Students & Trainees

Current students under IHACC

Kate Bishop-Williams (PhD) Supervisor: Dr. Sherliee Harper, University of Guelph

Kate is a PhD student at the University of Guelph in the Department of Population Medicine. She completed an Honours Bachelor degree at the University of Guelph in 2012 in Bio-Medical Science, and a Masters of Science in 2014 in Epidemiology. Kate’s undergraduate research focused primarily on gastrointestinal illnesses with a project on each of E. coli, Salmonella and the link between Johne’s disease in dairy cattle to Crohn’s disease. Kate’s MSc introduced her to EcoHealth. Her thesis was titled: The Impact of Heat Waves in Rural Southern Ontario on Dairy Cow Mortality and Human Emergency Room Visits. Using statistical and epidemiological skills learned in her Masters, Kate is working on a project in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, and Buhoma, Uganda identifying seasonality and environmental patterns in acute respiratory infections. Additionally, Kate’s research will involve a number of knowledge transfer and translation initiatives and evaluations related to their success. You can learn more about Kate here.
Anna Bunce (M.A.) Supervisor: Dr. James Ford, McGill University

Having recently completed her Master’s research examining the impact of climate change on women in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Anna Bunce now works as a project manager with the CCARG. In this role she is managing three projects, two located in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, and the third focused on Iqaluit, Nunavut. These community based research projects examine food borne and waterborne pathogens in Canada’s north, environment-health monitoring, and land use change as a result of climate change. Anna began working for Dr. Ford in 2011 while completing her International Development Studies Honours undergraduate degree at McGill and has been involved with a variety of project with the CCARG surrounding food security and acute gastro-intestinal illness in Iqaluit, Nunavut. For her masters research Anna is looked at the intersectionality of gender and climate change with a particular focus on the experiences of Inuit women in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Please feel free to contact her if you have any questions regarding her past or present work.
Margot Charette (M.A.) Supervisor: Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford, McGill University

Project: Climate and health among Indigenous populations in Peru
Margot just finished her last year of Undergraduate studies (BA Honours) in Environment (ecological determinants of health) with a minor in Ecological agriculture, and will be pursuing a Masters degree in Health Geography this coming fall. Margot joined Dr. Berrang Ford’s lab in the fall semester of 2013 to work on a IHACC project evaluating the prevalence and determinants of food security among a sample of Bakiga communities in Uganda. Additionally, she is conducting preliminary research about the methodology behind the WHO’s Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), investigating the feasibility of developing a metric that would integrate human and animal disease burden. Her Masters research will involve looking at climate sensitive health impacts among Indigenous populations in Peru.
Sierra Clark (Undergraduate Honours) Supervisor: Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford, McGill University

Project: Statistical and qualitative analysis of the impact and prevalence of acute gastrointestinal illness within Indigenous Batwa communities in Southwestern Uganda
Sierra is entering into her 4th year at McGill University, pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography (Minoring in History and Geographic Information Systems). Her focus is on Indigenous health and climate-sensitive infectious diseases. Sierra has been apart of IHACC research group since January 2013 and she is currently working with Dr. Lea Berrang Ford and Dr. Sherilee Harper on an undergraduate honours thesis, quantifying the prevalence and risk factors of Acute Gastrointestinal Illness (AGI) among Batwa communities. Sierra just finished two months of qualitative field work (June/July 2014), conducting semi-structured interviews, to better understand the lived experience of AGI for Batwa communities, and her previous quantitative AGI research will be presented at an upcoming international ECOHEALTH conference in Montreal.
Blanaid Donnelly (PhD) Supervisor: Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford, McGill University

Blanaid is a PhD Candidate at McGill University and an IDRC Doctoral research award recipient working on Indigenous Health and Climate Change with a focus on the potential impact of livestock on the health of indigenous Ugandans with Dr Berrang Ford. She completed her Bachelor of Science, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health degrees at the University of Guelph where she developed her interest in epidemiology and ecosystems approaches to health. She is particularly passionate about international development and has spent time in South East Asia working with Veterinarians without Borders / Vétérinaires sans Frontières Canada and the International Livestock Research Institute.
Kaitlyn Finner (M.A.) Supervisor: Dr. James Ford, McGill University

