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Research Centres, Institutes, Labs & Facilities

VIU offers many opportunities for both Faculty and Students to develop their varying research ideas. Below you will find a brief overview of the objectives of each centre and institute supported by VIU. If you are wishing to join a centre or obtain further details of their activities please see the contact information provided.

Here is a list of the Research Centers, Institutes and Facilities available through VIU.

Policies and procedures governing research centres/institutes. Please note. The Research Centres/Institutes policy and procedure is going through the approval process for revisions.

Centres, Institutes and Labs



Applied Environmental Research Laboratory (AERL)

Co-Directors: Dr. Erik Krogh and Dr. Chris Gill
Web Site:

Dr. Erik Krogh and Dr. Chris Gill the founders of AERLThe Applied Environmental Research Laboratories (AERL) is an internationally-recognized research facility that conducts pure and applied research in analytical mass spectrometry and environmental chemistry. The group develops new and improved strategies for the measurement of chemicaldeterminants of environmental and human health. As an active group, the AERL team collaborates widely with external collaborators from around the world to carry out in-situ chemical analysis in complex environmental samples, including air, surface and underwater applications.

The AERL facility includes a sample processing lab, a wet chemistry lab and a state-of-the-art instrument facility specializing in environmental chemical analysis by tradition and emerging methods. We are on the leading edge of an evolution in 'bringing high precision chemical measurements to the sample' rather than the other way around. The central innovation in this work is a membrane interface that allows us to continuously analyze a flowing sample by passing chemical analytes to a mass spectrometer.

Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre

Director: Dr. John Black
Web Site:

Alexandro MalaspinaThe Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre, affiliated with the Liberal Studies Department, is dedicated to conducting, and developing English-language resources for the promotion of, interdisciplinary research into navigation in the 18th century and first contact between indigenous and European people on the Pacific coasts of the Americas. The Centre supports international collaboration between scholars and enthusiasts with like interests. 

Centre Research Projects
John Black’s paper “Alexandro Malaspina’s Meditation on Beauty in Nature” – translated into Spanish by Rocío Rangel Macias and Dr. Ramón Chaverry as “La Meditación sobre lo Bello en la Naturaleza de Alexandro Malaspina” – has been accepted for publication in the final report of the international project Malaspina 2010.
General Theses on Physics: The only work published by Alexandro Malaspina during his lifetime consists of an axiomatization in Latin of the metaphysical basis of Newtonian physics. John Black’s work on its translation into English has been interrupted by his appointment as Dean of Social Sciences.

Related Projects
Translation and Web Publication of Source Documents: The project of translating, among other documents, the letters of Alexandro Malaspina and historical newspaper articles about him and his expedition, for publication on the Centre’s website, continues with the assistance of student researcher Rocío Rangel Macias. New facsimiles continue to be provided by Australian private scholar Robert King.

Public Events and Other Activity
Malaspina Lecture: The 2014 Malaspina Lecturer was Douglas White J.D., Director of the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation, who spoke on “Treaty Relations in the Age of Recognition.”

Brain Electrophysiology and Neuropsychology Lab

Director: Dr. Tony Robertson

Brain The Brain Electrophysiology and Neuropsychology Lab, housed in VIU’s Psychology Department, consists of microcomputer-based apparatus for stimulus presentation and EEG, EMG and behavioural response recording and analysis.

Research Projects
No new Senior Research Projects were conducted in the lab this year. Continued collaborative research with Dr. Ron Skelton, (University of Victoria) and  Dustin van Gerven (University of Victoria graduate student): Use of Spatial and Nonspatial Strategies in Virtual Navigation Tasks; Place Learning in a Virtual Morris Water Maze.

Other Activity
Student Research Practicum Training in Sensory Evoked Potential (EP) and Cognitive Event-Related Potential (ERP) Recording (Supervisor Dr. Tony Robertson). This practicum involved research methodology training and applications for Justin Cuppen, Kevin Berry, Brennan Grocholski, Caitlin Olesen, Llaila Hussain Almukahil & Kelsey O’Neill (VIU students) in sensory evoked potential and cognitive event related potential recording in the Brain Electrophysiology and Neuropsychology Lab.

