My name is Audrey, and I am an ecologist with a passion for teaching, exploration and the natural world. I am driven by a desire to teach others how ecosystems work, and to advocate for environmental conservation across the globe.
I completed my Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto in 2016, working in the Sprules Aquatic Ecology Laboratory looking at zooplankton foraging dynamics.
Since then I have discovered a passion for teaching, and have taught university courses in research methods and ethics, introductory ecology, evolutionary biology, aquatic ecology, and environmental science. I have also supervised several undergraduate research theses, and have several years experience managing undergraduate field schools in Canada and Southern Africa.
Outside of teaching and ecology I am interested in social justice, and excessive amounts of knitting and cooking.
University Teaching Experience
Mechanisms of Evolution: Winter 2021 (online), Summer 2020 (online), Winter 2020 (COVID-19 interruption)
Principles of Ecology: Winter 2021 (Online) Fall 2019, Fall 2018, Winter, 2018, Winter 2017
Understanding Biological Research: Winter 2020 (COVID-19 interruption), Winter 2019, Winter 2018
Methods in Freshwater Ecology: Fall 2019, Fall 2018, Fall 2016
Principles of Ecology (Field Course): Spring 2019, Spring 2018, Spring 2017
Field Methods in Ecology of Southern Africa (Field Course): Spring 2019, Spring 2018, Spring 2017
Independent Research Course (Field Course): Spring 2019
A Planet in Crisis: Fall 2017
Field Methods and Experimental Design in Ecology: Fall 2015 - Winter 2016
Field School and Outdoor Education Experience
During the Spring/Summer terms of 2017 - 2019 I taught ecology and field methods courses for the Southern African Field School (SAFS) program at the University of Alberta. For the 2018 and 2019 field seasons I acted as Academic Coordinator for the program, managing both academic and logistical aspects of the program.
SAFS was a study-abroad program for Canadian students to travel and learn about conservation in South Africa, eSwatini, and Mozambique. The program took an organizational hiatus for Summer 2020, which coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta is in the process of restructuring their field school offerings, with the goal of relaunching once the global pandemic has subsided. I worked with the department in Winter 2019 to research and develop new potential program structures, to increase program accessibility and opportunities for students.
In addition to my work in Southern Africa, I have taught freshwater ecology field courses at the University of Alberta, and a general ecology field course at the University of Toronto Mississauga. I have also worked as a teaching assistant for several ecology and freshwater biology courses at the University of Toronto.
I am interested in the value of undergraduate research programs and courses, and how to best design research experiences for undergraduate students that promote inclusivity and retainment.
In light of COVID-19 and other systemic changes in higher education, how do we ensure that undergraduate students continue to engage in research, and gain the vital research skills they require for careers in STEM? Additionally, how can we work to ensure that research programs and courses are as accessible and inclusive for our students as possible?
Higher education in 2020 is truly at a turning point. As an educator I want to learn how to best provide research opportunities for my students, to ensure our future scientists are prepared for the research questions that await us all.
During my Ph.D. at the Sprules Aquatic Ecology Laboratory at the University of Toronto I experimentally investigated the influence of prey (phytoplankton) spatial distribution on the foraging energetics and growth of zooplankton (specifically Daphnia pulex).
I found that the energetic cost of foraging is not prey concentration dependent in Daphnia pulex, while feeding benefits increase greatly as prey concentration increases:
Reid, AR, Sprules, WG. 2018. A comprehensive evaluation of Daphnia pulex foraging energetics and the influence of spatially heterogeneous food. Inland Waters. 8(1): 50-59. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20442041.2018.1427950
I also found that slight variations in prey availability slightly increase body mass at age of maturity, though large variations in prey availability (in which individuals cannot always meet their basal metabolic needs) decreased size at maturity:
In prep. Reid, AR, Sprules, WG. Daphnia pulex individual growth in temporally heterogeneous food.