Lab members


Andrea Frommel – Post Doctoral Researcher; MITACS-Tula Foundation scholar (2020-)

I am a postdoctoral fish biologist interested in how environmental factors affect the early life stages of fish. Motivated by issues of fisheries management and food security, I focus on the effects of climate change on commercial fish species. My research explores how CO2 and temperature affect the growth and physiology of fishes at different developmental stages identifies as bottlenecks to recruitment. I utilize a range of techniques to assess development and condition, such as physiology, biochemistry, histology and gene expression. Currently, I am investigating how the combination of stressors (CO2, temperature, salinity and food) affect smoltification and migration success of juvenile Pacific salmon, to understand whether suboptimal ocean conditions are contributing to the observed low returns. Most of my work is experimental, bringing fish into the lab where I expose them to a set of stressors and measure different response variables and I spend my summers working out at Hakai’s Quadra Island Marine Lab.




Christian Marchese – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative (2019-)

I am a biological oceanographer and I obtained my PhD in Environmental Sciences at the University of Québec in Rimouski (UQAR). I am interested in understanding phytoplankton dynamics and productivity in the coastal and open ocean. My research explores the importance of physical-biological interactions in the pelagic realm and how simultaneous changes in several environmental drivers are affecting marine ecosystems. Most of my work is involved in generating long-term time-series by combining satellite information, field measurements, and model-derived data.

My postdoctoral research with the Hakai Coastal Initiative aims at identifying, by using very high-resolution satellite data, coastal marine biogeochemical provinces of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska and their spatial-temporal dynamic. Defining a coastal marine bioregionalization at regional scales will enhance our understanding of how organisms and food webs may respond to different biophysical conditions.

E-mail: c.marchese(at)

Researchgate profile


Natalie Benoit – MSc candidate; Mitacs-Tula scholar (2020-)

I am a M.Sc. student working on environmental DNA (eDNA). Specifically, I am looking at seine vs eDNA sampling to measure relative abundance of species. Additionally, I am quantifying eDNA degradation rates to calculate density estimates. I am using samples from the Hakai Institute’s Juvenile Salmon Program to gain insights about how salmon biodiversity and monitoring can be linked to this exciting, emerging tool in conservation science.

I am from the small town of Shelburne, Vermont. Despite being land locked, I was always fascinated with the ocean. I went to a high school semester program on the remote island of Eleuthera in my third year. After 4 months of learning about neritic and pelagic biodiversity, I was hooked! I came to UBC in 2016 to pursue my B.Sc. in Natural Resources Conservation. From individual genes to entire ecosystems, I am eager to assist in the development of spatial and temporal sampling of migrating salmon via eDNA.




Alicia Anderson – MSc candidate; Mitacs-Tula scholar (2020-)

I am a MSc student in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries studying juvenile salmon during their marine migration. I will be using samples collected by the Hakai Institute Juvenile Salmon Program to conduct a risk assessment to determine how temperature and diet are influencing juvenile salmon health.

I grew up in Ladner, just south of Vancouver, living very close to the beach where I spent most of my summers. Growing up, my family used to have to bribe me to get me to leave the water after a day of swimming. Given my love of the ocean, I started my first job while I was in high school, working at a locally owned fish store that primarily sold salmon and other seafood. Little did I know, my job and love of the ocean was drawing me towards studying oceanography, which prompted me to change my major during my undergrad. Since then my interest in salmon and the ocean has only grown.




Patrick Pata – PhD Candidate (2019-)

I am an oceanographer interested in biophysical interactions and how large ecological and oceanographic datasets can be integrated to create tools that would aid in the management of marine ecosystems. I mainly use quantitative analysis, ecological modelling, GIS, and remote sensing. For my PhD, I will work on the zooplankton and oceanography archives of British Columbia towards understanding the drivers of zooplankton community dynamics and creating a bioregionalization of the BC coast.

I obtained my MS in Marine Science from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute. For my MS, I investigated the connectivity patterns of the North Indo-West Pacific coral reefs with the aim of identifying potentially important areas for management based on larval connectivity. I was previously part of a project that developed a spatially-explicit fisheries model which integrates habitat quality, larval connectivity, population dynamics, and fishing activity to explore alternative marine reserve network designs. I also worked on the sardine fisheries of the southern Philippines in which I programmed an individual-based sardine ecosystem model to help inform the scheduling of the seasonal closure of the fisheries.


Anna McLaskey – Post Doctoral Researcher; MITACS-Tula Foundation scholar (2019-)

I am a biological oceanographer and zooplankton ecologist who aims to understand how environmental changes influence zooplankton communities and their role in marine food webs. I completed my PhD in Oceanography at the University of Washington while researching the effects of ocean acidification and multiple stressors on crustacean zooplankton, particularly the krill Euphausia pacifica. By combining manipulative experiments and field observations across natural oceanographic gradients, I investigate multiple mechanisms of change and seek to connect ocean change research to biological monitoring. These approaches require a variety of tools such as physiological measurements, enzyme activities, and fatty acid markers. In collaboration with the Hakai Institute, my postdoctoral research at UBC will focus on understanding the processes that control prey availability for migrating juvenile salmon in the Strait of Georgia and the BC coast.