Kaitlyn is in her final year of Masters studies under the supervision of Dr. James Ford. Her research focuses on the cultural importance of food in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, and seeks to develop an ethnography of the community’s food system. Visual and participatory methods have been a central element of the research and were developed in partnership with the Rigolet Inuit Community Government and community researchers. Kaitlyn has received the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments’ Masters Scholarship, and the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples Health Scientific Directors Award. She holds a Bachelor’s of Public of Affairs and Policy Management, Highest Honours, Specialization in International Studies, from Carleton University. Building on past research and work in the Peruvian Andes, Central Mexico, and Northern Ghana, her work seeks to better understand the relationships that exist between food, culture, and the environment.

Yang Guo (Undergraduate Honours), Supervisor: Dr. Lea Berrang Ford, McGill University

Project: Climate change and food insecurity in indigenous populations: looking through the lens of the vulnerability approach (IHACC)
Yang is currently an Undergraduate Honours Student pursuing a major in Environment (Ecological Determinants of Health) at McGill University. She joined Dr. Berrang Ford’s lab in September 2012, where she conducted a systematic literature review of the role of climate change in situations of food insecurity among indigenous people. She is currently writing her Honours thesis on the prevalence of food insecurity and associated risk factors in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Jamen Kasumba, Makerere University

Jamen Kasumba’s background is in Secondary Education and he has also obtained a Certificate in Guidance and Counselling from Makerere University. After the completion of his undergraduate degree, he has worked as a research assistant in the Department of Geography GeoInformatics and Climatic Science at Makerere University. He is currently the Project Assistant of the IHACC Uganda Regional Operations Team and is responsible for the planning and organization of various field work activities and research. He is enthusiastic about acquiring knowledge and learning from IHACC project partners and supporting the progress of the research in the upcoming years.
Martin Kigozi (M.Sc) Supervisor: Dr. Shuaib Lwasa, Makerere University

Martin Kigozi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Makerere University and a certificate in Guidance and Counseling from the Uganda Red cross. Besides being a Physical Planner by profession, he has expertise and interest in environment, natural resources and climate change. He worked on a community climate change and adaptation project in Eastern Uganda and has participated on two study abroad programmes in South Africa and USA under a network of collaborating Universities in Eastern and southern Africa and University of Virginia. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Environment and Natural Resource funded by Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate (IHACC) Change team Uganda. His research focus is “Assessing the influence of Land cover Change on water quality and its Implication for health among the Batwa in Kanungu South Western Uganda”. He plans on publishing two publications out of his work.
Knut Tjensvoll Kitching (M.A.) Supervisor: Dr. James Ford, McGill University

Knut Tjensvoll Kitching is a final-year graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Geography. Knut obtained a B.A. in Geography with Honours from the University of British Columbia in 2012, having worked on projects in the fields of Arctic ecology, climate change mapping and biogeography, and resource conflicts. He is interested in climate change adaptation amongst Indigenous populations, and works on issues relating to vulnerability, community mapping and engagement, wildlife management and country food. For his Masters research, Knut is involved in tracing the movements of Inuit hunters through the Iqaluit Land-Use Mapping Project, and assessing changing hunting patterns, particularly with respect to Caribou populations on southern Baffin Island.
Michelle Maillet (M.A.) Supervisor: Dr. James Ford, McGill University

Michelle is a departmental academic advisor in Geography at McGill University, and currently acting project manager for IHACC. She obtained her M.A. in Geography from McGill in 2014, her thesis focusing on climate change adaptation policy discourses in the UNFCCC and implications for indigenous peoples’ meaningful participation and access to adaptation funding. She joined the CCARG team in 2010 as a Research Assistant after finishing her B.A. at McGill. She contributed as an editorial assistant to the development of the book “Climate Change Adaptation in Developed Nations: From Theory to Practice”, edited by Dr. Ford and Dr. Berrang-Ford (2011), and provided support in the IHACC project, among other things. Michelle was acting IHACC project manager from January to September 2013, and has now returned to the position since January 2015. She is passionate about issues relative to international relations and diplomacy, climate change impacts and adaptation, social justice, indigenous peoples, and science communication.
Ellen McDonald, (M.Sc) University of Guelph

