Since its inception in 2002, the Applied Soil Ecology Lab has provided research opportunites for 17 undergraduate thesis and co-op students, graduated 22 M.Sc. and 11 Ph.D. students, hosted 7 international Visiting Researchers, provided career development opportunities for 11 Research Associates / Post Doctoral Fellowships, employed more than 60 undergraduate summer students, and trained 45 technicians in its Greenhouse Gas Research Program and Soil Ecology & Plant Disease Research Program.

Many of our past personnel have gone on to further their education and establish successful careers in their field of study, including positions with major agronomic associations and businesses, Manitoba Agriculture, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), as professors / researchers at Canadian or international universities, and proprietors of agronomic businesses / consulting firms.

Staff and Students celebrating the end of the 2022 summer field season.


Post Doctoral Fellows & Research Associates

DR. MIKHAIL MASLOV (2023-) is a Postdoctoral Fellow whose research focuses on analysis of the unique dataset resulting from the Fertilizer Use Survey, which was conducted between the 2014 and 2019 growing seasons and summarizes the fertilizer management practices and current knowledge of 4R Nutrient Stewardship of growers across Canada. His analyses will enable the establishment of baseline and identification trends/future opportunities related to nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer management practices in the Canadian Prairies and Eastern Canada.

OLGA MASLOVA (2024-) is a Research Associate whose work focuses on molecular methods in soil science. Her responsibilities include extracting DNA and/or RNA from soil samples, conducting quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays, and analyzing the resulting data to determine the abundance and expression levels of functional genes involved in the nitrification, denitrification, nitrogen fixation, and ammonificiation steps of the nitrogen cycle (including archaeal and bacterial amoA, nirK, nirS, and nosZ, bacterial 16S rRNA, 450nor, and archaeal and anammox bacterial 16S rRNA).

PhD Students

JOSÉ A. ALMODÓVAR-GOMEZ (2022-) Benefits of Cover Crops and their Effect on Offsetting Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agriculture Systems in Southern Manitoba
José is a PhD candidate from Dominican Republic researching the effects of cover crops, and in particular verifying if the termination of an established cover crop results in N2O emissions. His research is conducted at the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment (NCLE)  Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Program (AGGP) long-term study site in Southern Manitoba.  

RIDA SABIROVA (2022-) Indirect Emissions of Nitrogen as NH3 on Sand and Clay Soil; Extending Biophysical Models of N2O Emissions to Include 4R Practices; Forecasting N2O Emission Reductions in Canada Based on 4R Practice Adoption Scenarios
Rida is a PhD candidate from Russia investigating indirect emissions of N as ammonia from sandy soils with multiple urease inhibitor products and varying urease inhibitor concentrations. She will use a method of measuring ammonia volatilization recently developed by Victoria Deakin, an Applied Soil Ecology Lab NSERC undergraduate student. A large part of Rida’s PhD is modelling 4R practices; in collaboration with AAFC-Ottawa and the University of Guelph, Rida will first determine existing gaps in the Canada-DNDC model that prevent 4R practices to be simulated, and then use datasets from the Lab’s past and current field projects to incorporate 4R practices into the model.

HEATHER FLOOD (2021-) Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycling in the Glenlea Long-term Crop Rotation and Management Study
Heather is a PhD candidate in the Department of Plant Science (co-supervised by Dr. Martin Entz).

MSc Students

SAKSHI (2022-) Meta-Analysis to Assess the Impact of 4R N Management on the Reduction of N2O Emissions
The scope of Sakshi’s research is to check direct and indirect nitrous oxide emissions from soil and the impact of nitrification inhibitors, and fertilizer placement, rate, and timing. Sakshi is co-supervised by Dr. Xiaopeng Gao, the 4R IRC incremental faculty hire and professor of soil fertility and agronomy in the Department of Soil Science.

FAEZEH PARASTESH (2021-) N2O Soil Profile Relationships to Field Emissions at the TGAS-MAN Long-term Greenhouse Gas Research Site
Faezeh’s research deals with soil profile characterization of greenhouse gases in clay soil and inference to production and consumption processes and conditions in the soil leading to surface fluxes. She is using the TGAS-MAN research site for her studies. Faezeh is co-supervised by Dr. Xiaopeng Gao, the 4R IRC incremental faculty hire and professor of soil fertility and agronomy in the Department of Soil Science.

