Happy New Year and welcome to 2023. Starting the year with a trip to Boston for the Northeastern Division and Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society joint meeting.

Sabbatical planning is well underway for 2023-24 - Costa Rica and assorted other locations. Very much looking forward to working with my Costa Rican colleagues. I am also very pleased to be the recipient of a Harrison McCain Visitorship award for my sabbatical.    

I have taken over as President of the Atlantic International Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. I attend the AFS annual meeting in Spokane Washington in August and was overwhelmed by the range of talks and outstanding research on --well fish. I then helped organize  and mediate the annual Atlantic Chapter ( meeting in Newry, Maine in September. We had an outstanding response from AIC participants who came from far and wide to present their latest research on several species of fish, crustaceans and the like.  I have also joined the Board of the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute ( and look forward to working with the great folks who have dedicated themselves to this amazing non-profit cooperative research institute in Nova Scotia.   And of course Science Atlantic continues and we are in preparations for the March 2023 conference to be held at The University of New Brunswick in St John, NB. My role as Chair of Biology for Science Atlantic and department representative continues beyond my expected  tenure so I will be looking for someone to fill my shoes in the coming months. And that is why my fall is so action packed :-)

Embrace life. All you need is health. Hope to hear from you in the future.

Russell and The Easy Lab


In the lab

New Masters student Emma-Jean, co-supervised by Dr Don Stewart and me,  has started in the lab and working diligently to adjust to a Masters students' life. See for details on Emma-Jeans project. Other Easy lab  Masters students, McKenzie Brown and Sam Nunn are well into their respective projects and continue to learn new skills in sample collection and data analyses.  

Ongoing projects include work wit Dr Mat Vankoughnett from NSCC. We are exploring stress in plants grown in insect frass. Very cool results to follow. Other ongoing projects include, identifying the causative agent of sea star wasting disease, parasites of freshwater mussels, exploring why chain pickerel are not where we expect them to be (biomarker discovery), investigating the mysterious deaths of Atlantic silversides using proteomic tools and much more.

Always thrilled to have a couple more papers published and/or in press. Funding looks great especially with our successful 486K NSERC Alliance Grant. In collaboration with researchers at Dalhousie and the Kentville Research station we will be studying the Olique Banded Leaf Roller  (Choristoneura rosaceana). Other very cool projects range from exploring mercury and pesticide contamination in Striped Bass to cannabinoids and stress in zebrafish. Never a dull moment.

Bragging about students and alumni.

Congratulations to Cedric Gravel (Easy Lab Honours 2022) for receiving the Governor Generals Silver Medal for his studies at Acadia. Cedric graduated this past semester and is heading to McGill Med.
Will Bauer is has been accepted into The Baylor College of Medicine for doctoral studies. Will will (Ha) be starting his studies this fall and is sure to be a force in the world of medical genetic research.
And here we are... the feature article on the cover of Neotropical Naturalist. I am sure there is a song there somewhere.
Congratulations to all of us. Will Bauer for the first paper from his Honours research, The Stewart Lab and their Costa Rican collaborators, and The Easy Lab and its first collaboration with this wonderful group from Costa Rica. Looking forward to many years working together to solve these mussel mysteries.


Congratulations to Masters student Victoria Ivey for successfully defending her thesis on differential expression of olfactory receptors in heliothines.

Will Bauer for acceptance into the PhD program at Baylor University. Looking forward to seeing Will take over the world of human genetics.

To Cedric Gravel for acceptance into the McGill medical program.

Former Easy Lab Honours student Leah McLean recently received a cancer research trainee position with the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute. Congratulations Leah - well deserved.  See Leah MacLean, BSc Hons. Biology

Congratulations to former Honours student Anna Murphy (co-supervised by Dr. Mike Stokesbury) for publication of her Honours research. The reviews were excellent and included the following:

“The detection of blood and inflammatory proteins in the present study demonstrates that non-invasive sample collection can provide a picture of internal systems, may be useful for detection of other commonly measured stress markers, and may provide further depth of information if coupled with genetic studies to correlate findings with gene activity.

This is an elegantly simple study that demonstrates an unexpected (to me) depth of information that may be gained from an easily obtained mucus sample, through non-invasive and non-destructive means, and potentially in situations where anaesthetics in the field cannot be used and which would limit the range of physiological data that could be acquired. It is an example of applying new technology to old techniques to bring new value. I enjoyed reading this manuscript and found little to edit within.”

