Core Team

Our core team is based in Vancouver. We work closely with our collaborative partners in the BC Ministry of Health, provincial Health Authorities, professional groups, and rural communities to plan and develop the strategies of the Centre.

The diversity of our expertise, backgrounds, and interests enhances our ability to comprehensively investigate the complexity of challenges and opportunities for rural health services across Canada and internationally.


Jude Kornelsen, PhD, is a health services researcher and Associate Professor in the Department of Family Practice at UBC who has a focused program of research on rural maternity care. As co-director of the Centre for Rural Health Research, her primary focus involves rural maternal health issues including the emergence and integration of midwifery in our health care system. In this position Dr. Kornelsen works toward creating productive research environments and coordinates and oversees student positions. She has undertaken numerous funded studies on rural women’s experiences of care and additionally directs a program of research into the emerging social phenomenon of elective cesarean section. Dr. Kornelsen is a former CIHR New Investigator, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar and an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Sydney.


Stefan Grzybowski , MD, CCFP, MClSc, FCFP, is a Professor in the Department of Family Practice at UBC and a family physician with many years of rural clinical experience. He is Director of Research in the Department of Family Practice at UBC and has held a Michael Smith senior scholar award. He has a longstanding interest in rural health services research and building research capacity, both of which are exercised through his current positions as co-Director of the Centre for Rural Health Research and Director of the Rural Health Services Research Network of BC. His current research foci include the safety of small rural maternity services with and without cesarean section capacity and systems planning of appropriate and sustainable rural health services.

Research Team

Rural Surgical Obstetrics Network (RSON)

Research Coordinators

Gal Av-Gay is the Quantitative Research Coordinator for the RSON Evaluation. He was raised on campus, where he also completed both his BSc in Biochemistry and MSc in Statistics. He is excited to derive insight from rural health data in order to assess and improve health outcomes for rural populations across BC. Gal sees how an understanding of rural health in BC needs to be informed by socioeconomic, cultural, and historical perspectives. In his spare time Gal enjoys playing music and shooting hoops.



Anshu Parajulee is the part-time Coordinator of the Rural Surgical and Obstetrical Networks (RSON) Evaluation. Anshu holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) with a specialization in Global Health from Simon Fraser University. For her MPH practicum, Anshu worked with a sex worker collective in South India to complete a situational analysis of female sex work in a district that had recently opened a collective chapter. Since completing her MPH, Anshu has evaluated a variety of health related initiatives and worked with different organizations including CRHR at UBC, Fraser Health, Alberta Health Services, Tufts Clinical and Translation Science Institute, and the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network. Anshu is passionate about social justice. She aims to contribute to the improvement of health services and the alleviation of health disparities, locally and globally, through research and evaluation.


Eva Sullivan,  is the Qualitative Coordinator working on the Rural Surgical and Obstetrical Networks (RSON) Evaluation and The Perinatal Peer Network projects at CRHR. She completed a Master of Global Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh, where her research focused on the role of community food providers in developing dignified food provision strategies to address food insecurity in Scotland. Prior to this, she completed a BA in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and was involved in research related to improving maternal health outcomes in India. Eva sees the health of individuals, communities, and the environment as fundamentally interlinked and hopes to use her experience to find policy-based solutions to social and ecological injustices.



Research Assistants

Audrey Cameron is a 4th year honours student in the UBC philosophy program. At CRHR, she is a Student Research Assistant with the RSON program evaluation. Passionate about medical ethics and rural health, Audrey is interested in research surrounding health equity discrepancies in rural populations. Outside of work, Audrey is a responder with the UBC First Aid Student team, where she co-leads the Education and Outreach Team–facilitating workshops on substance use first aid across campus. Audrey has spent the last few summers completing rural and public health internships in Northern Ontario and the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky. In her free time, Audrey enjoys hiking, reading and relaxing with friends.


Olivia Klaassen is a 3rd-year Bachelors of International Economics student at UBC. She is currently working with the CRHR as a research assistant on the RSON evaluation program. Olivia has always been fascinated by global health and hopes to attain a master’s degree in health economics after graduating from UBC. She is particularly interested in how health and global development intersect and the role of institutions in their progress.Outside of the CRHR, Olivia is the president of UBC’s Women in Economics and Policy, as well as assisting in a variety of research projects across the VSE. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, laughing with friends, and cooking.