SHANNON MUSTARD (2021-) Whole Field and Year Net Emission of N2O and CO2  for an Agricultural Field in Southwestern Manitoba under 4R Management
Shannon is an MSc student studying the relationship between synthetic fertilizer application, nitrification inhibitors, and N2O emissions from sandy loam soil in south-western Manitoba. The Trace Gas Harvest Moon site will be established spring 2022 and the first year will focus on developing a comprehensive site analysis. The second year will apply a flux gradient technique to collect continuous gas samples from the control (NO NIs) and treatment (NI) plots. Learn more about Shannon’s research here.

M JUNAID AFZAL (2021-) Fall Nitrification Inhibition of Anhydrous Ammonia in Manitoba
Junaid is an MSc student conducting large-scale field research trials in south-central Manitoba to determine if applying anhydrous ammonia in fall with Nitrification Inhibitors can slow down nitrification and reduce fall nitrogen (N) rate requirements, in order to prevent N losses due to nitrification and leaching. His research will improve our understanding of inhibiting nitrification and also allow us to compare the recently developed CENTURO® with the more commonly used N-Serve®.

HANNAH KEENES (2020-) Survey of cow-calf operations to characterize manure nutrient profile and management practices
Hannah is an MSc student in Animal Science (co-supervised by Dr. Kim Ominski) examining greenhouse gas emissions from stored manure from beef cow overwintering sites, and the relationship between manure emissions and farm management practices. Her project involves a producer survey, physical and chemical characterization of stored manure, and determination of manure gas flux using FTIR spectroscopy on 10 cow-calf farms across Manitoba.


BRAD SPARLING, B.A, M.A. Geog. (2005-)
Field Director & Lead Gas Analyst
Brad is the director of the Greenhouse Gas Program’s field operations, its lead gas analyst, and the Lab’s GIS technician. He is responsible for analyzing gas samples collected by graduate students and field technicians, processing the data, and maintaining the Lab’s three gas chromatographs. Brad also coordinates and supervises the field work for our multiple projects and trains our undergraduate summer research students in proper field sampling techniques.

Soil Ecology & Plant Disease Lab Director & Lead Molecular Biology Technician

Fernanda’s work focuses on microbial-host interactions, life-cycle development, and damage potential of economically important plant-parasitic nematode species. She coordinates routine diagnostic analyses (molecular and morphological) of soil-borne crop pathogens including fungi such as Verticillium spp. Fernanda is responsible for training new personnel, graduate and summer students in proper molecular biology/microbiology and lab safety techniques.

ZHE SONG, M.Sc. (2021-)
General Lab Director and Lead Chemical Analyst

Zhe is the Applied Soil Ecology Lab’s lead soil and plant chemistry analyst. His responsibilities include processing and analyzing soil and plant samples collected from greenhouse gas emissions field study sites, managing output data, and training undergraduate and graduate students on proper lab procedures.

4R IRC Research Program Technician

Marliese manages the website for the laboratory and 4R IRC (, social media accounts, and outreach programs. She also manages the Lab’s online digital databases and assists with the overall coordination of summer research student  training and daily field assignments and has experience collecting, processing, and analyzing gas, soil, and biomass samples for the Lab.

EMMA UNRUH, B.Sc. Eng. Biosystems (2020-)
Gas Lab and Engineering Technician
Emma works closely with Brad to analyze the thousands of greenhouse gas samples collected each growing season, process output data, and maintain the lab’s gas chromatographs. She also operates the lab’s 3D printer, a custom-made auto-evacuator used to prepare vials for gas emissions samples, and helps oversee the summer students’ daily activities.

PEDRO SEVILLE, B.Sc. (2023-)
Greenhouse Gas Lab & Field Technician
Pedro is a field and lab technician in support of the 4R IRC research program. His responsibilities include field sample prep, collecting and processing soil and biomass samples, collecting gas samples, and general field site set-up and maintenance.

PRABAKARAN SANTHANAM, B.Eng. Biosystems (2022-)
Research Assistant
Prabakaran is a Biosystems Engineer whose research in the Applied Soil Ecology Lab focuses on improving the Canadian swine production industries and auditing their water and energy resources.


Post Doctoral Fellows & Research Associates

Dr. Pedro Ferrari Machado (2021-2022) 4R Nutrient Stewardship Industrial Research Chair program Project 4.1The Eastern Canada Fertilizer Use Survey

Faith Omonijo (2019-2020) (co-supervised by Christine Rawluk, NCLE Research Development & Communications Coordinator, University of Manitoba) Swine Science Cluster project, Advancing the Canadian Swine Sector Through Environmental Footprint Analysis.

