Staff Directory

Executive Director - Maribeth Murray

Murray’s  research is focused on human and marine system dynamics in the Arctic and sub-Arctic, emphasizing the integration of climate, historic, oceanographic and ecological data to better understand how the Arctic functions as a system with people integral to that system. In recent years, she has been engaged internationally in the development of an integrated Arctic Observing System that provides both scientific and societal benefits, including for Arctic Indigenous people, adaptation planning, renewable resource management, and operational services among others. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Polar Knowledge Canada, the Board of Directors of the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, and the Board of the Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators. 

Prior to coming to the University of Calgary in July 2013, Dr. Murray was on the faculty at the International Arctic Research Center in the Northern Studies Program of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She holds the position of Executive Director of the International Study of Arctic Change where she is responsible for the development of an internationally supported, ongoing program of arctic environmental change research, science planning and stakeholder engagement. 

Maribeth Murray Publications

Manager, Research Data & Information Services - Shannon Christoffersen

Biography: Shannon Christoffersen joined the Arctic Institute of North America in June 2012. Prior to working at AINA, Shannon worked for several years in public libraries and historic sites. Shannon has a Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta, a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Calgary, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Calgary. She is an institutional member of the International Arctic Science Committee/Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks Arctic Data Committee, 2016-2018 Chair of the Polar Libraries Colloquy, and a technical team lead for the Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability (CCADI).

Administrative Coordinator - Melanie Paulson

Biography: Melanie returned to the University of Calgary in February 2011, after a two-year hiatus spent in the retail sector at the perpetually busy Apple Store. Melanie graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1996 with a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry, but realized soon thereafter that she preferred the administrative aspects of the laboratory to synthesizing new compounds. She enjoys interacting with the AINA members via all methods of communication. When not at the front desk, she likes to pack in as much hiking and camping with her husband and three kids as our short Canadian summers allow.

Kluane Lake Research Station

Mailing Address: AINA, Kluane Lake Research Station
Mile 1054 Alaska Highway 
Y0B 1H0 

Graduate Student- Kent Spiers

Kent Spiers is a Ph. D. student at the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary, working with Dr. Maribeth Murray. His research interests include community health and well-being, and the relationship of communities with their environment. Kent's work includes Alaska and Arctic Canada. For his doctoral dissertation, Kent is examining and evaluating the success of community-based monitoring programs.

Kent’s academic career starts back in 2007 when he decided to leave an 8 year career to further his intellectual curiosity.  His academic journey started in Toronto with 1 year at York University.  He then travelled to Alaska on a vacation and ended up living in Anchorage for 5 years.  While he was there he was deeply engaged in campus life at the University of Alaska Anchorage, earned a degree in Sociology and minor in Environmental Studies, was chosen to be the Student Commencement Speaker, and worked as a Research Professional for 2 years. He then moved to Thunder Bay to attend Lakehead University where he earned a Master's Degree in Sociology.  His love of the North started when he was an infant as his family spent most summers living in Dawson City before moving to Fort McMurray, where he spent most of his life. He has a wide range of research interests that include aspects of living in the North, cultural diversity, environmental sustainability and natural resource use. 

Editor, ARCTIC Journal- Patty Wells

Patricia (Patty) Wells’ research focuses on archaeological evidence, particularly animal remains, and historical documents to understand change and persistence in social practices in relation to game availability, technology, geographic features and dynamic climate from the time of first human occupation in the sub-Arctic and Arctic to the present. She obtained her PhD from Memorial University of Newfoundland. When away from her computer she enjoys an active life skiing, hiking, traveling, and loves to cook for people.

Patricia Wells Publications

Post-doctoral Fellow- Ravi Darwin Sankar

Dr. Ravi Darwin Sankar joined the Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) at the University of Calgary as an Eyes High Postdoctoral Fellow. His addition to the team of researchers at the Arctic Institute of North America will aid an ongoing project that seeks to determine the interactions between human/marine and climate systems.  Prior to joining the institute, Ravi completed his PhD in Geological Sciences at Florida State University (USA). His dissertation focused on quantifying the effects of sea-level change and increased storminess on coastal morphology along sandy coastlines. His research was instrumental in predicting shoreline retreat and land loss rates along barrier-island settings, which served as a catalyst to planning future coastal zone management strategies that address the near-term effects of climate change on coastal environments. Dr. Sankar completed his M.Sc in Geology at Florida State University as a Fulbright scholar, and his undergraduate degree in Physics and Environmental Sciences (First Class Honours) at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad. He has also taught courses in Geology, Geography, Physics and General Education at an amalgamation of Universities in the USA, Canada and the Caribbean.

Post-doctoral Fellow- Henry Penn

Dr. Henry (Harry) Penn joins the Arctic Institute of North American (AINA) as a Postdoctoral researcher on the Genome Canada and Alberta GENICE project. The GENICE project will use microbial genomics to generate, science-based knowledge on the role and potential of bioremediation – the biodegradation of oil by naturally occurring microorganisms – in arctic waters for oil spill mitigation. Harry will support AINA to develop the Environmental, Ethical, Economic, Legal and Social Aspects (GE3LS) components of GENICE in partnership with Northern communities and organizations. Policies and strategies informed by genomics research will enable an improved capacity for environmental protection through safer shipping and oil exploration in the Arctic. Prior to joining the Institute, Harry completed a Master’s in Civil Engineering at Loughborough University in England before travelling to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for his Ph.D. His doctoral research was centered broadly around water infrastructure and water security, with a focus on the role of human capital and responding to change—both climatological and sociocultural. His thesis used water security as a lens through which to evaluate the effects of social and environmental changes on Alaska’s rural communities, and interviews and participant observation with key community members including city planners and infrastructure operators to develop theoretical frameworks for increasing community capacity.

Post-doctoral Fellow-Matthew Ayre

Matthew Ayre received his Ph.D. from the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom. His doctoral studies, under the Leverhulme Trust–funded ARCdoc project, helped  to further our understanding of the Arctic climate through historical documentary maritime observations. Matthew’s research is specifically concerned with extant logbooks of British and American Arctic whalers who plied their trade in Baffin Bay in the east and the Beaufort Sea in the west, along with logbooks of Arctic explorers. These rare documents contain daily observations of natural phenomena from weather and sea ice to flora and fauna, allowing for a detailed view into the Arctic past. Matthew is dedicated to unlocking the meaning of these detailed narrative descriptions and has spent time in Arctic waters making sea ice observations to compare historical definitions of sea ice with terms currently in use.

ASTIS, Information Analyst - Kara Matthews

Kara has a background in Earth and data sciences, with a PhD in Geophysics from the University of Sydney. She has a special interest in geospatial data visualization, data and information management, and science outreach, particularly via simple web application development. Prior to joining the Institute, Kara undertook postdocs at the University of Oxford and the University of Sydney, focusing on plate tectonics and marine geophysics. When away from work she loves travelling, hiking and playing board games with friends.