Research Team


Kelly Vodden
Principal Investigator and Professor (Research) at Memorial University
Dr. Vodden is a Professor (Research) at the Environmental Policy Institute at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University. She also serves as a Research Associate and advisor to Municipalities of Newfoundland and Labrador and has served as a board member with the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation. Kelly’s research and publication relate to sustainable community and regional development, with a focus on rural, coastal, often natural resource-dependent communities. Kelly also serves as the Associate Vice-President of Research and Graduate Studies for Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

Bill Reimer

Co-investigator and Professor at Concordia University
For over 30 years, Dr. Reimer has conducted research on issues relating to rural Canada, with particular focus on social inclusion and exclusion. His publications deal with the impact of technology on rural communities, women’s farm and household labour, the economy and the household, Aboriginal communities, the informal economy, social support netwo
rks, social capital, social cohesion, and community capacity-building. In addition to directing the NRE Project, he participates as a researcher in several other partner-based research projects.

David Douglas
Co-investigator and Professor Emeritus at University of Guelph
David Douglas is a Board Member on the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, an Advisor for a major rural housing research project in Ireland, an Advisor for a large scale pilot project on rural regional collaboration in Western Canada and the North, called the Community Collaboration Project  (Brandon University), and a Member of the OECD LEED Forum on Partnerships and Local Government.  David is actively involved in a number of research projects and community outreach, and instructs several courses within Rural Planning and Development. David’s current research involves an examination of the relationships between development planning theory and actual practice.  Fieldwork for this project, in part supported by a SSHRC grant, has been undertaken in Europe (Ireland) and Newfoundland and Labrador.  Other activities include research on regionalism and regional planning policy and practice, and a new book on rural planning and development in Canada.Post Doctoral Fellows

Sean Markey
Co-investigator and Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University
Sean Markey is an Associate Professor with the Resource and Environmental Management Department and an Associate with the Centre for Sustainable Community Development and Department of Geography. His research concerns issues of local and regional economic development, community sustainability, rural development, and sustainable infrastructure. He has published widely in academic journals and is the principal author of Investing in Place: Economic Renewal in Northern British Columbia (UBC Press 2012) and Second Growth: Community Economic Development in Rural British Columbia (UBC Press, 2005), and co-editor of The Next Rural Economies: Constructing Rural Place in Global Economies (Cabi Press, 2010). Sean continues to work with municipalities, non-profit organizations, Aboriginal communities and the business community to promote and develop sustainable forms of community economic development. He serves as co-Chair on the Board of Directors with the Vancity Community Foundation.


Post Doctoral Researchers and Research Assistants

These graduate student research assistants and post-doctoral fellows contributed to the Canadian Regional Development. They have since continued on to careers in academia and various other professional roles. The bios below reflect their involvement circa 2015, with updates on their current career paths.

Heather Hall
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geography and Leslie Harris Centre for Regional Policy and Development, Memorial University

My research interests include: the politics of regional development, regionalism, regional development in resource-based regions, rural revitalization, and planning in slow growth and declining cities. My PhD research was focused on the politics of regional development in Northern Ontario.  I also spent time during my PhD as a visiting researcher in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Cardiff University in Wales.

*Heather now works as an Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo


Sarah-Patricia Breen
PhD Candidate, Simon Fraser University

Sarah-Patricia W. Breen is a PhD student at the school of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. Sarah’s current research is focused on the sustainable planning of critical infrastructure in rural Canada. Her work is centred in the Kootenay Region of British Columbia. This research builds upon her MA research on sustainable community development and her experience in environmental consulting, planning critical infrastructure in Alberta. Sarah received her MA from Memorial University and her HBA from Lakehead University.

*Sarah has now finished her PhD and works for the Government of British Columbia.

Matthew Brett
Master Candidate, Concordia University

Matthew Brett is a graduate student in the Political Science Department at Concordia University. His research interests include critical political economy, monetary theory and international political economy. Matthew’s thesis research examines the uneven geographic implications of Canadian monetary policy between 1975 and 1995.

Jen Daniels
Master Candidate, Memorial University

Jen Daniels is a graduate student in the Department of Geography at Memorial University. In her MA research, Jen will investigate the connections between identity, territory and place-based development in Aboriginal communities in central Newfoundland. During her undergraduate degree at Memorial, she has been involved in a number of  projects related to rural planning, regional socio-economic development and natural resource governance. She has a keen interest in community-based research.


Ryan Gibson
PhD Candidate, Memorial University
Originally from rural Manitoba, Ryan Gibson has a deep intrigue and respect for rural communities, rural people, and the events that shape their futures. Over the past ten years Ryan has been engaged in research projects and community development processes focused on new forms of governance, regional collaboration, cooperatives, rural philanthropy, rural revitalization, and immigration and migration. Ryan serves as a board member with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network and the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation. Ryan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at Memorial University and holds an appointment as a Research Affiliate with the Rural Development Institute.

