Participating departments and faculty members

The McGill-STRI NEO option can be undertaken within any of the following departments:

The following professors are part of the NEO option.




Ismael Vaccaro


Ehab Abouheif
Lauren Chapman
Melania E. Cristescu
Mélanie F. Guigueno
Andrew Gonzalez
David Green
Frederic Guichard
Anna Hargreaves
Andrew Hendry
Brian Leung
Catherine Potvin
Simon Reader
Anthony Ricciardi
Daniel Schoen
Fiona Soper
Jennifer Sunday


Grant Clark


Tom Naylor


Oliver Coomes
Yann le Polain de Waroux                                                                                                                                                                                        Thom Meredith
Tim Moore
Nigel Roulet
Brian Robinson
Raja Sengupta


Sylvie de Blois
Peter Brown


Christopher M. Buddle
Kyle Elliott
Gordon Hickey
Joann Whalen


Marilyn Scott


Jacqueline C. Bede
Sylvie de Blois
Alan K. Watson


Rowan Barrett
Hans Larsson
Virginie Millien


Yves Basset
Rachel Collin
Richard Cooke
Hector M. Guzman
Stanley Heckadon
Allen Herre
Harilaos A. Lessios
Mark Erik Torchin

NEO offers many opportunities for research in tropical environments. Below is a list of research areas and NEO faculty working in each area. Click on the name of the faculty member to learn more about their research interests.

Community Development and Rural Economic Livelihood

Peter Brown
Oliver Coomes
Stanley Heckadon                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yann le Polain de Waroux
Thom Meredith
Brian Robinson
Raja Sengupta
Ismael Vaccaro                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Conservation Biology and Biodiversity

Ecology and Evolution

Economics and Policy


Environmental Biology

Human Ecology, Migration and Health

Peter Brown
Oliver Coomes
Stanley Heckadon                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yann le Polain de Waroux
Thom Meredith
Brian Robinson
Marilyn Scott
Ismael Vaccaro

Marine Biology

Plant Science, Ethnopharmacology, Ethnobiology

Soils and Biogeochemistry

Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry and Tropical Land Use

Sylvie de Blois
Grant Clark
Oliver Coomes
Gordon Hickey                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yann le Polain de Waroux
Thom Meredith
Brian Robinson
Ismael Vaccaro
Alan K. Watson
Joann Whalen

Water Resources and Hydrology

Ehab Abouheif, Department of Biology
ehab.abouheif [at] (Email)

Research interests

Our major goal is to understand the complex interaction and relationships between the genotype, phenotype, and environment, and the effect this complex interaction has on the generation of morphological diversity.

To find out more about Dr. Abouheif´s research, visit his website.

Rowan Barrett, Redpath Museum
rowan.barrett [at] (Email)

Research interests

My work is motivated by a desire to understand the genetic basis of adaptation to changing environments. My research bridges theoretical and empirical approaches in population genetics, evolutionary ecology, and molecular biology to ask questions about the reciprocal interactions between ecological and evolutionary processes. I pursue this research program with a variety of key study systems, including stickleback fish, deer mice, and microbes.

To find out more about Dr. Barrett's reserach, visit his website.

Yves Basset, STRI & Department of Natural Resource Sciences
bassety [at] (Email)

Research interests

Insect-plant interactions and herbivory in the tropics; biodiversity and host-specificity of insect herbivores; insect spatial and temporal distribution; community structure and taxonomy of arboreal arthropods; tropical forest canopies; community ecology; parataxonomist training; arthropod conservation.

To find out more about Dr. Basset's research, visit his website.

Jacqueline C. Bede, Department of Plant Science
jacquie.bede [at] (Email)

Research interests

Research in this lab focuses on understanding plant-insect interactions. In the plant, we are interested in how plants regulate their defense responses to target generalist or specialist insect herbivores. This involves understanding the biosynthesis of plant secondary metabolites, such as terpenoids, alkaloids etc. Also, we are interested in how insects detoxify these plant compounds and how they cope with nutritional imbalances. To find out more about Dr. Bede´s research, visit her web site

To find out more about Dr. Bede's research, visit her website.

Sylvie de Blois, Department of Plant Science and MSE.
sylvie.deblois [at] (Email)

Research interests

Patterns and processes in plant populations and communities at the landscape scale; Conceptual development linking landscape and plant ecology; Ecology of rural (agricultural) landscapes; Spatial and temporal dynamics, biodiversity, ecological function and management of specific landscape elements; Integration of biological conservation with other land-uses.

