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Current Students

PhD. Students


Heather Bowlby

Heather Bowlby (

Currently, I am involved in two disparate fields of research that I find equally interesting and hope will form a component of my future scientific career.

First, as part of the science assessment team for multiple fish species, I am involved in the development and validation of fisheries assessment models and other types of population dynamics models. For Atlantic salmon, these have been applied to determine the factors limiting population size, status relative to reference levels, and potential population response relative to alternate management scenarios.

For my Ph.D. thesis, I am investigating variation in population-level vital rates (such as maturity or mortality rates) or genetic variation relative to environmental change (either natural or anthropogenic) to better understand the factors contributing to population declines in Atlantic salmon and to inform future recovery planning efforts.

My hobbies are currently focused on sandboxes, my neighbour’s chickens and Optimus Prime, but I expect that will change as my boys get older. Minutes to myself are spent in the ocean, my woodshop or my garden.



Brendan Wringe

Brendan Wringe (

Escapes from aquaculture are nearly impossible to prevent, and given that the in the majority of cases the outcome of breeding interaction between wild and escapee fish is negative, an understanding of the potential for such iteration is imperative.

As such, I am assessing the potential for interbreeding and subsequent genetic interaction between wild and escapee Atlantic cod.

The competitive ability of individual wild and farmed males will be examined through mate choice experiments, an analysis of secondary sexual characteristics, artificial fertilization experiments (both equal and unequal numbers) and sperm quality experiments. Microsatellite DNA parentage will be employed to determine the proportion of offspring sired, and how this correlated with behavioural and morphological data from the potential sires.

I am also conducting morphometric analyses to test if Atlantic cod morphology has changed during their brief domestication in relation to their wild counterparts. And if so, has this change mirrored what has been documented in salmonids.

Finally, I have been given the opportunity to examine my own personal favourite topic: outbreeding depression. I will do so by examining the fitness of hybrids between two different populations of Atlantic cod in relation to pure-strain half-sibs reared in common gardens.

This project builds on my genetics experience gained during master’s project (University of Guelph) which used genetics and gene expression to examine somatic growth in rainbow trout.

Outside of research I enjoy being involved in sports, the outdoors and photography.




Nathan Wilke (

By applying contemporary evolutionary and ecological theory to the restoration of declining populations, scientists and managers can open the door to innovations in conservation. I am investigating the effects of captive breeding and inadvertent, artificial selection on the behaviour, growth, morphology and survival of endangered Atlantic salmon populations in captivity and in the wild in collaboration with Dr. Pat O'Reilly (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Halifax). We employ wild releases, electrofishing, microsatellite-based parentage assignment, extensive pedigree and behavioural experiments to address questions directly related to the restoration of Atlantic salmon populations. This work builds on my Master's experience (University of Maine) identifying variation and local adaptation within a Distinct Population Segment of endangered Atlantic salmon in Maine. If I've learned one thing studying biology, the study of life, it's that science isn't all that life has to offer. Outside of my research, I enjoy being involved with student organizations and leadership, sports, barbecuing, fishing, paddling, camping, teaching and Scotch.


Masters Students


Gwyn Mason

Gwyn Mason (

The capacity of populations to evolve quickly is central to population-scale responses to climatic change and anthropogenic stress. As such, I am characterizing the presence and magnitude of recent adaptive divergence (rapid evolution) in an introduced population of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. This will be conducted by using genetic and experimental comparisons with the source population.

In 1984, the Salmon Association of Eastern Newfoundland implemented an enhancement project in Rocky River, the largest watershed on the peninsula (~300 km2) by stocking the river with fry in order to establish an anadromous Atlantic salmon run. The fry were taken from the broodstock of the neighbouring Little Salmonier River. Since that time, a salmon run has been established and I am researching whether the Rocky River population has experienced adaptive evolution in the 30 years post-introduction.

