Our Team

Penny Beames — Project lead coordinator

Penny Beames, project lead coordinator

Penny is a masters student in McGill’s Global Land and Water Lab. Her particular focus is on how dam development impacts people and ecosystems, and how comprehensive global dam datasets can improve everything from transboundary river sharing to climate and hydrological modeling. Her work blends a background in political ecology with global physical data science. She developed a commitment to sustainability and an international focus through academic and professional experience in Canada and Southeast Asia. This is Penny’s first year as Lead Coordinator; she benefits from the institutional knowledge of fellow coordinators who have built the Sustainability Research Symposium over the past eight years.


Laurence Côté-Roy — Supporting Member


Laurence is a PhD student in urban geography at McGill. Her research focuses on new cities built from scratch in the Kingdom of Morocco, and looks at the official discourse supporting these resource intensive projects. Her academic interests lay in the architectural and cultural symbolism in cities, policy analysis and governance challenges of new master-planned developments. She has previously participated in research programs looking at Francophone identity and urban renewal for the University of Ottawa, as well as media representation of biodiversity for the Université de Montréal. Her undergraduate degree was in Geography and Urban Planning from Université de Montréal. Laurence has been involved with SRS for two years.

Melissa Karine Ward — Academic Coordinator

melissa_srs_photoMelissa is a PhD student trying to understand the impacts, thresholds and feedbacks of how melting ground ice, driven by climate change, is changing the landscape of the Fosheim Peninsula, located at 80°N on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. From seeing the extent of change within the Arctic, Melissa is passionate about engaging and being involved with sustainability efforts when she is south. This is her fourth year involved with SRS and as the Academic coordinator she hopes to bring together speakers from a variety of disciplines and experiences for an interesting and engaging symposium. In her spare time Melissa loves the outdoors, knitting, horseback riding and is a big foodie.

Ellie Stephenson — Communications COORDINATOR


Ellie is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography working under the supervision of Dr. George Wenzel. Her research focuses on the politics of food and food security in Arctic Canada. She has previously collaborated on research about food security and environmental change in the Arctic and Himalayas, and impacts of energy development in Western Canada. She is an avid photographer.


 Rachel is a third year undergraduate student studying psychology. In addition to her interest in understanding how the brain works and what makes people tick Rachel is passionate about the environment. She loves the urban life of Montreal but has concerns over the missed opportunities for sustainability within the city environment. She sees the potential to address new approaches for sustainable futures in urban settings through social action. This is Rachel’s first year involved in the project and she is looking forward to the opportunity to work alongside and idea share with some of McGill’s brightest.


Myriam is a third year undergraduate student in honours translation with a minor in social entrepreneurship. Although her first passion is writing she has always had an attachment to the environment. She is interested in empowering people in their everyday lives to create a better today and tomorrow. Her enthusiasm for sustainability fits hand in hand with her desire to make progressive change through policy making and governmental action. This year marks Myriam’s first involvement with the SRS and she couldn’t be more excited to be taking part.


 Gabriella is currently a Master’s student in Geography. Her research explores the mechanisms through which open government data realizes improvements in governance, and catalyzes innovation. She loves maps and in her spare times enjoys yoga, reading and traveling.

Joanna Ondrusek-Roy— Communications and Social Media

DSC_0786 (1).jpgJoanna is a first year masters student in the Department of Geography working under the supervision of Sarah Moser. Her research is focused on urban trends in the Global South and more specifically, understanding the drivers and impacts of new master planned cities in Tanzania. She is passionate about environmental issues and has volunteered with various wildlife conservation organizations in South Africa and Kenya, where she spent most of her childhood. In her spare time Joanna paints watercolor portraits and enjoys rock climbing at her local bouldering gym.


Julia Askew— Social Media

JuliaAskew.jpgJulia is a fourth year undergraduate student with a major in psychology and a minor in environmental sciences. Although her main academic interest is understanding the neural circuitry underlying behaviour, Julia is passionate about the environment. She believes that it is our responsibility to invest in sustainability research so that we can limit the effects of climate change. Julia grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and enjoys skiing and hiking in her spare time.



Aditya Jain- SEDE, First Nations liaison

Aditya_SRS.jpgAditya is a graduate student in Bioresource Engineering at McGill University. His areas of interest include environmental assessment, stakeholder inclusion, and sustainable systems. This is his first year with SRS and as the SEDE and First Nations liaison he hopes to bring crucial perspectives for an inclusive symposium. In his spare time Aditya loves the outdoors and is a big foodie.



Hannah Whitlaw- Social Media 

SRSphoto.pngHannah is a third year student in the school of environment studying environment and development with a minor in urban systems. She is passionate about sustainable living both in urban and rural contexts, founded on community involvement and action. She has a particular interest in permaculture design and urban agriculture, emphasizing respect of indigenous lands and traditional practices. This is Hannah’s first year with the SRS and she is thrilled to be a part of the project.


Spencer Nelson- Outreach

22135386_10207849359830726_7441800633213252222_oSpencer is a firstyear MA student in geography under the supervision of Natalie Oswin. He is interested in urban policy, planetary urbanism, and queer geographies.His previous research was on globalization and gentrification of gay villages. Spencer is particularly interested in sustainability as it pertains to urban and queer political ecologies, sustainable (sub)urban development.

Lucy Lu- Grant Proposal Assistant, Volunteer Coordinator


Lucy is a first year masters student in the Department of Geography working under Tim Moore. Her research focuses on biogeochemical processes affecting the movement of dissolved organic carbon in bog systems, specifically at Mer Bleue near Ottawa. She’s interested to understanding how climate change has affected environmental systems and subsequently the people who depend on it. She enjoys drawing, yoga, and sewing.

Rémi St-Gelais- FinanceRemi_Bio2.jpg

Rémi is a first year Master’s student in the Department of Geography working under the supervision of Prof. Graham MacDonald. His research aims to understand how global fertilizer use contributes to the production of healthy and nutritious food. He is passionate about new perspectives on global sustainability, especially regarding agriculture, human well-being, and the environment. In his free time, Remi enjoys swimming, gardening, and hiking.

Patrick Slack- Supporting MemberSlack_2015 (2).jpg

Patrick is a first year masters student in McGill’s Department of Geography and in The Minorities in Southeast Asian Massif research lab.  His research focuses on non-timber forest product impacts on ethnic minority livelihoods and food security in northern Vietnam.  Patrick’ commitment to sustainability is derived from previous studies in international agriculture and various project work across international and domestic scales addressing food security, capacity building, and conservation agriculture.