Centre for Community Outreach and Care

Contact: Ashleigh Martinflatt
Web site:https;//

Centre for Commmunity Outreach and CareThe Centre for Community Outreach and Care is based in the Faculty of Health and Human Services at Vancouver Island University.  Since the university is situated in the Harewood community, the Centre is in a prime position to serve the local residents through quality assessment and programming.  Harewood is a unique community whose largest population sector is youth aged 15-24 with an area that has a large percentage of low income individuals resulting in poverty and social issues and a need for services. The mission of the Center for Community Outreach and Care is to provide meaningful learning opportunities for students who are committed to working with children, youth and families in their communities. The impetus for the center came from a strong desire of faculty to create enriched practical learning experiences for students which would be advantageous to the community and reduce the demand while simultaneously providing child, youth and family focused programs to the Nanaimo Harewood community.  The Centre for Community Outreach and Care was approved by HHS Faculty Council in June 2013; supporting the centre’s vision to promote excellence in child and youth care practice, education and research.

Centre for Coastal Health

Director: Dr. Carl Ribble
Web Site:

Bald Egal - The Centre for Costal Health at VIUThe Center for Coastal Health (CCH) is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to identify and understand the interactions of human, animal and environmental health.

Centre for Education and CyberHumanity

Chair: Julie Hengstler
Web site:

Centre fpr Education and CyberHumanityThe Centre for Education & CyberHumanity became a research group in November of 2014 under the auspices of Dean Harry Janzen and the Faculty of Education, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, Canada. The original proposal for the Centre was written by Professors Julia Hengstler and (Dr.) Gail Krivel-Zacks with editing and support from Professor (Dr.) Rachel Moll.
Mission Statement

  • The Centre for Education & CyberHumanity[1] is a research group dedicated to investigating prosocial [2] knowledge, skills, attitudes, perceptions, experience and self-efficacy with regard to the integration of technology into society and the ways in which the education system can support the development of these attributes.

[1] CyberHumanity is a term developed by J. Hengstler to describe a society where technology is closely interwoven into every day experience. It is a compound word created from “cyber” (referring to the culture of technology) and ‘humanity’ which simultaneously invokes “people” as well as humaneness, civility, ethics and understanding. As such, the term is used to describe a society where people are able to live with and use technology in prosocial ways to support continued human growth and development—a goal that the activities of the research group will help to realize.
[2] Prosocial is a psychological term “relating to or denoting behaviour which is positive, helpful, and intended to promote social acceptance and friendship” (Prosocial, 2014).

Centre for Healthy Communities Research

Web Site:

The CHCR supports and conducts research that aims to improve health outcomes and alleviate health disparities. Health is defined broadly as physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. Through community-academic partnerships and collaborative community action research the CHCR explores community health issues, policies and processes. Director, Jennifer Mullett and Doctoral student Sarah Fletcher with research assistants, Kristy Tymos and Kassandra Hamilton began in April, 2012 with research grants from the CIHR and the Vancouver Foundation to explore and document the use of creative arts based research methods to engage community in examining community issues. These grants also helped to support workshops and symposia with faculty and students in order to create networks of research colleagues.

The Centre for Shellfish Research

Web Site:

Centre for Shellfish Research Based in Nanaimo, the CSR serves the entire B.C. coast to support and respond to the research needs of a growing and diversifying shellfish aquaculture industry. The Centre undertakes technical and scientific research on topics including: enhancing industry competitiveness by contributing to improved production, new species and technologies, new products and realization of new opportunities; investigating environmental interactions, oceanography and knowledge necessary for environmental stewardship and sustainability; multidisciplinary studies needed to solve other problems faced by the industry and by coastal communities such as governance, economic benefit, political structures, social values and others; and contributes to the economic diversification of B.C.’s (coastal) communities by supporting the transfer of knowledge and development of the skilled workforce required.

Canadian Letters and Images

Director: Stephen Davies
Web Site:

Fraud and Ethics Board SignpostThe Canadian Letters and Images Project is an online archive of the Canadian war experience, from any war, as told through the letters and images of Canadians themselves. Begun in August 2000, the Project is located in the Department of History at Vancouver Island University. Through the digitization of contemporary letters, diaries, photographs, and other related materials, the Project permits Canadians to tell their story, and Canada’s story, through their own words and images. It is history without a lens of interpretation by the present.

