The Ecological Design Lab is led by Professor Nina-Marie Lister at Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, to test strategies, develop evidence-based next-generation practices, and find tangible, solutions to sustainability and resilience, as we rethink, remake, reinvent and renew our relationship to nature in the city.

Creative, evidence-based thinking, community-collaborative planning and informed, inspired design are composite, requisite criteria for active and informed responses to complex socio-ecological problems.

The Team

Nina-Marie Lister

Professor, Urban & Regional Planning, Toronto Metropolitan University; Visiting Professor of Landscape Architecture, Harvard University Director; Ecological Design Lab Founding Principal; PLANDFORM (MCIP, RPP, Hon. ASLA)

Nina-Marie Lister is Professor in the School of Urban & Regional Planning at Toronto Metropolitan University and Visiting Professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Lister holds the Margolese National Design for Living Prize and is Senior Fellow at Massey College in Toronto. A Registered Professional Planner (MCIP, RPP) trained in systems ecology, environmental science and landscape planning, Prof. Lister’s research, teaching and practice centre on the relationship between landscape infrastructure, biodiversity and ecological processes—specifically in the context of ecological design for resilience, health and well-being. At TMU, Lister founded and directs the Ecological Design Lab, a collaborative incubator for ecological design research and practice. Her current research is funded by the Canadian Tri-Council (SSHRC) and the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS). She is co-editor of Projective Ecologies (with Chris Reed, published by Harvard University and ACTAR Press, 2014, 2020) and The Ecosystem Approach: Complexity, Uncertainty, and Managing for Sustainability (with David Waltner-Toews and the late James Kay, Columbia University Press, 2008), and author of more than 100 scholarly research & professional practice publications. These include notable contributions to Design With Nature Now (Lincoln Land Institute 2019), Nature & Cities: The Ecological Imperative in Urban Planning & Design (Lincoln 2016), Is Landscape…Essays on the Identity of Landscape (Routledge 2016), Ecological Urbanism (Harvard University with Lars Müller Publishers 2010), and Large Parks (Princeton Architectural Press 2008, winner of the J.B. Jackson Book Prize). Her work has been featured in international critical, creative exhibitions, including the 2016 Venice Architectural Biennale as a collaborator on Canada’s entry, EXTRACTION (curated by Pierre Bélanger). Lister is curator and director of a public exhibition on wildlife, infrastructure and urbanism: XING – (re) connecting landscapes a permanent exhibit at the Toronto Zoo. She serves the community in practice through various board appointments, including as a member of the Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel, as Chair of the SSHRC Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship Committee, as an advisor to the Biophilic Cities Network. In recognition of her international leadership in ecological design, Lister was awarded Honourary Membership in the American Society of Landscape Architects. She was named an an “Inspired Educator” by the Canadian Green Building Council’s excellence and leadership awards and was nominated among Planetizen’s Most Influential Urbanists.

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Jessica Daze

Research Assistant (2023)

Jessica completed an Undergraduate Degree with a joint major in Biology and Environmental and Resource Science at Trent University in 2022. Prior to her degree, she graduated from Fleming College’s Ecosystem Management Technology program in 2020. Jessica completed her undergraduate thesis on the effects of drought and growing degree days on age ratios of a Species at Risk (the Bobolink) during their fall migration. Jessica previously worked as the Assistant Bander-in-Charge at Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, where she was able to further her love for birds and the environment they live in. As a Research Assistant for the Ecological Design Lab, she is excited to learn more about all aspects of ecological design, especially landscape connectivity in the form of Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure.

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Aylise Cooke

Research Assistant (2022 - 2023)

Aylise is pursuing her Master of Planning in Urban Development at Toronto Metropolitan University. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a certificate of Ethics and Policy for Technological Innovation from McMaster University. Aylise is passionate about integrating science with policy to actualize equitable and resilient cities. In her role with the Ecological Design Lab, Aylise has collaborated on the Bylaws for Biodiversity and Safe Passages projects. With the support of Nina-Marie and second reader Lorraine Johnson, Aylise is currently working on her Major Research Project investigating liminal ecologies and their potential in urban landscapes. 

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Sabrina Careri

Research & Communications Assistant (2020 - 2023)

Sabrina is a graduate from the Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning program at Toronto Metropolitan University where she began working as a Research and Communications Assistant at the Ecological Design Lab. Since graduating in Spring 2021, Sabrina has been in the process of completing a Master of Landscape Architecture degree at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, at the University of British Columbia, with an expected graduation in Spring 2024. Sabrina is working towards expanding her knowledge on her interests both in research and practice, which primarily centre around urban and landscape design.

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Victoria Blake

Research Assistant (2020 - 2022)

Victoria is currently pursuing her Master of Planning in Urban Development at Toronto Metropolitan University. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering from Queen’s University and previously worked in engineering consulting. In her engineering experience, she contributed to a wide range of public and private development projects in the GTHA while working closely with multidisciplinary teams. Victoria’s graduate research is focused on integrating nature and sustainability into urban planning and design. Her primary interests lie in creating equitable and sustainable communities by increasing access to high-quality public realm, affordable housing, and mobility networks. She will be working to support landscape connectivity and wildlife crossing research with the Ecological Design Lab.

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Carly Murphy

Research Assistant (2020 - 2021)

Carly is a graduate of the Master of Planning, Urban Development, program at Toronto Metropolitan University where she worked as a Research Assistant for the Ecological Design Lab. Carly’s research focused on developing a new model by-law for the City of Toronto to amend their Weeds and Grass By-law with the goal of promoting environmental stewardship. Carly was awarded the 2020-2021 Canadian Institute of Planners President’s Award: Student for her contributions to the field of planning. She now works as a Planner for the Township of Essa where she hopes to continue growing her skills in policy development and growing cities sustainably.

