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

Shadi Mahmoodi is the Coordinator of the Rural Surgical and Obstetrical Networks (RSON) Evaluation. Shadi holds a Master of Public Health with a specialization in population health from Simon Fraser University. Before joining the RSON, Shadi worked as an Evaluation Specialist with Clinical System Transformation (CST) project and evaluated the implementation of an electronic system in hospital settings. Shadi also worked at northern Saskatchewan, where she evaluated the delivery of TB services to rural communities. Shadi is passionate about health equity and equitable access to health services. She is excited to contribute to the RSON project and learn about surgical and maternity-related health services in rural communities. In her spare time, Shadi enjoys playing music, reading, and travelling.

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.

Research Assistants

Eva Sullivan,  is a Research Assistant with qualitative expertise, working on the evaluation of RSON 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 rural 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.


Gal Av-Gay is a Data Analyst for the RSON Evaluation. A “UBC-lifer”, 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 playing basketball.



Laura Finkler-Kemeny is a current student in UBC’s BSN program in Vancouver. She is a Research Assistant with the CRHR working on the evaluation of the RSON in British Columbia. Laura has a BSc/BA from Quest University Canada in Squamish BC, with an academic focus on rural maternal health and qualitative research methods. She is particularly curious about how social settings and community environments shape women’s understandings and experiences during the perinatal period. Laura hopes to combine her interest in research and policy development with her nursing degree. In her spare time, Laura is either mountain biking or fixing her mountain bike!


Abdo Souraya is a UBC alumnus with a BSc Global Resource Systems, specializing in nutrition and food security. A born and raised city dweller, Abdo was newly exposed to rural settings while studying in rural Holland, subsequently choosing to stay with family in a small agricultural village in Lebanon. Learning about rural-urban inequities through narrative immersion helped Abdo develop an interest in rural health, and gives perspective to his research assistant role on the RSON evaluation project. In his free time, Abdo enjoys listening to music, reading, travelling, and meditation.


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.


Jennifer Zhang is a 3rd year student studying Kinesiology at UBC. At CRHR, she is a research assistant on the RSON evaluation project. Jennifer is passionate about women’s health and is interested in investigating its intersections with sexual health, rural location, harm reduction, and other social determinants of health. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys connecting with unique voices in the community as a volunteer in multiple palliative care settings and as the coordinator for the School of Kinesiology’s Professional Development Committee.


Research Assistant, First Nations Engagement

Sila Rogan is a 4th year UBC student studying genetics and physiology. A proud Inuk, Sila is passionate about increasing access to high quality health care, especially for rural and Indigenous communities, and has worked with Grand Challenges Canada’s Indigenous Innovation Initiative and the Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health to advance these causes. An advocate for engaging youth and communities in health care, Sila is a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council and interned at the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health. In her free time, Sila enjoys baking and trail running.


FLEX Students

Aria Jazdarehee is a medical student studying at the University of British Columbia. He is currently working with the RSON team to analyze interview data under the project’s ‘Evaluation’ pillar. Aria completed his BSc in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia in 2017 and spent a year working as a clinical research coordinator in an endocrine clinic. One of the projects he worked on involved delivering virtual diabetes care to patients across the province without access to specialist care. Aria is passionate about rural medicine and excited to be part of the RSON team! His hobbies include hiking, camping, biking, and flying his drone.


Jenna Treissman is a medical student at the University of British Columbia in the Northern Medical Program. Before entering medical school, Jenna completed her B.A.Sc. at Quest University Canada in Squamish, British Columbia, where she fell in love with being part of a small community. After her undergraduate degree, she completed a M.Sc. in Reproductive and Developmental Sciences at the University of British Columbia. Her graduate research was focused on understanding the cellular and molecular processes that regulate development of the placenta in early pregnancy. Jenna is thrilled to be part of the CRHR team and to combine her interests in rural health and maternity care through new research endeavours. When not studying medicine or doing research, you can find Jenna running, ski touring or mountain biking on local trails.

Lindsay Kastelic is a medical student at the University of British Columbia in the Vancouver Fraser program. Prior to beginning medical school, Lindsay completed her BSc in Life Sciences at Queen’s University and her MSc in Global Health at McMaster University with a concentration in the Global Burden of Disease. From her involvement in field work both internationally and within Canada, she has become interested in rural and remote medicine, traditional knowledge and healing, and health system development. This spring, Lindsay is excited to be joining the CRHR team to learn more about maternal and rural health care in B.C. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, cooking, and exploring the west coast by canoe or kayak.

