MABRRI has an amazing team of Project Coordinators, Full-time Research Assistants, and Student Research Assistants. We value our team members as they help with ongoing projects and daily operational tasks.

Dr. Pam Shaw, Research Director

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 35 years of experience in land use planning and facilitation, and is currently researching human/nature connections. She brings ideas, connections, and experience to the research team.

Graham Sakaki, Regional Research Institute Manager

After moving from Vancouver to Nanaimo in 2011 to further his education at VIU, Graham has been involved with MABRRI since it was established in 2014. Graham oversees the management of the research institute including partner engagement and project development. Graham is also responsible for securing and administering research funding, financial administration of research grants and service contracts, supervision of staff, resource management, planning, reporting, and knowledge mobilization. His educational background includes a master’s degree in Community Planning, a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Geography and diploma’s in both Forestry and Hospitality.

Jessica Pyett, Assistant Manager Administration

Jessica graduated from VIU’s Geography program in 2018, specializing in Natural Resource Management. Her current research focus is on environmental protection and analyzing the impacts of climate change on vulnerable plant and animal species. Jessica’s role at MABRRI is to assist and lead research projects on the ground.

Jenica Ng-Cornish, Assistant Manager Projects

From being a student at VIU to becoming a full-time employee at MABRRI, Jenica has gained a variety of experience in supporting, leading, and promoting interdisciplinary research. Jenica helps oversee the development, execution, and completion MABRRI’s research projects. She also has a role in engaging with partner organizations, supervising staff, and knowledge dissemination. Jenica currently holds a Bachelor of Science, with a major in Geoscience.

Courtney Vaugeois, Engagement and Education Coordinator

Courtney holds a BA in Sociology from VIU and a MSc in Cultural Anthropology from Utrecht University. She started at MABRRI in a Student Research Assistant position in 2017, gradually working her way up to the Special Projects Coordinator role in 2022. At MABRRI, Courtney’s supports social and cultural projects, with a primary focus on the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She has been educating local communities on the SDGs and how to localize them.

Sonal Deshmukh, Planning Project Coordinator

Sonal is a graduate of the Master of Community Planning program from Vancouver Island University. She holds an undergraduate degree in Architecture and has developed a set of skills as a practicing architect for almost a decade. Hailing from the central parts of India and relatively new to Canada, Sonal has acquired a keen interest in Canada's Indigenous history. She was inspired by and impressed with the resilience of Indigenous people and believes there are valuable lessons learned from Indigenous ways of living. She is an ambitious designer with hopes of improving urban issues through responsive community-led designs. Sonal brings her passion, entrepreneurial spirit, and fresh perspective to further the goals of MABRRI's diverse array of initiatives.

Ariel Verhoeks, Financial Coordinator & GIS Specialist

Ariel is a graduate from VIU’s GIS Diploma program and is MABRRI’s GIS Specialist and Financial Assistant. 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 spatial analysis components of MABRRI’s projects. 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, MABR Coordinator

Mandy started with MABRRI in the fall of 2017. After graduating from Vancouver Island University from the Bachelor of Science Degree Program in 2019, she transitioned into the role of MABR Coordinator. Mandy manages the MABR’s internal and external communications, coordinates community engagement events, manages the MABR’s youth program, and facilitates meetings and community forums for the MABR. Mandy has a passion for the environment, and is very excited to work within the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region.

Alanna Vivani, Environmental Project Coordinator

Alanna has graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from VIU in 2018. Her passion for marine biology was the driving factor to move from Ontario. Since then, she’s fallen in love with Vancouver Island and the ecosystems surrounding coastal British Columbia. During her time at VIU, she studied sea otter foraging behaviour and occupation time. This research solidified her interest in marine mammals and conservation. She is working with MABRRI as a Project Coordinator, involved in the Forage Fish Spawning Habitat Monitoring Project and Timing Windows in the RDN. She’s excited to be a part of the MABRRI team and contribute to their work on conservation.

Anna Lawrence, Project Coordinator

Anna's educational background includes an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Geography and a MA in Sustainable Leisure Management, both at VIU. Prior to her work here at MABRRI, Anna's research focus has ranged from the implications of deforestation on primates to the implications of gardening on psychological wellbeing. Since joining MABRRI, she feels fortunate to have been involved in a number of projects that continue to expand her understanding of human-environmental relationships. Anna is grateful to be working and collaborating as a guest within unceded Qualicum, Snaw-naw-as, Snuneymuxw, K'ómox, Tseshaht, Hupacasath, and Ditidaht territories, in which the MABR is situated within.

Jacob Frankel, Project Coordinator

Jacob graduated from UVic in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, specialization in Natural Resource Management and a Minor in Psychology. His past work and educational experience have focused on the fields of ecosystem-based management and environmental sustainability, nature interpretation and community engagement. Jacob works with MABRRI as a Project Coordinator and has been a part of the team since 2021. His role involves the support and management of conservation and social initiatives throughout the MABR, some of which include Wetland Mapping and Monitoring in the RDN, Marine Debris Surveying and Forage Fish Spawning Habitat Monitoring. Jacob is excited to be a part of the MABRRI team and to contribute to the wide range of amazing research occurring in the Biosphere Region.

Kyla Seward, Senior Research Assistant

Kyla graduated from the University of Northern British Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management. Until recently her focus has largely been in sustainable forestry, working with Forest Improvement and Research Management. She is excited to be a part of MABRRI's multidisciplinary approach to sustainability and hopes to be able to contribute many projects to come.

Student Research Assistants

Meet our Student Research Assistants