Professor Nigel Raine

Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation

Nigel Raine

Nigel is a global leader in the fields of animal behaviour, pollination ecology and pollinator conservation. He is the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation at the University of Guelph, a position endowed by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. Nigel’s work combines internationally excellent research, significant engagement with policy-makers and other conservation-relevant stakeholder groups, and teaching the world’s first pollinator conservation course.

Nigel has been lucky enough to spend two decades investigating bees and their intimate relationships with flowers on three continents. Before moving to Canada in 2014, he studied at the University of Oxford, worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sheffield and Queen Mary University of London, and held his first faculty position at Royal Holloway University of London – where he is also a visiting Professor.

Nigel has published 65 peer-reviewed articles, attracted over 4000 citations and achieved an H-index of 34 (see Google Scholar). He is a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada, and an elected fellow of both the Royal Entomological Society (FRES) and the Linnean Society of London (FLS). In 2014, Nigel was recognized as a World Economic Forum Young Scientist – one of 40 “outstanding researchers under the age of 40 from around the globe pioneering new fields and leading in the pursuit of answers for global impact and the common good”.

For more on Nigel please see his recent Q&A piece for Current Biology.

Dr. Alana Pindar

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2015-present)

Alana Pindar

Alana’s current research involves investigating the impacts of global change on wild bees: specifically, how stressors interact and which play the most significant roles in affecting wild bee populations (see publications). She recently led a comprehensive review to identify, prioritize and assess evidence from the peer-reviewed and grey literature and produce a report on the Status and Trends for Pollinator Health in Ontario for the Ontario Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Alana was the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Webster Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Sciences. In 2015 she coauthored a significant paper in Science on the responses of bumblebees to climate change around the world. Alana has a strong track record of fieldwork, sampling wild bees and pollinators throughout her MSc and PhD studies (“The effect of fire disturbance on bee community composition in oak savannah habitat in Southern Ontario, Canada“, supervised by Prof. Laurence Packer). She is a skilled taxonomist with expertise identifying the wild bees of Ontario and Eastern Canada, an invaluable asset to the provincial pollinator monitoring work of the Raine lab.

Dr. Elizabeth Franklin

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2017-present)


Liz’s research investigates the interactions of landscape and pesticides on bumblebee foraging success. The aim is to ascertain the effects of pesticides on bumblebee foraging activity and discover if they are compounded by landscape type, with a particular interest in agricultural and urban environments. Liz has expertise in movement tracking and communication in the social insects from her PhD at the University of Bristol (see publications). She is using her experience to understand the patterns bumblebee foraging and dispersal on a landscape scale to find situations where pollination services and pollinator health can be maximized. She also leads the Eco-coding project at Bournemouth University using DNA barcoding of pollen grains on pollinators to investigate urban pollinator foraging networks.

Susan Chan

PhD Student (2016-present)

Susan ChanSusan is presently pursuing her Ph.D., studying the agro-ecology of the native squash bee (Peponapis pruinosa) in Ontario, with special emphasis on the effects of common agricultural practices (including pesticide exposure) on the health of squash bee populations. She works extensively on farms to implement on-the-ground projects that support native pollinators. Susan has an academic background in agriculture, education, and pollination biology and is the author of A Landowner’s Guide to Conserving Native Pollinators in Ontario, is the recipient of the 2016-17 George and Lois Whetham Scholarship in Food Systems. Concurrently with her studies, Susan manages the Native Pollinator Program for Farms at Work, a not-for profit project in central Ontario. She lectures in the Sustainable Agriculture programs at both Trent University and Fleming College, and is the proud owner of Ten for Joy, a property in Selwyn, Ontario dedicated to conservation agriculture.

Aaron Fairweather

PhD Student (2017-present)

Aaron Fairweather for web

Aaron’s current research interests lie in investigating the sublethal effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bee and ant behaviour. His goal is to explore eusocial insect behaviour including colony establishment, foraging, and interspecific interactions, as well contribute to the body of literature on a class of insecticides whose potential effects on non-target organisms are of current concern. Aaron’s expertise is in ecology, entomology, and taxonomy. He completed his BSc in Environmental Biology and his MSc “How is ant diversity impacted by anthropogenic disturbance” (supervised by Prof. Alex Smith) both at the University of Guelph. Aaron has received New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund support from 2014-2017, and recently created a species list of the ants of New Brunswick using his eight years of field collections at the New Brunswick Museum. Aaron loves to share his enthusiasm for entomology, leading educational hikes on ants and pollinators, and was interviewed for the “Every Living Thing: experiencing a Bioblitz documentary”.

Kiera Newman

PhD Student (2017-present)

Kiera website picKiera is a PhD candidate exploring the behavioural and biological responses of pollinators to various environmental stressors and the conservation strategies needed to ensure healthy future populations. Her work will assess current nesting and foraging resources of wild bees and monarch butterflies and the impact of anthropogenic influences on those resources. Kiera will also be studying the intersection between monarch conservation practices and the impact of massive floral plantings on wild bee populations. Her research goals aim to inform conservation planning for productive agricultural systems and biodiverse natural ecosystems.

