Current Students



Renuka Klabsuk, is pursuing a Doctoral degree in Geography at the University of Victoria. Her proposed research will focus on social and economic aspects for designing a marine spatial plan (MSP) for the Trat province in Thailand. A place-based and community participatory approach will be used to involve coastal communities and other stakeholders within the MSP process. The research results will help to identify the appropriated mechanisms for involving stakeholder in coastal conservation and marine protected areas. Her project is being funded by the Community Conservation Research Network (CCRN).

Renuka is a lecturer in the Park, Recreation and Tourism Program under the Department of Conservation, Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University (KUFF) in Thailand, where she completed a Master’s degree in the Park and Recreation program in 2004. Her MSc thesis was entitled, “Application of Geographical Information Systems to Ecotourism Opportunity Spectrum Zoning in Mae Khan Watershed Tourism Network at Chiang Mai Province”. Renuka has also been a member on several research projects related to protected areas management, nature resources conservation, community-based conservation, and ecotourism.


me and wsJackie is a current PhD candidate with her specific research interests lying in the integration of the social and biological sciences to answer applied problems in conservation. She is interested in understanding social and biological impacts of marine wildlife tourism to improve industry sustainability and conservation of targeted species and their critical habitat. Her master’s thesis, for example, focused on an assessment of the sustainability of whale shark tourism on Isla Holbox, Mexico. Her current research is part of a larger effort to assess the sustainability of whale shark tourism sites around the world (e.g. Mozambique, Maldives, Philippines, Mexico) and is the focus of her dissertation.

ALESSIA KOCKEL- Master’s Candidate 

1512205_10101617989023957_7261444911668069853_oAlessia is pursuing a Master’s in Science under the guidance of Dr. Philip Dearden. She completed her BSc in Wildlife Biology at McGill University, which included a semester abroad at the University of Queensland in Australia. Following the completion of her BSc, she worked as a marine biologist and scuba diving instructor in Thailand, Maldives, the Philippines, the Fiji Islands, and various islands in the Lesser Antilles. Her current research investigates approaches for incorporating small-scale fisheries considerations into the systematic design of marine protected areas in the Philippines. She works closely with local communities, government officials, NGOs, and partner universities to scale up marine protected areas in Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte, Philippines.  To learn more about her current and past projects, please click here.

EMMANUEL KILELI- Master’s Candidate

EmmanuelEmmanuel is a current MA student in the department of Geography. His research interest is on Community Based Natural Resource Management Approaches, innovative approaches to community development, citizen engagement and community led development. He works with various local and international NGOs in Tanzania promoting the recognition of pastoralism as a viable livelihood system as well as promoting community driven development as an effective means to sustainable development.

He is passionate about his people [Maasai], land and culture. He also believes in community based action research approaches as a way to enable communities take actions and effectively benefit out of research results. He is currently connected to the Institutional Canopy of Conservation (I-CAN) project aimed to conserve East Africa’s rich biodiversity by strengthening local livelihoods though improving access rights to natural resources, income diversification, and green economic development, such as ecotourism.


Jones Jones is currently the Chair of the Department of Secretaryship and Management Studies at Sunyani Technical University in Ghana. His main interests relate to the relationship among local communities, development and protected areas. His dissertation examines the impacts of relocation by dam construction on communities living adjacent to Bui National Park in Ghana.


MIKE WALTON- PhD Candidate 

Mike’s main interests revolve around protected area governance, particularly related to local and indigenous communities. Mike has a lot of work experience throughout Canada including working as a Field Unit Supervisor for Parks Canada and as Manager of the Capital Regional District Park System in Victoria. His PhD dissertation is examining the relationship between two protected areas (Pukasawa National Park Reserve and Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area) and local communities in Northern Ontario.

LUISA RAMIREZ- PhD Candidate (Visiting MPARG Student)

Luisa is a PhD candidate in Geography at Wilfrid Laurier University. Luisa’s research brings together governance, social-ecological systems, and conservation theory and looks at conservation and sustainability issues in coastal and marine environments in the Latin American context. Luisa’s doctoral research specifically examines opportunities and constraints for integrating key aspects of governance and for shifting traditional top-down schemes towards more collaborative and integrative forms that enhance conservation and social outcomes in marine protected areas (MPAs) in Colombia. Her project is supported by several organizations including OGS, SSHRC, the Robin Rigby Trust, Wilfrid Laurier University, John D. McMurry Research Chair in Environmental Geography, and Colciencias.

Luisa completed her MSc in Marine Science at the University of Puerto Rico in 2006 and since then she has been involved in various research projects in mangrove restoration, MPA planning and governance, biodiversity gap analysis, and community-based research. She has collaborated with government organizations, international NGOs, and ethnic minorities groups.