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Our Team

Dr. Julia Riley

Julia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Mount Allison University where she is active in both teaching and research. She is an ecologist captivated with the wonders of nature. This passion for the natural world drives her research on the natural history, behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. By integrating theories and techniques across these fields to design and carry-out quantitative research her lab tackles both novel and long-held questions in animal ecology. You can contact her anytime at:


       Email:  |  Phone:  +1 (506) 364-2506

  Address:  Department of Biology, Mount Allison University, 63B York Street,

                     Sackville, New Brunswick, E4L 1G7, Canada

       Office: Flemington Rm. 11  | Lab: Flemington Rm. 13

Adjunct at Dalhousie, Laurentian Trent & Queens Universities

Current Lab Members

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Jordyn Williams

Undergraduate Student (Hons) - Mount Allison University - 2024/25

Jordyn always knew that she wanted to work with animals, but it wasn't until she was 12 years old and held a snake for the first time that she realized she wanted to work specifically with reptiles. Jordyn's BSc Honours research is studying the population demographics of Eastern Painted and Snapping Turtles in Grand Lake, New Brunswick. She hopes to evaluate the state of these populations and identify any potential threats faced by these two turtles. When she isn't in a lake looking for turtles, Jordyn is typically found watching Formula 1 racing with her cat. 

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Josh Christiansen


Graduate Student (MSc) - Mount Allison University  - 2023/25

Josh told his parents in Grade 3 that he was going to flip logs to look for salamanders when he grew up… fast forward to today and Josh is studying the variation in Eastern Red-backed Salamander behaviour across a gradient of anthropogenic (human) change! Josh earned his BSc Honours in Ecology and Environmental Biology studying bats at the University of Regina. Deciding to follow a career in conservation, ecology, and research was an easy choice for Josh. His passion for the natural world is long-standing and extends beyond his studies. When Josh isn’t trudging around in his waders studying salamanders, you can find him exploring natural spaces, capturing the beauty of our world with his camera!

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Clare Yang

Graduate Student (MSc) - Mount Allison University - 2024/26

While Clare always wanted to be a "scientist", but she didn't figure out her discipline of choice until she took a zoology class in high school and fell in love with it. Throughout her BSc program, she researched Oregon Slender Salamanders found in suburban areas outside their native range, and was fascinated by how humans are impacting the habitats where animals live globally. For her MSc at MTA, she is studying introduced Eastern Red-backed Salamanders in Newfoundland. When not catching herps or R coding, Clare may be drawing, painting, playing the ukulele or guitar, or browsing at a board game cafe or a bookstore.

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Andrea Gigeroff


Graduate Student (PhD) - Laurentian University co-supervised with Dr. Jackie Litzgus - 2023 to 2027

Andrea took her time getting to biology, spending her younger years pursuing an interest in science and art. When she finally decided that research combined gathering information with creative problem-solving, she knew it's what she wanted to do. Now she's pursuing a PhD investigating the world's only invasive population of garter snakes in Newfoundland! Andrea has a BSc Honours from Dalhousie University and an MSc from the University of Ottawa. She also still has a healthy interest in the arts, and in her spare time you can often find her at an art gallery, theatre, metal show, or just reading a book.


Victoria Tawa

Graduate Student (PhD) - Queens University co-supervised with Dr. Stephen Lougheed - 2024 to 2028

Identifying a moment that sparked Victoria's passion for ecology is not easy. For as long as she can remember, she has had a soft spot for under-appreciated taxa and loved catching frogs and snakes. Upon completing her BSc at Concordia University, she developed her appreciation for the conservation and management for at-risk herps further during a MSc at McGill University.  Currently, Victoria is researching the spatial ecology and sociality of Grey Ratsnakes. Whenever she is not out "hiking' (aka. herping), you will find Victoria coaching competitive dance, walking her dog or cat, or daydreaming about her next cup of fresh, home-brewed coffee. 