To find out more about Dr. De Blois' research, visit her website.

Peter Brown, McGill School of Environment
peter.g.brown [at] (Email)

Research interests

To find out more about Dr. Brown's research, visit his website.

Christopher M. Buddle, Department of Natural Resource Sciences
chris.buddle [at] (Email)

Research interests

Terrestrial arthropod biodiversity, in particular spider and insect diversity in managed and unmanaged forests; the effects of downed woody material on arthropod communities; the role of generalist predators in detritus-based food webs; spider ecology, life-history, and taxonomy.

To find out more about Dr. Buddle's research, visit his website.

Lauren Chapman Department of Biology
lauren.chapman [at] (Email)

Research interests

Aquatic ecology and conservation, evolutionary and ecological consequences of respiratory strategies in fishes, ecophysiology, ecomorphology, adaptive divergence, tropical inland waters, Africa. Recent work focuses on divergent selection across oxygen gradients in fishes, the interaction of hypoxia with other environmental stressors (e.g., introduced species) and value of tropical wetlands in the maintenance of fish faunal structure and diversity.

To find out more about Dr. Chapman's research, visit her website.

Grant Clark Department of Bioresource Engineering
grant.clark [at] (Email)

Research interests

One view of ecological engineering is the creation of a community of plants, animals, microbes, and inanimate and technological components, so that they provide services. A different view of ecological engineering is the study of existing ecosystems to learn how to manage the materials and energy that flows through them. We use this knowledge to manage or modify ecosystems to provide the services that we value.

To find out more about Dr. Clark's research, visit his web site.

Interested in Ecological Engineering: Visit the McGill Ecological Engineering's website.

Rachel Collin STRI & Department of Biology
collinr [at] (Email)

Research interests

Evolution of reproduction and mode of development in marine invertebrates.

To find out more about Dr. Collin's research, visit her website.

Richard Cooke, STRI & Department of Geography
cooker [at] (Email)

Research interests

Archaeology of New World tropics; long-term history of native American peoples of Panama and neighboring areas; archaeozoology (especially fishing in the eastern tropical Pacific); archaeology and education in Latin America.

To find out more about Dr. Cooke's research, visit his website.

Oliver Coomes, Department of Geography
oliver.coomes [at] (Email)

Research interests

Studying the relationship between environment and economy among traditional, 'resource-reliant' peoples of the Amazon, particularly in Peru. The nature and implications of natural resource use by traditional peoples - from swidden-fallow agroforestry to forest product extraction - for economic development and for environmental conservation. How to both improve the welfare of the rural poor and conserve natural resources.

To find out more about Dr. Coomes' research, visit his website.

Melania E. Cristescu, Department of Biology
melania.cristescu [at] (Email)

Research interests

My research addresses fundamental questions about the evolution and maintenance of biological diversity in aquatic ecosystems. I am studying the genetics of aquatic invasions and habitat transitions, the nature and scale of recombination and mutation rate variation across genomes, populations and species, and speciation in ancient lakes

To find out more about Dr. Cristescu' research, visit her website.

Kyle Elliott, Department of Natural Resource Sciences
kyle.elliott [at] (Email)

Research interests

Avian conservation and ecology; ornithology; birds, especially seabirds, as indicators of environmental change; movement ecology; evolutionary ecology of senescence.

To find out more about Dr. Elliott's research, visit his website.

Andrew Gonzalez, Department of Biology
andrew.gonzalez [at] (Email)

Research interests

Broadly focused on the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss. As a corollary I hope to gain a better understanding of what it will take to slow extinction and mitigate its effects. In my lab we use experiments (field and lab), theory, and databases to tackle the various research projects: dispersal and extinction in fragmented landscapes, population and community stability, metapopulation and metacommunity dynamics in changing and variable environments, and the impacts of economy on biodiversity loss.

To find out more about Dr. Gonzalez's research, visit his website.

David Green, Department of Biology [at] (Email)

Research interests

Examining chromosomal, biochemical and molecular genetic variation in frogs and toads to decipher the relationships of species, the structure of populations, and mechanisms of evolutionary change. Evolution, biosystematics, conservation biology, geographic variation, population biology, cytogenetics, and molecular genetics of amphibians.

To find out more about Dr. Green's research, visit his website.

Frederic Guichard, Department of Biology
frederic.guichard [at] (Email)

Research interests

Theoretical ecology and complex system theory applied to intertidal ecosystems and to marine reserve design. Emergence of large scale patterns and dynamics from local interactions among individuals. Multidisciplinary approach involving mathematical modeling, field experiments and remote sensing.

