Our Team

Gregor Reid, Ph.D.


Gregor has over two decades of experience in aquaculture sustainability and environmental research, working with multiple species in freshwater and marine systems.

Initially, he investigated environmental monitoring methods for net pen trout culture in the Great Lakes for his PhD research at the University of Guelph. This was followed by a Post Doctoral Fellowship in integrated aquaculture with the University of New Brunswick and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

He was the lead researcher for projects with the NSERC Strategic Network – the Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network and has pursued field and laboratory research with DFO on ecological interactions of aquaculture and climate change implications for fisheries and aquaculture. Gregor is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Brunswick and has served as 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.

Aquaculture Development Research Fellow

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.

Coastal Oceanography Research Fellow

Danielle holds an Environmental Engineering degree from Dalhousie University a PhD from Dalhousie’s Department of Engineering Mathematics where she used multivariate statistics and machine learning to identify the most influential pressures on marine ecosystems to inform ecosystem-based fisheries management.

As an Aquatic Biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Danielle developed tools in R to facilitate analysis ecosystem data, including two packages and several interactive dashboards.

Leigh Howarth, Ph.D.

Research Fellow in Marine Applied Research

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 Specialist

Laila Nargis has completed her M.Sc. in Geography, Urban and Environmental studies from Concordia University, Montreal and an M.Sc. in Urban and Regional Planning from BUET. She has several years of urban planning and GIS experience. Laila previously worked for the Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) for the last eight years where she developed an extensive airport GIS program.

Nicole Torrie, B.Sc.

Research and Administrative Assistant

Nicole is currently in her final year of study at Dalhousie University, with her B.Sc. (Environmental Science and Sustainability) honors thesis focused on the creation of a carrying capacity tool to help inform the sustainable expansion of Nova Scotia’s aquaculture industry.  She is also working on certificates in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Environmental Impact Assessment.

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 Departmental decisions for sustainable development.