Aaron MacNeil

Associate Professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Fisheries Ecology

Originally from Wolfville, NS Canada, Aaron is a marine ecologist working to solve small-scale fisheries problems in the context of climate change, using Bayesian models to integrate across disciplines and make inferences about how the world works. He has worked extensively on interdisciplinary projects in coral reef ecosystems throughout the Indo-Pacific and is applying these approaches to a wide range of stakeholder-relevant projects in Canada. Aaron contributes extensively to the fisheries and ecology literature in areas relating to environmental disturbance, human impacts, fisheries livelihoods, and food web structure. He has been honoured by the Fisheries Society of the British Isles (Medal) for his contributions to fisheries science and currently heads the Integrated Fisheries lab at Dalhousie University.

Chris Mull

Postdoctoral Scholar

Chris grew up in Hermosa Beach, CA where his passion for marine biology — sharks and rays in particular — started while seeing leopard sharks in the water surfing and exploring kelp forests on Catalina Island.  Since he was three Chris has pursued a career working with sharks and rays, and has focussed on developing a suite of skills and perspectives to use sharks and rays as a model system. Chris now works as a marine biologist and ecologist and conservation biologist. He has worked on everything from physiological ecology and reproductive biology of round stingrays, analytical chemistry and toxicology, phylogenetics and comparative analysis, brain evolution, databases, and movement ecology. Chris focusses on bringing a holistic approach to studying sharks and rays, often working on large collaborative efforts such as SharkEDGE (, SharkTraits (, and the SharkRayMPA project. At the iFisheries lab, Chris will be working as part of large collaborative team to uncover the global shark meat trade and to help develop a suite of tools to assist in shark and ray biodiversity hotspots that have limited capacity for fisheries management and reporting.

Matt McLean

Postdoctoral Scholar

Matt developed a fascination with aquatic ecology spending his childhood playing in Wisconsin lakes and rivers, and after first seeing a coral reef as a teenager, he set his heart on a career in marine biology and conservation. After earning a BS in ecology from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Matt worked as a fisheries observer in the Bering Sea and as a fisheries technician along the shores of Lake Michigan. Still captivated by coral reefs, Matt pursued his MS in coral reef ecology at the University of Guam Marine Lab, conducting research on coral reef resilience and small-scale fisheries in Micronesia. Having witnessed the coral reef crisis first hand, and the need to prioritize ecosystem functioning in resource management, Matt next pursued a PhD in functional ecology at the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, studying the functional-trait dynamics of fish communities in the North Sea and English Channel. As a postdoctoral researcher at Dalhousie, Matt is studying the present and future status of reef ecosystem services as part of the international collaborative project Reef Futures (

Ana Martins

Postdoctoral Scholar

Born and raised in São Luís, northeastern of Brazil, Ana’s fascination for the underwater world began at an early age while playing in Amazon rivers and on beaches of the Brazilian shores. Ana’s interest in marine science grew with time and she pursued a career working on sharks and rays. She completed a BSc in Biological Sciences and a MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation at the Universidade Federal do Maranhão, studying the supply chain and conservation status of sharks based on traditional fisher knowledge. Ana next pursued a PhD at James Cook University, Australia, where she integrated biotelemetry approaches and stable isotope analysis to refine the ecological roles of juvenile stingrays in coral reef ecosystems. Ana is now driven to work in areas of spatial and trophic ecology, human dimensions of fisheries resources, and sustainability and conservation, specially in developing nations with multifaceted socio-economic and cultural structures. As a postdoctoral researcher at Dalhousie University and the iFisheries lab, Ana is currently working on a multiyear project that aims to unravel the global shark meat trade.

Taylor Gorham

PhD Candidate

Taylor spent the better part of her childhood underwater in Bermuda and has been enchanted with the sea ever since.  Her research interests centre around the impacts of wild-capture fisheries on the marine environment, and more broadly on effective solutions for balancing food security with biodiversity conservation.  She holds a BSc from McGill University (Canada), and an MSc in Conservation Science from Imperial College London (UK).  Before returning to Canada, she spent three years working for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), where she helped to assess the impact of sustainability certification on global fisheries.  Taylor is undertaking her PhD research as part of project Global FinPrint, and her focus is on strategies for sustainable management of tropical reef shark fisheries.  She is currently working on methods to assess data-limited shark populations using fishery-independent visual survey data.   

Holly Steeves

PhD Candidate (Statistics)

Suchinta Arif

PhD Student

Suchinta grew up in Toronto, ON, always vaguely aware that she needed to be near the ocean instead! Her passion for Biology solidified as she continued her undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Toronto. During the end of her degree, she decided to head to Bamfield, BC, where she immersed herself in 3 months of field courses at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. This is where her passion for Marine Biology started. She then pursued a MSc at Saint Mary’s University studying the conservation genetics of the St. Lawrence beluga population. She is currently a PhD student at the MacNeil Lab studying the causes and consequences of marine regime shifts, with a particular focus on coral reefs and temperate demersal banks. Aside from research, Suchinta also enjoys teaching, and has taught several undergraduate Biology courses at Saint Mary’s University, and has mentored several undergraduate students through their independent research projects. 

Tracy MacKeracher

Phd Student

Raised in Calgary, AB Canada, Tracy’s interest in the marine environment was ignited when she learned to scuba dive as a teenager. She pursued this interest during her BSc (Honours) at the University of Victoria, during which time she completed field courses and research at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. In 2015, while working for a non-profit organisation in the Philippines, Tracy’s focus shifted to the human dimensions of marine conservation. She then went on to complete her MSc at James Cook University in Australia, where she gained training and research experience in the social sciences through coursework and employment. With an interdisciplinary background in marine biology and social sciences, Tracy is committed to a career working with people to better understand, conserve and manage fisheries for mutual benefit. As a member of the Integrated Fisheries Lab at Dalhousie, Tracy’s PhD research aims to understand and quantify the socio-cultural, ecological and economic processes underpinning the sustainability of Nova Scotia’s lobster fisheries.

