Lab Alumni

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Stinchcombe Lab Alumni

Alumni: Post-Docs

Megan Bontrager

Megan Bontrager
Megan Bontrager's research focuses on the evolution of geographic ranges and the drivers of local adaptation. She did her PhD at the University of British Columbia, and arrived in Toronto after a postdoc at UC Davis. She’s excited to find some local range edges to study. In her free time she enjoys baking elaborate cakes, watercoloring, and being bad at outdoor sports. She is now faculty in EEB, and runs her own lab!

Website: Megan's Website


Corlett W. Wood
Corlett joined the lab in August 2015, after finishing her PhD with Butch Brodie at University of Virginia. She is interested in quantitative genetics and population genomics. See Corlett's lab website. She recently left us for a faculty position at the University of Pittsburgh… while we’re happy for her, we’re sad she’s gone.

Michelle E. Afkhami
Michelle joined the lab in September 2013, having snagged a prestigious EEB Departmental Post-Doc Fellowship. She finished her PhD at UC Davis with Sharon Strauss, and had completed a MSc at Rice University with Jenn Rudgers. Check out her website, which describes her work on plant-endophyte mutualisms and ecology. She recently left us for a faculty position at the University of Miami.
Young Wha Lee
Young Wha joined the lab in December 2010, to work on Capsella population genomics. She did her graduate work at Duke with John Willis, and also worked closely with John Kelly on QTL mapping in Mimulus. She was somewhat taken aback by being offerred a post-doc at the Evolution meetings even though had not yet applied for the position, but she quickly came to the conclusion that she shouldn't pass up the opportunity to work with the third John in a row. Our close collaboration with Stpehen Wright breaks this streak of great names, but we occasionally refer to him as "John #4" to keep the streak alive. She currently works for Monsanto.
Billie Gould
Billie joined the lab in January 2013, while finishing up her PhD at Cornell University with Monica Geber and Susan McCouch. She worked on the genetics of adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana. She has her own website, which is where we stole this picture. For her PhD, she worked on the ecological genetics of rapid evolution in sweet grass. Her post-doc work was on the genomics of flowering time differentiation in Arabidopsis. She currently works as a computational biologist at Counsyl Genetics.
Katy Heath
Katy has just started a faculty position at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Katy's research interest include the ecology, genetics, and coevolution of mutualisms. Katy was quite ingenious in the lab, and even found a way to fix / improve our brand new VWR incubator with the creative, high tech use a cardboard box.
Karen Samis
Karen has just finished her post-doctoral fellowship in the lab, after finishing her dissertation in Chris Eckert's lab at Queen's University. Karen's research interest include the ecology, genetics, and evolution of range limits, as well as ecological genetics in Arabidopsis thaliana. Karen now runs her own lab at the University of Prince Edward Island.. When not doing lab or field work, Karen kept the rest of us in line.

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Alumni: Graduate Students


Julia Kreiner
Julia Kreiner is co-advised by Stephen Wright. Her undergraduate work was with Brian Husband, on ploidy levels in the Brassicaceae family. She is interested in the population genomics of weed adaptation to agriculture. Her website is here.
JoshJoshua Craig
Joshua Craig was a Master's student currently studying the population genetics of Daucus carota. He's interested in understanding how different evolutionary forces shape the genome. Although he doesn't have any houseplants of his own, he's an enthusiastic plant researcher and loving foster parent to many carrots. Josh is currently working as a Clinical Research Project Assistant.
BonnieBonnie Pikington
Bonnie joined the lab after surviving John's tropical ecology course. Even after getting lost in the rainforest and almost having a tree fall on her, she signed up for more work in the lab! She did a really cool undergrad project on root knot nematodes, and has a really infectious laugh. She followed up on her undergrad work for her MSc and defended her thesis in 2020.

Priya Vaidya
Priya joined the Stinchcombe lab as an undergrad, and then worked at RMBL for a summer, getting that “work in a beautiful mountain setting” sentiment out of her system. She returned back to the lab as an MSc student and defended her thesis on GxE in legume-rhizobia mutualisms. Priya is now working in the lab as the manager/technician.

