Our Student Capstone Conferences are a distinctive annual tradition at St. Mary’s, where all of the four-year arts and sciences degree programs hold conferences in which their graduating students deliver presentations on the research they’ve conducted in their senior seminar courses. Our graduating biology students worked both separately and in teams on senior projects where they conducted and presented their own research on a topic they’re interested in. Keep reading to learn about the research and findings that resulted from these senior projects, and to learn more about our graduating biology students!


Does the invasive plant Thesium ramosum spread by water in Fish Creek Provincial Park?

Ross Anderson









I am an avid mountain biker and have always been interested in science and the environment, so pursuing a degree in biology was a natural next step for me.  For my senior project our group focused on the spread of Thesium ramosum in fish creek provincial park.  After my time at St. Mary’s I am hoping to secure a career in environmental sciences.

Hanna Garcia








Hanna is graduating with a degree in Biological Sciences. Working in a team of four, Hanna and her teammates looked at the invasive plant Thesium ramosum and mapped it across the floodplain in Fish Creek Provincial Park. Within this capstone project, they also looked at how well T. ramosum floated as well as how well it could grow in a contained environment.  Next year she will be entering her first year of the Bachelor of Education program. Aside from science, Hanna loves coaching gymnastics, spending time with her family, friends and puppy.

Chelsea Johnson

Chelsea is graduating from St. Mary’s University with a Biology degree, minoring in Psychology. She has always loved science and enjoys learning and growing in her passions. She plans to share her knowledge and excitement for science by pursuing a career in teaching. Chelsea’s sr. project focused on mapping the invasive species T. ramosum throughout Fish Creek Provincial Park to explore if it spreads by waterways. She enjoyed the process of conducting her own research, while gaining a newfound passion for outdoor fieldwork and contributing to her local community. She is thankful for all the experiences.

Devin Karran

Devin is finishing his five years of university with a Bachelor of Science in biology with a minor in psychology. For his project, he was one of four students that surveyed the locations of an invasive plant in Fish Creek Provincial Park to examine how the plant might be spreading. Throughout his degree, Devin found a passion for environmental work, and hopes to build a career in that field. He has the goal of getting a diploma in engineering to begin work as an environmental consultant with an engineering company. Outside of school and work, Devin loves to watch hockey games with his friends and hang out with his three dogs.


The Warbling Vireo Complex: A migratory divide

Soniya Bashyal

Soniya always had a fascination with Biology, which has only increased throughout the duration of her schooling. She is completing her undergraduate degree in Biology this year. For her senior project, she studied the migration patterns of the Warbling Vireo Complex, to determine if there is an existing divide between its two subspecies. She plans to do more schooling after her graduation.

Antoine Hébert-Breton

Wanting to learn everything about nature has always been his hobby and Antoine is glad to finally be able to make this hobby his career. After this he is planning on going to U of A so that he may teach biology and mathematics in French. The capstone project for his degree focuses on the possibility of there being a migratory divide between the Eastern and Western Warbling Vireo subspecies. He loves hiking in the mountains and hopes to be able to continue travelling around the world, enjoying the beauties of the world.


Itsemseemo:  A traditional Medicine Garden at St. Mary’s University

Joslynn Colp

My name is Joslynn Colp, and I am a student at St. Mary’s university graduating with a Bachelor of Science and a Major in Biology this year. I have always loved nature and being outside. I like to hike and observe animals and gather deeper information about how the world works. After graduating I am excited to be entering the Bachelor of Education program, where I can pursue my dreams to teach science—allowing me to show other students who are as curious as I am about science all of the fantastic things that come along with it.

Perla Garcia Mendoza

Perla Garcia has always been fascinated by medicinal herbs and their application and effect in traditional healing practices. Her fascination for medicinal plants was influenced from her background since Mexico’s medicinal herbal repertoire is one of the world’s most diverse. Participating in the development of a traditional medicine garden at St. Mary’s university allowed her to expand her knowledge on medicine plants properties native to Western Canada, learning the variety of plants from the fescue grassland ecozone and the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy at which St. Mary’s university is located.

Lauren Poelzer

Lauren is graduating from her Bachelor of Science with a major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology. Lauren is very passionate about plants and hopes to further her knowledge by getting a job running an aquaponics greenhouse here in Calgary. After she works for a while, her plan is to get her master’s in botany, and become a botanist. Her end goal is to travel the world and learn about different plants from around the world, then settle down and run her own plant shop where she will grow and sell plants from around the world. St. Mary’s has been a wonderful experience for Lauren and she has made many connections with both peers and professors that she hopes to carry on into the future.

