Director's Blog

Celebrating 15 years of Excellence in River Science

Posted by CRI Programs   |   February 15, 2016

Canadian Rivers Institute supports governments, businesses and communities in making smart, evidence-based decisions through high-impact research

FREDERICTON — The Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) marks 15 years of making critical advancements to river and estuarine science this month.

The high-impact research institute based at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) has grown into an internationally-recognized collaboration of academics, regulators, industry, and non-government agencies committed to advancing science to meet the needs of society’s priority water issues.  From four founding members at UNB in 2001, the CRI today has 19 Science Directors, 81 Research Associates, 88 graduate students, 30 research and administrative staff, and over 200 alumni researchers across the country and globally.

“At CRI we use the best available science to find answers to the important questions being asked today. Whether it is a government department developing water regulations, industry looking to develop better management processes, or watershed groups wanting to understand the health of their river, every one of our projects is providing a much-needed answer to stakeholder questions,” states Dr. Michael van den Heuvel, CRI’s Director based at the University of Prince Edward Island. “The partnership between UNB and CRI has been critical and ensures the institute’s capacity to pursue important national and international research, scientific and educational projects and collaborations.”

The Institute is hosted at UNB but its membership is active at post-secondary institutions in Canada and internationally, including the University of Prince Edward Island, the Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique, Okanagan College, Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Western University, the University of Florida (USA), the University of Milan (Italy) and the University of Guadalajara (Mexico).

“Student training and professional development are at the centre of everything we do,” says Anne Levesque, Executive Director. “CRI researchers are leaders in their fields. Their experience and scientific insights, coupled with our courses, workshops and projects, is equipping a new generation of students and professionals with the latest tools and knowledge to tackle today’s challenges for our rivers.”

The institute is recognized worldwide for its partnerships with government and industry to advance applied research and to improve management practices. Some of the current projects demonstrating the institute’s excellence in applied science include:

  • Environmental science in support of the Mactaquac Dam Project (MAES-Mactaquac Aquatic Ecosystem Study),
  • The Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Program of the Governments of Canada and Alberta.
  • Development of an aquatic cumulative effects assessment framework for the Grand River watershed, the largest watershed in southwestern Ontario, including the impacts of remedial actions at selected sewage treatment plants on fish health.
  • Investigating the impacts of permafrost degradation on Arctic rivers, including an International Polar Year assessment that established the ecological legacy conditions of more than 100 rivers in the eastern Canadian Arctic.
  • Creation of the internationally-renowned Stable Isotopes in Nature laboratory (SINLab).
  • Community-driven research to develop a cumulative effects monitoring program for the Saint John Harbour and the Northumberland Strait.
  • Development of cutting edge technologies for ecosystem observation using DNA, focusing on Wood Buffalo National Park's threatened wetlands.
  • International partnership with a project focusing on the Arctic Ring of Fire "Impacts of Global Warming in Sentinel Systems: from Genes to Ecosystems."
  • Partnership with the Environment Canada's CABIN river monitoring program to develop and provide training and certification in aquatic biomonitoring and assessment.

“With the changes occurring around the world and particularly the stress being put on our aquatic ecosystems, it’s important now more than ever to have the multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to problem solving provided by the CRI,” concludes Dr. van den Heuvel.

For more information about the CRI and its research projects, visit
To arrange an interview, contact: Dr. Michael van den Heuvel, Director, Canadian Rivers Institute, Department of Biology & Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island | 902-388-0895 or 902-388-0895 cell|

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