Alumni

Flowers from a cross between Lobelia siphiitica and Lobelia cardinalis.

Some of our alumni


Kayla Alipanah (undergraduate thesis student): Kayla joined the lab in Fall 2021. She completed an undergraduate thesis project on the effects of drought and nutrient deposition on the expression of floral and mating system traits in Mimulus guttatus, and is currently job hunting.


Melissa Arcand (technician): After receiving her MSc from the University of Guelph, Melissa joined the lab to work as a technician (co-advised by Hafiz Maherali) on a short-lived project on the ecology and evolution of the wildflower Mimulus guttatus (Caruso et al. 2012 in the International Journal of Plant Sciences). Melissa went on to do a PhD in soil science at the University of Saskatchewan, where she is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Soil Science.


Amanda Benoit (MSc 2016): Amanda, a graduate of Trent University, started graduate school at Guelph in Fall 2014. For her MSc project, Amanda tested whether predators of pollinators affect selection on floral traits (Benoit and Caruso 2021 in Ecology). She received her PhD from the University of Tennessee in 2022 and is currently working as a lecturer.


Allison Benscoter (technician): After receiving her MSc in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University and working across the United States as a restoration ecologist, Allison moved to Guelph to work as a technician (co-advised by Hafiz Maherali) on our project on the evolution of photosynthetic and stomatal traits. She stayed on to work on our selection and the maintenance of polymorphism project, and also co-authored papers on trade-offs between flower size and number (Caruso et al. 2012 in the International Journal of Plant Sciences) and outbreeding depression in Lobelia siphilitica (Caruso et al. 2015 in Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Society). Allison is currently an Ecologist for the US Geological Survey in Florida.


Katie Black (undergraduate research assistant): Katie was a 2nd year student at the University of Guelph who received a URA award for Summer 2013. She assisted with a variety of projects in the lab and went on to do a MSc in the Department of Biology at Wilfrid Laurier University.


Kaitlyn Brown (work-study student, undergraduate research assistant, undergraduate thesis student): Katie started in the lab in 2013 as a work-study student, and stayed with us for three years. For her senior thesis project, Katie tested how pollinator declines affect the evolution of floral traits in a species that cannot autonomously self-pollinate (Brown and Caruso, submitted to the American Naturalist). Katie went on to do a MSc in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. After as stint as the station manager at Koeffler Scientific Reserve, she has moved on to a position as the Plans & Policies Coordinator for the City of Coquitlam.


Kate Eisen (technician): After receiving her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Amherst College in 2012, Kate moved to Guelph to help run our project on selection and the maintenance of polymorphism. While at Guelph, she also worked on our project on the evolution of photosynthetic and stomatal traits; built the first angiosperm-wide database of gynodioecious species (Caruso et al. 2016 in International Journal of Plant Sciences); developed methods for estimating pollen presentation schedules in Lobelia siphilitica (Eisen et al. 2017 in International Journal of Plant Sciences); and collaborated on a meta-analysis of the agents of selection on floral traits (Caruso et al. 2019 in Evolution). Kate completed her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University and is currently an NSF-funded postdoc at Lund University. Click here for her webpage.


Olyvia Foster (undergraduate thesis student): Olyvia, a BSc (co-op) student at the University of Guelph, received funding from EcoCanada to work in the lab during Summer 2020. She completed an undergraduate thesis on the effect of pollinator declines on floral longevity (Foster and Caruso 2022 in the International Journal of Plant Sciences), and was recognized by the Botanical Society of America with a Young Botanist Award. She worked for The Land Between and Kayanase before moving on to a position with the Ontario Woodlot Association.


Nigel Gale (work-study student, undergraduate thesis student): As an undergraduate at the University of Guelph, Nigel worked on our selection and the maintenance of polymorphism project (including spending many weekends watering plants in the greenhouse!), and also co-authored a paper on outbreeding depression in Lobelia siphilitica (Caruso et al. 2015 in Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Society). He stayed on to do a thesis project (co-advised by Hafiz Maherali) on the evolution and ecology of fine-grained plasticity in Avena barbata. Nigel is currently a PhD student in forestry at the University of Toronto. Click here for his webpage.


Rachel Germain (undergraduate thesis student): As an undergraduate at the University of Guelph, Rachel did a thesis (co-advised by Hafiz Maherali) on the adaptive value of drought-induced parental effects in Avena barbata (Germain et al. 2013 in the International Journal of Plant Sciences). Rachel went on to do a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto and is currently a faculty member at the University of British Columbia. Click here for her webpage.

Gavin Hossack (MSc 2021): After completing his BSc at the University of Guelph, Gavin started graduate school in Fall 2019. His project focused on the effect of pollinator declines on floral evolution in species with separate sexes (Hossack and Caruso., in press at the American Journal of Botany). After graduation, Gavin briefly worked for the Ontario Hazelnut Association before landing a research technician job in Jocelyn Smith's lab at Guelph Ridgetown.


Jesse Jarvis (MSc 2014): Jesse was a MSc student co-advised by Gard Otis in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph. He was awarded an NSERC Industrial Postgraduate Scholarship to study the feasibility of restoring the Karner Blue Butterfly to Ontario.


Kiana Lee (undergraduate research assistant, undergraduate thesis student): Kiana, a BSc student at the University of Guelph, received a Summer 2020 undergraduate student research award from NSERC. She stayed on in the lab to complete an undergraduate thesis on the effect of pollinator declines on floral longevity (Lee and Caruso 2022 in the American Journal of Botany), and was recognized by the Botanical Society of America with a Young Botanist Award. She is currently an Ontario Graduate Scholar and MSc student at Western University.


