Brian Hunt – Associate Professor 

Born and raised in Kwa-Zulu Natal South Africa, on the shores of the Indian Ocean, I was torn between a love for the mountains and all things aquatic before an opportunity to participate in an Antarctic voyage opened my eyes to pelagic ecosystems. So began a life in ocean science that has taken me across the Southern Ocean, tropical South Pacific, Mediterranean, North Pacific and Arctic, and brought an incredible richness in experiences, colleagues met and friends made, and infinite ongoing learning. Today, as an ecosystem oceanographer and together with the wonderful members of the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab, I research the structure and function of pelagic marine ecosystems, and their connectivity to adjacent ocean, land and climatic systems. Much of our research is conducted through the lens of marine food webs, paying close attention to unravelling the complex connections between lower trophic levels, emergent properties of food web nutrition, and connecting across the length of the food chain from viruses to killer whales. Through developing an understanding of how food webs work, including both their internal and external connectivity, we aim to advance a mechanistic understanding of ecosystem response to climate change and other anthropogenic impacts, and a framework for ocean solutions.



Natasha Buckiwicz – PhD student (2023-)

Although I grew up in the landlocked city of Mississauga, Ontario, my summers spent in my maternal homeland of the Açores archipelago were the spark that developed my fascination with the ocean. After completing my B.Sc. in general Biology and Chemistry, I made the jump across the Atlantic Ocean to complete my M.Sc. in Marine Biological Resources at Ghent University. This mobility program broadened my understanding of global issues facing marine life with learning opportunities in Italy, Sweden, France, and international campaigns on the shores of Senegal and the Mozambique Channel. My master’s thesis focused on characterizing the distribution of phytoplankton fatty acids in the south Senegalese upwelling center to support baseline measurements needed for managing declining fish populations. My interest in phytoplankton and experience with algal lipids brought me to the Ph.D. program at UBC Vancouver with the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab. My Ph.D. research focuses on understanding the effects of urbanization on phytoplankton dynamics in the Salish Sea. Using fatty acid and stable isotope analyses, my aim is to answer the question of how urban inputs are changing phytoplankton communities, and what that means for the transfer of energy to higher trophic levels and the overall functioning of these coastal ecosystems. When I’m not in the lab I enjoy rollerblading, hiking with friends, and meeting new people from around the world.


Eloise Savineau – Visting PhD student

I’m a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton (UK) joining the Pelagic Ecosystem Lab for a 3 months international research placement. My research investigates the ecology and biogeochemistry of the twilight zone, mainly focusing on the Scotia Sea (Southern Ocean). I use a suite of complementary techniques (fatty acid biomarkers, stable isotope analysis and size-spectrum theory) to investigate how zooplankton physiology and trophic ecology change throughout the epi- and upper mesopelagic, and how this consequently governs the fate of sinking carbon. I’ll be joining the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab to learn all about the use of eDNA to monitor marine biodiversity and the applications of DNA-based methods to explore zooplankton feeding ecology. I’m excited to broaden my knowledge on the various techniques available to explore marine food web dynamics!





Emma Lam – Co-Op Student (2023)

Hello! I am a fourth year B.Sc student in honours biology. I am joining the lab as co-op student working on processing samples from the International Year of the Salmon project for stable isotopes and fatty acids analysis. I am excited to contribute to our understanding of Pacific salmon trophic ecology.

I have previously worked in a neuroendocrinology lab studying how hormones regulate social behaviour in birds and am looking forward to getting experience in a new field and exploring my interest in marine ecology!



Christie Aoki – Work Learn summer student (2023)


Hi! I’m Christie and I’m a third-year B.Sc. student in Biology. Having been born and raised in Brazil, I have always been interested in ocean ecosystems, but haven’t had the opportunity to explore that field until now. Throughout my undergrad, however, I have grown a love for marine ecology and I’m intrigued to learn more about human impacts on pelagic ecosystems in the Vancouver area. Overall, I’m excited to explore further into this topic and deepen my passion for the field!



Deniz Coskuner – Research Assistant (2023)


Hello, I am Deniz and I am a research assistant. I have an undergraduate degree is pharmacology and biochemistry but my passion lies in oceanography. I am currently working on a project investigating zooplankton diversity and community composition in BC fjord habitats.

I originally come from Ankara, Turkey, but I grew up in Calgary and now live in Vancouver. I have been privileged enough to spend my summers growing up on the Mediterranean and Black sea coasts. Spending all this time near the water has cultivated a love and respect for marine ecosystems. Fun fact, my name, Deniz, directly translates to “Sea” in Turkish!”





Avijot Grewal – BSc, Directed Studies Student (2023)


I am a fourth-year B.Sc. student in Biology. In the final year of my undergrad, I have taken courses related to marine ecology, which greatly sparked my interest in understanding the health of marine ecosystems. I joined the Pelagic Ecosystem Lab initially as a volunteer and worked under the IYS (International Year of the Salmon) Project. I am now starting my directed studies with the lab using the bomb calorimeter to find the energy densities of forage fish and understand the flow of energy within marine food webs.



