The research team:

Colin Garroway, Assistant Professor 

Originally from Nova Scotia, I began as a teacher and researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Manitoba in 2016. In research I aim to link population genetic patterns to ecological processes to better understand evolutionary change. As such I supervise research across diverse areas ranging from intense field ecology to computer based population genomics. I teach a 4th year/graduate level Evolutionary Genetics and contribute to teaching 3rd year Evolutionary Biology.  

Karen Dunmall, Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellow 2017 -

Karen's research focuses on predicting and monitoring aquatic biodiversity shifts in the Arctic. She uses spatial genetics and eDNA to track distributional shifts in aquatic species. Check out more about her research at

Phil Grayson, Great Lakes Fishery Commission funded postdoctoral fellow 2019 -

Phil’s research examines the evolution of sex determination in the invasive sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) through the use of numerous population genomic and bioinformatic techniques.  He is funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and is co-supervised by Margaret Docker (University of Manitoba) and Alison Wright (University of Sheffield).  If you can’t find him in the lab or at the computer, he’s probably out fishing! Phil is a Winnipeg native returning home after his PhD at Harvard. Check out more about his work on his personal website

Chloé Schmidt, PhD Candidate, May 2017 -

Chloé is working on questions about the genetics of local adaptation. She is conducting synthetic multi-species population genetic analyses of predictors of genetic diversity and detailed genomic analyses of urban squirrels. Check out Pineapples and Whales where she illustrates the findings of scientific papers from ecology and evolution. Chloé joined us after her MSc at the University of Lausanne and is currently funded by a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship. 

Riikka Kinnunen, PhD Candidate, May 2017 -

Riikka is working on questions about the ecology of local adaptation. She is using both publicly available citizen science databases and conducting intensive field work with urban squirrels to address her questions. Riikka joined us after her MSc at the University of Helsinki and is currently funded by a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship.

Claudio Müller, PhD Candidate, September 2019 -

Claudio works on reconstructing the demographic histories of endemic Arctic whales, from prior to the arrival of humans up to the recent past, and linking demographic change to environmental change. He works losely with our Fisheries and Oceans Canada research collaborators here on campus. He joins us following his MSc work at the University of Bern.  

Eleana Karachaliou, PhD Candidate, September 2019 -

Eleana is working on questions about the population structure and demographic history of anadromous sea lamprey populations from eastern North America, the north, and western Europe. Eleana is co-supervised with Margaret Docker and joined the group after completing her MSc at the Agricultural University of Athens.

Kyle Lefort, MSc Candidate, Sept 2017 - 

Kyle is an NSERC funded MSc student co-supervised with Steve Ferguson at DFO. He is exploring the demography of killer whales in the Canadian Arctic with photographic resighting data. He is also using genomic data to address questions about the population structure and origin of Arctic killer whales. One day he may even see a killer whale in person (he now has... tons of them!). He joined us from the University of New Brunswick.     

Paul O'Brien, MSc Candidate, Sept 2018 - 

Paul is an NSERC funded MSc student co-supervised with Jeff Bowman of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. He is testing for evidence of reinforcement in the hybrid zone between northern and southern flying squirrel in Ontario. Check out more about this project here. Paul joined us from Memorial University.

Jessie Ogden, MSc Candidate, May 2019 - 

Jessie's work is funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and she is co-supervised by Margaret Docker. She joins us from the University of Victoria and will explore the genetic structure of the invasive freshwater and native marine sea lamprey populations in North America


Meg Mahoney, MSc Candidate, Sept 2019 - 

Meg's work is funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship. She is co-supervised by Margaret Docker. She joins us from Colorado State University and will investigate the landscape genetic questions in invasive freshwater and native marine sea lamprey populations in North America.


Leah Kathan, Summer research assistant and honours student 2019

In addition to helping with fieldwork over the summer, Leah is adding life history traits to our database of raw population genetic data. For her honours project she will explore the quantitative genetics of red panda pedigrees collected with collaborators from the Assiniboine Park Zoo.


Miranda Bilous, Summer research assistant and Co-op student 2019 

Miranda is a member of the Arctic Salmon team and is supervised by Karen. She is working to help understand why salmon are shifting northward to the Arctic by synthesizing current research on the habitat and behaviour of salmon in the marine environment. 



Mitchell Green, Winter 2019 Biological Sciences  co-op student 

Mitchell had an epic work term building our database of formatted archived population genetic data for synthetic analyses. He's off to the Assiniboine Zoo for the summer and then will be back to class. 

Léa Tessier and Brooke de Koning, Summer research assistants 2018

Léa and Brooke worked on all aspects of a hectic 2018 summer field season. Léa is currently finishing up her undergrad and Brooke is off to vet school.

Evan Balzer​, Summer research assistant 2017, Honours student 2017-2018

Evan won an undergraduate research award to work on urban grey squirrels in the summer or 2017. He has since defended his honours project where he used a large narwhal genetic data set to explore the genetic structure of narwhals in the Canadian Arctic.

Dinghan (Grace) Ji​, Winter 2018 Computer science co-op student 

Grace spent the 2018 winter term surrounded by biologists building tools to help us efficiently format publicly archived population genetic data. If this type of tool interests you send Colin an email. Grace is now back to classes.  

Alyssa Garrard, Summer research assistant and Co-op student 2019

Alyssa was on this summer's urban squirrel fieldwork team. She is also conducting an independent research project exploring habitat use by both grey and red squirrels in Winnipeg.


Kirsten Solmundson, Summer 2017 RA, 2016-17 Honours student

Kirsten defended her honours thesis exploring the relationship between habitat quality and grey and red squirrel body condition in Winnipeg in 2017. She won an undergraduate research award in the summer of 2017 to work on questions about kinship in narwhal social groups. As of Sept 2017 she has started her PhD at Trent University with Jeff Bowman and Paul Wilson exploring caribou genomics.    

Caitlin Ferry, Summer 2017 RA, 2016-17 Honours student

University of Winnipeg

Caitlin is interested in urban ecology and joined us from the University of Winnipeg. She defended her thesis exploring the relationships between grey and red squirrel abundance and urban environmental features across Winnipeg. She joined us again in the summer of 2017 as an RA for more squirrel fun