Yaohong Zhang (2019-2020) (co-supervised by Dr. Xiaopeng Gao, Department of Soil Science, UM)

Dr. Xiaopeng Gao (2012-2020) Development and Modeling of 4R® Management Strategies to Reduce N2O Emissions from Agricultural Systems. Dr. Gao is now an Assistant Professor in Soil Fertility and Agronomy in the Department of Soil Science at the U of M.

Dr. Kevin Baron (2013-2017) Field Studies of 4R® Nitrogen Management of Wheat and Canola

Dr. Mehrdad Madani (2012-2016) Molecular Diagnostic Development of Plant Parasitic Nematodes

Dr. Haben Asgedom (2009-2012) 4R® Nitrogen Management Studies for Reduction in Emissions of Nitrous Oxide from Soil

Dr. Shabeg Briar (2009-2011) Survey of Plant Parasitic Nematodes of Yellow Pea in Prairie Canada

Dr. Abdel El Hadrami (2007-2009) Green Manures to Reduce Potato Early Dying

PhD Students

Nazanin Ghavami (2016-2024) Survey and development of a molecular test for Soybean Cyst Nematode (Heterodera glycines Ichinohe) in Manitoba (DOWNLOAD)

Yanyan Li (2019-2020) (visiting PhD candidate from the Chinese Academy of Sciences studying under the supervision of Dr. Xiaopeng Gao) Thesis: Enhanced Efficiency Nitrogen Fertilizers to Reduce N2O Emissions from Irrigated Croplands in Arid Northwestern China

Mingyuan Yin (2018-2020) (visiting PhD candidate from the Chinese Academy of Sciences studying under the supervision of Dr. Xiaopeng Gao) Thesis: Emissions of N2O from Grassland Ecosystem Under Different Grazing Intensities on Kunlun Mountain in Southern Xinjiang, China

Griselda Gamarra (2018-2019) (visiting PhD candidate from the National University of Asuncion, Paraguay) Thesis: Development of a Model of Gross and Net Income and Return on Investment Based on the Application of Enhanced and Conventional Fertilizers

Wennong Kuang (2017-2019) (visiting PhD candidate from the Chinese Academy of Sciences studying under the supervision of Dr. Xiaopeng Gao) Thesis: Study on the Mechanism of Water and Fertilizer Management on N2O Production and Emission from Cotton Fields in Arid Regions of Northwest China

Abolfazl Hajihassani (2012-2016) Studies of Plant Host Preferences of the Stem Nematodes Ditylenchus weischeri and D. dipsaci (DOWNLOAD)

Oscar Molina (2011-2016) Identification of Verticillium Species and Control Methods for Verticillium Wilt of Potato in Manitoba (DOWNLOAD)

Ainsley Hamm (2009-2014) Bacterial Community Ecology and Fate in Integrated Livestock Production Systems (DOWNLOAD)

Luca Coppi (2006-2013) Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Soil and Groundwater Following Repeated Nitrogen-based Swine Slurry Applications to a Tame Grassland on Coarse Textured Soil (DOWNLOAD)

Aaron Glenn (2006-2010) Greenhouse Gas Fluxes and Budget for an Annual Cropping System in the Red River Valley, Manitoba, Canada (DOWNLOAD)

Amro Mahran (2005-2009) Suppression of the Root-lesion Nematode Using Liquid Hog Manure (DOWNLOAD)

MSc Students

Katie Webb (2021-2023) Effect of Fall Rye Cover Crop on CO2 and N2O Fluxes Over 4 Years in the Red River Valley, Manitoba, Canada (DOWNLOAD)

Claudia Quilesfogel-Esparza (2020-2023) Estimating Nitrogen Requirement of Grain Corn in Manitoba Using Optical Spectral Reflectance (DOWNLOAD)

Kody Oleson (2019-2023) Advanced 4R nitrogen management options for corn in sandy soils of Manitoba, Canada (DOWNLOAD)

Priscillar Wenyika (2016-2019) Host Preference for Pratylenchus neglectus Among the Major Crops Grown in the Canadian Prairie Provinces (DOWNLOAD)

Abhishek Agarwal (2016-2018) Study on Verticillium longisporum of Canola from the First Reported Farm in North America (DOWNLOAD)

Matthew Wood (2016-2018) Right Source and Right Time: Reducing Nitrous Oxide Emissions with Enhanced Efficiency Nitrogen Fertilizers (DOWNLOAD)

Fernanda Govea Pereira (2015-2018) Survey of Plant Parasitic Nematodes of Pulse Crop Fields in the Canadian Prairies (DOWNLOAD)

Mick Runzika (2014-2017) Nitrification Rate Effect on Cumulative Nitrous Oxide Emission from Soil (DOWNLOAD)

