About

Who We Are

Our work is made possible by a talented team of staff and an extensive network of partners across British Columbia. PICS staff and collaborators include many of the leading climate researchers, practitioners, and community-based experts in the province. 

To reflect our values and mandate, we work closely with communities historically underrepresented in climate research and policy. We are committed to climate solutions that uphold principles and practices of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

Staff

Our team has diverse experience that support collaborative and engaging approaches to research, networking, and knowledge sharing at the intersection of justice, adaptation, and mitigation. Our staff are located on Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and W̱SÁNEĆ territories in Victoria and across territories throughout British Columbia.

Dr. Ian Mauro (He/Him)

Executive Director

Dr. Ian Mauro (He/Him)

Executive Director

Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and W̱SÁNEĆ territories (Victoria, B.C.)

Dr. Ian Mauro is the executive director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria.

As a scientist and filmmaker, Mauro’s work explores climate change, sustainability, and the vital role of local and Indigenous knowledges. He is committed to community-based and Indigenous-led participatory approaches and has worked with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities across many territories.

Mauro has developed numerous, award-winning climate-change initiatives, including: Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, co-directed with acclaimed Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk, and Beyond Climate, narrated by David Suzuki.

Mauro holds a BSc in Environmental Science and a PhD in Geography. He is a former Canada Research Chair of Human Dimensions of Environmental Change at Mount Allison University, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and an Apple Distinguished Educator. He has served on expert panels related to food security, energy issues, and climate change across Canada.

Prior to joining PICS, Mauro was the executive director of the Prairie Climate Centre at the University of Winnipeg and led the creation of the Climate Atlas of Canada.

Mauro is a husband and father, and his climate action strives for a safe and livable planet for all future generations.

Stephanie Cairns (She/Her)

Director of Strategic Policy and Analysis

Stephanie Cairns (She/Her)

Director of Strategic Policy and Analysis

Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and W̱SÁNEĆ territories (Victoria, B.C.)

Stephanie Cairns has three decades of experience working with leading climate change and environmental non-governmental organizations, policy institutes, and expert panels. She was a founding staff member with the Pembina Institute and Smart Prosperity Institute, where she directed programs on circular economy, sustainable communities, climate policy and carbon pricing, and is currently a Coordinating Lead Author for the North American Biodiversity and Climate Change Assessment.

Cairns has advised leaders at every order of Canadian jurisdiction. She has been named the University of Guelph’s visiting Kinross Chair in Environmental Governance, and to the Council of Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel on Circular Economy, Alberta’s Climate Change Advisory Panel, and Canadian Heritage’s Panel on Ecological Integrity of National Parks. She was the first woman appointed as national president of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

Cairns holds a MSc in Corporate Environmental Management from the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University, Sweden, and a BA in Environmental Studies, Political Science, and Economics from the University of Toronto.

Most recently, she worked with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and helped establish the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative. Stephanie has also served on the Boards of the Galiano Conservancy Association and the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area.

Emily MacNair (She/Her)

Director of Adaptation and Community Engagement

Emily MacNair (She/Her)

Director of Adaptation and Community Engagement

Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and W̱SÁNEĆ territories (Victoria, B.C.)

Emily MacNair is an accomplished program developer and project manager, who has focused her career on creating innovative tools and resources for climate change adaptation. Foundational to her approach is collaboration and joint project development with a broad range of individuals, organizations, and institutions in communities across B.C., as well as a focus on creating accessible and practical resources for adaptation.

MacNair co-authored the Climate and Opportunity Assessment for the B.C. Agriculture Sector. She went on to lead strategic climate adaptation planning processes for agriculture in eight regions of the province and for 10 years managed the delivery of adaptation focused programs for the sector. MacNair also developed the first food security assessment for the Capital Regional District.

MacNair holds a MA of Environmental Studies from York University and a BA in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia. She is the former director of the Climate & Agriculture Initiative BC.

Dylan Clark (He/Him)

Associate Director of Research and Operations

Dylan Clark (He/Him)

Associate Director of Research and Operations

Territory of the Ligwiłda’xw people: We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum, Kwiakah First Nations (Campbell River, B.C.)

Dylan Clark has deep expertise in climate change policy development, adaptation research, and impact modelling. He has experience working both in and outside of government to develop new climate policies and improve decision-making processes. Clark has also contributed to major national climate assessments, including as a lead author on The Health Costs of Climate Change: How Canada can adapt, prepare, and save lives.

Clark holds a MSc from McGill University and a BSc from Iowa State University. He has been recognized for his work as a two-time National Geographic Young Explorer, a Fulbright recipient (declined), and has testified as an expert witness before the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Prior to joining the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, Clark was the research lead for adaptation at the Canadian Climate Institute.

Dr. Vanessa Lueck (She/Her)

Researcher-in-Residence, Coastal Adaptation

Dr. Vanessa Lueck (She/Her)

Researcher-in-Residence, Coastal Adaptation

Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and W̱SÁNEĆ territories (Victoria, B.C.)