To find out more about Dr. Guichard's research, visit his website.

Mélanie F. Guigueno, Department of Biology
melanie.guigueno [at] (Email)

Research interests

I am interested in animal behaviour, neuroscience, and cognition in non-model organisms, how they are linked, and what influences them, whether it be ecology and evolution or environmental toxins. A focal topic of the lab is neuroecology, also known as cognitive ecology, which examines adaptive specialization of cognition and the brain. I primarily work with birds (songbirds, raptors, quail), but also with fish.

To find out more about Dr. Guigueno's research, visit her website.

Hector M. Guzman, STRI & Department of Biology
GUZMANH [at] (Email)

Research interests

Ecology and population dynamic of coral reefs; taxonomy of corals, sclerochronology; marine conservation biology; human impacts on marine ecosystems, coastal management, fisheries and marine pollution.

Current projects include: Long-term monitoring of coral reefs, population dynamic and taxonomy of octocorals, migratory patters of large pelagic species in the eastern Pacific, shark fishery, marine reserves networking.

To find out more about Dr. Guzman's research, visit his website.

Anna Hargreaves, Department of Biology
anna.hargreaves [at] (Email)

Research interests

Ecology and evolution of species interactions and species distribution. Especially: when interactions (e.g. herbivory, competition, pollination) limit species distributions; local adaptation and the conservation importance of edge populations; dispersal evolution at stable and shifting range limits; geographic patterns in interactions.

To find out more about Dr. Hargreaves' research, visit her website.

Stanley Heckadon-Moreno, STRI & Department of Sociology
heckados [at] (Email)

Research interests

Anthropologist with substantial work in community development projects. Rural sociology, social forestry, environmental policy, history of natural history. Coordinator of the Panama Canal Watershed Monitoring Project; a 3 year applied field study by a multi disciplinary team of 33 researchers looking at the state of the forest cover, water and soils, vertebrates and the dynamics of human populations in one of the most important tropical watersheds in the world.

To find out more about Dr. Heckadon-Moreno's research, visit his website.

Andrew Hendry Department of Biology
andrew.hendry [at] (Email)

Research interests

The major direction of research in my lab is to examine the interaction between selection, adaptation, gene flow, and reproductive isolation in natural populations. Selection, gene flow, and adaptation may interact with each other in a series of complicated feedback loops that have yet to be investigated in natural populations. Our goal is to begin untangling these relationships through the use of theoretical modeling and empirical investigations in exemplary natural systems. We also work on a diversity of other subjects including rates of microevolution, evolution of egg size, isolation-by-time, adaptation-by-time, and applying evolutionary theory to conservation..

To find out more about Dr. Hendry's research, visit his website.

Edward Allen Herre STRI & Department of Biology
HERREA [at] (Email)

Research interests

Figs and their associated organisms, Sex Ratio evolution, Effects of Population Structure, Mycorrhizae, Mutualism, Parasitism, Plant-Insect Interactions.

To find out more about Dr. Herre's research, visit his website.

Gordon M. Hickey Department of Natural Resource Sciences
gordon.hickey [at] (Email)

Research interests

Sustainability of the natural environment. In particular, forest management, natural resource policy, regulation and assessment and associated international programs. Research draws upon numerous disciplines to integrate science-based knowledge with socio-economic considerations. This is done to inform strategic decision-making at a range of scales and support innovative resource-based policies.

To find out more about Dr. Hickey's research, visit his website.

Hans Larsson, Redpath Museum
hans.ce.larsson [at] (Email)

Research interests

Vertebrate palaeontology and developmental evolution. Palaeontological work focuses on terrestrial Mesozoic vertebrates in the Canadian arctic and explores signatures of ancient climate shifts in palaeo-faunas. Developmental evolution work addresses what developmental mechanisms (morphological and molecular) are responsible for changes in the evolution of vertebrate morphology.

To find out more about Dr. Larsson's research, visit his website. 

Yann le Polain de Waroux, Institute for the Study of International Development & Department of Geography
yann.lepolaindewaroux [at] (Email)

Research interests

My research addresses questions of land-use change in tropical deforestation frontiers, particularly in the Gran Chaco of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. I look at the links between people’s livelihoods and land-use decisions, and environmental and development outcomes. My principal research areas are: the expansion dynamics of agricultural frontiers and the role of large farms in these dynamics; the resilience of smallholder communities to the appropriation of land by large farmers in these frontiers; environmental policy in agricultural frontiers; and the role of culture in land-use changes, with particular attention to Mennonite colonies in Latin America.