Jacob Lerner – PhD Candidate (2019-)

I am a marine scientist with an interest in trophic ecology, biochemical tracers, and the impacts of climate change on marine food webs. I came to UBC to pursue a Ph.D. researching Chinook salmon ecology off the BC Coast by utilizing fatty acid as well as bulk/compound specific stable isotope analysis. I aim to investigate Chinook trophic ecology and habitat-use and to connect these analyses with regional food web dynamics. I am also interested in using these tools to examine the quality of Chinook salmon as prey for threatened resident killer whale populations.

Originally from Connecticut, I completed my M.Sc. at the University of New England, researching the use of stable isotopes to infer the diets of grey seals in the Northwest Atlantic. I have always had a passion for marine life, and while working at a lab at McGill University I became interested in fisheries research the natural way: by catching and then dissecting hundreds of fish. I have been hooked on that feeling ever since.

Email: j.lerner(at); Researchgate profile:


Kyra St Pierre – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative (2019-)

I am a biogeochemist with a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Alberta. My primary research focus is on understanding the cycling of carbon, nutrients and contaminants across and between terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. For my Ph.D., I examined the biogeochemical impacts of enhanced glacial melt across the Lake Hazen watershed in the Canadian High Arctic, from glacial headwaters through a large lake and to the nearshore environment. My postdoctoral research with the Hakai Coastal Initiative will build on some of these ideas, aiming to understand how the quality and quantity of freshwater exports from the coastal temperate rainforests along B.C.’s central coast change over time and space.





Andrew Margolin – Post Doctoral Researcher; MITACS-Tula Foundation scholar (2019-)

I am a marine biogeochemist with a Ph.D. in Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry from the University of Miami. My dissertation focused on understanding carbon biogeochemistry in marginal seas, including the Black Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. After completing my Ph.D. in 2017, I had a one-year appointment at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science where I investigated how changes in the carbonate chemistry of sea ice affect ice algae in the Arctic Ocean.

As a postdoctoral researcher at UBC, I am investigating how the physical and chemical properties of water influence salmon fisheries in coastal British Columbia, utilizing historical and new measurements to characterize the system. Broadly, my goal is to apply my biogeochemical approach to understand how the coastal productivity, fisheries, and water quality that we depend on will be affected by climate change and our mitigation pathways. In addition to my research, I am interested in communicating environmental science to a broad audience using multimedia.

Email: a.margolin(at); Twitter: @arctic_andy; Website:


Jessica Schaub – MSc candidate; Aboriginal Graduate Fellowship Awardee (2018-)

I am a biological oceanographer with a special interest in jellyfish. During my undergraduate degree, I developed a novel method for measuring jellyfish aggregations using drones. Now, I am working to resolve the diet of the bloom-forming moon jellyfish Aurelia sp. during both the medusa and polyp stage of the life history. I will use a combination of biomolecular markers (i.e. fatty acids and stable isotopes), genomic sequencing, and microscopy. My work will help determine the role that jellyfish play in coastal food web, which is largely unresolved and could have implications at many trophic levels due to their high biomass and generalist feeding strategies.

Researchgate profile:

Email: j.schaub(at)



Thomas Smith – MSc candidate (2018-)

The focus of my research is to establish an empirical relationship between salmonid smolt production and interannual variation in stream discharge for the Pacific Northwest. To do so, I will be conducting a meta-analysis of long-term smolt production datasets with paired discharge data, obtained from both primary and grey literature. I will be applying a stock-recruitment relationship to analyze the data, using flow as a covariate. Specifically, I am hoping to identify how extreme discharge events, such as seasonal high-flows and summer low-flows, may be limiting juvenile salmonid productivity. Results obtained from this work could be used to help establish minimum flow requirements for streams being exploited for human needs.

My passion for salmonid ecology was sparked while growing up fly fishing in the southwestern corner of Alberta. This lead me to complete my BSc (Honours) in Marine Biology and Environment, Sustainability & Society at Dalhousie University, as well as a post-degree diploma in Fisheries and Aquaculture at Vancouver Island University. Since completing both programs, I have worked with Pacific salmon through the public, private, and academic sector in various locations around British Columbia.

