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.

Jennifer van Wyk

Jennifer van Wyk

Research Lead

Jennifer Van Wyk, PhD. is the Group Leader for the Hair Structure, Geometry, Biochemistry Research Group at the Hair and Skin Research Laboratory, Division of Dermatology, University of Cape Town.Her research focus is on investigating the use of hair as a diagnostic tool for various applications for example detection of breast cancer, detection and monitoring of hyper glycaemiain diabetic patients, drug compliance in HIV and TB patients, hair cortisol levels as an indicator of stress.She also manages the Advanced Diploma in Cosmetic Formulation Science and the MSc/PhD degree in Trichology and Cosmetic Science at the University of Cape Town.

Christo Fabricius

Christo Fabricius

Research Lead

A researcher, facilitator and project manager who promotes responsible management of Earth’s resources, I work across sectors, from local, community-based activities to global comparisons. I am involved in natural resource policy making, action research and helping others see new possibilities and explore new oppportunities towards a more sustainable society.

Specialities: Invasive plant management plans; catchment management strategies; ecosystem restoration plans; Resilience assessment; sustainable land use; capacity development; participatory monitoring; community facilitation; management of multi-institional initiatives; poverty reduction; resilience of social-ecological systems

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

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

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.

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.

Doctoral Fellows

Margaret Heffernan

Margaret Heffernan

Cambridge Bay Research Coordinator

Canada

Laura Wright

Laura Wright

Drayton Valley Research Coordinator

Laura Wright holds an MA in Global Leadership, Royal Roads University, and an MEd in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute School of Education, University of Toronto. She is currently the Drayton Valley Research Coordinator for the RYSE Resilient Youth Research Project, Resilience Research Centre. She also acts as a Child Participation and Protection Consultant with Right To Play and is actively engaged in the child rights and protection community through multiple national and international networks and working groups. Laura’s research interests include children and youth’s meaningful participation and engagement,  play, leadership, child protection, and resilience.

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.

Reanetsi Matlali

Reanetsi 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

Youth Researchers

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

South Africa