Current Executive

ACCESS Executive positions are 2-year terms and are appointed bi-annually at the ACCESS meeting. The current Executive was elected at our past meeting in St. Andrews, NB.

Dr. Bruce G. Hatcher


Bruce is an ecologist who studies marine and coastal ecosystems, and applies the resulting knowledge and skills to management (but mostly he just has fun).  Educated as a benthic ecologist and oceanographer in Australia, Canada and the United States, Bruce has 34 years of post-doctoral experience in marine science on a wide variety of grant and contract-funded research and development projects world-wide.  No “arm-chair ecologist”, he has worked in 25 countries and 6 seas, logging more than 800 days at sea and 2,000 hours working underwater.  After serving as the Director of the Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie University, Bruce took up the Chair in Marine Ecosystem Research at Cape Breton University in 2005. The Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere, the Sydney Harbour and the Eastern Scotian Shelf are where he now tries to do science for ecosystem-based management decision support. In an effort to build capacity for research and development in both the public and private sectors Bruce has mentored 80 students at 6 universities in 5 countries (undoubtedly my most worthwhile contributions). The concept and composition of the ACCESS appeals to Bruce very much, and he will work with the ACCESS community to continue the benefits that the Society brings to its members and the broader community of Atlantic Canada.

Department of Biology
Cape Breton University
Sydney, NS

President Elect


Dr. Gail Chmura

Past President

Gail Chmura is an Associate Professor in the Geography Department at McGill University in Montreal, past Director of Quebec’s Global Environment and Climate Change Centre.  Gail started her coastal career working for the Rhode Island Coastal Zone Management Council.  Since then she has conducted research on tidal wetlands along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts; and over a wide range of latitudes, from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.  As a Fulbright Scholar she conducted research at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research; through a US National Research Council Fellow conducted research at the US EPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology Division; and as a National Sea Grant Fellow served as a legislative aide to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on “Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment”.  Recently, she was a lead author of the Coastal Wetlands chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publication Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands.  Gail has published over 60 articles and book chapters covering topics such as tidal marsh response to sea level change, impacts of climate change and human perturbations on coastal ecosystems, and ecosystem services of natural and recovering salt marshes. Her present research is largely focused on blue carbon with projects on assessment of soil carbon stocks and rates as well as greenhouse gases fluxes in salt marshes. She has degrees from Louisiana State University (Ph.D. Marine Sciences), the University of Rhode Island (M.S. Plant and Soil Science) and the University of Massachusetts (B.S. Wildlife Biology).

Department of Geography
McGIll University
Montreal, QC

Dr. Aruna Jayawardane


Aruna is a fisheries assessment biologist working on estuarine and coastal shrimp and finfish fisheries in the tropics. Educated as a fisheries biologist in Sri Lanka and United Kingdom, Aruna worked for the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) of Sri Lanka for 15 years. During his tenure as a fisheries researcher at NARA, Aruna designed, executed and successfully managed number of vital studies to address resource management issues pertaining to estuarine and coastal ecosystems in northwestern, western and southern coastal waters of the island. Currently Aruna is employed as the Science Director of the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council (MNCC), which is an aboriginal organization established under the Aboriginal Aquatic Resources and Ocean Management (AAROM) program of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) of Canada. As the Science Director of MNCC, Aruna is currently conducting programs to increase Maliseet participation in conservation and management of natural resources in the traditional territory of Maliseet First Nations (MFN). Since 2010, MNCC has been conducting studies to gather traditional knowledge of Maliseet elders/knowledge holders for conservation of Species at Risk (SAR). With the help of Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) working groups of member communities, MNCC has been conducting studies to evaluate traditional fisheries and fish habitat assessment and restoration programs to enhance fish passage.

Aruna has been a full member of ACCESS since 2011 and a member of the Executive Committee since 2013. He is of the view that ACCESS is a great platform for young researchers in Atlantic Canada to showcase their work. Aruna feels that ACCESS serves scientific community in Atlantic Canada and continues to bring its benefits to diverse membership and broader scientific community.

Maliseet Nation Conservation Council
Fredericton, NB

Dr. Gavin Manson


Gavin Manson is a coastal geoscientist with the Geological Survey of Canada. He gained his B.Sc from the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria in 1995, his M.Sc from the Department of Earth Sciences at Dalhousie University in 1999, and is completing his Ph.D with the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph. Manson has a habit of taking a really long time to complete a university degree. During his 25 year (and counting) career Manson has worked on all three of Canada’s marine coasts. His research provides information that helps coastal Canadians understand the physical processes that affect where they live. To provide this information, Manson uses nearshore sediment transport models, GIS and remote sensing technologies, and nearshore instrument moorings. Manson collaborates now with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Transport Canada, the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, and several Canadian and international universities and colleges.

