Our Team

Shannon MacDonald, PhD, RN

Principal Investigator

Dr. Shannon MacDonald is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Nursing and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, as well as the Department of Pediatrics, Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. She is a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Applied Pediatric Immunization. Her clinical background is in pediatric nursing, with research training in nursing, public health, and epidemiology.

Dr. MacDonald is the principal investigator leading the Applied Immunization (Aimm) research team. Her research program focuses on identifying and addressing system-level barriers and supports to achieving high vaccine uptake in underserved populations of children and youth. Dr. MacDonald’s research strengths are in quantitative survey methods, epidemiology, and working with administrative health data, but her team uses multi-method research approaches. She prioritizes collaboration with vaccine policy advisors, program administrators, clinicians, and communities to address real-world immunization practice and policy issues.

Dr. MacDonald aspires to increase capacity in immunization research among researchers of diverse identities; as such, she has worked to develop opportunities for trainees who represent communities typically under-represented in academia. Her trainees are engaged in exciting research among populations such as Métis and immigrant youth, as well as youth who are underserved by school immunization programs in Canada and Ghana.


Laura Reifferscheid, RN

Senior Research & Engagement Lead

Laura is responsible for grant applications, ethics administration, and progress reports. She manages the operation of multiple projects and builds relationships with key stakeholders, collaborators and community partners.

Bethany Hansen, BSc

Research Program Manager

Bethany is responsible for human resource management, monitoring the research grant budgets, and office administration. Her academic training focused on primatology and anthropology, which fueled her interest in human and non-human behaviour. Bethany has qualitative and quantitative research experience in Ghana and Canada.

Eunah Cha, BSc, RN

Research Assistant

Eunah is interested in vaccination research with particular attention to equity and intersectionality. Dr. Shannon MacDonald supervised Eunah when she was a nursing student pursuing her Honours Project: a scoping review looking at the inclusion (or lack thereof) of intersectionality in Canadian vaccine research. Since then, Eunah has been a Research Assistant on Shannon’s team, working primarily on the COVImm project in data collection and analysis. Outside of research, Eunah works as a Registered Nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. She loves experiencing both research and bedside nursing and is excited to see how the two merge in her future career!

Associated projects

Maggie Lin, MN, NP

Research Assistant

With a BScN from McGill University and a Master of Nursing from the University of Alberta, Maggie currently works as a Nurse Practitioner in infectious diseases and primary care. Her RN background also included home care leadership, community health in northern Indigenous communities, virtual care, COVID-19 and internal/family medicine. Maggie has been a part of the Aimm research team since 2019. Her current research focuses on co-developing informational tools and resources for vaccine-decision making on childhood vaccinations in First Nations communities in Alberta. Maggie aspires to pursue doctorate studies in nursing and work in both clinical and leadership capacities in public health and infectious diseases.

Associated projects

Crystal Du, MSc

Research Assistant

Crystal has a MSc in Epidemiology from the School of Public Health. Her main research interests include examining vaccination coverage in immigrant populations and analyzing determinants related to vaccine uptake. Dr. MacDonald’s diverse research interests and her passion for working with underserved populations, in particular, attracted Crystal to this innovate and collaborative team. Having completed a degree in immunology and infection and epidemiology, Crystal’s future career aspirations lie in the field of infectious disease epidemiology.

Associated projects


Post Doc

Kelvin Nartey, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Kelvin Nartey has a keen interest in public health and preventive medicine, which in part stems from his experiences in clinical medicine. He holds a Master of Public Health degree and a PhD in sports medicine from the University of Nottingham. At present, he is undertaking a postdoctoral fellowship in collaboration with Dr. Shannon MacDonald. In this postdoctoral research role, he will, as a primary focus, seek to understand the impact of the pandemic on routine vaccinations using large administrative health datasets.


