Staff Directory

Maribeth Murray
Executive Director

Dr. Murray is a transdisciplinary scholar with expertise in both the social and natural sciences. Trained as an environmental archaeologist, she transitioned to focus on contemporary climate change and the impacts on people and the environment in the Arctic. Today her research activities are focused in three areas: the integration of historic and modern data sets to better understand how the Arctic functions as a system; mobilizing genomics and genomics tools for Arctic biodiversity conservation and wildlife management; and research and strategic planning for the ongoing development and implementation of an internationally supported Arctic Observing System.

In 2016 Maribeth initiated the development of the Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability (CCADI), a national coalition of universities, Indigenous organizations, federal departments, not-for profit and private-sector partners. The CCADI is engaged in the design and establishment of an Arctic Research Data Infrastructure for Canada to improve access to data, data interoperability and data analytics in support of decision-making across scales and organizations, and for research.

Maribeth is a member of the Board of Directors of Polar Knowledge Canada, a member of the Canadian Mountain Network Board of Directors, a past member of the Board of Directors of the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, and a past faculty member of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Brent Else
Associate Director, AINA

Supports the executive director with tasks related to AINA's strategic plan.

Establish partnerships and write grant applications to develop AINA's leadership capacity.

Connect UCalgary researchers with AINA initiatives.

Supports initiatives related to AINA's Observer status at Arctic Council.

Associate Professor, Geography

PhD, Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba (2012)

Shannon Christoffersen
Manager, Data and Information Services

Shannon leads the Institute’s initiatives in knowledge mobilization and exchange including its databases, digital projects, and initiatives related to the Institute-led Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability (CCADI). She also manages the Institute’s internal special collections and acts as the Institute’s liaison for AINA Collections held at University of Calgary Libraries.

Shannon is an institutional team lead and coordinator for the Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability, the Institute’s representative on the International Arctic Science Committee/Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks Arctic Data Committee, a member of the ADC-IARPC-SCADM Vocabularies and Semantics Working Group, a member of the Polar Libraries Colloquy Steering Committee (currently serving as Past Chair and Web Developer), and she sits on the Advisory Board of the Polar Data Journal.

Master of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta (2005); Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, University of Calgary (1999); Bachelor of Arts in English, University of Calgary (1999)

Patty Wells
Editor, ARCTIC Journal

Processing manuscript submissions and peer-review, managing production, and publishing quarterly journal issues.

Patty's research has focused on the social life of the first Arctic peoples who lived on the island of Newfoundland through her study of animal exploitation for food and raw materials in the manufacture of tools.

PhD in Archaeology, Memorial University of Newfoundland (2012)

Patricia Wells Publications

Ravi Darwin Sankar
Project Manager, CCADI

Dr. Ravi Darwin Sankar is the current project manager for the Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability. Ravi joined the Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) at the University of Calgary as an Eyes High Postdoctoral Fellow. Ravi completed his PhD (2016) in Geological Sciences at Florida State University (USA). His research focuses on quantifying the effects of sea-level change and increased storminess on the morphology of coastal areas. Ravi's research has been instrumental in predicting shoreline retreat and land-loss rates along coastal settings, which serve as a catalyst to planning future coastal zone management strategies that address the near-term effects of climate variability. Dr. Sankar completed his M.Sc in Geology/Geophysics 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, St. Augustine, 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.

Henry Penn
Program Manager, Science & Sustainability

Dr. Penn is jointly responsible for the operation and management of the Kluane Lake Research Station (KLRS) in SW Yukon. Dr Penn is implementing a program to bring sustainable energy and agricultural infrastructure and technologies to KLRS and part of broad initiatives to increase sustainability through AINA. The aim is to develop a demonstration platform for providing an experimental facility that can be used as a test bed prior to major investment in new technologies, while at the same time modernizing the research station facilities and lowering our environmental footprint.

Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies: Civil Engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (2016)
Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Loughborough University in England (2012)

Matthew Ayre
Post-doctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Arctic marine shipping incidents (GENICE), Past climate of the 19th Century Arctic using British whaling ships’ logbooks (Northern Seas), British industrial whaling history and heritage in the Arctic.

PhD in Historical Climatology, University of Sunderland, UK (2016)

Michael Allchin
Post-doctoral associate in mountain environment observation and monitoring

This role is funded jointly by AINA, the Canadian Mountain Network, and Yukon Government.

My initial task is to build an inventory of observational equipment and activities in the mountains of western Canada, starting with the Yukon, expanding subsequently to NWT, BC and AB.

This inventory will help to reveal areas of key interest (relating, for example, to rapid climate change or major ecological transitions) in which information is currently sparse, thereby supporting discussion of options for augmenting observational activities, and improving coordination and collaboration between participants.

At this stage, a particular focus will be placed on exploring opportunities for advancing participation by Indigenous people in the observation and monitoring of mountain landscapes, and for incorporating Traditional Knowledge with conventional scientific data.

The outcomes of this analysis will inform the development and implementation of a comprehensive mountain observation and monitoring strategy for Canada.

PhD - University of Northern BC (2020)
MSc - University of Southampton (2013)
BSc (Hons) - University of Bristol (1986)

Kara Matthews
Information Analyst

Kara has a background in Earth and data sciences, graduating with a PhD in Geophysics from the University of Sydney (2014). She works with the Data and Information Services team at the Arctic Institute, and has a special interest in geospatial data visualization, research data and information management, and science outreach, particularly via simple web application development. Prior to joining the Institute, Kara was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford and the University of Sydney, building quantitative plate reconstruction models and using marine geophysics data to map and interpret tectonic structures on the seafloor. In her spare time she loves travelling, hiking and board games with friends.

Jacob Huffman
Information Analyst

My primary role is to keep the Institute's bibliographic database up to date with the latest arctic research from our clients and us. I have a B.A. in art history from the University of Calgary and originally came to the Institute as a volunteer with the ambition of cataloging the institutes' extensive collection of Inuit handicraft, arctic art, and ephemera. Outside of my work with AINA, I have worked on major public art projects and have worked in contemporary art in varying professional roles, including curatorial and preparatory.

Kent Spiers
Graduate Student

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. 

Kluane Lake Research Station

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