Research Placement

Alana Robinson is a 4th-year medical student at the University of Melbourne who is completing a research placement with the Centre for Rural Health Research. Prior to pursuing medicine, she completed her Msc. in Global Health at McMaster University specializing in Global Diseases and Global Health Management. Alana has a strong passion for women’s health, indigenous health, and rural and remote medicine. She completed her Msc. practicum at the Centre for Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where she assisted in the development of a research project on group prenatal care for adolescents in Sénégal in collaboration with Plan Canada. Throughout her medical degree, she has been actively involved in the Australia Medical Student Association’s Global Health arm, becoming the National Coordinator for Reproductive Rights last year. As a physician, Alana wants to work in rural and remote communities. Alana is very excited to join the CRHR team and learn about project implementation and evaluation in the Canadian healthcare system, and in the future, she hopes to work in both the medical and public health field. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, climbing, netflix-binging, and yoga.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Asif Raza Khowaja, PhD, is a health economist and Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Family Practice at UBC who has many years of experience working in Maternal and Child Health. As Postdoctoral Fellow, he is working with the Centre for Rural Health Research, his primary focus involves designing and conducting the economic evaluation of Rural Surgical and Obstetrical Network (RSON) in British Columbia. Dr. Khowaja has a track record of publications in peer-reviewed journals and presented his scholarly work in several international and national conferences/meetings. Notable awards he received during his doctoral training include CIHR Vanier Doctoral Scholarship, Killam Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Warren George Povey Award in Global Health, and University of British Columbia Four-Year-Fellowship. Outside of his academic work, he enjoys volunteering for Scouts Canada in organizing scouting events and assisting cubs/scouts achieving outdoor adventure skill badges.


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 Assistants

Nicholas Lloyd-Kuzik is a Research Analyst with the Rural Evidence Review project. As a graduate of the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs program at the University of British Columbia and a registered kinesiologist, Nicholas brings a broad systems-level analytic lens to bear on issues in public policy and health. Nicholas believes that meaningful policy improvement is a process kept alive by active conversation and communication, and that good knowledge is wasted if it isn’t shared.


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!



Louloua Ashikhusein is an undergraduate student studying Biology and Psychology at the University of British Columbia. As a Research Assistant with the Rural Evidence Review project, her responsibilities include conducting outreach to rural communities in BC and communicating with them regarding their health service priorities, as well as assisting with literature reviews and primary research tasks that aim to improve knowledge about and distribution of health services for rural communities in BC. This objective complements her passion to work in the healthcare field, which stems from her interest in raising awareness regarding the importance of physical and mental well-being and her experiences working alongside vulnerable populations in Tanzania. Her hobbies are reading Novels, trying out new restaurants and watching ‘Friends’ on a loop.

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

Rural Health Services Research Network of BC

Research Network Coordinators, RHSRNbc

Arlin Cherian obtained her Master of Public Health degree from the University of British Columbia. Her undergrad degree was in Bachelor of Nutritional Sciences with a major in Global Nutrition from McGill University in Montreal. Her research experiences are in the field of perinatal epidemiology and maternal health and nutrition. In the past, she has worked with UNICEF in the Pacific Islands, The Centre for Global Child Health at Sick kids hospital in Toronto and in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UBC. She joined RHSRNbc in March 2020.


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.


Building Blocks for Sustainable Rural Maternity Care Project

Research Coordinator

Kira Barwich is the Research Coordinator for the North Island Decision Aid project. Kira has her MSc in Global Health from Trinity College University of Dublin, Ireland and has spent time working on health research projects in Zimbabwe and Cambodia. Prior to this, Kira spent several months interning with a health-focused non-government organization in rural Indonesia. Kira is passionate about health for marginalized populations and rural health. She is keen to apply her international experience in health to the rural Canadian context. In her free time, Kira enjoys being active in the outdoors and is looking forward to calling British Columbia home and exploring more of its natural beauty.

UBC Medicine FLEX Students

Krista pic Krista Loewen is a medical student at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, Southern Medical Program. Previously, she completed a BA in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, where she developed a strong interest in Indigenous health and health care systems and policy. Her study interests also include rural and remote medicine, and she is keen to spend more time working in rural areas. Prior to university, she spent several years working in the international development sector and in the music industry. Her hobbies include cross-country skiing, music and gardening.


 Joanna Ritson is a medical student at the University of British Columbia in the Vancouver Fraser program. Before entering medical school, Joanna completed her BSc at McGill University and worked as a research assistant there. She has a keen interest in the social determinants of health, particularly as they relate to rural living and maternal care. Joanna is excited to be back in British Columbia and to be involved with the CRHR team. In her spare time she enjoys skiing, hiking, kayaking, dance and playing piano.


Emily MacLean is a medical student at the University of British Columbia, studying at the Vancouver Fraser campus. Prior to medical school she completed a BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Victoria. She went on to work as a research assistant studying fish health in Campbell River and then heart and lung disease at St. Paul’s hospital. Emily has a strong passion for rural and remote healthcare, stemming from her upbringing on Quadra Island. She is very excited to be part of CRHR team and be involved in rural healthcare initiatives in BC. Some of her hobbies include cooking, playing board games and enjoying the outdoors.



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.