The Wilder Institute team is a passionate group with collective experience from around the globe. Our team holds a broad range of expertise and the drive to make the world a better place for all living things.
Dr. Gráinne McCabe, Chief Conservation Officer
Dr. Gráinne McCabe joined the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo in May 2023 as the Chief Conservation Officer. As a member of the executive leadership, she is responsible for leading strategic development for conservation translocations and community conservation initiatives, strengthening connections with stakeholders and partners, and coordinating research for a wide array of international programs dedicated to saving species at risk of extinction. In this newly created role, Gráinne is also responsible for providing strategic leadership and oversight to the Conservation & Science Department.
Gráinne’s career has been spent at the intersection of zoos and conservation, most recently as the Head of Field Conservation and Science for Bristol Zoological Society, United Kingdom, where she directed global conservation work in 10 countries and provision of six university degree programs. She brings a wealth of expertise in leading transformations, translocations and capacity building to increase conservation impact exponentially.
Gráinne is a member of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, as well as a member of the IUCN BIOPAMA Regional Advisory Committee. She received her PhD in Ecological Anthropology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and her Masters in Primatology from the University of Calgary in Alberta.
Colleen Baird, Director of Animal Care, Health & Welfare
Colleen oversees Animal Care operations and provides strategic leadership to the dedicated team of Animal Care and Health professionals responsible for the care, health and welfare of the animals at the zoo, as well as the conservation species at the offsite Wildlife Conservation Centre and Archibald Biodiversity Centre.
Her career has spanned almost 3 decades with respected expertise in caring for animals large and small from all geographic regions of the world at multiple accredited zoos across North America. A native Calgarian, Colleen has a Bachelor of Science degree from Thompson University and is proud to be part of the critical conservation work being done locally and globally by the zoo and Wilder Institute, together.
Brandi Chuchman, Associate Director of Conservation & Science
Brandi provides strategic and operational leadership to the Wilder Institute’s Conservation & Science team across both the Conservation Translocation and Community Conservation portfolios. She works closely with the Animal Care, Health & Welfare team and numerous other stakeholders and partners to support, resource, communicate, and action the incredible conservation work of our team of scientists.
Brandi has over two decades of experience and a unique three-pronged background in ecology, science communication, and research operational management. She holds a Masters of Science degree in Behavioural Ecology from Simon Fraser University, honours BSc in Ecology from University of Guelph, graduate diploma in Science Communication from Laurentian University, and Creative Writing and Leadership certificate programs from University of Calgary. Her career has included ecological research in boreal forest and marine ecosystems, developing and leading programming for science centres and other STEM-based outreach organizations, teaching undergraduate courses in Ecology and Evolution as a sessional instructor at Canadian universities, and project and operational management of research programs in engineering and the neurosciences. While Brandi has worked in a range of STEM fields, her first passion has always been wildlife conservation.
Dr. Doug Whiteside, Senior Manager, Animal Health & Welfare and Head Veterinarian
For more than 20-years, Doug has played a key role in the care of the animals and the important conservation work we do. Doug leads the operation of the Animal Health Department, and oversees the Zoological Records and Animal Relocations. He is also an Associate Professor of Conservation Medicine at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and his Doctorate in Veterinary Science (Pathobiology) from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College.
Doug is an internationally recognized specialist in zoological medicine, a field which integrates conservation, ecology, and veterinary medicine. His collaborative research focuses on One Health interactions through a conservation lens, and on bridging knowledge gaps between wildlife under human care and free ranging wildlife with the aim of improving the welfare and success of wildlife conservation efforts. He contributes regularly to the scientific community through presentations and publications, and is an Associate Editor for two international journals – the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine and the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.
