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. Kevin Kemball

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. Amanda Schoonmaker

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. Bin Xu

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).

Dr. Jean-Marie Sobze

Ricky Kong, Research Associate

Ricky completed his B.Sc. (honors) in Ecology at the University of Alberta and his Ph.D. at the University of Western Ontario in Plant Biology. He has experience assessing plant growth and physiological responses to abiotic stress. His projects have focused on freezing, drought, nitrogen stress and CO2 changes in a variety of plant species. At CBR, he is currently working on restoring caribou habitat with lichen transplants. He is also working on using electrokinetic methods to remediate contaminated sites.

Ricky Kong

Dr. Chibuike Chigbo, Research Associate

Chibuike received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Birmingham, UK, specializing in contaminated soil remediation processes and passive treatment technologies, and was awarded a TWAS research grant. Since joining the centre as a research associate in the forest reclamation program, he has supported the implementation and execution of applied research projects including site set up, monitoring, as well as coordinating laboratory and greenhouse experiments. He is a professional biologist with the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB).

Chibuike Chigbo

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.

Julie Willoughan

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.

Dr. Mark Baah-Acheamfour

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.

Melanie Bird

Rielle Massey-Leclerc, Research Extension and Education Coordinator

Rielle coordinates technical knowledge transfer of the centre’s applied research. This includes developing technical resources and guides of applied research results for use by practitioners, researchers and the general public.  Rielle uses her background in science outreach and passion for conservation education to connect the centre’s work with youth and the public through partnered outreach events, promoting awareness and discussion of work being done in the boreal region. Rielle earned her BSc in Biology at the University of Calgary.

Rielle Massey-Leclerc

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.


Ryan O'Neill

Sahari Inoue, Research Associate

Sahari received her M.Sc. in Agrobiology (Plant Pathology) from Hokkaido University, Japan, and her Ph.D. in Forest Science (Plant Eco-Physiology) from Lakehead University, Canada where she did research focusing on the impact of climate-change associated abiotic stress on boreal tree species. At CBR, her research seeks to advance our understanding of pre-sowing techniques to overcome seed dormancy, to improve seed germination, and get a better understanding of the traits that contribute to salinity and drought tolerance in native boreal species.

Sahari Inoue