Member Profiles

Saad, P.Ag.

Agriculture Engineer


I am an accomplished Agriculture Engineer with a keen focus on the intricate interplay between water, soil, and food systems. My expertise lies in creating innovative solutions that harmonize these vital elements for sustainable and resilient agricultural landscapes. It is worth mentioning to state that I have 10 years of working experience in different international, and national organizations, governments, and NGOs, especially in climate change, Integrated natural resource management, sustainable agriculture, natural habitat for Fiona and flora, biosecurity measures for animals, and plant health, emergency management for both government and industry and facilitation of intra and inter-departmental committees and projects.

Member Profile

Ryan Barrett, P.Ag.

Research and Agronomy Coordinator, PEI Potato Board

In his role as Research Coordinator, Ryan works to ensure that the research priorities of PEI potato growers are being addressed as well as communicating research results back to growers and industry partners.  He is also the project lead for the Agronomy Initiative for Marketable yield (AIM), an industry partnership to improve agronomy practices with processing growers.

Prior to joining the Potato Board in 2012, Ryan worked in the dairy industry as a Publications Editor for Jersey Canada in Guelph, Ontario. He also currently serves as Secretary-Manager of the Canadian Milking Shorthorn Society.  This interest in the dairy industry comes from his family’s dairy and beef farm with registered Milking Shorthorns and Jerseys, which he remains involved with. Ryan obtained a B.Sc (Agr) from the Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture and a M.Sc. specializing in animal genetics from the University of Guelph. He currently serves a first year Council member for the PEI Institute of Agrologists and is a Certified Crop Advisor.

Humna Khan, AIT.

Junior Agronomist, PEI Potato Board

I am originally from Pakistan and pursued my Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. Following that, I completed Masters of Science in Sustainable Design Engineering at University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). My master’s project focused on the development of nutrient-based management zones for site-specific fertilization in potato fields, aligning with my passion on sustainable agriculture. During my time at UPEI, I served as teaching assistant, contributing to the academic community. After earning my master’s degree, I gained valuable experience as a research associate at Dalhousie University Agriculture Campus. I have also had the privilege of presenting my research at various prestigious academic conferences throughout Canada and United States.

Presently, I’m contributing to the agricultural sector as a junior agronomist at the PEI Potato Board, where I engage in diverse research trials with growers and farmers, aiming to improve soil health and boost potato productivity. Outside of my professional pursuits, I find joy in music and socializing with friends in my spare time.

Syed Shah, P.Ag.

Research Associate, College of Engineering, University of Saskatchewan

Currently, I am working as Research Associate, College of Engineering, University of Saskatchewan. The focus of current study is on field phenotyping for cereal crops using University Field Phenotyping System (Ground-based drones). Before this appointment, I was working as a Postdoctoral Fellow under the supervision of Prof. Aitazaz Farooque at Center of Excellence in Food Security and Sustainability, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. The focus of this postdoctoral fellow appointment was to develop climate smart agriculture practices to ensure food security, agricultural water sustainability, and environmental sustainability. Prior to this appointment, I have completed a postdoctoral fellowship from Athabasca River Basin Research Institute (ARBRI) under the supervision of Prof. Junye Wang, Faculty of Science and Technology, Athabasca University, Canada. During this appointment, I developed denitrification decomposition (DNDC) modeling framework of integrated agroecosystem, salts, and hydrology. This research work was significantly related to challenges of world food security and environment sustainability. I have been working in a multidisciplinary project both at national and international level funded by USDA, ACIAR, ICARDA, FAO, and Alberta Government. In addition, I have been working as Assistant Professor, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, supervising, and delivering courses for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Moreover, I have been working as Director Water Management Research Center University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan to transfer and outreach the water saving, techniques to farmers/growers/progressive farmers. To summarize, at this point, my primary future interest is developing and implementing in field, a comprehensive integrated decision support system of big data connecting multidisciplinary concepts for achieving food security, agricultural water sustainability, and environmental sustainability.