Dr. Typhenn Brichieri-Colombi
Typhenn has been with the Wilder Institute since 2012 and currently manages the organization’s involvement in collaborative community-based conservation initiatives. She has extensive experience in both the conservation translocation and community-based conservation portfolios at the Wilder Institute. Typhenn holds an Masters in Geographic Information Systems and a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Calgary. Her primary focus lies in exploring the intricate relationships between humans and wildlife within the realm of conservation. Throughout her tenure at the Wilder Institute, Typhenn has played a pivotal role in offering technical assistance and guidance for various initiatives. Notably, she has provided valuable support to programs that include the Kianjavato Lemur & Reforestation Initiative, the Kenya Mountain Bongo Partnership, the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary, the Avu Lagoon Community Protected Area, and the Community Conservation Horizon Scan. Her contributions encompass diverse areas such as data management, mapping, publications, collaborations and strategic planning, further enhancing the effectiveness of these projects.
Anne-Marie joined the Wilder Institute in July 2023 as Senior Manager, Conservation Operations, spanning the conservation translocation and community conservation portfolios. She works closely with partners and collaborators, and diverse WICZ departments and leadership, to develop and implement strategies, driving results through strong business acumen and a passion for developing people and programs. Her professional foundation is built on technical, operations, leadership, and management experience and expertise within the environmental branches of the mining, civil construction, and consulting industries. She is a seasoned operations manager, business developer and client manager, successfully leading multidisciplinary teams through multifaceted environmental regulatory applications, programs, and studies in collaboration with diverse stakeholders. She is entrepreneurial, and builds strong relationships centered on trust and her ability to deliver tailored solutions. The dynamics between people, the environment, conservation, and societal needs led Anne-Marie to obtain a B.Sc. in Conservation Sciences and complete Sustainability Studies in Kenya (University of Alberta) and MA in International and Intercultural Communications (Royal Roads University). She has a Project Management certificate (Mount Royal University), is a member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists and a Professional Agrologist.
Lea has over 10 years of experience in conservation translocations of species-at-risk at the Wilder Institute. Her current role involves overseeing the development and implementation of conservation translocation science and action to support the recovery of imperiled species. Lea’s own research focuses primarily on the genetics, reproduction, and reintroduction of northern leopard frogs. She holds a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Victoria and an M.Sc. in Ecology from the University of Calgary. Prior to her current position, Lea worked as a wildlife and habitat technician for the Yukon Department of Environment and NatureServe, where she gained valuable experience working with various species. Lea actively contributes to multiple organizations and committees dedicated to wildlife conservation.She is a member of the British Columbia Northern Leopard Frog Recovery Team, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada Amphibian and Reptile Subcommittee, the IUCN Species Survival Commission Amphibian Specialist Group and a representative for the Wilder Institute on the IUCN Citizen’s Assembly on Synthetic Biology and Nature Conservation. Additionally, she serves as the vice chair of the BiodiverCity Advisory Committee for the City of Calgary and as the chair of the Oregon Spotted Frog and Northern Leopard Frog Captive Husbandry Working Group.
Sienna conducts and supports field work for the Wilder Institute which brings her to Vancouver Island, the Rocky Mountains, and the prairies. She supports the project teams with data management, background research, report writing, and project planning. Sienna is also the Conservation and Science representative on the Health and Safety committee, coordinating health and safety for the team. Sienna obtained her B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Winnipeg with a focus on Ecology. She has published research on ground squirrel behavior and reproductive success and has assisted in studies of polar bear behavior. She has surveyed birds, amphibians, insects, mammals, vegetation, and soil in Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, and Mexico. Sienna has a strong passion for wildlife conservation and spends her free time hiking and birding.
Dylan supports the team with statistical analysis, interpretation of results, and generation of figures. He performs literature searches and aids in writing technical reports, as well as providing advice for study design. He received his B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Calgary and his M.Sc. in Animal Physiology from the University of Alberta. His M.Sc. thesis aimed to understand the physiology in dogfish sharks after changes in environmental salinity using next generation sequencing. He has previously worked at the RiverWatch Institute as an outdoor science educator, at the University of Calgary as a research assistant examining plant-pollinator interactions, and in the consulting sector as a field biologist performing snorkel surveys for spawning fish and fish habitat.
