Position Profile

Job Title:  Whirling Disease Sr. Lab Technician - Lab Management

Work Unit:  Policy and Planning, Fisheries Management

Ministry:  Alberta Environment and Parks

Competition Number:  1047263



This senior lab technician position reports to the Whirling Disease Scientist (Science 3) and specializes in microbiology related to whirling disease. The focus is to conduct technical operations in the lab and in the field to facilitate effective delivery of services (diagnostic, surveillance and research) to users comprising of: public and private hatcheries, wild fisheries, bioassay labs, institutional aquaria and occasionally from other provincial jurisdictions.

Major responsibilities include performing complex lab testing for Myxobolus cerebralis, training and supervising lab technicians, and organizing and coordinating the testing schedule from fish-rearing facilities and wild fish stocks. The incumbent is involved in administrative matters, reviewing and documenting results, methodologies and troubleshooting any potential problems to maintain the efficiency of the lab. When time permits, doing specialized testing for applied research purposes.

The incumbent is involved in administrative matters, reviewing and documenting results, methodologies and troubleshooting any potential problems to maintain the efficiency of the lab.

The position supports the department’s goals to maintain healthy fish populations throughout Alberta.

Responsibilities and Activities


Conduct testing for surveillance of fish in facilities, in compliance with federal and provincial standards for the exclusion of and identification and confirmation of Myxobolus cerebralis.


  • Assist in post mortem of fish by taking appropriate tissues for testing.
  • Prepare documentation of all testing and results; verify that all data is accurate, reliable and complete.
  • Assist in developing protocols and implement specific testing relating to assigned projects.
  • Organize necessary travel arrangements, schedule receipt of transported specimens and participate in monitoring/testing of hatcheries.

Maintenance of the laboratory: perform a variety of routine and specialized lab procedures to detect and identify the parasite Myxobolus cerebralis. Ensure that specimens are received, documented and processed according to set procedure.


  • Maintain adequate stock supplies of necessary lab materials. Order all lab and office supplies and equipment as needed.
  • Establish and maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all laboratory tests, media and equipment.
  • Knowledge of all of the various available equipment/ lab supplies and the operation of each piece of equipment.
  • Maintain all equipment and keep updated maintenance records.
  • Perform daily Quality control and document.
  • Responsible for the safe shipment of biological specimens to national/ international reference laboratories.
  • Responsible for the safe Transport of Dangerous Goods
  • Update Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) in the lab to ensure that all chemicals used in the lab comply with WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) specifications.
  • Keep updated with new equipment, procedures and reagents on the market that relate to lab operations by attending lab supply trade shows, reviewing lab supply publications and catalogues.
  • Remain updated on Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) regulations re: biohazardous chemicals and infectious materials relating to the Fish Disease Lab.

Responsible for effectively managing resources in the laboratory.


  • Provide cost estimates of lab operations and possible projects for budgeting purposes.
  • Get competitive pricing on products from sales reps. of various suppliers. E.g. setting up preferred pricing with a supplier.
  • Maintain updated entries (in Excel computer program) of the lab’s expenditures/ budget including lab supplies, travel and office supplies.

Computer literacy in word processing, database and lab management programs. Reporting and documenting all results and research information.


  • Document receipt and testing of cases.
  • In collaboration with the Fish Disease Lab Technician, tabulate case results and reporting.
  • Research and acquire an appropriate Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). Ensure the LIMS meets privacy and cost requirements and can be integrated with the Provincial Fish Disease Lab.
  • Tabulate and chart relevant information from testing/surveillance projects.
  • Utilize various computer programs (WORD, Excel, ACCESS) for accounting entries, creating documents, charting results, SOPs and lab manual methodologies.
  • Search Internet websites for pertinent related articles re: laboratory equipment/supplies and scientific information.

Provide technical supervision to Whirling Disease Lab Technicians to provide accurate results timely and efficiently.


  • Participate in the selection and hiring of staff.
  • Training/supervision of co-workers to ensure accurate results.
  • Monitor workload and assist with documenting time management in the laboratory



This job provides direct technical support to the Whirling Disease Program, departmental fish biologists and specialists in fish culture and fisheries management teams and public and private fish culture facilities.

The incumbent is expected to work independently and exercise appropriate judgement in daily laboratory decisions, keeping the supervisor informed of potential problems. This position is critical to the success of provincial Whirling Disease Program and the management of sustainable fish resources of Alberta.

The provision of accurate results of whirling disease findings has potential impact regarding possible quarantine measures, legal actions, mandatory reporting, financial implications and changes in regulations.


  • Advanced technical skills to conduct diagnostic lab work, testing of provincial and private fish culture facilities and surveillance work of wild fish stocks for Myxobolus cerebralis.
  • Specialized skills needed for maintenance of laboratory testing procedures and protocols.
  • Supervisory skills for Whirling Disease Lab staff.
  • Review selected whirling disease literature (reported nationally and worldwide).
  • Involved in the planning of laboratory testing procedures done for surveillance projects
  • Attend whirling disease workshops and seminars to remain updated regarding the latest technology and scientific information in whirling disease diagnostics.


  • Creative approaches are required for:
    • the evaluation, modification and application of existing specialized lab procedures for whirling disease testing in multiple mediums (e.g. fish, sediment, worms).

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Two-year technical diploma in laboratory or biological sciences or related field of study plus four years related experience.
    Equivalency: Directly related education or experience on the basis of 1 year of educations for 1 year of experience OR 1 year of experience for 1 year of education.
  • Significant experience in a diagnostic microbiological lab environment preferably supplemented in fish parasites with awareness and understanding of the importance of aseptic technique.
  • Extensive knowledge of and experience in specialized lab techniques necessary for isolation and identification of the parasite responsible for whirling disease.
  • Ability to apply principles of mathematics, statistics and the related sciences to specialized laboratory work such as viral titrations, serial dilutions and chemical reagent preparations.
  • Strong self-motivation with the ability to work efficiently, independently and effectively with others.
  • Self-Management: to make decisions within the laboratory and take appropriate action, efficiently organize/schedule workloads
  • Knowledge of Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC).
  • Supervisory skills and abilities including participating in hiring and training of lab staff.
  • Ability to assist in post-mortem examination of fish and selection and collection of tissue samples (in the lab and in the field).
  • Ability to use/interpret findings from various laboratory equipment such as microscopes (inverted, fluorescent, high power light, centrifuges, pH meters and balances).
  • Knowledge of WHMIS and OH&S regulations with awareness of zoonotic potential and biosafety standards to safely handle infectious agents to maintain safety in our workplace (a designated biohazardous laboratory).
  • Communication skills to establish effective relationships with Federal agencies, stakeholders, supervisor, co-workers and personnel in related fields. (E.g. fish and wildlife biologists, fish hatchery managers, other government departments, sales representatives, reference laboratories).
  • A sound knowledge of computer programs and software applications necessary for lab data management and expenditure inventory.
  • Good report writing skills and excellent command of the English language.


  • Provincial Fish Disease Specialist, the Whirling Disease Scientist, representatives from the Whirling Disease Program, other AEP ministry staff, and other relevant stakeholders.
  • Regional Resource Managers and biologists in Alberta for scheduling of fish testing and any fish lab-related queries.
  • Provincial and private fish hatchery managers and staff for scheduling of fish testing and transportation of fish to Fish Disease Lab.
  • Sales reps. for lab supply companies to keep updated on new products, receive competitive pricing and set up preferred pricing.

Supervision Exercised

  • Whirling Disease Lab Technician - Technologies 4 (x1)

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