Ellen McDonald completed her Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Biomedical Science at the University of Guelph in 2013. She is the Founder & Director of Akwaaba Education Initiative, a charity collaborating with a remote community in Ghana, West Africa to improve basic education, and overall health. Stemming from a lifelong passion to better health outcomes in remote Indigenous communities internationally, Ellen was hired as a research assistant with IHACC in the summer of 2013. As a research assistant, she travelled to Iqaluit, Nunavut to aid in the conduction of the May 2013 Burden of Illness Study. She is currently working toward a Masters of Science in Epidemiology, and excited to begin understanding the burden of acute gastrointestinal illness for Inuit in Iqaluit, Nunavut for her thesis.
Sarah MacVicar (M.Sc) Supervisor: Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford, McGill University

Project: Potential effects of climate change on maternal and child health among Indigenous communities in Kanungu District, Uganda
Sarah comes to the lab from Harvard University, where she completed her undergraduate degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences (minor in Global Health) in 2013. Her senior thesis research focused on empirical and theoretical modelling of cholera prevalence in Mozambique in relation to geographic trends. She has also been involved in qualitative research with urban Aboriginal youth in Edmonton. Sarah spent this summer doing an informal internship at the University of Auckland, reviewing literature on Indigenous health and climate and learning about Māori healthcare. Sarah is starting her MSc in Health Geography with the lab in the fall of 2014; she will be joining the Uganda IHACC team to investigate potential impacts of climate change on maternal and child health.
Christine Nantongo (M.Sc) Supervisor: Dr. Shuaib Lwasa, Makerere University

Christine Nantongo is a graduate student at Makerere University where she is pursuing MSc degree in Environment and Natural Resources. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Physical and Urban Planning at Makerere University. She is particularly interested in climate change vulnerability and adaptation. She is currently working on her research under IHACC and focusing on the relationship between climate variability and the prevalence of malaria amongst the Batwa (aboriginal) people of Kanungu district. The objective is to determine how climate (precipitation and temperature) has varied over the last decade as well as malaria prevalence rates and find a correlation or a relationship between the level of variability and prevalence rates within this given period. This will better inform the stakeholders in the health sector on how best to handle issues of climate variability and also better the adaptation mechanisms available to the Batwa people.
Kate Patterson (PhD), Supervisor: Dr. Sherilee Harper, University of Guelph

Kaitlin is a student in the joint PhD program in Population Medicine and International development at the University of Guelph. Her Masters in Health Geography from McGill University (Supervisor: Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford) focused on food security among the Indigenous Batwa of Kanungu District, Uganda. The food insecurity reported by the Batwa is among the highest in the published literature. Kaitlin values a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach and incorporates both quantitative and qualitative methods into her research. Kaitlin is now shifting her focus to maternal and infant health among the Batwa, a key priority identified at the local and national levels in Uganda for her PhD. Additionally she is the database manager for the Arctic, Peru and Uganda for the Indigenous Health an Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) project.
Joanna Petrasek MacDonald (M.A.) Supervisor: Dr. James Ford, McGill University

Joanna holds a B.Sc. in Environmental Science, Co-op with a major in Environmental Geography from the University of Guelph and will complete her M.A. in Geography by the end of 2014 under the supervision of Dr. Ford. Her Masters research explores youth resilience within a changing climate and applications for climate change adaptation. More specifically, her work focuses on youth-identified protective factors that enhance mental health and well-being for Inuit youth in Nunatsiavut, Labrador. Part of this work involved doing a participatory video in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut working with students from the Northern Lights Academy, the ‘My Word’ Storytelling and Digital Media Lab, and Konek Productions. The video created as part of this project is available here. Joanna’s interest in youth and climate change issues stems from an experience outside of academia – in 2009 and 2010 she was part of the Canadian Youth Delegation to the UN Climate Change conferences (COP15 and COP16).
Mya Sherman (M.A.) Supervisor: Dr. James Ford, McGill University

