Arts and Sciences - University Studies
Faculty Biographies

Read about some of our Instructors:


Avery Hulbert

Avery Hulbert
Discipline:  Anthropology

My family and I are honoured to live and work on Ktunaxa territory. I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Treaty one traditional territory. I consider myself to be an ally who is a strong and passionate supporter of Indigenous Education.

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in Social Sciences (Criminology) from Simon Fraser University in 2005. In 2007 I graduated with my Masters in Social Sciences (Criminology) from University of Ottawa. My studies focused on First Nations studies; youth justice; Aboriginal justice; restorative justice; support for Aboriginal youth; crime prevention; and social and developmental psychology. I am very fortunate to have been invited to learn from many different Aboriginal people, families and communities. I am passionate about learning more about the rich history, culture, and traditional and contemporary lives of Aboriginal peoples as well as how we can best support Aboriginal peoples and communities in education, wellness, strength, self-governance and capacity building. The holistic and interdisciplinary nature of my education focused in Criminology and my research pursuits has encouraged me to branch into other disciplines.

My passions are reconciliation, supporting restorative, Aboriginal and community justice. I believe that restorative justice is not solely a response to crime but a way of living. I have travelled around Canada sharing my experiences as a survivor who has gone through restorative processes. My other interests and focuses are: cultural anthropology; Indigenous community health and wellness; supporting understandings of Indigenous peoples world views and ways of knowing; gender constructs and issues; feminist perspectives; human impacts on climate change; youth justice; domestic violence; family support (strength based perspectives); life for individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; community health and wellness; school conflict and violence; use of restorative processes in schools; and crime prevention. I have extensive experience managing various research projects.

I spend much of my professional development and non-instructional time learning how I can better support and create an inclusive learning environment for learners, maintaining my discipline expertise while focusing on how I can better incorporate Indigenous knowledge and content into all of my courses and interactions. I see my role as 'turning up the volume' and bringing the voices of those who are often not heard to my learners.

My MA thesis entitled "Restorative Processes and Zero Tolerance Policies: Can they co-exist?: An exploratory case study of a secondary school in Ontario, Canada" was recently published by an International academic publisher:

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Betty Mosher
Discipline: Biology

My original home is the Atlantic Seaboard in the USA, specifically Connecticut. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Boston University, a Master’s Degree in Biology/Ecology from State University of New York-Fredonia and a PhD in Biological Sciences/Ecology from SFU in Burnaby, British Columbia. My Master’s thesis focused on comparative foraging ecology of wintering gulls on south-eastern Lake Erie, while my PhD dissertation was on factors influencing reproductive success and nesting strategies in Black Terns.

I have been teaching at COTR since May 1987. Courses I’ve taught include first-year Biology for Majors, Biology for Non-majors, Biology of the Environment, Ecology, Vertebrate Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology and Genetics.  My work is important to me and I enjoy getting students excited about all the biology that surrounds them in everyday life.

Over the years, I am, and have been, involved in a wide variety of professional, college and community activities, including: organization of the Fair Change Conference: Fair Trade & Climate Change in the Kootenays (2008); presenter at the Elementary Education Projects (1999-2003); one of the highlighted presentations at the Kaleidoscope 2000 Conference in Vancouver.  In addition, I contributed to the Wildlife Vehicle Collision Working Group (fencing and signing), Joseph Creek Steering Committee (1997-2003), Joseph Creek Restoration Committee (2004-2006) and Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (2003-2005).  When the college signed on as a partner with the East Kootenay Conservation Program in January 2010, I joined the Stewardship Committee. I also provided logistical support for the Forum on Private Land Conservation in the fall of 2010.  In January 2011, I was invited to join Mainstreams as a board member and liaison with the College of the Rockies. Mainstreams is a trans-boundary British Columbia Society that collaborates with other organizations and individuals using science to deliver water education, monitoring, and aquatic habitat improvement projects within the Columbia River Watershed.

During the summer months you will find me travelling around North America observing all the great landscapes that make up our continent.  When not on the road my extracurricular interests are quilting, gardening and birding.

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David Dick
Discipline: Chemistry

With more than 10 years of teaching experience, I joined the team at College of the Rockies in August 2007. I teach General, Organic and Environmental Chemistry.

After obtaining my PhD in the field of Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Windsor, I worked as a research associate at the University of Ottawa and Wayne State University exploring the chemistry of catalysts and main-group compounds. My hands-on experience includes 12 years as an analytical chemist and spectroscopist in British Columbia, performing analyses of various samples for research and industry. During that time, I also taught university-level courses in the areas of organic, inorganic, analytical and environmental chemistry. My contributions to research are found in 18 publications, the most recent appearing in the Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology and Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.

In my spare time, I can often be found playing the scenic golf courses of the Kootenays.

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Debra Heal, BEd
Discipline: Physics

For the last 20 years I’ve been working at College of the Rockies in the ABE department. Since arriving at the Cranbrook Campus in 2002, I’ve taught at the 080 and 090 levels in Math, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, but I have to admit that my favourite area has always been Physics. I’m currently teaching the Physics 103/104 labs.

Before arriving in Cranbrook, I was teaching part time at the Fundamental level in Creston and was also coaching figure skating. I completed my Education Degree at the University of Lethbridge with a Major in Physical Sciences and a Minor in Math. I was awarded the Governor General’s Medal in the year I graduated.

My extracurricular interests are way more varied than time allows. I love to read, draw, camp, swim, windsurf, dance, bike, skate, cross-country ski and work out (aerobics and weights) as regularly as possible. Mainly, I love to try new things so I’m not particularly good at any one! This year I’m going to get the chance to try downhill skiing!

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Gary Clohan
Discipline: Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies

I arrived at College of the Rockies in 1985 after completing undergraduate work at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, graduate work at the University of Washington in Seattle, plus several geology work-stints in Alaska, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Colorado.

Although I am a generalist at heart and therefore interested in all things geological and geographical, I have always harboured a special place for volcanoes and volcanic landscapes. This, combined with a love of hiking and mountain climbing, has defined many of my travel and work experiences. It is why I have included a picture here from a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2006, which was, by the way, also a 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration (Yes, I’m fortunate my wife is also interested in these pursuits). Though I’ve been to the high points of all 50 US states and three continents – many of which are actually volcanoes – there are always new challenges and new mountains. In 2009, I undertook a major hike of the Appalachian Trail and rediscovered that indeed, they are smaller and more rounded than our beloved Rockies, but still pack a wallop when trying to hike over, under and around them.

I love all stories related to travel and interesting geo-places, so if you have some to share, join us in a class or stop by my office….


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James Bailey
Discipline: Math, Physics, Computer Science & Astronomy

"The objective of education is to teach students how to answer questions which they have not been taught how to answer."

I received my BSc (Honours Math) and MSc from Carleton University in Ottawa and my PhD in Mathematics from the University of British Columbia where I studied the theory of knots and Alexander invariants of links. From my graduation in 1977 until 1985 I taught in the Mathematics Department at the University of British Columbia and at International College in Vancouver. I joined the faculty at the College of the Rockies in 1985 where I have taught Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics, and Astronomy. Each spring I tour the province for Scientists and Innovators in the Schools giving Mathematics and Science presentations to school children. I became a member of the Education Council at the College of the Rockies in 2001 and have been its chair since 2004. I was vice chair of the British Columbia Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics and Statistics (BCcupms, the mathematics articulation committee) from 2003--2008 and have been its chair since 2008.

In my spare time, I try to understand the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture in France and in 2008 my wife, daughter and I did a bicycle tour of Romanesque churches in Burgundy. I am also very active in music. I have studied piano with Cecilia Ignatieff, classical guitar with Michael Strutt, voice with Winona Denys, and renaissance lute with Victor Coelho. For many years I was harpsichordist with the Vancouver Baroque Ensemble. I was assistant editor of the Journal of the Lute Society of America where my article ``Regular Meantone Temperaments Applied to Francesco da Milano'' appeared. My current project is to edit all the extant music of the French piano virtuoso and composer Henri Bertini (1798--1876).


