Our Team

Gregor Reid, Ph.D.


Dr. Gregor Reid is the Director of the Centre for Marine Applied Research based at the Centre for Ocean Venture and Entrepreneurship (COVE) in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He has almost three decades experience in aquaculture sustainability and environmental research, working with both freshwater and marine systems.

Gregor is an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Brunswick, an Adjunct Scholar at Dalhousie University, and has served as the acting Manager of Aquaculture Operations for the province of Nova Scotia.

Leah Lewis-McCrea, M.Sc.

Research Manager

Leah has over 15 years of experience working in Nova Scotia’s aquaculture industry. She has led research and development projects, managed an environmental monitoring laboratory, and was the Nova Scotia Division Manager for Atlantic Canada’s largest environmental monitoring company serving the aquaculture industry.

Leah holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Biology from Dalhousie University where her research focused on nutrient deficiencies and toxicities in the development of skeletal abnormalities in Atlantic halibut. Leah is also certified as a designated Environmental Professional (EP) with Education and Training, Research and Development, Environmental Manager and Sustainability specializations, by ECO Canada.

Ryan Horricks, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Ryan’s areas of interest include sustainable aquaculture development and statistical analysis. He holds a B.Sc. in Marine Biology & Oceanography from Dalhousie University and a Ph.D. in Pathobiology from the University of Guelph.

As part of his B.Sc. cooperative program, Ryan worked with the Gulf Aquarium and Marine Station in Cape Breton (science education), the Maurice Lamontagne Institute of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (pinniped biology), and aquatic research laboratories at the University of Guelph (fish health) and Dalhousie University (Arctic charr genetics).

Ryan’s Ph.D. research investigated the environmental and proteomic factors affecting tissue regeneration in Caribbean corals. He conducted research on the detection of sunscreen residues in invasive lionfish and the proteomics of mouth-brooding tilapia, as a postdoctoral fellow at St. George’s University.

Danielle Dempsey, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Danielle completed her PhD at Dalhousie University, where she identified key pressures on marine ecosystems to inform ecosystem-based fisheries management. She has experience applying multivariate statistics to draw insights on ecological relationships and develop advice for ocean stakeholders.

Danielle is an enthusiastic R user who enjoys developing code to automate repetitive tasks and improve workflow efficiency. She has written several R packages to facilitate ocean data wrangling and analysis, and designed dashboards for interactive visualization.

Leigh Howarth, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Leigh Howarth has 10 years’ experience working in fisheries, aquaculture and policy research in Europe and North America.

Leigh completed his PhD at the University of York, where he investigated Scotland’s first fully protected marine reserve. This work went on to influence policy and became a positive example of how local community involvement can benefit fisheries and conservation research. Consequently, Leigh was awarded the KM Stott Prize for Scientific Excellence.

Leigh has completed post-doctoral positions at Dalhousie University, Bangor University, and Sheffield University on a range of fisheries and aquaculture topics. He has led research cruises in the Irish Sea, conducted over 500 scientific SCUBA dives and surveyed finfish aquaculture sites throughout Nova Scotia.

Margo Coughlin, B.Sc., MBA

Information Strategist

Margo has developed successful marketing, communications and engagement strategies for public and private sector organizations in her 20-year career. She has held senior marketing and communications roles in the ocean tech, natural health, telecommunications and energy sectors.

Margo holds a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science (Earth Sciences) degree from Dalhousie University.

Kiersten Watson, B.Sc.

Research Assistant

Kiersten has experience working in the aquaculture industry in environmental monitoring and aquaculture research. Kiersten holds a B.Sc. in Marine Biology from Memorial University of Newfoundland and is certified as a designated Environmental Professional (EP) with Education and Training specialty by ECO Canada.

As a Research Assistant at Memorial University, Kiersten was responsible for the husbandry of three captive harp seals, that later became the subjects of her ongoing Master’s research on the growth dynamics and shedding patterns of harp seal vibrissae.

Laila Nargis, M.Sc.

GIS Officer

Laila Nargis is the GIS Officer for CMAR. She holds M.Sc of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) from BUET and M.Sc in Geography, Urban and Environmental Studies from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. Her Master’s thesis was on “Communicating urban density: Assessing the challenges and opportunities in the use of 3-D representation for public participation in planning”  and another thesis was on “Natural drainage system management of Khulna city”.

Laila has 22 years of experience in planning, project management, real estate, and GIS management. She was the lead for development, implementation and operation of the Halifax International Airport GIS and CAD Program. As a Real Estate and GIS manager she supervised  site suitability analysis for airport infrastructure and all GIS web app. As GIS officer CMAR, Laila created a marine industry asset mapping tool to support sustainability of Nova Scotia’s coastal waters.

Nicole Torrie, B.Sc.

Field Technician and Data Analyst

Nicole recently graduated from her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie University, where she completed a double major in Environmental Science and Environment, Sustainability and Society (ESS) with a certificate in Environmental Impact Assessment. Her Honours thesis research focused on understanding the opportunities for the use of decision support tools (e.g. GIS-based site selection and spatial modelling) to inform aquaculture development in Nova Scotia.

In her previous role as a GIS summer student with the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Nicole worked with spatial data to improve the department’s workflows and assisted with data visualization to support decision making processes. Nicole also completed an internship with the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) where she worked alongside CMAR and Leeway Marine to coordinate fieldwork and process data for CMAR’s Coastal Monitoring Program.

Raeleigh Walker, B.Sc.

Climate Change Vulnerability Intern

Raeleigh has recently graduated from Dalhousie University with a B.Sc. in Aquaculture and has a diploma in Environmental Engineering Technology. She has previous experience working in fisheries focusing on conservation, data collection, and biological sampling at sea.

As a Climate Change Vulnerability Intern, Raeleigh will assist in conducting vulnerability assessments of seafood industry-dependant communities in Nova Scotia.  Estimating vulnerability considers the differences in exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity within each community and helps prioritize future climate change adaptation measures.