Our Team

Dr. Kevin Kemball,
Director of Business Development for NAIT Centre for Boreal Research

Dr. Kemball is the Director of Business Development for the Centre for Boreal Research. In this role Kevin works in a collaborative environment to support applied research in Alberta. Kevin is responsible for implementing the strategic direction and integration of NAIT’s boreal applied research to meet the needs of industry and Albertans. Kevin is a Professional Biologist with a background in biology (B.Sc.), forestry (M.Sc.), and a Ph.D. in ecology. Kevin has over 17 years of experience working in the boreal forest. His work focused primarily on environmental impact assessments, wetland restoration and construction, GHG quantification and project development.

Dr. Amanda Schoonmaker, NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Boreal Reclamation and Reforestation

Dr. Amanda Schoonmaker was named NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Boreal Reclamation and Reforestation in 2015. She received a Ph.D. in Forest Biology and Management (University of Alberta) and a BScF in Forest Sciences (University of British Columbia). Amanda and her team develop practical techniques to help oil and gas companies reclaim well sites that have reached the end of their lifespan, encouraging the growth of trees and shrubs compatible with the landscape. Since joining the centre, she has mentored over 30 students in applied research field operations.

Dr. Bin Xu, NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Peatland Restoration

Dr. Bin Xu joined the centre as the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Peatland Restoration in 2013 leading research focused on the restoration of sensitive peatland ecosystems. Bin received a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He has been involved in restoration projects of peatlands disturbed by oil and gas mining and peat harvesting in Alberta and in eastern Canada. Bin hopes to increase awareness of the importance of peatlands and find cost-effective ways to balance economic needs with those of the environment.

Dr. Jean-Marie Sobze, Applied Research Chair in Plant and Seed Technologies

Dr. Jean-Marie Sobze is the Applied Research Chair in Plant and Seed Technologies, focused on developing practical technologies for plant propagation and seed delivery. He joined NAIT in 2010 as the Technology Transfer Coordinator, and has more than 15 years of experience in forest management and oil and gas industry-related reclamation research. He received his Ph.D. in Forestry at the University of Gottingen, Germany, specializing in community-based forest management, and is registered as a Professional Forester with the College of Alberta Professional Foresters (CAPF).

Bryce Hickey, Research Technician

Bryce joined the team in 2018 as a summer student after graduation from Olds College with a Land and Water Resources diploma, majoring in Land Reclamation and Remediation. He then joined as a research technician for the Plant and Seed Technologies Program in 2019. Bryce is involved with the collection, extraction, and growing of seeds, as well as a variety of lab and greenhouse work at the Centre for Boreal Research.

Catherine Brown, Boreal Science Educator

Catherine is the centre's Boreal Science Educator, part of the Research Extension and Education team. She received her M.Sc. in Geography and Environmental Management from the University of Waterloo. For her M.Sc. project she led the construction of a reclaimed wetland, and evaluated the hydrological and greenhouse gas processes of the site. Catherine specializes in environmental education and restoration, now acting as a liaison between the centre and the public. Her primary responsibilities are creating and delivering educational material, and spreading enthusiasm for science.

Dr. Chibuike Chigbo, Research Associate

Chibuike is a reclamation research associate in the forest reclamation research program. He has over nine years of experience in phytoremediation and passive treatment technologies, with focus on soil and water themes, complimenting a larger-standing interest in green remediation. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Birmingham, UK in 2013, specializing in contaminated soil remediation, and was awarded a TWAS research grant in 2015. Chibuike supports applied research projects at the centre, including exploring avenues for collaboration with industry. He is a Professional Biologist with the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB).

Dr. Chibuzo Ilogu, Research Associate

Chibuzo is a Research Associate in the Plant and Seed Technologies research program. He is passionate about plants and has extensive experience conducting plant research studies. He earned his M.Sc. in Environmental Protection and Agricultural Food Production and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Hohenheim, Germany and is a registered Professional Biologist with the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB).

John Marcelo, Administrative Specialist Research

John earned a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) with a major in Accounting from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and is currently a candidate for the CPA Professional Education Program. John joined NAIT as the Administrative Specialist Research in 2015, overseeing portfolios for three schools, including the School of Applied Sciences and Technology, School of Skilled Trades and Construction, and the School of Health and  Life Sciences. John has five years of experience as a financial analyst and is owner of Marcelo Tax Services in Edmonton.

Julie Willoughan, Program Assistant

Julie joined the centre as the Program Assistant in February 2017 bringing with her an extensive background in administration and accounting. She supports the centre's  program teams in day-to-day operations including a variety of administrative, coordination and logistical services. Julie further provides planning support for our workshops and advisory board meetings.

Dr. Mark Baah-Acheamfour, Research Associate

Mark is a soil scientist interested in soil organic matter, dynamics, stabilization processes, and how these are affected by soil management in forest and agricultural ecosystems. Mark received his Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Alberta in 2016, and MScF in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick in 2011. He  worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta prior to joining the Centre for Boreal Research as a Research Associate in the Forest Reclamation Research program. He supports the implementation and execution of applied research projects, including data analysis and scientific report writing.

Melanie Bird, Research Technician

Melanie earned a B.Sc. (Hons) in geography from the University of Calgary with a focus on soils and ecohydrology, and was a member of the Wetland Soil and Ecohydrology Lab conducting peatland-related research. Since joining the centre as a research officer in the Peatland Restoration Program in 2014, Melanie has managed field operations, site set up, training and coordination of field staff, data collection, site monitoring, as well as executing lab and greenhouse experiments. Melanie's prior work experience involves data management for a petrochemical company.

Michael Bilek, Research Associate

Michael is a Research Associate in the Plant and Seed Technologies research program. He received his M.Sc. in Forestry from the University of British Columbia in 2019. His Master’s research focused on the effects of salinity and hydraulic fracturing wastewater on the growth and physiology of poplar and willow species. Michael specializes in salinity tolerance in plants species for use in phytoremediation of disturbed gas and oil sites. He is currently researching the establishment of understory species in seed orchards, greenhouse salinity trials, and monitoring soil and water chemistry in decommissioned gas and oil sites in Zama, Alberta.

Ryan O'Neill, Research Technician

Ryan is a graduate of NAIT's Forest Technology Diploma program (2013) and Biological Sciences Diploma program (2010), and a Registered Professional Forest Technologist (RPFT) with the College of Alberta Professional Forest Technologists (CAPFT). Ryan joined the centre in 2012 as a summer assistant before moving into a permanent role as a field research technician in 2014. Ryan specializes in identification, collection, extraction, and propagation of boreal plant species within the Plant and Seed Technologies Program.

Kaela Walton-Sather, Research Technician

Kaela received a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Alberta and completed the Biological Sciences Technology Diploma program specializing in Renewable Resources at NAIT. As part of the Forest Reclamation team, she primarily focuses on tailings remediation research projects. In addition, she contributes to the Research Extension and Education team by writing technical notes and videos, and supporting outreach events.