Meet ERSA Team

All students enrolled in the MSc ER are ERSA members! Meet all current students here.

Our executive positions can be held jointly, and include Chair, First and Second Year Representatives, Secretary/GSS Representative, Ecological Director, and Web and Media Director.

ERSA EXECUTIVE TEAM (Summer 2020)

SECOND-YEAR REP: Jan Lee

I’m from Vancouver and I love the outdoors and seeing all the cool things that most people miss (and then pointing them out to my friends who don’t care). I have a biology degree from SFU with a research background in carpenter ants and fire ants, but the majority of my background is in recreation and group fitness. My original interest that kicked me off on this path was marine biology which landed me volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium and working a summer at the Ucluelet Aquarium which helped me build a love for teaching. I’m excited to be learning about ER so I can give back to the ecosystems that fostered my curiosity.

CHAIR: Lucy Quayle

I am from the little island state of Tasmania, Australia, and studied Zoology and Marine Biology at the University of Tasmania. I moved to Vancouver 6 years ago, and spent 4 of those working on Calvert Island on the BC coast as an oceanography field technician, zooplankton taxonomist and jellyfish enthusiast, followed by a year as an Aquabus ferry driver. I am absolutely fascinated by marine ecosystems and aim to continue this passion throughout my Masters of Ecological Restoration and beyond!

SECRETARY/TREASURER: Alyssa Johnston & Cassie Friesen

Cassie Friesen

I grew up in BC and attended school close to my home at the University of the Fraser Valley. Here I completed my BSc honours, majoring in Biology with a concentration in Ecology. About mid-way through my biology degree, I decided to take a field course in Tofino, BC. It was this course that made me fall in love with ecology and the diversity of BC’s ecosystems. After this course I switched my degree from Pre-Med to a concentration in Ecology.  Since then I can not imagine pursuing a career other than one pertaining to the environment. 

I have worked in agricultural consulting for two field seasons while completing my undergraduate degree, working as an integrated pest management technician and assisting in pest management trails. In my spare time I enjoy volunteering with the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program (NSOBP), who has inspired me to work with endangered wildlife in my Master’s applied research project. 

I absolutely love being in the outdoors and would gladly trade a day in the office for a sunny day hiking in the mountains. I’m excited to learn more in the ER program and to assist both cohorts in in the financial side of running the student association and for any other support needed. I’m always here to help and keep things organized!   

Alyssa Johnston

I grew up in Richmond, B.C. but spent most of my summers in Point Roberts, Washington swimming and roaming the beach for sand dollars. I love spending time outdoors whether it’s snowshoeing, hiking or getting my hands dirty in the garden.

When I first started at the University of British Columbia I was enrolled in the Food, Nutrition and Health program. One day in class I found myself getting really worked up while learning about the degradation of many ecosystems from the use of unsustainable agricultural practices. So the next day I decided to make the switch over to an Agroecology degree and never looked back. During my degree, I worked on a small organic vegetable farm located on the beautiful Westham Island. I loved being able to minimize our impact on the environment through the use of sustainable farming practices while also providing the community with nutritious, local food. After graduation, I worked as a Primary Inspector at Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In this position, I got to travel around the Lower Mainland and surrounding areas monitoring municipalities, farms, and nurseries for federally regulated invasive pests.

These experiences led me to finding this unique Master’s program and I am looking forward to learning more about restoration throughout the remainder of the program and my ARP. I am also excited to be able to provide support to both cohorts as the other half of the Secretary and Treasury position!

ECOLOGICAL DIRECTOR: Kathleen Cathcart

Hey everyone! I’m Kathleen but you can call me Kat, and I live in Vancouver. I grew up in Richmond and then went to Prince George to get my biology degree from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). It was there that I discovered a real interest in wildlife and ecology. I joined The Wildlife Society Student Chapter at UNBC as a regular member and then as an executive member where I helped plan outings, overnight trips, and fundraising events. 

Since graduating in 2017, I moved to Victoria where I volunteered at Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) as a Restoration Assistant. With HAT, I helped host invasive plant pull events where I interacted with the local community, giving them insight into what we are doing and how it will benefit the area. During this time, I also worked as a pastry baker at Portofino Bakery. I was in charge of cookies and making brioche sandwich bread, so I see at least a couple bake sale fundraisers in our future. I lived in Victoria for two years and then moved back to the Lower Mainland when I was accepted into this program.

I’ve had a really great time during my first year as an Ecological Restoration graduate student and I hope to pass on these great experiences onto the incoming first years. As Ecological Director, I hope to bring together our Ecological Restoration community by doing fun things in and around the Lower Mainland to make our time in the program really special. If you have any suggestions for events, fundraisers, or field skills classes we could do, send them my way!

WEB & MEDIA DIRECTORS: Alison Martin & Macus Ong

I grew up in lower mainland and moved to Victoria to complete my BA at the University of Victoria. I majored in Geography with a focus on coastal ecosystems and communities. Throughout my time at UVic, I was interested in understanding the unique relationship between humans and their environment and finding the balance that allows both to thrive. In the final semesters of my bachelor, I began the Restoration of Natural Systems diploma program at UVic and this is where my interest for ecological restoration began to grow.

Since graduating in 2016, I have worked with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks as a park worker for three seasons. In my sparse time, I have enjoyed volunteering, including black bear monitoring in a local regional park and whale sighting data analyst and media editor. I have always enjoyed hiking, camping and kayaking and I try to be outside as much as possible! Through both my work and volunteer experiences, I decided to go back to school and this program seemed perfect for what I was looking for!

I believe that social media is a great opportunity to get the word out about this program and get people excited about ecological restoration. I’m excited to help grow our social media presence and working with the other ERSA executives this upcoming year!

Having a weakness for marine life and the ocean makes me fall in love with the environment (even with the mountains) more each day. Coming into the MSc ER program after a break makes you think harder about what is going on in our natural system and how a handful of people are making efforts to make the nature whole again. It is a collective effort where documents in various types of presentation can make a difference in changing the environment towards a more sustainable world. Photography is certainly one way to speak for ecology especially in the multiplicity of digital and social media. Out there are more people who are willing to help the environment but not all are of scientific intellectuals, therefore imageries make people see the picture. I hope photographs will be the bridge that connects people from different demographies into more conservation work.