My primary research passion is to understand how climate change may be impacting the habitats of our most vulnerable animal species. This passion started in my undergrad at Vancouver Island University, where I was fortunate to pursue an independent research project investigating the habitat of the endangered Vancouver Island marmot. While working at the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute, I was involved with a variety of research projects. A highlight of my time there was leading an extensive plant phenology research and monitoring project, in an attempt to connect shifting coastal plant phenology with micro-climate data. Currently, I am nearing completion of my MSc at the University of Alberta, where I am researching the space and habitat use of the Davis Strait polar bear subpopulation in relation to changing sea ice conditions and the availability of one of their primary prey (harp seals).

These research experiences have further inspired me to continue on the path of conservation science and I am excited to continue to expand my knowledge and skill sets as my career moves forward.

Research Techniques

My current work is primarily focused on current and projected habitat suitability modeling for both terrestrial and marine mammals using R, QGIS, and ArcGIS. But I’ve also analyzed home range sizes and movement rates in R. I have experience working with a wide range of data, including telemetry (PTT transmitters), sea ice (NASA Nimbus-7 SMMR and DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Passive Microwave Data) and terrestrial environmental (e.g., ClimateBC biogeoclimatic zone and snow depth) data. I have also worked with both data sharing and remote data processing interfaces, such as GitHub and Compute Canada.


Thelin, L., Lewis, J., Gilchrist, A., and Craig, J. 2018. The potential effects of climate change on the habitat range of the Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis). The Canadian Geographer, 62(2): 163-177. doi: 10.1111/cag.12448.

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Formal Research Training


2021: Canadian Association of Zoo & Wildlife Veterinarians: Chemical Immobilization of Wildlife

2020: St. John’s Ambulance: Wilderness Level III First Aid | University of Alberta: Bear Awareness & Safety

2019: Possession and Acquisition Licenses (Non-Restricted & Restricted) | University of Alberta Animal Research Ethics: Core 1 (Ethics and Use) and Core 2 (Principles of Ethics & Welfare: Wildlife Stream)

Related Courses

Biology: Landscape ecology & applications (BIOL 571, UAlberta, 2020) | Advanced behavioural ecology (BIOL 595, UAlberta, 2020) | Biogeography (GEOG 373, VIU, 2015)

Statistics: Intro to exploratory data analysis (RENR 581, UAlberta, 2019) | Elementary statistics for applied sciences (RENR 582, UAlberta, 2019) | Statistical methods in Geography (GEOG 221, VIU, 2014)

Spatial Analyses: Remote sensing (GEOG 326, VIU, 2016) | Spatial Analysis (GEOG 228, VIU, 2014) | Geographic Information Systems (GEOG 328, VIU, 2014)

Field work: Field studies in Geography (GEOG 467, VIU, 2016) | Research methods in Geography (GEOG 324, VIU, 2015)

Other: Climatology (GEOG 372, VIU, 2016) | Hydrology (GEOG 374, VIU, 2015) | Applications in Natural Resource Management (GEOG 452, VIU, 2015) | Atmospheric Environments (GEOG 211, VIU, 2013)

Research Projects

Please click each photo to learn more

Changing habitat use and dynamics for the polar bears (Ursus maritimus) of Davis Strait
Photograph by Andrew Derocher
Coastal Plant Phenology Research & Monitoring Pilot
Photograph by the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute
The potential effects of climate change on the habitat range of the Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis)
Photograph by Trevor Dickinson
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals & Vancouver Island University
Photograph by the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute