Current Members

Caroline Burnley  (Lab Director)

Carolines PhotoCaroline obtained her PhD from Carleton University in 1994 and has been a full-time faculty member in the Department of Psychology at VIU since 1995. Caroline is one of the directors of the Department’s Resilience Research Lab (RRL) which she founded with her colleague Ruth Kirson. Her interests include social welfare, developing social capital in communities, understanding how resilience is exhibited within contextual frameworks, and supporting programs that foster and support resilience in children, youth and adults. She has been involved in resilience research at the local, national and international level with children, adolescents, adults and seniors. Caroline values the opportunity to teach her students through research and lab projects.

Ruth Kirson  (Lab Director)

Ruth obtained her MA at Simon Fraser University and was a PhD candidate at both the University of British Columbia and the University of Oregon before becoming a faculty member in the Psychology Department at Vancouver Island University in 2001. Ruth is one of the directors of the Resilience Research Lab (RRL) which she founded with her colleague Caroline Burnley in order to provide research opportunities for students in the Psychology Department. The aim is to have students engage in research that contributes to the resilience literature and has the potential to inform social policy and assist the local community. Ruth’s interests focus on the development of healthy children and adolescents with special interests in caregiver-infant interaction, language development, exploring adolescent resilience, fostering resilience, and research ethics. She is a former chair of the VIU Research Ethics Board.

Stephanie McKenzie  (Research Associate)

Stephanie obtained her MA at the University of Regina in Experimental and Applied Psychology. She is currently a sessional instructor at Vancouver Island University. Stephanie’s interests include the history and systems of psychology, theories of personhood, and emergent agency. She joined the Resilience Lab in 2017 in order to expand her theoretical and research interests into the field of resilience and support student research.


Anissa Jahromi (Student Researcher)

Anissa photoAnissa is currently an undergraduate student at VIU majoring in psychology and minoring in Indigenous Studies. She has experience working with children and youth running community based programs in Nanaimo and Burnaby. Through this, she has first hand observed resilience in the lives of many children and their families which has sparked her interest in researching such an important topic. She plans to pursue higher education in clinical psychology or counselling.

Ella Roger (Student Researcher)

Ella student photo

Ella is currently in her 4th year of Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology. With an interest in pursuing higher education in counselling psychology, she was drawn to the Resilience Research Lab with a curiosity of the research process and an eagerness to expand her knowledge of resilience across a variety of settings. Her current interests include, but are not limited to, intimate relationships, human sexuality, and adaptability and coping in child immigrants. She hopes that her time working in the lab and collaborating with her peers will inspire and prepare her for grad school as she works towards her career as a clinical counsellor.

Matt Binning (Student Researcher)

Matt student photo

Matt is currently working on his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Following the completion of his undergraduate studies, Matt plans to pursue a Master of Science in Psychology at the University of Victoria. Through the resilience lab, he hopes to learn more about the research process. His interests include, but are not limited to, human agency, substance use, trauma, and mindfulness. Matt hopes that the collaborative space within the lab will aid in the refining of his interests, communication skills, and overall career path.

Alec Kuss (Student Researcher)

Alec Kuss RRL PhotoAlec is currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology at VIU with plans to graduate summer of 2024. After which, he plans to attend a project-based Master of Counselling program and begin working with military and first responder populations while specializing in trauma and substance abuse. Alec hopes his work in the Resilience Lab will keep possibilities open to pursue a Ph.D. program in future.

Alex Bhargava (Student Researcher)

Alex Bhargava RRL PhotoAlex is currently an undergraduate student in the Bachelor of Arts program majoring in Psychology, as well as in the Theatre and Performing Arts Diploma Program. After completing his current studies, Alex hopes to pursue higher education in either clinical or counselling psychology. He is particularly interested in drama therapy and suicidology. Through the Resilience Lab, he hopes to gain knowledge about qualitative research processes and further explore resilience as a whole. 

Anil Sutherland (Student Researcher)

Anil Sutherland RRL PhotoAnil is currently in his second year of Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Criminology. He is interested in pursuing the field of Law after his degree. Anil wanted to participate in the Research Resilience Lab to further learn the process of research, along with learning how professional environments that are team oriented function. His curiosity in resilience also made a huge impact as he has always envied those who have experienced tremendous adversities for their strength and courage and therefore wanted to further understand factors that contribute to these qualities.