Dr. Vanessa Lueck’s work focuses on justice and equity, sustainable coastal adaptation, adaptation governance, and the role of insurance in climate adaptation. With the Living with Water project, she focuses on leveraging Indigenous knowledges and values, nature-based solutions, and innovative governance models to drive local sustainable coastal climate adaptation.

Lueck has been active in governance and sustainability at all scales ranging from local health care policy implementation to international climate change conferences and marine awareness for the maritime industry. She holds a PhD in Sustainability from the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, a JD from University of Minnesota Law School, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Caroline Merner (She/Her)

Project Manager

Caroline Merner (She/Her)

Project Manager

K’ómoks territory (Cumberland, B.C.)

Caroline Merner brings a strong background in climate policy development and engagement to PICS. She has worked with nonprofits, governments, academic institutions, and think tanks to advance climate policy.

Merner co-founded Youth4Nature (formerly Climate Guides) and has worked with the Canadian Climate Institute, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Future of Climate Cooperation initiative, Ocean Wise, and Parks Canada. She has advised the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and currently sits on the board of the MakeWay Foundation.

She has been recognized for her work as a two-time Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalist in Canada by The Starfish Canada, a Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leaders by Corporate Knights, and a Young Woman for Nature by Nature Canada. Merner speaks English, French, Spanish, and (beginner) Slovak.

Merner holds a MPP as a McCall MacBain Scholar at McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy and holds a BA in Sustainability and International Development from Dalhousie University.

Alyssa Hill (She/Her)

Research Lead

Alyssa Hill (She/Her)

Research Lead

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) (Vancouver, B.C.)

Alyssa Hill is a climate researcher who has collaborated with government representatives, non-profits, consultancies, and industries throughout Canada and internationally.

Hill is interested in the process of moving from assessing climate risk to transformative resilience. She is passionate about centering climate justice and equity in her work at PICS.

Hill holds a BSc from Western University and a MCC from the University of Waterloo. She previously worked for the Climate Risk Institute, researching climate change impacts and supporting large scale climate change risk assessments. Hill also founded and produced the Tiny Activist podcast.

In her spare time, you may find Hill rock climbing, trying a new recipe, or planning her next adventure.

Shauna MacKinnon (She/Her)

Engagement Lead

Shauna MacKinnon (She/Her)

Engagement Lead

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) (Vancouver, B.C.)

Shauna Mackinnon has an extensive background in knowledge mobilization and engaged research in the agriculture and sustainable food systems sectors. Since 2018, MacKinnon has focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation in B.C. and has had the pleasure to work with partners in many corners of the province.

From decades of work in research and non-profit spaces, MacKinnon’s accomplishments include building a 1,600+ professional community centred on climate change and agriculture through the B.C. Agricultural Climate Action Research Network, and establishing partnerships with Canada’s largest grocery retailers for sustainable seafood purchasing.

MacKinnon holds a MA in Geography from the University of Guelph and a BA from McGill University. She was born and raised in Prince George, the unceded traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh, and in Fort St. John, in Treaty 8 territory on the traditional lands of the Dane-zaa.

SIAPELWET Edna Jack (She/Her)

Finance Assistant

SIAPELWET Edna Jack (She/Her)

Finance Assistant

Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and W̱SÁNEĆ territories (Victoria, B.C.)

SIAPELWET Edna Jack’s roots are with Stz’uminus First Nation – Ladysmith, B.C. – where she grew up learning to live off and care for the land from her grandparents and late great grandparents. As a Coast Salish First Nation person, SIAPELWET provides a holistic perspective that understands the interconnections between communities, ecosystems, and climate change.

Within B.C., SIAPELWET has diverse experience working in non-profit organizations, in all orders of government, and within First Nations. These experiences sparked her interest in contributing to an organization that works towards creating positive and healthy relationships between the land, water, and communities in an era of climate change.

SIAPELWET holds an Accounting and Payroll Administrator Diploma from CDI College and a Business Certificate from Camosun College. She is finishing courses at Camosun College for her second diploma in accounting while working with PICS.

Kathleen Laird

Kathleen Laird (She/Her)

Assistant to the Executive Director

Kathleen Laird (She/Her)

Assistant to the Executive Director

Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and W̱SÁNEĆ territories (Victoria, B.C.)

Kathleen Laird brings a wealth of administrative experience to PICS, honed through her tenure at the University of Victoria, running a local small business, and her volunteer experiences.

Prior to joining PICS, Laird served with UVic’s Human Resources, Events, Co-op and Career office, and with the office of the Dean of Education.

Laird holds a BA in Urban Geography from UBC, and specialized education in Landscape Design and Horticultural Therapy. When she is not working at PICS, she runs a successful consulting business with a focus on landscape design, restoration, and community building. Understanding the importance of volunteering in her community, she has experience with the South Jubilee Neighbourhood Association Board, Pacific Animal Therapy Association, and the Citizens Counselling Centre of Greater Victoria. She loves to travel and research new advances in horticulture.

Cindy MacDougall (She/Her)

Communications Manager

Cindy MacDougall (She/Her)

Communications Manager

Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and W̱SÁNEĆ territories (Victoria, B.C.)

