Stephanie Cote

The natural world is a magnificent, awe inspiring gift and Stephanie has always been passionate about protecting it and encouraging others to do the same. When she was only ten years old, she created "Save our Planet" signs and posted them around her neighbourhood. Since then, her life’s pursuit has been to understand how to motivate pro-environmental decisions and put that knowledge into practice.

Stephanie has more than six years’ experience helping municipalities encourage their businesses and residents to adopt environmentally desirable behaviours. Her expertise has included designing, implementing, and evaluating solid waste, water, and wastewater projects and programs. Currently, as a Water Conservation Program Coordinator at the City of Guelph, she manages residential water conservation programs (e.g. Blue Built Home) and the tap water promotion program and implements the Water Efficiency Education and Outreach Strategy. Her work is heavily influenced by her academic expertise.

Stephanie has a Bachelor of Environmental Studies (2012) and Master of Environmental Studies (2015) from the University of Waterloo. During her studies, she developed a keen interest in why people still make ‘bad’ environmental decisions despite clear economic sense, knowledge, and scientific and technical rationality. For example, why do people continue to drink bottled water instead of tap water? This led her to research and publish the role that emotions play in environmentally related decision making and effective public engagement and communication. Stephanie is currently completing a Doctor of Social Science from Royal Roads University (2025). In her dissertation research she is exploring how to design communication and engagement efforts that can overcome the automatic, emotional disgust reactions that are a significant barrier to the successful adoption of water reuse practices.

Avery Marie Deboer-Smith

Avery grew up playing in the awe-inspiring lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Kootenays, in British Columbia. This deep connection to water and nature is what led Avery to work, play and volunteer her life in the environmental sector.

Her focus has been in the world of water, working with NGO’s of all sizes, all levels of government, Indigenous Nations, Industry and various public and private organizations on policy, stewardship and collaborative change-making. Avery’s professional experience has been complemented by an education in International Relations with a minor in Women’s Studies (BA, 2012), Integrated Environmental Planning (Diploma, 2015) and Environmental Management (Masters, current). Avery’s graduate research is focused on the influence that nature-based awe has on water professionals from BC and Ontario. Avery’s research is supported by funding from SSHRC’s Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Masters Scholarship (2019-2022) and the Canadian Federation of University Women’s Centennial Scholarship (2019-2021). In her spare time, Avery can be found playing on her skis, mountain bike, canoe or running shoes deep in the natural world.

Devon Jones

Devon is an undergraduate research assistant from the University of Waterloo studying Geography and Environmental Management. Working with Sarah, she has supported research on awe: what it does, how it works, and what it might mean in the context of pro-environmental decision making.

Through various co-op placements, Devon has worked in both local and federal government positions looking at transportation, water, and energy infrastructure. She looks forward to continuing her academic career at the University of Waterloo as a master’s student in Fall 2021, studying natural hazard resilience and recovery.

Misty Matthews-Roper

In 2009, Misty graduated from the Trent University’s German Studies program. She then completed a certificate in teaching English as a Second Language at George Brown College. In the summer of 2010, she travelled to Chongqing, China to teach English before moving to Dortmund, Germany for two years.

After returning to Canada, she taught English and German as a freelance teacher. Once again drawn to German and higher education, Misty completed her joint MA in Intercultural German Studies (University of Waterloo/Universität Mannheim) in 2016. Her thesis focused on Albert Camus' concept of the Absurd in German climate fiction. After a short break from graduate school, she is now pursuing a PhD at the University of Waterloo’s School of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability. Her research focuses on the role that climate fiction novels can play in our cultural understanding of climate change. When not reading books, you can find Misty out running in the woods or hunting for mushrooms.

Hanna C. Ross

Hanna is a researcher for the SEE Lab and the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University. She holds a Master of Environmental Studies (2017), Bachelor of Environmental Studies with Honours (2015), Diploma in Environmental Assessment (2015) and Diploma in Ecological Restoration and Rehabilitation (2015) from the University of Waterloo. Hanna also has experience delivering environmental presentations on various topics to the public, designing and implementing water/wastewater education and outreach programs, and coordinating wastewater infrastructure projects.

Hanna’s passion for helping people – herself included – make better decisions about the environment inspired her undergraduate and graduate research interests. Her research focussed on exploring emotional responses (e.g., fear, anxiety) to existential threats and how these responses influence water decisions. Specifically, she explored how large water infrastructure projects and residential water end-uses could be hero projects (i.e., projects that will endure beyond our biological existence), and how these hero projects may persist in response to mortality reminders. Hanna is currently involved in two SEE Lab projects: (1) she is leading a study that is identifying embedded emotions and mortality reminders in urban water efficiency campaigns, and (2) she is collaborating on a Terror Management Theory (TMT) and environmental behaviour systematic scoping review.

Hanna resided on Vancouver Island with her husband and spends her free time hiking, camping, surfing, power lifting, and making macramé. She cares for a (neglected) pet sourdough-started named “Fernando” and a growing collection of houseplants.

Kirsten Rudestam

Kirsten (PhD, UC Santa Cruz) focuses on water policy and management, sense of place with respect to resource management practices, and the role of affect and emotion in environmental politics. Her doctoral research was an investigation of the dynamics of contested land and water use practices within the Deschutes Basin of Central Oregon. Prior to her doctoral research, she spent two years co-directing the University of Oregon's Environmental Leadership Program. She has over ten years of experience teaching environmental field courses for undergraduate college students in the western United States and is strongly motivated by her commitment to inclusive interdisciplinary environmental education.

As a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow (2021-2023), Kirsten will join the SEE Lab via Royal Roads University. Her research will examine institutionalized “feeling rules” (Hochschild 1979) around water scarcity and climate change discussions in water learning environments. Because professors establish the culture for generations of water activists and policy-makers, Kirsten will interview and observe faculty members at University of Victoria and University of Waterloo to determine the role of emotion in water decision making and pedagogy, and to explore the reproduction of feeling rules in the culture of the discipline. This research contributes to Wolfe’s Partnership Development Grant (2021-2023).

Lauren Smith

Lauren has always had an appreciation for water, feeling most at home on oceans and lakes, or along their shores. While she once thought she’d be working with whales, deadly water messaging was the next best thing.

With a background in Psychology (BA, 2010), Philosophy (BA, 2014), and Sustainability Management (MES, 2017), Lauren is currently researching the intersection of sustainable water solutions, gender equity, and mortality salience for her PhD (ABD, SERS, University of Waterloo). She aims to identify how changing the way we frame water problems could help improve both gender equity among decision-makers and environmental outcomes. When she's not reading about existential dread or adding to her skull collection, Lauren can be found in the great outdoors with her wife or with their rescued pets – or both!