Invertebrate Zoology: Who's Who
Dr. Tyler Cobb, Head of Life Sciences and Curator of Invertebrate Zoology
Dr. Cobb joined the Royal Alberta Museum as Curator of Invertebrate Zoology in 2007 and was appointed as Head of Life Sciences in 2017. He holds a BSc and MSc from the University of Regina and a PhD from the University of Alberta.
Dr. Cobb manages the 5 programs of the Life Sciences section and as curator of the Invertebrate Zoology Program he is directly responsible for the museum's collection of invertebrates and the Bug Room Gallery. In addition to his museum duties, he provides taxonomic oversight for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI), as Director of the ABMI Processing Centre.
Although self-described as an insect ecologist, Dr. Cobb is a naturalist at heart with published studies ranging from rainforest bats, prairie songbirds and alpine zooplankton to soil microbes and beetles in burned boreal forests. He is a specialist on beetles, but is also keenly interested in biodiversity conservation, the importance of taxonomy and the role of natural history museums in large-scale biological monitoring. He maintains an active research program through graduate student mentorship and his ongoing field studies of invertebrates in disturbed forests around the province.
Dr. Matthias Buck, Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Zoology
Dr. Buck joined the Invertebrate Zoology team in March 2009. His main responsibility is the curation and management of the invertebrate collection and associated databases. Dr. Buck's research interest focuses on flies (Diptera) and stinging wasps (aculeate Hymenoptera). He has published numerous research articles on the taxonomy, identification and systematics of different groups of Diptera and aculeate Hymenoptera. His publications include several chapters in the Manual of Central American Diptera, and the Identification Atlas of the Vespidae of the Northeastern Nearctic Region. Dr. Buck has conducted extensive insect surveys in North, Central and South America. He completed his graduate studies (Ph.D, M.Sc.) in Germany and worked as curator and post-doctoral fellow at the University of Guelph Insect Collection prior to his appointment at the Royal Alberta Museum.
Michelle Mark, ABMI Laboratory Coordinator
As an Edmonton native, Michelle spent much of her youth chasing wildlife through the river valley system, turning over logs and hunting for wood frogs. When she was old enough to combine her love of animals and adventure, she traveled around the world in search of Orangutan, Chimpanzee, Polar Bear, Jaguar and Cassowary. However, it was the tiny things that held her interest, and after graduating in 2009 with a BSc in Animal Biology with an emphasis on Entomology, she began working for the Invertebrate Zoology program at the museum helping out with a ground beetle research project. Michelle worked as both an ABMI Field Technician and ABMI Lab Technician before settling into her current role as ABMI Laboratory Coordinator, where she now provides logistical support and helps to coordinate all aspects of the ABMI Processing Centre at the museum.
Peter Heule, Live Culture and Natural History Outreach Technician
Peter K. Heule has lived in Edmonton his whole life. A life-long appreciation and fascination with all animals has led to years of personal and professional experience in the captive husbandry of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. In 1998 he began volunteering for the Provincial Museum's Bug Room. Peter started full-time employment at the Royal Alberta Museum in 2005 and obtained a BSc with specialization in Animal Biology from the University of Alberta the same year. Academic pursuits in entomology, ornithology, mammalogy, and behavioural ecology served to broaden his existing knowledge base. Currently, Peter works as Life Science's Live Culture and Natural History Outreach Technician. His duties include the care and maintenance of the museum's displays of live creatures along with public education and media presentations about a wide range of natural history topics. In addition to outreach activities throughout the province both in person and through the museum's distance learning programs, Peter is often a guest speaker on CBC Radio One's "Radio Active" as the show's "Official Bug Guy".
Robert Hinchliffe, Aquatic Invertebrate Taxonomist
Born and raised in Edmonton, Rob is an outdoor enthusiast and avid fly angler with a keen interest in aquatic ecology. After completing a B.Sc. honors degree in animal biology at the University of Alberta in 2006, he went on to work with the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI), where he assisted with the development of the aquatic sampling protocols, and acted as aquatic field coordinator for the first two summers of the project. Rob joined the Royal Alberta Museum as the ABMI lab coordinator in October 2008 and has since taken on the role of aquatic invertebrate specialist. In addition to the identification of aquatic invertebrate specimens collected by the ABMI, he is also responsible for coordinating the activities of summer lab technicians and curating the ABMI aquatic invertebrate collection.
Rob's research is focused on Chironomidae (non-biting Midges) of Alberta. The aquatic wormlike larvae of these tiny flies are an important food source for birds, fish, frogs, and other insects. Despite their ecological importance, little is known about the species found in Alberta. Research includes life stage association of larva, pupa, and adults, developing identification keys for Chironomid larvae, and documenting the species present in Alberta. Rob is currently a Society for Freshwater Science (formerly NABS) certified taxonomist for western EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera), and western Chironomidae.