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Jean-François Obregon Murillo

Research Assistant (2020 - 2021)

Jean-François Obregón Murillo is a Master of Planning in Urban Development student at Toronto Metropolitan University and a Principal at The Urban Hulk, a consultancy focused on socially-responsible investing and urban planning. He has over 10 years of experience in financial services, public policy, Cleantech, and media. Before SURP, he was a Lead Analyst at Sustainalytics, a responsible investment data provider. His work has been featured in Corporate Knights and Morningstar Canada. He is the Executive Director of A Voice for Transit, an advocacy organization focused on transit equity in the Greater Toronto Area. He holds an Honors in Business Administration from the Ivey Business School at Western University, where he did an exchange term at the Rotterdam School of Management at Eramus University in The Netherlands. He held a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Master’s) in 2020-2021. At EDL, Jean-François has been researching new financing tools for parkland acquisition for the purposes of biodiversity conservation. You can tweet him @jfobregon_

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Jao Dantes

Research Assistant (2020 - 2021)

Marta Brocki

Project Manager (2012 - 2020)

Marta is a graduate from the Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning program at Toronto Metropolitan University where she worked as a Research Assistant and Project Coordinator at the Ecological Design Lab since 2013.

Her interests, in research and practice, centre on the implementation of green and adaptive infrastructure, specifically for enhanced landscape connectivity. Marta is co-author of “Embracing Complexity: Ecological Design for Living Landscapes” published in Oz, the Journal of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design at Kansas State University’s issue on Complexity and “Integrated adaptive design for wildlife movement under climate change” published in a special issue on climate change for the 100th anniversary Frontiers in Ecology and Environment.

She has been closely involved with the development of the XING: (Re)Connecting Landscapes project and the creation and installation of exhibits at Evergreen Brick Works, the Royal Ontario Museum, and most recently at the Toronto Zoo.

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Alyssa Cerbu

Research Assistant (2018 - 2020)

Alyssa is a graduate from the Master of Planning in Urban Development  program at the Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. Prior to pursuing a career in Urban Planning, Alyssa worked for over four years with Partners in Project Green, a group within the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority that works directly with businesses in the Greater Toronto Area to implement sustainability projects. In particular, her focus was on event and workshop organization and facilitation, stormwater management and low impact development technologies, and water and wastewater efficiency improvements. She looks forward to exploring how ecological functions, green infrastructure technologies and wildlife crossings  with best practices in sustainable community and city building with the Ecological Design Lab.

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Jayme Carter

Communications Assistant (2018 - 2019)

Jayme Carter began the Social Work undergraduate program at Toronto Metropolitan University, after transferring from Urban and Regional Planning. They are looking forward to working with marginalized populations in community-based organizations in the city. Jayme enjoys spending time with their partner and friends, supporting local queer comedy, and working as a barista in the cafe at Evergreen Brickworks.

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Aaron Hernandez

Research Assistant (2017 - 2019)

Aaron is a graduate from the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto. Currently, his research is focused on the visualization of policy pertaining to wildlife crossing infrastructure and landscape connectivity.

Prior to Toronto, Aaron completed a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric and Professional Writing with a minor in Business and Economics from the University of Waterloo. It was here that he developed an interest in the questions around how we inhabit land, and the cultural and economic processes that influence the physical makeup of inhabitation. Previously, Aaron has worked as a musician and a lavender farmer.

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Noah Lister-Stevens

Research Assistant (2016 - 2018)

Noah Lister-Stevens is a graduate of the Arts & Contemporary Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University, specializing in Philosophy and Law. He has worked with the Ecological Design Lab since 2016 as a legal researcher and analyst, specializing in the case law surrounding motor vehicle collisions with wildlife within Canada and North America. His interests include legal environmentalism, sustainable design, and modern dance.

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Alexander Furneaux

Research Assistant (2018 - 2019)

Ethan McCarroll

Communications Assistant (2018 - 2019)

Anna Flood

Research Assistant (2018)

Joshua Wise

Research Assistant (2018)

Michelle Rowland

Research Assistant (2017 - 2018)

Brianna Aird

Research Assistant (2017 - 2018)

Andrew Muscat

Research Assistant (2017 - 2018)

Arleigh Hack

Research Assistant (2017 - 2018)

Brianne Della Savia

Research Assistant (2018)

Kenneth Scullion

Research Assistant (2018)

Sean Nash

Research Assistant (2017)

Vincent Racine

Research Assistant (2016 - 2017)

Adam Harrison

Research Assistant (2015 - 2016)


“Biophilic Cities facilitates a global network of partner cities working collectively to pursue the vision of a natureful city within their unique and diverse environments and cultures.” Citation: Biophilic Cities. (n.d.). Our Vision. Biophilic Cities. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.biophiliccities.org/our-vision
is a non-profit organization bringing citizens together to enhance mobility & public spaces so we can create vibrant, healthy, & equitable communities.
is a public research university in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
educates and engages the public to make our shared landscape heritage more visible, identify its value, and empower its stewards.
is an interdisciplinary partnership working to facilitate new thinking, new methods, new materials and new solutions for wildlife crossing structures.
is a living centre for education and science, committed to inspiring passion to protect wildlife and habitats.
works to ensure that the Living City is built on a natural foundation of healthy rivers and shorelines, greenspace, biodiversity, and sustainable communities.
envisions the design of open-ended, fluid ecological systems as the basis for adaptable, flexible and organic infrastructures, across a multitude of scales, that support and promote contemporary urban life.
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empowers landowners, governments and other interested organizations to find sustainable, lasting solutions to environmental problems.
is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-focused education and a university clearly on the move.
is one of Canada’s most distinguished landscape architecture and urban design firms.
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