Caterina R. Giner – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative (2018-)

I am a marine microbial biologist and I obtained my PhD in Marine Sciences and Oceanography at the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) in Barcelona. I am interested in understanding the processes that drive the assembly and dynamics of natural microbial communities, and linking them with ecological function. My research has been focused on community patterns of marine microbial eukaryotes (i.e., protists) along temporal and spatial gradients using amplicon sequencing techniques. Protists play multiple fundamental roles in aquatic ecosystems, including being the dominant primary producers, consumers, and decomposers, and they are essential linkers in aquatic food webs.As a Hakai Costal Initiative post-doc at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (UBC), I will be investigating the seasonal succession dynamics and variability of protists in response to bottom-up forcing, with the aim to link these dynamics to higher trophic levels in the marine food webs.



Jacqueline Maud – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative (2018-)

I am a plankton ecologist with interests in zooplankton population dynamics, feeding ecology, sources of mortality and the effect of climate change on zooplankton distributions and ecology.  I completed my PhD on the population dynamics and importance of mortality in the key marine copepod Calanus helgolandicus at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in the UK. I interrogated the station L4 marine time-series (now spanning 30 years) from the western English Channel to investigate seasonal and temporal variability and to understand the balance between births and deaths. I focused on the importance of different sources of mortality, including non-predator (using vital stains to distinguish between live and dead copepods) and predator (via molecular gut content analysis to determine gelatinous zooplankton predators of C. helgolandicus). My postdoctoral research will build on these molecular biology techniques (metabarcoding, Next Generation Sequencing, high-throughput sequencing) to develop and implement DNA-based approaches to understand the zooplankton feeding ecology of British Columbia coastal waters – basically to understand what eats what!

Twitter: @DrJackieMaud; Researchgate profile

Vanessa Fladmark – MSc candidate; Aboriginal Graduate Fellowship Awardee (2017-)


Vanessa is researching juvenile pink and chum salmon diets during their early marine migration in coastal British Columbia. The complex area of the Discovery Islands and Johnstone Strait includes a range of productivity regimes, which can lead to shifts in feeding behaviour during this vulnerable period for salmon. Studying multiple species gives insights to how these co-migrating salmon are adapting to relevant changes in their environment and prey availability.



Jessica Garzke – Post Doctoral Researcher; Mitacs-Tula scholar (2017-)

I completed my Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany. My Ph.D. thesis “Climate change effects on zooplankton body size: a range of experimental approaches” included experimental work with natural plankton communities using mesocosm experiments to investigate multiple and interacting environmental factors, temperature, ocean acidification and nutrient balance. I found that interacting temperature and pH changes affect species- and age-specific zooplankton body size and community abundance. Further, I was able to identify that warming and ocean acidification leads to changes in the fatty acid profile in zooplankton and reduced fitness using RNA/DNA ratio. I also worked on how temperature and food chain length affects the net primary production and respiration of ecosystems extending the Metabolic Theory of Ecology in collaboration with Dr. Mary O’Connor (UBC).



Yuliya Kuzmenko – PhD candidate; NSERC scholar (2015-)

I am a PhD student in biological oceanography. My current research interests lie in developing methods for deciphering fish life histories from biological proxies, such as otoliths, scales and bones, connecting these data with environmental conditions, and building models to predict changes in fish populations with an overarching goal of sustainable management. My PhD thesis is being conducted in collaboration with Hakai institute, as a part of the Juvenile Salmon Program. In this work I am focused on investigating drivers of spatio-temporal trends in juvenile sockeye early marine growth and implications for survival.




Lauren Portner – Research Technician / Assistant 

Lauren graduated with a BSc in biology from the University of Victoria.  She has spent many years working for the Hakai Institute’s Juvenile Salmon Program in Johnstone Strait, with a base at Salmon Coast Field Station, in partnership with UBC and the University of Toronto, among others.  Lauren has worked closely with Salmon Coast Field Station and has lead their long-term sea louse monitoring program that aims to determine louse loads on out-migrating juvenile pink and chum.  In addition to this, Lauren has worked with Sea to Cedar in running their Catch, Clip, Release Program.  This project is focused on filling in the salmon genetic database of rivers and streams along the BC coast through catch and release efforts.  Her interests in terrestrial ecosystems has led her to work on the KHFN/S2C Bear Project with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, in collaboration with Sea to Cedar.  This initiative uses non-invasive hair snare stations to determine the number, sex ratio, diet and age class of grizzly and black bears in the Wakeman River watershed. In the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab, Lauren will play a key role in facilitating field and laboratory programs on the BC coast. Her prior experience will no doubt contribute to her new position. In her spare time, Lauren loves to hike the North Shore with her dog, Tucker.  She can be found on the third floor of the AERL building.


Caroline Graham – MSc graduate; Monell & Vetlesen Foundation (2018-2020); Current position – International Year of the Salmon Coordinator, North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission

Thesis: “A compilation and meta-analysis of salmon diet data from the North Pacific Ocean” Download thesis here

During her MSc, Caroline developed a diet database for Pacific salmon and used this database to analyze pan-Pacific patterns in salmon foraging ecology, including diets and trophic niche overlap.  Throughout, Caroline’s goal was to continue to bring attention to these culturally, ecologically, and economically important fish and to better understand what is happening to salmon during this time of rapid social and environmental change. Caroline has now taken up a position with the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission as coordinator for the International Year of the Salmon.




