Our Team - Bios


Jim Powell Heather Brown Elan Downey Zina Richmond
Ahmed Siah Kim Bull Robert Johns Shannon Balfry
Wyth Marshall Debbie Collins Tina Podlasly Sam Ferguson
Sandra Milligan      


Dr. Jim Powell, PhD - Chief Executive Officer


Dr. Jim PowellDr. Jim Powell has over 30 years experience in the areas of fisheries and aquaculture sciences and is an established authority on fish reproduction and broodstock management both locally and internationally. His primary work has been in the area of fish physiology and adaptive management strategies of fish culture for a range of fresh- and salt-water species. He has extensive experience in aquaculture drug development, testing, registration and implementation in addition to work in fish health. Most recently, Jim was involved in fisheries and aquaculture management in the recreational and conservation sector with involvement in threatened and endangered species recovery. Dr. Powell is a founding Board member of the BC CAHS and has served on the board since inception.


top of page



Dr. Ahmed Siah, PhD - Research Scientist/Microbiology Diagnostician


Ahmed SiahAhmed joined the team at BC CAHS in November 2011. His duties include managing research projects, developing new technologies in the field of aquatic health diagnostics and implementing and validating molecular biology technologies for diagnostics. Dr. Siah pursued his Postdoctoral studies in Molecular Ecotoxicology at the University of Le Havre in France after earning his PhD in Oceanography at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Rimouski, Quebec. As a Research Associate at Prince Edward Island's Atlantic Veterinary College, he led and managed several projects on mollusk health management and the development of molecular diagnostic tools. Ahmed's research focused primarily on identifying molecular biomarkers related to shellfish diseases and on developing new technologies to detect micro-organisms affecting fish and shellfish health. While at the Atlantic Veterinary College, Ahmed worked on hemic neoplasia in soft shell clams and developed diagnostic assays for rapid and high-throughput detection of tunicate invasive species which are heavily affecting the mussel industry in PEI.

Ahmed and his wife live in Campbell River with their young family. He's an avid soccer player.

top of page



Dr. Wyth Marshall, BSc, Cert. Enviro Restor, PhD – Research Scientist


Wyth MarshallWyth joined the team at BC CAHS in 2010 as a Postdoctoral research fellow. She completed her PhD at the department of Botany at the University of British Columbia the previous year. She also holds a BSc in Biology and a certificate in Environmental Restoration from the University of Victoria. Her main research interest is in microbial ecology, specifically of parasites and aquatic disease organisms. Wyth’s PhD work involved the discovery and characterization of new genera and species of symbiotic protozoa (Ichthyosporea and Thraustochytridae), using phylogenetics, population genetics, light and electron microscopy. Previously she worked and volunteered with the shellfish parasitology group at the Pacific Biological Station (DFO).

Currently she leads research aimed at understanding the ecology and life-history of Kudoa thyrsites, a myxozoan parasite of farmed Atlantic salmon. Funding for her position comes from an Industrial Research and Development Fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

When not at BC CAHS, Wyth loves windsurfing, gardening, and mushroom picking.

top of page



Heather Brown, BSc, Dipl.F&A - Research Assistant

Heather BrownHeather joined the BC CAHS team in January 2012 bringing with her a strong interest in fish and knowledge of the aquaculture industry. She earned a BSc in Marine & Freshwater Biology from the University of Guelph in 2009 and a diploma in Fisheries & Aquaculture the following year from Vancouver Island University. Heather is the Research Assistant for the Kudoa Mitigation Project here at BC CAHS conducting field sampling, lab procedures, and research.

In her spare time she enjoys crafts, hiking, camping, and road trips.

top of page




Kim Bull, BSc - Laboratory Technician

Kim BullKim holds a BSc in Biology from the University of Victoria. Kim joined BC CAHS in early 2012, after contract work in 2011.  Prior experience with water sampling and analysis for a biotechnology company has given Kim the solid background needed to assist with a wide variety of projects at BC CAHS. In addition to salmonid enhancement and enumeration at a North Island hatchery, she brings to her position prior experience in the aquaculture industry.

In addition to being a full-time mom, Kim enjoys canoeing, hiking, and being involved with Rotary.

top of page




Debbie Collins, Cert. Card. Tech., Cert. Lead. - Laboratory Technician

Debbie CollinsDebbie worked at a health research facility for twenty-four years before moving to Campbell River in 2004. Debbie has moved her focus from human to aquatic fish health. She joined the Centre in 2005 and her main role is lab services such as ATPase and Cortisols. She also purchases all new equipment and lab consumables.