Dr. Diane Haughland, Lichenologist
Dr. Haughland began working with the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute in 2004 and joined the Royal Alberta Museum in 2011. She has lived or traveled throughout much of Canada and enjoys hiking and photography. Dr. Haughland's diverse research background includes experience with rattlesnakes, garter snakes, songbirds, red squirrels, vascular plants, and most recently, lichens. She is also a passionate educator, whether as a provincial park naturalist or a sessional university lecturer. As a result, Dr. Haughland's publications include peer-reviewed journal articles in education, behavioural ecology, and statistical power analyses as well as popular press and newspaper articles. Her formal training as an ecologist includes a BSc in Ecology and Environmental Science (Thompson Rivers University, formerly University College of the Cariboo), a MSc in Biology, (University of Victoria), and a PhD in Ecology (University of Alberta). Her doctoral work focused on the philosophical arguments for large-scale biodiversity monitoring, methodology and quality control for field sampling and lab processing of lichen and bryophyte samples, and the value of monitoring multiple taxa. In addition to research, her role at the Royal Alberta Museum involves identifying lichens samples, training ABMI technicians, and curating the ABMI lichen collection.
Lisa Lumley, Acarologist
Dr. Lumley joined the Royal Alberta Museum in May 2013 as mite specialist for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. Her education includes a B.Sc.Ag. (Crop and Horticultural Sciences) and a Ph.D. (Insect Systematics) from the University of Alberta, as well as a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Canadian Forest Service and Université Laval. Her interests have led her to gain a wide range of work experience including agricultural business and applied research, insect systematics and population genomics, and teaching courses in field biology and restoration ecology. She is an active member in the local and national entomology communities.
Dr. Lumley's research mainly focuses on species delimitation (the methodological problem of demarcating species boundaries) and the exploration of methods for species identification, which lead to the topic of speciation and the ultimate question 'What is a species?'. Her research has included the study of morphology and morphometrics, life-history and behavioural traits, genetic markers and genomics to attempt to find traits or markers that can be used for identification and to determine how and why species are different. She is particularly interested in the study of adaptive traits, and their potential role in linking genetic markers for species identification with genes of biological significance in maintaining species boundaries. Ultimately, Dr. Lumley's research is intended to contribute new tools to taxonomists and systematists, to increase our understanding of the process of speciation, and to aid in the development of species-specific practices for pest management and conservation genetics.
When she isn't working, Dr. Lumley loves spending time with friends and family, and is an avid outdoor enthusiast, traveller, gardener, and apiarist.
Almanac of Alberta Oribatida
Varina Crisfield, Vascular Plant Taxonomist
Varina began working at the Royal Alberta Museum in February 2014. Her educational background began with a B.A. in geography from Concordia University, where she developed an interest in plants and plant ecology. She followed up her undergrad studies with an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of Alberta, where she studied human impacts on alpine plant communities in the Canadian Rockies. After completing her graduate degree, Varina worked at the University of Alberta and gained experience with wetland ecology and land reclamation/restoration. She also worked in the private sector as a rare plant and vegetation specialist. Together, this experience has provided her with a strong familiarity with the flora of Alberta's various natural regions. Varina has a keen interest in the taxonomy, ecology and management of rare and at-risk plant species, and has conducted rare plant surveys both as part of her work and in her spare time. Varina is a member of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists, and current coordinator of the Central Alberta Rare Plant Study Group.
Hilary Pittel, Bug Room Assistant
Born in Ontario, Hilary spent her childhood summers searching for insects in the Muskokas and raising many caterpillars, amphibians, and reptiles. She is an avid bird watcher, naturalist, hiker and camper, and is very enthusiastic about wild spaces. Hilary is a licensed bird bander with Environment Canada and has worked in the field of wildlife rehabilitation specializing in birds for 12 years as founder and director of the Avicare Bird Rehabilitation Centre in Ontario. After moving to Alberta in 2001, Hilary was active in wildlife care (especially birds) following various environmental disasters and disturbances (e.g., Wabuman Lake CN Oil Spill in 2005 and Tar Sands in 2008). Hilary began her career with the museum in 2005 as a volunteer in the bug room, caring for both herbivorous and predatory invertebrates. Now, as the Bug Room Assistant, she assists with the care and maintenance of all live creatures at the museum.
Mireille Martel, ABMI Lab Technician (Lichens)
Mireille worked as a wildlife technician in Alaska, Arizona, the Yukon, the North West Territories, and Alberta before discovering her love for lichen. Mireille started with the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring institute in 2008 as a field technician and then joined the lichen team at the Royal Alberta Museum in 2011; she enjoys learning something new about lichen almost every day! Her favorite lichen genus is Peltigera.
Darcie Thauvette, ABMI Lab Technician (Lichens)
Darcie started working with the ABMI in 2007 as a summer technician in the mite lab. After graduating from the University of Alberta's Environmental Biology program she spent a summer working as an aquatic field technician with the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring institute. Following a brief hiatus, she returned to Royal Alberta Museum as a Lab Technician and discovered an enduring love for lichen. Darcie now works in the lichen lab at the museum specializing on the hair-like fruticose genera including Usnea, Bryoria and Alectoria.
