph where she found her love for ecology. Jessica is interested in how fire impacts permafrost thaw and consequently changes the carbon storage of these permafrost peatland systems. 

​​       jmccuaig@uoguelph.ca

Undergraduate Students

Evan Schijns

Undergraduate, BAS

Evan spent the summers of 2018 and 2019 on the Alaska crew and is taking on an undergraduate research project far before his senior year! As part of an independent research course, Evan will be exploring relationships between vegetation, topography, and water chemistry using data that he collected this summer.

​​       eschijns@uoguelph.ca          @BioGeoEcoEvan


Aidan Maloney

Undergraduate, BSc. ENVSc.

Aidan is currently doing his undergrad in Ecology at the University of Guelph. He spent the summer of 2019 with the MNRF as a Wildlife Biologist, working with some of Ontario's species-at-risk. Currently, Aidan is doing an undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Dr. Kevin McCann, focusing on temporal biotic homogenization of insect communities resulting from agricultural land modification. Aidan's main research interest is how global environmental change affects community scale dynamics and the resulting implications for biodiversity conservation. 

​​       amalon01@uoguelph.ca 

Lab Technicians


Cathal Doherty

Lab Tech

Cathal did his undergrad at the University of Guelph, majoring in Wildlife Biology and Conservation. He spent the summer of 2019 in Norman Wells, NWT, collecting soil samples and exploring Sub-Arctic peatlands. Cathal's research interests include scaling in ecological systems, from population dynamics to food web topography, as they relate to ecosystem stability.

​​       cathal@uoguelph.ca          @Thebore_ingkid


Jocelyn Kelly

Lab Tech

Jocelyn is involved in a collaborative project aiming to map the distribution of permafrost landscapes affected by wetland thermokarst processes in the Northwest Territories. She is also studying estimates of carbon stocks in protected areas of the NWT, a project co-supervised by Dr. Jennifer Baltzer (forestecology.ca) at Wilfred Laurier University. In addition to research, Jocelyn is a volunteer on the Department of Integrative Biology's Mental Health and Wellness Committee.





Thinking about graduate school?


Obtaining a MSc. or Ph.D can be an exciting and challenging step forward in your career. Ideally, prospective students will demonstrate enthusiasm, a background in ecology or relevant field, an understanding of the research method and basic statistics, and the ability to troubleshoot and be a good team member. If you think these qualities describe you, please take the time to read about our research projects and some of our recent publications. Then feel free to contact us by email with a description of your background and research interests.


Students are expected to form novel and independent hypotheses that capitalize on opportunities in the lab. Dr. Turetsky's goal as a mentor is to provide students with the guidance, encouragement and resources to complete this research. Current lab members are working on a wide variety of topics within carbon management and ecosystem ecology, including plant-soil feedbacks, nutrient limitations on plant and microbial productivity, controls on greenhouse gas fluxes, and the effects of disturbances (fire, permafrost thaw, plant invasions) on ecosystem function. We also conduct work related to food and water security.

Are you an undergrad interested in research?


Mentoring undergraduate students in the research method is an important and valued part of our jobs. We routinely hire undergraduate students as research assistants. There are also opportunities for committed students to develop thesis projects. If you are interested in gaining research experience, please look through the information on this website prior to contacting Dr. Turetsky by email with a description of your coursework, any relevant background, and career interests.



Members of the Turetsky lab are trained broadly in field ecology, statistics, vegetation ID, soil sampling and permafrost characterization. Because we have skills in plants, water, soil, and gas fluxes, scholars from the lab are well placed for a diversity of career options. In addition to pursing science, members of the Turetsky lab are now practicing medicine, law, city planning, journalism, and education.

A comprehensive list TBA, but past members of the Turetsky lab include:

Dr. Brian Benscoter

Dr. Evan Kane

Dr. Tobi Oke

Dr. Jason Martina

Dr. Kevin Wyatt

Dr. Alison Rober

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