Jenilee is currently a Ph.D. student in the Environmental & Life Sciences Program at Trent University, having converted from the M.Sc. program this past spring. For her research, Jenilee uses long-term survey data and computer models to understand the ecological and evolutionary effects of recent changes in the Great Lakes and commercial fishing on life history traits of lake whitefish, and the implications for stock assessment and management.
Akin to the theme of linking ecological research and fisheries management that is present in her thesis, her academic and professional background is comprised of a combination of experience in scientific research, policy, management, and communication. She completed her honours degree at Carleton University in Environmental Sciences, with a concentration in biology and focus in ecology. While completing her undergraduate degree and thesis, Jenilee travelled to Coats Island in northern Hudson Bay where she spent the summer collecting data to study the effects of nest camouflage on the reproductive success of various species of migratory shorebirds. After graduation, Jenilee spent the summer conducting a pilot study on the effects of various local and landscape level factors on the prevalence of cercarial parasites in aquatic snails. Jenilee also spent a year working on a Master’s Degree in microbiology and immunology at the University of Ottawa, where she aimed to use novel approaches to identify the function of a gene in Pseudomonas aeruginosa hypothesized to be implicated in the fatal lung infections these bacteria produce in cystic fibrosis patients. While she decided not to complete that degree, this experience inspired her interest in the use of molecular techniques, which she hopes to be able to re-integrate into her research in the future.
Jenilee is also going onto her third year as the teaching assistant for the Environmental Science Teacher Education course at Trent, aimed at educating prospective teachers on the environmental science requirements of the Science & Technology Curriculum, and providing them with tools for ensuring their students are successful in meeting curriculum objectives. Prior to attending Trent, Jenilee worked for Environment Canada where she collaborated with Health Canada counterparts to manage the program website for the Chemical’s Management Plan, a government program that is jointly run by the two federal departments (http://www.chemicalsubstanceschimiques.gc.ca). In this position, Jenilee co-chaired the website’s working group, composed public-friendly summaries of scientific assessment reports and legislation for the website, and coordinated the publication of web-based materials generated from the program. Previous to this, she also spent two years as an environmental officer for Public Works and Government Services Canada, managing waste/recycling and hazardous materials for the Department of National Defence.
Jenilee’s motivation to pursue a career in ecological research stems from her love for nature, interest in environmental and health issues, and aspiration to understand the complex inter-relationships that prevail within natural systems. These aspects are what have allowed her to develop a diverse background and skill set, which she strives to integrate into all of her endeavours. Based on her experiences, she hopes to be able to bring a unique perspective to the AFS-OC sub-unit as Vice President to help meet the organization’s mandate to promote student involvement in aquatic conservation/restoration, communication of fisheries knowledge among members, and integration with various other levels of organization within AFS.