Biology Student Capstone Conference
A key component of the BSc in Biology degree is the capstone project. Each student carries out an independent research project under the guidance of a faculty member. These capstone projects provide students with a valuable foundation for future work in graduate school or in industry, and can lead to publication or presentation at local and international conferences. Students think critically and solve challenging problems, particularly in the areas of experimental design and data analysis. In addition, students hone their skills in written/oral communication and public speaking, and increase the quality of their work via collaboration with their peers and instructors. This year, our students worked on projects related to tardigrades, bird populations, and the relationship between ants and invasive weeds.
Each year, St. Mary’s biology students present their work in a poster conference at the end of the winter semester where friends, family, and members of the community are welcome to attend. This year we were not able to have an in person presentation, but you can find information about each student and their project below.
Ecological Citizenship: An Interdisciplinary Course
Tyrell Benson is bringing his four-year academic career at St. Mary’s to a close, having earned his biology degree. During his senior project, Tyrell completed field research of plant communities, an experience which formed the foundation of an interdisciplinary course he later designed. This course united Indigenous and scientific understandings of the natural world, to promote better relationships between students and the environment, and to broaden the focus of plant ecology. He now plans to pursue a forest technology diploma and build a career working in the outdoors, but not near the ocean, because he is terrible at identifying different types of seaweed.
A survey of High-rise buildings at risk for bird strikes in SE Downtown Calgary
Adam Fishleigh is graduating with a degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Management. From his time here at St. Mary’s he developed an interest in birds and the biological world. This was greatly influenced during his time with the bird nerd of St. Mary’s. His senior project is the making of a database of building features that have a relation to bird strikes on windows. The database uses bird strike data and is compared to building features to find which features have a higher correlation to bird strikes.
A survey of high-rise buildings at risk for bird strikes in downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada – NE Quadrant
Marissa is graduating with a biology degree and a minor in psychology. She is passionate about nature and the impact humans have on it. As such, she plans to enter into the field of environmental science to be a part of the movement towards a healthier earth. Her senior project focused on assessing the threat level downtown Calgary, AB poses to birds in regards to window strikes and determining possible mitigation measures that could be implemented.
DNA Isolation and Extraction from the Phylum Tardigrada using a Chelex Resin Based Technique
Emma is graduating from St. Mary’s University with a biology degree. She has always had a passion for science, especially biology. Her senior project focused on extracting DNA from tardigrades with the hope of creating DNA barcodes. This fall, she plans on starting her master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, specifically with a concentration in genetics. After completing her master’s, she hopes to go onto medical school, focusing on women’s and maternal health. Apart from her love of science, Emma has been dancing for 18 years. She is a certified ballet instructor and will be completing her second teaching examination this fall.
Identification of Avian Species Killed by Window Strikes in Downtown Calgary
Marie is currently finishing her biology degree with a minor is psychology. She has always had a passion for animals and currently works at two veterinary clinics. Her senior project focuses on the identification of bird species that have struck windows in downtown Calgary in order to determine species most at risk and find ways to decrease the number of strikes in the future. Marie looks forward to graduating in order to continue further education and later pursue a career in nursing.
Prairie Community Analysis For Potential St.Mary’s Restoration
Hey, everyone I am Chris Kibwana, a senior biology student here at St. Mary’s looking to go into medicine post-undergrad. I’ve loved biology as a kid and wanted to be a sports doctor since injuring my knee in high school playing sports. I loved working on this senior project as I got to be outdoors and learn more about the landscape that I live in and as well I learned so much more about the indigenous community that I would have never known before. This project for me was an experience of a lifetime and I’m very thankful to Dr. McLean for taking me and my team members on for this special project.
Profiling Downtown Calgary: Describing High-rise Propensity to Increase Bird-Window Collisions
Luke is an environmentally oriented individual with a profound interest in the attributes, behaviors, and relationships among aquatic, terrestrial and avian species. His capstone project, which focused on understanding the propensity of downtown high-rises to influence bird-window collisions, allowed him to exercise his innate curiosity and excitement for urban wildlife research. Through his studies and work on his capstone project he developed the necessary skills to comprehensively and competently study a variety of natural ecosystems. Following his Bachelor of Science in Biology, Luke is slated to begin a graduate degree in coastal and marine management in Iceland, where he hopes to study seabirds in frigid arctic waters.
A survey of high-rise buildings at risk for bird strikes in downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada
My project focused on the buildings in downtown Calgary, looking into which ones posed a risk for both migratory and resident birds. Through this degree, I have learned a lot about myself and my passion for helping others. Whether it be people or animals, my goal in science is to have a positive impact on the lives of others. I enjoy hiking, as it is a chance for me to connect with nature. I also enjoy photography and fashion, as they are creative outlets for me to express myself. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and the memories I have from my 4 years at St. Mary’s. After this degree, I will be taking a year off of school to work before heading into a master’s in occupational therapy.