Brechann McGoey
Brechann finished her Master's thesis in the lab, went out and worked in plant conservation, and came back for a PhD. She is broadly interested in evolutionary ecology, and specifically how evolutionary dynamics affect biological invasions. For her project, Brechann spent lots of time in the Marsh at Joker's Hill, and became quite adept at dodging large spiders. She published some very cool papers in New Phytologist and Evolution, among others.
Stefanie Sultmanis
Stefanie finished her the last year of her PhD in the lab, co-advised with Stephen Wright. Her thesis work was on gene expression evolution in C3-C4 plants, and she currently works for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. You can find her on twitter [@SSultmanis]. We snagged this image from her linkedin profile.
VeronicaVeronica Chong
After an undergrad project, Veronica decided to stay in the lab for a MSc. on the genetics of flowering time in Arabidopsis. She *loves* DNA extraction, and has yet to use her black belt skills to punch John. Yet....
EmEmily Josephs
Emily finished her PhD in November 2015, co-advised by Stephen Wright. Emily came to Toronto by way of Annie Schmitt, Leonie Moyle, and David Reznick, and is now carving out her own niche studying gene expression evolution. She is joint student between the Stinchcombe and Wright labs, and is working on Capsella, which looks a lot like one of John's favorite plants, Arabidopsis. Check out her cool website. She left for UC Davis to work with Graham Coop for a post-doc. She currently has her own lab at Michigan State University .
Amanda Stock
Amanda was a long -time member of the lab since 2008 as an early undergraduate, and finished her MSc in 2015. Along the way, she studied how herbivory on Impatiens capensis changed depending on the severity of interspecific competition, costs of nodulation in Medicago, and multivariate clines in morning glory.For her MSc, she studied selective agents acting on flowering time. Check out her awesome website.
Adriana Salcedo
Adriana is MSc student working in the lab, working on climate adaptation in Capsella. She has past research experience working in Ellie Larsen's lab on lichens. She is the inaugural winner of the James D. Rising Scholarship in field biology, which she used to defray the expenses of a 2-week field course in Peruvian Andes and lowland rainforest with John and Megan Frederickson. She's shown here at Wayqecha Cloud Forest. John and Megan's suspicion is that field work in the tropical rainforest was not Adriana's cup of tea. Adriana was co-advised by John and Stephen Wright.
Tia Harrison
Tia did her MSc student on the studying comparative population genetics in Medicago lupulina and its associated bacteria. As an undergradaute, she worked with Ben Evans at McMaster University. Besides doing an awesome MSc, she is very good at yoga.
Amanda Gorton
Amanda completed her masters in the lab and worked for us as a technician, after having survived a summer NSERC and a 498 project. To date she's studied leaf shape variation in Hyrdrophyllum virginianum, and the effects of leaf shape variation in Ipomoea hederacea on cold tolerance. For her MSc., she switched to a third system and topic, coevolutionary genetics between Medicago and its associated rhizobia.
Amanda is currently a PhD student, University of Minnesota.
Brandon Campitelli
Brandon is in the unique position of being alum of John's first field course at Joker's Hill , as well as his first completed PhD student! He is studied how variation in leaf patterns (shape, mottling, developmental stage) affect herbivore damage, insect performance, and plant photosynthetic capacity. Brandon is especially fond of wearing hats. He currently works for the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Brandon is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher The University of Texas at Austin (Google Scholar Profile).
Anna Simonsen
Anna is recently defended her Ph.D. She studied in plant microbial mutualisms, and how community context alters the costs and benefits of mutualisms. She currently works on Medicago lupulina, but got her start in the lab working with the plant near and dear to all our hearts, morning glories, before becoming allergic to it. Anna started working in the lab on the first day the doors opened, despite the fact that the lab was empty and didn't even have chairs. (Google Scholar Profile)

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Alumni: Honors Students

Julie Gan

Julie joined the lab in 2020 after working in the Sage lab and did a 499 research course during the pandemic. She worked on population genetics with Queen Anne’s Lace. Her greatest feat in the lab is resisting the urge to eat the carrots she planted.

Jessie Wang

Jessie joined the lab in the summer of 2020 after working next door in the Weis lab. Her plans for field work were rudely interrupted by a global pandemic. She stayed on for a 397 project investigating multiple mutualists in Medicago truncatula. She's since claimed a CGCS summer internship where she hopes she won't discover an allergy to morning glories.

