After short stints studying bowhead whale feeding and walrus vocalisations in the Canadian Arctic, she returned to Barbados to do her MSc on the mating patterns of lovely coral reef fish called redlip blennies. Her PhD on the social behaviour of bluegill sunfish was a brief detour into temperate freshwaters. Upon landing her first faculty position at the University of East Anglia, England, she developed a strong program on Caribbean coral reef ecology and conservation. This research continued when she became Professor of Marine Ecology at Simon Fraser University, Canada, and it has now expanded to cold-water coastal ecosystems.
Her research over the past 30 years has made an impressive contribution to our understanding of marine ecosystems and how they are affected by human activities. She pioneered the use meta-analyses to assess changes in Caribbean coral reef ecosystems, was one of the first scientists to study the impact of the lionfish invasion in the Caribbean, and is now leading research that sheds light into how marine ecosystems may respond to the combination of local stressors and climate change. Isabelle has published nearly 200 scientific papers and earned numerous accolades for her work, including the Murray A. Newman Award, a Leopold Leadership Fellowship and a Marsh Award for Conservation Biology. In recent years, science communication has become another passion. She strives to share the results of her research to broad audiences and engage with leaders in the public and private sectors, so that her applied research can lead to actions that help oceans.
Isabelle is the proud mum of two amazing young women – Geneviève, an MSc student in forest ecology, and Catherine, a BFA student in photography and film studies – who are bright, kind and tread lightly on the planet. She still swims in the warmer half of the year in local lakes and in the Salish Sea, and is an avid trail runner with a handful of ultras under her belt. She canoes and kayaks and is planning on learning to row very soon! She feels very strongly that age is just a state of mind.