Jessica Zamborain-Mason

PhD Candidate – James Cook University

Since she was a child, growing up in the snowy mountains of the Spanish Pyrenees, Jessica has been fascinated by the immensity of the oceans and the creatures within them.  This fascination grew with time; making Jessica complete a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science (Oceanography) at the University of Vigo (Spain), and undertake internships at the University of Baja California (Mexico) and at the Algarve University (Portugal). Throughout these learning adventures in different parts of the world, one thing was clear to her: the degrading state of the world’s oceans and the dependence of human societies on them. Her research interest shifted from dolphins and whales to seafood and people.  She noticed the importance of accounting for humans as central elements in ecosystems and decided she wanted her career to focus on contributing towards the ecologic, social and economic sustainability of the world’s fisheries. For her Honours, Jessica studied the impact of human development on marsh and seagrass ecosystems from the North Atlantic Spanish coast. Then, she completed a Master’s degree in Fisheries Biology and Management at James Cook University (Australia) where she used mathematical models and network theory to increase our knowledge on how marine reserve networks should be designed to promote the persistence of metapopulations. Currently, Jessica is at James Cook University and the ARC Centre of Excellence of Coral Reef Studies completing her PhD under the supervision of Professors Sean Connolly, Joshua Cinner and Aaron MacNeil. During this project, she aims to further our understanding on sustainable targets for coral reef fisheries, the current  state of the world’s coral reef fish stocks, how this state is influenced by environmental and socio-economic factors, and provide tangible management recommendations that allow to achieve sustainable targets. Jessica hopes this allows her to move a step forwards towards her goal in life: protect the oceans and the valuable goods and services they provide to human societies

Natalie Klinard

PhD Student

Natalie’s interest in aquatic ecosystems and environmental conservation stemmed from growing up in Windsor, ON Canada along the shores of the Great Lakes. Her research journey began in her BSc (Honours) in Environmental Science at the University of Windsor during which she studied the spatial ecology of sunfishes in the Detroit River using acoustic telemetry. Her growing passion for the Great Lakes and ecology led her to pursue a MSc at the University of Windsor, where her research focused on applying acoustic telemetry to understand the post-stocking behaviour of a reintroduced fish in Lake Ontario. At a broad level, Natalie’s research interests centre around the conservation, restoration, and management of aquatic resources with a focus on fisheries. At the Integrated Fisheries Lab at Dalhousie, Natalie’s PhD research aims to quantify the global shark meat trade to increase transparency in the meat trade, improve management of shark populations, and achieve sustainable fishing.

Tor Kitching

MSc Student

Tor began his exploration of the natural world swimming in the cold waters off the west coast of Norway. He began his scientific career at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station as part of birding surveys at the age of 10. More recently he graduated with a Bachelor of Science with a Combined Honours in Marine Biology and Oceanography from Dalhousie University. Through his undergraduate he worked as a research assistant and later Honours student with the Bertrand lab focused on marine microbial proteomics and trace nutrient biogeochemistry. His Honours work proved the reliability of using protein-based taxonomic markers to calculate quantitative community abundance. This work gave him experience in mass-spectrometry analysis, marine microbial ecology, and began his interest in statistical-based programming. As a member of the iFisheries lab, Tor will be focusing on honing his analytical skills through Bayesian predicting modelling of Salmonid populations in the Canadian North and across the north Atlantic. In particular the marriage of environmental variability and stock management.

Scarlett Taylor

MSc Student

Emma Touchie

Honours Student

Born and raised in Hudson, Quebec, Emma cultivated an early interest for marine ecosystems during her yearly family summer holidays on the Manicouagan Peninsula on the north shore of the St-Laurence river. It is here, on the Manicouagan estuary, that her fascination with the diversity of marine life and of the effects of ocean tides began. After graduating from Dawson College in Pure and Applied Science in 2017, Emma travelled to Queensland, Australia, where she volunteered at the Cairns Turtles Rehabilitation center. Emma then enrolled at Dalhousie University where she is majoring in Marine Biology with the goal of completing an honours degree. She recently completed a semester abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she had the opportunity to concentrate her learning on estuarine ecosystems and discover the developing technologies of IMOS at the Sydney institute of Marine science. Emma will be working closely with Matthew McLean on a new project looking at the functional differences between reef ecosystems and market catches around Micronesia.

Aaron Judah

Honours Student

Hailing from Toronto, ON, Aaron has cultivated a passion for the ocean since he was 3 years old. Despite Ontario’s non-marine environment, Aaron was able to explore the seas through travelling around the world to visit reefs and relatives far away. He is currently a sophomore at Dalhousie University, and is pursuing an BSc. (Honours) in Marine Biology. His research interests primarily revolve around the ecological drivers and management of shark and rays, a passion which stems from his youth and was developed through volunteer work with Global FinPrint in Belize and from interning with the South African Shark Conservancy. Aside from elasmobranchs, Aaron volunteered at the McClain Deep Sea Lab in Louisiana researching deep-sea wood falls, and will be joining a research cruise aboard the R/V Atlantis in 2020. Currently, as part of the iFisheries Lab, Aaron will be a part of an international collaborative team seeking to quantify the global shark meat trade and provide information, trends, and tools to inform fisheries management and conservation. Additionally, Aaron is assisting researchers in the SharkTraits project, another collaborative effort to assemble data on the life history and population trends of shark, rays and chimeras, and promote research accessibility.