Janet Lee, MN, RN

PhD Student

Janet is a second-year PhD student from the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. Her primary interest in research is expanding the understanding behind the process of vaccination decision-making among pregnant and lactating parents. Janet’s secondary area of research interest is in understanding available Canadian in-hospital neonatal vaccination services. In practice, she is a registered nurse in the Stollery’s Phillip C. Etches Neonatal Intensive Care Unit located at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Janet hopes to bring her clinical experience, and observations with speaking to concerned parents on vaccinations, to assist the Aimm team projects. In the future, she hopes to continue researching vaccine decision-making to help the pregnant and lactating population.

Associated projects

Keith King, MPH, RN

PhD Candidate

Keith King (He/They) is a citizen of the Métis Nation and an ayahkwew (Two Spirit) from Notikewin, Alberta, in Treaty 8 territory. They are currently living in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta), where they are enrolled in the Ph.D. program with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. Here, they are working with the Aimm research team and Metis Nation of Alberta to explore HPV-related cancer prevention through vaccination across the Métis homeland. Having taught at City University in London, UK, and the University of Alberta and MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada, Keith brings his passion for teaching and learning to his work. Keith is also an oskapiew (helper) to Dr. Elder Grandmother Doreen Spence OC, from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, a member of Lii Taab Otapisimiwak, and works closely with the Health Department at the Metis Nation of Alberta. Keith is an active volunteer with several communities in his spare time.

Associated projects

Emmanuel Marfo, MN, RN

PhD Candidate

Emmanuel Marfo is a registered nurse here in Canada, and Ghana, where he received his undergraduate nursing education. Prior to completing his master’s in nursing at the University of Alberta, his interest in HPV vaccination inspired him to join the Aimm research program in September 2020 for his doctoral studies. Emmanuel currently works as a research assistant and engages in qualitative projects. His PhD dissertation focuses on supporting HPV vaccination in Ghana from multi-level perspectives through an intersectional lens. Emmanuel is passionate about equity, diversity, inclusivity, and Indigeneity, and continuously learning more about them through his engagement with Aimm. After completing his PhD, Emmanuel envisions working in multi-disciplinary teams through research, teaching, and fieldwork to promote equitable health, specifically HPV vaccination in Ghana and many resource-limited settings in sub-Saharan Africa.

Associated projects

Robin Humble, MPH, RN

PhD Candidate

Robin Humble is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Faculty of Nursing. Her dissertation research focuses on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected parents’ perceptions and acceptance of routine childhood vaccines and creating inclusive and accessible vaccination services for populations historically underserved. Robin has taught in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Camosun College (Victoria, BC) since 2014. When not teaching or working on research, she can be found running Vancouver Island’s remote mountain trails.

Associated projects

Laura Reifferscheid, RN

PhD Candidate

Laura is a PhD student at the University of Alberta. She has worked with the Aimm team since 2019, as a Research Assistant and Research Coordinator. Laura has a range of healthcare experience, working as a registered nurse supporting vulnerable populations in a variety of areas (infectious disease prevention and treatment, addictions management, and health during incarceration). Laura’s current work focuses on exploring system-level initiatives to support health promotion activities.

Associated projects


Pam Poirier, BSc, RN

Master’s of Nursing Student (Capstone)

Pam is a first year student in the MN-NP Adult program at the University of Alberta. Her experience as a registered nurse is primarily in HIV case management for the Northern Alberta region. She is passionate about equitable care for marginalized groups and has interests in infectious diseases and Indigenous health outcomes.

Sarah Mahon, BSc, RN

Master’s of Nursing Student (Capstone)

Sarah Mahon is a Registered Nurse currently in her second year pursuing a Master of Nursing graduate degree. Sarah works as a Registered Nurse with the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Indigenous Services Canada. She has a passion for health promotion and prevention, and feels privileged to work with Indigenous populations. Sarah is currently working on her capstone proposal with a focus on Pneumococcal Immunization in Indigenous populations across Canada.

Nana Asabere, BSc, RN

Master’s of Nursing Student (Capstone)

Nana is a second year MN student in the leadership stream and a pediatric nurse who works in critical care and the community. Her interests are in infectious diseases, vaccination hesitancy and vaccination access for pediatric and adult populations. Currently, Nana is working on a capstone project that focuses on the attitudes and perceptions of adults in North America before and after the COVID-19 vaccine was made available.

