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, the relationship between ants and invasive weeds, development of a new experiment for the organic chemistry laboratory, and the introduction of pre-lab quizzes for the first and second year chemistry courses at StMU.

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.  See below for information on each student who presented this year.  To view the poster with details of their research, click on “See my project!”

For more information on each student and their related Capstone project, please fill out the following form:

Taine Berniko

Taine Berniko

Survey of Terrestrial Tardigrades in the Buller Pass Trail Region of Spray Valley Provincial Park

Taine Berniko is graduating with a Biology degree. Her senior project focused on tardigrades and she’s planning on going into education, or the medical field.

See my project!

Emily Darragh

Emily Darragh

Boreal Boiling: The Impact of Climate Change on Alberta Bird Species

Starting off her degree in business, Emily quickly transitioned into the science program after discovering her passion for understanding the natural world. Emily will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree with a minor in business management. After graduation, Emily is hoping to work in the public health and safety sector. She is excited to find a job where she can both apply her degree and teach others what she has learned. Emily is appreciative of all the help her teachers have given her at St. Mary’s and she hopes to never stop learning.

See my project!

Stephen Harrison

Stephen Harrison

The Cryptic Group: Milnesium

I’m hoping to start a guide to answer what you plan on doing after you graduate? A book on avoiding the most uncomfortable yet frequently asked question by relatives, friends and strangers on your future. The book focuses on undergraduates but can be applied to high school graduates and recent retirees. Tongue in Cheek publisher has expressed great interest so don’t miss the opportunity to support Stephen at patron/facetiousprojects.

See my project!

McCrae Iles

McCrae Iles

Regional Differences in Warbling Vireo Song

After 5 years spent grinding away at St. Mary’s University, McCrae will be leaving with a newly minted Biology degree as well as many learned life lessons. McCrae has always been interested in dinosaurs and is glad that the chance to study their living descendants came along with the help of the Bio department. McCrae will be leaving St. Mary’s with great friends, amazing memories, and a hope that the future will be bright!

See my project!

Patrick Larkin

Patrick Larkin

Song Development in Response to Geographic Isolation in Montane White-Crowned Sparrows

Patrick has always had an appreciation for the sciences and for the natural world. Over the course of his undergraduate degree at St. Mary`s, this appreciation has only deepened. His project on the song of white-crowned sparrows was a rare opportunity to do real fieldwork, something he hopes to continue in his career pursuits. After graduating, Patrick hopes to travel, then to apply his knowledge of biology in a career in conservation or wildlife management. He enjoys long walks on the beach and writing about himself in the third person.

See my project!

Jennifer Leinweber

Jennifer Leinweber

Development of Online Chemistry Pre-Laboratory Quizzes

Jenny has spent the past 5 years at St. Mary’s working towards completing a biology degree with a minor in psychology. Her senior project included creating online chemistry pre-laboratory quizzes to provide students with a second method of laboratory preparation as well as a survey to assess the quizzes’ success in terms of preparing students for the laboratory experiments. She plans to pursue a bachelor of education after a short break of travels.

See my project!

Thiago Monteiro

Thiago Monteiro

Phylogenetic Separation of Warbling Vireo Subspecies using Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)

Thiago is finishing his Biology degree with a keen interest in vertebrate behavioral characteristics and genetic relationships. He particularly enjoyed the Zoology excursions and lab dissections. The capstone project of his degree focuses on the genetic differences between subspecies of local birds. He hopes to be accepted in the University of Calgary Masters program to work on bats and travelling to Japan in the future.

See my project!

Michelle Mork

Michelle Mork

Development of an Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory Exercise to Extract and Separate the Essential Oil from Ground Cloves

Michelle Mork is graduating with a degree in Biological Sciences and a Psychology minor. Michelle is passionate about sciences and seeks to share her love for this topic by becoming a high school science teacher upon completing her education degree. Next year she will be entering her first year of the Bachelor of Education program at St. Mary’s University. Her capstone project involved the development of an undergraduate chemistry laboratory exercise for the students at St. Mary’s University, a project that encompasses her love for science and teaching. Aside from science, Michelle loves music, downhill skiing, wake surfing, and spending time with her friends, family, and dog Sadie.

See my project!

Hannah Phung

Hannah Phung

A Tardigrade Survey at Edworthy Park, Alberta, Canada

Hannah is graduating with a Biology degree. She found a new interest in tardigrades over the summer which was the focus of her senior project. She plans to further her studies on conservation in the future.

See my project!

Anjali Prabodh

Anjali Prabodh

A Survey of Tardigrades in Bamfield, British Columbia, Canada

Anjali is a keen photographer & was our Instagram connection in Marine biology. She didn’t like holding a seastar, but is still keen on biology and considering grad school. She’s not sure how she can work in photography, but is thinking about it.

See my project!

Adrianna Raithby

Adrianna Raithby

Does myrmecochory facilitate the dispersal and germination of Thesium ramosum?