*Ryan has now completed his PhD and works as an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph.

Luc Bisson
Researcher, Université du Québec à Rimouski

Luc Bisson graduated with a doctorate (PhD) in regional development of the Université du Québec à Rimouski in 2010. He also holds a master’s degree (M.A.) in regional development and a Bachelor’s degree in business administration (B.A.A) from the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. His main research field focuses on local governance and its effects on the social and economic development, particularly in rural areas. Professionally, he worked in the private sector, but also as a financial advisor in various regional economic development organizations. He has also been lecturer at the Université du Québec à Rimouski in geography where he taught on urban and territorial dynamics, development and protection of resources, production’s sites, technology and trade networks. Today, he is a researcher associated with the Canadian rural development research Chair and  collaborates with other Quebec and Canadian researchers teams.

Ken Carter

Ken joins the research initiative with a wealth of experiences from the perspectives of economic development practice, government policy, and research. Ken’s research interests include regional innovations, business development, and regional development. Ken is based in Corner Brook, Newfoundland as the Director of Research and Engagement at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus.

Craig MacKie

Masters Candidate, Concordia University 

Craig MacKie is a Concordia University graduate student currently pursuing research in a number of areas including medical sociology, economic geography, theories of subjectivity and political theology. His research into regionalism has intersected with a long-standing interest in identity theory and resulted in an attempt to develop metrics that would capture the economically salient components of social identity. With his thesis finished next year Craig hopes to teach at one of the local Montreal colleges and continue writing and publishing short fiction.

Sarah Minnes
Masters Candidate, University of Guelph

Sarah Minnes is a first year graduate student in the Rural Planning and Development Program. In her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph she studied International Development with a minor in Environmental Studies. In her Masters research she aims to look at environmental policies from a regional perspective. Her other interests include biophysical resources and sustainable development in rural environments and public participation in environmental assessments.

*Sarah is now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Saskatchewan.

Kyle White
BA Candidate, Memorial University

Kyle White is a native of rural Newfoundland and since pursuing a Geography degree at MUN has developed a strong interest in rural development. Kyle is a research assistant for Dr. Kelly Vodden and assists her with various aspects of ongoing projects. Following the completion of his undergraduate degree Kyle intends to pursue graduate study in economic development and resource management.

Joshua Barrett

Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Memorial University

Born and raised in Newfoundland, Josh has a strong interest in regional development within rural communities and how the two are interconnected. He completed his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts at Memorial University, where he focused his studies in Geography. The purpose of Josh’s Masters research was to study the impacts of employment mobility on source communities, with a particular emphasis on the case of nickel processing workers in Long Harbour, NL. While existing literature about commuting impacts on communities has focused on the construction phase of megaprojects, generally a temporary form of employment, more research is needed to understand how commuting affects communities within the operation phase, which provides more permanent employment.

*Josh is now working for the Rural Policy Learning Commons.

Lauren Edens

ICRPS Research Intern, University of Missouri 

Lauren Edens hails from St. Louis, Missouri and has graduated with a Master’s of Public Affairs, Public Policy from the University of Missouri. Lauren also holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in History and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from theUniversity of Missouri. She has previously worked as a registered lobbyist in the Missouri Legislature on behalf of university students and while earning her master’s, Lauren worked as an intern for the University of Missouri System for two departments: the Office of Government Relations, and the Office of Research and Economic Development. Finally, Lauren has worked for Dr. Kelly Vodden at Memorial University for the summer of 2012.


Janelle Skeard

Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University

Originally from Millertown, Newfoundland Janelle Skeard is a graduate from the Department of Geography at Memorial University. In her MA research, Janelle investigated the connections between identity, governance and resilience in the former mining company town of Buchans in central Newfoundland. During her undergraduate degree at Memorial, she has been involved in a number of  projects related to regional governance, rural planning, regional socio-economic development and natural resource governance. She has a keen interest in community-based research and primary industry development and management in Newfoundland and Labrador. Janelle graduated from her program in 2014, has worked as a research coordinator with the Women in Resource Development Corporation based out of St. John’s, and is currently working with Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine as a Grants Facilitation Officer.


Stephen Parmiter

Stephen, from St. John’s Newfoundland, is interested in physical geography and Geographic Information Sciences; however, he also holds a keen interest in rural and cultural studies. As he enjoys working in the field, Stephen plans to continue with graduate studies focusing on physical landscapes upon completion of his undergraduate degree. Stephen graduated from his undergraduate degree in 2014.


Amanda Weightman

MA, Sociology, Concordia University