Led by Principal Scientists, Professor Heather McKay, PhD, FCAHS, and Associate Professor Joanie Sims-Gould, PhD, the Active Aging Research Team is a multi-disciplinary collaboration of researchers, KT specialists, and staff. The Active Aging Research Team is based at the University of British Columbia's Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, within the Faculty of Medicine


Professor Heather McKay, PhD, FCAHS

Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

Professor McKay’s research program investigates health promotion and chronic disease prevention strategies to enhance health at key time points: childhood, adolescence and later life. 

Her research evaluates the positive role of physical activity, other lifestyle factors and the built environment on children’s health and older adult physical health, mobility and social connectedness. Through an implementation science lens, she also evaluates scale-up of effective interventions as a means to improve health on a population level. Her work has directly influenced government policy.

Professor McKay is well known for building interdisciplinary teams and connecting with community partners to move research findings into action (knowledge mobilization). She has been in receipt of grants to support these teams, valued at more than $70M. She led the team that was awarded $40M from Canada Foundation for Innovations, donors and government to build the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility (inaugural Director; 2006-16). Professor McKay was recently inducted as a Fellow into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Her ability to meaningfully engage stakeholders, including government, to take upstream action to improve health was acknowledged through a Knowledge Translation Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and a BC Woman of Distinction Award for Health & Active Living.

Associate Professor Joanie Sims-Gould, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

Dr. Sims-Gould is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia. She is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar.

Dr. Sims-Gould works with diverse stakeholders to ensure that her research reflects real needs (and questions) and that the findings are ‘brought back’ in a format that is usable. She has a strong commitment to knowledge mobilization. The research questions that she addresses can be captured within 3 broad themes; 1. Experiences of frail older adults within the Canadian health care system, their families and those health care practitioners who work with them; 2. Delivery of home/community based health care and the experiences of unregulated workers who provide the bulk of this care; 3. Intersection between older adult physical activity, social connectedness and health. She is a Principal Scientist for the Active Aging research team and Project co-Lead for Active Aging British Columbia.


Associate Professor Dawn Mackey, PhD

Associate Professor,  Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship (San Francisco Coordinating Center)
  • Ph.D. Epidemiology (University of California, Berkeley) 
  • M.Sc. Kinesiology (Simon Fraser University)
  • B.Sc. Honours Kinesiology (Simon Fraser University) 

Dawn Mackey's research seeks to develop and evaluate novel approaches to enhance mobility and independence among older adults. Her research program is focused on testing new ways to promote adoption and maintenance of physical activity, prevent debilitating injuries from falls, and reduce fatigue during daily activities. Her studies involve community-dwelling older adults and long-term care residents. Dawn is an Associate Professor in SFU’s Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, where she directs the Aging and Population Health Lab, and she is a Core Member of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. She holds a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Research Associates and Post-Doctoral Fellows

Erica Lau, PhD

Dr. Erica Lau is a research associate within the Active Aging Research Team and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia. Erica's research focuses on implementation and dissemination of health promotion interventions.

Her recent studies focus on implementation fidelity, determinants of program implementation, and implementation strategies of health promotion interventions undertaken in a variety of settings (e.g., preschool, workplace, community centres). Erica also has extensive training in designing theory-driven outcome evaluations and process evaluations for health promotion interventions in a variety of settings. Specifically, she has expertise using a systematic approach to help organizations/projects to identify relevant evaluation objectives and performance indicators. She is involved in the evaluation of several population-based health promotion interventions funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (e.g., UPnGO with ParticipACTION, Carrot Rewards App).  

Heather MacDonald, PhD

Bio Coming Soon.


Catherine Tong, PhD

Bio Coming Soon.

Yijian Yang, PhD

Bio Coming Soon.


Samantha Gray

Bio coming soon.

PhD Candidate
Thea Franke

Bio coming soon.

Sheralyn Windt

Bio coming soon.

Venessa Wong

Bio coming soon.

Research Assistants

Avery MacKenzie

Bio Coming Soon.

Caroline MacLennan

Bio Coming Soon.

Charissa Yu

Bio Coming Soon.