Research Assistant, Mobile Maternity Project

Daria Nowaczek is the Research Assistant for the Mobile Maternity (MoM) project at CRHR. She has completed a BSc in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and a MSc in Global Health and Development at University College London. The focus of her MSc was on the use of digital technology associated with HIV self-testing interventions and improving the gaps in linkage to care. Daria is highly interested in the use of virtual technologies to support health care delivery and is excited to be a part of a team exploring these interests for rural providers and patients in British Columbia.


Core Services Project Research Assistants

Hilary Ho is the Research Assistant for the Point-of-care Ultrasound (POCUS) and the Core Services for Sustainable Rural Hospitals study. She holds a MA in Anthropology from the University of Victoria, where she focused on how global health organizations conceptualize and deliver care to their patients. Hilary is passionate about conducting research that empowers healthcare professionals to provide the best care for their patients. Outside of work, you can find her appreciating moss on hikes and hunting down heirloom apples in the fall.



Georgia Koep-Freifeld is a fourth year student in the BSc. Global Resource Systems Program at the University of British Columbia where she specializes in Global Health. She is currently working as a Research Assistant with the Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) and the Core Services for Sustainable Rural Hospitals studies. Georgia has spent the past two summers working for NGOs in the mental health and social service sector and has developed a keen interest in and a passion for policies and programs that promote health equity. Outside of work you can find Georgia enjoying the outdoors with friends.



Stephanie Lin is a recent graduate of the BSc. Food, Nutrition, and Health Program at the University of British Columbia. She is currently working as a Student Research Assistant for the Core Services for Sustainable Rural Hospitals and the Point-of Care Ultrasound (PoCUS) projects at the CRHR. Stephanie is passionate about improving global food security, as well as maternal and infant health in rural and remote populations. She hopes to pursue a Masters of Public Health next fall to further explore how adequate rural healthcare and nutrition can be sustained using a food systems lens. When Stephanie isn’t at work, you can find her hiking, skiing, or figure skating with her teammates at UBC


FLEX Students

Clay Kiiskila is a medical student at the University of British Columbia in the Northern Medical Program. Prior to entering medical school, he completed his BHSc at the University of Northern British Columbia. Through growing up in northern BC and travelling to rural and remote communities across the province, Clay developed a deep interest in rural healthcare which was strengthened when he learned more about the health inequities experienced by these communities in his undergraduate degree. Clay is excited to be joining the CRHR team to work on the Core Services project and examine factors affecting the sustainability of Family Practice Anesthesiologists at rural hospitals. In his spare time he enjoys camping, fishing, and playing sports.


Amolpreet Toor is a UBC medical student in the Vancouver Fraser Medical Program. Before entering medical school, he completed his BMSc in physiology and interdisciplinary medical sciences at Western University. Amolpreet is excited to be joining the CRHR team to work on the Rural Surgical and Obstetrical Network and investigate the role of Family Practice Anesthetists (FPAs) in rural chronic pain management. He became interested in this project after learning about the significant role FPAs play in sustaining rural surgical and maternal practices. In his spare time, Amolpreet enjoys drawing, traveling, and playing soccer.


Rural Evidence Review

Research Manager

Christine Carthew is the Manager of the Rural Evidence Review project, an initiative of the Centre for Rural Health Research. Christine completed her Master of Public Health in Health Promotion at the University of Toronto in 2017, where she developed a strong interest in knowledge translation as it applies to the field of health promotion. Prior to joining CRHR, Christine held positions at Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario, both in Toronto, Canada, where she explored this very intersection. Christine brings with her to this role a commitment to social justice fostered through her graduate studies and global experiences with community development in Kenya. Christine is keen to contribute her enthusiasm and knowledge in the areas of health promotion and knowledge translation toward strengthening health services and promoting health and health equity in rural British Columbia.

Research Coordinator

Claire Styffe is a Research Coordinator for the Rural Evidence Review (RER) project. She obtained her Master of Public Health degree from UBC and an undergraduate degree in cell biology and human geography from McGill University. Her previous research has focused on improving access to cervical cancer screening in Inuit communities and assessing disparities in the family planning landscape across Canada. Claire is interested in health geography and community-based research and is excited to bring her background in these areas to the RER project.


