MABRRI Coordinators

The Coordinator team helps to manage MABRRI's daily operations. From coming up with new projects, to creating new partnerships, to finding funding that allows MABRRI to hire so many students, the Coordinators help with it all. See below for our current Coordinator Team.

Dr. Pam Shaw

Pam is MABRRI's Research Director as well as the Director of the Master of Community Planning Program at Vancouver Island University. Pam has more than 30 years of experience in land use planning and facilitation, and is currently researching new forms of governance for biospheres and community organizations. She brings ideas, connections, and experience to the research team.

Larissa Thelin

Larissa is MABRRI's Assistant Research and Community Engagement Coordinator. She has been involved with MABRRI since January 2017 when she was hired on as a work-op student. Larissa graduated from VIU in June with a major in Geography, specializing in Natural Resource Management, and a minor in Languages & Culture. She has spent years volunteering with environmental groups focused on sustainability, climate change, and community engagement. Larissa's education background, experience in the environmental field, and love for the outdoors, have prepared her for her new role at MABRRI.

Sarah Holden

Sarah is one of MABRRI’s Project Coordinators. She has a BA in Geography and Global Studies and is a Candidate in the Master of Community Planning program at VIU. She joined MABRRI in January 2017 when she was hired on as a Research Assistant. Her passion for both community development and engagement make her an ideal fit with the MABBRI team.

Graham Sakaki

Graham is MABRRI's Research and Community Engagement Coordinator. He has been involved with MABRRI since it was established in August of 2014. Graham oversees the coordination of all ongoing research projects. His educational background includes a Master of Community Planning, a Bachelor's Degree in Natural Resources Geography and a diploma in Forest Resource Technology from VIU. Graham's professional experience in organizational management has transferred seamlessly to MABRRI. 

Haley Tomlin

Haley is one of MABRRI's Project Coordinators. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Biology with a focus in ecology and minoring in Natural Resource Geography. She is responsible for coordinating multiple projects and the students associated with each of those. Haley's background in biology and natural resources, as well as enthusiasm for promoting environmental preservation and conservation of biodiversity makes her a great suit for MABRRI.


MABRRI depends on a few full-time staff throughout the year. In addition to the Coordinator Team, these valuable individuals help with ongoing projects and daily operational tasks. See below for our current staff.

Ariel Verhoeks

Ariel is currently in VIU's GIS Diploma program and is one of MABRRI's GIS interns. After graduating in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Geography, she decided to further her education and enroll in the diploma program. Alongside MABRRI, she is excited to be working on the Parksville Parks, Open Spaces and Trails Master Plan. Having lived in Nanaimo her whole life, she believes that working with the MABR and with the MABRRI team is a wonderful opportunity for her to do hands-on work in her home region.

Mandy Hobkirk

Mandy is a fourth year Bachelor of Science student, majoring in Biology at VIU. She has worked with MABRRI since the fall of 2017, and was previously working on the Friends of French Creek project. In October 2018, Mandy became the new Social Media Coordinator for the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) as well as the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA), and she absolutely loves it! Mandy has lived in various countries around the world, but calls the small town of Lake Cowichan home. She has a passion for the environment and spends every second she can in the outdoors. 

Jessica Pyett

Jessica is one of MABRRI’s Senior Research Assistants. She recently graduated from VIU’s Geography program, specializing in Natural Resource Management. In her last year of studies, she interned for the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute in Belize City. During her internship that focused on coastal planning and water quality monitoring, she acquired knowledge and field skills that allow her to fit right in with the MABRRI team.

Kidston Short

Kidston is a recent graduate of Vancouver Island’s Bachelor of Arts in Geography program, specializing in the Natural Resource Management stream. She has lived on Vancouver Island for over a decade and her research interests, climatology and ecosystem functions, are inspired by this region’s awesome environment. As a Research Assistant at MABRRI, Kidston is excited to collaborate with diverse communities within the MABR, particularly on the Coastal Plant Phenology Research and Monitoring Pilot.

Courtney Vaugeois

Courtney recently graduated from Vancouver Island University with a Bachelors of Arts Degree, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Psychology. She graduated with a genuine passion for social research. Starting as a volunteer for MABRRI, Courtney transitioned into a student work-op position in the fall of 2017 and then into a Research Assistant position in the summer of 2018. Her love for the outdoors and passion for sustainability comes from growing up in a small town in Alberta. With an interest in both the environment and community development, she is excited for the opportunity to continue working with MABRRI.