ACUNS’ governing body is a council of representatives from member institutions (post-secondary and research) who meet annually to discuss strategic issues relevant to ACUNS’ goals. An elected Board of Directors meets quarterly to decide on and facilitate the direction of activities of the Association. Day-to-day operations are currently implemented by two staff members for the organization who oversee organizational growth, program management, administration, and communications. Activities include the administration of awards and scholarships, support for the organization of student conferences, and providing resources for northern researchers.

ACUNS is pleased to welcome our new directors: Caroline Duncan (York University) student director; Dr. Katherine Minich (Carleton University), and Dr. Francis Lévesque (Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue/UQAT).

We wish to thank our three outgoing members: Dr. Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, (Carleton University) who served on the Board since 2015 as a director, secretary-treasurer, and president; Dr. Gabrielle Slowey (York University) who also joined in 2015 and served as a director, vice president and chair of the Governance Committee; and Dr. Karla Jessen Williamson (University of Saskatchewan) who joined in 2012 as a director.

Current Board of Directors


Heather Nicol, Trent University

Heather Nicol is the Director of the School for the Study of Canada and a Professor in the School for the Environment at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Her research is focused on exploring the dynamics that structure the political geography of the circumpolar North, with a specific focus on the North American Arctic and Canada-US relations. She is currently exploring both the history of circumpolar geopolitics, security and borders in relation to globalization and post-global paradigms.  Heather is a member of the Academic Leadership Team at the University of the Arctic (UArctic), and also sits on the International Advisory Board of Polar Research and Policy Initiative (PRPI) and serves as its Canada Lead. She was the 2015-16 Visiting Fulbright Chair to the University of Washington, at the Centre for Canadian Studies and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.


Robert Bailey, Ontario Tech University

Bob Bailey received his Ph.D. from Western University in 1987 and was a faculty member at Western for more than 20 years (1987-2009), followed by a term as Provost at Cape Breton University (2009-2014), and Associate Provost and Provost at Ontario Tech University (2015-2019). He is now is back to the best job in the world…teaching and research as a Full Professor in the Faculty of Science at Ontario Tech. For more than 30 years, Bob and his students have worked with academic, government, and industry collaborators to help design and execute programs for biomonitoring and bioassessment of freshwater ecosystems, including streams in the Yukon River Basin exposed to placer gold mining. He joined ACUNS as a Council member representing Western University in the late 1990s and later served on the Board, eventually as President from 2007-2011. He returned to ACUNS in 2023 to serve as a Council member for new member institution Ontario Tech University.


Audrey Giles, University of Ottawa

Dr. Audrey Giles is a full professor at the University of Ottawa and is an applied cultural anthropologist who conducts research with Indigenous communities, primarily in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Her research focuses on three main areas: i) injury prevention (particularly drowning prevention in the Canadian North); ii) health promotion (particularly Indigenous people’s engagement in physical activity, with particular emphasis on gender and cultural adaptation of resources); iii) sport for development and sport for reconciliation with Indigenous communities. She has authored over 100 journal articles and over 20 book chapters. Her edited book (with Janice Forsyth), Aboriginal Peoples and Sport in Canada: Historical Foundations and Contemporary Issues, was the co-recipient of the Best Edited Collection Award from the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport. Audrey served as Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer, and chair of the Governance committee before stepping down in 2022. She also volunteered for several years on the ACUNS Awards Committee, and coordinated the ACUNS Student Conference on Northern Studies in 2003.


Laura Brown, University of Toronto Mississauga

Professor Laura Brown is a physical scientist in the Department of Geography, Geomatics and Environment, University of Toronto Mississauga, and graduate faculty in the Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto.  Professor Brown holds both a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from York University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo. Professor Brown’s research uses numerical modelling, remote sensing, and ground-based field studies to improve the understanding of the linkages between climate and the cryosphere. Projects over the past 20 years of Arctic research include numerical modelling of lake ice, remote sensing of snow and ice, basin scale hydrologic modelling, and hydrology and microclimatology of Arctic wetlands. Recent work has mainly focused on improving the detection of freshwater ice from space and using thermodynamic modelling to better understand the response of ice cover to climatic forcing.  Professor Brown is also the Chair of the Arctic Working Group at the University of Toronto, and the Treasurer of the Canadian Geophysical Union.


Nicolas Brunet, University of Guelph

Professor Nicolas Brunet is the Latornell Professor in Environmental Stewardship at the University of Guelph with a research program in the community-based conservation field coupled with large scale social-ecological mixed method studies at international and national scales. His research focuses upon natural resource governance and sustainable community development, and the tools, such as Indigenous community-based monitoring and community science, used to measure the impacts of resource extraction (mining; oil and gas) in boreal and Arctic ecosystems. His research aims to build community capacity to engage in decision-making in response to various contributors to environmental change.


Sara Komarnisky, Aurora College

Dr. Sara Komarnisky is currently Research Chair, Health and Community at Aurora College. She is a settler scholar who has over 15 years of experience with multidisciplinary and multimethod research projects grounded in community. Much of this work has been focused squarely on addressing health and wellbeing from a community level perspective to produce insightful knowledge and inform policy change – from ethnography of transnational life, to material culture and archival research on hospital art and craft, to surveys about youth smoking and drinking, to community-based research to inform tuberculosis policy. Most recently, Sara was Research Manager at Hotıì ts’eeda where she led a renewal of the GNWT (Government of the Northwest Territories) Healthy Family Program to create a new program grounded in community strengths, northern context, and family needs. Sara grew up in Holden, Alberta and has lived in Yellowknife since 2018 with her partner and two children.


