Meet Some of the Instructors in Applied Biology!

Paige Ackerman, Adjunct Professor

Paige AckermanFish live in an environment alien from our own, yet there are more species of fish than all other vertebrates combined, and they live in every corner of the world. As the world’s stocks of fish have been depleted, aquaculture has come to be a vital component in conservation, enhancement, and harvest opportunities. But culturing fish isn’t as straightforward as working with terrestrial animals, particularly since they exist in such intimate contact with their environment. How do fish respond to environmental stressors and how do those responses impact their abilities to defend themselves against disease? Paige has always been interested in these types of questions and her undergraduate education focused on aquacultural sciences; her graduate work expanded on this to examine relationships between stress and health in fish in culture.

Paige has taught at Vancouver Island University in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Program, was engaged as a Research Coordinator for the BC Pacific Salmon Forum, spent several years developing Fish Health Management Plans for the major salmon hatcheries in British Columbia and currently works with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Salmonid Enhancement Program as a Regional Support Biologist specializing in fish health. Her work takes her across the province from the Bella Coola Valley to the outer coast of Vancouver Island to work with fish culture professionals to maintain fish health and welfare for both hatchery and wild stocks. As an Adjunct Professor with the Faculty, Paige brings her work experiences to students through the three fish culture courses she teaches: ‘Intensive Fish Production’, ‘Fish Health’, and ‘Aquaculture and the Environment’.


Simone Diego Castellarin, Assistant Professor

simone-castellarinGrowing up, Simone Castellarin spent his summers working on his uncle’s vineyard in Italy – an experience that turned out to be incredibly valuable when it came to pursuing a career in viticulture research.

You can’t make good wine from bad grapes, and the goal for Simone is to understand how growers can manage their vineyards in order to maximize the quality of the fruit they grow, and the wine they produce. Simone’s research on the regulation of fruit ripening – what triggers it, the endogenous factors that modulate it, and how the environment affects ripening and fruit quality – has been of significant interest to the grapevine industry. In his research program, Simone adopts a multidisciplinary approach that considers genomics, plant physiology, and applied viticulture. In his Grapevine and Berry Crop Biology course, Simone teaches these concepts along with other primary biological features of blueberry and cranberry, major fruit crops in British Columbia.

Simone has carried out research in several of the major viticultural regions in Italy, Germany, and California. Now his research program includes close collaboration with the BC wine and grape industry. Simone was awarded the Rudolf Hermanns Foundation International Award (Germany) for outstanding scientific achievements in all fields of viticulture and horticulture in 2009.


Sara Dubois, Adjunct Professor

Sara DuboisSara Dubois loves animals and nature. But as a Biology undergraduate student she was told that she had to choose – become either a veterinarian and care for animals, OR a biologist and help conserve the environment. This made no sense to Sara, as growing up on Vancouver Island surrounded by nature and wildlife, one did not thrive without the other. Sara struggled to understand why there wasn’t a career path that would let her care for both?

Thankfully–after working diverse co-op jobs with Parks Canada, Ministry of Environment, Wild Bird Trust and volunteering with the Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Network of BC and BC SPCA Wild ARC–Sara realized that with a little creativity, she could do both! After finishing her BSc at UVic, Sara joined the Animal Welfare Program as a master’s student, where she discovered a new area of applied biology, studying the success of wildlife rehabilitation. Sara went on to manage Wild ARC and then take on a provincial role managing wildlife programs at the BC SPCA. After 8 years in these challenging roles, Sara had developed new research questions based on her work experiences in wildlife welfare, conservation and policy; she returned to the Animal Welfare Program to complete a PhD, where she got to travel to other countries (with cool wildlife) to check out their wildlife policy issues.

Since becoming BC SPCA’s Chief Scientific Officer in 2014, Sara has worked to ensure that other students who love both animals AND nature can access opportunities for hands-on experiences to launch their compassionate careers. She created the APBI 496 Applied Animal Biology Practicum, working with community partners to offer unique practicum experiences every term; these placements allow undergraduate students to gain experience outside the classroom – in roles of animal care, outreach, and advocacy, and learn how to help both animals and nature (and travel to some cool places along the way).


