Plenary Speakers

Rowan Barrett is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Redpath Museum and Biology Department at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia in 2010 and received postdoctoral training at Harvard University before taking up his current position. Dr. Barrett’s work is focused on understanding the genetic basis of adaptation to changing environments. His research bridges theoretical and empirical approaches in population genetics, evolutionary ecology, and molecular biology to ask questions about the reciprocal interactions between ecological and evolutionary processes. He has pursued this research program with a variety of key study systems, including stickleback fish, deer mice, anolis lizards, and microbes.

Jill Harvey is an Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Fire Ecology at Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, Canada. She completed her PhD at the University of Victoria and was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Greifswald, Germany. Dr. Harvey’s research is focused on understanding the patterns of historical wildfire, the ecological effects of wildfire on forest regeneration, and how drought impacts tree growth. Dr. Harvey and her students conduct research in wildfire and drought across spatial scales from cellular wood anatomy to describing landscape level processes.  

Chris Sturdy completed a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Windsor in 1994 where he studied spatial memory in rats with Jerry Cohen. He then completed an M.A. in 1997 and a Ph.D. in 2000 in Psychology at Queen’s University where he examined songbird bioacoustics, cognition, and neuroscience with Ron Weisman. From 2000 to 2001, Sturdy worked at the Duke University Medical Center with Rich Mooney (Department of Neurobiology) and Duke University with Steve Nowicki (Department of Biology) where he examined the cellular basis of song production. In 2002 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Alberta, promoted to Associate Professor of Psychology in 2008, and promoted to Professor in 2013. Sturdy served as Chair of the Department of Psychology from 2016-2019. Sturdy is currently Professor of Psychology, a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, and Canada Research Chair in Animal Cognition, Communication, and Neuroethology, Tier 1 (2020-2027).

Shortly after completing her PhD in Ecology at the University of Calgary, Dr. Hilary Young was thrilled to find work at the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) that blends her passion for the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her background in ecology and conservation biology. Now, as Alberta program director for Y2Y, Dr. Young and her team work with governments and dozens of partners to protect key wildlife habitats along the western margin of the province. Their focus on headwaters regions, wildlife corridors, and highway crossings ensures that wide-ranging species like grizzly bears, wolves, and elk can move between and beyond protected areas. Central to Y2Y’s work is an equity- and justice-oriented lens so that the organization’s efforts benefit both nature and people along the Rocky Mountain front.

Title: Large Landscape Conservation in Practice

Abstract: The science is clear that large landscape conservation benefits biodiversity, ecosystems, wildlife populations, and human communities. But it takes a lot more than good science to achieve big, ambitious conservation goals! Dr. Young will dive into the work she does as the Senior Alberta program manager at Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), a transboundary organization working to protect and connect one of the world’s last intact mountain ecosystems. Y2Y works with Indigenous communities, governments, industry, academia, businesses, grassroots organizations and many other partners to move the Y2Y vision forward, with a particular focus on reconnecting fragmented grizzly bear populations in the region. In this talk, Dr. Young will explore challenges (such as polarizing politics and a depressed economy) and highlights (such as Indigenous-led conservation and Albertans uniting against coal development) of large landscape conservation work in Alberta in recent years. She will also share a number of significant wins that have been achieved through committed partnerships across the Yellowstone to Yukon region as a whole since the organization’s inception in 1993.


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