Anne St. Clair is an Avalanche Canada employee and PhD student at Simon Fraser University where she is studying avalanche education and risk management communication. (Submitted)

Anne St. Clair is an Avalanche Canada employee and PhD student at Simon Fraser University where she is studying avalanche education and risk management communication. (Submitted)

Avalanche Canada forecaster awarded scholarship to study risk management

Anne St. Clair is a PhD student at Simon Fraser University

Anne St. Clair spent her childhood living in a Pittsburgh suburb, not a place usually associated with skiing and avalanches.

However, her family went on a ski trip to New Hampshire every year.

“It was this celebration of family and community and sport that was the highlight of my growing up,” St. Clair said.

She attributes her career path into the avalanche industry through those ski trips.

St. Clair spent most of her career in Colorado before coming to Canada for a master’s degree in Pascal Haegeli’s Avalanche Research Program at Simon Fraser University.

She used her undergraduate background of anthropology and sociology to look at how people incorporate avalanche forecasts into their decision making.

Through interviewing a diverse group of people and digging into how they made decisions, St. Clair created a typology of users: five different types of users and five primary processes that people have when using the information.

St. Clair was awarded a dean of graduate studies convocation medal for her work.

“Once you open a door there are all these other questions that come barreling out at you,” she said.

And so, she applied for a PhD to continue her research. She was awarded a graduate dean’s entrance scholarship to do so.

St. Clair will live in Revelstoke as she continues her research. She moved to the city in the fall of 2019 to work for Avalanche Canada as a public avalanche forecaster.

She will be looking at how risk messages could resonate most effectively in different sporting as well as community contexts to see how to strengthen avalanche risk communication.

“[Avalanche Canada] aims to serve all of Canada, and there are a lot of challenges embedded in the diversity across Canada,” she said.


 

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