Environmental Psychology Research Lab

Director: Dr. Lindsay J. McCunn
Web Site: Coming Soon

The Environmental Psychology Research Lab (EPRL) conducts environmental psychology research in Canada and the United States. Our work occurs in a variety of settings, including prisons, elementary schools, hospitals, office buildings, and urban neighbourhoods. We are interested in a number of psychosocial dependent variables concerning health and wellbeing, sense of place, territoriality, organizational commitment, privacy, and pro-environmental behavior and attitudes. Beyond theoretical research, we also consult on applied projects with engineers, city planners, architects, criminal justice professionals, and professionals in the non-profit sector. Projects often include architectural programming, post-occupancy evaluation, survey and interview development work, as well as observer-based environmental assessments (OBEAs).

Fraud & Ethics Research & Education Centre

Director: Vanessa Oltmann
Web Site:

Fraud and Ethics Board SignpostVancouver Island University's Fraud and Ethics Research and Education Centre is a multi-disciplinary occupational fraud & ethics research centre whose stakeholders are individuals, managers, professional associations, and public and private organizations wishing to manage fraud risks effectively while promoting an ethical culture; and forensic investigators, accountants, lawyers, law enforcement and others pursuing increased knowledge of fraud prevention, detection, and resolution.

Humanities Interdisciplinarity Research Group

Director: Dr. Richard Lane
Web Site:

Humanities Interdiscplinary Research Group at VIUThe aim of this group is to work as a think-tank which investigates the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research models and methodologies that are currently being applied within the humanities, with a focus on cultural, theoretical, literary-critical and digital humanities approaches.  Rather than replicating ongoing research, the Group provides analysis and meta-commentary concerning the viability and/or necessity for using inter/transdisciplinary approaches. In other words, we will ask questions concerning the effectiveness, the applicability, and the importance of inter/transdisciplinary approaches in relation to current and projected research results within the humanities.

The topic of investigation throughout the year was the New Universities in BC & the Knowledge/Tech Economy: Innovation & Community Transformation.  Dr. Lane worked with Dr. Raymond Siemens and Dr. Crompton, to secure a book contract with Routledge, for an extensive edited collection (forthcoming) called Doing Digital Humanities.  The book examines the transformation of the arts and humanities through the turn to the digital humanities, and offers practical and theoretical guidance on multiple aspects of the field, drawing upon expertise gained by the contributors, through delivering the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria.  The Group gained seed funding from the Electronic Textual Cultures Laboratory at The University of Victoria to set up a focused research and discussion sub-group on Digital Humanities Knowledge Commercialization, led by Dr. Lane and Dr. Lynne Siemens.  Two experts on knowledge commercialization contributed university-based and community-based expertise: Professor Dean Irvine, founder and CEO of Agile Humanities, and Brian Fillmore, Wealth Manager, BTF Financial Services Inc. & President, Loaves & Fishes Food Bank, Nanaimo.  Public events are currently being planned for 2015-2016.  Dr. Lane also held research discussions with Innovation leaders within the community and at selected new BC universities and colleges throughout the year, to assess progress in digital innovation, social innovation/social enterprise, and knowledge commercialization.  Key partners in these discussions were Innovation Island Technology Association, Nanaimo, and Social Enterprise Vancouver Island, Nanaimo.

Institute For Coastal Research

Web Site:

Institute for Coastal ResearchThe Institute for Coastal Research at Vancouver Island University is made up of a team of people working to further understanding of the cultural, economic, environmental and social dynamics of the B.C. coast through collaborative research, creative exploration, dialogue, engagement and education.  In doing so, we try to help guide human activities to bring the greatest good to coastal communities and ecosystems.  

Research, Scholarly Activities and Community Engagement

ICR Aquatic Foods Initiative (Project Lead – Michele Patterson)
The Aquatic Foods Initiative is developing strategies that will increase the economic, cultural, social and ecological values of BC’s aquatic food resources.