Loïc Jacquemot – Post Doctoral Researcher; Fisheries and Oceans Canada Marine Planning and Conservation Fund (2023-) 

I am a biological oceanographer and my main research investigates how marine organisms adapt to a changing environment. I use recent molecular biology technologies (DNA/RNA metabarcoding, omics) coupled with bioinformatics analyses to study the diversity and distribution of marine communities and how they interact in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Although I grew up far from the coast, I have always been fascinated by the sea and the marine life. After completing a Master degree at Aix-Marseille University, I decided to move to Canada to complete a Phd in Oceanography at Laval University (Quebec). During my Phd, I studied the influence of freshwater on microbial communities in the Hudson Bay (Canadian Arctic). Now working as a postdoc at UBC, my current project investigate how eDNA can be used to characterize biodiversity in BC fjords and explore the role of these fjords as critical habitat and refugia for fish and invertebrate species. I am particularly interested on how this technology can be applied to help and guide marine conservation planning and strategies.

Email: l.jacquemot(at); Twitter : @JacquemotLoic; ResearchGate:


Sadie Lye – MSc candidate (2022-)


I am a Master’s Student with the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries. I am interested in studying land to sea connections especially within urban marine ecosystems. In addition, I am curious about anthropogenic effects on the nearshore environment and the species that call them home such as herring. Originally from New York City, I spent my summers on Orcas Island, WA falling in love with the Pacific Northwest, beach walks, and the big trees. I moved to the PNW as soon as I could and I completed my undergrad at the University of British Columbia in Environmental Sciences. I joined the PEL as a Co-op student and became interested utilizing stable isotopes to answer ecological questions. During my thesis work, I plan on applying these techniques in an urban context.






Emily Brown – MSc candidate; NSERC Graduate Fellowship (2022-)

I am a MSc. student in Oceanography interested in land-sea connections. For my thesis, I will be studying the impacts of wildfires on coastal ocean biogeochemistry. I will be using the Fraser River as a model system to identify impacts of runoff from burned forest areas on our coastal oceans.

I grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts, and spent my Summers in Mashpee, Massachusetts, which is where my fascination with the ocean began. Many of my childhood memories are ocean-related, from digging quahogs to eat for dinner, to watching ospreys hunt for fish in the river outside my house. I graduated with my BSc. in Biology at McGill University in 2021, and during this time I did a lot of work with the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which got me hooked on studying coastal systems! For a bit over the past year, I have been working as the head grower at a vertical farm in Montreal (a departure from my research interests, but very interesting nonetheless!).





Dilan Sunthareswaran – MSc candidate (2022-) 

Hello everyone! My name is Dilan and I am an MSc student in Biology and Oceanography. I developed a passion for ocean life very early in my life, watching Blue Planet documentaries with my mother all night (and I still do whenever I get the time!). I am starting my MSc degree after completing my Honours Thesis project with Dr. Hunt’s lab. That project focused on fatty acid analysis of micronekton species across various BC locations, with the goal to understand regional and community differences in food web nutrition.







Andreas Novotny – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative & Mitacs scholar (2022-)

As a marine molecular ecologist, I am fascinated by the complex ecosystems hidden under the sea surface, especially tiny organisms that make up the base of the marine food web. Recent advances in molecular biology and computational science have given ecologists a new toolbox to study ecosystems with higher magnification than ever before. In my research, I want to explore how we can best utilize these new tools to understand better how ecosystems work and how human activities interact with vital ecological processes. I got my Ph.D. from Stockholm University in Sweden, where I used DNA metabarcoding to study the diet of a variety of zooplankton and fish species in the Baltic Sea. When combining the dietary data with time series of zooplankton and phytoplankton, we were able to identify the main sources of primary production in the Baltic Sea food web.

Here at UBC, I will work with the Marine Food Webs Working Group of the Hakai Coastal Initiative to develop the molecular methods used to study zooplankton diversity of the coastal North Pacific. I will collaborate with the genomics laboratory at Quadra Island to ensure that key players in the pelagic community become represented in our genetic databases. I will then utilize these databases to study population dynamics of the diverse plankton communities in the Strait of Georgia. Hopefully, this will lead to a better understanding of how the base of the marine food web responds to changes in the coastal environment.

Researchgate profile:



Jessica Schaub – PhD student; Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (2022-)

I am a biological oceanographer with a special interest in jellyfish. I am currently working to define the role of jellyfish as keystone species in marine ecosystems and I hope to improve the resolution of jellyfish in whole-ecosystem models.

I also completed my MSc with the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab, where I used feeding experiments to determine how biomarkers are incorporated by jellyfish. Then I applied these calibrations to wild moon jellyfish in BC to describe changes in feeding and nutritional quality of moon jellyfish with size. I was also fortunate to research jellyfish during my undergraduate honors thesis, where I developed a novel method for measuring jellyfish aggregations using drones. Despite growing up in rural, northern Alberta, I have always been infatuated with the ocean and I am lucky to call Vancouver my home!

