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Alex Harris

Research Scientist, Field Lead (Canada)


Alex is a Research Scientist, leading field operations for SMRU’s Canada office. He first joined the team as a Mitacs-sponsored intern in the fall of 2019, processing a large data-set for southern resident killer whale movement modelling. Alex joined the team full-time in May 2020, leading the Burrard Inlet noise characterization project in collaboration with the Port of Vancouver and Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Alex brings with him four years of experience as a research scientist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, where he was the lead tech for the university’s prestigious cereal-breeding laboratory. He completed his M.Sc. in Ecological Restoration in 2020 at Simon Fraser University, focusing on assessing human impact and monitoring the success of recovery efforts.

Degrees and Education

  • 2020 Simon Fraser University, Master of Science, Ecological Restoration
  • 2013 University of Guelph, Bachelor of Science (Env.), Earth and Atmospheric Science

Skills and Expertise

Alex has significant experience managing large field trials, developing sound data collection protocols, and working with state-of-the-art field equipment. He works with SMRU’s passive acoustic monitoring systems and will be testing a new optimized PAM system for deployment in 2021. Alex has experience developing data pipelines for machine-learning and hopes to apply this to an automated killer whale detection system in the coming months.

Additional career experience has provided a background in environmental impact assessment and coastal restoration. He has worked with diverse groups of stakeholders from public, private, First Nations and government. Data management has always been an important component in Alex’s work and he brings experience with Python, R, Matlab, SQL and ArcGIS to the SMRU team.

Key Projects

  • Burrard Inlet Noise Characterization: Deployed and analyzed data from a small network of hydrophones in Burrard Inlet, Vancouver, British Columbia to characterize the underwater noise environment. Burrard Inlet is a heavily trafficked recreational and industrial waterway with a history of marine mammal use, including the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale. Project partners include Tsleil-Waututh Nation and the Port of Vancouver.
  • Haro Strait Slowdown Analysis: Using AIS, and tidal data vessel speeds through Haro Strait (a critical important SRKW habitat region) were validated and reported to the Port of Vancouver’s ECHO (Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation) program. This data will be used to assess the ECHO’s program’s overall success and potential future as a legally-binding commercial vessel speed-limited zone.
  • HALLO Project: On-going data analysis contributions to the Humans and Algorithms Listening for Orcas (HALLO) in collaboration with Simon Fraser University. This project aims to create a deep-learn neural net which can automatically detect and flag SRKW presence from a live audio monitoring stream.

Project list also includes:

  • Pacheedaht First Nation Marine Mammal Survey
  • Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Expansion Noise Off-Setting
  • Field testing a re-design of SMRU’s passive acoustic underwater monitoring nodes

+1 (604) 737-7678

SMRU Consulting
604 – 55 Water Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 1A1