Ariana Longley (MSc 2019): Ariana, a graduate of the University of Toronto-Mississauga, was awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and a U of G Graduate Entrance Excellence Scholarship to study the effect of urbanization on floral evolution. While at Guelph, she wrote for The Ontarian and was an intern in the SPARK program. She is currently pursing a career in television writing and producing.


Sarah McDonald (undergraduate researcher, undergraduate thesis project): Sarah joined the lab as an NSERC USRA in 2017, and stayed on to do an undergraduate thesis project on the effect of nectar robbers on selection on floral traits (McDonald and Caruso 2019 in the International Journal of Plant Sciences). She was awarded both an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and a NSERC postgraduate scholarship for her MSc at Western University, which she finished in 2020. She is currently working as an ecologist for a consulting firm.


Hazel Panique (MSc 2018): Hazel, a graduate of Concordia University, moved to Guelph to study the effects of pollinator declines on floral evolution (Panique and Caruso 2020 in the American Journal of Botany). After working as a research technician at SUNY ESF, studying interactions between plants and native bees, Hazel returned to Canada, where she is currently working in patient support services.


Amy Parachnowitsch (MSc 2005): After receiving her undergraduate degree from Simon Fraser University, Amy moved to Guelph to study the role of herbivores as agents of selection on floral traits (Parachnowitsch and Caruso 2008 in Ecology; Parachnowitsch et al. 2012 in PlosOne). Amy went on to do a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, and work as a researcher at Uppsala University. She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of New Brunswick. Click here for Amy's Google Scholar page.


Ruth Rivkin (technician, undergraduate thesis student, undergraduate research assistant): Ruth completed a senior thesis project on frequency-dependent fitness in our primary study species, Lobelia siphilitica (Rivkin et al. 2015 in Evolution) and an NSF-REU project on the the evolution of gynodioecy and its correlates in the mint family (Rivkin et al. 20`16 in New Phytologist). Ruth stayed around during Winter 2015 to collect samples for our new project investigating sexual dimorphism in floral scent in Lobelia siphilitica. She completed a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto and is currently a postdoc-ing.


Stephanie Scott (undergraduate student research assistant, undergraduate thesis student): Stephanie was an undergraduate at the University of Guelph who joined the lab after discovering that plants were far more interesting than animals. She pioneered our work on pollinator-mediated selection on flower color in Lobelia siphilitica, resulting in a paper in the International Journal of Plant Sciences (Caruso et al. 2010). Stephanie went on to do a MSc at Queens' University and is currently living in Waterloo, Ontario, where she is pursuing a career in organic farming.


Liz Seifert (technician): After receiving her MSc from Indiana University and working as a technician at Rice University, Liz moved to Guelph to work as a technician (co-advised by Hafiz Maherali) on our projects on selection and the maintenance of polymorphism and the evolution of photosynthetic and stomatal traits projects. She also co-authored a paper on outbreeding depression in Lobelia siphilitica (Caruso et al. 2015 in Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Society). She is currently working for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.


Tomomi Suwa (technician): After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph, Tomomi stayed on to work as a technician (co-advised by Hafiz Maherali) on a variety of projects in the lab. She went on to get a MS from the University of Nebraska and a Ph.D from Michigan State University, and is cuurrently working as a data scientist.


Zach Teitel (PhD 2021): Zach, a graduate of the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, started graduate school at Guelph in Fall 2015. He integrated evolutionary ecology and weed science to study the evolution of glyphosate resistance, tolerance, and escape in Amaranthus palmeri (Yakimowski et al. 2021 in Molecular Ecology). He is currently pursuing a career as a paramedic.


Catherine Walsh (technician, MSc 2010): After receiving her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, Catherine worked in the lab as a technician on our selection and the maintenance of polymorphism project. She liked us so much that she stayed on to study how diffuse and pairwise interactions between herbivores and pollinators influence selection on floral traits (see Caruso et al. 2010 in International Journal of Plant Sciences for some of her data). Catherine is currently pursuing a career as a nurse.


Erica Wassink (MSc 2012, technician): After receiving her undergraduate degree at Calvin College, Erica moved to Guelph to study the effect of competition for pollination on selection on floral traits (Wassink and Caruso 2013 in Botany). Her work was supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and an NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship. Erica received the Middleton Graduate Teaching Award for her work as a TA for Plant Diversity and Evolution. She is currently teaching chemistry and biology to high school students.


Stefan Weber (work-study student, MSc 2011, technician): After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph (during which he was a work-study student in the lab), Stefan stayed on to study the effect of floral traits on community assembly of spring ephemeral wildflowers. His research was funded by a scholarship from the rare Charitable Reserve in Cambridge, ON. After working as a native seed specialist at the St. Williams Ecology Centre, Stefan completed a PhD at McMaster University.


Julie Wray (undergraduate research assistant, undergraduate thesis student): As an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph, Julie worked on a variety of projects in the lab. Her senior thesis work on the effects of of herbivores on selection on flower color was published in the International Journal of Plant Sciences (Caruso et al. 2010). While at Guelph, Julie became interested in pollination ecology and went on to do a MSc with Elizabeth Elle at Simon Fraser University. She is currently working for a start-up.


Sarah Yakobowski (undergraduate research assistant): After graduating from the University of Guelph, Sarah spent a summer studying selection on floral traits of female and hermaphrodite Lobelia siphilitica (Caruso and Yakobowski 2008 in Journal of Evolutionary Biology). Sarah went on to do a MSc at the University of Waterloo and is currently working as an analyst at the Library of Parliament.