Researchgate profile:

Email: j.schaub(at)



Julia Fast – MSc candidate; NSERC Graduate Fellowship & Mitacs  Scholar (2021-)

I am an M.Sc. student in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries with an interest in climate change impacts on marine ecosystems. I am currently working on identifying spatial variations in foraging conditions for zooplanktivorous fish along the BC coast and assessing how these foraging conditions have changed over the past thirty years as a result of changing ocean conditions. I will be using zooplankton abundance and biomass data from the Institute of Ocean Science (Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada), as well as fatty acid and elemental composition data collected by the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab.

I am originally from Toronto, ON, but moved to Halifax, NS in 2016 to complete my B.Sc at Dalhousie University. While on the east coast, I developed a love of the ocean and an interest in marine ecosystem dynamics. I am excited to develop a better understanding of BC coastal ecosystems.




Genyffer Troina – Post Doctoral Researcher; International Year of the Salmon – BCSRIF Scholarship (2021-)

I am a biologist with a joint Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande (Brazil) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). My main research interests are predators’ trophic ecology and habitat use, food web dynamics and human-induced changes in marine ecosystems. Since my masters I have been applying natural chemical tracers, such as carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes, to investigate cetaceans’ feeding habits, trophic interactions and foraging areas. In my postdoc, I will be investigating the feeding ecology and trophic interactions of oceanic North Pacific salmon and the pelagic food web that sustain these species using stable isotopes and fatty acids.






Max Miner – MSc candidate; Mitacs Scholar (2021-)

I am an M.Sc. student interested in the impacts of anthropogenic change on coastal marine ecosystems. My work at IOF uses environmental DNA (eDNA) and ancient DNA (aDNA) methodologies to examine harmful algal bloom dynamics along the Pacific Northwest coast. For my thesis, I will be using DNA extracted from nearshore marine sediment core samples to reconstruct past HAB events at a clam garden site in the traditional territory of the Gitga’at Nation.

My love of learning and sense of wonder at the natural world drive my research; sharing that sense of wonder with others gives me purpose. I completed my B.S. in Environmental Sciences in 2016 at Western Washington University. After graduating, I worked as an instructor and, later, an administrator at an environmental education center on the San Juan Islands. Prior to joining IOF, I worked most recently as the Coastal Science Intern for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, where I conducted research on the environmental drivers of nearshore planktonic community dynamics in the Salish Sea. Additional research interests include marine ecology, archaeology and anthropogenic change.




Patrick Pata – PhD Candidate; NSERC PhD Scholarship (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; UBC Four Year Fellowship (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:



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


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.



May Fujiwara-Forster – CO-Op Student (2023)


Hi, my name is May and I am a third year biology student. I joined the Pelagic Ecosystems lab as a summer co-op student working on processing samples as part of the International Year of the Salmon project. I will also be assisting in field sampling of juvenile salmon at the Hakai institute on Quadra Island. Growing up in Hawaii and Vancouver, I have always been around the ocean and I spent many summers exploring different marine organisms in tidal pools. I am interested in learning more about using stable isotopes and fatty acids to understand marine food webs.


Alicia Anderson – MSc candidate; Mitacs-Tula scholar (2020-23)

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.


Kyra St Pierre – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative and Banting Fellowship (2019-2023)

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.





Shuyi Fang – Undergraduate (2022-2023)


I am a third-year student in earth and ocean sciences. After finishing the summer Work Learn Program with the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab, I will start my directed studies on salmon feeding patterns based on stable isotope information.

It’s a joy to be in the PEL! I always love the ocean, especially its blue velvet-like texture in the sunlight. Below the surface, it’s interesting for me to study different organisms based on their interaction with the environment, and I‘m looking forward to exploring more.





Anita Rodrigues – BSc, Directed Studies (2022-23)


My name is Anita Rodrigues and I am a fourth-year B.Sc. student in Biochemistry. I am interested in the ecology of jellyfish and their development (strobilation). In the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab I am studying protein regulation during strobilation in A. aurita, and I have also enjoyed participating in juvenile salmon and eDNA sampling.




Christian Marchese – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative (2020-)

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 (2020-2022)

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.




Thomas Smith – MSc candidate (2018-2022)

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 (2018-2021)

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.


Andrea Frommel – Post Doctoral Researcher; MITACS-Tula Foundation scholar (2020-2021); Current position – Assistant Professor, Land and Food Systems UBC

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.





Jessica Garzke – Post Doctoral Researcher; Mitacs-Tula scholar (2017-2021)

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).



Andrew Margolin – Post Doctoral Researcher; MITACS-Tula Foundation scholar (2019-2021)

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:



Vanessa Zahner – MSc graduate; Aboriginal Graduate Fellowship Awardee (2017-2021)


Thesis: “Strategies for coexisting : juvenile pink and chum salmon diets and interactions in a challenging section of coastal migration.”

Download thesis here

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.


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.