To find out more about Dr. le Polain de Waroux's research, visit his website.

Harilaos A. Lessios, STRI & Department of Biology
lessiosh [at] (Email)

Research interests

Molecular phylogeography, population genetics, and speciation of marine organisms; reproductive barriers between species. Ecology of Caribbean coral reefs.

To find out more about Dr. Lessios's research, visit his web site. 

Brian Leung, Department of Biology
brian.leung2 [at] (Email)

Research interests

Biological invasions, ecology of diseases, anthropogenic stressors. Addressing environmental issues through the synthesis of models (mathematical, computational, and statistical) with empirical data (literature, field or lab studies). Creating models for ecological forecasting, given uncertainty and sparse data. Developing decision theory, using risk analysis.

To find out more about Dr. Leung's research, visit his web site.

Thom Meredith, Department of Geography
tom.meredith [at] (Email)

Research interests

Management of biological resources with a particular focus on environmental impact assessment and community response to environmental change. Active research on community-based environmental protection strategies with a particular focus on the blending of scientific and local or traditional information in environmental decision-making. Current research sites include mountain forest communities in Quebec, British Columbia. and Mexico.

To find out more about Dr. Meredith's research, visit his web site.

Virginie Millien, Redpath Museum
virginie.millien [at] (Email)

Research interests

The effects of environmental changes on the evolution of morphological diversity in mammals; rates of morphological evolution and rapid evolution on islands; morphological variation and climate change; the relation between the environment and morphology in mammals.

To find out more about Dr. Millien's research, visit her web site.

Tim Moore, Department of Geography
tim.moore [at] (Email)

Research interests

Relationships between soil and the environment, particularly the regulation of fluxes of gases, nutrients and elements between the soil and the atmosphere, the biosphere and the hydrosphere. Past research has focused on peatlands and wetlands and the controls on the cycling of carbon in these systems. Recent projects have focused on broader issues of carbon sequestration in soils - the effect of changes in land use, such as conversion from pasture to forest plantation, and tree growth under elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations on rates of organic matter decomposition and C accumulation in soils at a field site in Panama, affiliated with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

To find out more about Dr. Moore's research, visit his web site.

Tom Naylor, Department of Economics
thomas.naylor [at] (Email)

Research interests

History of economics, criminal justice. Main interest of research in the environmental field is the rise of the carbon economy. Other interests include the diagnosis and prevention of environmental crime such as illegal resource extraction and waste disposal, and the smuggling of endangered species.

To find out more about Dr. Naylor's research, visit his web site.

Catherine Potvin, Department of Biology
catherine.potvin [at] (Email)

Research interests

Physiological ecology; global change; photosynthesis and productivity; experimental design and biostatistics; conservation biology; tropical ecology. Currently the coordinator of a team of researchers committed to increasing the understanding of the role that the Tropics play in global carbon (C) cycling. TropiFACE is part of GCTE's elevated CO2 network with colleagues in Argentina, Panama, Mexico, USA, France and Canada.

To find out more about Dr. Potvin's research, visit her web site.

Simon Reader, Department of Biology
simon.reader [at] (Email)

Research interests

I study the mechanisms, development, and evolution of animal behaviour, with a focus on social cognition. I am interested in (1) how behavioural flexibility develops and allows adaptive responses to a changing environment, particularly through behavioural innovation and social learning, and (2) the evolutionary consequences of this behavioural flexibility. I work principally with tropical freshwater fish, but our lab’s work has also covered a number of bird and mammal species.

To find out more about Dr. Reader's research, visit his web site.

Anthony Ricciardi, Department of Biology
tony.ricciardi [at] (Email)

Research interests

My research investigates the causes and consequences of species invasions. I focus on predicting the ecological impacts of exotic invertebrates and fishes on aquatic biodiversity and food webs. My students and I use a combination of approaches that include empirical modeling, meta-analysis, and field experiments. We are interested in questions such as why some species are better invaders, why some communities are more susceptible to invasion, and why some invasions produce greater impacts than others. Our recent studies have examined whether species traits can be used to predict successful invaders how invasion history can be used to predict an introduced species' impact; and the phenomenon of 'invasional meltdown' - in which exotic species increase each other's colonization success and impact.

To find out more about Dr. Ricciardi's research, visit his web site.

