MABRRI Research Assistants

MABRRI is excited to welcome the following current, and former, students of Vancouver Island University to our research team!

Anna Lawrence

Anna is a second-year student in the Master of Sustainable Leisure Management program and graduated in 2017 with a BA in Anthropology. Anna's focus has been on ecological and cultural sustainability and has worked on projects with Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), Vietnam Maritime Archeology Project (VMAP), and Parksville Museum. Anna has also studied the effects of climate change in Thailand, Bali, and Borneo, leading her to advocate for sustainability initiatives through memorable experiences. This passion was further bolstered through Anna's work as an office assistant in a spherical treehouse resort, giving her the opportunity to view the short and long-term effects of enjoyable experiences within natural and stewarded spaces. Anna is currently completing her thesis on the psychological effects of eco-leisure during periods of instability. Anna is joining the team as a research assistant, aiding in VIU's project with the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN), and is contributing towards the assessment of current initiatives and their correlation with the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a decade-long global call to action. Anna is looking forward to working with her community within the MABR and is honored to be part of the team.

Samuelle Simard-Provencal

Samuelle is an upper level science student, double majoring in biology (ecology) and mathematics. Her main interests are conservation ecology and ornithology, having now worked many field seasons as a bird bander for a number of bird-related projects across Canada. While her main passion is for the birds, Sam is also an avid entomologist and dabbles into the realm of botany from time to time. She also enjoys photography and amateur film making, mainly for educational purposes. Sam has further experience in the field working on eagle and salmonberry surveys for a SFU student thesis, leatherback sea turtles in Costa Rica for a grassroots program, and forage fish for a previous MABRRI project. Currently, Sam is working as a Research Assistant on the Timing Windows for Species at Risk in the Regional District of Nanaimo, and is looking forward to putting her local ornithological and natural history knowledge to good use, working primarily on Western Screech-owls and Western painted turtles, and learning more about working with municipalities to reach conservation goals. There is a lot to learn, and Sam is excited to be a part of the team.

Alisha Feser

Alisha is in her final semester of her Sociology degree at VIU, and plans to continue her education through the Masters of Community Planning Program at VIU. Throughout her Sociology degree, Alisha participated in a yearlong research course called ‘Community Based Applied Interdisciplinary Research’ (CBAIR), where she gained skills in teamwork, conducting qualitative research in the community, communication, and leadership. Alisha’s work and education at VIU has sparked her interest in social problems and solutions, including housing and homelessness, as well as concepts of sustainability. She hopes to apply her knowledge in these topics towards her future career. At MABRRI, Alisha is working on the View from 2117 project under the Canadian Mountain Network. Specifically, she is helping to develop a community profile for the MABR which will lead to greater knowledge of the health of the communities in the MABR. 

Felicia Fischer

Felicia is a first-year Master of Community Planning student, with an undergraduate degree in Digital Media Studies. Her expertise lies in the intersect between planning, communication, and research. Approaching each project with an international perspective, developed from spending her formative years hopscotching around the world, Felicia brings a unique outlook to her work. Wanting to create spaces that allow everyone to flourish, much of her work focuses on leveraging her passion for verbal, written, and visual communication to plan with and work alongside communities, to makes happier and healthier places to live, work, and play.

Celina Fletcher

Celina is a second-year Master of Community Planning student at VIU, with an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia in Environmental Science. Through her studies and experience in the environmental sector, Celina was drawn to explore the connection between people, community, and nature through the interdisciplinary approach of planning. This has added to her interest to better understand some of the environmental challenges faced by communities. At MABRRI, Celina is working as a research intern for a study on the impacts of clam harvesting in Nanoose Bay. She is looking forward to further develop her research skills while working with the MABRRI team and the Nanoose Economic Development Corporation. 

Bailey Walsh

Bailey comes to MABRRI with an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Victoria and is a second-year student in the Master of Community Planning program at VIU.  As a former athlete and coach, Bailey brings with her a passion for building communities that promote active, healthy lifestyles for residents of all ages. She believes that by connecting with and respecting our natural environment we can create spaces that nurture a sense of community and make it easier for community members to lead happy, healthy lives.

Cliff Feng

Cliff is a Master of Community Planning graduate from VIU with a background in translation and linguistics in China. His passion for planning never faded while he served as a translator in the six years between his undergraduate and graduate studies. His countless hours spent on buses and subway trains in this childhood inescapably moulded him into an enthusiastic advocate of public transit and smart growth. As a planner, he devotes himself to promoting active transportation in communities of all sizes as he believes that active transportation contributes to a healthier, happier lifestyle and is one of the key solutions to climate change. His experience as a translator equipped him with professional consultation, coordination, and communication skills. He is excited to work with MABRRI this summer and is passionate about improving the quality of life in the MABR.

Sonal Deshmukh

Sonal is a second-year planning student at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, B.C. with an undergrad in Architecture from India. She has over eight years of professional experience as an Architect, working with both private and public sector clients in India. Working as an architect she is familiar with the challenges and opportunities that comes along with different scales of projects and managing diverse group of clients. She believes in strong professional relationships with proper communication and understanding of the project. 

An organized and efficient individual whose thorough and precise approach to projects has yielded excellent results. Her belief that built environment has immense impact on human behavior has inspired her to pursue community planning. She is an ambitious designer with hopes of improving Urban Issues through responsive designs. Having lived in India her entire life, she has an international exposure to complex problems experienced within communities and has a different perspective to offer to the profession. 

Pierce Melnick

Pierce is a fourth-year undergraduate student working on a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. He hopes to complete a Master’s degree in the future. Pierce participated in the Community Based Applied Interdisciplinary Research (CBAIR) program last year where he got to develop his research skills working with a community partner in the Parksville area. Pierce is working on the View from 2117 project for the Canadian Mountain Network where he is working alongside his team to develop the first Vital Signs report of the MABR. He is excited to produce the Vital Signs report and further develop his research skills. 

Steffi Sunny

Steffi is a Master of Community planning student with a background in Architecture from India and currently working as a research assistant in MABRRI. She is passionate about planning healthy communities and believes that the design of built environment has the ability to create a better functioning community which contributes to an improved quality of life. She has experience working as a Junior Architect for two years and it was during this period that she came across the real-life issues faced by communities related to improper planning such as drainage, waste-water management, and congested urban areas, which ultimately leads to unhealthy living conditions. She is very excited to work with MABRRI this summer and is looking forward to contributing to various planning and community engagement projects.

Jason Bradley

Jason is completing his Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications at VIU and is a graduate of VIU’s BBA program with concentrations in International Business and Finance. He gained analytical experience while working in the international logistics and immigration industries, which provided an exciting opportunity to live abroad in China. He looks forward to furthering his technical skills in GIS to aid in research, planning and analysis with MABRRI to contribute to sustainability and environmental conservation on Vancouver Island. 

Jason is currently working on a project involving the Canadian Mountain Network (The View from 2117), using GIS tools including remote sensing and satellite imagery to identify past land cover changes in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region to create prediction maps and model the impact of population growth on the environment. He hopes this analysis will provide data and insights that can be visually studied and applied for future research. 

Jason grew up in Nanaimo and enjoys exploring, learning and finding new activities to do with his wife, Shelly. He has also recently started in a position with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, supporting the Fish and Wildlife, Ecosystems and Water Protection sections.

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