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James Wishart
Discipline: Economics and Business Administration

My academic background includes: an MA in Economics from Guelph, BA in Economics and General Business (double major) from UNBC and British Columbia Provincial Instructor Diploma through VCC. Areas of interest are environmental economics, microeconomic theory and climate change.

I have taught Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Basic Economics, Quantitative Methods in Business, Environmental Economics, Business Research Methods, Labour Economics, Managerial Economics, Finite Mathematics I and Statistics.

Notable Research Papers:

“Predicting Future Levels of CO2 Emissions Using Panel Data from 1973 - 1998 for 148 Countries”

“A Survey of Literature (and more) on the Pollution-Haven Hypothesis”

“The Direction of the Economics of Non-renewable Resources”

“An Analysis of Environmental Tax Shifting and Some Applications to Northern British Columbia”

Some of my personal interests include mountain biking, Apple computers, the CBC, Vancouver Canucks and cats.

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Jan White, PhD
Discipline: Psychology

I have an Honour’s BA from Brock University and a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Ottawa. My area of expertise is sleep disorders.

I taught Psychology at the University of Ottawa for three years before venturing into the field of industrial/organizational Psychology. I then worked as a test consultant for the federal government and for the Canadian Nurses’ Association for a number of years before starting my own test consulting business which continues to this day.

Over the past five years, I have taught a number of online and face-to-face Psychology courses at the College of the Rockies. These include Introductory Psychology, Interpersonal Relations, Helping Skills, Abnormal Psychology and Environmental Psychology.

Since September 2007, I have also taken on the role of Learning Specialist, which allows me to both assess students who are struggling in their courses and provide them with effective learning strategies.

I have been married since 1985 and have one daughter who keeps life incredibly interesting. I walk or bike everywhere, raise my own pigs and chickens and make one mean pie!


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Katie Burles, MSc
Discipline: Geography

I grew up exploring small creeks and swimming in the vast lakes of the South Thompson watershed near Chase, BC. Being immersed in these settings sparked my curiosity for the natural world and inspired a life-long pursuit of learning about geography. My formal education has included a M.Sc. in Geography from the University of Lethbridge and a B.A. in Geography from Thompson Rivers University. Prior to joining the Science Faculty in 2015, I worked as an environmental consultant, public servant, and program manager of a not-for-profit organization. In these roles I have worked on a variety of surficial geology, watershed governance and planning, hydrology, and geomorphology projects. As an impassioned educator, I feel an immense responsibility to teach communities about their local, regional, and global watersheds. Conducting field based research and monitoring has provided me many opportunities to explore remote areas of the Yukon, BC, and Alberta during all four seasons. This only fuels my desire to spend more time in the outdoors. When I'm not in my garden or hiking the trails in Kimberley, you can find me canoeing and fishing.


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Leslie Molnar
Discipline: Mathematics and Statistics

I am one of those crazy people who love mathematics. Although I started post-secondary studies as a Music major, I changed my field of study and eventually earned a BSc in Mathematics and an MA in Administration, Curriculum and Instruction. Along that pathway, I was a science student and Vice-President of the Student Association at COTR for a year (at that time East Kootenay Community College). I started working at COTR in September 1988.

I teach a number of first- and second-year courses in the University Studies department. In recent years, this includes Finite Mathematics, Statistics, Calculus for Commerce and Life Sciences, Social Science Research Methods and Quantitative Methods. I’m also active on various College committees.

When not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family. I love motorcycle camping trips and, in the summer, can often be found out in the boat trying to get up enough nerve to “jump the wake”. I still love music – listening to it, playing piano and singing in a choir.

