Michelle is a digitally savvy biodiversity researcher with 10+ years of
experience coordinating & conducting research in Canada and remote international settings. Her research approach values accessibility, equity, community engagement, and creativity.
- Farms of the Future: Understanding the role of soil biodiversity in regenerative agriculture
- Target Malaria: The ecological role of Anopheles gambiae in Ghana
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Understanding the role of soil biodiversity in regenerative agriculture
Farms of the Future—McCain Foods Ltd.
To develop a scalable soil biodiversity assessment program that will inform McCain’s Regenerative Agricultural Framework.
Since August 2000, Michelle has been working with McCain Food Ltd., helping to acquire comprehensive baseline data on soil biodiversity and identify the agricultural practices fostering biological communities that enhance soil productively.
She is the project manager and research liaison between the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics and McCain Foods Ltd. on the ‘Farms of the Future’ project that aims to showcase how regenerative farming practices and the latest agricultural technology and innovations can be implemented at scale.
Spoke alongside a diverse panel in a session titled ‘Agri-Smart: Feeding the World in a Changing Climate’ to highlight the role of genomics in addressing the climate-related challenges faced by agriculture.
Research discussed at the Business and Biodiversity Forum at COP15
The ecological role of Anopheles gambiae in Ghana
Target Malaria, University of Oxford, University of Ghana
Beginning in 2018, Michelle has been involved with an international initiative called Target Malaria, helping to eradicate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.
Michelle supports researchers at the University of Oxford and Ghana to build a DNA barcode reference library of insects around two rural communities. This work aims to reveal the interactions among communities of insects and vertebrates and build a quantitative ecological network to model the effects and shifts that may occur in the ecosystem with the selective control of disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Worked with a local film crew in Ghana to produce a video promoting research to key stakeholders and the public.
Published a research article outlining the key details of the project in Ghana.
Supported four graduate students associated with the project to publish their research in a Barcode Bulletin series; details were promoted on Twitter.
IN THE NEWS:
Insect Barcoding Project Helps to Combat Malaria in Africa
University of Guelph News | Apr 2021
Bringing scientists, park rangers, and staff together for insects in South Africa
Kruger Malaise Program, May 2018 – Jul. 2020
She directed a major international biodiversity initiative involving park rangers in Kruger National Park, South Africa by engaging park rangers through open dialogue & creative reporting. As the general manager of research at Kruger noted, her approach ignited interest among the rangers in biodiversity monitoring and was instrumental in the program’s success.
This research examined the value of DNA-based insect monitoring in National Parks.
Project results were shared online with various stakeholders.
Video abstract and project publication
Completed an experiential webinar that engaged with high school students across Canada
IN THE NEWS:
‘We are at risk of erasing the books of life’: Biologists work to chronicle life on earth.
CBC The National | Jun 2019
The Great Insect Dying: The tropics in trouble and some hope.
MongaBay | Jun 2019
Spatio-temporal distribution of insects in a tropical cloud forest
Cusuco National Park, May 2018 – Jul. 2020
She developed & implemented a standardized invertebrate trapping programme to assess the diversity & abundance of various taxa at
numerous remote sites in Cusuco National Park, Honduras, involving collaborations with a diverse group of senior scientists to
communicate & publish findings.
A review of the ecological value of Cusuco National Park: an urgent call for conservation action in a highly threatened Mesoamerican cloud forest
Stable baselines of temporal turnover underlie high beta diversity in tropical arthropod communities
How it started
Michelle’s formal science training started at the University of Waterloo. She earned her Honours Bachelor of Science degree in the Co-operative Biochemistry program in 2012.
Alongside her studies, Michelle has worked several diverse full-time Co-op positions as a research assistant (1) analyzing air quality chemistry with Environment Canada, (2) producing higher-grade soybean crops using molecular techniques with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and (3) conducting toxicological analyses for medical companies with Michigan State University.
Non-additive hepatic gene expression elicited by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and 2,2′,4,4′,5,5′-hexachlorobiphenyl (PCB153) co-treatment in C57BL/6 mice
Triazine Herbicides and Their Chlorometabolites Alter Steroidogenesis in BLTK1 Murine Leydig Cells
Following her undergraduate degree, Michelle joined the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph, where she began her Masters in 2013 with Prof. Paul D.N. Hebert. She transferred to a Ph.D. program in a year and received her Doctorate in 2018. Her research focused on applying molecular techniques to answer ecological questions; she examined insect community ecology in the cloud forests of Cusuco National Park, Honduras.
While conducting research in Honduras, she also worked as one of the senior research scientists with Operation Wallacea for 4 years, collecting ecological data, engaging the local community, and mentoring undergraduate students on field research design.