2022-2023 Research Ambassadors

Julian Stokes - Lead Ambassador

Hello everyone! My name is Julian Stokes. I was born and raised in New Hazelton, BC, and I moved to Prince George in 2017 to pursue my BHSc Honours degree here at UNBC. Now, I am excited to be starting my MSc in Health Sciences under the joint supervision of Dr. Luke Harris and Dr. Tammy Klassen-Ross. My currently planned master’s thesis will use near-infrared spectroscopy to investigate the relationship between meditation and pain tolerance in relation to the possible role of this cognitive practice as a chronic pain management technique.

My current research is a progression of my earlier research experiences at UNBC, which have been centred in the Northern BC Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Research Laboratory (NBC NIRS Lab). Beginning with a URE in 2020 and continuing with my honours thesis the following semesters, I have had the opportunity to explore applications of NIRS in investigating human brain, muscle, and bone tissues.

I first chose UNBC for my undergraduate degree due to it being a top-rated small university that was conveniently close to my hometown. Since then, I have been continually amazed by the readily accessible opportunities, mentorship, and sense of community at UNBC. Having had the opportunity to experience life, classes, and research as part of the UNBC community, it was the natural choice to further my education here.

Research was an irreplaceable part of my undergraduate experience, and my only regret is that I didn’t get involved sooner! Research at UNBC has been an incredible learning experience that has helped me expand my horizons and feel as though my work is making a meaningful contribution. I look forward to working with you as one of UNBC’s Research Ambassadors.

Nahid Hassanshahi

Hello everyone, my name is Nahid Hassanshahi. I am a PhD candidate in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies at UNBC. I started my PhD studies at UNBC in May 2019. I achieved my bachelor degree in Water Engineering in my home country of Iran. During this time, I discovered I have passion in environmental studies and dealing with environmental issues. As a result, I changed my major to Environmental Engineering for my Master’s studies and continued this field of research to a PhD level. Environment means air, water, and soil, and our life highly depends on the quality of them. Obviously, it is essential to protect our environment. The most reliable approach to find the best strategy to protect our environment is conducting research. I have gained valuable experiences in working on different research projects dealing with environmental issues, including wastewater treatment, solid waste management, and air pollution control, which have shaped my abilities and skills as an environmental expert. My PhD research study is focused on treatment of oily wastewaters generated in oceans due to oil spills, the outcome of which will be one possible step to protect the marine environment.

From my point of view, research is like a remarkable KEY to open locked doors, and curiosity is one of the main features of a researcher. This allows us to find those locked doors by asking different questions. Research helps researchers to develop their critical thinking, improve their skills and abilities, and to answer important questions.

I chose UNBC to do my research because it offered me the opportunity of working on a major Oil Spill Response project, which is supported by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Multi Partner Research Initiative in Canada. It was absolutely an incredible offer to me as a researcher, but this is only the first part of the story! UNBC surprised me because, although it is a small university, it ranks among the best small universities in Canada. Not only is UNBC equipped with different research laboratories, it provides many different facilities to support students’ demands and requirements through different academic centers and clubs. UNBC engages students by organizing useful workshops and events where students can improve their abilities and skills. UNBC goes beyond my expectations by offering many different research funds and research projects for undergraduate and graduate students annually, where researchers gain valuable experiences. These golden research projects can be conducted at different advanced research laboratories, which all incorporate to support interdisciplinary research at UNBC. Wow! I am a researcher and yes, I am in the right place! If you are excited, the same as I am, by these wonderful opportunities and would like to know more about them, please feel free to reach out me. We can go around on Campus, have fun, and discuss more.

Erin McPhail

Hi everyone, my name is Erin and I just commenced my first year of graduate study at UNBC. I am currently studying remotely from Byron Bay, Australia and am so looking forward to meeting you all in-person for the Winter Semester! As a Master of Arts in International Studies student, I am undertaking research as a part of a thesis-based program within the Department of Global and International Studies and Department of Economics.

During my undergraduate studies, I completed a double Bachelor’s degree of Health Science (Paramedics) and Nursing, and a Bachelor of Environmental Management (minor in Sustainability). My passion for research emerged through volunteer and paid opportunities throughout my undergrad. As a Research Assistant with the Sustainability Research Centre and member of the Environmental Change Research Group, I gained experience applying technical skills to research focused on the use of Indigenous Knowledge in climate change adaptation with Dr. Tristan Pearce. Undertaking fieldwork expeditions to Borneo and Malaysia, I applied skills in plant identification, measurements and data entry for a longitudinal study with the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia) and the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre.

