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.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Holly Steeves (CANSSI CRT Funded Post-Doc 2020-2022)

Holly completed her PhD in Statistics at Dalhousie University, joining the lab in October 2020 to work as part of the CANSII collaborative research team project titled Addressing Spatial and Computational Issues in Integrated Analysis of Modern Ecological Data. For the project, Holly is developing modelling techniques to assess the progress of several reclamation projects in the Alberta oil sands using camera-trap data. In addition to this work, she is working with the Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation to evaluate robustness of citizen science data without expert validations. 

Claryana Araujo-Wang (Mitacs Accelerate Post-Doc 2019-2021)

Claryana completed her PhD in the Ecology and Evolution at the Federal University of Goiás, Brazil, and joined the lab in April, 2019 under a Mitacs Accelerate post-doctoral fellowship in partnership with OceanWise ( Claryana’s research focuses on understanding threatened populations of cetaceans including the river dolphins of Brazil and the Taiwanese white-dolphin. She has written a book on the river dolphins of Brazil and is the author of a number of papers on these species. Her current work focuses on modelling photo-id data on the Taiwanese white-dolphin to better understand this critically endangered species and how it might be saved.

PhD Students

Johanna de Haan Ward (MSc 2019, PhD 2023)

Johanna de Haan ward

Johanna is a PhD student jointly supervised by myself and Dr. Douglas Woolford. Johanna received her MSc in Statistics from Western University in 2019 and her BSc in Mathematics from McGill University in 2018.

Johanna is interested in Bayesian inference, integrated nested Laplace approximation (INLA) methods, and statistical modelling, particularly applied to ecological problems.

Alex Draghici (MSc 2018, PhD 2022)

Alex is a PhD student in the Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences at Western University. He earned his MSc in Statistics from Western in 2018 and his BSc in Mathematics at Queen’s University in 2015. Prior to attending grad school, Alex spent two years working as a Catastrophe Risk Analyst at Validus Research.

Alex is interested in Bayesian methods, Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) applications, and high performance computing in statistics. Currently, he is working on extending the common frameworks for modeling data from studies of marked animals by explicitly accounting for the association between individuals who form time-variable social groupings.

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 hierarchical generalized linear models (HGLMs), statistical computing for mixed-effects models, Bayesian approach and extended likelihood approach. She is currently developing the h-likelihood approach for vector hierarchical generalized linear models (VHGLMs) and its application in mark-recapture models with unobserved heterogeneity.

MSc Students

Braedan Walker (MSc 2022)

Braedan graduated with a BSc Hon. in Statistics at the University of Saskatchewan and is currently an MSc student in the department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences at the University of Western Ontario.

Braedan is still testing the waters to find where his core statistical interests lie, but for now he is letting the applications of statistics lead the way. He is currently in the early stages of a project regarding the quantification of lipids using mass spectrometry data.

Previous Lab Members

Wei Zhang (Post-Doctoral Fellow 2017-2019)

Wei is a Lecturer in the School of Mathematics & Statistics at the University of Glasgow.

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. He also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Wei’s work has focused 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.

Patrick Mahon (NSERC USRA 2019)

Patrick is completing his BSc in Biology and Computer Science at the University of Western Ontario. He joined the lab as an NSERC USRA student in 2019 and worked developing Bayesian models for analysing data on bird activities collected from the Motus project.

Philip Choi (NSERC USRA 2019)

Patrick is completing his BSc in Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario. He joined the lab as an NSERC USRA student in 2019 and worked on application of machine learning to ecological data using the TensorFlow package for Python.

Jiaqi Mu (MSc 2018-2019)

Jiaqi completed her MSc at the University of Western Ontario in 2019. Her thesis focused onthe identifiability of alternative models to account for the effects of continuous covariates of survival in mark-recapture using generalized link functions. She now works in the Retail Business and Internet Finance Department of Haitong securities in Shanghai.

Siobhan Schenk (BSc 2018)

Siobhan is currently a MSc Student in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at McGill University. Siobhan complete  her Honours Specialization in Biology at Western in 2018. 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.

Amanda Ellis (PhD 2018)

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

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)

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Woody is a Senior Manager of Biostatistics at Pfizer Inc.

Woody 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)


Ben is a Postdoctoral-fellow in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University.

Ben 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.

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 is a Senior Biostatistician with Roche Pharmaceuticals.

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.