I have completed Ph.D. degree in Agricultural Engineering from Department of Soil Physics and Land Management at Wageningen University (No. 1 in QS World Ranking in Agriculture and Forest Sciences), Netherlands. I have worked extensively on climate smart farming and digital agriculture, applied agricultural water management research and outreach, water supply systems, irrigation equipment, septic and wastewater systems, Nutrient fate and transport modeling, nutrient (N&P) cycling for cash and vegetables crops, biogeochemical modeling, Soil health benefits of cover cropping, Regenerative farming, Field and lab based soil health assessment, Soil health indicators, Nitrate and Phosphorus leaching and runoff, process based eco-hydrological models, water-food-energy environment nexus, GHG emissions, Carbon sequestration, developing environmental models of water quantity and water quality, field and lab experiments for sustainable soil water productivity, precision agriculture technologies, available soil water for plants and evapotranspiration, digital soil mapping, physical, research expertise in water resources components including surface and groundwater, modeling expertise in water supply and demand issues under climate change in agriculture and environment sectors, integrated water resources management, crop yields, environmental management, integrated water resources management, which is evidenced as published papers in peer reviewed journals.

Derrick Hawley, P.Ag.

Turf Specialist, Halifax Seed Company (serving Atlantic Canada)

I have been involved in some aspect of horticulture and turf management for more than three decades. Including roles as Head of Horticulture at Canada Blooms, horticultural lecturer at both Durham and Humber College in Ontario, and Director of Agronomy at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. I am currently employed as a Turf Specialist with the Halifax Seed Company, serving customers in PEI and NB.

My educational background includes a Diploma in Horticulture (Algonquin College), Agribusiness and Environmental Studies (McGill University), and a Master’s of Science in Agronomy from Iowa State University.

I moved to PEI (Warren Grove) in 2020 and live with my wife and our extra small dog-Lulu. We all enjoy gardening, visiting sandy beaches, and tasty home cooking!

Member Profile

Lindsay Birch, AIT

Field Research Associate for Atlantic Canada, NutriAg Ltd.

Lindsay has worked in many sectors of the agriculture industry including local research projects with crop protectants and seed variety trials, along with over sea’s work in New Zealand’s cropping and dairy industry. She is currently the Field Research Associate with NutriAg Ltd. for Atlantic Canada.

Lindsay graduated from the NSAC in 2011 with B.Sc(Agr) in Agriculture Business. She comes from a farming background, having grown up on a small mixed farm in Tyne Valley which included dairy and seed potato production. Lindsay currently serves on the PEI Institute of Agrologists’ Council as the Agrologist In Training representative.

Marleen Clark, P.Ag.

Plant Disease Diagnostician, PEI Department of Agriculture & Land

Marleen grew up in the eastern part of Prince Edward Island in potato country and her parents had a mixed farming operation.  She started her Agriculture career with the PEI Soil and Crop Association following with the Provincial Extension Plant Pathologist position with the PEI Department of Agriculture. This position allowed her to work closely with potato farmers with emphasis on potato diseases, project/research work in potato scab, early dying and other disease issues. Demand for plant disease diagnostics became eminent and more emphasis was placed on the plant disease diagnostic service. In this capacity, she continues to have the opportunity to cultivate the PEI Plant Disease Diagnostic Service.

Marleen also had an opportunity to work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in both plant pathology and soil science.  Some collaborative research projects completed include potato late blight pathogenicity ratings/trials, Fusarium dry rot and seed health surveys, seed treatment field trials, soil extraction tests and completion of soil analyses for a regional Manure Management Experiment.

Marleen continues to have memberships in the Canadian and American Phytopathology Societies and our local PEI Institute of Agrologists.  She has worked in the capacity of Chair for our Program Committee and a Council member. She currently serves as a first-year Council member with Agrologists Agronomes Canada (AAC)and continues to be on our local AIT committee.

On a personal note, Marleen loves music and sings in two local choirs and is presently learning to play the guitar.  She loves the outdoors and regularly likes to walk, bike, swim and go boating.

Marleen completed a Plant Science Technology Diploma at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro and continued at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine for her Bachelor of Science degree in Plant and Soil Science. Most recently she completed a Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics Internship with Mount Allison University.

Member Profile

Michelle Dyment, P.Ag.

Technical Product Specialist, NutriAg Ltd.

Michelle grew up on a farm just outside of Kensington where they grew potatoes up until 2007.  At this time they switched their focus mainly to IP soybeans.  Her involvement on the farm growing up allowed her to development her interest in agriculture. Michelle graduated from NSAC in 2012 with her B.Sc(Agr) where she majored in Plant Science and minored in Pest Management.   She also is a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA). 

