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

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

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

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

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

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. 


  • Grant Statham (Parks Canada) – Adjunct Professor
  • Dr. James Floyer (Avalanche Canada) – Adjunct Professor