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Who We Are

Home * WHO WE ARE * Our Team
Our Team
The staff of the Invasive Species Centre are an enthusiastic team who strive to address the threats of invasive species with diligence, passion and creativity

The Invasive Species Centre is staffed by a combination of permanent and contract staff located at the head office in Sault Ste. Marie. Together, we bring diverse expertise and experience in natural science, policy, economics, administration, communications, graphic design, and education. 

The Invasive Species Centre also benefits from the talents of interns, students and recent graduates who join the team for placements of up to one year, and from technical experts who join the Invasive Species Centre on a project-by-project basis. 

In Sault Ste. Marie, the Invasive Species Centre is co-located with the Great Lakes Forestry Centre, a world-class science facility run by Natural Resources Canada.

Tracey Cooke

Executive Director
Invasive Species Centre
(705) 541-5770

Through her work with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ducks Unlimited Canada and consulting in the private and not-for-profit sectors, Tracey Cooke brings expertise in partnership development and stakeholder relations. Tracey is skilled at forging and nurturing partnerships through collaboration, and is an enthusiastic communicator, facilitator and fundraiser. Her strong track record of managing complex programs with diverse partners makes Tracey uniquely qualified to lead the Invasive Species Centre as it grows existing relationships and seeks out new partners to work together on priority projects. 
Tracey holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Environment and Resources Studies from the University of Waterloo. A native of Thessalon, Ontario, she lives on the North Channel of Lake Huron with her husband and three children.

Deborah Sparks

Business Development and Communications Manager
Invasive Species Centre
(705) 541-5771

Deb Sparks is the Business Development and Communications Manager for the Invasive Species Centre. Deb builds relationships, engages, and collaborates with a broad array of stakeholders and funders to protect Canada's forests and waterways from the threat of invasive species. Deb aims to spark and influence public discussion, contribute to policy developments, and transfer policy and science knowledge to the broader public. She also leads corporate initiatives with a focus on business development, finance, and information management and has managed the ISC's Asian Carp Canada program and education strategy. Before joining the Invasive Species Centre in November 2011, Deb spent five years as a teacher and draws on her Bachelor of Education from Nipissing University and Bachelor of Fine Arts from Laurentian University for the communications component of her work. Her corporate experience rests on fifteen years in the commercial, finance, and public service sectors of Canada and England. 

Dave Nisbet

Partnership & Science Manager
Invasive Species Centre
(705) 541-5752

David joined the Invasive Species Centre in 2014 as a Project Coordinator Intern. David recently completed his MSc in Environmental Science at University of Guelph, researching ecological impacts of emerald ash borer (EAB) in Ontario forests. He completed his undergraduate degree at University of Toronto with a double major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Forest Conservation Science. David oversees all science-based projects at the ISC. 


       Paula Beemer

 Office Manager
 Invasive Species Centre
 (705) 541-5790

Paula Beemer joined the Invasive Species Centre in April 2014 as the office manager where she is responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the office,providing front line support for the organization, maintain corporate filing systems including human resources records, financial tracking, prepare funding reports, space and facilities management, shipping and receiving, scheduling appointments and meetings involving multiple participants, managing meetings and event logistics. She coordinates all administrative requirements in support of the Board of Directors and committees, and works closely with the Executive Director and management team to ensure the company’s staffing, equipment, and organizational needs are met. She is also the Health and Safety Officer, providing support regarding tenancy arrangements and building security.



 Lauren Tonelli

 Asian Carp Project Manager
 Invasive Species Centre
 (705) 541-5751

Lauren joined the ISC as an intern in 2014 and has since moved into the Asian Carp Canada project. She completed her BSc at the University of Western Ontario with an Honours Specialization in Biology. Throughout university she participated in an ongoing restoration project which involved assessing a property, creating a restoration management plan, and then volunteering to implement a few of the restoration projects. This allowed her to map invasive plants (including Garlic Mustard, Periwinkle, and Phragmites) and start working on how to effectively remove them. She also did a review and lead a seminar on the invasive capability of Norway Maples, and their potential impacts. Her past work experience includes environmental audit preparation for a hydroelectric generating company, writing a policy and procedure manual for a small company, and leading a Stewardship Youth Ranger team, in partnership with the OMNRF, for two years.