Media Enquiries: 250 853-3626

Cindy MacDougall is a communications professional with deep experience in telling the stories of people making a positive impact in communities across Canada. She has a particular interest in stories at the intersection of climate change and human health.

MacDougall was named a finalist for Organizational Excellence in the 2015 BC Premier’s Awards, and received the 2004 Society of Gynecologists and Obstetricians of Canada Journalism Award for Excellence in Women’s Health Reporting. She was born and raised on Unama’ki (Cape Breton Island) on the East Coast, where she witnessed the toll heavy industry can have on a community’s wellbeing.

She holds a Bachelor of Journalism (BJ) from Carleton University, Ottawa.

Before joining PICS, MacDougall worked as the media liaison for Royal Roads University, and in several B.C. ministries with Government Communications and Public Engagement. She has also worked as a journalist throughout Canada, including in Sǫǫ̀mbak’è in Denendeh (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories) as regional health reporter for CBC North.

Christy Ascione (She/Her)

Communications Specialist

Christy Ascione (She/Her)

Communications Specialist

Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and W̱SÁNEĆ territories (Victoria, B.C.)

Christy Ascione is an accomplished writer with a robust background in science communications and education. She has authored several high school STEM textbooks published by eDynamic Learning, and her writing has been featured in Science Journal for Kids.

She holds a BEd from the University of Alberta and has more than seven years of experience in scientific writing, education, and engagement.

Throughout her career, Ascione has focused on distilling complex environmental science research into easily understandable information for diverse audiences. Most recently, she worked with MIREC Canada as its communications specialist, where she focused on explaining the effects of environmental chemical exposure on maternal and child health. She has also worked as an education specialist with two marine conservation non-profits in South Florida, where her work bridged the gap between scientific research and community awareness.

Daniel Arbour (He/Him)

Partnerships and Grants Specialist

Daniel Arbour (He/Him)

Partnerships and Grants Specialist

K’omoks First Nation territory (Comox, B.C.)

Daniel Arbour has a passion for public service and partnership building. His career has included administrative, program management, and evaluation roles in the environmental and community economic development fields. In recent years, Arbour has served as a local government elected official in the Comox Valley, where he has advanced climate policies and initiatives at the regional, provincial, and federal levels.

Based on his track record of partnership building and grants leveraging, Arbour has been selected to lead international program evaluations in Europe and Northern Africa for Natural Resources Canada; and as a grants jury for the BC Climate Ready Seafood Program and for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Award.

Arbour holds an MA from the School of Environmental Studies at Royal Roads University; a BA in Geography and Ecology from the University of British Columbia, and a Certificate in Public Policy Analysis from the London School of Economics.

Our History

PICS was created in 2008 with an endowment from the Government of British Columbia. The government’s large commitment to evidence-based climate policy and the multi-university structure of PICS were groundbreaking at the time and remain core strengths of the organization.

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The First 15 Years

Over its first 15 years, PICS responded to climate change impacts and solutions, and evolved alongside wider public discussion and experience with the changing environment. Our initial focus was on deepening awareness of the impacts of climate change and charting pathways for emission reductions. As public discussions and policy conversations evolved, PICS’ work increasingly emphasized adaptation research.

More recently, PICS’ approach has invested in projects led by interdisciplinary teams of researchers working in collaboration with partners who play a key role in identifying and framing the problem, developing solutions, and ultimately implementing the results. This model sought to establish long-term partnerships that exist beyond any individual project.

Moving Forward

Building on PICS’ deep roots, we are continuing to evolve to meet the needs of communities and decisionmakers across B.C. Our 2024 strategic plan will act as our guide in the years ahead.

We plan to seed and grow insights, ambition, and actions that generate climate solutions. Our intended impacts address both mitigation and adaptation and are designed to create value for our university network, governments, civil society, and partners.

PICS is approaching the future with a focus on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work. We are deeply committed to advancing Indigenous Knowledges, practicing truth and reconciliation, and prioritizing decolonial practices. This work is paramount, as we operate across unceded and traditional territories of Indigenous communities, and in a jurisdiction that has passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

As an organization focused on knowledge and learning, we will continuously seek guidance on our roles and responsibilities – from our academic, government, and Indigenous and community partners – and are approaching the future focused on collaborative changemaking. 

Our Network

PICS brings together the research strengths and capacity of our university network to advance transformative climate solutions for B.C. and the world.

The world-class universities that make up our network include: the University of Northern British Columbia; Simon Fraser University; the University of British Columbia; and the University of Victoria. Our network is our unique strength.

Governance

PICS is hosted and led by the University of Victoria and is overseen by an Executive Committee, which is primarily responsible for strategic direction and financial oversight.

The Executive Committee comprises the following members:

  • Vice-Presidents of Research and Innovation from the University of Northern British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Victoria (chair);
  • The University of Victoria Vice President Indigenous; 
  • The University of Victoria Dean of Social Sciences;
  • A representative from the Government of British Columbia, Climate Action Secretariat;
  • A representative from the Government of Canada, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change; and
  • The PICS Executive Director.