David Fraser, Professor

David FraserDavid Fraser has maintained a fascination with animals throughout a 40-year career of research and teaching about animal behaviour and animal welfare. Working with long string of students, he has published research on farm animals (pigs, sheep, cattle, chickens), laboratory animals (rats and mice) plus dogs and cats in animal shelters, gorillas in zoos, as well as wildlife. He began his career in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he did some of the first research on the welfare of pigs kept in the small stalls that are now banned in many countries. Back in Canada he did the first definitive field work showing that moose are strongly attracted to residues of highway de-icing salt in the springtime, and that this is a major cause of moose-vehicle collisions. He is best known as a pioneer of scientific approaches to improve animal welfare and is in great demand as a lecturer, with recent or upcoming speaking engagements in Ottawa, Calgary, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Mexico City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paris and Zagreb. His teaching includes the popular courses “Animals and Society” (co-taught with Marina von Keyserlingk) and “Animal Welfare and the Ethics of Animal Use” (co-taught with Dan Weary). He has served as an advisor on animal welfare to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Rome), the World Organisation for Animal Health (Paris), and to major corporations including Burger King and Loblaw. His awards include an Order of Canada for his work as a pioneer in the application of science to animal welfare.

  • For a list of Dr. Fraser’s publications on Google Scholar, click here
  • To see his student ratings (4.9 out of 5) on Ratemyprofessors.com, click here.
  • For a video of Dr. Fraser lecturing, find him on YouTube.

Maja Krzic, Associate Professor

Maja KrzicThink soil science might be your thing? Maja Krzic can teach you everything you need to know about the subject.

Maja, a well-recognized expert in soil science, approaches teaching in much the same way a sports trainer would train an athlete. In sports – let’s use swimming as an example – at the beginning it’s all about learning basic, simple skills. Just like any good sports trainer, Maja can help you develop foundational soil science skills through her Introduction to Soil Science course and then help you refine those skills in the upper-level courses on Sustainable Soil Management and Soil Sampling, Analyses and Data Interpretation. And just like in sports training, Maja uses online resources to visually illustrate concepts. She established Virtual Soil Science Learning Resources group (soilweb.ca) that has developed innovative web-based soil science educational resources and on-line courses, and she’s also known for bringing fun technology like mobile gaming into the classroom.

Maja has received many props for her teaching, including the 3M National Teaching Fellow, and the 2013 AWSS Mentoring Award. And as a former Swimming Masters world record holder, she could also teach you a thing or two about swimming.


Elisabeth Ormandy, Sessional Lecturer

Elisabeth OrmandyHow do we, as human animals, come to know and understand the lives of nonhuman animals? How do humans define, place, and encounter nonhuman animals? What ethical, moral, and political issues arise from these human-animal relations? These are just some of the questions that inspire Elisabeth Ormandy’s teaching.

With a background in Neuroscience, Elisabeth has long been fascinated with how behavior of nonhuman animals can give us insights into their emotions and personalities. Her experience as a young neuroscientist, studying learning and memory in mice, led her to question whether certain types of animal-based research are scientifically valid. This sparked a journey into the study of animal welfare and ethics. After working with many different species over the course of her career (pigs, sheep, mice, rats, dogs, primates, and a llama, to name but a few), in her PhD and post-doctoral research, Elisabeth worked with the most unpredictable species: humans! Her research involved interviews, surveys, workshops and focus groups with different stakeholders to better understand people’s attitudes and values about the use of animals in research.

Within Applied Animal Biology, Elisabeth teaches Animals and Society (APBI 314) and Animals and Global Issues (APBI 414). You can also find Elisabeth teaching Ethical Issues in Science over in Integrated Sciences, and she created and taught Animals, Politics and Ethics in the department of Political Science. Elisabeth is also co-founder and Executive Director of a national non-profit, the Animals in Science Policy Institute, as well as a representative for the Canadian Bioethics Society on the Canadian Council on Animal Care. Elisabeth draws on these experiences to bring life to her classes.

Fun fact: Elisabeth and her partner live in a 390 sq. ft. laneway house and are exploring low impact, zero waste living – they have plans to design and build their own tiny house in the near future.

  • To see her student ratings (4.8 out of 5) on Ratemyprofessors.com, click here.
  • To learn more about the Animals in Science Policy Institute, click here.

Andrew Riseman, Associate Professor

Andrew RisemanHave you ever wondered where your vegetables came from?  Were they sustainably produced?  Did their production benefit the environment?  These are a few of the questions that guide Andrew Riseman’s research program.  As a classical plant breeder, he is interested in the role of plant genetics in sustainable production systems.  Moving beyond breeding for yield and pest resistance, he is more interested in breeding for the full range of ecological services plants can provide, including food provision, but also other important system-level services (i.e., nutrient cycling, microbiome habitat, carbon sequestration, soil conditioning; all critical services needed by a healthy agroecosystem).

Most recently, he has been driven by a quote by farmer philosopher Wendel Berry.  To paraphrase, ‘By separating plant production from animal production, we have created two problems from one solution’, meaning we have too much nutrients (poop from animals) in one place and not enough nutrients (fertilizer needed by the plants) in another.  In thinking about this challenge and his research interests, he is now focusing on developing a program centred on intensive aquaponics, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA), and other such integrated plant:animal systems.  He is interested in better understanding how a intensive but sustainable complex food production system works and identifying those emergent properties that support system robustness and resiliency.