I feel privileged to be able to teach at COTR. Our small class sizes mean that I get to work closely with students and help them progress towards their goals – what a great job!

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Nathalie Lesage
Discipline: French, Spanish and Communications

"every language is an old growth forest of the mind; an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities"

-Wade Davis-

I teach French, Spanish and Communication courses in the University Studies department. I have a B.A. (University of Manitoba), B.Ed. (College Universitaire de St. Boniface) and M.A. in Applied Communication (Royal Roads University).

I am interested in the natural, yet complex, relationship between language, culture and identity. I am particularly fascinated with the influences of culture on communication (and vice versa) in the digital age. I love teaching and I strive to create an engaging and resourceful learning environment where all students are welcome.

Beyond the world of languages and teaching, I enjoy biking, skiing and hiking the mountains that surround my beautiful town of Kimberley. Lately, my time is most happily spent with my twin boys who are busy exploring every corner of their world.

You can contact me via email at:

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 Rick Nowell with a Vandegraff machine

Rick Nowell, Lab Assistant

I started at COTR (in downtown Cranbrook, back when it was the East Kootenay Community College), taking Electronics, Computer Science and Physics. I completed the Electronic Technician program in 1983, the Intermediate Electronic Technologist program in 1985, and the University Transfer Arts and Sciences Diploma in 1987.  I transferred to the University of Victoria to study in their Electrical Engineering program. Through their Co-op program, I worked at the Canadian Patent Office near Ottawa, and the WAC Bennett Dam in the north eastern part of BC. I have been a Laboratory Technician at COTR off and on since 1983.

I graduated Mt. Baker High School in 1977. My friends and I roamed the local mountains with our motorcycles and hiked up into the alpine areas from Bear Lake, Lakit, Mause Creek, Tanglefoot to Bull Mountain. I also rebuild old on/off-road motorcycles.  I'm a "hard" Science Fiction fan (my favorite authors include EE "Doc" Smith, Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven) and I like telescopes and astronomy.


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Rob Tillman, BSc, BEd, MSSE
Discipline: Biology

 I have dedicated most of the last 18 years trying to inspire students at the middle school, high school and college levels.  Although my background is in Zoology I have taught a variety of subjects in the past including German language.  After completing two bachelor’s degrees from the University of British Columbia (UBC-Vancouver), I embarked on teaching assignments in Tumbler Ridge, Pincher Creek, Cranbrook, Airdrie and Kimberley before finding my niche at College of the Rockies (COTR).  I currently teach first-year Anatomy and Physiology, Cell Biology and Pathophysiology as an instructor in the Biology Department, which includes some affiliation with COTR’s first- and second-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

I live in Cranbrook with my wife.  My extracurricular interests range from outdoor photography and playing guitar to hiking, fishing, hunting, mountain-biking, swimming and skiing.  I also enjoy travelling and most recently visited the Grand Canyon and Yukon.  My goal is to make positive contributions to this world in both public and family life while continuing along a path to wisdom and truth.  In keeping with a spirit of lifelong learning, I completed a Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) degree through Montana State University-Bozeman in 2012.  My capstone project involved the use of dichotomous keys and analogies as learning strategies for improving students’ understanding of biology concepts.

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Vance Mattson
Discipline: Philosophy, Sociology and Criminology

As an undergraduate I studied Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and as a graduate student, Sociology and Philosophy at McGill University.  I have recently completed an education leave studying Religion and Psychology at the University of Waterloo.

I have taught many courses in several disciplines at the College of the Rockies:  In philosophy: Ethics, Metaphysics & Epistemology, Social & Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Contemporary Philosophy, The Search for Meaning, Bioethics, and Nursing Ethics; In sociology: The Individual and Society, Social Institutions, and Social Research Methods; In  criminology: Introduction to Criminology, Sociological Theories of Crime and Deviance, and Psychological Theories of Crime and Deviance; and, most recently, in religious studies: World Religions, The Psychology of Religion, and The Search for Meaning.