Research Leads

Canadian Leads

Michael Ungar

Michael Ungar

Principle Investigator

Dr. Michael Ungar is among the best known writers and researchers on the topic of resilience in the world. His work has changed the way resilience is understood, shifting the focus from individual traits to the interactions between people and their families, schools, workplaces, and communities. As the Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience and Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University, as well as a family therapist, he has helped to identify the most important factors that influence the resilience of children and adults during periods of transition and stress. He is the author of 14 books that have been translated into five languages, numerous manuals for parents, educators, and employers, as well as more than 135 scientific papers. Dr. Ungar’s immense influence comes from his ability to adapt ideas from his research and clinical practice into best-selling works like Too Safe For Their Own Good: How Risk and Responsibility Help Teens Thrive and I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from Their Parents. His blog Nurturing Resilience appears on Psychology Today’s website.

Dr. Ungar is also the founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre where he coordinates over five million dollars in research in more than a dozen countries. Dr. Ungar regularly provides consultation and training to organizations like the World Bank, UNESCO, and the Red Cross. He is the former Chair of the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, executive board member of the American Family Therapy Academy, and a family therapist who works with mental health services for individuals and families at risk. In 2012 Dr. Ungar was the recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers National Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding contribution to clinical work with families and communities.

Robin Cox

Robin Cox

Research Lead

Dr. Robin Cox is a Professor at Royal Roads University where she is Program Head of the Disaster and Emergency Management graduate programs and the Director of the Resilience By Design Research Innovation Lab (RbD). Robin is a recipient of the Kelly Outstanding Teacher award, an honour that reflects her commitment to engaged and experiential teaching, mentoring, and research. Robin’s RbD Lab is a trans-disciplinary, collaborative research space that brings together emerging scholars, graduate and undergraduate students (e.g., psychology, humanitarian studies, disaster management) and practitioners to explore and understand the human dimensions of disaster recovery and resilience, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Her work emphasizes the value of participatory and arts-based methods and social innovation (e.g., see: http://resiliencebydesign.com/www.ycdr.org).

Philip Cook

Philip Cook

Research Lead

Philip Cook holds a Ph.D. in Cross-Cultural Psychology from Queen’s University, and is the founder and current Executive Director of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD). Since 1994, Dr. Cook has overseen the Institute’s growth as a leader in linking children’s rights and child protection and healthy development to broad issues of human development and participatory governance across diverse cultures and situational contexts. During this time the Institute has been working in partnership with a cross section of UN agencies, governments, and international non-governmental organizations, and children’s organizations. These partnerships have resulted in: child protection systems strengthening policy and program design, expertise in formal-non-formal CP systems, community based research initiatives, and participatory protection projects with marginalized children, youth and their communities on various issues including: children affected by violence, conflict and natural disaster; child victims of trafficking; children affected by HIV/AIDS; support for Indigenous children, child protection monitoring and evaluation, intergenerational programs, and child protection in the context of social protection. Philip has published and taught extensively and is a senior advisor to a number of national governments, UN Agencies, regional organizations, INGO’s and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. He also practices child rights, with his wife Michele, as a father of three children.

Matthew Schnurr

Matthew Schnurr

Research Lead

I am an environmental geographer with research and teaching interests in environment and development, political ecology, agricultural biotechnology, farmer decision-making and environmental justice. My work focuses primarily on eastern and southern Africa.

I have degrees in both the natural and social sciences.  A B.Sc. in Biology from Queen’s University provided me with a strong foundation in studying environmental issues through a scientific framework. An M.A. in Environment and Development from the Department of Geography at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) helped me to understand the non-human environment as a politicized space comprised of actors with varying power relations, and exposed me to political ecology as a useful framework for understanding these relationships.

My PhD work in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia furthered my interest in the intersections of nature, culture and power. My PhD dissertation investigated the failure of cotton farming in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It sought to unpack the larger political and scientific forces that kept enthusiasm for cotton brimming among colonialists, then early settlers, then scientists, while efforts to cultivate the crop repeatedly fell short – often devastatingly short – of expectations. I trace the story of cotton through a successive series of innovations designed to overcome natural barriers to accumulation. My goal is to account for the repeated attempts to cultivate cotton, and evaluate why these repeated attempts ended in failure.

Joanne Weinburg

Joanne Weinburg

Research Lead

Dr. Joanne Weinberg is a Professor and Distinguished University Scholar, Emerita in the Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences at the University of British Columbia. She is a member of the Center for Brain Health, and an Associate Member of the Department of Psychology and the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

Dr. Weinberg has served as President of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology and the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group, on the Board of Directors of the Research Society on Alcoholism, and on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Alcohol,  Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental ResearchNeurotoxicology and Teratology, and Physiology and Behavior. She is currently a member of the Advisory Panel of the Intervention Network Action Team, Canada Northwest FASD Research Network and is co-leader of the FASD Project of Kids Brain Health Network, a Canadian Networks of Centres of Excellence.

