BPRI Staff

Laurie Trautman, Ph.D., Director

Laurie wears a black shirt and blue earrings. A plant and painting are visible behind her.


Dr. Laurie Trautman engages in a range of research activities focused on the U.S. – Canada border, particularly in the Washington – British Columbia region. Topics include trade, transportation, security, and human mobility. In addition to working with faculty and students, she collaborates with the private sector and government agencies to advance policy solutions that balance cross-border flows with the need for efficiency and security. Laurie participates in working groups that are actively engaged in the U.S. – Canada relationship, including the International Mobility and Trade Corridor Program and the Canada – U.S. Transportation Border Working Group. She co-chairs the Border Issues working group of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region and was recently appointed to the steering committee for the Cascadia Innovation Corridor. Laurie is currently a Global Fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Center and a Fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
She holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Oregon, a MSc. from Montana State University, and a BA from Western Washington University in Environmental Economics.

Jennifer Bettis, Research & Program Manager

Jennifer smiling in red-orange sweater

(360) 650-3253

Jennifer comes from a background in political science, and has worked in various roles in academia including teaching environmental law & policy and American government at California State University, Chico and managing administrative services in the Department of Journalism here at WWU.

Jennifer will head BPRI research efforts including fieldwork projects, data analysis, and pursuing new research trajectories. She will manage the portfolio of BPRI's research initiatives and grant funded projects; conduct media outreach & manage social media; and will play a critical role in both maintaining and furthering regional understandings of the importance of the international border in the BC – WA context. She holds a Master's degree in Political Science, and a BA in Social Science - both from CSU Chico. 




Ruth Musonda, Administrative Services Manager

Ruth wears a black shirt and smiles.

(360) 650-4675

Having grown up in a coastal California town, Ruth has always felt most at home near the Pacific Ocean and its connected waterways. She studied, worked and played in Vancouver, BC for eight years, and during part of that time she earned a Master’s degree at Regent College. She now enjoys joining her administrative and organizational skills with her deep love for the Salish Sea region. When she isn’t busy helping organize the programs at Canada House, she enjoys swimming, biking and running the lakes, roads and trails in Bellingham and BC’s Lower Mainland.

Don Alper, Ph.D., Research Fellow

Don wears a black sweater and smiles, with foliage visible behind him.


Don is a Professor Emeritus who retired after 43 years of teaching in the Political Science department at WWU. Don established the BPRI in 2005 and served as the longtime director of both BPRI and the Center for Canadian – American Studies.  A native of California, he holds a Ph.D. in political science from The University of British Columbia. Don’s research interests focus on Canadian politics and British Columbia-U.S. transboundary issues. He continues to be involved with the BPRI.