Natalie Mahara – MSc graduate; NSERC & Mitacs-Tula scholar 

Thesis: ”  Zooplankton community composition across a range of productivity regimes in coastal British Columbia.” Download thesis here

Natalie is a biological oceanographer with a particular fondness for zooplankton. These charismatic microfauna play a critical role in linking environmental conditions and primary producers to higher-level consumers. Natalie completed her M.Sc. thesis at UBC in 2018, which compared zooplankton communities across a range of productivity regimes in coastal British Columbia. In 2019, Natalie worked as a Research Scientist in the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab, collaborating with the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards and the Guardian Watchmen of the K’omoks First Nation in establishing microplastic baselines and food web uptake in Baynes Sound, BC.





David Costalago – MITACS-Pacific Salmon Foundation scholar (2018- 2020); Current position – Fisheries Analyst (OceanMind)

David completed a post doctoral fellowship (MITACS-Pacific Salmon Foundation scholar, 2018- 2020) in the Pelagic Ecosystem Lab. He researched plankton food web pathways to herring and juvenile salmon in the Salish Sea using fatty acid, and bulk and compound-specific stable isotope analyses.






Wade Smith –  Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative (2016-2019);  Current position – Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Science Division

I am a fish/fisheries ecologist investigating spatial dynamics and life history traits to better understand how these factors contribute to the persistence and resilience of populations and may change in response to disturbance or environmental variation. I use multiple tools in my research that include and often integrate theoretical modelling, empirical field studies, new technologies, and manipulative laboratory experiments. As a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia, I am currently analyzing naturally-occurring chemical markers (trace elements, stable isotopes) to trace the movement patterns and habitat use of Pacific herring and salmon within the marine environment. These highly mobile fishes undertake large-scale migrations that link life stages, habitats, populations, communities, and ecosystems. Insight into the extent and direction of movements, mixing, and habitat use can inform and advance conservation and management strategies at ecologically relevant spatial scales.

Research Overview:; Twitter:


Fernanda Colo Giannini – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative (2017-2019); Current Position – Professor, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Brasil

I am a Marine Biologist with a PhD in Biological Oceanography. The main focus of my research has been on phytoplankton ecology and photo-physiology, primary production, ocean color and remote sensing of the ocean, coastal water bio-optics, and riverine-coastal oceanography. My post-doctoral project under the Hakai Coastal Initiative aims to combine high resolution satellite remote sensing with in situ oceanographic sampling to examine the spatial and temporal variability of the physical, chemical and biological properties of the coastal oceans from British Columbia to Southeast Alaska. My research aims to implement a classification of the coastal ocean according to regional biogeochemical properties; identify the dominant bottom-up control processes driving regional biogeochemical dynamics ; and determine the implications for primary and secondary productivity, particularly with respect to foraging habitat available to migrating juvenile salmon.



Boris Espinasse – Monell & Vetlesen Post Doctoral Researcher (2016-2019)

I am a biological oceanographer focusing on biophysical interactions, zooplankton ecology and trophic structures in marine ecosystems. I use several types of approaches to characterize zooplankton community dynamics, including optical instruments (e.g. LOPC, LISST, ZooScan), stable isotopes and particle tracking modelling.

I completed my Phd in Marseille, France, studying zooplankton size structure in two contrasting environments, the Mediterranean Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula. I then moved to northern Norway for a post-doc investigating the advection dynamics of the dominant Calanus species, the main food source for cod larvae. A multidisciplinary approach is for me a necessity to understand the dynamics of lower trophic levels, and I do so by combining physics, biogeochemistry and ecology.

My current project at UBC is a perfect example of that. We are looking at stable isotope signatures in the food web from phytoplankton to fish at the scale of the North Pacific, with the objective to deliver indices for salmon feeding conditions, and thus contribute to improved forecasting of at sea survival.

Research Overview


Hayley Dosser – Post Doctoral Researcher (2017-2018)

I am investigating small- and large-scale ocean physics for the central British Columbia coastal waters, focused on upwelling and water properties that affect juvenile salmon survival rates. I am working with observations from CTD surveys and moorings, and will be leading an ocean glider field campaign in Spring 2018.





Samantha James – MSc graduate; NSERC & Mitacs-Tula scholar  (2016-2019); Currently working for the Pacific Salmon Foundation

Thesis: Foraging ecology of juvenile Fraser River sockeye salmon across mixed and stratified regions of the early marine migration. Download thesis Here. Thesis Data package.

Salmon currently works for the Pacific Salmon Foundation.