Marine Environmental Geoscience
Dartmouth, NS

Dr. Jeff C. Clements

Member at Large

Jeff is a marine invertebrate ecologist studying the biological effects of ocean acidification. Broadly, he is highly interested in how ocean acidification affects the behaviour of marine animals. Currently serving as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Prince Edward Island, Jeff’s  research focuses on the effects of coastal acidification on benthic invertebrates, namely bivalves. His Ph.D. dissertation is assessing the effects of sedimentary acidification on the settlement and recruitment of juvenile soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) utilizing laboratory, field, and mesocosm approaches to understand how sediment acidification affects juvenile bivalve behaviour. Previous research during Jeff’s undergraduate degree at Cape Breton University explored various aspects related to the predatory ecology of the northern moonsnail (Lunatia heros) along the coasts of eastern Cape Breton Island, and he has dipped his foot into the research worlds of entomology, terrestrial plant ecology, and pedagogy in higher education.

Jeff has been a member of ACCESS for the past 5 years, serving on the ACCESS Executive as a student representative from 2013-2015, and now as a Member at Large from 2015-2017. He is also involved with our umbrella society, CERF (Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation) leading the social media team and serving on the editorial board for the CERN (Coastal and Estuarine Research News) Newsletter. Jeff feels that ACCESS serves the community of Atlantic Canada well and hope to bring our local research into the CERF spotlight!

Atlantic Veterinary College
University of Prince Edward Island

Dr. Jon Grant

Member at Large

Department of Oceanography
Dalhousie University
Halifax, NS

Mike Coffin

Student Representative

Mike is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Environmental Science at UPEI working with Dr. Michael van den Heuvel and Dr. Simon Courtenay. He is attempting to link land-use to biological effects is estuaries of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence through the use of nutrient models. He uses a variety of methods – from dissolved oxygen and water chemistry to invertebrate community composition – in a tiered monitoring strategy to better quantify this relationship. In conjunction with other research from his group, Mike’s work has been incorporated into a monitoring framework for the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Mike looks forward to serving ACCESS as a student representative!

Department of Environmental Science
University of Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown, PEI

Spencer D.S. Virgin

Student Representative

Spencer is a coastal marine ecologist studying invertebrates in salt marshes. He recently completed his BSc (hons) at the University of New Brunswick and is currently an MSc student at UNB. Spencer’s current research focuses on the reproductive, larval, and population biology of the ribbed mussel (Geukensia demissa) in salt marshes near the northern end of their range, Atlantic Canada. Throughout his honours research, Spencer gathered data on ribbed mussel fecundity and recruitment. In his masters he will rear ribbed mussel larvae to gain insights into their biology and will use this information, along with data from his honours, to assist in the creation of a population model for ribbed mussels.

Spencer first attended an ACCESS meeting in May 2014 as an undergraduate student. He enjoyed the atmosphere, the people, and, of course, the research! In May 2015 he was voted in as student representative and is currently working with the past, and current, student representative to learn the tricks of the trade and continue the ACCESS tradition of improvement every year.

Spencer Virgin
Department of Biology
University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, NB


Presidents: Andre St. Hilaire (U du Quebec), Mark Hanson (DFO-Moncton), Sylvie St. Jean (now Jacques Whitford Consultants), Simon Courtenay (UNB, CRI, DFO), Katherine Jones (CBU), Melisa Wong (DFO-BIO), Gail Chmura (McGill)
Secretaries: Benoit Lalonde (Environment Canada), Timothy Rawlings (CBU), Dawn Sephton (DFO)
Treasurer: Wayne Fairchild (DFO-Moncton), Gavin Manson (NRCan), Sheridan Thompson (MUN)
Members at Large: Kellie White (CBU), Gary Bugden (DFO-BIO), Michael van den Heuvel (UPEI), Heather Hunt (UNBSJ), Mike Dowd (Dal), Jon Grant (Dalhousie), Aruna Jayawardane(Maliseet Nation Conservation Council)
Student Representatives: Stephen Cole, Sylvia Dove, Megan Finley, Michael Sweezey, Jared Tomie, Mike Brown (Dal), Jeff Clements (UNB), Andrea Price (McGill)