Post-Docs and Graduate Students

The AWARE research team includes Post-Doctoral Fellows (PDFs), Graduate and Senior Undergraduate students. PDFs are scientific researchers working directly with the theme leaders and help to coordinate activities within the core and secondary sites. The AWARE team strives to create a nurturing environment for academic growth by providing HQP a fertile intellectual environment in which to develop new innovative ideas as well as providing them with resources so that they are not limited when putting these ideas into action. Graduate students and PDFs will be actively involved in the design and development of the research, field activities, and organization of, and participation in meetings and workshops. Senior undergraduate students will also be engaged to assist in data collection during the summer field seasons and carry out senior honours theses in their fourth year of study. Any undergraduate students interested in getting involved with AWARE should contact Nicholas Coops.



Doug Bolton grew up on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and moved to Vancouver at the end of 2011 to start a PhD with Dr. Nicholas Coops at the University of British Columbia. His PhD work involved combining airborne laser scanning (ALS) data and optical satellite imagery to better characterize post disturbance forest structure and recovery. Doug started as a postdoc on the AWARE project in April 2016, and continued pursing his passion for combining ALS and optical data to better characterize changes at Canada’s alpine treelines as well as to better predict spatial and temporal variation in forest structure in areas where ALS data had not yet been collected or is out of date. In order to further improve his knowledge of optical data and strengthen his ties with the Landsat program, Doug has decided to take a postdoc position at Boston University in 2018, where he will combine Landsat and Sentinel 2 data to produce a North American phenology product.  Doug has been working on Question 1 of Theme 1 for AWARE.
Ayla Brombach is currently working on a master’s degree in the field of environmental science at Nipissing University where she previously completed her undergraduate degree in biology. Her love of nature stems from a childhood of exploring the outdoors and her keen curiosity for the flora and fauna that surrounds everyday life. Her project has two main objectives. The first is to predict moisture regime classes for balsam fir and black spruce dominated plots across the island of Newfoundland. The second is to develop random forests simulations that will use moisture class and other site variables to estimate key average wood quality attributes. This could support better predictions of wood quality attributes in the Boreal forest by adding the impact of moisture on tree growth. Ayla is currently working on Question 9 for Theme 2 of AWARE.
Mélodie Bujold is working on her master’s in Geographic Sciences at the Université de Sherbrooke, where she also obtained her undergraduate degree in “Geomatics Applied to the Environments”. Her research project is focused on the development of direct and indirect mapping methods. These methods uses a combination of ground plots, ALS transects, full coverage satellite imagery and ancillary data to map and estimate a suite of forest structural attributes over a large area of boreal forest in Newfoundland, Canada. Mélodie is working on Question 3 of Theme 1 for AWARE.
Karin van Ewijk is originally from The Netherlands where she studied wildlife management at Van Hall Larenstein, University of Applied Sciences. She obtained her Masters in Geographic Information Science at the University of Minnesota (USA) and her PhD in Geography at Queen’s University. Her PhD research focused on predicting forest successional stages and species composition using LiDAR and high spatial resolution optical imagery in a complex temperate forest ecosystem in Ontario. She also used LiDAR to parameterize a dynamic forest model to predict future forest stand structure and composition. Karin is working on Question 5 of Theme 2 and also wrapping up her research on Question 4 of Theme 2 for AWARE.
Shawn Donovan started his post-secondary education in forestry and environmental studies in 2009. He obtained a diploma in wildlife conservation technology and a certificate in conservation enforcement from Holland College in Prince Edward Island. In 2012 he moved to Fredericton, New Brunswick to continue his studies and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in 2015. Prior to beginning his master’s in Forestry at UNB, Shawn was vice-president of the Forest Association at the University, was project manager of an undergraduate course developing an urban tree management plan for the City of Fredericton, and has been a student member for The Association of Registered Professional Foresters of New Brunswick since 2013. Shawn’s research project is focused on assessing the capacity of LiDAR and other remote sensing imagery to augment forest health survey information, specifically the most recent spruce budworm outbreak in Eastern Canada. Shawn is working on Question 15 of Theme 2 for AWARE.
Shane Furze had a BSc in Environmental Science in Biology from St. Francis Xavier University in 2010 before obtaining a Master’s of Environmental Management (MEM) at UNB in 2013. Shane’s contributions to AWARE focused on improving forest plantation growth predictions based on digital terrain and soil modelling. In this, soil properties are considered to change continuously from ridge top to valleys, as influenced by increasing soil moisture as well as landform type and position. Resulting from this work, Shane is the recipient of the 2015 ESRI International Young Scholar for Canada Award, presented at the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, California (July 24-27, 2015) and the 2015 New Brunswick Innovation Foundation Tri Council Doctoral Alternate Award. He completed his PhD at the Forest Watershed Research Center at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) under the supervision of Dr. Paul Arp. Shane worked on Question 10 of Theme 2 for AWARE.