Kayla Míguez is a Legal Research Assistant of the Rural Evidence Review (RER) project, within the Centre for Rural Health Research. She has a Master of Kinesiology (Muscle/ Exercise Physiology) from McGill University in Montréal, Québec, where she is currently completing degrees in Common Law and Civil Law. As a member of the RER team, Kayla is working toward developing a legal, constitutional, and policy framework to explore rural equity in access to health services as an issue of human rights. Kayla is greatly looking forward to collaborating with this wonderful team and learning about the health care issues most important to rural communities in BC!


Rural Birth Index (RBI)


Nicky Cairncross is the Coordinator for the Rural Birth Index (RBI) project. Nicky holds a Master of Public (MPH) with a specialization in social inequities in health from Simon Fraser University. Prior to her MPH she worked as a Complex Behaviour Support Counselor supporting families with children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Her near decade of experience in children and family support work helped her develop her passion for community engagement and capacity building. With experience in health policy, evaluation, and community engagement she is looking forward to combining her knowledge and passion for healthy maternal and childhood development into policy and practise for rural communities. When Nicky isn’t at work you can find her doing crossword puzzles at her favourite cafe, jigsaw puzzles at home, or playing bike polo!


Research Assistants

Jonathan Lin is a 4th year undergraduate student in the UBC Global Resource Systems program with a focus on health and nutrition. He is currently working as a Student Research Assistant with the Rural Birth Index (RBI) project at CRHR. His interest for rural health stems from learning about the social, physical and mental barriers that certain demographics must overcome to achieve a healthy life. Beyond his interest in health and nutrition, Jonathan is passionate about sustainability and conservation. Once he has completed his undergraduate degree, Jonathan hopes to pursue graduate studies in Public Health or Public Policy to gain a better understanding on broad systems-level change. His hobbies include photography, watching movies and exploring Vancouver’s beaches and forests.

Rural Health Services Research Network of BC

Research Network Coordinators, RHSRNbc

Jordie Fischer recently completed her Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition from the University of British Columbia. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts and Science in both Nutrition and Nutraceutical Science and International Development from the University of Guelph. Her research experiences are in the areas of global and women’s health, anemia, micronutrient deficiencies and the gut microbiome. Previously, she has worked for Helen Keller International in Cambodia, the Department of Food, Health and Nutrition at UBC and the Centre for Global Child Health at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. She is passionate about providing equitable health services to all, including those in rural settings.


Evonne Tran completed her BSc in Global Resource Systems specializing in Global Health and Nutrition. She worked as a Communications Assistant at CRHR for two years where she was involved in branding, knowledge translation and communications. Her global health work involves research in Indonesia exploring the technological adoption of rice strains for smallholder rice farmers and community development work in Vietnam. Outside of work you can find Evonne hiking, exploring beaches, and doing photography work.

Network Research Assistant, RHSRNbc

Urvee Karve is an undergraduate student at UBC majoring in Geography (Environment and Sustainability). She is really interested in contributing to the new GIS project to build catchment maps for rural BC and understanding how this could better rural health. Since she is passionate about sustainability, she wants to help better the quality of life in rural BC by understanding more about rural health and the availability of high quality facilities, as well as their sphere of influence. Other than her passion for Geography, she volunteers at BC SPCA (animal shelter), and enjoy activities such as hiking, painting and dancing.



Research Associates

Dr. Rahul Gupta, MD, CCFP works as an integrative medical physician, professional coach, mindfulness instructor, and advocate for provider wellness. He is a Certified MBSR Teacher through the Center for Mindfulness to facilitate Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programs and offers this service to both providers and patients. He also is a professional coach accredited by the International Coaching Federation and supports physicians as a consultant for the Physician Health Program of BC. He lives and works in Gibsons, BC and travels throughout the province to speak on the topics of patient self-management and provider self-care.