Associated projects

Kendra Lemire, BSc, RN

Master’s of Nursing Student (Capstone)

Kendra is a Registered Nurse working in Pediatric Oncology/Hematology/Immunology at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. She acts as a nursing care coordinator for patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplant, gene therapy and CAR T cell therapy. She is also in her first year of the MN-NP Family/All Ages program at the University of Alberta. Kendra joined the Aimm team after Dr. Shannon McDonald took her on as a student and agreed to supervise her as she completes her Masters Degree. Kendra’s area of study focuses on increasing the uptake of immunizations post hematopoietic stem cell transplant in the pediatric population. Her hope is to remain in the Pediatric Oncology/Hematology/Immunology field once she graduates as a Nurse Practitioner.


Larissa Hoshowsky

Undergraduate Honors Nursing Student

Larissa is a third-year honours nursing student at the University of Alberta. She is currently involved in a project focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on childhood and adolescent vaccinations. She is passionate about improving accessibility and education related to immunizations within families, specifically those coming from disadvantaged populations. Larissa hopes to become a pediatric registered nurse and to work in the community setting. 

Shrusti Patel

Undergraduate Honors Nursing Student

Shrusti Patel is a second-year Nursing student who started as a volunteer with the Aimm team. Shrusti is currently working on a project that focuses on the perspectives of parents’ on COVID-19 vaccination and information, and is passionate about child health and public health with an emphasis on serving underserved populations. Shrusti hopes to gain knowledge and skills from her experience with Aimm for her future research endeavours in Nursing!

Mikayla Barber

Undergraduate Honors Nursing Student

As one of Dr. MacDonald’s Honors students, Mikayla’s area of research is closely intertwined with the goals of Aimm. Her project focuses on discovering the various approaches being used across Canada to vaccinate infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Being a nursing student with a strong interest in child health has made this project especially relevant as nursing students are continuously taught the importance of vaccines and the repercussions of under-vaccination. This research has reinforced Mikayla’s love for child health and continues to inspire her to be a pediatric registered nurse after her graduation from the University of Alberta.

Cassie Barber

Undergraduate Honors Nursing Student

Cassie is a third-year honors nursing student at the University of Alberta. She joined this team with the hopes of improving information surrounding immunizations in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Cassie has a passion for pediatrics which has translated into a fascination with this research project and aspires to become a registered nurse in the NICU setting.

Visiting Scholars

Umar Yunusa, PhD, RN, FWP/CNM

Dr. Umar Yunusa is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Nursing Science, Bayero University Kano. He is a registered public health nurse and a fellow of the West African Postgraduate College of Nursing and Midwives. His research focuses on exploring innovative strategies of getting eligible populations, especially those living in resource limited settings, immunized with age-appropriate vaccines. He also works on maternal and child health, reproductive and public health. Though he utilizes both quantitative designs and mixed approach of data collection, his strengths are on qualitative research designs.

Dr. Umar is presently a Visiting Scholar in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. He seeks to work with Dr. Shannon MacDonald and other members of the Aimm team to improve his research and teaching abilities. He desires to effectively utilize, disseminate and scale down the knowledge, skills and experience that will be gained from working with the Aimm research team. He also desires to connect and work with other researchers working on immunization of populations living in low- and middle-income countries.


Former Trainees

Kera Jong, BSc, RN

Airlie Palichuk, BSc, RN

Vidhi Vyas, BSc, RN

Kaylee Kim, BSc, RN

Julia Wolf, BSc, RN

Jennifer Karwacki (née Hermann), MN, RN

Caitlin Chalmers Zaplachinski, MN, RN

Manisha Dhungana, MN, MPh

Tammy Bruno, MN, NP

Jennifer Stevenson, MN, RN

Hannah Sell, MSc

Maggie Lin, MN, NP

Sungmin (Christine) Kim, MN, NP

Eunah Cha, BSc, RN

Terra Manca, PhD

Marilou Kiely, PhD, RN

Ellen Rafferty, PhD

AIMM team photos

Gatherings for celebrations, commemorations, and community-building.