Kessa Stuckert

Kessa is a fourth-year biology student at St. Mary’s. She has spent her years at St. Mary’s immersed in nature through course work and laboratories and has taken an interest in conservation and reclamation biology. Over the last year, Kessa, a few of her peers, and their supervisor have researched, planned, fundraised and executed the Itsemseemo Medicine Garden on campus, which creates a legacy that will last long after her departure. Kessa also enjoys watching and capturing wildlife and is glad to see a greater occurrence of Fish Creek visitors due to the garden. Moving forward, Kessa is planning to pursue further education and experience in a conservation or biological engineering field.


Bird competition and dominance in the Alberta Foothills

Stephanie Faas

Stephanie has loved biology and human anatomy since she could talk. She always wanted to be a doctor until she found her passion in working with children with autism. She plans to go onto occupational therapy after finishing this degree in order to work further with the kids she already provides respite for. Stephanie loves being in nature, particularly in the mountains, and always enjoys a good patio. Stephanie worked with Oriana on creating a new lab pertaining to dominance in birds that live in Alberta for biology students to perform in the future at St Mary’s University. This project gave her a new appreciation of birds and provided Oriana and herself with a fun opportunity to learn valuable skills with a great friend.

Oriana Monette

Oriana has always had a deep fascination for biological studies, specifically in the zoological field. At only five years old she wanted to become a paleontologist, as she got older her interests expanded into tropical ecology and marine biology. During her four years at St. Mary’s University she discovered a passion for biological illustration through many of her creative assignments and hopes to pursue this further in the future. Her capstone project analyzed various interactions between birds that visited feeders in Priddis to determine a dominance hierarchy. Being able to observe live birds in their natural habitat has further fueled her passion for both ecology and zoology. Oriana hopes to use her degree to land a career where she is out in the field studying the natural world.


Investigation of Regional Differences in the Proportion of Pied Avian Species

Courtney Quinn

After five years in school, working on her biology degree, Courtney is so thrilled to be graduating this year with her peers.  Over the last year and a half, she has been examining the birds of Australia, Canada, Madagascar, and Japan to determine the proportion of black-and-white species in hopes to add to current plumage research. After finishing her senior project, her passion and love for all animals has grown and nourished a love for conservation biology.  Her time at St. Mary’s has been filled with amazing peers and faculty who believe and support her, and she hopes to further her education one day with a focus in conservation biology, after taking some time off to recover and rest from her undergraduate degree.


Designing a Video Library of Organic Chemistry Techniques

Christopher Renault

Christopher designed a video library of organic chemistry techniques that was used to supplement the written techniques section of the lab manual for CHEM 351. Quizzes were also designed as a means of encouraging students to “maximize their commitment when utilizing the videos during their pre-laboratory preparations.” Christopher has a dog named Ciri and a cat named Doritos.


Culturing heterotardigrades: survival on a moss substrate in the lab

Isabella Guidolin

After 4 years finishing a biology degree with a minor in psychology, I plan on taking a short break before completing my education. The future (hopefully) holds a master’s degree in immunology and possibly more education. Outside of school, I enjoy reading and spending time with my dog. The last 4 years at St. Mary’s has been an amazing opportunity to learn and to work so closely with nature, and I hope to continue this learning throughout my future in grad school and beyond.


Factors Affecting Avian Endemism on Islands

Haley Field

After studying at St. Mary’s for three out of five years of her degree, Haley will be graduating with a degree in biology, minoring in sociology. Gathering many lab skills along the way, Haley hopes to pursue a career in veterinary medicine after graduating. Her project focusses on what factors impact the levels of avian endemism on isolated islands. Avian endemism refers to bird species that are only found in one region of the world, and there are many geographical and human factors that can affect those levels.


Changes in Ecological Niche of White-crowned Sparrows in Alberta Due to Abiotic Variance 

Hailey Hill

Hailey is in the second last semester of her Bachelor of Science in Biology. After she graduates, she hopes to pursue higher education and work experience focusing on ecology or conservation. Hailey enjoyed the opportunities she had to gain practical experience within her degree, such as the Marine Biology trip where she was able to explore coastal ecological systems and species. For her senior project, Hailey studied the ecological niche differences between two subspecies of white crowned sparrows and how their habitat is changing in the face of climate change.