Cheryl Tebby, ABMI Laboratory Technician (Aquatic Invertebrates)
Cheryl began work at the Royal Alberta Museum as a volunteer in the Bug Room before starting her position as ABMI Laboratory Technician focusing on aquatic invertebrates. In addition to her duties at the museum, Cheryl is currently completing an undergraduate degree in Animal Biology at the University of Alberta. She is strongly interested in invertebrate diversity and is an amateur butterfly collector and enthusiast.
Ashley Thorsen, ABMI Lab Technician (Mites)
Ashley joined the Invertebrate Zoology team at the museum in June 2014 to help with sample processing and oribatid mite identification for the ABMI project. Prior to this, Ashley worked in the museum's Quaternary Environments program. In 2013, Ashley obtained a BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences (Conservation Biology Major) from the University of Alberta. She also has a Renewable Resources diploma from NAIT (2010). Ashley has experience identifying birds, vascular plants, and gastropods, and she looks forward to learning all about oribatid mites! In her free time, she enjoys birding, exploring wetlands, road trips, and gardening.
Teri Hill, ABMI Lab Technician (Bryophytes)
Teri joined the Royal Alberta Museum in September 2015, working on the ABMI project as a Bryophyte Technician. She first became interested in bryophytes during her undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta. After obtaining a BSc in Environmental and Conservation Science in 2013, she began working in a lab at the university. There she was involved in collecting and identifying bryophyte specimens from the EMEND (Ecosystem Management Emulating Natural Disturbance) research site in Northern Alberta. Teri looks forward to applying and expanding her knowledge of bryophytes at the Royal Alberta Museum. In her spare time, Teri enjoys traveling, hiking, cross country skiing, and playing her harp.
Victoria Giacobbo, ABMI Lab Technician (Mites)
Victoria previously volunteered at the Royal Alberta Museum in 2014, where she focused on identifying oribatid mites. While volunteering she developed a passion for taxonomy and an ever increasing awe for biological diversity. While in her undergrad she focused her studies on invertebrate biology. After graduating from the University of Alberta with a BSc in Animal Biology, she focused on freshwater invertebrate taxonomy. However, when given the opportunity to dive back into oribatid mite taxonomy, she jumped at the chance and joined the Invertebrate Zoology Team in 2016. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys playing soccer, camping, and is an amateur birder.
Samuel R. D. Owen, Bug Room Assistant
Sam was born in the United Kingdom and moved to Canada with his family in 2000 where, they settled in Edmonton. Sam has a keen interest in marine ecosystems, conservation, marine invertebrates, SCUBA diving photography and the care and maintenance of marine aquaria. Sam holds a BSc degree in Biology with a minor in Earth and Planetary Sciences from MacEwan University. Sam has had the opportunity to study and perform independent research in Ecuador and at Bamfield Marine Science Center in British Columbia. In Early 2015 Sam spent an incredible 6 months assisting with the research and monitoring of sharks, rays, turtles and piscivorous fishes in Belize, Central America. Sam joined the invertebrate zoology team in August 2015 to assist the Bug Room team with the care of the various live creatures at the museum.
Krista Williams, ABMI Lab Technician (Bryophytes)
Krista Williams began working at the Royal Alberta Museum in September 2014 as a Bryophyte technician on the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute project. Previously, Krista worked at the U of A's cryptogamic herbarium where she helped create the botanical database and assisted with specimen processing. A summer field season on Banks Island, N.W.T. enabled her to pursue a growing passion for bryophyte diversity while focusing on Polar environments. Her M.Sc. research examined the diversity, paleoecological significance and regeneration of subglacial bryophytes from the High Arctic which were entombed during the Little Ice Age. Krista's recent involvement in Alberta Peatland reclamation projects has brought her research closer to home and she is excited to continue to develop her taxonomic skills with the Alberta bryophytes in her new role at the Royal Alberta Museum.
Alex Lapierre, ABMI Lab Technician
Alex worked for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute as an aquatic field technician before beginning his position as an ABMI Aquatic Invertebrate Technician at the Royal Alberta Museum in August 2017. Born in Calgary, Alex grew up on a small farm in BC spending most of his childhood in forests and along rivers observing nature and animals. He followed his passion for biology to a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology from Thompson Rivers University. Along with aquatic invertebrates, Alex has skills and experience in identifying birds, mammals, and vascular plants.
Dustin Hinz, Live Animal Care Technician
Dustin began working at the Royal Alberta Museum in 2016, first as a summer helper and then later as a full-time Live Animal Care Technician with the Bug Room team in the summer of 2017. Dustin attended MacEwan University for his Bachelor in Science in Biology with a minor in Earth and Atmospherical Sciences. During his scientific career, Dustin has had the opportunity to conduct independent research at Bamfield Marine Science Center, Tiputini Biodiversity Research Station, and at Coral View Dive Center in Honduras. In his spare time, he enjoys a multitude of sports, SCUBA diving, and being outdoors.