Frances Pick


Frances Pick
Full Professor, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science

Room: GNN160D
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. ext. 6364
Work E-mail: [email protected]

Frances Pick


Dr. Frances Pick is a Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Ottawa and a founding member of its Center for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics (CAREG), where her laboratory is located. She obtained her PhD from the University of Toronto in Botany in the field of limnology (aquatic ecology) with a minor in biochemistry. Her research focuses on the structure and function of microbial and plant communities of aquatic ecosystems (rivers, lakes and wetlands). Potential drivers such as nutrient loading, hydrological regimes, pesticides and invasive species are tested. One current project is to determine the causes and consequences of cyanobacterial blooms and in particular those producing cyanotoxins. Cyanotoxins are a growing human health concern around the world and with global warming the problem is expected to increase. The research approach involves comparative studies of a range of lakes and rivers in different regions as well as more detailed temporal and spatial sampling of local systems. Experimental studies include in situ enclosures and small scale laboratory manipulations. The research has implications for ecosystem health and state of environment assessments as well as aquatic ecosystem management and restoration.


Using both empirical and experimental approaches, she examines the factors regulating the abundance and diversity of plants and microbes in freshwater ecosystems (lakes, rivers, ponds, wetlands) as well as the  relationships with other trophic levels. One current area of research she is working on examines algal blooms, in particular those caused by toxic cyanobacteria typically in response to excess nutrient loading but also potentially climate change. Algal blooms have direct effects on water quality and ecosystem health with implications for drinking water supplies and regional economies. Her field sites range from rivers and lakes in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia to the Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie.

Research Question Examples a Student She Supervises Could Work On

  1. Are urban stormwater ponds in residential areas perceived as amenities by residents? (e.g. through an analysis of house prices)
  2. What is scientific and societal evidence that stormwater ponds provide significant ecological services in urban areas? (e.g. through analysis of existing water quality data or through  residential survey of perceptions).
  3. Are algal blooms increasing in Canada? In what regions is this observed and why? (e.g. analysis of gov. data or news reports through time and space).
  4. What are the effects of road salt on aquatic ecosystems in urban areas? If impacts are negative what is the no effects level for loading? 
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