This will be conducted by (1) quantifying recent genetic and genomic divergence by analyzing microsatellite loci and genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and (2) using reciprocal transplants to test experimentally whether local adaptation has arisen in the 4-5 generations since introduction. This work will explore the potential for rapid evolution in a species currently threatened or endangered throughout much of its native North American range.

When I'm not chasing after fish in a river or taking measurements in the lab, you can usually find me broadening my movie database, playing rugby, travelling, or deciding what kind of tea to try next



Ian Hamilton

Ian Hamilton (

With mounting pressure being put on shark populations, it is more important than ever to construct effective management of such vital apex predators. My research involves studying the dynamics of mangrove creek nursery systems in the Bahamas with special focus on the lemon shark, Negaprion brevirostris. The lemon shark is a large bodied, coastal predator regularly found in almost all marine environments in the Bahamas. The main focus of my work involves examination of predator prey relationships and how it affects juvenile lemon sharks during early ontogeny. Most of my research takes place within the many mangrove creek systems found on Eleuthera Island, The Bahamas. I work in partnership with the Cape Eleuthera Institute as a researcher, as well as teaching a shark field ecology course at The Island School. I have been lucky enough to be able to connect my passions with my research in not only studying sharks, but aiding in the ongoing effort to conserve and protect these majestic creatures.

In the spare time that I have, I enjoy freediving, playing guitar, feverishly following the Toronto Maple Leafs and generally taking advantage of life in The Bahamas. If you can't enjoy yourself here, I don't know what to tell you...



John WinkowskiJohn Winkowski ( :

My passions lie in ecology and conservation and I am pursuing a graduate degree to become an effective researcher in these fields. I have been involved with ecological research across North America, in various ecosystems. However, I have found a remarkable fondness and curiosity with salmonids. My graduate research at Memorial University focuses on environmental factors influencing phenotypic development of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and how subsequent traits affect performance in nature. I collaborate with researchers from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark who pursue similar research questions.

While not in the field or lab, I enjoy backpacking, fly-fishing, hiking, hockey and music.



Becky GrahamBecky Graham (

I’m studying the reproductive ecology of Atlantic salmon in the context of population restoration. Using underwater video footage and live behavioural observation data of adult salmon in a semi-natural environment, the spawning behaviour and reproductive success of fish with varying degrees of domestication are being compared. In addition, underwater video footage was used to monitor the spawning of pairs of adults with varying levels of domestication isolated in stream channels either in the absence or presence of precocious parr. The timing of the onset of spawning and the fertilization success is being compared to determine the effect of precocious parr on adult spawning. This project is in conjunction with the Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada.

Michelle Simms

Michelle Simms (

I am using Atlantic salmon as a model species for studying life history diversity and maternal effects in fish. Resident and anadramous Atlantic salmon co-occur in many Newfoundland river systems but little is known about the influences of life history decisions on subsequent offspring performance. First, I quantified the maternal contributions in terms of differing lipids and fatty acids of resident and anadromous mothers through eggs to their subsequent young. Second, I reared juvenile Atlantic salmon from resident and anadromous mothers to test how differences in maternal contributions affect the juvenile performance in sympatry (e.g. growth, dominance, survival) and potentially influence the coexistence of the two life-history phenotypes.

Rebecca Poole

Rebecca Poole (

I am investigating plasticity of Atlantic salmon life history traits by studying the use of fluvial and lacustrine habitats by Atlantic salmon in Labrador. In Newfoundland, Atlantic salmon parr are known to use lake habitats extensively, but little is known about nearby fish populations in southern Labrador. Using a paired comparison of fluvial and lacustrine habitats across a series of watersheds in southern Labrador, I am analyzing the morphology, growth and lipid stores of juvenile Atlantic salmon to assess potential fitness consequences associated with rearing in particular habitats. In association with this, I undertook a reciprocal transplant experiment by moving juvenile Atlantic salmon between fluvial and lacustrine habitats within a watershed to assess performance. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dave Reddin (Fisheries and Oceans Canada).