MABRRI Research Assistants

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

Laura Clark

Laura is entering her second year as a Master of Community Planning student, with an undergraduate degree in Global Studies at VIU. Through her studies and experience travelling, Laura developed a love for the built and natural environments she found herself surrounded by. She was drawn to the connection between design, sustainability, and community. Urban planning offered a platform to intertwine these passions and immerse further.

At MABRRI, Laura is working as a research assistant on the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s Housing Needs Report and a design project for Lantzville’s beach access points. She is excited to collaborate with more professional planners, engage with community members and further develop her research and design skills.

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.

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. 

Andrew Stewart-Jones

Andrew is a first year Master of Community Planning student at VIU with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Trent University. Before starting the MCP program, Andrew rowed for 5 years on the Canadian National Team and spent the last two summers as a Forest Firefighter out of Port Alberni. 

I am excited for the opportunity to work on the Uptown District Revitalization Strategy project team and contribute to a community I have spent much time in. Having grown up in an “outdoor town” of Chelsea, QC, and lived in Norway for two months, I am interested in well-being through accessibility to recreation. I am also passionate about pedestrian safety and the creation of social and economic opportunity through the built environment.

Brad Vince

Brad is a second year Master of Community Planning student at VIU. He has been working with MABRRI since January 2021 mainly on promoting awareness of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This summer Brad will continue his work as a Research Assistant focusing primarily on the Universities and SDGs project and the The View from 2117 Governance Study. His work involves data collection and analysis, symposium planning and facilitating, community engagement, and report writing. He looks forward to being able to apply his MABRRI experiences to his future planning career.
In his spare time Brad enjoys being outdoors, exploring Vancouver Island and spending time with his partner and their two cats.

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 two years ago 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 community profile of the MABR. Pierce is also working alongside other members at MABRRI on various projects including: Universities and the SDGs, Promoting the SDGs in the MABR, Nanoose Bay Recreational Shellfish Reserve Harvest Monitoring, and Nanaimo Trail Survey. He is excited to produce the community profile and work on a wide range of projects that will give him hands-on experience and enhance his research skills. 

Sarah Foulkes

Sarah is a second year student on the Masters of Community Planning program at VIU. She has been working for MABRRI since September 2020 and has been involved with three different projects. This summer she is a Research Assistant on two studies which are part of a collaborative research project between VIU, MABRRI and the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN): The View from 2117: Human Actions, Consequences, and Perspectives on Mountain Regions. Her research areas include Indigenous planning practices within the MABR and best planning practices for communities within UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

Mikaila Montgomery

Mikaila is in her second year in the Master of Community Planning program at VIU and has worked as a Research Assistant with MABRRI since Fall 2020.  Growing up in Portland, OR and finding community on Vancouver Island, Mikaila is an enthusiast of both urban cities and the outdoors. She loves to learn about our relationship with the natural and built environment, what makes communities thrive, and how plan for a more equitable, sustainable future. 

She earned her B.A. at the University of Victoria in Gender Studies with a minor in Social Justice Studies. Her work in the non-profit world has ranged from inclusion and advocacy in educational settings to community-based research. Most recently she worked with the Community Social Planning Council in Victoria to coordinate projects on housing and homelessness, financial inclusion, and climate-friendly transportation equity. 

At MABRRI Mikaila is working on the Uptown Revitalization project in Port Alberni, The Sayward Village OCP update, and the impact assessment for the Indigenous Housing Innovation Initiative (IHII) which is the first of its kind in Canada.

Annie Girdler

Annie is a second year Master of Community Planning student at VIU with an undergraduate degree in Sustainable Business from Simon Fraser University. Before starting the MCP program, she worked as an analyst at BC Assessment for 2 years where she learned about real estate appraisal, the real estate industry, and the challenges of housing affordability across BC. Having grown up in the Vancouver area, now one of the most competitive markets and unaffordable cities in BC, Annie brings with her a passion for accessible, affordable, and sustainable housing. She believes that adequate housing should be a human right and hopes to promote adequate housing in communities of all sizes. At MABRRI, Annie is working on the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s housing needs assessments. She is very excited to further develop her research and community engagement skills.