As a fitness enthusiast and aspiring dentist, Adrianna thrives off both physical and academic challenge. It is her professional objective to make a meaningful imprint on the world by volunteering her time for non-profit organizations and to help people achieve healthy smiles in the future. It is her personal objective to travel the world, become a leader, and commit herself to being a lifelong learner. The pursuit of her Bachelor of Science degree has opened her eyes to many new and exciting opportunities.  She is thankful for all the amazing people that helped her along time way, and she will never forget the impact St. Mary’s University had in helping to achieve her goals.

See my project!

Caitlin Sloof

Caitlin Sloof

Revisiting cultural evolution of song in an isolated population of White-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha)

Caitlin spends much of her time hiking and camping in the Rocky Mountains, having grown up with a very outdoorsy family. She also inherited her globetrotting parents’ enthusiasm for travel, already having been to 13 countries on four of the seven continents, and is always planning the next trip. Caitlin’s 493 project explored an isolated population of White-crowned Sparrows, to determine if their isolation has caused them to start singing with a different dialect than other White-crowned Sparrows. In June, she is going to present her poster at the American Ornithological Society’s conference in Anchorage, Alaska. After that, Caitlin’s dream career is to be involved in the Calgary Zoo’s captive breeding/release Burrowing owl program, or the Swift fox population monitoring program in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

See my project!

Dylon Thompson

Dylon Thompson

Quiz Development for the Organic Chemistry Laboratory

Dylon is concluding a four-year Bachelor of Science in Biology degree. For his project, Dylon created online Moodle quizzes for the Organic Chemistry I and II laboratory courses. The goal of his project was to create quizzes for students to complete prior to attending an experiment each week, with the aim of familiarizing students with new laboratory concepts and procedures. The format of the quizzes was based upon successful quiz models found in the literature. In his free time, Dylon likes to socialize with friends, try new restaurants, and drive.

See my project!

John Timonera

John Timonera

Ant Interaction with Thesium ramosum seeds

John Timonera is finishing his five years of his university career with a Bachelor of Science with a minor in Sociology. Through the different branches of science, he found interest in the topics of Ecology and Zoology. Alongside his passion for art, he hopes that one day he can marry his love for nature and illustration. His project is based on the interaction of ants with Thesium ramosum, an invasive plant species. John is excited to graduate and hopes that his passions will give him prosperity in the future.

See my project!

Brooke-Lynn Vandenberg

Brooke-Lynn Vandenberg

Seasonal Variation of Tardigrades and Their Eggs

I have always had a passion for biology, which has expanded to incorporate tardigrades. Beyond biology, I am also interested in nature, travel, and animals. I am hoping to get into veterinary school after the completion of my undergrad and become a veterinarian in order to aid animal welfare and mitigate animal suffering.

See my project!

Felipe Velasco

Felipe Velasco

Thesium ramosum seed dispersal by Formica species

Felipe Velasco is finishing a biological sciences degree with a minor in management. He has a passion for ecology and sustainability, which together with his entrepreneurial mind encourage him to explore new forms of sustainable businesses. His Sr. project investigated the mutualistic relationship between the invasive plant Thesium ramosum and native ant species, a project that reminds him of how small changes can make a great impact in our environment. After he graduates, Felipe hopes to apply what he has learned during his 5 years in St. Mary’s to inspire people to live in harmony with nature.

See my project!

Jordyn Whitaker

Jordyn Whitaker

Can Western Warbling Vireo Songs be Described in a Specific Pattern?

Jordyn has a love and passion for animals and the environment, which has increased throughout the duration of her biology degree. She based her senior thesis project upon the western warbling vireo and analyzed patterns among their song. Jordyn currently works at a veterinary hospital and hopes to pursue veterinary school next year, and eventually specializing in orthopaedic surgery.

See my project!

Jessica Wilson

Jessica Wilson

Terrestrial Tardigrades of Old Baldy Pass PRA Kananaskis, Alberta

Science had always been Jessica’s favourite subject throughout her adolescence, and that carried forth into her university career. St. Mary’s afforded her many opportunities for unique experiences in the biological field, which she intends to expand and build upon in her future profession in the environmental field. Her senior project focuses on Tardigrades of Old Baldy PRA and thanks to these organisms she has become all too familiar and savvy with a microscope. Jessica looks forward to graduating with her BSc alongside some of her greatest friends.

See my project!

Natalie Zardecki

Natalie Zardecki

The Relationship Between the Hemiparasite Thesium ramosum and Mycorrhizal Presence on Host Plant Roots in Fish Creek Provincial Park

Natalie Zardecki is graduating from St. Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in business management. Her capstone project involved analyzing the symbiotic fungus, mycorrhiza, on plant roots and its influence on host root infection, by the hemiparasitic plant T. ramosum. Throughout her academic career, Natalie enjoyed ecology, zoology, biochemistry, and English classes. Natalie aims to pursue a career in veterinary medicine or further her education in biology, either way she will torture herself with more schooling. In the mean time Natalie will continue to enjoy spending time with her horse, Jewel, and her other plethora of animals and learning new things.

See my project!