Research Assistant

Kari Gustafson

Hi, my name is Kari Gustafson. I am a PhD candidate in Educational Theory and Practice, Philosophy of Education stream. Before coming to Canada in 2017 to work on my PhD, I worked as a social pedagogue, and then as a lecturer in Nordic pedagogy and childhood for study abroad students, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

My research area is neurodiversity and disability. In my doctoral studies, I am working on a post-qualitative inquiry in roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). I am interested in how they inform ideas of movement, process and becoming in the area of education and special education, and how this might challenge existing structures. Recently, I have been teaching in the Child and Youth Care program at Douglas College. I have experimented with developing a roleplaying game-based syllabus, where students choose and design their own learning “quests,” which encourages students to re-imagine their relationship to their own learning and educational trajectories.

I am very excited to join the team at the research hub, and continue the exciting and important work being done to create community and mobilize student knowledge and perspectives!

Former Research Assistants

Poh Tan

Poh is an entrepreneur, a stem cell biologist, an educator, a volunteer and a mother. Poh’s current focus is on inspiring young children and their educators to use scientific thinking as a tool to open up their world and courageously walk into a bright future full of limitless possibilities.

Poh obtained her first PhD from the Faculty of Medicine at UBC focusing on the biology of blood stem cells. Her experience led her to a successful career in the biotechnology sector and eventually, helped her become an entrepreneur with two businesses.  After becoming a mother, she found her true passion – science education in the early years.  Yearning to learn more about how preschoolers learn, she decided to pursue a second PhD to understand early learners development to hopefully one day, see the world as her children see it every day – as a fascinating and new place to learn. Her research is focused on understanding the development of scientific literacy through self-study, relational ontology and Hawaiian epistemology.  She is a two time TEDx speaker and has published her work in peer-reviewed journals and is an author of two children's books. 

Poh is part of the Community Scientist Initiative and Scientist in Schools Programs at the Telus World of Science, a graduate writing facilitator for the SFU library, an industry mentor for the Beedie School of Business and is active on the scientific panel at the Rare Genomics Institute.  In addition, she expresses her creative side through the practice of hula.  Poh has been a hula dancer and a student of Hawaiian cultural practices for over 13 years.

Shaila Shams

Hi! My name is Shaila and I am a PhD candidate in the Languages, Cultures and Literacies programme at the Faculty of Education. I moved to Canada in 2017 as an international student and fell in love with the natural beauty of BC! Prior to coming to Canada, I worked as a lecturer at a university in Bangladesh. I love teaching and it is my passion for teaching that led me to questions about language and education that I hope to find the answers to through this PhD.

I am interested in poststructural and sociocultural theories of language, learning and identity. I believe it is time to rethink the traditional concepts of education and learning and to adopt a more holistic view toward it. My doctoral research aims at understanding the multilingual practices, language learning and identity construction of adult immigrants and their integration process in Canada. I hope to understand what language education means to the immigrants, how they approach it and how they develop language practices for their integration in the society.

My teaching career has expanded after coming at SFU and I have taught several courses at SFU during the last 3 years. My experience in teaching multicultural and multilingual student bodies has been quite rewarding. I am excited to be a part of the RA team at the hub as I get to learn about all the fascinating research work at the faculty of Education.

I am interested in music, travelling and cooking. I have also recently developed an interest in ancient South Asian philosophy.

Samuel Chen

Hi, my name is Sam and I’m currently pursuing my doctorate in Education with a focus on Transformational Change.  My research looks at Legacy and transitions between fathers and sons in a family business context.  I’m from a business background but am pursuing this topic in the Faculty of Education because the business epistemological lens is focused on succession which is about the transfer of the business.  But legacy and legacy processes focus on people and involves how we come to know ourselves, understand our positionality and orient ourselves relationally. I’m curious about how our stories unfold generation to generation.    

I am new to the field of Education and am still trying to orient myself as to different research areas and how SFU’s Faculty of Education is contributing to excellence and leadership worldwide.  That’s why I’m so excited to join the Research Hub team as an RA. If you see me looking lost on any of our campuses, please stop me and say hello as I try to find my bearings.   

Outside of my studies, I am passionate about music, beverages, culinary pursuits, fountain pens, Chinese calligraphy and most things related to culture.

Dvorah Silverman

Hi, my name is Dvorah and I am a community organizer, facilitator, and educator with a passion for furthering anti-oppressive values, challenging all forms of violence and working at the community level to affect change. I am currently a Masters student in the Equity in Education program, where I engage in understandings of critical social justice to shape my work in program development and community education. My specific research interests include critical whiteness studies, critical Indigenous education, critical race feminisms, Indigenous feminisms and Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies. I also work at YWCA Metro Vancouver as the Mentorship Program Coordinator where I support the High School Mentorship Program and the Indigenous Mentorship Program. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, cooking, travelling and writing poetry. As the new Research Hub RA, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the team, participate in research activities and learn from Faculty members.

Natalia Azize

Hi! I’m Natalia, I am an educator, curriculum designer, e-learning developer, and educational technologist. I am very happy to be a member of the Research Hub and to be a part of all the amazing activities happening here. I am currently pursuing a Master’s in Educational Technology and Learning Design at Simon Fraser University. This program has allowed me to understand more deeply the roles that digital technologies play in education and to think more thoroughly about the benefits and detriments of technology in the processes that underlie teaching and learning. As for my thesis research, I am going to investigate the use of open data by instructors and students in higher education, through the lens of the Technology Adoption Model (TAM) framework. In my free time, I love nature and being outdoors, and my favorite activities are hiking, camping and stand-up paddling.

Bronwen McCann

"Hello! My name is Bronwen, and I am a master's student working as a Research Assistant for the faculty's new Research Hub. My research (broadly speaking) is in arts-based curriculum development, and considering the deeper philosophical implications of established pedagogical approaches in early childhood education, and their subsequent effects on maturity. To accompany my studies, I am learning a new instrument (the harp), as well as subbing at an outdoor school in East Vancouver.

I am very much looking forward to working alongside such a friendly and approachable group of people. Thank you for the warm welcome!"

Foster Ranney

Foster Ranney, a doctoral student in the education psychology program, started working with the Research Hub in September of 2018. This is his first time writing with Research in Focus, although it isn't his first writing assignment. Previously, he worked as an editor or referee with four student or youth publications, starting with a school literary magazine in high school and continuing here at SFU with the student-designed Undergraduate Journal of Psychology. His research stems from a multidisciplinary cogsci background and has currently meandered to education policy and the history of educational institutions. He's hoping to develop a doctoral thesis about how teachers are adapting classroom practices subsequent to the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation calls to action. The calls to action were written to allow peace and reconciliation to happen between the original and colonial peoples living subject to the Canadian government, and the recommendations address every level of the public education system.