MABRRI Staff

Dr. Pamela (Pam) Shaw 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.

Graham Sakaki 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. 

Ashley Van Acken is MABRRI's Assistant Research and Community Engagement Coordinator. She has been an integral part of MABRRI since joining in early 2016. Ashley helps to supervise project coordinators, student research assistants, and ongoing research projects. Her education background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Geoscience with a primary focus on geologic systems, geomorphology and hydrogeology. Ashley's professional attitude, and work ethic along with her passion for the natural environment have made her a perfect fit on our team.

Larissa Thelin

Larissa Thelin is one of MABRRI's Project Coordinators. 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, specifying 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.

Haley Tomlin

Haley Tomlin 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.

Monica Shore (left), Pam Shaw (middle) and Graham Sakaki (right) at the Parksville and District Chamber Awards.

Graham Sakaki (back left),Kidston Short, Lauren Shaw, Larissa Thelin, Haley Tomlin, Daniella Almeida, Curtis Rispin (back right)

Ashley Van Acken (front left), Kayla Harris, Ryan Frederickson, Carson Anderson, Sarah Lumley (front right)

Current MABRRI Team

Student Bios

Ryan Frederickson

My name is Ryan Frederickson. I’m currently in the second year of my Associate of Arts Degree, majoring in natural resource management here at Vancouver Island University.

I became involved with the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI), shortly after my environmental geography class received a presentation from geography professor Dr. Pam Shaw. The passion and inspiration for the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) that Pam radiated during her presentation was absolutely contagious. After Pam’s presentation, I felt that there was only one thing I could do, and that was to get involved with MABRRI.

I have worked for MABRRI full time for the past two summers now, and worked part time throughout the last school year on a range of projects including lake monitoring, wetland mapping and Eelgrass mapping in the MABR. Since becoming involved with MABRRI, I have become a certified Streamkeeper and also undergone training to become a certified lake monitor.

Why I love the MABR? Well, I have spent the last thirty years of my life living within the boundaries of the MABR. The majority of my free time has been spent out hunting, fishing, snorkeling, quading and dirt biking all over the MABR. The sense of place and passion I have for the MABR is indescribable. Most of my fondest memories are of times spent in the MABR. One thing I know is, whenever I travel somewhere off of the island, I just can’t wait to get home again.

I guess it’s safe to say that the MABR has played a major role in my life shaping who I truly am, and the man I have transformed into over the last thirty years.

Lauren Shaw

My name is Lauren Shaw and I am a UVic graduate with a bachelors in geography with specific cencetration in Urban, Health, and Development Studies. My focus throughout my degree has involved the massive impacts urban centres and human settlements can have on their surrounding environment, which is incredibly applicable to the research being conducted by MABRRI.

Having grown up in the Nanaimo region, I'm excited to explore and help educate the public of all the amazing wonders that the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region has to offer!

Kidston Short

My name is Kidston Short, I'm a fourth year student at Vancouver Island University studying Geography, focused on Natural Resource Management. I have been living on Vancouver Island for 12 years and my interests - climatology and field work - are influenced by this regions awesome natural environment. As a research assistant at MABRRI, I am excited to collaborate with Milner Gardens and Woodland and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations on a project researching the effects of climate change on local plant phenology.

Carson Anderson

Hello, my name is Carson and I am a second-year recreation management student at VIU. My education focusses on the planning and implementation necessary for people to experience enjoyment while recreating. I have a great appreciation for nature and feel that it's important for people for to be connected with the natural environment around them. Last year, I volunteered for MABRRI helping out with their 2016 BioBlitz.

My experience with the people at MABRRI was top notch and I am expecting more of the same this year. As part of the MABRRI team, I will be helping out with the 2018 BioBlitz, and assisting with other local projects. Working for MABRRI is an opportunity for me to not only to gain experience in my field of study by planning and implementing events for people to enjoy, but is also a great opportunity to help others develop and improve their own appreciation for the natural environment around them. I am excited to have the opportunity be part of MABRRI team and look forward to the year

Mandy Hobkirk

My name is Mandy Hobkirk and I am a fourth- year student in the Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in biology here at Vancouver Island University. My background is primarily in riparian restoration and stewardship, however, I am always eager to learn and gain new skills. I recently joined MABRRI as a research assistant for the Friends of French Creek project and am excited to be a part of the team! 

Brian Timmer

My name is Brian Timmer, and I am a fourth year Bachelor of Science student with a focus on marine ecology. I have been a scuba instructor since 2008, and my work and travel experiences are largely what inspired me to return to school and study how to effectively preserve marine ecosystems. I started with MABRRI as a work-op student in September 2017, and am looking forward to assisting with all sorts of different projects in the future.

Michelle Harnett

I recently joined the MABR team in June of this year to lead the coordination of the Amazing Places project - an initiative that highlights the ecological significance of the MABR's most beloved places. I have a BSc degree in biology and spent several years working in animal health, wildlife rehabilitation, and education outreach. Now in the Sustainable Leisure Management master’s program at VIU, my thesis research is focused on promoting sustainable behavior and wellbeing by connecting people with nature. I also love entrepreneurship and have a few other environment and conservation related projects that I'm working on.    

