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Researchers setting up a field experiment on a farm

Our (growing) research team

We are a brand new lab with exciting funded research projects for MSc and PhD graduate students to lead. Prospective graduate students with academic training and/or experience in agroecology, soil science, biogeochemistry, plant science, environmental sciences, and other relevant fields are encouraged to connect with me (

Prospective graduate students are encouraged to take a look at:

Environmental & Life Sciences Graduate Program

Graduate Scholarships and Awards

I am also seeking enthusiastic undergraduate students enrolled at Trent University who would like to gain experience conducing field and lab work in agricultural and environmental sciences.

Current lab members


Aleisha Cassidy

MSc Student

Environmental and Life Sciences, Trent

Aleisha attended Carleton University for her bachelor's, earning a degree in Physical Geography. She took a few years off, pursuing a career as a floral designer. This cultivated her love of all things that grow, bringing her to Trent. With a love of plants and science, Aleisha has directed her passions towards Environmental Science and Agroecology. Her research is focused on belowground plant processes, with an emphasis on plant root traits. She will be looking at interactions between cover crop roots and mycorrhizal fungi, exploring the possibility of the fungi creating a carbon sink. Aleisha remains captivated by the world around her and hopes to foster a deeper understanding of the world beneath the soil.  When not in the lab, she spends her free time exploring forests, creative writing, and playing the harp.

Victoria Vanslyke

Victoria VanSlyke

MSc Student

Environmental and Life Sciences, Trent

Victoria earned a BSc in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at Trent. Her MSc research is focused on the interactive effect of tile drainage and cover crops on greenhouse gas emissions. One of the innovative techniques she plans to employ is the use of ground penetrating radar device to non-destructively estimate cover crop root biomass. Victoria is excited to continue learning about sustainable agriculture’s potential to mitigate climate change.

Dr. Kira Borden

Dr. Kira Borden

Assistant Professor

Trent School of the Environment

I am an agroecologist with expertise in plant-soil interactions, plant functional ecology, and biogeochemical cycling. I've conducted my research over a range of agricultural environments that feature more plant diversity (such as with cover crops, intercropped vegetables, and various forms of agroforestry) across Canada, West Africa, and the Caribbean. Prior to my position at Trent, I earned my PhD from the University of Toronto and led research at The University of British Columbia and University of Guelph as an NSERC-Banting postdoctoral fellow.

I am thrilled to join the Trent School of the Environment and am leading several new research projects financially supported by NSERC (Discovery and Alliance grants), Trent University, and OMAFRA.

Dilrukshi Kombala Liyanage

Dilrukshi Kombala Liyanage

PhD candidate, University of Guelph

co-supervised with Dr. Claudia Wagner-Riddle

Dilrukshi earned her bachelor's degree in agricultural science from the University of Wayamba in Sri Lanka. She then earned her Master of Science in plant science from the University of Alberta in 2022, investigating the effects of drought stress on soybean. Her persistent interest in agriculture prompted her to pursue a Ph.D. in Environmental science at the University of Guelph. She aims to understand how the use of cover crop mixtures could optimize the greenhouse gas reduction benefit through increased diversity and complementary root-soil interactions of different species. Her long-term educational goal is to contribute to research on greenhouse gas emissions reduction. When not in the lab or the field, Dilrukshi enjoys painting, cooking and reading.


Nathan Gillespie

Research Assistant

BSc in Environmental Chemistry, Trent

Nathan is going into his third year of an undergraduate Environmental Chemistry degree. Research interests include soil and water chemistry, habitat restoration ecology, and nutrient cycling processes. He is interested in learning more about the interactions between soil nutrients and soil microbes. He hopes to one day apply this knowledge to his own future education and career. Nathan also enjoys going camping and hiking in nature whenever he gets the chance!


Athena Wang

Placement Student and Research Assistant

BA in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

Athena is going into her fourth year in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (BA) at Trent. She is interested in sustainable growing methods and small-scale agriculture production. She hopes to improve her understanding of soil-plant interactions and apply her knowledge to future career endeavors. Outside of school, Athena enjoys making pottery and taking care of houseplants.  

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