Experts on coronavirus pandemic

Education, Human and Social Development, Social Sciences, Humanities, Law, Science, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Medical Sciences

An illustration of the coronavirus. Credit: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library.

The following University of Victoria experts are available to media to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic: 

Colin Bennett (Political Science) is an expert on access to information and privacy protection legislation. With many people and businesses moving online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bennett can provide insights on how personal data is captured, the pressing need for transparency, the importance of online privacy rights and healthy practices for data collection. (Email at ) 

Marina Bettaglio (Hispanic and Italian Studies) is an expert on the cultures of Italy and Spain, with an emphasis on gender and media studies. She can speak about the impact of COVID-19 on Italian society and culture. (Email at )

Susan Breau (Law) is dean of the Faculty of Law and an expert in international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international disaster law. She can discuss emergency legislation/acts in a broad legal context, both in Canada and internationally. (Email at

Elizabeth Borycki (Health Information Science) is an expert in the role of health information technologies in enabling patient-centred care and information safety when facing an epidemic or outbreak. She can also discuss virtual care, remote monitoring technologies, telehealth and electronic health records. (Email at )    

Martin Bunton (History) is an expert in modern Middle Eastern history. He can speak about how the Middle East in general has been affected, the impact on populations and how governments are responding. (Email at ) 

Mark Colgate (Gustavson School of Business) is director of Gustavson’s corporate MBA programs and is an expert on customer service excellence. He is able to speak about the business impacts of COVID-19 on large and small organizations, as well as consumer trends and tendencies including panic buying. (Email at ) 

Catherine Costigan (Psychology) is an expert in working with vulnerable families experiencing mental health challenges. She explores relationships within families (e.g., parent-child, co-parents, siblings) and how families are affected by external stressors. She can comment on how the current pandemic may be impacting the mental health of families. (Email at )

Stacey Fitzsimmons (Gustavson School of Business) is an expert in international business and organizational behaviour. She can speak about the impacts of the coronavirus on employees and managers, including remote working, employee or consumer behavior in response to uncertainty and anxiety, and the effects of this situation on women, or people who have families in multiple countries, such as newcomers to Canada. (Email at ) 

Robert Gifford (Psychology / Environmental Studies) is an expert in environmental psychology and the barriers to sustainable behavior. He can comment on how people evaluate risks based on immediacy, and how we respond to a pandemic versus climate change. (Email at )

Rob Gillezeau (Economics) is an economist with expertise in public policy. He can speak about federal, provincial and municipal economic policies related to bridging supports for individuals, firms and non-profits during the COVID-19 crisis. He can also speak to the broader economic shock of the crisis, the nature of the probable recession and what economic stimulus should look like after the COVID-19 pandemic is eventually contained. (Email at ) 

Frederick Grouzet (Psychology) is a social psychologist who can speak about how people react to fear and threat, as well as how they perceive risk. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, he can offer his expertise on how people can maintain positive mental health at home. Grouzet is also French-fluent. (Email at ) 

Mitch Hammond (History) is a historian who specialises in early modern Europe health and epidemic disease. He can speak about the social and historical dimensions of pandemics and epidemics, including research from his new book Epidemics and the Modern World. (Email at ) 

Edwin Hodge (Sociology) is an expert in the areas of social movement theory, gender theory and political sociology. He can speak about how the COVID-19 pandemic affects people and social groups in different ways, including conspiracy theories about the outbreak. His research interests include right-wing and traditionalist social movements, extremism and white supremacist activism in North American societies. (Email at ) 

Olav Krigolson (Neuroscience) is an expert in living in isolation (having completed an astronaut-simulation research project in the HI-SEAS Mars Habitat in Hawai’i), decision-making and statistics. In the context of COVID-19, he can discuss what happens to the brain during isolation, and how isolation affects decision-making and performance. (Email at

Andrew Marton (Pacific and Asian Studies) is an expert in contemporary Chinese studies. He can speak about the dimensions of the outbreak related to large cities and mobility in China. (Email at ) 

Bernie Pauly (Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research/Nursing) is a nurse researcher with expertise in public health, substance use, harm reduction and health equity. She is a researcher with the Canadian Homelessness Researcher Network and was involved in pandemic planning for homeless populations during H1N1. Currently, she leads the Canadian Managed Alcohol Program (MAP) study and is an expert resource on MAPs during COVID 19. (Email at )

Junling Ma (Mathematics and Statistics) is an expert in the mathematical and statistical modelling of the spread of infectious diseases, optimal control strategies and the spread of specific diseases such as influenza, HIV, Ebola and cholera. (Email at

Cheryl Mitchell (Gustavson School of Business) is the incoming academic director for the Sustainable Innovation MBA program. She can speak about organizational culture, team dynamics, leading in times of crisis, health systems, public service, stakeholder engagement, avoiding blame in crisis, decision-making and critical thinking, remote working and being creative online. (Email at ) 

Jillian Roberts (Educational Psychology) is an expert in child psychology. She can discuss how parents and other adults can support children and their worries during times of uncertainty. She is available from 9 to 10 a.m. daily. (Email at

Oliver Schmidtke (Centre for Global Studies/History/Political Science) is a political scientist and expert in European politics and history. He is able to speak about the evolving situation around COVID-19 in Europe, including the non-coordinated national attempts to contain the virus, border policies and the role of the European Union in managing the crisis. (Email at

Chris Upton (Biochemistry and Microbiology/Science) is a microbiologist and virologist who can speak about using highly interactive software and other bioinformatics tools to enable users to view and analyze viral genomes. Upton, who was involved in sequencing of the first SARS genome, can also speak to how scientists with this area expertise can use databases and other sequencing technologies in their research. (Email at

Scott Watson (Political Science) is an expert in international relations, security and migration policy. He can speak about how societies deal with disasters and crises, including how the international system contributes to producing and resolving them. (Email at )


Note: Please use email as first point of contact for all experts. During this time, not all experts will be able to respond immediately to your request. Please cc Stephanie Harrington and/or Suzanne Ahearne so we can provide additional support as needed. Broadcasters: Experts' access/availability via Skype/Facetime varies. Please ask individually.


Media contacts

Tara Sharpe (University Communications + Marketing) at

Suzanne Ahearne (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-6139 or

In this story

Keywords: Government, pandemic, health, coronavirus, COVID-19, business, economy, health care, mental health, Political science, Health Information Science, history, Pacific and Asian studies, psychology, sociology, economics, mathematics and statistics, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, nursing, Educational Psychology, Biochemistry and Microbiology

People: Colin Bennett, Susan Breau, Elizabeth Borycki, Martin Bunton, Mark Colgate, Stacey Fitzsimmons, Rob Gillezeau, Fred Grouzet, Mitch Hammond, Edwin Hodge, Andrew Marton, Bernie Pauly, Junling Ma, Cheryl Mitchell, Jillian Roberts, Oliver Schmidtke, Chris Upton

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