Amelia (Millie) Coleing
Millie works on the greater sage-grouse and burrowing owl projects—the former in various capacities since 2017. Her role involves assisting with the development and implementation of release strategies, research and field work planning, data collection, management and analysis and drafting reports. She completed her M.Sc. in Biodiversity Conservation at Exeter University in the UK and has over 10 years of field and research experience working in the UK, Cape Verde, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. Her M.Sc. research focused on a biodiversity assessment of two sites to inform a RAMSAR site application on Maio Island in Cape Verde. She has research and survey experience with a variety of taxa including birds, bats, amphibians, reptiles, marsupials, marine and terrestrial mammals, insects, and plants.
Graham leads the burrowing owl project at the Wilder Institute. His job requires coordinating with the federal and provincial governments, local ranchers, soldiers, graduate students, and multiple departments across the Wilder Institute. Aside from his work with burrowing owls, Graham has also studied anti-predator behavior in the conservation breeding population of Vancouver Island marmots at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. Graham completed a B.Sc. in Biology at Acadia University. His interest in reptiles led him to pursue an M.Sc. in Biology at the University of Victoria, where he studied gartersnake habitat ecology in urban parks. Graham has worked on a wide variety of species across Canada, and in Costa Rica, Peru, and Gabon.
Inspired by wildlife, Nafeesa obtained a B.Sc. in Applied Zoology from McGill University before shifting focus to conservation social science through her M.Sc. in Conservation Science at Imperial College London. She is passionate about pragmatic win-win solutions for both nature and people. Nafeesa is interested in affecting evidence-based, proactive policy- and decision-making (especially through horizon scanning), as well sustainable and effective conservation strategies, particularly by unlocking entrepreneurial opportunities. A few of Nafeesa’s other and previous projects involve biodiversity-friendly agriculture in Uganda; locally co-managed marine areas in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique; global illegal wildlife trade; human-wildlife conflicts in Zambia. Nafeesa is a Women for the Environment Africa fellow, Kenyan EAGL member, IUCN WCPA member and an Oxford Saïd Business School Ideas2Impact fellow.
Donnell envisions a world with ecological and cultural integrity and strives to implement, evaluate, and improve conservation strategies to work towards this reality. She brings 10+ years of conservation experience, both in- and ex-situ, through ecological field research, community science, outreach, and wildlife rehabilitation. Donnell has a keen interest in building, repairing, and maintaining partnerships to maximize impact and reach common goals. While much of her historic taxonomic focus has been on Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians, Donnell’s priority is laying the groundwork to expand the conservation impact of the Wilder Institute across taxonomic groups in Eastern Canada. Donnell sits on several recovery and implementation teams for at-risk species in Canada and holds a B.Sc. from the University of Guelph and an M.Sc. from Laurentian University.
Dr. James Glasier
James leads the half-moon hairstreak butterfly recovery project in Waterton Lakes National Park. He studies the natural history and distribution of this endangered butterfly, so that it may survive for future generations to observe and enjoy. Passionate about scientific discovery, James received a B.Sc. in Palaeontology and an M.Sc. in Conservation Biology from the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. Wanting to learn and discover more, he then travelled to Australia to study for his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of New South Wales. For both his graduate degrees he focused on ants and insect ecology. He then returned to Canada from Australia and has focused his studies on biodiversity, conservation, and biological interactions.
Laura provides conservation decision support at the Wilder Institute. She holds a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and Biology from Queen’s University and an M.Sc. in Mathematical Modeling and Scientific Computing from the University of Oxford. Although her role now focuses on decision analysis and structured decision making, in the past she has also worked as a conservation data analyst. Before joining the Wilder Institute, Laura worked in environmental and corporate strategy consulting, with the latter focusing on decision quality. Laura is a certified decision practitioner with the Society of Decision Professionals and is passionate about using decision analysis to inform conservation work.
Llewellyn supports the Institute by coordinating and assisting with field work on our conservation translocation projects. This work includes live-trapping Vancouver Island marmots, monitoring black-tailed prairie dogs and assessing their habitat, radio-tracking newly released greater sage-grouse in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta, surveying for northern leopard frogs and half-moon hairstreak butterflies, and helping to install artificial nest burrows for head-started burrowing owls in southern Alberta. Before joining the Wilder Institute in 2017, Llewellyn completed a B.Sc. in Environmental Biology at Memorial University, assisted ground squirrel research in Alberta, conducted insect surveys for agricultural pests in Switzerland and Ontario, and spent two years in environmental consulting in Ontario.
