Research Team

The Roots To Thrive Team is made of Clinician Researchers who, in a diverse, non-hierarchical model, research complex conditions in a complex therapeutic modality for the benefit of patients.

Shannon Dames

Dr. Shannon Dames

Health Professional Investigator, supported through the Michael Smith Health Research BC and Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation. Developing research and education to advance psychedelic-assisted therapies in Canada within a Community of Practice framework. Shannon is also a Professor in the Faculty of Health and Human Services.

Research Activities

Dr. Dames is a scholar with internationally recognized expertise in resilience and psychedelic-assisted therapy research and education. Shannon works across agencies and disciplines to develop collaborative service delivery, education and research programming that synthesizes, translates, and mobilizes knowledge in the area of psychedelic medicine. Her research focuses on a three prong approach, spanning the development of research infrastructure that supports psychedelic service delivery and education development.

The main objective of her innovative research is to promote resiliency and reconciliation by collaborating across cultures and silos by acknowledging multiple ways of knowing, and blending the best of western ways of knowing with Indigenous ways of knowing for the healing benefit of all. 

Pam Kryskow

Dr. Pamela Kryskow

Dr. Pamela Kryskow is a medical doctor and the medical lead of the Non Profit Roots To Thrive Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Programs that treats health care providers and first responders with PTSD, depression, anxiety, addiction and people with end of life distress.

She is a founding board member of the Psychedelic Association of Canada and the medical chair of the Vancouver Island University Post Graduate Certificate in Psychedelic Medicine assisted Therapy.

She is a clinical instructor at UBC and adjunct professor at VIU. Dr Kryskow is actively involved in research related to psilocybin, MDMA, ketamine, front line health care workers and first responders mental wellness. She is co-investigator on the largest microdosing study which is ongoing with 20,000+ enrolled participants. 

Prior to studying medicine she was a City of Coquitlam Firefighter for 8 years and provincial forestry firefighter for 4 seasons. In real life she loves hiking in the forest, ocean kayaking, growing kale and daydreaming in the hammock.

Her heritage includes Polish, Ukrainian, and German. She currently resides in the traditional unceded territory of the Klahoose First Nations.

Pronouns: She/her.

Mathew Fleury

Mathew Fleury

Mathew Fleury is nēhiyawak (Plains Cree) and, as a proud member of one of the founding families of the Métis Nation, he has deep roots in the Red River Valley of Manitoba. As an Indigenous Social Worker, community-based researcher, data scientist, and public health professional, Mathew draws from his lived, academic, and professional experiences to apply grassroots research and policy approaches to issues impacting Indigenous peoples, including harm reduction, mental health, accessibility, and HIV/AIDS. With lived and living experiences and as a neurodivergent, queer, and Two Spirited individual, Mathew recognizes the need to promote the inclusion of those who have been faced with marginalization. His passion for human rights and culture have earned him a new name, proffered by Elders in his community: Gimewan Niimi (Rain Dancer). Following studies in psychology at Queen’s University, Mathew graduated from Laurentian University’s Indigenous Social Work program and completed studies in Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. In 2021, he was promoted from the role of Indigenous Harm Reduction Community Coordinator to Manager, Research and Knowledge Exchange at the FNHA where he is responsible for managing the overall approach, design, and implementation of medium to large-scale research initiatives. Mathew is a Research Associate at the BC Centre for Disease Control as well as an Instructor in the Faculty of Health and Human Services at North Island College and the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He is also an Adjunct Professor and PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Valorie Masuda

Dr. Valorie Masuda

Dr. Valorie Masuda is a palliative care physician and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at UBC. She graduated from UBC in 1986 with BSc in honours pharmacology and in graduated in 1990 as a Medical Doctor. She worked in the Haida Gwaii and then in the Yukon for 8 years and then as an emergency physician in Cowichan Valley for 16 years. She completed her residency in palliative care in 2014 and has worked in the Cowichan Valley as a palliative care physician and as a general practitioner in oncology since.

Dr. Masuda currently serves on the Board of Therapsil, a non-profit organization which advocates for access to psilocybin assisted therapy.  She is the past-president of Roots to Thrive Society for Psychedelic therapy and currently works as a facilitator on the clinical team.  

Dr. Masuda is also a part-time farmer working towards sustainable, humane, local food production and enjoys spending time with her family as well as participating in two local orchestras both as a vocalist and playing the viola.

Dr. Masuda is of mixed Japanese-European ancestry and is living and working on the unceded territory of the Quw-utsun First Nation.