Tristan Goodbody was born in Calgary, Alberta. He grew up an expat in Ecuador, Malaysia, and Scotland. Tristan has hands-on experience working in the forest industry with West Fraser Timber Ltd. in Chetwynd, BC, and in research based forestry operations with the Alex Fraser Research Forest in Williams Lake, BC. Tristan graduated with a BSc in Natural Resources Conservation in 2015 and completed his PhD under Dr. Nicholas Coops in 2019.

Tristan’s past AWARE research as a PhD Candidate focused on Question 11 of Theme 2, investigating the ability of DAP to provide spatial, spectral, and structural knowledge of spruce budworm defoliation in the Gordon Cosens forest south of Kapuskasing, Ontario. As a postdoctoral fellow, Tristan is focusing on Question 1 of Theme 1, which focuses on the ability to develop conceptual models on Lidar’s ability to derive stand structure information across Canadian forests.

Sam Herniman grew up between the small countries of England and Northern California. Sam fled, at the age of 18, to the countryside of Wales to complete an undergraduate degree in ecology at Bangor University. While in university, he took a year out to research the anthropogenic influences on tropical orchids in China. After graduating, Sam spent a short time researching dragonflies in Ugandan caldera lakes before starting a forestry internship in eastern Oregon for the US Bureau of Land Management and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Sam is currently working on Question 18 of Theme 2 to use remote sensing data of different resolutions to conduct habitat assessments in Newfoundland.
Catherine Frizzle grew up in the province of Quebec. She studied biology for her undergraduate degree and environmental studies for her masters (M. Env). Her masters focused on monitoring forest loss in Vietnam with a multidisciplinary approach including remote sensing. Since 2003, she is involved in integrated watershed resource management in Quebec. She led many projects focusing on trade-offs between water quality and other landscapes uses, namely forestry and resilience to climate change. Back to school since fall 2017, she is a PhD candidate at U. Sherbrooke under the supervision of Richard Fournier and Mélanie Trudel. Catherine is working on Question 17b, Theme 2 – implementing a framework developed in Question 17a with available spatial data. The desired outcome of her project in AWARE is to identify what landscape level indicators can be developed with airborne LiDAR to quantify ecosystem services and benefits humans can get from natural environment. These LiDAR-based indicators will not only help the forest industry to consider their environmental impact, but also help them to better communicate for environmental reporting.
Sean Lamb started his forestry studies at Sir Sandford Fleming College in Lindsay, Ontario and moved to Fredericton, New Brunswick soon after to continue his education at the University of New Brunswick. During his undergraduate degree, he worked with Dr. Chris Hennigar assisting with data management for the New Brunswick Growth and Yield Unit and completed his undergraduate thesis focusing on the effects of silvicultural treatments on managed stands in New Brunswick. Prior to beginning his master’s in Forestry at UNB, Sean also worked with Dr. David MacLean installing and measuring permanent sample plots in Quebec to assess spruce budworm defoliation for a remote sensing-based research project. Sean finished his MSc in January of 2018.  He was working on Question 6 of Theme 2 for AWARE.
chris_picture Chris Mulverhill is an MSc student in the Faculty of Forestry at UBC. He joins the department after completing a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Oregon. Having lived in Texas for most of his life, Chris’s eagerness to study the forests of the Western United States resulted in an undergraduate focus in biology and GIS applications. Chris’s research in the AWARE program will examine the ability of ALS LiDAR to assess product mix based on stem class distribution in forest stands. Chris is working on Question 7 of Theme 2 for AWARE.
Rachel Perron earned a degree in biology at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Prior to becoming a researcher at AWARE, she worked as a wildlife technician and in the field of scientific communications. In AWARE, she researched the recognition of species on the single tree level using LiDAR and aerial imagery for Question 22 of Theme 4. Much of her research focused on species recognition in the Black Brook holdings of JD Irving, where the results of her research were used to improve operational efficiency. She completed her Masters in Geography in the spring of 2018.
Jean-François Prieur is from Montreal, Quebec and has a B. Comm. (Accounting) from Concordia University. After working 15 years as an IT consultant in the fields of investment banking and ecommerce infrastructure, he changed career paths and completed a Graduate Diploma (GIS) and a M.Sc. Geography (GIS) at Université du Québec à Montréal under Benoît St-Onge. His M.Sc. research dealt with correcting and improving SRTM digital elevation models in order to better measure canopy heights across large areas of forest. Jean-François is working on Question 21 of Theme 4 for AWARE.
joe_rakofsky Joseph Rakofsky was born in Montreal, Quebec. He obtained his BSc in Environment at McGill University. In his last year and subsequent gap year, he carried out research with Professor Jeffrey Cardille using Landsat 8 to estimate concentrations of coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in lakes of the Abitibi region of Quebec. He also used the optical data to categorize the area’s lakes in order to improve CDOM estimations from Landsat 5 and 7. His work in AWARE assessed the effectiveness of integrating LiDAR and digital photogrammetry to measure canopy height growth near Slave Lake, Alberta. Joseph finished his master’s in March 2019 from the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia (UBC) with supervisor Nicholas Coops, completing AWARE Question 12 of Theme 2.
parvez rana