Survey for M. occidentalis and Diaforobiotus spp. in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and First Identification of Parascon sp. in Canada
Kiara has always had an interest in science, especially within the field of biology. Pursuing a biology degree at St. Mary’s University has allowed her to gain new insights into possible career paths, increase her understanding and interest in biology, and make many new friends. Her senior project focused on identifying two species of tardigrades within Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and lead to the identification of a genus not previously recorded in Canada. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree this year, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in toxicology and environmental contamination with a focus on aquatic and marine ecosystems. Ideally, she hopes this will lead to laboratory work, similar to her senior project, and the potential for some field work in her future career.
Prairie surveying and rehabilitation
I’ve been in the biology degree for four years. I got into biology most likely because of the ingrained love for science in my genetics. My project revolving around surveying prairies has given me a deeper appreciation for the natural world and grass. I love grass now, moo. The field work I was able to do was exactly what I want to make a career of and it has given me a great amount of experience to go further in my academic career. It also deepened my appreciation for what prairie is and how diverse the plant life can be in our parkland.
Ecological Citizenship: An Interdisciplinary Course
Stephanie will be graduating with a degree in biology and a minor in Psychology. She began university excited to learn about biology in its relation to health, because she wants to pursue a career in the medical field, but she also came away with a greater appreciation for ecology and a passion for Indigenous studies. Her capstone project integrates these two disciplines together, as she worked to create an interdisciplinary course bridging western ecology and Indigenous ways of knowing. Stephanie is passionate about improving the lives of others, and has been working part time with the homeless while taking her degree. She hopes to one day bring more accessible medical care to marginalized populations. She is thankful for all the opportunities and friends she has made through St. Mary’s University.
eBay sales as a source of wildlife species endangerment
Claudia started her journey in Biology here at St. Mary’s in Fall 2016. Over the course of four years, her passion for sciences and nature has grown along with her curiosity and drive for learning. Claudia hopes to share her knowledge and passion for sciences by pursuing a career in teaching to help shape the minds of students. Her senior project focused on the illegal trade of endangered species over eBay and how it has been affecting wildlife globally. Her time here at St. Mary’s has been filled with support and caring and she will never forget all the individuals who have helped her along her journey. Apart from sciences, Claudia loves the theatre, music, travel, dancing, outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends.
eBay sales as a source of wildlife species endangerment
Sean Bothner will be graduating with a major in biological science with a minor in history, Sean hopes to in the future pursue a career in conservation. Sean has a keen interest in anthropological origins of species extinction both intentional and incidental and what can be done to proactively prevent negative environmental consequences.
Protocol to Extract DNA from White-Crowned Sparrow
Carolina is completing a four-year biology degree with a minor in psychology. Aside from studying, Carolina loves spending time outdoors and teaching dance. For her senior project, Carolina was able to come up with a protocol to extract ancient genomic DNA from White-Crowned Sparrows. Carolina’s passion for biology has grown in the past four years and she hopes that it will continue to grow in the future. Carolina hopes to further her education by getting a masters degree in physiotherapy. She is very thankful for everything that her professors have taught her at St. Mary’s University.
Rooting of T. ramosum Cuttings: Is it possible?
Andrea Hernandez is finishing her Biology degree after 4 and a half years at St. Mary’s with the hopes to become a doctor in the future, or not; she’s not really sure. She has enjoyed her time at St. Mary’s very much and rediscovered her tendencies to become a complete nerd whenever encountering a topic that she enjoys, like genetics or immunology. Andrea also has plans to continue her studies in immunology which is her favorite subject. Andrea’s senior project consisted of her attempting to grow Thesium ramosum, a hemiparasite found in FCPP, from cuttings. This project included long hours observing branches do literally nothing for many months. In the end it seems T. ramosum is stubborn and needs a little coaxing to form roots. Andrea hopes that her project leaves a really good base for whomever attempts this difficult task next.
Thesium Distribution by Ants
Bill is finishing a four-year biology degree at Saint Mary’s university with a minor in psychology. His love of dinosaurs and nature pushed him to seek a degree in the field of biology. Through his school experience, he has further developed his interests to include mycology and ecology. His senior project focused on the relationship between ants and Thesium ramosum an invasive plant spreading through fish creek.
Increasing Germination Rate in Thesium May Lie in Variation
Rukhsar has always had a passion for biology. Her 493 project looked at trying to grow a parasitic plant called Thesium ramosum, currently a problem in Fish Creek Provincial Park. Through this project, she found a new interest in botany, diving into the world of parasitic relationships of plant life. The next step for her has always been medical school; however, with this project combined with the current events of 2020, her interests have changed. After finishing her Biological Science degree, she is looking into graduate school, wanting to expand her knowledge of viruses and parasites, or possibly pursue further initiatives into animal conservation.