Daniella Almeida 

I studied an undergraduate degree in Biology in Brazil, and decided to immerse myself in Canada to learn more about the fascinating profession of planning and, in particular, attain knowledge about small communities and how to build more sustainable and green societies. I am currently enrolled in the Master of Community Planning program at VIU, and I am extremely excited to be a part of the MABRRI team as a Research Assistant!

Courtney Vaugeois

Courtney Vaugeois is a fourth year Sociology student and will be graduating in June. She’s originally from Alberta but moved to Nanaimo for her program. To start, Courtney volunteered with MABRRI, beginning last year, and she really enjoyed working with the team. Since then she has joined the MABRRI team working to develop a workshop, focused on the mental and physical benefits of gardening, for the Snaw-Naw-As Education & Outreach Program. 

Colin Brown

I am very excited to begin my work with MABRRI. I am currently working to finish my Master of Community Planning here at VIU, with hopes of soon working in the field. The project, Parksville's Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan, will be a great opportunity to bring my skills into practice. My interests for study include Indigenous Planning, Active Transportation and Walkability, Community Engagement, and Complete Communities. I like to look at things from the big picture and look for the inter-connectivity in each process. We must take a holistic approach to assess how we are building our cities and where we must do better so that my daughter’s generation is in a better position to succeed.

Kirby Delaney 

Kirby Delaney has joined  MABRRI as a Research Assistant. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History, and is a student in the Master of Community Planning program at VIU. She has been a part of MABRRI since December 2018 when she joined the District of Ucluelet OCP team. She is passionate about Vancouver Island and excited to get to know it better through MABRRI projects.

Jaime Smythe  

Hello! My name is Jaimie Smythe. I consider myself very fortunate to have been born and raised on beautiful Vancouver Island, and have also had the opportunity to pursue my education here at Vancouver Island University. As a 4th year student of Sport Health and Physical Education, I have gained a deep respect for the importance of both physical and spiritual health. Through the Snaw-Naw-As Garden of Spiritual Healing project, I hope to share some of my knowledge in the benefits of Seed-Table eating, and in turn cultivate my own learning experience through my collaboration with MABRRI and the Snaw-Naw-As Community.

Jeffrey Fontaine

My name is Jeffrey Fontaine! I am student researcher for MABRRI. I am a fourth-year geography major and global studies minor, and I was born and raised on the west coast in the town of Tofino. Living so close to such pristine nature, as seen within the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, helped drive my passion towards nature conservation and stewardship.  I have been involved with MABRRI since the summer of 2017. During my time at MABRRI I have had the opportunity to assist the team with such projects as the Wetland Mapping in the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Snaw-Naw-As Education & Outreach Programs. I am very excited to continue to develop and work on such awesome projects with MABRRI.

Robyn Bartle 

Robyn is a second-year nursing student involved with the Snaw-Naw-As Education & Outreach Program. She will be presenting on how gardening positively impacts health through the twelve social determinants of health. Robyn is enthusiastic to have an opportunity to be involved with an organization which improves the quality of life for both people and the environment.

Trevor Dickinson

I am a fourth year student at VIU, double majoring in First Nations Studies and Geography. After a fun, travel packed 8 years as a chef, my deep love for nature and wild places spurred me to return to university to gain the skills and knowledge needed to work in the environmental conservation field. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I have had the opportunity to work with several awesome organizations including the Marmot Recovery Foundation, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and the Coastal Hydrology and Climate Change Research Lab. In the fall of 2017, I was excited to be hired on by MABRRI to work on the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation community garden project. With a significant amount of experience gardening and growing food throughout my life, I have been tasked with creating a “how to garden” workshop that will teach the basics on how to grow food in our wonderful coastal climate. Once this project is complete, I look forward to possible future work with MABRRI.

Victoria Stuart

I recently joined the MABRRI team in October of 2017 as a Student Research Assistant. In this role I am working to develop a course focused on the therapeutic benefits of gardening for the Snaw-Naw-As Education & Outreach Program. Currently, I am in my final semester of my Anthropology undergraduate degree at Vancouver Island University with a focus in Archaeology and Biological Anthropology. My research interests include Indigenous land use perspectives, environmental stewardship and economic sustainability in natural environments.

Roxanne Croxall 

Hi my name is Roxanne Croxall and I am currently working as a research assistant for MABRRI. Although I am the most recent addition to the team, I look forward to working with such a great group of like-minded individuals. I am currently in my final year of the B. Sc. Geoscience program where I’ve discovered a real passion for environmental geology and sustainable sciences. Since moving to Nanaimo five years ago, from London, Ontario, I’ve been fascinated with the biodiversity associated with the Garry oak ecosystems on the island and could not be more excited to be working on the Garry Oak Ecosystem Mapping Project with MABRRI and hope to assist the team with other projects in the future. 

 Ariel Verhoeks 

Hi, my name is Ariel Verhoeks and I am a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) intern working for MABRRI. After graduating in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Geography, I decided to further my education and enroll in VIU’s Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications. Alongside MABRRI, I am excited to be working on the Parksville Open Space and Trails Master Plan. Having lived in Nanaimo my whole life, it is a wonderful opportunity to work in the MABR with the MABRRI team.