See this cool story about our lab presented by Science Atlantic




2019 ended with a trip through Costa Rica. We traveled approximately 2000km around the country in two weeks from Atenas to Canas to Mount Arunal volcano, to Bejuco to Jaco to Manuel Antonio to Carellas, from San Gerardo de Dota to Mount Irazu to San Jose. Spectacular country with great people and excellent food - when you dine away from the touristy areas.

Was able to visit an aquaculture site in Costa Rica and meet with future collaborators. Hope to start a research program exploring parasitism in fish and general fish health as a collaborative effort between Acadia and the Universidad Nacional Costa Rica.

Then from Costa Rica to Austin, Texas for the Annual Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Conference. Unfortunately, Masters student, Jackson Yang (co-supervised with Dr. Avery) was unable to enter the states as his VISA application was held up by the American authorities. Though I did present his work and it went very well it is unfortunate Jackson could not attend. Looking forward to positive changes there in the future.

Starting the year with a publication in Parasitology Research with former Honours student Hillary Dort, her fist publication. Congratulations to Hillary who is working hard in dental school.

A new group of research topics is on board studying zebrafish immunity, sea star wasting disease, fish parasitism and biomarkers in fish skin/mucus. Check back for highlights.

Congratulations to Laura Ferguson, Todd Smith, Kirk Hillier and myself on our successful application for the Infectious Disease and Climate Change Fund. This project will include graduate students and PI's in an effort to explore mosquito range expansion and vector potential in Nova Scotia.  

Very happy to have received five years of NSERC funding for the Easy Lab. We also received MITACS funding for our Masters student and Springboard Funding for our lobster bait project. Therefore, funding is in place for a productive span of research.

Congratulations to all outgoing Easy Lab students, Allie Scovil, Zachary Visser, Jack Guthrie and Anna Murphy. To see their respective projects see the Stress Response Team page.

Science Atlantic at Crandall University brought together some of the brightest minds at Atlantic Canadian Universities. Congratulations to Sarah Roberston of the Coombs Lab at Acadia University for winning best Oral presentation. See Science Atlantic Biology 2019.

Congratulations to Carter Feltham for winning the Association of Graduate Studies (AGS)  best talk for Masters. Congratulations also to Anna Murphy for winning second place in the poster competition at the AGS.  

Lobster Science Meeting in Truro brought together harvesters, researchers, industry and government personnel for a day filled with discussion on strategies to maintain this lucrative fisheries. See Ocean to Plate-Lobster Industry Research Forum

And the beat goes on...

We are very pleased to say that we have received Tier 2 funding for our project with The Saltbox Microbrewery. See "Acadia Profs, South Shore Brewer Collaborate to Cultivate Nova Scotia Wild Yeast"

We will be exploring the proteomics of yeast isolated during the first phase of the project. This is an extension of our collaboration with the Walker lab exploring novel yeasts in the Nova Scotia environment.  See[nbsp

Atlantic Canada Association of Parasitologists 2018 meeting was another success and we are all reveling in the glow of another Saturday filled with outstanding student and PI presentations and scientific discussions. Set in the beautiful town of Pictou approximately 35-40 of us meet to talk parasites, eat well and enjoy what Pictou has to offer well into the wee hours of the night. 

The Miramichi Striper Cup was another success for Acadia researchers, fishers and the town of Miramichi. We sampled ~ 550 fish this year with a 0.01% mortality rate. Thanks to Jeff McTavish and Jeff Wilson for all their support. 

Thrilled to be part of the Aqualitas team who are going full ahead with their aquaponics facility on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. The aquaponics facility at Acadia has been moved to the company site in Liverpool. See (  The possibilities are endless.  

And of course we continue to explore novel parasites in fish with collaborators Eric Leis from Wisconsin and Dr. David Cone in Nova Scotia. With another paper accepted with revisions we await word on our latest submission.

In addition I am always exploring novel teaching methods and how to make the world of molecular biology and protein chemistry as fascinating to students as it is to me :-) 
More exciting news to follow. Never a dull moment in this 'stressful' world :-)  Don't forget to S.M.I.L.E.

If you are interested in learning more about our lab or setting up collaborations please contact me.