Georgina Martin

Dr. Georgina Martin

Georgina Martin’s ancestry is Secwepemc (Shuswap) and she is a member of Lake Babine Nation (Carrier). She developed the curriculum for First Nations Health and Wellness I & II and teaches both courses in the Community Health Promotion for Aboriginal Communities program at VIU. Georgina incorporates Indigenous Knowledge in her teaching philosophy and advocates for Indigenous communities with respect to education, health, and social issues. As a Governor of the Central Interior Native Health Society (1998-2000) she supported the planning, delivery, and evaluation of culturally based health programs that addressed the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of First Nation clients. Georgina provided face-to-face support to Band Administrators and Health Care Representatives for the Brighter Futures Program, Nobody’s Perfect Training, HIV/Aids health education, Community Health Plans, and Heath Transfer Agreements in her role as the Community Health Development Officer (1993-1997) for Health Canada. Georgina has over twenty-three years of experience with various federal and provincial government departments.

In 2014, she completed her PhD research titled “Drumming my way home: An intergenerational narrative inquiry about Secwepemc identities” which examined the stories of three generations and how knowing oneself strengthens identities. The results showed how the content of stories and the process of storytelling open a new world of pedagogy, meaning, and philosophical knowledge that reaches across disciplines. Her research interests include intergenerational trauma from residential schools and Indian hospitals, cultural identity, Indigenous self-determination, Indigenous education, and Indigenous voice. Through her lived-experience she promotes the reclamation of space for Indigenous peoples by infusing relevant and respectful content in her curriculum and speaking her truth in public lectures to educate the populace about the historical injustices thrust upon Aboriginal peoples.

Vivian Tsang

Dr. Vivian Tsang

Dr. Tsang is a physician specializing in psychiatry. She is a graduate  of the University of British Columbia (MD), the University of Toronto (ICD.D), and Harvard University (MPH). She is recognized as a National Schulich Scholar, TEDx speaker, and WE Day National Speaker. Dr. Tsang is the research lead of Roots to Thrive, a non-profit clinic and a Director of the new Naut Sa Mawt Psychedelic Institute on Vancouver Island.

She is the CEO of The HOPE Initiative, an award-winning Canadian charity, working to improve access to education and employment opportunities for vulnerable youth. Dr. Tsang is involved with paediatric patient advocacy as the National Director of KidsCan, a youth research advisory group involving 17 paediatric centres across Canada. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Childhood Cannabinoid Clinical Trials, one of Canada’s largest paediatric studies on the effects of cannabinoid-based products on children and youth. Dr. Tsang represented the Faculty of Medicine on the Senate, the university’s highest academic governing body. She has lead the evaluation of the organization and management of over 60 university-affiliated research institutions and centres. Dr. Tsang also spent time working with the World Health Organization (WHO) in South Africa and Zimbabwe implementing the WHO HealthWISE toolkit as well as at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva in the Special Programme for Tropical Diseases Research.



Dr. Raimey Olthuis

Dr. Raimey Olthuis is a PhD from the Medical Sciences Department at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. Her research focused on action-perception interactions. More specifically, how varying task constraints influence the proportional reliance on different visual information sources and the consequential impact this has on movement execution. 

She holds the role of  Manager of Early Careers Recruitment at Stemcell Technologies and worked previously for several years with Interior Health. Working in healthcare and observing the mental health challenges facing our society has piqued her research interest towards exploring innovative treatments, including the potential of Psychedelics.

Raimey is of Dutch and Irish ancestry and has called many places around the world home over the past decade. She currently resides in Kamloops, the traditional unceded territory of the Secwepemc First Nations.


Michelle Gagnon

Michelle is a Registered Nurse with a background in emergency, critical care, and medical assistance in dying. As a by-product of her master’s research, which focused on moral distress in pediatric critical care nurses related to the death and dying of child patients, Michelle became interested in the use of psychedelic medicine for distress.

She is currently a PhD student at the University of British Columbia with a research focus on the intersections of ethics, therapeutic psychedelics, healthcare practices. Michelle worked with non-profit group TheraPsil to support Canadians seeking access for medical psilocybin through Health Canada. She also spends time volunteering with the Psychedelic Association of Canada’s Ethics Working Group to draft and disseminate articles related to pressing ethical topics in the psychedelic field. 

In her free time Michelle is an avid baker and enjoys reading mystery and fantasy. Through mud and snow, she enjoys mountain biking the trails where she lives in the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, the Métis Nation (Region 3), and all who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.