Lacey received her Diploma in Environmental Technology from Vanier College and her B.Sc. in Wildlife Biology from McGill University. Lacey has been involved in several conservation projects including tracking wolves in Algonquin Provincial Park and working on a coyote and mule deer project in central Nevada. Lacey joined the Wilder Institute in 2013 filling a variety of roles including Conservation Field Technician, Swift Fox Technician, and Senior Field Technician which allowed her to work on several of the Wilder Institute’s Canadian programs including greater sage -grouse, swift fox, northern leopard frog, black-tailed prairie dog and black-footed ferret. In her current role as Research Associate, Lacey supports the burrowing owl and half-moon hairstreak projects which includes leading burrowing owl field operations in the spring and summer then providing research and office support for both projects in the fall and winter.
Jill began working at the Wilder Institute in 2008. She communicates the Wilder Institute’s conservation work with external audiences, focusing on visual storytelling. Through photography, film and other creative tools, she aims to foster curiosity, new perspectives and a deeper awareness of wildlife conservation research and community conservation. Jill is also the Communications Officer for the IUCN SSC Conservation Translocation Specialist Group where she leads communications for the group’s activities and coordinates online training. She holds a B.Sc. in Geography from the University of Calgary and went on to pursue work in environmental communications before joining the Wilder Institute team.
Dr. Mary Liao
Mary draws on her extensive experience to advise on formalizing our valuable partnerships and stewarding our community conservation partnerships in Ghana. Her M.Sc. focused on feminist geography and environmental refugees in the informal market in Khartoum, Sudan. She then pursued her Ph.D. at Loughborough University, UK, examining the role of spirituality in international development in the water resources sector in Namibia. Mary has worked for over 20 years in international development with a focus on gender and social inclusion. Mary was a former Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Art, University of Calgary, teaching courses in the Development Studies Program.
Jasmine works on the northern leopard frog reintroduction project at the Wilder Institute. Her role includes planning and managing data collection and analysis, and summarizing findings from the field season. Jasmine completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Biology at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario where she studied lake trout recovery in acid-damaged lakes. She has worked with government, academic, and non-profit organizations and has 7 years of field and laboratory experience in aquatic and semi-aquatic monitoring. Jasmine has worked closely with a variety of taxa including fish, zooplankton, aquatic macro-invertebrates, and amphibians.
Inspired by his passion for community-based wildlife management, Robinson joined the team to support the community conservation portfolio. Robinson holds degrees in conservation science (M.Sc. in Protected Areas Management, James Cook University, Australia, B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences from Cameroon). He has also completed a PGDip. in Wildlife Conservation from Oxford University and a Graduate Certificate in Ecosystem Management Technology at Fleming College, Lindsay, Ontario. Robinson brings over 15 years of international experience in community conservation gained through various roles, ranging from his first job as a park ranger in the tropical rainforest of Cameroon, Central Africa, to his recent role as the wildlife management biologist with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, Iqaluit, Nunavut.
Dr. Adriana Pastor
Dr. Pastor is our Associate Veterinarian and also holds a position as Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from McGill University, followed by her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and subsequently a Doctorate in Veterinary Science (Zoo Medicine and Pathology) from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. Her doctoral research sought to investigate and describe enteric coccidiosis in the endangered black-footed ferret, in pursuit of development of a vaccine to prevent this disease in this iconic North American species. Her previous and current research have focused on conservation medicine, One Health and emerging infectious disease of wildlife, and she continues to contribute to the scientific community through presentations and publications. With over a decade of experience in zoological medicine at multiple accredited zoos across North America, Adriana continues to be astounded by wildlife and global diversity, and eager to ensure the continued survival of species at risk globally. Adriana is a member of the Welfare, Ethics and Research Committee for the Wilder Institute.