The research in Dr. Weinberg’s laboratory utilizes rat models to examine how early life experiences, in particular, prenatal alcohol exposure, alter brain and biological development from prenatal life through adulthood. Collaborative projects are: investigating the role of changes in gene expression and epigenetic mechanisms in mediating the adverse effects of alcohol (Sheila Innis, Angela Devlin, Michael Kobor); examining the long-term consequences of early pain and early medication exposure on neurobehavioral development of pre-term and term-born infants (Ruth Grunau, Tim Oberlander); doing a longitudinal prospective

assessment of the physical and social environment, diet and nutrition, biospecimens, and physical and mental health in a human cohort study to advance knowledge of how early life experiences “get under the skin” (Kobor, Bush and colleagues).

Dr. Weinberg’s research is supported by grants from NIH/NIAAA (MERIT Award), Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN, Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada).

Allyson Quinlan

Allyson Quinlan

Research Lead

Allyson Quinlan is Senior Research Fellow with the Resilience Alliance, an international, multidisciplinary research organization that explores the dynamics of social-ecological systems. She has played a key role in developing resilience assessment tools and focuses on the practical application of resilience thinking in a variety of contexts. Allyson has led resilience assessments in a broad range of systems including water management in rural Tajikistan, coastal fisheries in Canada and restoration of the upper Mississippi river, U.S. Recent publications focus on trade offs with measuring resilience, future scenarios and ecosystem services, and the role of resilience in transforming social-ecological systems. She has participated in dialogues as an Agropolis Foundation Fellow, contributed to the Arctic Resilience Report and is co-leading the development of Wayfinder, a guide to resilience assessment in the Anthropocene, under the GRAID program at the Stockholm Resilience Center.

Sarah Burke

Sarah Burke

Research Lead

Sarah Burke is the Senior Manager of Community Integrated Programming for Canadian Red Cross. Sarah has worked for the Canadian Red Cross for the past 25 years with a significant portion in Indigenous communities across Canada. She is also now leading the development of a national approach for social emergencies for the Red Cross.

One of the main areas of focus for Sarah is leading the Canadian Red Cross integrated programming response in Canada’s North –specifically a large portion of time in Nunavut. Sarah has worked in 23 of Nunavut’s 25 communities to date. In October of this year, the Canadian Red Cross will be a co-sponsor of this year’s Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention conference to be held in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Sarah attended the World Health Organization 2nd Milestones meeting of a Global Campaign in Scotland as one of Canada’s representatives and continues to sit on the national Prevention of Violence Canada which is working to enact Canada’s first national charter on violence prevention.

Sarah brings her passion and commitment for prevention education and community engagement experience to her role. Her personal goal for the Red Cross is to ensure all children and youth in Canada within her geography grow up immersed in safety and rights-based education.

South African Leads

Linda Theron

Linda Theron

Co-Investigator

Linda Theron is a full professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria; an associate of the Centre for the Study of Resilience, University of Pretoria; and an extraordinary professor in Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, South Africa. Her publications focus on the resilience processes of South African young people challenged by chronic adversity and account for how sociocultural contexts shape resilience. Various funding bodies (including Canadian Institutes for Health Research [CIHR], International Development Research Centre, Canada [IDRC]; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada [SSHRC]; GCRF Resilience Foundation Awards, UK; South Africa Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development [SANPAD]; National Research Foundation, SA [NRF]) have funded Linda’s research.  She is an associate editor of the Elsevier journal, Child Abuse & Neglect and the lead editor of the Springer-published book, Youth Resilience and Culture: Complexities and Commonalities. In 2015 she received the North-West University Chancellor award for research-based service to South African communities. The National Research Foundation of South Africa has rated Linda as an internationally acclaimed researcher.

Steve Reid

Steve Reid

Research Lead

Prof Steve Reid is the Director of the Primary Health Care Directorate at the University of Cape Town and is developing this role to support medical and health science graduates to become more relevant and appropriately skilled in Africa. He is also involved in developing the role of the arts and social sciences in health care through the Medical Humanities within the African context and is engaged in plans to operationalize transformation and primary health care as priorities in the Faculty of Health Sciences. He is a family physician with a background in rural health and a doctorate in education. Prof Reid is a recognized expert in his field and has published widely on a broad range of topics including Community-Oriented Primary Care, Human Resources for Health, Family Medicine in Africa, and Medical Humanities. He has chaired the Collaboration for Health Equity through Education and Research (CHEER) since 2004, and is the founder of several initiatives to support healthcare professionals from various disciplines who are willing to live and work in underserved areas. He is the Academic Lead for the World Universities Network (WUN) Public Health Research Theme on Resilience working group.

