2021 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research recipient
Saint Mary’s University
Only a few years ago, Stephen would have ranked earthworms as one of the top-ten least interesting animals on earth. Times have changed.
Though he always wanted to be an ecologist, Stephen was initially drawn to colourful and charismatic marine species. He completed a BSc in biology at the University of Winnipeg and a master’s degree in environmental management at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. All the while, he studied and worked in the field of aquatic ecology. Eventually, he found himself doing fieldwork in northern Saskatchewan, where earthworms entered his life.
While conducting habitat and biodiversity surveys, Stephen and his colleague kept discovering earthworms, which was surprising because earthworms don’t belong in northern forests. Following
the last glaciation, earthworms were uprooted from Canada and subsequently introduced by European settlers. He has become fascinated with understanding how earthworms are spreading through northern Canada and the consequences of this invasion. He is looking forward to carrying out this important research and open people’s minds to how the smallest creatures govern the world around us.