Research Biologist, Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station
Associate Professor, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Heather’s involvement with Grand Manan came about almost by accident – she was looking for a professor to take her on for a summer job in 1991 before the last year of her B.Sc. When David Gaskin opened his office door and agreed to give her a research project, he also opened the door for Heather to embark on what has become a large part of her life, research-wise and personally. She started working with harbour porpoises that year, and carried out her M.Sc. research on their blubber a few years later in Gaskin’s lab. Heather expanded her interest in marine fats for her Ph.D. at Duke, working with Andy Read in conjunction with Sara Iverson of Dalhousie University. For her postdoctoral fellowship with Darlene Ketten at WHOI, she focused on the specialized fats that dolphins use for echolocation. Since 2004, Heather has had an academic position at UNC Wilmington, where she teaches Animal Physiology and has an active lab full of graduate students.
Since 1991 Heather has spent every summer, as well as portions of some springs and falls, at the Research Station. In addition to work on porpoise biology, she helped establish the Harbour Porpoise Release Program. Over the past decade, Heather’s research interests have expanded so that she and her students now work
on elements of seabird physiology and toxicology, reproduction in lobsters, whale physiology, variation in the prey quality that upper trophic level predators in the Bay of Fundy can expect from year to year, and the ecology and conservation of basking sharks. Heather enjoys a mix of field and laboratory work, and firmly believes that anyone working on an animal or in an ecosystem should spend some time actually getting to know it. She also enjoys interacting with members of the island community, soaking up the local knowledge of this vibrant fishing community. Being on Grand Manan is not only part of her work, it’s a big part of her life. When not carrying out field work or thinking about animal physiology, Heather likes to bake pies – especially with local blackberries and blueberries.
Postdoctoral Fellow (2001-2003) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Ph.D. Biology (2001) Duke University
M.Sc. Zoology (1994) University of Guelph
B.Sc. Marine Biology, minor Biochemistry (1992) University of Guelph