Parvez Rana holds a BSc, MSc and PhD degree in Forestry and Remote Sensing. With extensive experience in forest remote sensing, Parvez’s primary research goals are directed towards understanding the potential role of forest resources in the changing world using advanced geospatial data and modelling. Prior to joining AWARE, Parvez worked as a post-doctoral researcher in University College Cork, Ireland where he evaluated remote sensing-based forest disturbance detection in Ireland. In addition to this work, Parvez also gained experience in teaching and co-supervision of undergraduate students.

Parvez joined the AWARE project in December of 2017 as post-doctoral researcher at UQAM to work on Question 23 of Theme 4. He was working on the development of generalized airborne lidar methods for tree species identification transferable across Canadian forest sites.  Parvez left the project on May 2019.

Jean-Romain Roussel studied mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology in France between 2008 and 2010. Autodidact in programming, he worked on an algorithm for the automatic detection of knots in computed tomography images of scanned logs in 2013. He completed an M.Sc. on the ecology of tropical rain forests in 2014, working on tension wood formation in the cell wall during ontegeny. He is currently doing his PhD at Laval University under the supervision of Alexis Achim, Martin Béland and John Carspersen (University of Toronto). His interests lie with the technical questions related to the effects of LiDAR parametrization on the structure of the acquired point cloud. Jean-Romain is working on Question 8 of Theme 2 for AWARE.
Van-Tho Nguyen completed his master’s degree in image processing at La Rochelle University in 2014 and  obtained his doctorate degree in plant and forestry biology from Agroparistech in 2018. His Ph.D. research was on the estimation of the quality of standing tree and roundwood by detecting and analyzing the defects on the trunk surface from high-density terrestrial LiDAR data. Van Tho Nguyen recently joined the AWARE research team as a postdoctoral fellow, under Richard Fournier at Sherbrooke University. Van-Tho is working on Question 19 of Theme 3 for AWARE and will build on the work of Abdelmounaime Safia on the development and validation of algorithms adapted to estimate tree attributes from ground-based LiDAR data.
Aurélie Schmidt finished an undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences from the Université de Paris Diderot in 2011 and a Masters degree in Geomatics specialized in remote-sensing at the Université de Strasbourg (France) in 2014. Her professional interest is to develop competence to guide sustainable management of terrestrial ecosystems, especially forests. In 2014 she realized a research internship at the Office National des Forêts where she was involved in the development of methods for characterizing forest stands (variety and structure) using ground, airborne and satellite remotely-sensed data to optimize forest management on the Ventoux area (France). Aurelie completed her Masters in Geographical sciences from the Department of Applied Geomatics of the Université de Sherbrooke.  Her research project was focussed on the development of spatially-explicit indicators to quantify and map ecosystem services of Newfoundland in support of an assessment of aquatic ecosystem integrity. Aurélie’s work on Question 17a of Theme 2 for AWARE was designed for an MSc precluding the PhD that will handle Question 17b. Question 17a focused on how can landscape level ecosystem services can be quantified using available geospatial data.
