OFI was established in September 2016 thanks to an investment of $227 million from the Government of Canada and various private and public-sector organizations. OFI is led by Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the University of Prince Edward Island, and includes partners in North America and Europe.

OFI operations are shared between Dalhousie University and Memorial University of Newfoundland. OFI reports to the Vice-President Research & Innovation at Dalhousie, and the Vice-President Research at Memorial.

OFI Organizational Structure

OFI Committee Governance

OFI committees ensure the decisions made — and resources used — are aligned with public interest and that OFI funding which is contributed by government, industry and institutional partners, is prudently used to establish a world-leading, and collaborative, research institution.

Executive Council

This group stewards OFI on behalf of Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Prince Edward Island. Members of the Executive Council provide institutional oversight, financial accountability and direction to the scientific and management affairs of OFI.

The Chair of the Executive Council is Alice Aiken, Vice President of Research & Implementation, Dalhousie University.

Members are:

  • Travis Fridgen, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Acting Dean of Science 
  • Glenn Blackwood, Memorial University, Vice-President, Marine Institute
  • Neil Bose, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Vice-President (Research)
  • Chris Moore, Dalhousie University, Dean, Faculty of Science
  • Gitta Kulczycki, Dalhousie University, Vice President, Finance & Administration
  • John Newhook, Dalhousie University, Dean of Engineering 
  • Paul Snelgrove, OFI Associate Scientific Director
  • Kim Thomson, OFI Chief Administrative Officer 
  • Anya Waite, OFI Scientific Director & Dalhousie University Associate Vice-President Research (Ocean) 
  • Catherine Blewett, OFI Chief Strategic Engagement Officer

Management Committee

This team of people ensures OFI, and the projects and programs it undertakes, are managed in accordance with Canada First Research Excellence Fund guidelines.

Members are:

  • Jonathan Fisher, Research Scientist, Marine Institute at Memorial University of Newfoundland 
  • Rabin Bissessur, Dean (interim), UPEI Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research
  • Nancy Hayter, Dalhousie University, Executive Director, Research Services 
  • Julie Rideout, OFI Manager of Operations
  • Paul Snelgrove, OFI Associate Scientific Director
  • Kim Thomson, OFI Chief Administrative Officer 
  • Anya Waite, OFI Scientific Director & CEO, Dalhousie University Associate Vice-President Research (Ocean) 
  • Catherine Blewett, OFI Chief Strategic Engagement Officer

Scientific Committee

This committee provides general oversight to the planning and coordination of research projects, including the allocation of research funding.

The chair is Anya Waite, OFI Scientific Director and CEO, Dalhousie University Associate Vice-President Research (Ocean)

The co-chair is Paul Snelgrove, OFI Associate Scientific Director, Memorial University

Members are:

  • Stefanie Colombo, Applied Science, Dalhousie
  • Ian Stewart, Humanities, Dalhousie
  • Kelly Hawboldt, Engineering, MUN
  • Ratana Chuenpagdee, Social Science, MUN
  • Mark Fast, Natural Science, UPEI
  • Daniel Ruzzante, Natural Science, Dalhousie
  • Ian Fleming, Natural Science, MUN
  • Brad de Young, Natural Science, MUN
  • Melanie Zurba, Social Science, Dalhousie
  • Ali Nasiri, Engineering, Dalhousie

Excellence, Impact and Engagement Committee

The Excellence, Impact and Engagement Committee (EIEC) provides guidance on OFI’s research focus, reviews annual progress reports and funding allocation, project development and strategic direction. The EIEC also ensures mechanisms are in place to exceed expectations for mid-term funding renewal.

The chair is Geoff Munro, Owner, Trestle Networks Inc. 

Members are:

  • Mark Abbott, President of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
  • Heide Hackmann, Executive Director, the International Council for Science (ICSU)
  • Nancy Hamzawi, Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Technology at Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Melanie Nadeau, Chief Executive Officer, COVE
  • Marlies Rise, Director, Strategic Institutional Research Initiatives, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Karin Lochte, Director, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre
  • Arran McPherson, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Oceans Science, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Kathy Sullivan, Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute and Ambassador at Large, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum 
  • Anya Waite, OFI Scientific Director & CEO, Dalhousie University Associate Vice-President Research (Ocean)
  • Paul Snelgrove, OFI Associate Scientific Director, Memorial University 
  • Kim Thomson, OFI Chief Administrative Officer 
  • Kendra MacDonald, CEO, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster 
  • Greg Johnson, President, RBR Ltd. 
  • Catherine Blewett, OFI Chief Strategic Engagement Officer

International Scientific Advisory Committee

Advises the Management Committee on scientific excellence, strategic focus and alignment of research projects with the mission, goals and deliverables with the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.