  • Geography 322 – Special Topics in Geography – “The Geography of Seafood” taught by Michele Patterson as an ICR initiative (Spring 2015 term)
  • Eight seafood related guest lectures given to VIU undergraduate students in Geography, Biology, Tourism and Recreation and Resource Management Protection
  • Completed Marine Area Planning Process (MaPP) North Vancouver Island BC Government-Nanwakolas marine plan, as member of advisory planning team representing shellfish sector (2012-2014)

Presentations (Michele Patterson)

  • The social construction of seafood: Going beyond the critical and constructive fisheries and aquaculture literature (Canadian Association of Geographers 2015 conference panel session on Bridging constructive and critical approaches to ocean governance, June 2015)
  • Understanding “seafood security”: More than just food security with three extra letters. Aquaculture Association of Canada Annual Meeting, May 2015)
  • Research engagement and sharing for social license (BC Salmon Farmers Research Priorities Workshop #4) December 2014
  • Advances in social science research in the context of social license debates over aquaculture.  (Aquaculture Association of Canada Annual meeting).  June 2014


  • MacDonald, P.A., Murray, G., & Patterson, M. (2015). Considering social values in the seafood sector using the Q-method.  Marine Policy, 52, 68-76.
  • Murray, G., D’Anna, L, MacDonald, P., & Patterson, M. (2014). Navigating Change: Wellbeing, values and the management of marine social-ecological systems.  PICES Press.  Newsletter of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization, Winter 2014, Volume 22, No.1. 13-19.  Retrieved from:

Other Activities
“Bring your LUNCH AND LEARN about research at VIU”:
Bi-monthly seminar series featuring professional and personal research done by VIU faculty and staff.  The 2014-2015 series hosted more than 25 speakers attended by about 300 VIU faculty, staff and students.  This series was co-hosted this year by the Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity Office, the World Leisure Centre and the Community Based Research Institute and the MeTA Digital Humanities Lab.

Institute of Practical Philosophy

Director: Dr. Robert Pepper-Smith
Web Site:

Institute for Practical PhilosophyFounded by Bob Lane, the Institute promotes innovative ways of exploring contemporary social and political problems. The Institute has, for example, hosted a conference on B.C.’ s new health care consent and representation agreement legislation, offered an upper level course in health care ethics at NRGH, developed a clinical case consultation workshop and hosted several symposia  on such topics as genetically modified foods, environmental ethics and social and political issues in Latin America. The Institute also publishes a chapbook series on a number of topics including health care ethics and effective social responses to crime.

In 2014-15 the Institute redesigned its website and made many of its publications accessible electronically. The Institute also continued to develop its website tracking the growing social demand that pension plans invest ethically. This work is reflected in IPP’s newsletter entitled Canada Pension Alert: What Are Your Pension Funds Up To?
The Institute published a 4th edition of its Cases in Health Care Ethics in the Fall of 2014.  

Over the year the Institute hosted a number of public presentations, including Gadamer, Emerson and Philosophy as a Way of Life by William Konchak from the University of Iceland, Albert Camus: the Absurd Hero by VIU professor emeritus Bob Lane, Our Changing Landscape: Aboriginal Tile in British Columbia by VIU’s Director of the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties Doug White and Big Data and the Surveillance of Everything by Dr. Nick Richers.


International Centre For Sturgeon Studies

Web Site:

Juvenile SturgeonThe ICSS will conduct research that has application in four main areas; wild populations, conservation hatcheries, commercial culture, and socioeconomics issues. A major goal of the Centre will be to facilitate cooperation between conservation and aquaculture activities at regional, national and international levels. To that end, a research team has been assembled that includes world-class and emerging new scientists from across Canada, the United States and Europe. The ICSS will provide the link necessary to form a cluster of industry, university, government and non-government organizations involved in sturgeon research.

Literary Theory Research Group

Director: Dr. Richard Lane
Web Site:

Literary TheoryThe Group explores high level literary theory and related discourses (such as continental philosophy, ethics, psychoanalytical theory, etc), within the context of humanistic Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity. Each year, the group organizes the Seminar for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, which involves hosting visiting speakers, research seminars, and a culminating symposium.

