Research Interests

Laura's Curriculum Vitae

I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Lethbridge and previously an Alberta Innovates Research Fellow.  My interests include using geospatial, hydro-meteorological and field data to better understand Boreal wetland, forest and discontinuous permafrost changes within natural and disturbed environments. I am also interested in the environmental processes that both influence and are affected by these changes. My research uses a broad range of cutting-edge methodologies from individual tree/plant to plot, stand, and extrapolation of land surface processes to regional scales. I have led and co-authored more than 60 peer reviewed journal articles and proceedings papers.

Current projects include:

1. Wetland encroachment and pond terrestrialisation within the Central Mixedwood ecoregion. The objective is to model and map changes in shrub biomass over a 14-year period associated with antecedent variations in hydrology and energy fluxes, and previous wildfire regimes. 

2. Remote sensing ecosystem change detection method development. This research answers fundamental questions associated with wetland changes in the Alberta Oil Sands Region: What is the extent of wetland disturbance and loss associated with oil sands development over time? What are the best remote sensing indicators to monitor the effects from key natural disturbances (climate and fire) and oil sands development on wetland ecosystems? How can remote sensing technology be used to monitor changes in wetland abundance and condition?

3. Permafrost thaw, disturbance and land cover change in the NWT: How do changes in hydrology alter transition zones between permafrost plateaus and wetlands in the Discontinuous permafrost zone? How does wildfire alter permafrost rates of thaw and ecosystem resilience over time?  

4. Monitoring post-fire ecosystem productivity within a mountain valley using eddy covariance, field measurements and remote sensing: How do fluxes of water, energy and CO2 vary following wildfire within a severely burned mountain valley?

5. Effects of seismic lines on proximal ecosystems: How do seismic lines influence they hydrology and vegetation structure of ecosystems proximal to seismic lines? Does seismic line age, shape or morphology have a greater or lesser influence?