Francis Lévesque, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Dr. Francis Lévesque is professor at the School of Indigenous Studies at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT). An anthropologist, he is interested in historical, political and ethical human-animal relationships. Since 2000, he has worked with Canadian Inuit on several research projects which concern, among other things, the slaughter of Inuit dogs in the Eastern Arctic in the 1950s-1960s, dog-Inuit relations in three contemporary communities (Kuujjuaq in Nunavik as well as Iqaluit and Ikaluktutiak in Nunavut), the history of environmental research in Eastern Ungava Bay, Inuit post-secondary education, the impacts of mining development on northern communities, as well as the integration of Inuit knowledge (Inuit qaujimajatuqangit) into government structures in Nunavut. He has made more than twenty trips to the Arctic including Iqaluit, Kuujjuaq, Ikaluktutiak, Yellowknife, Nuuk (Greenland) and Fairbanks (Alaska). The research that he has had the chance to conduct in this region has led him to meet extraordinary people and to stay in places that are very important to him. As a professor at the School of Indigenous Studies at UQAT, he works with Indigenous people daily on the development of university programs that meet their needs. In his research, he works from a similar perspective, which could bring added value to ACUNS.


Andrew S. Medeiros, Dalhousie University

Professor Andrew Medeiros, School for Resource and Environmental Studies, College of Sustainability at Dalhousie University, is an expert in freshwater ecology, biogeochemical processes, and Arctic environments. His research focuses on the use of biological, hydrological, and geochemical indicators to examine responses to environmental change in northern ecosystems; past, present, and future. This is applied through the examination of gradients of ecological condition (e.g., climate change, ecological sustainability, anthropogenic disturbance) over large spatial and temporal scales. His research on the evolution of northern ecosystems over the past 10,000 years allows for predictions and modeling of future responses to environmental change.


Katherine Minich, Carleton University

Dr. Katherine Minich hails from Pangnirtung, Nunavut and is a faculty member at the School of Public Policy and Administration. She studied sociology, health science and policy studies as education fields and has experience teaching in Indigenous studies (McMaster), Northern Governance (Nunavut Sivuniksivut) and Public Policy (Carleton). Katherine focuses on the practices of Indigenous self-determination in community, particularly Inuit self-determination practices in Nunavut. This includes studying the policy spaces in the cash and non-cash political economies and policy processes in community, self-government and citizen organizations.


Thierry Rodon, Université Laval

Thierry Rodon is a full professor in the Political Science Department at Université Laval and holds the INQ Research Chair in Northern Sustainable Development and was the director of CIÉRA (Inter-University Centre for Indigenous Studies and Research) from 2014 to 2021. He leads MinErAL, an international research project on extractive industries and Indigenous livelihood, including researchers and Indigenous partners in Canada, Australia, New Caledonia, and Fennoscandia.  Dr. Rodon is also the co-lead for the well-being theme of the project Modern Treaty Implementation Research: Strengthening Our Shared Future. In addition to numerous journal articles, he has published three books, In Partnership with the State in 1998 at PUL, Nested Federalism and Inuit Governance in the Canadian Arctic, UBC Press with Gary Wilson and Peter Alcantara in 2020, and Les apories des politiques autochtones au Canada at Presses de l’Université du Québec in 2019. Dr. Rodon has also provided expertise to the Standing Committees of the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons on Indigenous rights and the implementation of the UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).

Student Director 

Caroline Duncan, York University

Caroline Duncan is a PhD candidate in civil engineering at York University, focusing on optimizing drinking water in the Arctic using participatory approaches to system dynamics modelling. As part of the Lassonde School of Engineering, her research seeks to understand the complex factors that affect the quality and accessibility of drinking water in the Arctic using an interdisciplinary approach. Through her research, Caroline will work closely with the Municipality of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, collaborating with community members, government, and NGO stakeholders involved with drinking water from source to tap. Through this collaboration, a model will be developed to test treatment and policy interventions to optimize drinking water safety.

Past Presidents

2021-2023 President: Dr. Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Carleton University

2018-2021 President : Dr. Gary Wilson, University of Northern British Columbia

2015-2018 President : Dr. Monique Bernier, Institut National de la recherche scientifique

2012-2015 President : Dr. Peter Geller, University of the Fraser Valley

2007-2011 President : Dr. Robert C. Bailey, Ontario Tech University

2005-2007 President : Dr. James McDonald (in memoriam, the Dr. Jim McDonald Scholarship for Northern Research)

2001-2005 President : Dr. Frances Abele, Carleton University

1998-2001 President : Dr. Peter Johnson, University of Calgary

1995-1998 President : Dr. Jill Oakes, University of Manitoba

1993-1995 President : Dr. Roger H. King, University of Western Ontario

1989-1993 President : Dr. Marianne Stenbaek, McGill University

1985-1989 President : Dr. Marc Adelard Tremblay, Université Laval

1982-1985 President : Dr. J. Gordon Nelson, University of Waterloo

1978-1982 President : Dr. John K. Stager, University of British Columbia