Saanmugi Shanmugadasan (aka Smooj)

Smooj is an EEB regular, having taken multiple field courses and worked in several labs. She worked in John's lab on the interaction between vernalization and stratification in Medicago. She set a human consumption record for ice caps, and always wears hats.
Julia Boyle

Julia is a survivor of tropical field biology, interested in priority effects in mutualisms. Calling her "Boyle" seems like homage to Brooklyn 99. She's co-advised with Megan Frederickson.
Miguel Felismino

Miguel is another EEB field course veteran, having taken courses in the tropics and at KSR. He is interested in how ecophysiological traits covary with flower size in morning glories.

Matt Coffey

Matt is interested in plasticity in Queen Anne's Lace. He's worked at KSR with Ben Gilbert. He enjoys the outdoors, and is pictured here in the Adirondacks.

Solomiya Hnatovska

Solomiya is co-advised with Stephen Wright. She's interested in population differentiation in TEs. She enjoys skiing and the outdoors, but really should wear a helmet.

Josh Craig

Josh is another Tropical Ecology verteran. He's currently working on population genetics of bacteria. He holds the record of being the physically strongest Stinchcombe lab member.

Sotirios Katuras

Sotirios was an EEB major, who worked with Julia Kreiner on costs of herbicide resistance. He is now thinking of law school. He holds the record of being the tallest Stinchcombe lab member in history.
Veronica Chong
Veronica Chong
Veronica joined the Stinchcombe lab in September 2015, after having worked at KSR for the Gilbert Lab. She is interestested in the genetics and evolution of flowering time. She is also a black belt, who refuses to give John the satisfaction of punching him... so that he can say he was punched by a blackbelt.
Priya Vaidya
Priya joined the Stinchcombe lab in 2016, and elected to stay for a MSc. She spent the summer after her Undergrad at RMBL, getting that “work in a beautiful mountain setting” sentiment out of her system.
Bonnie Pikington
Bonnie joined the lab after surviving John's tropical ecology course. Even after getting lost in the rainforest and almost having a tree fall on her, she signed up for more work in the lab! She did a really cool project on root knot nematodes, and has really infectious laugh.
Isabela Borges
Isabela joined the lab in 2015. Beyond her interests in community ecology, coevolution, and Dexter, she is an avid NBA fan. We tease her about her driving skills.... er, skills at convincing us to chaffeur her to KSR.
Hannah Fung
Hannah worked in the Stinchcombe lab on a project about Arabidopsis flowering time evolution. She showed inordinate fondness for working while immersed in a growth chamber.
Sarah Hall
Sarah pursued a project on over-winter survival of morning glory seeds. After 0% survived out of 500+ planted, she decided to stop studying seed banks..... not surprisingly. She now works in the Weis lab, having also survived John and Megan's tropical ecology class.
Radana Molnarova
Radana shockingly attempted a new and improved version of Sarah's experiment. She got the same results, and tried to convince John to stop doing this experiment! She currently works at KSR, studying water striders with our friend Locke Rowe.
Julie Thompson
Julie joined the Stinchcombe lab in September 2013, after having worked next door in the Weis lab. She is pursuing a project on the phenotypic differences between native and invasive species of ragweed. As of now, she has not gone into anaphylactic shock from hay fever symptoms.
Phillip Rekret
Phil worked in the lab for a summer 498 project, after having volunteered for us for a semester and a half. He tested hypotheses about bacterial tolerance to nitrogen content. Due to the timing of his experiments, he frequently was in the lab at 3 am. He usually travels by skateboard.
Rufina Kim
Rufina worked in the lab as a work-study student for a year, before deciding to pursue a summer 397 project. She examined hypotheses about morning glory germination survival. She's headed to medical school, but still saw the wisdom in learning some ecology and evolutionary biology.
Shery Han
Shery did a 3rd year project with us, examining the effects of microbial variation on plant performance. She streaked tons of plates to isolate microbes. She is currently working with our colleague, Tim Dickinson, at the ROM. .
CelinaCelina Baines
Celina tried dabbling in plants, but we suspected her true love was aquatic insects. She pursued a project on how mutations affect nitrogen uptake in A. thaliana. We suspect the experience was traumatic enough to send her back to field work at KSR and aquatic insects forever.
davidDavid Maj
David pursued an honors project in the lab on gene expression variation, after having worked for us for the summer doing molecular biology. In the photo he is staring at the charred bench top that resulted from a small lab fire in his workspace on his first day.
theresaTheresa Chow