Mya is currently leading a 2-year project related to the monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation as part of the Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) research program. She graduated from McGill University in 2012 with a double major in Ecological Determinants of Health and Latin American and Caribbean Studies and completed her Master of Arts degree in Geography from McGill University in 2014. Mya has worked with the IHACC program since 2011. As an undergraduate, she carried out fieldwork with Shipibo and Shawi communities in the Peruvian Amazon to develop a bioethical framework to guide health research in remote Indigenous Amazonian communities. Mya continued her work with the Shipibo in Peru as a Master’s student under the supervision of Dr. James Ford. Her master’s thesis is titled “Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of community food systems in the Peruvian Amazon: A case study from Panaillo”. Mya is particularly interested in the social determinants of health, food security, research ethics, monitoring and evaluation, climate change adaptation, and Latin American issues.
Paola Alejandra Torres Slimming (MD, DTM&H, MSc, PhD) UPCH

Paola is a PhD student in the Life Science program at UPCH in Lima, Peru. Her research interests focus on reducing health threats to vulnerable populations by trying to understand how diseases interact with social determinants of health, poverty, inequity. Paola is interested in finding novel ways of conducting effective studies that can bring primary health care level solutions by incorporating patient and community engagement through evidence based research.
Fortunate Twebaze (M.Sc) Supervisor: Dr. Shuaib Lwasa, Makerere University

Twebaze Fortunate is a graduate student at Makerere University. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning at the same University. She now enrolled in a Masters degree and is currently working with the IHACC on the topic of the acquired practice of agriculture and water quality among ten Batwa settlements in Kanungu District in South-western Uganda. Working with IHACC has helped her to develop her research skills, coordination of fieldwork and working with new environments. She is very interested in the overall research goals of the IHACC study, and particularly enthusiastic about studying water quality and climate change among the Batwa settlements for her MSc.
Carol Zavaleta (PhD), Supervisor: Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford, McGill University

Carol is a Medical Doctor and Master on Control of Tropical and Infectious Diseases graduated from Cayetano Heredia University in Peru. She oriented her clinical and research practice to work with remote rural communities in the Peruvian Amazon. She has interest in the use of social sciences and epidemiology to understand the risks and determinants of health among indigenous people. After her participation as a Peruvian National coordinator of IHACC-Peru, she found that not only biological, but social and environmental factors need to be understood in order to improve the health situation of native communities.
She is passionate about travel and discover new places and cultures.
Carol is a PhD student at McGill University working on Indigenous Health and Adaptation to Climate Change.

Current research assistants and trainees under IHACC

Jahir Diaz, Research Associate, Cayetano Heredia Foundation

My background is in Veterinary Medicine and during my bachelor’s degree I worked for the Geophysical Institute of Peru on a project related with risk management and extreme weather events. I then worked for the Ministry of Agriculture on the elaboration of a National Plan in “Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change”. This experience allowed me to understand better the reality of governance in Peru with their financial, technical and policy limits. After this I started my graduate studies in the University of Heidelberg in “Governance of Risk and Resources” obtaining a Master degree with my thesis “Analysis of Collaborative Process of Governance to Climate Change in the Ucayali Region, Peru”. Currently I am working at the Cayetano Heredia Foundation for IHACC Peru as a Research Associate on the topic of governance and the health sector as well as climate change.
Allan Gordon, Research Associate at the University of Guelph

Allan Gordon recently completed his Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering at the University of Guelph and is also a Professional Engineer. He began his career as a design engineer in the manufacturing industry after receiving bachelor degrees in mechanical engineering and economics from Queen’s University. After some rewarding experiences while volunteering on research projects in the Canadian Arctic and on water issues in Uganda, he decided to change careers and head back to school with the goal of working in the water sector. Allan is currently working as a research associate with the University of Guelph’s School of Engineering investigating how Indigenous knowledge can be incorporated into the engineering design process to create more robust, appropriate, and sustainable infrastructure in Canadian Arctic communities to promote and protect health in the context of climate change.
Rachael Marshall (Research Assistant), University of Guelph

