Postdoctoral Fellows

Simon Horton

Simon started with SARP as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the fall of 2017. His research explores ways to aggregate weather and snowpack data into regional snowpack summaries. By studying the techniques guides and forecasters use to summarize snowpack conditions, he will generate an operational tool that mimics this process with data from numerical weather and snow cover models. Simon completed his PhD in Avalanche Mechanics at the University of Calgary and has worked in the avalanche industry as a ski hill forecaster and as a public avalanche forecaster with Avalanche Canada.

Your can reach Simon at simon_horton@sfu.ca.

Graduate Students

Reto Sterchi – PhD student

Reto joined SARP in the fall of 2015 as a PhD student. His research examines how professional guides use terrain selection to control avalanche risk. After his MSc in Geography at the University of Berne he worked as a natural hazards consultant in Switzerland. In this position he conducted hazard assessments of avalanches, debris flows and flooding processes as well as risk analyses for traffic corridors and municipalities threatened by natural hazards. He is interested in risk communication and evaluation of appropriate strategies, mitigation measures and safety concepts for risk management.

Your can reach Reto at rsterchi@sfu.ca.

Bret Shandro – Master’s student

Bret is a Master’s Candidate in the MRM program and has been working with SARP since 2015. His research focuses on examining the prevalence and character of different avalanche problem types (e.g., persistent slab avalanche problem, storm slab avalanche problem) in western Canada using the information presented in avalanche bulletins published by Avalanche Canada and Parks Canada. Bret’s backgrounds is a BSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta.

You can reach Bret at bshandro@sfu.ca.

Taylor Clark – Master’s student

Taylor join SARP in the fall of 2016 after graduating with a BA in Physical Geography from UBC Okanagan. During his undergrad he studied avalanche problems within the Columbia Mountains and worked with the Centre for Environmental Research Assessment looking at existing research on the effects of avalanche closures to transportation corridors. Taylor’s current research focuses on deriving statistical models that predict avalanche hazard ratings based on assessments of avalanche problems according to the conceptual model of avalanche hazard described in Statham et al. (under review).

You can reach Taylor at taylor_clark@sfu.ca.

Brendan Wakefield – Master’s student

Working as a Master’s Candidate with SARP since the fall of 2016, Brendan’s research focuses on the human elements involved with avalanche hazard mitigation. He hopes to identify common characteristics within professional organizations that minimize accidents and promote a heightened sense of safety among workers. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he worked in marine research while developing an affinity for backcountry skiing and alpine climbing. He hopes to merge these interests and experiences while completing his thesis with the SARP team.

You can reach Brendan at brendan_wakefield@sfu.ca.

Anne St.Claire – Master’s student

Anne is a Master’s Candidate in the MRM program beginning in the Fall 2017.  She joins the SARP team with a BA in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Notre Dame, and with experience as a snow safety director and avalanche educator for several Colorado-based mechanized and backcountry skiing operations.  Anne’s interests include operational risk management, the effectiveness of avalanche education, and the human factors contributing to avalanche accidents.

You can reach Anne at astclaire@sfu.ca.

Henry Finn – Master’s student

Henry joined the SARP team as a master’s student in the fall of 2017. He graduated with a BSc in Biology from the University of Sheffield in the UK and after obtaining a post-graduate certificate in education, Henry worked as a science teacher for three years in an inner-city comprehensive in London. Henry has a keen interest in science communication and in his research at SARP he will be working closely with Avalanche Canada to evaluate and improve the presentation of safety information in public avalanche bulletins.

You can reach Henry at henry_finn@sfu.ca.

Moses Towell – Master’s student

Moses joined SARP in the fall of 2017. He has a BSc with Honours in Geology from the University of British Columbia. He has a keen interest in both Indigenous relations and environmental concerns. He is an avid skier and will be doing research on avalanche safety through examining the relationship between modelled weather and snowpack observations and the characteristics of avalanche problems seen in the field.

You can reach Moses at moses_towell@sfu.ca.

Matthias Walcher – Visiting Master’s student from BOKU, Austria

Matthias is joining SARP from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria, where he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Mountain Risk Engineering. His thesis research at SARP aims to improve our understanding of the overall risks involved in mechanized skiing. While we have a good understanding of the risk from avalanches, little is known about the magnitude of the risks from other hazards (e.g., tree wells, flying, etc.). Matthias’ research will be the foundation for a better understanding of these risks and the development of targeted prevention initiatives.

You can reach Matthias at mwalcher@sfu.ca.

Undergraduate students

Rosie Langford

Rosie is a BSc undergraduate student in SFU’s Geography Department. After studying ecology and economics at the University of Victoria, Rosie transitioned to SFU and shifted her academic focus to her interest in mountain hazards. She is particularly interested in the natural and human factors contributing to avalanche risk. Rosie plans to continue her studies in this research area in her pursuit to combine her academic interests with her extracurricular passions. 

Associates

Grant Statham (Parks Canada) – Adjunct Professor

Grant is a Mountain Guide and Avalanche Forecaster who started out as an ice climber and ski patroller back in 1986, then completed his ACMG/IFMGA certification in 1993. For his first 17 years Grant pursued alpine climbing, international expeditions, helicopter skiing and waterfall ice climbing before starting to work for Parks Canada in 2003. Following the 2003 Connaught Creek avalanche tragedy, Grant led Parks Canada through a decade of innovative changes to their public avalanche warning systems, often in consultation with Dr. Pascal Haegeli. Today Grant is employed by Parks Canada as an avalanche forecaster and rescue specialist in Banff National Park, and also works independently as a consultant doing avalanche program reviews, risk and safety consulting, public speaking and expert witness services.

James Floyer (Avalanche Canada) – Adjunct Professor

James is an Avalanche Forecaster who supervises the Public Avalanche forecasting operations of Avalanche Canada. He has been involved in avalanche research since 2001, investigating computer assisted forecasting for his MSC at the University of British Columbia, and layer detection in snowpack penetrometer signals for his PhD at the University of Calgary. Through his work with Avalanche Canada, he has traveled extensively within western Canada (and beyond), and has met a large number of recreational winter backcountry users. He is interested in technical aspects of snow avalanche science including snowpack modeling, as well as human elements such as influencing behaviour and risk communication.