Current Students & Postdoctoral Fellows

Tara Androschuk, BSc, MSc (PhD Student)

Underlying causes of low seed yields in lodgepole pine seed orchards in Alberta

I joined Dr. Thomas’ Tree Improvement Lab as a PhD student in September 2019. I received my master’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Toronto and my bachelor’s from MacEwan University in Biological Sciences. My research interests lie in applied science particularly reforestation and conservation. My PhD project will look at determining the underlying causes of low seed yields in lodgepole pine seed orchards in Alberta. The objectives of this project are to understand the influence of grafting on conelet abortion, determine the relationship between site conditions and conelet abortion, and determine if unsuccessful pollination is linked to conelet abortion.

Office: Earth Sciences Building 4-52


Raiany Dias de Andrade Silva, BSc, MSc (PhD Student)

Mechanisms driving clone size and gender performance in trembling aspen in Alberta

I joined Dr. Thomas’s lab in May 2019 as a PhD student. I received my MSc in Forest Biology and Management from the University of Alberta in 2019, and my BSc in Environmental Management from the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016. My research interests are forest management, conservation, restoration, and genetics.  My PhD project will focus on patterns and mechanisms driving clone size and gender performance in trembling aspen in Alberta. The specific objectives of this project are to: describe the pattern of clone size and gender distribution in the active aspen forest management regions in Alberta using a genetic marker for sex; determine if drought stress influences clone size and gender distribution; and determine seedlings response to abiotic drought stress under greenhouse conditions.

You can learn more about my work on LinkedIn

Office: Earth Sciences Building 4-52


Dr. Esteban Galeano Gomez, RA

Parental selection and assessing the potential impacts of elite breeding in white spruce

I am a Forest Engineer (2008) from the National University of Colombia with a PhD (2015) and a Postdoc (2016) in Plant Molecular Biology from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I have experience in project management, research and lecturing. My expertise is in Tree Breeding and Plant Molecular Genetics, in both temperate/tropical trees and in native/exotic species. Furthermore, I have worked on the innovation and development of plant biotechnology programs in public and private companies. I joined the Thomas Lab in April 2018 to work on Barb Thomas’s Industrial Research Chair in Tree Improvement program. Some information for this project includes:

Hypothesis: (a) Gene expression of gibberellic acid and ecophysiological analysis together can be used as indicators of superior growth characteristics in white spruce seedlings. (b) Linear mixed models and differential evolution algorithms are useful for advanced breeding strategies, using large and long-term databases of white spruce.

Objective: To select elite parents of white spruce (Picea glauca) for Controlled Mass Pollination (CMP) and advanced breeding strategies using gene expression profiles of gibberellic acid, ecophysiological traits, mixed models and differential evolution algorithms.

You can find out more about me on Researchgate, LinkedIn and Orcid

Office: Earth Sciences Building 3-32 C


Eden McPeak, BSc (MSc Candidate)

Establishment of realized gain trials

I received my BSc in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Alberta, and am currently an MSc candidate in the Thomas Lab. My project is focused on assessing the first Realized Gain Trials in the province for overwinter survival and growth. This includes comparing the survival and growth of white spruce and lodgepole pine seedlings grown from wild and genetically improved seed.

Office: Earth Sciences Building 3-32 C


Current Support & Technical Staff

Stacy Bergheim, BSc (Forestry) - Tree Improvement Lab Coordinator

Formerly RES-FOR project coordinator

RES-FOR website

Office: Earth Sciences Building 3-32B


Phone: 780-492-0447

Cell: 780-499-5914