Dr. Laura McKinnon
Dr. Laura McKinnon is a post-doctoral fellow working with Dr. Erica Nol in the Biology Department. Dr. McKinnon earned her Bachelor in Environmental Studies from York University, a M.Sc. in Zoology from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Quebec at Rimouski. During her previous degrees, Dr. McKinnon gained much experience in the North where she has spent at least a part of every summer for the last 13 years. Upon completing her B.E.S., she worked as an intern for the US Fish and Wildlife in Alaska. During her M.Sc., she studied the genetic relationships of female arctic-nesting eiders arriving, nesting and leaving together on Southampton Island, Nunavut and for her Ph.D., she studied the reproductive and migratory ecology of arctic-nesting shorebirds in the eastern Canadian Arctic. In addition, between her M.Sc. and Ph.D., Dr. McKinnon worked on the Amundsen Icebreaker doing bird surveys throughout the Northwest Passage and Hudson Bay. Her current research is looking at the sensitivity of various shorebird species to climate induced changes in insect availability on their sub-arctic breeding grounds in Churchill, Manitoba. Dr. McKinnon plans to continue her research in the North in academia.
"For science, and particularly ecosystem studies, it is a less complex system than some more southern environments so you are able to test hypotheses in ecology that would be difficult to test in more complex environments. On a personal level, it's just an amazing place to conduct research because you arrive for your summer research and experience four seasons in two months or less. You arrive and it is snow covered, but within a few weeks everything melts and its summer. You get to see the system change and all the birds arrive. It is a rapidly changing dynamic system and you get to see all that and experience it. In addition, I love being in remote field camps, three months of no phone or internet. It's almost like living on the land, it's so unpredictable, you have to be ready for anything." ~ Dr. Laura McKinnon.