Program Team

Rei Ahn

Rei is the Active Aging Research Team’s Health Communications and Project Operations Lead.  She’s been part of team-based endeavors with involvement in communications, management, health promotion, knowledge translation and evaluation. She works with a dynamic team operationalizing evaluation and delivery of a provincial initiative with the aim of increasing opportunities for older adults to engage in physical activity and social connections. She’s passionate about understanding the experiences of those that partake in public health programming and incorporating design thinking in development and implementation of these programs to improve efficiency and outcome.

Previously, Rei interned at the First Nations Health Authority with a specific focus on children’s oral health; worked as a HIV/AIDS education Coordinator for a non-profit organization in rural Kenya; and worked as a Research Assistant for CANWheel studies at GF Strong under the Department of Occupational Therapy, UBC. Rei holds a Master’s of Public Health from Western University.

Rebecca Collett

Rebecca is a values-driven health and social development communications practitioner. She has almost a decade of experience working to improve the health and well-being of both Canadians and people around the world through strategic communications and fundraising. 

Rebecca is motivated by the truth that all people are universally entitled to health, justice, and dignity. Rebecca enjoys finding ways to dynamically share stories about the work of the Active Aging Research Team with the public and key stakeholders. In addition to her role with the Active Aging Research Team, Rebecca is the Director of Communications and Digital Engagement for Save the Mothers, an international NGO that equips professionals (from a wide array of disciplines) in developing countries to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Rebecca moonlights as an opera singer. She has performed with the Vancouver Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, and other opera companies, choirs, and orchestras across the country.  In addition to her degree in Corporate Communications Management, Rebecca has achieved her Master’s in Music from the University of Toronto. She made her professional debut at age 6 on Sesame Street Canada.  

In her spare time, Rebecca keeps active and socially connected by running on the sea wall, playing soccer, and taking her beloved pups Boy George and Matzie to the local dog park.


Christa Hoy

Christa is the Program and Evaluation Manager with the Active Aging Research Team based at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, a UBC-affiliated research centre. Her background is in human kinetics – born of a firm belief in health promotion through physical activity. She is driven by a desire to understand how evidence-based health promotion programs work in the real world. She is currently leading the evaluation of the scale up of Choose to Move, a choice-based physical activity program for sedentary older adults across BC.

Loree Lane

Bio Coming Soon.

Sarah Lusina-Furst

Bio Coming Soon.

Lindsay Nettlefold
(On leave)

Bio Coming Soon.

Caitlin Pugh

 Caitlin is a Project Coordinator for the Arbutus Greenway Evaluation, and the Vancouver coordinator for the Interventions, Research, and Action in Cities Team (INTERACT - http://www.teaminteract.ca). She is passionate about creating healthy and accessible built environments where people of all ages can be active and engaged in their communities. Her past research in the field of Health Sciences used mixed-methodologies to explore important 

questions about our environment. Caitlin completed her MSc degree at Simon Fraser University examining Vancouver’s Comox-Helmcken Greenway.  During her graduate work, she analyzed the Greenway’s various impacts on older adult mobility. She is excited to bring her experience with natural experiment studies to the Arbutus Greenway Evaluation. In her spare time, Caitlin enjoys volunteering as a fitness administrator at her local senior’s centre, and hiking the trails of Lynn Valley, North Vancouver where she was raised.

Callista Ottoni
(On leave)

Callista Ottoni wears a few different hats for AART. Their commonality is generating and translating evidence that stimulates discussions (across academic, government and community based settings) to encourage the social and physical health of communities. She is the Manager of Knowledge Translation and Exchange for the Arbutus Greenway Evaluation, Qualitative Co-lead for the Vancouver site of INTERACT (http://www.teaminteract.ca). 

She is also the Director of Video Production and Strategy for AART’s Knowledge Mobilization Studio. She will be on maternity leave January 2018-to Summer 2019.

Douglas Race

Douglas is currently the Senior Research Coordinator for Choose to Move. His early passion for health and fitness lead him to purse a Master’s Degree in Physical Education from the University of Victoria. Douglas’s research is driven by a desire to engage and empower children and youth in lifelong health-promoting behaviours to improve health and mobility across the lifespan. Over the past nine years he has coordinated multiple studies at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, which have investigated the health and wellness of children living in the Lower Mainland, such as the Health Bones Study, Risk-taking and Fracture Study and Linking Exercise, Activity and Pathophysiology in Childhood Arthritis – Exercise Intervention. In his spare time, he can be found hiking or trail running in preparation for his next ultra-marathon.