Brian Robinson, Department of Geography
brian.e.robinson [at] (Email)

Research interests

I am interested in the ways that ecosystem services contribute to human well-being. At the household level, I look at how people meet their needs through use of ecosystems and resources. At a lsndscape scale, I'm interested in how institutions mediate land use change and ecosystem service provision, such as through payment for ecosystem service programs or land tenure security. Methods draw from environmental and development economics, development geography, geographic information sciences, and ecology.

To find out more about Dr. Robinson's research, visit his web site.

Nigel Roulet, Department of Geography
nigel.roulet [at] (Email)

Research interests

Hydrology, Climate and Biogeochemistry. Surface water-groundwater interaction; hydrological pathways and biogeochemical transport; runoff production in wetland and forested ecosystems; boundary layer studies of the flux of CO2, CH4,and H2O from northern peatlands; scaling land surface exchange processes.

To find out more about Dr. Roulet's research, visit his web site.

Daniel Schoen , Department of Biology
daniel.schoen [at] (Email)

Research interests

Our lab does work on a diverse array of topics. The organizing theme that ties these topics together is evolutionary and population genetics. Much, but not all of the work we do, focuses on plants and their systems of reproduction.

To find out more about Dr. Schoen's research, visit his web site.

Marilyn Scott, Department of Parasitology
marilyn.scott [at] (Email)

Research interests

Host-parasite population dynamics; impact of malnutrition on infections in human populations and model systems; ecohealth approaches to managing parasites and malnutrition; waterborne pollution and parasitism; energetic trade-offs; impact of transmission rates of host susceptibility/ resistance phenotypes; vectors transmitting malaria.

To find out more about Dr. Scott's research, visit her web site.

Jennifer Sunday, Department of Biology
jennifer.sunday [at] (Email)

Research interests

Understanding the role of climate, both directly and indirectly through species interactions, on the distribution of biodiversity. We use macroecology, natural experiments, and controlled experiments to connect processes to patterns across scales. Our work has contributed novel advances in understanding how physiological variables relate to species’ ranges and their climate vulnerabilities, and how climate change responses occur in the context of community interactions and temporally varying environments.

To find out more about Dr. Sunday's research, visit her web site.

Mark Erik Torchin, STRI and Department of Biology
TorchinM [at] (Email)

Research interests

Marine ecology, Biological invasions, Host-parasite interactions and disease ecology

To find out more about Dr. Torchin's research, visit his web site.

Ismael Vaccaro, Department of Anthropology
ismael.vaccaro [at] (Email)

Research interests

As an environmental anthropologist, my research has focused on understanding the historical formation and contemporary dynamics of social and ecological landscapes with special emphasis on the interactions between public policies and local communities. My current research analyzes land use, conservation policies and the social, economic and environmental sustainability of rural aras. I am in the process of assembling a methodological toolkit that should provide conservation policy designers and managers with vital information for their work. It aims to establish a bridge between ecology and social sciences to improve conservation policy design, local development and social and econological sustainability. I am also analyzing the possible historical connections brought about by the colonial bond between Spain (Natural Park of the High Pyrenees) and Mexico (Chamela Biosphere Reserve in Jalisco). The goal is to provide social data to inform public policies and foster social and ecological sustainability in and around the protected area. I am collaborating as an anthropological advisor on health issues to facilitate medical communication between health care professionals and local residents. I hope to use this expertise in relevant research work in Panama in the near future.

To find out more about Dr. Vaccaro's research, visit his web site.

Alan K. Watson, Department of Plant Science
alan.watson [at] (Email)

Research interests

Professor Alan Watson's Weed Research Group has been developing biological weed control strategies in temperate and tropical environments using the weeds ' own natural enemies. The goals of our research program are to understand the processes involved in host (weed) pathogen interactions, to investigate mechanisms involved in disease development and weed host response, and to use this knowledge to select, develop, and implement effective, safe, and sustainable means to reduce the negative impact of major noxious weeds.

To find out more about Dr. Watson's research, visit his web site.

Joann Whalen, Department of Natural Resource Sciences
joann.whalen [at] (Email)

Research interests

Dr. Whalen's research focuses on soil ecology and fertility, particularly in agro-ecosystems. Her research interests include soil organic matter and nutrient dynamics, the ecology, diversity and activity of earthworms and soil microorganisms. Agricultural practices (tillage, fertilizer, crop rotations) that produce high crop yields and minimize greenhouse gas emissions are also studied.

To find out more about Dr. Whalen's research, visit her web site.

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