I’m an ecologist by training and at heart. I’m fascinated by the way that ecosystems are structured, how they function and, importantly, how they respond to human perturbations. This genuine affection for ecology at the highest level has led me to study many different aspects of the discipline.  My graduate training began with an experimental approach to ecological problem solving, employing microcosms to test hypotheses regarding the relationship between nutrient resource ratios and phytoplankton community structure. Hot on the heels of that experience, I moved on to McGill University, where Robert Peters and Jaap Kalff led the empirical charge in ecology, championing pattern over mechanism in ecological hypothesis testing.  At McGill, I had the good fortune of meeting theoretical food web ecologist Kevin McCann (who subsequently moved to the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph), and we struck a deal that I would help him establish a field program if he could teach me food web theory.  This collaboration led to some very exciting theoretical and empirical studies (based out of Harkness Laboratory of Fisheries Research in Algonquin Park). Most recently, working with the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and Saugeen First Nation (collectively known as the Saugeen Ojibway Nation) and Steve Crawford (Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph), I have taken my research program in an applied direction.  As outlined below, my research now focuses on deriving and testing ecosystem and community level metrics for Environmental Assessments (EAs) in the Traditional Territories of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation.

I now hold a five year contractually limited faculty appointment at the University of Guelph that commenced in September of 2009. The position is sponsored by the Saugeen Ojibway First Nations under the Saugeen Ojibway-University of Guelph faculty partnership. In this position, I have four major areas of responsibility, which are (1) management responsibilities for the Saugeen Ojibway Environment Office; (2) undertaking research related to environmental assessments (EAs) in the Traditional Territory of the Saugeen Ojibway; (3) undergraduate and graduate teaching, and; (4) advising graduate students’ research related to EAs. I maintain an office at the University of Guelph, and spend 80-90% of my time on campus. The other 10-20% (2-4 days per month) are spent in traditional territories of the Saugeen Ojibway.

Neil’s University of Guelph page: