The Mission

The CRI Genomics leverages state-of- the-art genomics techniques to address basic and applied questions in conservation, fisheries management, evolution and ecology. This research is used to conserve biodiversity, make aquaculture more sustainable and improve management of fisheries.

The Team

Scott A. Pavey, PhD, Canada Research Chair

Born in The United States of America, Scott has devoted years of hard work to stand where he is today.  Intrigued with science at a young age, Scott attended Colorado State University, CO, USA, where he received a BSc in Wildlife Biology. After acquiring his diploma, Scott attended University of Alaska Anchorage, AK, USA, to obtain a MSc in Biological Sciences. Hoping to continue his education, Scott went to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, Canada to earn his PhD in Biological Sciences. Fresh out of his studies, Scott traveled to Québec, Canada where he became a Postdoctoral Fellow at Université Laval. Today, Scott works at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John, NB, Canada as a Research Chair and an Assistant Professor.

Scott is broadly interested in ecology, evolution, and conservation. More specifically, he uses high-resolution genomic tools to understand how populations of fishes are connected, uses environmental DNA to identify and quantify abundance of species, understand the physiology of local adaptation, and determine the ecological role of genetic elements. Scott is the head of CRI Genomics, a state-of-the-art research lab at the Canadian Rivers Institute, University of New Brunswick Saint John.

Papers that Scott has published or co-wrote can be found here.

Gregory Neils Puncher, PhD – Post-Doctoral Fellow – Marine Biology

Originally from Ontario, Greg developed a deep curiousity in the marine environment and a passion for conservation at an early age. He attended the University of Guelph and received an Honours degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology. Greg was fortunate to receive Erasmus mundus funding for graduate studies in Europe where he completed a master’s degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (EMBC) at the Universities of the Algarve (Portugal) and Oviedo (Spain) and a doctoral degree in Marine Ecosystem Health and Conservation at the Universities of Bologna (Italy) and Ghent (Belgium).

Greg’s research focuses on the development of genetic tools for the improvement of fisheries management and the analysis of adaptive responses to the many challenges of the Anthropocene. He argues that the future of life on earth is dependent on the health of the world’s oceans and fish populations are an integral part of that system. The multi-disciplinary research inherent to fisheries science allows Greg the opportunity to explore many of his interests, including ecology, economics, sociology, politics and anthropology. Currently, his research subjects are the Atlantic cod, striped bass and Atlantic Bluefin tuna.

The papers that Greg has published or co-wrote can be found here

Nathalie LeBlanc, PhD Candidate

Nathalie came to UNB after completing an MSc at Acadia University on Purple Sandpiper genetics. She’s now working on a PhD with two main goals. In collaboration with Striped Bass researchers across North America, Nathalie is using the published Striped Bass genome to construct a library of SNP markers, which she will use to assess genetic structure across the species' entire range and to identify genes that may be under selective pressure. At the same time, Nathalie is helping to construct a programming pipeline that will automatically mine published literature for information about DNA sequences that have been associated with various environmental variables. When complete, she will use this pipeline to add to existing annotations in the Striped Bass genome.

The papers that Nathalie has published or co-wrote can be found here.

Faith Penny, PhD Candidate

Faith began in the Pavey lab after completing her MSc at UNB with Dr. James Kieffer, during which she studied the physiology of shortnose sturgeon. She previously worked as the lab’s technician, creating lab operating procedures, setting up equipment and helping out where needed. For her doctoral studies, she will be exploring the evolution and molecular ecology of genes facilitating euryhalinity and temperature in striped bass though various field and laboratory studies. Her project will include collection of wild juvenile striped bass from various local and international populations of varying temperatures and salinities. These fish will be used to quantify changes and interactions of gene expression, physiology and whole-animal biology.

The papers that Faith wrote or co-wrote can be found here.


Bethany Reinhart, MSc Candidate

Bethany’s research interests center around anthropogenic impacts in aquatic ecosystems. Particularly, her focus is on the accumulation of metals in biota in marine, freshwater and estuarine environments. Past research involved measuring trace metals in sandshrimp from a potentially contaminated sewage site as well as reference sites.


Shawn Kroetsch, MSc Candidate

Shawn graduated with a BSc degree from UNBSJ, following his graduation Shawn began his MSc research at the CRI Genomic Lab along side Dr. Scott Pavey. Shawn’s research is characterizing the gut microbiota of freshwater aquatic macroinvertebrates, in an effort to gain a better understanding of the roles that habitat and feeding type have on microbial composition. This research compliments the interests that Shawn has in ecology and genetics, while also providing Shawn with an opportunity to explore the subject of microbiomes, which is a cutting edge field in human health and medicine.


The Lab

CRI Genomics is equipped to perform the DNA isolation and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) library preparation (both pre-sequencing activities), as well as bioinformatics (post-sequencing step). The types of current projects in the lab include: genotype-by-sequencing (GBS) to determine the genetic basis of study phenotypes; identification of unique adaptations in local fish species; sequencing barcode regions to identify species for microbiomes or insect community identification, environmental DNA (uses small tissues and cells suspended in the water to identify species in a lake or river), and finally, targeted resequencing of candidate genes of many individuals simultaneously. Feature pieces of equipment include a dedicated server with 2 TB of RAM, pipetting robot, automated cassette size selection, several means to asses DNA quantity and quality, and a sonicator.