Partners & Collaborators:

The NorthSTAR program is supported by NSERC Promoscience and several successful long-term collaborations. Our team has been delivering an evolving version of this ongoing program since 2013, and is in partnership with:

 University of Manitoba (Department of Biological Sciences, Access & Aboriginal Focus Programs),

 Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre (LIPBCC) at the Assiniboine Park Zoo

 Kelvin High School,


 Junior Canadian Rangers (Churchill & Gillam),

 Nelson McIntyre Collegiate,

 Elmwood High School,

 Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC)


Jane Waterman, Ph.D., is a Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Manitoba. She has published on hands-on field research and non-invasive polar bear research, including papers on polar bear identification using whisker spot patterns. She has taught field courses for high school, undergraduate, and continuing education students for over 25 years and has worked with high school students in this program since 2013. 

James Roth, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Manitoba studying Arctic species interactions. He has been conducting research in the Churchill region on Arctic wildlife since 1994 and has collaborated with Dr. Waterman on polar bear behavior and whisker print analysis since 2001. He has been working with high school students in this program since its inception.

Emily McKinnon, Ph.D., is the Science Education Specialist with the University of Manitoba Access Program. Emily teaches first-year university courses in biology and statistics and coordinates summer experiences for Indigenous youth such as the Health Career Quest Camp for Northern Manitoba students, and Path2Math Summer Academy for Indigenous students. Her teaching includes Indigenous content, methodology, traditional knowledge, and land-based learning. Dr. McKinnon will coordinate with high school teachers to support and recruit Indigenous youth, provide culturally appropriate workshops and sessions to all participants, and help foster cross-cultural learning among participants.

Stephen Petersen, Ph.D., is the Director of Conservation and Research at Assiniboine Park Zoo and coordinates the activities of the LIPBCC. He is an adjunct professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Manitoba. His research focuses on Arctic marine mammal ecology and he has led workshops on citizen science in Arctic research, including whisker spot analysis and seal surveys using remote cameras.

Donna Labun, BEd, BSc, teaches high school science at Kelvin High School in the Winnipeg School Division. She has initiated an Arctic Symposium in Winnipeg, led research trips on the ship Namao on Lake Winnipeg, and participated in a solar cell project at the University of Manitoba. She has taken students on our northern program in Churchill since 2013.

Jill Larkin, MNRM, is a Canadian Ranger in the town of Churchill, as well as a Resource Conservation Officer in Wapusk National Park. She has been a member of our team since 2013 and has facilitated adding local Indigenous youth from Churchill Junior Canadian Ranger patrol into our program since 2014. She is an Indigenous woman and a role model as a Parks Canada staff and Junior Canadian Ranger Leader.