As an M.A. INTS student at UNBC, I am undertaking research that examines how COVID-19 is interacting with multiple stressors, such as climate change, to affect the food security of Indigenous Peoples. Working directly with marginalised populations disproportionately impacted by environmental change has unquestionably influenced my desire to conduct my own original research on how these stressors influence social determinants of health.

UNBC’s strategic research objectives and commitment to equity and diversity were central to my decision on where to undertake my graduate research. Moreover, generous funding awards and world-class research opportunities made UNBC my preferred choice as an international student. I am continually surprised by how accommodating UNBC has been to my remote learning needs and the ongoing support and hospitality shown by research staff continues to exceed my expectations. I look forward to meeting you soon and if you see me around, I hope you stop and say “G’day!” I would love to chat with you about the opportunities research can provide at UNBC, and if you have any tips on staying warm throughout a Canadian winter then I would love to hear those too!

Ahmad Jalil

Hi everyone! My name is Ahmad Jalil and I am currently undertaking my honors in Health Science at UNBC. Working with Dr. Hossein Kazemian, I am currently working on studying air quality in Prince George. Although my research is more closely related to environmental science, I was able to incorporate my health science knowledge within my research. I chose to study at UNBC because of how tight knit the community is and how personalized the experience was with professors as compared with my experience at other institutions in BC.

Being involved in research was a thrilling opportunity for me since, unlike previous hands-on experiences I had, like in labs, there wasn't a real answer you needed to find or a product you needed to produce. But rather you only had to justify your reasoning on why you did something which really widened my horizons.

Because of the welcoming atmosphere at UNBC and the opportunities available to student, being involved in research, I think, is an invaluable to any student! It may seem daunting to get the ball rolling, but it really isn't as it seems. I hope to be able to help you get started on your journey in research!

Halena Scanlon

Hi everyone! My name is Halena Scanlon and I am studying a Masters of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies at UNBC under the supervision of Dr Tristan Pearce. I chose to study at UNBC because of its interdisciplinary focus and commitment to working with First Nations peoples. My interest in these areas is reflected in my Masters thesis, which will focus on engaging Inuit Traditional Knowledge to better understand the impacts of climate change on a marine Arctic species.

Prior to moving to Prince George, I completed a Double Bachelor of Arts and Science (Hons.) majoring in Development Studies and Ecology in my home country of Australia. During my Honours program, I undertook research to understand the impacts of environmental change on subsistence communities in Fiji. Utilising a Participatory Geographic Information System (PGIS), I documented the social values iTaukei (indigenous Fijians) assigned to their environment and their spatial distribution. The research culminated in a summary booklet, which was shared with participating communities to equip them with a support tool for future land use decision-making. This experience opened my eyes to the potential of research as a vehicle for community empowerment.

Bringing diverse perspectives and knowledges together is critical to understanding and tackling the social and environmental challenges facing us today. I strongly believe that research has an integral role to play in this regard, and I feel incredibly privileged to work in an area where I can make a difference. I am thrilled to continue my research journey at UNBC and am excited to share my passion for research with you as one of UNBC’s Research Ambassadors. If you want to know more about research opportunities at UNBC, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Samira Mohammadyzadeh

Hello everyone. My name is Samira Mohammadyzadeh and I come from Iran. I am a PhD candidate in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (NRES). My area of specialization is Earthquake Engineering and Timber Engineering. I started my PhD program in September 2021. I completed my master degree in 2014.

Since graduating from my master’s program in 2014, I became a research member on two different research teams supervised by two different faculty members at the University of Tabriz for seven years. Being on these two research teams helped me expand my knowledge and provided me with the opportunity to be in an academic and research environment.

I have found my Ph.D. program at UNBC as the second stage of research progress in my academic life where I can progress my understanding in vibration engineering. In fact, performing research at UNBC is completely different from my previous research environments, as UNBC provides great opportunities to work in a diverse environment and in a practical phase, such as in a well-equipped laboratory or with field test equipment that undoubtedly helps everyone including me to challenge their theoretical knowledge. The newly established Wood Innovation Research Lab is a state-of-the-art research lab focusing on timber structure research in North America. Due to their close ties with the forestry industry and natural resources, the research group recruits and trains doctoral trainees under the well-known NRES graduate program. Furthermore, my supervisor (Dr. Jianhui Zhou) is a professor in Integrated Wood Engineering and his research interests are focused on wood building vibration and my previous training and research experience matches with his research in wood building vibration.

Now, I am very happy to work as a Research Ambassador at UNBC, to share my experience about research. Also, I strongly believe that there is more room for improvement in research at UNBC. We RAs can work together to make a bright future for research in Prince George and UNBC.