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Dr. Kathryn Hargan

Assistant Professor

Department of Biology

Memorial University of Newfoundland

232 Elizabeth Ave.

St. John's, NL A1B 3X9

Office Telephone: 1-709-864-4754

Email: khargan[at]mun[dot]ca

Education and experience:

2017-2019: EnviroLab Asia PDF, Claremont McKenna College, Williams Marine Environmental Change Lab 

2015-2017: W. Garfield Weston PDF, University of Ottawa, Blais Environmental Tracers and Contaminants Lab

2010-2015: PhD, Queen's University, Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory

2008-2010: MSc, Trent University with Dr. Peter Dillon, Professor Emeritus 

Molly Morrissey, MSc student in Biology

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I received my B.S. in Biology at the University of Vermont, United States. My course work and research focused mainly on marine and freshwater ecosystems, and shortly after graduating, this budding marine biologist began working as a groundfish observer aboard fishing boats in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Little did I know that it would be the seabirds, not the fish, that caught my attention, and after my last season in Alaska I decided to switch my focus to birds. I was southbound to Costa Rica for a season studying tropical songbirds, and then I landed in San Diego, California working as a riparian/chapparal bird surveyor for the US Geological Survey. My professional and personal experiences have influenced my current interests, which are seabird ecology, marine/terrestrial interactions, wetland restoration, and traditional ecological approaches to land management. Despite living in sub-tropical locales for the past two years, I am a cold-weather gal at heart, and I am excited to start my research in Newfoundland! In Dr. Hargan’s lab I will be reconstructing ancient and present-day seabird diets using stable isotope analyses, and I will hopefully also get a chance to investigate how marine-dwelling birds influence their terrestrial nesting colonies.

Veronica Smith, MSc student in Environmental Science

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I was born and raised in Southern California. I earned a B.S. in Geology and a B.A. in English from California State University, Fullerton. My first post-college job was as a Research Assistant at Claremont Colleges, which is where I met Professor Hargan and learned about paleolimnology. The first part of my Masters project uses sediment cores to identify and analyze environmental responses to human settlement in Newfoundland. The second part of my Masters focuses on a possibly invasive herd of horses on an island in Nova Scotia.

Courtney White, MSc student in Biology

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Growing up in Newfoundland has long fueled my interest in and wonderment of nature. As I got older, this fascination with nature became a drive to pursue studying biology, particularly conservation biology and the effects of climate change. I received my BSc (Hons) in Biology from Memorial University of Newfoundland, during which I got the opportunity to study the unique ecology of this island, further cementing my love of exploring and learning from the province. Shortly after finishing my first degree, I began to work for MUN as a Research Assistant for the Newfoundland and Labrador Mosquito Project in which we used the help of citizen science to collect mosquitoes from all across NL. The goal of the project was to form a profile of mosquito species in NL and compare the changing species profile to climate data to determine whether there were any correlations. This project resulted in fueling my interests involving conservation concerns of local habitats and the effects of climate change on population dynamics. Within Dr. Hargan’s lab, I will be using paleolimnological techniques to uncover historical patterns of population change in Eastern Spruce Budworm across Newfoundland, a significant defoliating pest known for causing substantial damage to our forests. It is my hope that the research I conduct will shed light on how to move forward with new conservation policies and management plans for ecosystems and sensitive species across the province.

Johanna Bosch, MSC student in biology

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My past studies have focused on ecology, archaeology and microbiology. I obtained my BSc. in Ecology and Conservation from Memorial University, where I had the opportunity to assist in the study of shellfish micro-structures to understand human settlement patterns and diet. For the past several months, I have worked as a field assistant in the Ecosystems Ecology Lab, assisting in various studies focused on non-native ungulates and invasive fish in Newfoundland. These experiences have led me to begin my current position as a Science Technician in the Paleo-ecology lab, where I will be learning laboratory techniques and working towards completing a study in environmental genomics and seabird microbiomes. In my free time I create content for a sci-blog focused on filming freshwater microorganisms (

maliya cassels, MSC student in biology

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I completed my BSc in Biology at the University of Victoria where my studies focused mainly on marine biology. Upon graduating I worked a season with Environment Canada in a snow goose colony in Nunavut. This solidified my love of research and field biology and introduced me to the world of birds. I have since returned to this colony twice, worked as a research assistant for the University of Victoria where I was lucky enough to spend a summer surveying lakes and vegetation in the Mackenzie Delta, conducted songbird point counts in the cloud forest of Costa Rica, and investigated forest regeneration after wildfire in Northern BC. My Master’s work with Dr. Hargan will involve paleoreconstruction of the extinct Great Auk and an investigation of changes in seabird use on Funk Island and the South Penguin Islands, Newfoundland.

Arielle przybysz, undergraduate mucep student

Our research lab is diverse with students from many backgrounds. Paleolimnology professors can be found in geology, geography, environmental science, earth science, and biology departments due to the interdisciplinary nature of our research, so please do not hesitate to inquire about an opportunity with me even if your undergraduate degree or MSc is not in Biology. Students have access to state-of-the-art scientific equipment (e.g., GC-MS, ICP-MS) through the CREAIT facilities at MUN, and the opportunity to learn many established and emerging tools and proxies for inferring long-term environmental change. To answer large research questions, many of our projects are indeed collaborative across departments, institutions, and with Environment and Climate Change Canada. Our lab is an open environment that recognizes the benefits of building trusting collaborations among students and researchers.

Past Students & Lab Members

Jahnavi Kocha (CMC'19)

Thesis title: "A spatial and temporal analysis of Uranium concentrations around the abandoned New Hope Method mine in the Mohave Desert"

Jahnavi and Kathryn also traveled together to Pitzer College's Firestone Field Station in Costa Rica to study environmental changes across a gradient of land use (banana and bamboo plantations, primary and secondary forest). 

Alison Hong (CMC'19) 

Thesis title: "Tracking the role of trophic position on copper, zinc, manganese and arsenic accumulation in Thai mangrove molluscs"

Alison has submitted a manuscript for review to the journal Ecological Indicators.

Mudit Murarka (Pomona College'19)

Mudit is applying his knowledge and experience with ArcPro to create spatial heat and krigging maps of our stable isotope data from sediments across the shrimp farm-mangrove-marine transition in Khung Krabaen Bay, Thailand. Additionally, he will be examining drone footage to extract tree height data for understanding mangrove reforestation efforts and whether they relate to gradients in mangrove tree carbon and nitrogen isotopes. 

Alison at the Keck Science thesis poster day, Dec 2018


Jahnavi and Kathryn at the Firestone Field Station in March 2019