Currently she is living in O’Leary and is employed by NutriAg Ltd, which is a liquid fertilizer company where she started as the Field Research Associate five years ago.  She is now the Technical Product Specialist for the company where she spends a lot of her time walking fields in order to make agronomic and nutrient recommendations to help farmers to get the highest yielding crops possible.  Prior to her employment at NutriAg Ltd she did field research for a potato and soybean company.   

Member Profile

Umesh C. Gupta, Ph.D, P.Ag.

Emeritus Research Scientist

After 2 years Post-Doctoral Research at the Soil Research Institute, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Ottawa, Umesh was appointed Research Scientist at AAFC, Charlottetown to conduct research in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, with special reference to micronutrients.

Over six decades, Umesh edited and wrote 3 books, over 150 research articles and made presentations in countries on all continents. He is past President of PEI Institute of Agrologists, Canadian Society of Soil Science and past Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Journal of Soil Science. Umesh was selected to participate in the NRC’s Canada’s Scientists Exchange Program with several countries. As a visiting professor, Umesh taught courses in Brazil, PRC of China and Chile. He completed his Ph.D. in Soil Biochemistry from Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, USA. Currently Umesh writes articles related to human health and nutrition. On occasions he speaks on scientific and general subjects, e.g., Global Water Scarcity and the Role of Phytochemicals in Human Nutrition.

Member Profile

Steve Howatt, P.Ag.

Owner, Atlantic AgriTech

Steve Howatt is the owner of Atlantic AgriTech Inc., a PEI-based company providing contract agricultural and environmental research services throughout the Maritime Provinces.  Atlantic AgriTech primarily conducts crop research trials for clients from the agri-chemical, fertilizer and seed industries.  Typical projects include field trials in nutrient management, pest management, variety evaluation and soil science and environmental effects of agriculture.  Through these projects, Steve has developed expertise in the areas of crop and nutrient management, pesticides and the environment. 

Steve is married with 3 grown daughters, and lives in New Glasgow, PEI.  Steve’s hobbies include fishing and other outdoor activities, and he volunteers with the PEI Ground Search and Rescue, Canadian Ski Patrol and the PEI 4-H Program.  Steve obtained his B.Sc in Agriculture, specializing in Plant Protection, from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (now DAL-AC), followed by an M.Sc. in Agriculture from Macdonald College of McGill University. Steve has been a Professional Agrologist with the PEI Institute of Agrologists since 1992, and has taken on several Council and Committee roles over the years, including a term as President in 1998-99.

Chris Jordan, P.Ag

Policy Advisor, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

Chris recently joined the team at Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada’s Science and Technology Branch as Policy Advisor for the Charlottetown and Fredericton Research and Development Centres. In his new role, Chris focuses on the environmental aspects of the agriculture sector.

Prior to joining AAFC, Chris worked in both the private and public sectors. He worked for many years at the PEI Department of Agriculture as the Berry Crop Development Officer and Provincial Apiarist. In that role, Chris provided industry development and extension expertise to fruit crop and honey bee sectors. Working with industry associations, federal/provincial government agencies and academia was a significant part of that position. Major issues tackled during his time with the Department included the identification, mapping and development of a management strategy for Strawberry Virus Complex as well as Spotted Wing Drosophila in PEI, the development of a revised importation policy and strategy for honey bees into PEI from Small Hive Beetle-positive regions, and the introduction of the Atlantic Technology Transfer Team for Apiculture (ATTTA) based at Perennia Agriculture Inc. in Truro, NS. Prior to making the transition to AAFC, he served as Policy Coordinator with the PEI Department of Finance, Treasury Board Secretariat. He has served on several committees at both the national and provincial levels.

Chris holds a BSc (Agr) in Plant Science and an MSc in Agriculture from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College/Dal AC.

Member Profile

Evan MacDonald, AIT

Soil and Water Conservation Specialist, PEI Department of Agriculture & Fisheries

Evan works as a Soil and Water Conservation Specialist with the provincial Department of Agriculture. His role includes working with farmers in limiting soil erosion on their fields through the development of soil conservation plans. In addition to soil conservation work, he is involved in various projects involving Precision Agriculture and the use of technology/data to improve decisions on the farm. He also manages the Department’s weather network of 11 stations across the Island.