Krys Sciberras

Krys Sciberras

Krys Sciberras is a Registered Clinical Counsellor. She has worked in the Mental health and Substance Use field, managing teams in various leadership roles. Krys brings significant knowledge and experience with team-based care in a clinical setting and supporting change initiatives with a strong focus on enhancing access to mental health services across the region. This varied experience working in a clinical environment offers a thorough understanding of the challenges in health care and a powerful desire to create changes through innovative methods to support a new model of care.

Krys has a Master’s in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University. Krys is working towards her doctorate in Counselling and Psychotherapy to influence policy and practice changes needed to support people with their experience of living with mental illness to live well and thrive. She is part of the Research and Development team at Vancouver Island University.

Krys works with the non-profit society Roots to Thrive. Canada’s first and only multidisciplinary, non-profit healthcare practice to legally offer evidence-informed, multi-week group therapy programs that use a community-of-practice model uniquely designed to address trauma, promote resilience, and include psilocybin-assisted and ketamine-assisted group therapy.

Krys’s ancestry is Maltese and Quebecois, and she lives on the traditional unceded territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation.

Tamara Pearl

Tamara Pearl

Tamara Pearl is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and PhD candidate who has worked, taught, and researched in the field of healing for over 25 years in a variety of settings. She has a BA in applied mathematics from UC Berkeley and an MA in psychology from Antioch University. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at SFU where her research explored how healing relationships are formed at an Kwikwexwelhp Indigenous Healing Village, a minimum-security prison.


Tamara taught as an adjunct faculty member at Adler University for four years. In her private counselling practice she uses somatic therapies, expressive arts, EMDR, self-compassion, somatic internal family systems therapy, and other modalities. She has a certificate in Indigenous Focusing Oriented Therapy for Complex Trauma and is particularly interested in healing personal, intergenerational, cultural and collective trauma through accessing the body’s felt sense and innate inner wisdom. She has worked for Reconciliation Canada co-facilitating large reconciliation dialogue workshops to create a new way forward together, and for Roots to Thrive Society as a psychedelic-assisted therapist. She is currently enrolled in VIU’s psychedelic-assisted therapy graduate certificate program.

Tamara’a ancestry is Iraqi Jewish on her mother’s side, and Israeli and Polish Jewish on her father’s side.

Zach Walsh

Dr. Zach Walsh

Zach Walsh, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, a Research Affiliate with the BC Centre on Substance Use, and a Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, where he directs the Therapeutic, Recreational, and Problematic Substance Use lab and the Problematic Substance Use clinic.  Zach is a member of the Advisory Board of MAPS Canada and a member of the International Research Society on Psychedelics. He has published and presented widely on topics related to psychedelics, cannabis, mental health and psychotherapy, and has worked clinically on trials of MDMA, psilocybin and cannabis therapies. Zach’s current clinical research interests include psychedelic psychotherapy training, harm reduction using cannabis and psychedelics, and integrating CBT and MET interventions with psychedelic psychotherapy.


Jimena Chalchi GP

Jimena Garcia Paniagua is a MA Global Leadership graduate student that has focused her research and professional skills on the recovery, revitalization and practice of Indigenous Health Systems and Planetary Health. 

Her most extensive research has been on the traditional knowledge, philosophy and practices of entheogenic medicine and land-based healing practices among Indigenous Peoples of Mexico and Peru. She has delved into the knowledge that the Wixarika’ peoples’ hold about Hikuri (Lophophora williamsii); the Mazatec peoples have of the Ndi xi tjo (Psilocybe caerulescens) and the Shipibo peoples have of the brew known as Oni (concentrate decoction of Vanisteriosa Caapi and Psychotria viridis). 

She is experienced working in Indigenous contexts, bridging intercultural partnerships, developing cultural recovery projects, and knowledge translation for diverse audiences. She is actually supporting the Naut sa mawt Center for Psychedelic Research by developing a stewardship framework for the Indigenous and non Indigenous  intercultural collaboration

Wes Taylor

Wes Taylor

Wes Taylor is leading Program and Team Development for Roots to Thrive, a not-for-profit organization providing multi-week, community-focused resiliency programs and legal psychedelic assisted therapies for people experiencing PTSD, depression, anxiety, addiction, disordered eating, and end of life distress.  He is working as a research assistant while completing the Graduate Certificate in Psychedelic Psychotherapy with Vancouver Island University.

His background as a therapist in addiction and trauma recovery in the US and Australia led to a deep focus and practice with Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Bringing together best practices from Psychotherapy, NVC, Integral Theory, Restorative Justice, and more to his work of Organizational Development in healthcare, Wes works with First Nations Health Authority, the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and with private organizational and individual clients.

Wes has English, Welsh, and German ancestry and is humbled and grateful to currently live within the unceded traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw people.