Sebastiaan Rothmann

Sebastiaan Rothmann

Research Lead

Sebastiaan (Ian) Rothmann is a professor in Industrial Psychology and Director of the Optentia Research Focus Area (www.optentia.co.za) at the North-West University in South Africa. He obtained a B. Com degree (1980, cum laude), majoring in Industrial Psychology, a Higher Diploma in Education (1981; cum laude), and Honours (1982; cum laude) and Master’s (1986; cum laude) and PhD (1996) degrees in Industrial Psychology. Ian started his career as an Industrial Psychologist at the South African Defense Force (1983-1987). He was appointed as a lecturer in Industrial Psychology at the Potchefstroom University on 1 February 1987 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer (1990), Associate Professor (2000), and Professor (2002). He was the Director of the WorkWell Research Unit from 2007-2008. In September 2008, he started a consulting business in Swakopmund and Windhoek in Namibia. On 2 January 2010, he was appointed as professor and the Head of the Department of Human and Social Sciences at the University of Namibia. In September 2010, he was recruited to establish a research entity at the North-West University (Vanderbijlpark). He became Director of Optentia in 2011. Ian’s research interest is the assessment and development of human potential and flourishing in institutions within multicultural contexts. He is author/co-author of 191 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in handbooks. Ian is an honorary member of the Society of Industrial and Organi­zational Psychology in South Africa (SIOPSA), an international affiliate of the American Psychological Association, a member of the Society of Industrial/ Organizational Psychology (SIOP – USA), the Academy of Management (USA), the International Working Group on Compassionate Organizations and the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS).

Collaborators

Canadian Collaborators

Sarah Fletcher

Sarah Fletcher

Collaborator

Sarah Fletcher is a Medical Anthropologist and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the ResiliencebyDesign Lab at Royal Roads University. Sarah’s research interests include youth perspectives on stress and resilience, healthy communities, and the participation of youth in research and community engagement processes.

Kristin Hadfield

Kristin Hadfield

Collaborator

Kristin Hadfield is an assistant professor of positive psychology at Queen Mary University of London. She completed her Ph.D. in psychology at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland in 2015. Kristin has since worked as a visiting research specialist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University. Broadly, her work is split into two tracks of research which explore wellbeing during adversity. The first assesses how risk and protective factors at the familial level interact to influence children and parents during changes in family structure. The second examines protective processes and resilience trajectories among refugee and migrant youth. 

Leila Scannell

Leila Scannell

Collaborator

Leila Scannell is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the ResiliencebyDesign Lab at Royal Roads University. As an Environmental Psychologist, Leila’s research interests include place attachment, disaster resilience in children and youth, attitudes toward climate change and sustainable behavior.

South African Collaborators

Irene Muller

Irene Muller

Collaborator

Irene Muller is a lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in the Faculty of Education, North-West University, subject coordinator for Natural Science at the Vanderbijlpark Campus and a member of the EE for SD niche of the North- West University.  For her M Env Man dissertation she conducted a resilience assessment of the NWU Vanderbijlpark Campus which is regarded as a nature reserve in an urban area.  Her Ph D thesis focused on the contribution of a citizen science water quality monitoring project to environmental education, social learning and adaptive management.  She published two articles from her master’s and doctorate research in IJSHE and IJESE and contributed a chapter Curriculum in the scope of SD to a Springer-published book (2018), Encyclopedia of sustainability in higher education.  Irene received awards as best lecturer at the NWU (Vanderbijlpark Campus)(2013) and best Master’s student in Environmental Science and Management (Potchefstroom Campus)(2015).

Angelique van Rensburg

Angelique van Rensburg

Collaborator

Angelique, PhD (Educational Psychology), is a psychological counsellor (independent practice: PRC0009172), with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. She is a member of the Psychological Society of South Africa (PSYSSA), a postdoctoral research fellow at Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University and has collaborated in the Pathways to Resilience Research Project since its inception in 2009. Angelique has a special interest in quantitative methods, data/open science, the carpentries and the well-being of South African young people.

Sarah Crawford-Browne

Sarah Crawford-Browne

Collaborator

Sarah Crawford-Browne is a lecturer in Medical Humanities within the University of Cape Town’s Primary Health Care Directorate. She is a registered clinical social worker who has practiced in community-based mental health programmes in particularly South Africa, Sierra Leone and Pakistan. Her PhD research focuses on the psychosocial adaptations of people who live in contexts of ongoing violence and the impact of continuous traumatic stress.

