Lab members

Oscar Venter, University of Northern British Columbia


Hi, I’m an Associate Professor and FRBC/West Fraser research chair in the Ecosystem Science and Management Progam at UNBC. I consider myself to be a quantitative conservation scientist, and I work to understand the trade-offs and synergies among economic production, ecosystem services and conservation in natural and human modified ecosystems. I received my PhD in Forest Conservation from the University of Queensland in 2011. I undertook two ARC post-doc fellowships before moving to the University of Northern British Columbia in 2016. I am passionate about using quantitative spatial analyses to inform real-world forest management decisions that balance what are often conflicting values.



Dr Michelle Venter, University of Northern British Columbia


Michelle is based at the University of North British Columbia’s Ecosystem Science and Management Program, where she is a post-doc in the IFD lab. She completed her PhD in forest ecology and carbon management at James Cook University in 2016, where she was supervised by Professor Michael Bird. Michelle is passionate about community-based resource management issues, and thrives on challenging field work, having spent two years as a biologist aboard Bering Sea trawlers, two years surveying in Australia’s sweltering Outback and three years establishing an elevational transect in the remote and rugged tropical forests of Papua New Guinea.

Rebecca Runting, University of Queensland

Rebecca’s research interests span environmental management, ecosystem services and ecological economics, with a particular focus on planning for multiple conservation and development objectives in Australia and Indonesian Borneo. Her PhD research at The University of Queensland focused on developing and evaluating strategies to manage multiple ecosystem services under uncertain climate change in coastal wetlands and tropical rangelands.
Rebecca is now a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science in collaboration with the Integrated Forest Decisions Lab at the University of Northern British Columbia. This project will compare land sparing and land sharing strategies for forest management in Indonesian Borneo, with consideration for carbon emissions, biodiversity, timber production, and other ecosystem services. This research is cross-disciplinary, linking methods from ecological modelling, economics, and operations research.

Graduate Students

Kristen Hirsh-Pearson, MSc Candidate, UNBC


With a Specialization in environmental sciences and a minor in sustainability studies from Concordia University, Kristen is passionate about conservation issues and the well being of ecosystems. Coming to the program with more field work background, Kristen hopes to build a solid foundation in spatial analyses in order to have a more dynamic skill set. She is working on cumulative threat mapping during her master’s at UNBC in the Natural Resource and Environmental Studies program in Forestry.

James Allen, PhD Candidate. University of Queensland

James A

James is currently studying cumulative threat mapping, and how to link human pressure to biodiversity outcomes for his PhD, co-supervised by Oscar Venter. James grew up in Kenya where he was surrounded by wildlife and the outdoors. School holidays were spent on safari, game driving with clients, discussing Africa’s conservation challenges around the campfire, and on walking safaris in some of Kenya’s wildest and most beautiful regions.

This inspired James to study a science degree, the highlight being his Honours year with Hugh Possingham at UQ. After his degree, he returned to Kenya where he worked for the African Conservation Centre, an NGO whose focus is on community conservation in pastoral lands studying carnivore-livestock interactions.  His research interests are broad but two examples include the impacts of development on conservation, and incentives for land-use change.

Past lab members

Dr Moreno Di Marco, postdoc, University of Queensland


Moreno undertook a 2 yr postdoc with Oscar Venter, James Watson and Hugh Possingham at the University of Queensland. Moreno currently works for CSIRO where his is pusuing research evaluating the effects of human impacts on species extinction and ecology, and how humans modify global macro-ecological patterns.

Victoria Graham, MSc, James Cook University

Tori (2)

Tori undertook a MSc with Oscar Venter assessing the economic viability of REDD+ in Indonesia, which she has now upgraded to a PhD supervised by Bill Laurance at James Cook University. Tori is passionate about conservation biology and has dedicated the last four years studying just this. In 2012, she completed a Grad. Dip. at JCU studying the use of riparian corridors by stream frogs in Australia’s Wet Tropics.