Meet the Team

STREAM team at launch meeting in Vancouver, BC

Dr. Mehrdad Hajibabaei (PI, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics)

Dr. Mehrdad Hajibabaei is an Associate Professor at the Department of Integrative Biology and the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph. His research has focused on the application of genomics information to biodiversity analysis, ranging from the elucidation of deep branches of the tree of life to the development and application of DNA-based tools for species identification (e.g., DNA barcoding, DNA metabarcoding). Hajibabaei is one of the pioneers in the use of high-throughput methods, such as Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), for the assessment of biodiversity in samples as varied as bulk environmental water, soil, and sediments. He has played a leadership role in establishing and managing large-scale research projects and collaborative networks such as the Canadian Barcode of Life Network and the International Barcode of Life (iBOL). In 2011, Hajibabaei established Biomonitoring 2.0, a large-scale applied genomics project funded by Genome Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and Parks Canada. This project showcased the utility of NGS in generating comprehensive analyses of biodiversity for environmental assessment and monitoring. Since October 2018, he has been leading STREAM (Sequencing the Rivers for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring), a $2.6M project funded by Genome Canada in collaboration with WWF Canada and ECCC. This ambitious project will apply genomic tools to the assessment of ecological health of major Canadian watersheds and will involve the engagement of several citizen science community groups. Hajibabaei has independently raised over $10M in academic research funding from both granting agencies and the private sector. His research contributions have generated over 12,000 citations and an h-index of 43 (Google Scholar). He is the founder and CSO of eDNAtec Inc., a genomics/bioinformatics technology start-up based in St. John’s, NL, which has raised over $12M from industrial and governmental sources to develop and apply genomics tools for monitoring the ocean environment, especially with linkage to the activities of the oil and gas industry. Hajibabaei has served on numerous advisory and review panels for major initiatives (e.g., iBOL, U.S. National Ecological Observatory Network; NEON), international organizations (e.g., International Union for Conservation of Nature; IUCN), and major funding agencies.

Elizabeth Hendriks (WWF)

Elizabeth Hendriks is Vice-President of the National Freshwater Programme at WWF-Canada.  She has fifteen years of experience working nationally and internationally on national and provincial policy issues.  In 2017, she led the release of the first national assessment of the health and stressors of Canada’s freshwater. With her team she is now working to reverse the decline of freshwater ecosystems across the country in the the intersection of policy, technology, and community building.  She received her BA in International Development from Dalhousie University and her Masters from the University of Waterloo.

Laura Maclean (Environmental and Climate Change Canada)

Laura Maclean is the Director of Environmental Science and Technology Laboratories with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). She has worked for ECCC for 19 years, mostly on environmental assessment of major resource projects. Laura sees the potential and power of genomics to detect environmental change, to understand cumulative effects, and to support regulatory and enforcement programs. Along with her dedicated team, she is working to grow the capacity of ECCC’s water labs to provide genomic services to support the Department’s research, monitoring and enforcement obligations. Laura is based in North Vancouver, BC, at the Pacific Environmental Science Centre and can be reached at laura.maclean@canada.ca.

Dr. Donald Baird (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Donald Baird is a Research Scientist with Environment & Climate Change Canada and a Visiting Research Professor at the University of New Brunswick. His research focuses on the development of new tools and approaches to understand multiple stressor impacts in aquatic ecosystems, including rivers and wetlands. He has extensive experience working and advising on applied water issues both within and outside Canada. With Dr Hajibabaei, he has pioneered the Biomonitoring 2.0 approach which fuses DNA metabarcoding technologies with geospatial approaches to provide rapid assessment tools for ecological risk assessment.

Dr. Wendy Monk (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Wendy Monk is a Research Scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada and a Visiting Research Professor with the Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick. Wendy’s interdisciplinary research focuses on ecohydrology, bioassessment index development and environmental flows. With the GAPP project, Wendy will be focusing on deploying statistical tools using the eDNA metabarcoding data to isolate individual and multiple stressor complexes that drive benthic macroinvertebrate community structure at local, regional and national scales.