Theresa started in the lab as a work-study student, and then claimed a summer NSERC USRA. A long-standing lab goal was to see if we could get Theresa to do field work, and then watch to see if she can stay neat and clean while the rest of us get muddy, dirty, and covered in field filfth. We failed.
leilaLeila Kent
Leila is a majoring in international relations or some other non-biological subject. She ended up in Bio 150, and then working for us. We're hopeful that enough time spent counting plants and plant parts will help her see the light and switch to an EEB major.
nikkiNikki Scodras
Nikki spent the summer prior to her final undergraduate year studying Medicago lupulina and M. truncatula. Though she has dreams of veterinary medicine, we managed to convince her to take a sabbatical with plants before returning to the dark side. In her photo, she's managed to find the only animal in the entire building.
HelenaHelena van Tol
Helena was an undergrad at Mt. Allison University who worked in the lab for the summer on Medicago-rhizobial interactions. She's since decided to pursue oceanography, but we're keeping her picture on the lab website to see if she returns....
brittanyBrittany Harrett
Brittany was an undergraduate at Trent University, and worked in the lab for the summer on a Center for Global Change Science research fellowship. For her project, she studied flowering time in invasive Arabidopsis, and learned, among other things, that plants are more interesting than a bunch of boring facts about photosynthesis.
paulPaul Cheung
After working growing Arabidopsis in the field with Karen, Paul decided to do some lab and chamber work for his honors project. He is studiying latitudinal variation in temperature tolerance in the Western Dune plant, Camissonia cheiranthifolia. When not the in the lab, Paul races dragonboats and tones his biceps.
chris_rChristine Rentschler
Like Brandon, Chris is an alum from John's first field course at Joker's Hill. For her fourth year project, she examined how nitrogen deposition might alter microbial communities, and the subsequent performance of the invasive legume, Medicago lupulina. In her spare time, Chris enjoys preparing bat and rat skeletons for the Royal Ontario Museum's permanent collections.
Kate-OstevikKate Ostevik
Kate worked in our lab as a fourth year student, pursuing research projects in our lab and with James Thomson. She is interested in evolutionary ecology, and studied the effects of leaf shape genotype on plant physiology. She is currently a graduate student at UBC.
RoxanaPredoiuRoxana Predoiu
After working for several years as a network administrator, Roxana decided to go back for a 2nd Bachelors degree to study ecology. For her 299 project, she studied overwinter survival of North American accessions of Arabidopsis.
alexAlex Manning
Alex is interested in ecology and evolution. For her research project, she tested whether two so-called species of morning glory are inter-fertile, or whether there are barriers to gene flow between them. She ignored John's requests for a web-safe photograph for most of her time in the lab, and is now applying to medical school.
erinErin Dann
Erin's fourth year project examined whether Arabidopsis thaliana exhibits a latitudinal cline in photoperiod sensitivity, using chamber experiments with European accessions. She is currently interested in a career in veterinary medicine.
andreaAndrea Rico Wolf
Andrea worked in the lab on a 299 Research Opportunity Project. She examined whether tortoise beetles have preferences for different leaf shapes of morning glory. She also performed a variety of preference performance tests with morning glory and Spodoptera exigua.
par1Parastoo Azizi
Par was awarded a University of Toronto Excellence Award in Natural Sciences and Engineering! For her project in the lab, she tested the limiting resource model of plant tolerance to tissue damage, using Arabidopsis thaliana.
emily-2Emily Drummond
Emily worked in the lab for the summer compiling a database of papers that have measured direct and indirect selection on phenotypic traits. She leaft Toronto for Vancouver and a MSc. with Mark Vellend, who has since left UBC.
carl-1Carlin Sweeney
Carlin was awarded an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award. For her research in the lab, she examined the potential for compensatory growth in Impatiens capensis and asymmetric competition in size-structured populations.

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Alumni: Lab Pets

Abby was a yellow lab that John and Kristen adopted from Lab Rescue in North Carolina. She is pictured here modelling Brandon's sun glasses on a field course a Joker's Hill. She lived for 13 years before nerve and liver damage got the best of her.
BusterBuster II
Buster II is a male beta fish. He is a replacement for the late Buster I, a fish that Emily rescued after his life as animal behavior project subject was over. So far as we can tell, Buster II had no personality. Every time he saw the fake plant in his tank, he had a look on his face of "OH COOL! A PLANT!" and then 30 seconds later he had the look of "OH COOL! A PLANT!." We can't expect much of him, though, because he's only a fish and not a plant.