Rahul is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the UBC Department of Family Practice and recently completed its Clinician Scholar Program. He can be reached at or visit

Dr. Ilona Hale, MD, CCFP has been practicing as a rural family physician in Kimberley BC since 1997 after graduating from University of Ottawa medical school and the UBC rural family medicine residency. In 2016 she joined the UBC Department of Family Medicine Clinician Scholar Program to support her growing interest in becoming a clinician researcher. Her main passion is community-based health promotion but she is also interested in efficient health care utilization, polypharmacy and rural and environmental health. Her current research is focused on obesity prevention during infancy and community-based health promotion in rural areas. She is the chair of a charitable non-profit society board, Healthy Kimberley ( which helps guide the direction of the community-based research.


Robert F Woollard, MD, CCFP, FCFP Professor, UBC Department of Family Practice Dr Woollard is Professor of Family Practice at UBC. He has extensive national and international experience in the fields of medical education (chair of accreditation system for 7 years), the social accountability of medical schools, ecosystem approaches to health, and sustainable development. He is actively involved in Nepal with a new national medical school, school of public health, and nursing school founded on the principles of social accountability, and also works in East Africa on matters of social accountability, primary care, and accreditation systems. He co-chairs the Global Consensus on Social Accountability for Medical Schools (GCSA) and does extensive work in this area with many international bodies. He was a lead organizer for the planned World Summit on Social Accountability: and His primary research focus is the study of complex adaptive systems as they apply to the intersection between human and environmental health. His book, “Fatal Consumption: Rethinking Sustainable Development” details some of his work in this regard. He also provides central leadership in the development of a Canadian national strategy for addressing educational and service needs for surgical and obstetrical services in rural Canada—in particular Aboriginal service access for birthing. He was instrumental in establishing the mobile clinic for agricultural workers and continues the active practice of medicine. Above all he is a husband, father and grandfather.


Katrina Plamondon joined the University of British Columbia Okanagan, School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor in July 2019. She is also a Practice Leader for Research and Knowledge Translation at Interior Health (British Columbia), where her work focuses on health system strengthening through enabling people across the system to use and do research in practice and policy. She is a Registered Nurse with a clinical foundation in critical care/emergency and street outreach and a Master of Science in Community Health & Epidemiology (University of Saskatchewan). She completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia under a Banting & Best Canada Graduate Scholarship, where her doctoral research extended a decade of research and practice in knowledge translation with a focus on knowledge-to-action for health equity. A member of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research since 2004, Katrina co-chairs the University Advisory Council (comprised of representatives from 24 institutions across Canada) to promote more consistent, coherent investments and practices in global health research. She was the Principal Investigator for the multi-year Gathering Perspectives Studies that led to the creation of the equity-centred CCGHR Principles for Global Health Research (available here: and the lead on a series of publications contributing to national dialogue about Canada’s role in global health research. She is frequently invited to present on equity-centred practices for research and knowledge translation, ranging from conferences to guest lectures and intensive training institutes.

Dr. Kathrin Stoll is a social scientist with degrees in psychology, family studies and interdisciplinary studies. Her PhD spanned three disciplines (public health, nursing and midwifery) and she completed a five-year postdoctoral fellowship in Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a one-year CIHR fellowship in primary health care research. Since 2005, Dr. Stoll has held various research positions in the Division of Midwifery at UBC and worked closely with epidemiologists, clinicians, community members and researchers, on various research and knowledge implementation projects in the area of reproductive health. Between 2007 and 2012, she served as co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice. In addition to her position at the Birth Place Lab, Dr. Stoll holds an appointment as lecturer at Hannover Medical School in Germany, where she has taught and supervised midwifery graduate students since 2012. Dr. Stoll has led the development of many innovative measurement instruments, and is working on several projects oriented at enhancing equitable access to respectful and person-centered pregnancy and birth care, especially for those at increased risk for discrimination, reduced access to care, and poor clinical outcomes. To recognize her work in rural maternity care research, she was recently invited to become a fellow at the Centre for Rural Health Research. 

Manager of Morale Support & Wiggles

August (Auggie) is the Manager of Morale Support and Wiggles at the Centre for Rural Health Research. Auggie has nearly 1.5 years of experience supporting mental health in a variety of group settings, and is committed to helping her team of rural health researchers to achieve success and well-being. She can often be found circulating the office, ensuring everyone is well cared for and that all snacks are sufficiently tasty. Auggie has her Master’s in Rural Health Paw-licy and a BSc in Wag-riculture (with a minor in Herding) from the University of Goodest Dogs, Australia.