In addition to Andrew’s research interests, he teaches Applied Plant Breeding (APBI 318), Digital Storytelling (LFS 400), and Land Food Community III (LFS 450). He believes strongly in the power of engaging students in research, to personally connect theory with practice, and to create new knowledge.  Andrew regularly supervises undergraduate directed studies, and undergraduate thesis courses.


 Cathy Schuppli, Clinical Assistant Professor

Cathy with Pip

Cathy’s personal and professional life has always been intertwined with animals, whether as a teenager living in Tanzania visiting the Serengeti for holidays, as a social scientist interviewing beef ranchers in Alberta or as a veterinarian caring for laboratory rodents. Her compassion for animals and desire to safeguard their welfare has been the driving force in her career. As a witness to the diverse roles that animals play in society, Cathy’s own research explores the relationship of humans with animals. Why is it that some people are pounding the pavement protesting animal research and at the same time others are praising the successes of animal research? How is that a rat can be viewed as a pest, a means to a promising cure for cancer and as an endearing companion? Cathy’s research endeavors to understand the different views that exist and how these impact the welfare of animals in our society. This understanding along with her practical work as veterinarian empowers her to apply research findings to improve policy and practice and resolve conflict related to animal welfare.

Cathy has been involved with horses since she was a teenager, as a pony clubber to advanced dressage rider. Currently she teaches APBI 316 “Equine Biology, Health and Welfare”.

For a list of Dr. Schuppli’s publications on Google Scholar, click here.


Marina (Nina) von Keyserlingk, Professor

Nina von KeyserlingkNina’s love for animals began while growing up on a large cattle ranch in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Her passion for animals, teaching and research are brought together in her work as a member of the Animal Welfare Program.  Her approach to teaching is simple – students learn best when they are excited about what they are learning.  Her graduate students are her inspiration as they are all extremely passionate and hard working – covering research that involves both the natural and social sciences. For instance, some of her students are exploring how to improve the lives of cows and calves using experimental approaches such as preference testing; whereas, others are exploring how to motivate farmers to adopt new practices that improve the welfare of farm animals. Nina’s teaching includes the popular courses “Animals and Society” (co-taught with David Fraser).  She is also extremely interested in allowing students to learn about research using a hands-on approach via her course “Research Methods in Applied Animal Biology” (co-taught with Dan Weary) and via research internships, directed studies, and undergraduate thesis courses. A number of undergraduates who have completed directed studies or undergraduate thesis projects have published their work in the peer-reviewed literature – well done students!! She has served as an advisor on animal welfare to Dean Foods Inc. (Dallas, Texas), Dairy 2050 Sustainability (Chazy, New York), CEVA (Bordeaux, France) and the National Federation of Milk Producers (Arlington, Virginia). Her awards include the Award for Excellence in Dairy Science, American Association of Dairy Science, the Canadian Animal Industries Award in Extension and Public Service in recognition of her outstanding service to the farm animal industries and the Metacam Animal Welfare Award for outstanding service in the area of cattle welfare (with Dan Weary).

  • For a list of Nina’s publications on Google Scholar, click here
  • To see her student ratings (4.9 out of 5) on ratemyprofessors.com, click here
  • To listen to a webinar of one of her lectures on dairy cattle welfare, click here.

Dan Weary, Professor

Dan WearyHave you ever wondered what animals are thinking or how they feel, about what bothers them, and what it takes to really provide a good life for the animals we care for? These are the questions that Dan Weary addresses in his research and teaching within UBC’s Applied Animal Biology program. Dan grew up in Africa, the West Indies, the Middle East and in rural Quebec, and then was educated at McGill (BSc) and Oxford (D.Phil), specializing in biology and the study of animal  behaviour. His current research focuses on animals ranging from dairy cows to zebra fish, and through his work he tries to get people interested in how animals see the world, and in practical ways of providing better living conditions for animals kept by humans. Dan teaches the award-winning course “Animal Welfare and the Ethics of Animal Use” (co-taught with David Fraser). A special passion is engaging students in research, as this allows students to benefit from their studies in one of world’s top research universities, and to get hands-on experience working with the world’s leading group working on animal welfare. Dan provides research opportunities via his course “Research Methods in Applied Animal Biology” (co-taught with Marina von Keyserlingk) and via research internships, directed studies, and undergraduate thesis courses.

  • For a list of Dan’s research publications on Google Scholar, click here
  • To see his student ratings (4.8 out of 5) on ratemyprofessors.com, click here
  • For a video of featuring his work on laboratory animals, click here
  • And for a video tour showing some of our work with dairy cows and calves, click here.