Meet the Team

Travis Salway

Travis Salway is an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, where he leads a research program focused on equitably improving the health and well-being of LGBTQ2 people. He works in affiliation with the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity, the BC Centre for Disease Control, and the Community-Based Research Centre. Travis is also the proud father of a golden doodle named Brewster.

Sarah Watt

As a Research Coordinator with the Sexual and Mental Health Applied Research Team (SMHART), Sarah is involved in projects exploring intersections of sexual and mental health.  Sarah also works as a classroom-based sexual health educator and has experience within a range of sexual health education and promotion settings. She completed a Master of Public Health at Simon Fraser University, where her studies focused on population health and health equity.

James Young

James is a Research Assistant with SMHART, helping to evaluate MindMap and explore barriers that LGBTQ2S+ folks experience accessing mental health services.  James has various experience working and volunteering in sexual health, mental health, substance use, and housing, including as an Outreach Worker with RainCity's Housing First ACT Team. He recently completed his MPH at Simon Fraser University where, under the guidance of Dr. Travis Salway, his Capstone explored global screening and intervention practices for mental health and substance use issues in sexual health clinics.

Natasha Vitkin

Natasha is a Research Assistant with SMHART helping to evaluate MindMap and investigate barriers that LGBTQ2+ populations encounter when accessing mental health care. She is interested in using visual knowledge translation strategies for science communication to promote equity and improve population health. She has an MSc in cancer immunology and recently completed her MPH at Simon Fraser University, where she took a variety of courses exploring the social determinants of health.

Rowdy Reeves

Rowdy joined SMHART as a Research Assistant after volunteering at the Health Initiative for Men and then being asked to help bring a patient’s perspective to the project. Rowdy has a BSc in Health Sciences from Simon Fraser University and is very interested in finding the relationship between mental health and sexual health, as well as how different services can be integrated and made available to the community. Outside of research, you can probably find Rowdy up in the mountains hiking, running, and skiing.

Angel Kennedy

Angel joined the Sexual and Mental Health Applied Research Team (SMHART) as a practicum student, working on the evaluation of the MindMap resource. She completed her BSc in Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and is currently completing her MPH at Simon Fraser University. Her research interests and experiences are centred on intersectionality, gender and sexual health equity, mental wellbeing, and community-oriented knowledge translation.

Amrit Tiwana

Amrit is an undergraduate student and Research Assistant at Simon Fraser University in the Faculty of Health Sciences. In her current role, in collaboration with Dr. Travis Salway, she is working towards understanding what is needed to support the health and well-being of Canadian SOGICE survivors. Her areas of interests include sexual health, HIV/AIDS, and child and youth mental health. In the future, she plans to pursue graduate studies in public health and epidemiology.

Julia Schillaci-Ventura

Julia is an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University working towards a BA (Hons) in psychology. Currently, Julia is working as a Research Assistant on a project that seeks to explore the health and well-being of SOGICE survivors. She plans to pursue graduate studies in clinical psychology with the goal of building a career in which she supports the mental health of youth.

Aaron Purdie

Aaron (he/him/his) is the Associate Director of Programs and Interventions at HIM (Health Initiative for Men). The programs and interventions at HIM involve a dynamic and eclectic set of holistic health programs and offering including counselling, coaching, groups, training, and customized health promotion that have been designed by and for gay, bi, and queer men (cis and trans) as well as two-spirit, and non-binary people. Aaron is also a Narrative Therapist (Registered Clinical Counsellor) in private practice at Eagle Wellness. Aaron specializes in identity, men’s health issues, gender and body, and the anxieties and trauma that may intersect with queerness.

Alvaro Luna

Alvaro is a psychotherapist and clinical counsellor, and currently acts as the program specialist for mental health at HIM - Health Initiative for Men, where he assists queer men (GBTQI2S+) who look for mental health support, and maintains and develops relevant programming for this population, particularly around emotion regulation and coping skills. He is a Latin queer man, who moved to Vancouver in 2014, and is involved in mental health initiatives in support of queer POC communities in Latin America, particularly in Colombia and Peru. 

A.J. Lowik

Dr. A.J. Lowik (they/them) is the Gender Equity Advisor with the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity. They are a trans scholar and trans health researcher, having earned their PhD from the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Lowik's work is primarily focused on trans and non-binary people's reproductive lives, health, decision-making and experiences accessing reproductive health care. They also work at the BC Centre on Substance Use, as a member of Dr. Rod Knight's team, on projects concerned with the applicability of alcohol use scales, measurements and guidelines for intersex, trans and non-binary people, and the use of gender- and sex-related variables in alcohol intervention research. Dr. Lowik is a Board Member with the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and an Advisory Member on the MindMap, TestNow and Trans Healthcare in BC projects. Dr. Lowik is a renowned expert in trans-inclusion, having worked with researchers, health care and social service organizations, lawyers and policymakers who are interested in trans-inclusive research and praxis, policy and practice, and legal reform.

Hannah Kia

Hannah Kia is an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Social Work.  Her current program of research addresses a variety of issues pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two-Spirit, and other sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ2S+) populations. Hannah’s work centres, in particular, on questions related to LGBTQ2S+ health, LGBTQ2S+ aging, as well as social work and other professional practice with sexual and gender minorities. Most recently, she launched a study aimed at examining the constituents of effective social work practice with trans and gender diverse people.  Hannah is additionally a co-investigator on various projects investigating issues such as poverty, along with sexual and mental health issues, among diverse LGBTQ2S+ populations.

Before arriving at the School of Social Work, Hannah completed her doctoral training at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, where she investigated subjugation and resistance in older gay men’s health care experiences. This study was funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) doctoral research award.

Prior to starting her academic career, Hannah practiced as a social worker in health care.  In this capacity, she gained experience in general acute care and hospice palliative care.  She is actively registered as a clinical social worker (RCSW) in British Columbia. 

Gwen Lister

Gwen currently works at AIDS Vancouver providing direct services to LGBTQ2S+ folx, many of whom need access to inclusive and affirming mental health and substance use services. Gwen also coordinates mental health, substance use, and sexual health programming at The Corner (previously Boys R' Us) an evening drop-in for self-identified men, trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit sex workers. They/She recently graduated with a master's in public health and is a registered social worker. As someone with lived experience she/they have a personal commitment to strengthening and developing diverse and inclusive pathways to wellness and recovery.

Trevor Goodyear

Trevor is a Research Assistant with the SOGICE research project, where, in collaboration with Dr. Travis Salway, he is working toward identifying equity-oriented strategies to support the health and wellbeing of people who have experienced SOGICE (i.e., “conversion therapy”). Trevor is completing his MSN/MPH degree at UBC, is an Addition Medicine Research Fellow with the BC Centre on Substance Use, and is also a youth mental health nurse. His research pursuits and upcoming doctoral studies seek to advance health equity for people who use drugs – particularly, for 2SLGBTQ+ youth who use drugs.

Ashleigh Rich

Ashleigh Rich, MPH, PhD(c) is a social epidemiologist at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia School of Population & Public Health. Her research focuses on sex/gender, health inequities, and LGBTQ2S+ populations, with particular attention to HIV and transgender health. Currently, her research program centres on chronic illness comorbidities for trans people living with HIV in the US and Canada. Ashleigh also works in a number of other areas in sexual and gender minority health research including mental health, structural stigma, minority stress, and methods and measurement issues.

We are grateful to the following funders for supporting our research team: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, SFU’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative, BC SUPPORT Unit, BC SUPPORT Unit Fraser Centre, Andrew Beckerman, and the Victoria Foundation.