The Group continued with its second year on the topic of Heidegger in the Digital Age - Being & Time, Technology & Humanism, with focus on Heidegger’s essay "The Question Concerning Technology" and his major work of phenomenology, Being and Time.  Working collaboratively with UVic professors and a UVic post-doctoral researcher, we established the Critical Digital Humanities Group to explore literary theory through the methodologies of the digital humanities, generating new approaches to technology and humanism.  A formal research development meeting took place between Dr. Richard J. Lane and Dr. Emile Fromet de Rosnay at the MeTA DH Lab, VIU, to initiate further collaborative research goals between the MeTA DH Lab and the UVic Dept. of French.  Two research seminars were held at UVic, with a culminating Seminar for Advanced Studies symposium on April 14th 2015, on critical digital humanities and the “eversion”, with papers on cyberinfrastructure, humanistic notions of “ambiguity” and innovation processes in digital humanities labs.  In total, the Group generated twelve research seminar/symposium papers during 2014-2015.

Student researchers include two VIU undergraduate research assistants, who provided research support for the Group’s activities (preliminary research and training on the intersection of critical theory and the digital humanities), and one postdoctoral researcher from UVic, who contributed two research seminar papers, and one symposium paper.

Media Research Lab (MRL)

Directors: Ravindra Mohabeer

Media ResearchThe MRL provides expertise, assistance, and infrastructure to support research and projects involving digital media.

Our core activities include:

  • training and supervising research assistants involved digital media projects;
  • supporting targeted faculty research in new media;
  • demonstrating new media research and projects;

  • creating alternative video media, including recording significant cultural events on campus and in the community (filmUnit);

  • seeking partnerships and funding for projects;

  • researching best practices for emerging new media distribution and use.

The Media Research Lab attempts to integrate new media more fully into institutional practices, through demonstrations, workshops, exhibits, and supported pilot projects. For example, the Film Unit explores the protocols and standards for creating an institutional digital archive.

The MRL supports student collaboration with faculty on complex research projects.

MeTA Digital Humanities Lab

Directors: Drs. Richard Lane and Daniel Burgoyne

The MeTA Digital Humanities Lab is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (Leader Opportunity Fund), the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and VIU’s Faculty of Arts & Humanities. The main aim of the lab is to develop an online database application called the Media Text Assemblage (MeTA). This project aims to use media text clusters to study the graphic and historical dimensions of the publication and reception of Canadian literature. During the summer and fall of 2011, the digital humanities research lab was built in Building 340, and the technology was installed and tested for operational capability. For MeTA itself, the graphic components of the application were designed and relevant academic-quality online resources were identified.

Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

Contact: Monica Shore
Web Site:

MABRThe word “biosphere” refers to the part of the world that supports life.

Biosphere Reserves (BR) are UNESCO-designated sites that are considered model regions for sustainable development. BR's are expected to promote the conservation of biological and cultural diversity in addition to economic and social development. In each BR, community partners work together to find innovative ways to achieve a balance between the needs of humans and nature.


The Outreach Centre for Healthy Aging and Community-Engaged Scholarship

Contact: Louise Stern

The Outreach Centre for Healthy Aging and Community-Engaged Scholarship is dedicated to excellence in healthy aging education, research, and practice. The Outreach Centre engages community partners and faculty to advance knowledge exchange in the field of healthy aging. As this work is inherently interdisciplinary, the Outreach Centre is committed to partnering with seniors and their caregivers, seniors’ organizations, health planners and educators, service providers, regional health authorities, community-based researchers, academic faculty and students, and the community at large. The emphasis is on building community-faculty partnerships to engage in community-based research, to develop specialized education options, and to translate existing aging research into actions that can lead to optimal health and wellness for older adults. The Centre was approved by HHS Faculty Council in January 2013. 

Resilience Research Lab

Directors: Ruth Kirson and Dr. Caroline Burnley
Web Site:

Sun flower - Resilience Research LabThe Resilience Research Lab (RRL) in the Psychology Department provides ongoing educational opportunities for faculty and students in the area of resilience. Students are provided with volunteer and paid research opportunities. The RRL consults with various local non-profit associations and governmental organizations that provide services for youth and have partnered on local, international and cross-disciplinary research projects. In addition the Lab presents its research at local, national and international conferences.