Evan graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from Saint Mary’s University in 2010, a diploma in Advanced Geographic Sciences (GIS) from the Center of Geographic Sciences in 2011, and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science from UPEI in 2018 where his thesis project focused on the use of aerial imagery captured by UAVs in agriculture (potatoes).

Member Profile

John MacQuarrie, P.Ag.

Director of Environmental Sustainability, Cavendish Farms

John began his agricultural career with the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture. He has occupied several supervisory positions with the Department, mostly relating to potato disease control and production. In 2001, he was appointed the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. Following this, he held the position of Deputy Minister for Environment and Energy and Deputy Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. In August of 2017, John accepted a position with Cavendish Farms as Director of Environmental Sustainability.  Throughout his varied career, John has always maintained an interest in agri-environmental issues and feels his most recent position will give him the opportunity to build on the experience he gained working in government.

John completed both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science (Agriculture) degrees at Macdonald Campus of McGill University, focusing on crop science.

Morgan McNeil, M.Sc., P.Ag.

Soil Health Specialist, PEI Department of Agriculture

Morgan grew up in a small community called Hantsport in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. She was actively involved in the 4-H program for 12 years, where she developed a passion for vegetable production and public speaking. She attended the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus from 2012-2016 to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a major in Plant Science and minor in Food Science and Technology. She then continued onto do her Masters in Agricultural Science at the same university from 2016-2019 with a project on soil health in organic grain cropping systems to assess green manure residues and the interactions between tillage, weed and microbial communities. She has also held research and teaching assistanceship positions. Morgan traveled to England in 2016 on a global youth exchange program, and Ethiopia in 2017 on an international workshop to learn about agricultural practices in those countries. She has traveled to most provinces across Canada to attend various academic conferences.

Morgan worked at the PEI Potato Board from 2019-2022 based out of Charlottetown, PEI as a Junior Agronomist working on research trials with farmers to improve soil health and marketable yields of potatoes. She is currently working as a Soil Health Specialist with the Department of Agriculture. She enjoys photography, painting, soccer, swimming and socializing with friends in her spare time.

Gwen Corrigan Vessey, P.Ag.

Professional Agrologist

Gwen is a recently retired Soil Conservation Specialist. During her 37 years with the provincial Department of Agriculture, Gwen had the privilege to work on many innovative land management projects and programs including on-farm soil conservation structures, artificial wetlands, residue management for potato production and the Alternative Land Use Services Program (ALUS).

In 2007, Gwen was honored to receive the Outstanding Agrologist of the Year Award from the PEI Institute of Agrologists. In 2017, she was further honoured to receive the PEI Potato Board Industry Recognition Award. Gwen remains in touch with the agriculture industry by doing consulting work and currently serves on the PEIIA Council. At home, Gwen and her husband keep busy with an ever-growing list of DIY projects. Gwen holds a diploma in Resource Planning from Holland College and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo, focusing on earth science. Gwen is also a Certified Crop Advisor, accredited in 2002.

Steve Watts, P.Ag

Owner, Genesis Crop Systems Inc

Steve grew up around the potato industry and aside from two years working in the Oil Industry in the west and several attending college in Nova Scotia, where he received a Diploma in International Potato Production Technology and a BSc  Agr in Plant Science, never really left.

Since graduating in 1988, Steve worked as Potato Variety Technician and Acting Potato Specialist with the PEI Department of Agriculture, Farm Manager with Eric C Robinson Inc in Albany, PE and Technical Sales Representative with Engage Agro, based in Guelph ON.

Steve founded Genesis Crop Systems Inc and started doing business in 2012. The companies’ main area of expertise is in providing PEI potato producers with current scientific agronomic advice with the intention of improving their economic, environmental and social position. GCS business has evolved over the years and Steve is also one of the few private independent crop researchers here in PEI where he conducts field research projects for numerous commercial and not for profit clients.

Steve has been fortunate to let the potato crop lead him to many parts of the world including the majority of Canadian and US production areas, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Jordan, Syria, The Netherlands, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Steve served on PEIIA Council for four years and has held roles including representative on Agrologists Canada National Board and chair of the Program Committee.