Organizing Committee

OE3C is a student-run, student-focused conference celebrating the very best ecological, ethological, and evolutionary research being done in Ontario and surrounding areas. The University of Guelph organizing committee is very proud to have hosted the 50th annual OE3C online in 2020, and the 51st again online in 2021!

Alicia Halhed – Chair

Alicia completed her undergraduate degree at Trent University in 2019, majoring in Forensic Science with a minor in biology. She is currently a Bioinformatics MSc student at the University of Guelph studying microbial ecology in the Department of Integrative Biology. Her thesis research focuses on the metacommunity dynamics of microbiomes from two host species – the Canada Jay and the North American Red Squirrel.

Michelle Lavery

Michelle is a PhD Candidate in Integrative Biology, studying how degree of preference might change the effects of environment enrichment on the welfare, cognition, and brain development of laboratory zebrafish with Dr. Georgia Mason. She has previously completed an MSc in Biology at the University of New Brunswick, where she studied the winter ecology of Atlantic salmon. She’s currently running this website and handling OE3C’s twitter account!

Aileen Maclellan

Aileen completed a BSc in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph, before beginning an MSc with Dr. Georgia Mason examining the effects of standard, barren housing the behaviour of laboratory mice. This laid the groundwork for her PhD, where she is investigating whether the stress of standard cages causes states consistent with clinical depression, and whether environmentally enriched cages protect mice from such effects.

Cassandre Pyne

Cassandre is an MSc student in Integrative Biology studying in Dr. Mandeville’s lab. She completed her BSc in Biology and Computing at Queen’s University. Her research focuses on investigating the genetic basis of sex determination in Catostomus fish. 

Sage Handler

Sage (she/her) is an MSc student in the School of Environmental Sciences studying a group of native bees all across Canada. She is currently coordinating the Bees@Schools Program, a community science initiative involving students in native bee research.

Jessica Nelson

Jessi is a Masters student in Dr. Shoshanah Jacob’s lab. They have an Hon. Bachelor’s degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology from Guelph and completed an undergrad thesis project comparing and modelling the proportion of sea lamprey trapped at a hydroelectric dam across three commonly used tagging methods. For their present MSc study, Jessi has shifted their attention to PhD students and will be evaluating how previous graduate degrees contribute to the mental health and early career success of doctoral graduates in Canada. As a former presenter at OE3C in 2015, Jessi is very excited to be part of the committee for 2021.

Kerry Schutten

Kerry is a PhD student in the department of Pathobiology studying the health impacts of plastic pollution on wildlife in Ontario with Dr. Claire Jardine. She is also a graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College, and a practicing veterinarian.  She has previously completed an M.Sc. in the department of Geography focusing on the impacts of climate change on sugar maple-dominated forests in Ontario.  

Sara Burilo

Sara is a MSc student in the School of Environmental Sciences working with Ryan Prosser and Paul Sibley. Her project is looking to compare the influences of different landscape characteristics on water quality in the Grand River watershed. She graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Honours Environmental Studies. Her undergraduate thesis focused on the consistency of earthworm consumption patterns in different feeding experiments and was recently published in Pedobiologia – Journal of Soil Ecology.

Georgia Mason – Faculty Advisor

Dr. Mason is a behavioural biologist who moved from Oxford to Canada in 2004 to take up a Canada Research Chair in Animal Welfare at the University of Guelph. In May 2020, she became Director of the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare. She and her fabulous lab are interested in how animals adapt (or otherwise) to barren, unstimulating captive housing conditions. In other words, if animals are healthy, well-provisioned and protected from physical harm, is that all that they need for good welfare? Or do they still need to be able to perform activities like social interaction, foraging, or ranging? She also studies sentience, environmental enrichment, and states like ‘boredom’, to name a few.


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