Supercolony in Fish Creek Provincial Park
Ryan Kientz is graduating with a Biology degree. His senior project focused on an ant supercolony and is hopeful that the lessons he learned at St. Mary’s will lead to a bright future.
Home sweet home (Tardigrade culturing)
Franklin is a student who actively seeks to expand his knowledge in all areas of life. He is in the process of finishing his degree in biological sciences and a history minor. He has a creative flair and is keen to explore novel ways of solving difficult problems. During his undergraduate degree, senior ecology and molecular biology courses left a strong impression on him. Those courses showed him new ways he could marry his problem-solving skills and creative thinking. The goal of his senior project was to develop a long-term lab culturing method for tardigrades. Following his undergraduate degree, he aspires to continue keeping his curiosity alive and contribute to the scientific community.
Is there a pattern in the syllable usage in male Western Warbling Vireos?
Sarah has been pursuing her BSc in Biology with a double minor in History and Drama since Fall 2015. Her project was to analyze spectrograms of Western Warbling Vireo songs and identify unique syllables. Once every syllable was labelled, she determined patterns in the syllables that arose multiple times across the 16 males used for the study. She hopes to find employment after graduation and possibly pursue a BEd in a few years.
How important are animals and primarily ants in removing Thesium seeds?
Alex will be completing his Biology degree with a greater connection to the outdoors. As he progressed through his degree, Alex found interest in field work and made this his primary focus of his senior project. For his capstone project, he investigated the importance of ants and other factors on the removal of seeds off the invasive plant Thesium ramosum found in Fish Creek Provincial Park. After graduation, Alex hopes to proceed his career with the Reserves as a prospective Mobile Systems Equipment Operator and pursue further education to enhance his passion for science with a hands on approach.
Tardigrade Mounting Medium Testing
Jeff is an international student from the Philippines. For his senior project, he worked with Dr. Grothman to investigate the effects of the different mounting medium for tardigrades. Jeff is passionate about research and laboratory work. He wants to hone his microscopy skills and critical thinking. As an intrepid explorer, Jeff loves to hike and go on backpacking trips around Alberta and BC. He enjoys experiencing new adventures. He finds himself in constant awe of the beautiful landscape and the richness of the flora and fauna of the Canadian Rockies. Jeff will be resuming his career as a Medical Laboratory Technologist in Whitehorse, Yukon. He hopes to explore the back country in Kluane National Park and Tombstone Territorial Park during his stay in the territory.
Effects of Ployene Macrolide Antimycotics on the Survival of Tardigrades in culture
My name is Blair Severin and I am a biology major. I am also completing a minor in psychology. I have always been interested in the sciences and I became particularly interested in biology towards the end of high school. My senior project involved keeping tardigrades alive in culture and preventing fungal growth that occurred during the experiment. I intend to pursue a career in genetics or immunology, and I look forward to a future in biological research.
Song Dialects of Isolated Population of Orange-Crowned Warblers
Alex started her degree with the hopes of entering veterinary medicine. However, through the program, she found a passion for birds and ecology. Her senior project on orange-crowned warblers in the Kananaskis area and the isolated region of Cypress Hills helped guide her in her career pursuits. After graduation she hopes to apply her knowledge in the wildlife conservation or environmental assessment career field. She also hopes to one day travel to South America to learn more about local species with the amazing friends she made along her education journey.
Uncovering Potential Differences in the Song of Isolated and Mainland Populations of Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Erica Suitor’s capstone project focussed on recording Yellow-Rumped Warblers from a mainland population in Kananaskis and an isolated population in Cypress Hills. The songs were then compared in time and frequency to see if these two populations had songs that were significantly different. She plans to continue her education after her graduation from St. Mary’s University by either pursing veterinary school or achieving a Masters in Biology, specifically pertaining to conversation and wildlife biology. She will continue to do the activities she loves including hunting, riding horses, skiing, and walking her dogs.
Correlation Between Shade Level and Tardigrade Abundance and Diversity
Dmitry came to St. Mary’s University with a bit of uncertainty about his choice, but quickly gained passion for biology and not only did he enjoy the time spent in there, but he also found a lot of good friends. Some of his favourite activities include hiking and travelling where you can fully appreciate surrounding nature. His project was about correlation between amount of shade and tardigrade abundance and diversity. By completing his project, Dmitry gained great experience in the lab and outside in the field, which established his interest in those little creatures. After graduation, his plan is to travel around the world and explore our beautiful country.
Song Variation in Kananaskis Country Population of Clay-Coloured Sparrows
Isabelle spends much of her time hiking and camping in the Rocky Mountains, using her pass time for wildlife photography and gardening. Falling in love with travel, she experienced every travel course St. Mary’s has offered in her five years as a student there. This includes courses in the field of biology as well has history. Isabelle’s 493 project examined the song of the Clay-Coloured Sparrows to determine if variation exists between individual males songs. She is currently applying for her masters in Behavioural Ecology, however is also looking at internships for marine research and conservation.