Alfred Du Plesis

Alfred Du Plesis

Collaborator

Alfred du Plessisis a registered psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Pretoria. He was involved in various research projects including the understanding the effects of school violence and cyber bullying on educators as well as monitoring and developing in-hospital hope based therapies within the context of major surgical procedures. As researcher at the University of Pretoria, he continues to explore hope as a pathway to resilience.

Research Site Coordinators

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Xiaohui Liu

Xiaohui Liu

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Xiaohui Liu is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Resilience Research Centre. Xiaohui completed her bachelor and master in Cartography and Geographic Information System (GIS) at Shandong Jianzhu (Architecture) University and Liaoning Technical University respectively, both institutions are in China, and her second Master in Geology at Bowling Green State University, U.S., Ph.D. at University of Southern Mississippi, U.S. Her research focuses on developing geospatial solutions to address socio-environmental problems, especially building resilience to natural disasters. Her research interests are in spatial analytics and modeling, data mining and machine learning, citizen science for big data acquisition and analytics, and spatial data science.

Jen McRuer

Jen McRuer

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Jen McRuer is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Research Resilience Centre. Jen has degrees in both the natural and social sciences, having completed a BSc in biology at Mount Allison University, an MSc in Conservation and Rural Development at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology in the UK, and a PhD in Educational Foundations at the University of Saskatchewan. Supported by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, her PhD engaged youth in participatory action research to target perspectives on biocultural diversity, conservation, and well-being in a marine national park of Colombia. Her research interests include using citizen science to support community initiatives related to the climate-water-food-energy-social justice nexus, particularly in rural, marine, and coastal contexts.  Central to her work is an emphasis on co-engaged, creative, and transformative research approaches and communication.

Raquel Noguiera

Raquel Noguiera

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Raquel Nogueira is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Resilience Research Centre. Raquel completed both her BSc. in Psychology and Master in Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Malaga (Spain). She got her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with distinction and European mention. Raquel has held lecturing positions in psychological assessment, diagnosis and psychopathology at the University of Malaga.

Her research interests are focused on the impact of co-morbidity in the efficacy of psychological treatments, the effectiveness of resilience programs in young populations, and the implementation of web-based psychological therapies. She has experience in the study of the relationship between anxiety and mood symptoms, psychosocial and physiological variables in children and adolescents. Also, she is particularly interested in single case experimental designs and data analysis.

Phil Jefferies

Phil Jefferies

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Philip Jefferies is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Resilience Research Centre. Phil completed his bachelors and masters in psychology at the University of Exeter in the UK, and his PhD at Dublin City University in Ireland. His research focused on how persons with disabilities live with and use assistive technologies and what it means to be ‘just normal’. He has held lecturing positions in Ireland and Fiji and undertaken a range of diverse research roles. Phil is interested in areas of resilience, mental health and well-being, assistive technology usage, and advancing methodologies.

Masters Students

Katy Hildebrand

Katy Hildebrand

Masters Student

Katy Hildebrand was born and raised in Alberta but moved to Ladysmith, BC, in 2013 to attend Vancouver Island University. She received her bachelor of arts in the spring of 2017 with a major in psychology and a minor in philosophy. In May 2017 she began working with the RYSE project as a research assistant into the summer months. She is currently pursuing her master of arts in disaster and emergency management at Royal Roads University.

Reanetse Matlali

Reanetse Matlali

Masters Student

South Africa

Rozhe Bloemendal

Rozhe Bloemendal

Masters Student

South Africa

Sibongile Sithole

Sibongile Sithole

Masters Student

South Africa

Wilma Pretorius

Wilma Pretorius

Masters Student

South Africa

Salomi Morkel

Salomi Morkel

Masters Student

South Africa

Project Managers

Eric Twum-Antwi

Eric Twum-Antwi

Project Manager - CAN

Eric Twum-Antwi is the Project Manager for the RYSE Project based at the Resilience Research Centre. Eric has a Neuroscience Specialist Degree from the University of Toronto and holds a Master of Medicine, specializing in Public Health with Health Economics, from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Eric brings expertise in addressing youth mental health issues related to at risk behaviours and unemployment in his work within Canada, Sweden, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia; as an advocate for youth capacity building, career development and leadership.

Mosna Khaile

Mosna Khaile

Project Manager - SA

Mosna Khaile is a Project Manager for the Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments (RYSE) Project in South Africa. She worked a Project Manager for the GCRF funded project titled Patterns of Resilience among Young People in a Community Affected by Drought: Historical and Contextual Perspectives. Mosna has a Masters of Arts degree in Research Psychology with a focus on identity configurations’ contribution to the use of eco-friendly product use. Mosna brings with her experience of offering counselling services at the Student counselling and development, she did an internship at Optentia Research focus area based at North West University where she worked on research projects focused on youth resilience.