Dr. Shawna MacKinnon

Image shawna mackinnon
Research Scientist, Phytochemist
  • Natural products chemistry: profiling and structure elucidation of secondary metabolities (i.e. carotenoids, glucosinolates, anthocyanins, glycoalkaloids, plant growth hormones, etc.) in terrestrial plants (berries, medicinal plants, vegetables, etc.), marine seaweeds and microalgae.
  • Chemical compositional analysis of fruit, wine (primary and secondary fermentations) and vine buds as it relates to viticulture and enological research.
  • Hydroponic controlled environment agriculture (i.e. containerized hydroponic systems using supplemental lighting)

Current research and/or projects

  • Northern Agriculture: Growth of nutrient-rich plants for northern and remote communities; Inuit-led agriculture in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut
  • The study of vine performance and how it effects wine quality and chemistry
  • Lace plant anthocyanins: their role in window formation and anticancer activity
  • Improvement of quality attributes in strawberry, raspberry and blackberry using metabolomic and genomic approaches
  • Carotenoid producing yeast of biotechnological importance

Education and awards

1985       BSc (1st class honors)      University of New Brunswick (Fredericton, NB)

1988       MSc (Pharmacy)               Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS)

1995       PhD (Chemistry)               University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON)

Key publications

  1. Denbigh GL, MacKinnon S, Pitcher G, Wright AH, Lacroix C, Gunawardena A. 2019. (oral) Profiling anthocyanin species involved in developmentally regulated programmed cell death in lace plant (Aponogeton madagascariensis) leaf development. Plant Canada 2019 (Guelph, Ontario, Canada)

    2019 - View publication details

  2. Rayirath, P., Benkel, B., Mark Hodges, D., Allan-Wojtas, P., MacKinnon, S., Critchley, A.T., Prithiviraj, B. (2009). Lipophilic components of the brown seaweed, Ascophyllum nodosum, enhance freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Planta, [online] 230(1), 135-147. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00425-009-0920-8

    2009 - View publication details

  3. Kalt, W., MacKinnon, S., McDonald, J., Vinqvist, M., Craft, C., Howell, A. (2008). Phenolics of Vaccinium berries and other fruit crops. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, [online] 88(1), 68-76. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.2991

    2008 - View publication details

  4. Kalt, W., Howell, A.B., MacKinnon, S.L., Goldman, I.L. (2007). Selected bioactivities of Vaccinium berries and other fruit crops in relation to their phenolic contents. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, [online] 87(12), 2279-2285. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.2985

    2007 - View publication details

Research facility

32 Main Street
Kentville, NS B4N 1J5


  • American Society for Enology and Viticulture
  • Association of Education and Research Greenhouse Curators
  • Test-Site Manager, Minor Use Pesticide Program (2019 – present
  • Grape Growers Association of Nova Scotia