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

John Sykes – PhD student (Geography)

John started his career as an avalanche professional in 2011 working as a mountaineering guide and avalanche educator in Alaska. Feeling the draw to further his education in snow science John completed a MSc at the Snow and Avalanche Laboratory in the Department of Earth Sciences at Montana State University from 2016 to 2018. His research focused on decision-making in backcountry skiers by looking at GPS tracks and survey responses. At SARP John is continuing to research decision-making in avalanche terrain by developing new avalanche hazard maps and analyzing GPS tracks of heli-ski guides. The goal of his research is to work towards a new decision-making tool for both professional and recreational backcountry skiers based on the observed decisions of expert guides.

You can reach John at john_sykes@sfu.ca.

Florian Herla – PhD student (Geography)

Florian came to SARP with a strong background in meteorology. While he initially focused on glaciology during his undergrad, he specialized in atmospheric dynamics during his Master’s degree at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. At SARP he has the opportunity to merge his theoretical background with his practical experience as an outdoor enthusiast and IFMGA mountain guide in-training. He will build on the established infrastructure of numerical snowpack modeling and integrate solutions to evaluate and correct the modeled snow stratigraphy based on operational snowpack observations. The ultimate goal of his research is to integrate lessons from the human avalanche risk assessment process to extract meaningful information on the avalanche hazard from numerical snowpack models for practitioners.

You can reach Florian at florian_herla@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 examine variations in the perceptions of terrain among guiding teams to provide new insight into the decision-making process of avalanche professionals. 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.Clair – 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 anne_st_clair@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.

Katie Fisher – Master’s student

Katie joined the SARP team as a Master’s student for the fall 2018 term. She holds a degree in Integrated Science from UBC, and has worked as an environmental consultant for the past four years. As a member of SARP, Katie will work with Avalanche Canada to improve safety messaging in their public avalanche bulletins. In addition to avalanche safety, Katie’s general research interests include risk communication, disaster response, and emergency management planning.

You can reach Katie at katie_fisher@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.