Piotr Tompalski was born and raised in Poland and studied forestry at the University of Agriculture in Krakow. He spent 6 months on exchange at Wageningen University in the Netherlands where he became very interested in GIS and remote sensing, then deciding to write a master’s thesis at UAKrakow concerning applications of terrestrial laser scanning in forestry. After obtaining his M.Sc. in forestry in 2008, Piotr began his PhD studies, expanding his research on the applications of various geotechnologies for forestry and nature conservation with a focus on vegetation growth in greatly disturbed areas. His research employs both airborne and terrestrial laser scanning data in addition to satellite imagery. He often uses OBIA tools to process his data, skills he acquired during his internship at Trimble Geospatial Division in Munich, Germany (2010). His research methods were influenced not only by the scientists at his home university but also by the researchers at Vienna University of Technology, where he spent a short time as a visiting PhD candidate. After finishing his work on Question 13 of Theme 2, Piotr has now moved on to Question 25 of Theme 4.
Bastien Vandendaele completed a master degree (M.Sc.) in bio-engineering specialized in the “Management of Forests and Natural Areas” at the University of Liège – Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (Belgium) in 2015. His M.Sc. thesis focused on the development of methods for the use of terrestrial LiDAR to enhance current forest inventories. He worked six month at the University of Sherbrooke and at the UQAR. He is starting a Ph.D, project in May 2016 co-supervised by Pr. Richard Fournier, Dr. Udayalakshmi Vepakomma (FPInnovations), and Pr .Philippe Lejeune (University of Liège). His research focused for his Ph.D. project is on the use of terrestrial, UAV-based and airborne-based LiDAR sensors for the enhancement of forest inventories in temperate, boreal and tropical forests. His interests lie with the development, the adaptation of specialized algorithms for the use of LiDAR remote sensing datasets for forest management applications. Bastien is working on Question 24 of Theme 4 for AWARE.
Kaysandra Waldron obtained her B.Sc. in biology from Laval University in 2016 and a master in soil sciences in 2008, in which she studied lateritic soils in Niger. In 2013, she obtained a Ph.D. in forest ecology also from Laval University, under the supervision of Jean-Claude Ruel and Sylvie Gauthier. Her Ph.D. research was concentrated on wind disturbance dynamics in boreal forest of eastern Canada and ecological impacts of salvage logging. She joined the AWARE research team as a postdoctoral fellow, under Alexis Achim. Her work on Question 2 of Theme 1 for AWARE was aimed at evaluating the relationship between wood properties and stand structural characteristics in the long fire return interval boreal ecosystem.

Rebecca Wylie completed her undergraduate degree at Carleton University in 2012 where she studied biology.  Since graduating, she has been teaching outdoor education in Temagami, Ontario. Her project involved two specific objectives. The first objective will be to create a model that will estimate stand age based on vertical forest structure with information derived from Airborne Laser Scanning data across the Hearst Forest in northern Ontario.  The second objective was to explore the variation of wood quality attributes in black spruce over the first 100 years of growth across a gradient of site quality as defined by Ecological Land Classification (ELC) ecosites. Ultimately, the project supported better prediction of wood quality attributes in the Boreal forest in northern parts of Ontario by bringing together two major drivers of wood quality (age and site quality) in a model that can be used with enhanced forest inventory data.  Rebecca worked on Question 14 of Theme 2 for AWARE. She completed her Master’s degree in the field of environmental science from Nipissing University.