Dr. Chloe Robinson (Hajibabaei Lab, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics)

Chloe is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Guelph, having previously completed her PhD in 2018 at Swansea University (Wales, UK). Her research background is largely in molecular ecology, with focus on developing novel environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques for monitoring of both aquatic invasive species in freshwater systems and small dolphin species round the coast of Wales. During her PhD, she worked with numerous community and non-specialist groups to collect environmental samples across Wales. Chloe is interested in the use of eDNA as a non-invasive method for monitoring of rare and/or endangered species and ecosystems for conservation. Chloe also has an extensive background in science communication and has delivered presentations in a number of UK-wide science outreach events and competitions. In the STREAM DNA project, Chloe is the Project Coordinator and will be responsible for liaising with the non-academic partners to collect samples from across Canada and disseminate findings to the public and produce scientific papers and reports.

Dr. Teresita M. Porter (Centre for Biodiversity Genomics; Natural Resources Canada)

Teresita Porter is a Genomics Research Scientist with the Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Natural Resources Canada and a Visiting Research Scientist with the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph.  Teresita’s research background is in ecology and evolution, mycology, and bioinformatics.  Her current work focuses on using genomics methods to monitor water quality, soil health, and sustainability from environmental DNA.  Teresita has a special interest in how methodological bias affects the analysis of biodiversity and biomonitoring data.  With the STREAM project, she will be focusing on using genomics methods to monitor benthic macroinvertebrate communities in streams.

Sheena Pappas (ECCC)

Sheena Pappas is an Environmental Monitoring Scientist with the Freshwater Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), in Vancouver. Her work has focused on analyzing and reporting ambient water quality conditions in rivers throughout BC and the Yukon as well as contributing to water quality reporting in Canada. As a member of the National CABIN team and as part of the STREAM team she coordinates ECCC contributions to the project. This includes investigating the potential adoption of DNA metabarcoding, along with other science-based approaches, into the CABIN program as additional tools for aquatic ecosystem health assessment in Canada. She has a M.Sc from the University of British Columbia, Resource Management and Environmental Studies (Vancouver, BC) and B.Sc from McGill, University (Montreal, QC).

Raegan Mallinson (Living Lakes Canada)

Raegan has a foundation of experience in education, conservation and Indigenous relations with particular interest in water quality, biodiversity, experiential education and program development.  She received her BSc. from the University of Calgary in Environmental Science, Biology concentration, has a certificate in Aboriginal Relations Leadership and is a CABIN certified Program Manager and Trainer. She has worked across Canada and internationally in Colombia to support communities set up water monitoring programs. She currently resides in Squamish, BC. Raegan will be supporting the STREAM project through leading the community-based water monitoring training and data collection. She will support the team with the co- development of study design, online tools and website.

Kat Hartwig (Living Lakes Canada)

Kat has been involved in international, national and regional environmental advocacy issues relating to sustainable tourism, endangered species, corporate social responsibility and water based ecosystem health since 1983.  Kat continues to advocate for land and water policy and protection mechanisms necessary to support biodiversity, source water protection and climate resilient communities.  She is an advisor for; the Lake Windermere Ambassadors; BC water leaders consortium; Small Change Fund; Vancouver Foundation Environmental advisory; Canadian Freshwater Alliance advisory and the Columbia Basin Trust Climate Resilience Advisory.  Kat is currently on the board of The Keepers of the Water, the Columbia Basin Water Stewardship Network and Global Nature Fund. She facilitates cross sector-corporate, academic, government and NGO partnerships and collaborations for water stewardship. She lives with her family near the headwaters of the Columbia River. Kat will be supporting the STREAM project through overseeing community-based water monitoring program development and fundraising.

Catherine Paquette (WWF)

Catherine joined WWF-Canada in the fall of 2014, first as an Analyst and now as a Specialist in the Freshwater program. As the lead and the main spokesperson for the Watershed Reports project, Catherine has presented the Watershed Reports to many different conferences, including being Plenary Speaker at the Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research.  Catherine’s responsibilities for the STREAM project include identifying priority areas using Watershed Reports, identifying and coordinating with community groups and organizations interesting in participating in STREAM to ensure training and monitoring, and reporting back to partner organizations with results.

Michael Wright (Hajibabaei Lab, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics)

Mike Wright is Lab Manager for the research laboratory of Dr. Mehrdad Hajibabaei at the University of Guelph. Mike obtained his Master of Science degree in 2016 working under Dr. Hajibabaei, during which he investigated patterns in benthic invertebrate communities identified through DNA metabarcoding which were collected as part of the Biomonitoring 2.0 project. As part of the #STREAMTeam he will be working in collaboration with Dr. Robinson to receive and process all the samples collected for DNA metabarcoding – from DNA extraction to sequencing.


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