This past year the RRL engaged in a number of activities. As a result of the Western Resilience Network Conference, hosted in May of 2014 by the RRL at VIU, the RRL has been developing a website for the members of that network in consultation with the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning at VIU. The RRL hired a student to assist in the design and implementation of the website. In addition, the RRL held networking sessions with a variety of VIU and Nanaimo community members to consult on potential collaborations and research partnerships. Finally the RRL met with founder and director of the Nyaka Aids Orphan Project to discuss the research conducted by the lab in 2012 and the paper that resulted. This research focused on the resilience of grandmothers who look after HIV/Aids orphans in Uganda. Research recommendations were discussed. The RRL attended a public presentation by Mr. Kaguri which was sponsored by International Education, VIU.

VIU@Cowichan Innovation Lab

Director: Dr. Sally Carpentier
Web Site: 

Cowichan Innovation LabThe VIU@Cowichan Innovation Lab is an interdisciplinary, inter-professional and intra-educational space of exploration—or space of potential—that facilitates 1) accelerated technology and product innovation/fabrication through research and development, 2) knowledge commercialization and mobilization with the community, 3) student-centered experiential education, 4) productive, practical dialogue between digital and social innovation models and processes. The Lab provides highly proactive “productive partnerships among education, business, industry, government and communities” (VIU Academic Plan 6). The Lab functions through intercampus, interdisciplinary collaboration.

The VIU@Cowichan Innovation Lab’s primary work continues to be focused on building capacity within our student community and exploring potential relationships with community at large. Each one of the Lab’s projects supports experiential education for our students. Language Revitalization and Mastery continues to be an active area of exploration and research. The Digital Storybook, written in both English and Inuvialuktun (one of the Inuit languages), involves both the learning of language and the advanced technologies associated with its construction. The Story as History, Place and Wisdom project continues to evolve with Elder Florence James, as the creation of an archive of digitized stories, told in specific places, with a subsequent elementary school curriculum, promises to enhance learning outcomes. Our documentary, Florence James’ Island, has recently been completed and is available for viewing on our website. The Place Specific Learning Modules, built on whiteboard animation software, continue to be developed and their potential use explored. Mapping the Treaties and Treating the Maps and Soundin’ Change: A Digital Humanities Remix Project both use different technologies to expand our ability to support and build our capacity while offering innovative ways to aid in important knowledge mobilization in and for our contemporary world.

Continuing to advance our capacity, the Lab and its researchers have been exploring the different uses of 3D printing and its implications for more affordable prosthetics. This exploration has resulted in an increase in experiential learning for our students and advanced our capacity to understand our potential to engage in a variety of   professional and business related environments.

The World Leisure Centre of Excellence in Sustainability and Innovation

Director: Dr. Nicole Vaugeois
Web Site:

“The World Leisure Center of Excellence in Sustainable Leisure Management brings together established and emerging scholars from around the globe to share innovative ideas, engage in dialogue and collaborate in research and teaching”.

The core themes of the Center include:

  1. Sustainability: Questioning the relationship between leisure and sustainability, determining the level of sustainability of the leisure industry and inviting and monitoring new models and approaches to enhance sustainability.

  2. Innovation: Rethinking the systems and structures that have evolved across the globe, creating a culture of innovation where new ideas emerge and flourish, and measuring the impact of innovation on sustainability efforts.

Deep Bay Marine Field Station

Manager: Brian Kingzett
Web Site:

Deep Bay Marine Field StationThe Deep Bay Marine Field Station clusters scientific, environmental, economic and public engagement programming into one facility thereby creating a centre of excellence and innovation to support sustainable shellfish aquaculture development and preservation of coastal ecosystems.

Centre for Shellfish Research Facility

Web Site:

Centre for Shellfish Research FacilityThe Research Facility includes:

  • Wet Laboratories

  • Larval Laboratory

  • Algal Culture Facility

Updated: December 13, 2017