Current Lab Members

Simon Bonner (Principal Investigator)

Simon completed his PhD in statistics at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, and then spent two years as a post-doc at the University of British Columbia. He was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Kentucky between January 2011 and June 2015. Currently, he holds a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor of Environmetrics in the Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences and Departments of Biology at the University of Western Ontario.

Simon’s research interests lie in the fields of ecological statistics, Bayesian inference, and Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling. Most of his work has focused on developing models for the analysis of complex mark-recapture data. Particular problems he has worked on include modeling the effects of time-dependent, individual covariates, accounting for misidentification in mark-recapture experiments, and analyzing “big” mark-recapture data sets.

Han-Na Kim (MSc 2017, PhD 2021)

Han-Na received her BSc in statistics from Simon Fraser University in 2016. She received MSc in Statistics and is now a Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistical and Actuarial Science at the University of Western Ontario.

Han-Na is interested in statistical computing, Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) and applied Bayesian Statistics.  She is currently working on implementing MCMC algorithms for fitting Double Hierarchical Generalized Linear Models (DHGLMs).

Siobhan Schenk (BSc 2018)

Siobhan is currently in her fourth year of a Honours Specialization in Biology degree at Western. She joined the lab during the summer of 2016 and has worked on various projects that used RFID tags and nano-radio tags to describe bird movement. Siobhan is interested in using mathematical models to describe complex problems in all aspects of biology.

Alex Draghici (MSc 2018, PhD 2022)

Alex is an MSc student studying Statistical Theory in the Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences at Western University.  He earned his BSc in Honours Mathematics at Queen’s University in 2015. After that, Alex spent two years working as a Catastrophe Risk Analyst at Validus Research.

Alex is interested in Bayesian statistical methods, simulation, Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) applications, and computing. Currently, he is working on developing an extension to the Cormack-Jolly-Seber framework that will account for complex dependencies between sub-groups of marked animal populations.

Jiaqi Mu (MSc 2018)



Wei Zhang (Post-Doctoral Fellow 2017-2019)


Wei joined the lab in December 2017, as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences at Western University. Before moving to Canada, Wei completed his PhD in statistics at The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Wei used to be working on probability density approximation techniques and their applications for maximum likelihood estimation in mark-recapture and population genetics models. Currently, he is trying to extend the methods to more complicated models in mark-recapture. In the near future, Wei will also dabble in Bayesian inference and Markov chain Monte Carlo methods in statistical ecology.

Previous Lab Members

Amanda Ellis (PhD 2018)

Amanda is a graduate of the Department of Statistics at the University of Kentucky and defended her PhD titled “Accounting for Matching Uncertainty in Photographic Identification Studies of Wild Animals” in December 2017. In her thesis, Amanda studied methods to improve photo-based mark-recapture by allowing for uncertainty in the matches and incorporating methods from record linkage. The full text of her dissertation will be available online shortly.

Amanda is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Eastern Kentucky University.

Amanda enjoys coding and is the current maintainer and co-author of the R-package npmv. This package performs nonparametric inference for the comparison of multivariate data samples and has been used in the analysis of neurological studies.

Woodrow Burchett (PhD 2017)

2014-11-24 18.15.24Woody successfully defended his PhD thesis titled “Improving the Computational Efficiency in Bayesian Fitting of Cormack-Jolly-Seber Models with Individual, Continuous, Time-Varying Covariates ” in May of 2017.  The full text of his thesis is available in the University of Kentucky digital archives. Woody is also a co-author of the R packages npmv and visreg and is currently working as a statistician with Pfizer pharmaceuticals in New London, Connecticut.

Ben Augustine (MSc 2014)

AugustineBen is a locally extirpated member of the Bonner lab, having dispersed back to his native habitat in the mountains of southwest Virginia. He received his Bachelors degree in Wildlife Science from Virginia Tech and Masters degrees in Forestry and Mathematical Statistics from the University of Kentucky. He is currently a PhD student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech.

Ben is currently working on extending mark recapture models for hair snare experiments where there may be a behavioral response to capture, but not all hair samples produce an individual identification. In these cases, it is no longer known with certainty which captures were first captures and which were subsequent captures where previously-captured animals will have a different capture probability. However, this information can be recovered by modeling the capture, hair deposition, subsampling, and DNA amplification processes.

Ben enjoys working at the interface between Ecological Statisticians and applied Wildlife Biologists and has several previous and ongoing collaborations serving this role. He has collaborated on projects studying a diverse array of species including black bear, elk, desert tortoise, northern spotted owls, and Florida panthers.

Gabrielle Miles (MSc 2012)

Gabby completed her Masters degree in Mathematical Statistics at the University of Kentucky and earned her undergraduate degree in Applied Math and Statistics from Radford University. She currently works as a Senior Biostatistician at Roche Diagnostics in Indianapolis, IN.

As a graduate student at UK, Gabby was interested in the applications of statistics for ecology and participated in research on non-timber forest products. She collaborated on a project modeling the relationship between below ground and above ground biomass of black cohosh in which a linear mixed effects model was developed to predict root mass based on simple above ground measurements.

Check out this article about Gabby on the University of Kentucky’s website.