Harry Rusnock

MSc Student (2015-present)

Harry RusnockHarry is interested in the behavioural aspects of insect-plant interactions, particularly as it relates to bees and pollination systems. His MSc research involves assessing individual and colony variation in learning and memory performance, and responses to novelty in the bumblebee Bombus impatiens, with the ultimate goal of clarifying the relationship between these cognitive traits and fitness under natural conditions. Harry is also investigating cognitive differences between wild and commercially bred bumblebees. He is the recipient of a 2016-17 Ontario Graduate Scholarship award.

Claire Rubens

MSc student (2016-present)

Claire RubinsClaire is in her first year of the Environmental Sciences MSc program, where she is focusing on wild bee conservation. Her research examines potential long-term changes in both wild bee communities and plant-pollinator interaction networks across a number of sites in the Caledon region of Ontario. Claire is also heavily involved in the wider lab project monitoring wild pollinator populations at sites across Ontario.

Kyra Lightburn

MSc student (2017-present)

Kyra LightburnKyra is particularly interested in researching how agro-ecosystem management impacts native pollinator communities, and how best to conserve biodiversity and pollination services in agricultural landscapes. Her MSc research is co-supervised by Profs. Ralph Martin (Department of Plant Agriculture) and Nigel Raine (School of Environmental Sciences), and she holds a Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science & Technology and a University of Guelph Graduate Entrance Excellence Scholarship. Previously, Kyra completed a BSc in Agricultural Science at the University of Guelph and a BA in English at McGill University.

Kayla Mundy-Heisz

MSc student (2017-present)

Kayla MundyKayla is in her first year of a MSc thesis, studying interactive effects of pesticides on the life cycle of bumblebees. She is particularly interested in expanding current end-point assessments of pesticide toxicity to bumblebees and has a host of broader interests including pollinator ecology, interactive stressors in the environment, integrative pest management and agri-environment schemes.

Ellen Richard

MSc student (2017-present)

Ellen Richard net crop resizeEllen is an entomologist enthusiast doing her master’s in the Raine lab. She is compiling a complete and accurate database of Ontario bees for the Barcode of Life Database. Ellen will also be determining likely pollinators from other insect flower visitors (wasp, flies and beetles) in Southern Ontario. Her master’s is co-supervised by Dr. Dirk Steinke from the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. Her previous involvements in the lab include, working on the Ontario wild pollinator monitoring project and sampling flower visitors in orchards and horticulture crops (with Dr. Hannah Fraser, OMAFRA).

Leah Blechschmidt

MSc student (2017-present)

Leah Blechschmidt - Headshot

Leah is an MSc candidate with Prof. Raine in the School of Environmental Sciences. Her research focuses on supporting pollinator populations and improving crop production by integrating native pollinator habitat and foraging sites into farmland. Leah has the honour of holding a research assistantship in the flagship year of the Food from Thought research program through the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, and she is also the recipient of a Graduate Excellence Entrance Scholarship from the University. Since completing her B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Waterloo, Leah has worked in a variety of environmentally focused roles. Her diverse background includes biodiversity research in Central America and Mexico, invasive species and species-at-risk research in Ontario, and mine site remediation planning in the Northwest Territories.

Emily Agar

BSc student (2016-present)

Emily AgarEmily recently graduated from the BSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation with a minor in Geographical Information Systems. She is currently researching the effects of land use on population dynamics of wild bee communities in Caledon county, and has also been heavily involved in the lab’s comprehensive wild pollinator monitoring project throughout Ontario. Emily will begin her MSc research in the Raine lab in January 2018.

Sage Handler

BSc Student (2017-present)

Sage HandlerSage is a BSc student in the Environmental Science (Co-op program) Ecology major working as a team member of the lab Ontario wild pollinator monitoring project. She has also been sampling flower visitors on crops, including soy beans.


Sarah Mackell

BSc Student (2017-present)

Sarah MackellSarah is a BSc student in the Environmental Science (Co-op program), majoring in ecology. She has completed four co-op terms related to how agricultural practices impact the environment including soil, water and the atmosphere. Sarah is conducting an independent research project course to investigate the potential effects of neonicotinoid exposure on bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) flower choices. Her research interests are how multiple stressors in agricultural settings impact bumblebee population dynamics and pollination services.

Eden Gerner

BSc Student (2017-present)Eden Gerner

Eden is a BSc student in the Environmental Biology major and is working on an independent research project to investigate wild bee abundance and diversity in raspberry crops in southern Ontario. Previously, she has worked on wild pollinator monitoring projects in horticulture crops with Hannah Fraser (OMAFRA).