Megan Westphal (2014-2016) Nitrous Oxide Soil Emissions from an Organic and Conventionally Managed Cropping System in Manitoba (DOWNLOAD)

William Shaw (2014-2016) Placement, Timing, and Source of Nitrogen Fertilizer on Yield of Irrigated Russet Burbank Potato in Manitoba (DOWNLOAD)

Jolene Rutter (2012-2016) Winter Composting of Separated Pig Slurry Solids and Greenhouse Gas Emissions (DOWNLOAD)

Siobhan Maas (2009-2011) Perennial Legume Phase and Annual Crop Rotation Influences on CO2 and N2O Fluxes Over Two Years in the Red River Valley, Manitoba, Canada (DOWNLOAD)

Gwen Donohoe (2009-2011) Nutrient Excretion and Soil Greenhouse Emission from Excreta of Overwintering Beef Cows Fed Forage-based Diets Supplemented with Dries Distillers’ Grains with Solubles (DOWNLOAD)

Krista Hanis-Gervais (2008-2010) Eddy Covariance Measurements of Methane Flux in a Subarctic Fen with Emphasis on Spring-melt Period (DOWNLOAD)

Rhea Lumactud (2008-2010) Spatial Distribution of Soil Nematodes in the Sub-Arctic Environment of Churchill, Manitoba (DOWNLOAD)

Oscar Molina (2007-2009) Effect of Green Manures and Organic Amendments on Verticillium Wilt of Potato in Manitoba (DOWNLOAD)

Nandakumar Rajendran (2007-2009) Dynamics of Profiles of Soil Greenhouse Gases in a Topographically Variable Landscape in Western Canada (DOWNLOAD)

Fardausi Akhtar (2006-2008) Crop Management Impacts On Mycorrhizal Colonization and Cadmium Availability in Agricultural Crops (DOWNLOAD)

Adedeji Dunmola (2005-2007) Greenhouse Gas Emission from a Prairie Pothole Landscape in Western Canada (DOWNLOAD)

Jacqueline Churchill (2005-2007) Spatial Variation of Soil Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions in Subarctic Environments of Churchill, Manitoba (DOWNLOAD)

Catherine Welsh (2005-2007) Organic Crop Management Can Decrease Labile Soil P and Promote Mycorrhizal Association of Crops (DOWNLOAD)

Denis Trémorin (2004-2008) Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Grassland Pasture Fertilized with Liquid Hog Manure (DOWNLOAD)

Undergraduate Thesis & NSERC Students

Alana Pither (2023) Calibrating Dositube Field Readings to Determine Ammonia Volatilization Rates

Jared Wiens (2022) Quantifying Nitrate Leaching Using a Passive-Wick Lysimeter

Victoria Deakin (2021) Development of a Convenient and Accurate Method of Determination of Ammonia Volatilization from Cropped Soils

Colleen Robertson (2019-2020) Soil Properties in Relation to Smooth Brome (Bromus inermis) in Fescue Grasslands at Riding Mountain National Park

Katie Webb (2018-2019) Comparing Greenhouse Gas Production in Stockpiled Cattle Manure

Andrew Hector (2018-2019) Does Increasing Length of Polyculture Deployment Affect Soil Health?

Samuel Steinman (2016-2018) Trends in Agronomic Nutrient Use Efficiency of Major Field Crops in Manitoba

Torrie Eggie (2015-2017) The Reliability of the Rapitest®: Soil Test Kit for Nitrogen and Phosphorus for Garden Soils

Stephanie Dheilly (2013-2015) Soil Nutrient Levels in Vegetable Gardens

Amanda Stefanson (2009-2011) Potential for Winter Composting of Separated Pig Manure Solids in Manitoba

Jolene Rutter (2009-2011) Methane Emissions in Relation of Landscape Position in a Field in the Red River Valley

Lindsey Andronak (2009-2010) Nitrous Oxide and Denitrification Fluxes for a Cropped Field in the Red River Valley, Manitoba

Dale Boswick (2006-2008) Impact of Water Logging on N2O Emissions

Andrea Bacler (2006-2007) Toxicity of Cadmium and Zinc to the Nematode, C. elegans

Siobhan Maas (2005-2007) Nutrient Accumulation in Bare Earth Patches of a Grazed Pasture

Corinne Barker (2006-2007) Sentinel Nematodes of Soil Health

Jody Blazenko (2005-2006) Nutrient Water Quality of a Cow-Calf Operations in Manitoba

Last Updated: September 19, 2023

Welcome to the Applied Soil Ecology Lab at the University of Manitoba