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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 
  • Robert Shea, Memorial University, Vice-President, Marine Institute
  • Neil Bose, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Vice-President (Research)
  • Chuck Macdonald, 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
  • Gitta Kulczycki, Dalhousie University, Vice-President Finance and Administration
  • Representative from the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat


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:

  • Marlies Rise, Dalhousie Assistant Vice-President, Office of Research Services
  • Jonathan Fisher, Research Scientist, Marine Institute at Memorial University of Newfoundland 
  • Maria Steele, UEPI Research Manager
  • Jaclyn Pitman, 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


Advisory Committee on Indigenous Engagement in Ocean Research

The committee guides OFI’s engagement with Indigenous communities and organizations to help ensure strong linkages and meaningful engagement between Indigenous communities and organizations and other ocean organizations in Atlantic Canada, while recognizing global aspects and impact on OFI’s international collaborations and partnerships. The Committee will work with OFI staff and the research community to help ensure the active incorporation of Indigenous interests and protection of Aboriginal and Treaty rights into coastal and ocean research to foster meaningful collaboration with Indigenous communities.

Members are:

  • Anya Waite, OFI Scientific Director & CEO, Dalhousie University Associate Vice-President Research (Ocean)
  • Catherine Blewett, OFI Chief Strategic Engagement Officer
  • Paul Snelgrove, OFI Associate Scientific Director, Memorial University
  • Eric Oliver, Indigenous OFI Researcher
  • Corey Morris, Appointee, DFO, Canada
  • Melissa Nevin, Appointee, Atlantic Policy Congress of the First Nations Chiefs Secretariat
  • Alanna Syliboy, Mi’kmaw Knowledge and Community Engagement Manager, Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq
  • Cathy Martin, Director of Indigenous Community Engagement, Dalhousie
  • Angeline (Angie) Gillis, Associate Executive Director, Confederacy of Maninland Mi'kmaq
  • Shelley Denny, Director of Aquatic Research and Stewardship, Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources


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)
  • Melanie Nadeau, Chief Executive Officer, COVE
  • Marc D'Iorio, Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Jake Rice, Chief Scientist Emeritus, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada
  • Ray Gosine, Memorial University Associate Vice-President Research
  • 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


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.

Members: 

  • 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 
  • 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
  • Eric Siegel, Executive in Residence, Oceans CDL, Atlantic


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
  • Mike Smit, Principal Investigator, Module P2