Allison works to integrate information from initiatives that the Institute leads or collaborates on into engaging, cohesive, and accurate stories that appeal to broad and diverse audiences. She has worked in science communication in informal education settings, striving to inspire awe and wonder for the natural world with the goal of enabling action. Allison has a B.Sc. in Wildlife Biology from the University of New Brunswick and has spent time working and exploring in the forests of Canada, documenting plant communities and searching for rare plant species. Learning from some of the world’s leading science communicators through the Best of Banff Science Communications Program, Allison is excited about the possibilities when it comes to engaging communities with science and conservation.
Dr. Donna Sheppard
Living in Kenya, Donna leads our long-term collaboration with the Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust working in the highland forests on mountain bongo, a beautiful and critically endangered antelope. From 2004 to 2014, Donna was based in Ghana, leading our partnership with the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary. Donna is passionate about connecting directly with local people in the communities where we work and exploring how they can benefit tangibly from conservation. To achieve this, she mentors young, university-trained scientists in field conservation and research. Donna holds a Ph.D. in Rural Studies and Environmental Design from the University of Guelph where she explored conservation values in belief-based sacred forests and a B.Sc. in Physical Anthropology from the University of Calgary.
Rebecca has been involved in the northern leopard frog project at Wilder Institute for nearly five years and is currently leading reintroduction and research activities for the species in British Columbia. She completed her B.Sc. in Biology at Wilkes University and her M.Sc. in Biology at the University of Saskatchewan. She has accumulated over ten years of research and field experience in the United States, Costa Rica, and Canada, working with government, universities, private consulting firms, and non-profit organizations. She has experience with banding and measuring more than 100 bird species, as well as conducting surveys for a wide variety of taxa, including grassland and boreal forest birds, kangaroo rats, and sensitive raptors, snakes, and amphibians.
With over 15 years’ experience leading multifaceted projects with diverse partners for Canadian species at-risk, Jessica joined the team to help grow our collaborations nationally and build a network of organizations engaged in conservation translocations across Canada. Jessica completed her B.Sc. in Zoology at the University of Guelph, M.A.Sc. in Wildlife Health & Population Management at the University of Sydney, Australia, and holds a PGDip. in Endangered Species Management from the University of Kent/Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust International Training Centre in the UK. She has served on several recovery teams for endangered species in Canada. Jessica is a member of the IUCN SSC’s Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG) and is co-founder and current co-convenor of their Canada Regional Resource Center.
Tara leads the Canadian Prairie Dog Ecosystem Research Project in collaboration with Parks Canada to take an ecosystem approach to the recovery of black-footed ferrets in Canada. Tara completed a B.Sc. at the University of Guelph and an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems at the Centre for Geographic Sciences. For her M.Sc., she studied black-tailed prairie dog habitat and population dynamics at the University of Calgary. Tara is a member of the Great Plains Conservation Network and the USFWS Black-footed Ferret Conservation Sub-Committee.
Juanita’s role is to manage the Wilder Institute’s finances to ensure sound resource utilization and transparent reporting. Working collaboratively with the team, she helps to establish and support the existing and future resource needs across all the conservation programs. Juanita holds a CPA designation and brings over 20 years of experience to the team. Prior to joining the Wilder Institute, Juanita held various positions developing a wide breadth of experience and knowledge in finance, customer relations and project management. Always having a passion for nature, she was excited to become part of such an amazing team and help to support their endeavors.
Kelly joined the Wilder Institute in 2012 and has since filled a variety of roles, including Field Technician, Research Fellow, and Population Ecologist. She completed a B.Sc. in Zoology at the University of Toronto, an M.Sc. in Biology at the University of Victoria, and has over 18 years of experience conducting wildlife research for government, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions. In her capacity as Research Associate, Kelly supports a variety of Wilder’s projects. She currently spends five months of the year in the mountains on Vancouver Island, collecting data on critically endangered Vancouver Island marmots, and the other seven months providing writing and research support to the Canadian Prairie Dog Ecosystem Research Project.