Grad research has significant impact!

Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

The following news about graduate student Amy (Zhaoshu) Shi’s MSc research with the department. It’s good news for our research and its impact, but actually fairly bad news for the province and our forest ecosystems.

In July, GEG MSc student Amy Shi ( was part of a group of students and field technicians from Natural Resources Canada and University of Guelph who identified a new case of the invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) insect in an Eastern Hemlock forest near Cobourg, Ontario. Until now, it was believed that HWA had only reached as far north as the Niagara region, far from the dense Eastern Hemlock stands further north in Ontario. The finding has since been reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, allowing them to enact control measures in the area to hopefully slow the spread of the pest. As climate change continues to induce shifts in HWA’s range, this discovery has important implications for the province’s ability to mitigate against the potentially devastating effects of the pest in Ontario.

Amy’s fieldwork is part of a project led by Dr. Ben DeVries and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), Forestry Futures Project. The project aims to develop automated methods for classifying Eastern Hemlock in Ontario forests using satellite imagery and machine learning. While not a specific aim of the project, the identification of HWA well beyond its previously known range underscores the urgency and impact of this work.

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