The chair is Jake Rice, former Chief Scientist for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

Members are:

  • Malcolm Beveridge, Head of aquaculture, UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome
  • Frank Glöckner, Head of Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology
  • Eileen Hofmann, Professor of Oceanography at Old Dominion University
  • Bonnie McCay-Merritt, Distinguished Service Professor, Emerita, at Rutgers University
  • Katherine Richardson, Professor, Biological Oceanography and Vice Dean of Science at the University of Copenhagen 
  • Oscar Schofield, Professor, Biological Oceanography at Rutgers University 
  • Lawson Brigham, Distinguished Professor of Geography & Arctic Policy, University of Alaska Fairbanks & Senior Fellow at the Institute of North in Anchorage
  • Anya Waite, OFI Scientific Director & CEO
  • Paul Snelgrove, OFI Associate Scientific Director

Learn more about the International Scientific Advisory committee by reading their biographies

Innovation and Commercialization Committee 

This Committee is responsible for advising on progress towards meeting annual, mid-term and seven-year targets set for innovation and commercialization, and for promoting, developing and facilitating commercialization arising from OFI’s proposed innovation deliverables.


  • Bruce Batstone, Industry Partnership Manager, OFI 
  • Carey Bonnell, Vice President of Sustainability, Ocean Choice
  • Amy Brookman, Director of Product Management, Vemco 
  • Stephen Hartlen, Assistant Vice President (Industry Relations) & Executive Director, Industry Liason & Innovation, Dalhousie University 
  • Kevin Dunn, Director,  Industry Liason & Innovation, Dalhousie University 
  • Calvin Gosse, Atlantic Public Sector Client Executive, IBM
  • Melanie Nadeau, Chief Executive Officer, COVE 
  • Susan Hunt, Chief Technology Officer, Ocean Supercluster
  • Paula Mendonca, Technology Transfer & Commercialization Office, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Justin Moores, Synapse Applied Research & Industry Services, UPEI
  • Andrew Swanson, Vice President Research & Development, Cooke Aquaculture
  • Kim Thomson, Chief Administrative Officer, OFI
  • Ron Irwin, Collaboration Manager, OFI
  • Anya Waite, Scientific Director & CEO, OFI & Associate Vice-President Research (Ocean), Dalhousie University 
  • Paul Snelgrove, Associate Scientific Director, OFI
  • Vincent Sieben, Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Dalhousie University
  • Jennifer LaPlante, Executive Director, DeepSense
  • Catherine Blewett, OFI Chief Strategic Engagement Officer

Data Management Committee 

The OFI Data Management Committee acts in an advisory role to the OFI Scientific Directorate. The Committee reports to the OFI Management Committee and is responsible for developing, overseeing, and supporting researchers in the implementation of data management policy and guidelines that direct and inform all OFI researchers in the management of all data collected through OFI sponsored research.

The Chair of the Data Management Committee is Mike Smit, Assoc. Professor, School of Information Management, Dalhousie University.

Members are:

  • Tony Charles, Professor, Saint Mary’s University
  • Fraser Davidson, Research Scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Richard Davis, RIU Manager, Ocean Frontier Institute
  • Alison Farrell, Public Services and Research Data Management Librarian, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Shayla Fitzsimmons, Director, Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System-Atlantic
  • Jennifer LaPlante, Executive Director, DeepSense
  • Erin MacPherson, Research Data Management Librarian, Dalhousie University
  • Kim Mears, Health Sciences and Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of Prince Edward Island
  • Kate Patterson, Data Team Manager, Ocean Frontier Institute
  • Jon Pye, Assistant Director of Data Management, Ocean Tracking Network
  • Ines Hessler, Chief Technology Officer, ACENET