Taylor Wright

Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) Project Coordinator
Invasive Species Centre 
(705) 541-5748

Taylor joined the Invasive Species Centre as an intern in 2014, and has taken on the role of Project Coordinator for the Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) Network Ontario project. Taylor completed her Honours BSc. in Biology at the University of Ottawa. Taylor is responsible for recruiting volunteers to partake in the EDRR project, and coordinating several events such as open houses and workshops to engage and empower community members in invasive species detection, control and management. Through this two-year project, invasive species knowledge and action will move outside of expert circles to better arm citizens with awareness, knowledge and tools to undertake their own on-the-ground projects across Ontario. 


          David Dutkiewicz

           Insect Diagnostician
           Invasive Species Centre
           (705) 541-5775

David previously worked at NRCan in the insect diagnostic services for 4 year assisting with several research projects including the invasive alien species survey, as well as multiple emerald ash borer surveys and trapping programs. David graduated from Algoma University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology then graduated in 2013 from Sault College in the Forestry Conservation Technician program. David is currently completing his Masters of Science in Environmental Science through the University of Guelph and is a candidate for graduation this coming new year.


      Quinn MacDonald

 Program Analyst
 Invasive Species Centre
 (705) 541-5746

 Quinn, originally from Bruce Mines, is the ISC's Program Analyst and mother of  four. On top of her Honours Bachelor of Science in Genetics from University of  Western Ontario, she also obtained a Bachelor of Education from Nipissing  University. Before joining the ISC Quinn was a high-school curriculum teacher  focused in science, mathematics and computers for 12 years. As program  analyst, Quinn's lead projects at the ISC include assessing the hemlock woolly  adelgid situation, file migration and assisting on multiple Forest Invasives  projects. 


 Aliesha Moore

 Communications Coordinator 
 Invasive Species Centre
 (705) 541-5794

Aliesha graduated from the University of Windsor with an Honours BA in Drama and Communication Studies. In 2014, she earned her Post-Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from Ryerson University. She comes to the ISC in an Analyst position with over 7 years of experience working and volunteering in the marketing, communications, public relations and customer service industries.


Lauren Bell

Communications Coordinator Intern
Invasive Species Centre
(705) 541-5749

Lauren comes to the ISC from Carleton University, where she earned her Honours Degree in Environmental Studies. In 2013, Lauren spent a study term abroad in Scotland where she discovered her passion for ecosystem and pest management. Lauren has three years previous experience working in the environmental non-profit sector. Lauren runs the ISC's social media accounts, assists in corporate communications including writing policy briefs, drafting the newsletter, and communications reports

            Maria Al Zayat

Policy and Program Development Intern
Invasive Species Centre
(705) 541-5773

Maria completed her Honours BSc. in Forest Conservation Science at the University of Toronto. She is currently on a gap year and is working with the Invasive Species Centre as a Policy and Program Development Intern. At the ISC, Maria develops web content for the Forest Invasives website, and performs policy research on invasive species impact. 

                     Rebecca Schroeder

    Project Coordinator Intern
    Invasive Species Centre
    (705) 541-5778

     Rebecca is a Sault Ste. Marie native, and obtained her degree in Biology            from Algoma University. Her previous work studying the relationship                  between Emerald Ash Borer related tree mortality on bird composition              prompted her interest in Invasive Species. At the ISC, Rebecca's                          responsibilities include conducting economic impact reports, Asian carp            webinars, as well as running the Asian carp social media accounts.                      Rebecca's main interests include conservation and environmental                      management. 


Sarah Butler

Senior Analyst
Invasive Species Centre
(705) 541-5753

Sarah earned her BSc in Environmental Biology and her MSc in in Entomology from the University of Guelph. She went on to complete her PhD in Entomology from the University of California Riverside, and did two post-docs at University of Kentucky and Louisiana State University. Sarah is the ISC's lead risk analyst focused on Mountain Pine Beetle.