She enjoys being a great mom and interior decorating.

top of page






Elan Downey, BSc - Research Assistant

Elan DowneyElan received her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of Victoria in 1986. Previous to joining the Centre, Elan worked for the Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Nanaimo, BC where she worked on Shellfish research. She then joined the finfish industry as a Fish Health Biologist and has been involved in the industry since the late 1980s. Elan also taught the Salmon Farm Technician Course at North Island College in Campbell River, BC.  Elan joined BC CAHS in 2006 and is a research assistant and workshop instructor.

Away from work, Elan enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with her kids on Quadra Island, where she lives.

top of page



Robert Johns, BSc, MSc - Microbiology Technician

Robert JohnsRobert moved from Ontario to join BC CAHS in August 2011. He has completed his BSc in Microbiology and an MSc in 2010 in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Guelph, where he studied the genetics of fish pathogens. Robert is involved with diagnostics as well as research projects at BC CAHS.

An avid diver before he moved to the west coast, Robert is enjoying the chance to explore the variety of world-class diving spots in and around Campbell River.

top of page





Tina Podlasly, BFA, PDPP, Adv Dip GIS App - Corporate Manager

Tina PodlaslyTina holds a BFA (Visual Arts) and a teaching certificate from the University of Victoria and is also a recent graduate of the Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications program at Vancouver Island University. Tina joined BC CAHS in July 2012, after working in the aquaculture industry for four years. She brings to her position prior experience in social media management, occupational health & safety, emergency management, website design & maintenance, database design & administration & education. 

In addition to spending time with her family, Tina enjoys artistic pursuits, the outdoors and her pets - two cats and a dog.

top of page


Zina Richmond, BSc - Senior Laboratory Technician

Zina RichmondZina studied at the University of Alberta in Edmonton majoring in Chemistry and Biology. Zina has worked as a Research Technologist for the past twenty-six years in the areas of immunology and vaccinology. Zina joined the Centre in 2006. Her duties include viral assays, tissue culture, immunological assays and quantitative PCR.

Zina loves running - half-marathons are particularly enjoyable as well as swimming, cycling, biking, and walking her dog.


 top of page


Shannon Balfry, PhD - Associate Research Scientist


Shannon Balfry joined the team at BC CAHS as an Associate Research Scientist in January 2017. Dr. Balfry completed her Ph.D. at UBC with a focus on examining disease resistance in teleost fish. She later completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the field of fish nutrition and the development of sustainable diets. The last several years, she has been working on developing new species for aquaculture with emphasis on rockfish and wolf eels. Her current research program takes an innovative approach to managing sea lice in farmed Atlantic salmon. Lab based studies have identified kelp and pile perch as cleaner fish that will readily clean the sea lice off infested salmon. She continues this research to study the cleaning behavior of these fish and develop the protocols required for implementing their use in BC salmon farms.

When not doing her research, Shannon enjoys hanging out with her pug, cooking and watching her sons play hockey.

top of page

Sam Ferguson, MSc - Research Assistant


Sam graduated from the University of Victoria in 2011 with a BSc in biology and then again subsequently in 2015 with an MSc in biology, specializing in marine invertebrate zoology and evolutionary developmental biology. As a research assistant and graduate student at the University of Victoria he studied the larval development and evolution of a group of tropical marine snails. Sam joined the BC CAHS team as a research assistant on the sea lice cleaner fish project in January 2017. This research is being carried out at the Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research in West Vancouver where he has worked previously as a fish culturist for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Away from work, Sam enjoys listening to and playing music, riding his bike and bird watching.

top of page


Sandra Milligan, BSc, MSc - Laboratory Technician

Sandra Milligan is a university biology instructor at North Island College, currently working at CAHS on an NIC-funded work term. Sandra obtained her B.Sc. in Toxicology from the University of Guelph, and holds two M.Sc. in Neuroscience from the University of Victoria and from the University of Ottawa. Sandra has been teaching at NIC for the past 14 years, and is happy to have a chance to use and up-date her skills in molecular biology and cell culture after a technical hiatus of 20 years.

For Sandra, the lines between paid work, volunteer work and fun are rather blurry. Sandra is President of the Board of Greenways Land Trust, the local stewardship organization involved in numerous ecological restoration projects in Campbell River, with invasive plant management as Sandra’s main project. Public outreach activities include history tours, intertidal tours, and biology classes of many topics for Elder College. She has been an active triathlete and marathon runner, but now concentrates on long distance cycling and swimming. Athletics, gardening and learning languages help to keep her connected to her 3 adult children.


 top of page