Roxanne M. Gillett

Current Position
Ph.D. Candidate, Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate Program, Trent University

Ph.D. Supervisor
Dr. Bradley White, Canada Research Chair in Conservation Genetics, Trent University

1997 - 2002
B.Sc. Marine Biology, Honours, Co-op - Dalhousie University

Research Interests

My research interests are numerous and extremely varied, but currently all involve the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale. Through my Ph.D. work I am helping support recent studies looking at health and reproduction in right whales through the analysis of feces by genetically associating specific fecal samples back to known right whales in the population. I am also using genetics to try and determine if genetic similarity between individuals in the population is affecting this species ability to reproduce. I have also, in collaboration with the Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station, initiated a community based whale sightings network by whale watch vessels in the Bay of Fundy. Approximately 2/3rds of all North Atlantic right whales migrate to this area every year to nurse their young and feed. Although dedicated research surveys occur in this area every year, whale watch vessels are in the area for a longer period of time and often cover areas that dedicated surveys do not, making these vessels ideal to collect important information pertaining to this species spatial and temporal distribution in this important habitat.


Gillett, R.M., Frasier, T.R., Rolland, R.M., and B.N. White. Molecular identification of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) from free-floating feces. In Prep.

Gillett, R.M., White, B.N., and R.M. Rolland. 2008. Quantification and genetic profiling of DNA isolated from free-floating feces of the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Marine Mammal Science. 24(2): 341-355.

Frasier, T.R., McLeod, B.A., Gillett, R.M., Brown, M.W., and B.N. White. 2007. Right Whale Past and Present as Revealed By Their Genes. In: Kraus, S.D., and R.R. Rolland. The Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads. Harvard University Press.

Rolland, R.M., Hamilton, P.K., Kraus, S.D., Davenport, B., Gillett R.M., and S.K. Wasser. 2006. Faecal sampling using detection dogs to study reproduction and health in North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis). Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 8(2):121-125.

Hardie, D., Gillett, R.M., and J.A. Hutchings. 2006. The effects of isolation and colonization history on the genetic structure of marine-relict populations of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the Canadian Arctic. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63:1830-1839.

Courses TAed
WEGP531H: Molecular Genetic Techniques and Analysis, Trent University
BIOL415H: Biology of Marine Mammals, Trent University
BIOL362H: Population Genetics, Trent University
BIOL102H: Current issues in Biology I, Trent University
BIOL103H: Current Issues in Biology II, Trent University

Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station
New England Aquarium

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Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Centre
DNA Building, Trent University,
2140 East Bank Drive, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, K9J 7B8
Phone: (705) 748-1011 ext. 7126| Fax (705) 748-1132