Bio coming soon
Nancy Sullcapuma Guillen, liaison and health counselor

Nancy graduated in Nursing from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia and recently published her research in the Revista Enfermería Herediana (January 2014) on the “Prevalence of overweight and obesity in relationship to eating habits and physical activity levels of adolescent girls a private college”. She has worked in the surgery department of emergency rooms and has also experience as a health coordinator of an occupational health clinic. She has taken part in various workshops on first aid response and on the topic of nursing from a holistic perspective. She is currently working with IHACC and the Fundación Cayetano Heredia in the Ucayali region of Peru. She works in the Shipibo Indigenous communities of Puerto Consuelo and Panaillo where she acts as a liaison and health counselor between various health campaigns of the Ministry of Health (micronutrient supplements and deworming campaigns), IHACC and the communities.
Jenifer Truong, Undergraduate Research Assistant 2014-current

Jenifer recently graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science degree. Her previous research involved assisting in a systematic review relating to waterborne disease outbreaks in Canada and the U.S. in the last fifty years, as well as looking into consumer knowledge of foodborne illness in Guelph. Jenifer will be working as a research assistant for Dr. Sherilee Harper throughout the summer of 2014. Her project will look at evaluating a public health campaign on water safety by Inuit high school students. Her research interests include food and waterborne illnesses, social determinants of health and sustainable livelihoods, ecosystems approach to health research and understanding, and the impact of climate change on indigenous health and well-being.
Carlee Wright, Research Assistant

Carlee recently completed her baccalaureate degree at the University of Guelph, where she majored in Biological Science. Throughout her undergrad she took a wide variety of courses, ranging from ecology and geography to microbiology and epidemiology. This wide scope of interests led her to the Department of Population Medicine, where she began working with Dr. Harper and joined the IHACC team as a research assistant. Carlee intends on pursuing a Masters degree in epidemiology in the fall; her objective is to research secondary contamination of drinking water and acute gastrointestinal illness in the Canadian Arctic. Through this she hopes to develop interventions to better protect drinking water and improve its management after collection.
Rebecca Wolff, Undergraduate Honours Student, Arts and Science 2014; current Undergraduate Research Assistant 2013-2014

Rebecca is a 4th year student in the Bachelor of Arts and Science program at the University of Guelph. In 2013 she spent the summer working as a research assistant with the IHACC Peru team, helping to collect medical data and profile IHACC’s partner communities in Peru. As part of an independent study, she published a paper on Indigenous health knowledge and integrative healthcare systems in Peru. For her 4th year independent study, Rebecca will be working with IHACC Shawi communities in Peru on perceptions and cosmology around water and waterborne illness. Throughout her undergrad Rebecca has worked with Latin American Indigenous communities. She plans to continue collaborating on issues of Indigenous rights and health in Peru after completing her undergraduate degree.


Past students and trainees under IHACC

Nicole Markwick
(Research Assistant, 2012)
University of Guelph
Courtney McKay
(Research Assistant, 2012)
McGill University
Philip Baker
(Research Assistant, 2011-2012)
University of Guelph
Marie-Pierre Lardeau 
(Research Assistant, 2011-2012)
(Project Manager, 2013-2015)
McGill University
Will Vanderbilt 
(Research Assistant, 2011-2012)
McGill University
Sara Statham
(M.A. student, 2010-2012)
Supervisor: Dr. James Ford
McGill University
Irene Hofmeijer
(Research Assistant, 2010-2012)
McGill University
Cinthia Carhuas
(Research Assistant, 2010)
Universidad Nacional San Marcos
Catherine Dingle
(Research Assistant, 2010)
McGill University
Celine Lee
(Research Assistant, 2010)
Queens University 
Michelle Maillet
(Research Assistant, 2010-2011)
(Acting Project Manager 2013)
McGill University 
Jolène Labbé
(Undergraduate Research Assistant)
University of Guelph
Joseph Lewnard
(Undergraduate Research Assistant)
McGill University
Joshua Ostapchuk
(Research Assistant)
University of Guelph
Catherne Huet
(Research Assistant)
University of Guelph
Alejandra Busssaleu
(Research Assistant)
Isha Berry
(Undergraduate Research Assistant)
McGill University