Tharusha Wijewardena

Postdoctoral Fellow - University of Toronto Missisauga (UTM) co-supervised with Dr. Rosalind Murray - 2024 to 2025

Tharusha became interested in freshwater ecology and conservation during her undergrad at UTM. While growing up in Sri Lanka, she enjoyed observing wildlife but had not considered ecology as a career. But, when Tharusha interned at the Toronto Zoo, as part of her Master of Environmental Science, she fell in love with freshwater turtles and continued researching them during her PhD at Laurentian University. During her postdoc, Tharusha is currently studying how urban heat islands impact the nesting ecology of these same turtles. During her free time, Tharusha enjoys wildlife photography and video games.   


Dundee Riley-Baxter-Gilbert

Postdog - International Dog of Mystery - 2014 to current

Dundee's journey with the Riley Lab started in Australia, took him to South Africa, and continues in Canada at Mount Allison University. Throughout, his research interest in sleep ethology has never wavered. He has also expanded his behavioural observation skills in the field from echidnas to tortoises, and he hopes to continue to develop his technique with Canadian fauna.

Lab Alumni

Georgia Christie | 2023 to 2024 | Impacts of urbanisation on terrestrial salamanders 

BSc Honours Student, Mount Allison University

Issac Acker | 2022 to 2023 | Snake fungal disease in Atlantic Canada

BSc Honours Student, Mount Allison University


Sara Leslie | 2022 to 2023 | Effects of forestry practices on salamander health 

BSc Honours Student, Mount Allison University co-supervised with Dr. Chris Edge

Alexia McCormick | 2022 to 2023 | Colouration and Social Behaviour of Salamanders

BSc Honours Student, Mount Allison University

Cameron Bell (@camtylerbell)| 2020 to 2023 | Effect of Substrate Moisture on Oviparous Reptile Development

Independent Study, Dalhousie University & Environmental Research Assistant, Mount Allison University


Carter Rouleau| 2018 to 2020 | Socioecology of Midland Painted Turtles

MSc Student, Laurentian University co-supervised with Dr. Jackie Litzgus

Georgina Binns (@georgtweet) | 2017 to 2018 | Colour variation in Amata Moths

MRes Student, Macquarie University, Australia co-supervised with Dr. Mariella Herberstein & Dr. Kate Umbers

Rebecca Raynal (@bec_raynal) | 2017 | Heritability of colouration in Jacky Dragons

BSc Honours Student, University of NSW, Australia co-supervised with Dr. Lisa Schwanz & Dr. Kate Umbers

Anna Küchler | 2016 | Tree Skink social learning

DAAD Rise Program Internship, Macquarie University, Australia

Caroline Fryns (@caroline_fryns) | 2016| Impacts of developmental environment on social plasticity of a reptile

MSc student, Université de Strasbourg, France

Côme Guidou | 2015 | Tree Skink social behaviour

Internship, Macquarie University, Australia

Marie Favre | 2014 | Tree Skink sociality

Internship, Macquarie University, Australia

Chris Neufeld | 2013 to 2014 | Road ecology of pollinators

BSc Honours student, Laurentian University co-supervised with Dr. James Baxter-Gilbert & Dr. Jackie Litzgus

Jennifer Baxter-Gilbert | 2012 to 2013| Conservation of at-risk reptiles

Field Technician, Magnetawan First Nation

Liv Monck-Whipp (@field_daze) | 2011 & 2013 | Reptile road and hatchling turtle overwintering ecology 

Field Technician, Laurentian University and the artist behind the Riley Lab logo

Sean Boyle (@pqpturtles) | 2012 | Road ecology and conservation

Field Technician, Laurentian University

Beth McClaren | 2011 | Hatchling turtle overwintering ecology

Field Technician, Laurentian University

Patrick Moldowan (@algonquinwrs) | 2010 to 2011 | Turtle ecology and conservation

Field Technician, Laurentian University

Kassandra Hall | 2010 | Freshwater turtle ecology and behaviour

Field Technician, Laurentian University

Dr. Riley
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