Anne St. Clair

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Anne is a REM Ph.D student working with the Simon Fraser University Avalanche Research Program (SARP). She supports projects that strengthen knowledge and communication systems for natural hazards. Anne employs social science approaches to examine meaningful differences in how people process information to manage risk in their environments. Her research connects stages of thinking and learning with risk communication design. Anne has over a decade of combined experience working in outdoor education, backcountry guiding, and avalanche forecasting. She earned a B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University. Anne works with Avalanche Canada as a public avalanche forecaster and with the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) as an Instructor Trainer and Education Committee member.

Academic supervisor: Dr. Pascal Haegeli

What inspired your current research topic?
I am interested in how best to account for behavioral processes, knowledge systems, and risk management contexts in avalanche risk communication design. This is a topic I explored in my master’s research by identifying patterns in how backcountry recreationists incorporate avalanche forecast information into travel decisions. The resulting use patterns revealed connections to stages of learning in the field of education, which offer prescriptive, stage-based solutions for risk communication design. To build on this foundation, I am eager to broaden my focus to a wider range of activities requiring avalanche risk management (i.e. both recreation-based and subsistence-based activities) as well as ways of knowing about avalanche hazard (i.e. Western science and Traditional Knowledge). I am inspired to support the growing scholarship in merging Indigenous knowledge and Western science perspectives, and I hope to contribute to meaningful solutions that account for diversity with risk communication products.

Why do you think this topic is important?
I am eager to better understand the communication challenges faced by mountain communities impacted by avalanche hazard, particularly in areas that are under-served and at greater risk to the effects of climate change. Through Indigenous-led research collaborations, I hope to support an improved collective understanding of mountain knowledge systems and to move towards more targeted, equitable, and effective communication strategies. 

How will the Graduate Dean’s Entrance Scholarship, Canadian Mountain Network help you achieve your research goals?
I am honored to receive financial support from the Graduate Dean’s Entrance Scholarship and the Canadian Mountain Network. This funding helps to relieve financial constraints that often impede relationship-building efforts in community-based research, particularly in remote areas. I am grateful for the opportunity to engage fully in this endeavor. I owe tremendous thanks to my supportive colleagues, to my dedicated supervisor, and to the engaged professional and academic communities for their contributions and encouragement.