Patty Wellborn

Email: patty-wellborn@news.ok.ubc.ca


 

Collaboration brings cancer research to the community

What: Future of Health Forum on cancer care
Who:  More than 150 delegates and 30 renowned speakers
When: Friday, October 18, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: The Innovation Centre, 460 Doyle Ave., Kelowna, BC
Cost: $50 registration fee

With cancer remaining the leading cause of death in BC, the first-ever Future of Health Forum will focus on research, innovation and strides to improve outcomes for all cancer patients.

UBC Okanagan, Accelerate Okanagan, BC Cancer and Interior Health have joined forces to host an annual forum called Future of Health—an event designed to foster connection and provide an opportunity to exchange ideas around health research and innovation.

For this inaugural year, the Future of Health focuses on cancer and follows the patient journey from preventing and detecting the disease through to diagnosis and treatment and finding ways to support survivors and a patient’s quality of life.

“Our hope is that we have created an environment where clinical and academic colleagues can share their perspectives on the complex problems facing the health-care system today,” says Dr. Ross Halperin, regional medical director for BC Cancer—Kelowna. “Our strategy is to attract and engage the regional innovation community to assist in developing innovative solutions.”

Taking place at the Innovation Centre in downtown Kelowna, leaders in cancer care and research will discuss the current state of cancer care in BC and the innovative research that is shaping the future of health in this province.

“We have attracted top talent from across the country to take the stage at this event,” explains Anne-Marie Visockas, vice-president research and planning with Interior Health. “I think this speaks volumes about the collaborative nature of Canadian health care and our community's reputation for innovation.”

Dr. Connie Eaves, an international leader in stem cell research will deliver the keynote address. Eaves is the winner of the prestigious 2019 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for her pioneering discoveries and advocacy for early-career researchers and women in science.

Dr. Eaves is an extraordinarily creative and accomplished biomedical scientist at the forefront of cancer research. Her work establishing the role of cancer stem cells in breast cancer and leukemia have led to paradigm-shifting insights,” says Phil Barker, vice-principal and associate vice-president, research and innovation at UBC. “She is dedicated to training the next generation of researchers to help find cures for cancer and her research is a superb demonstration of the value of collaborating across disciplines.”

The closing reception will include a screening of The Nature of Things documentary, Cracking Cancer. This short film recounts the journey of seven cancer patients at BC Cancer as they take part in the Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) program—a cutting-edge clinical research initiative that is changing the way oncologists view cancer treatment.

“The strength of our region lies in our ability to collaborate and innovate. This event is another example of these skills at work,” says Brea Lake, acting CEO at Accelerate Okanagan. “Our hope is that this documentary will give hope to those living with cancer and inspire our innovative and entrepreneurial community to join in building the future of health and cancer care right here in BC.”

The Future of Health Forum takes place October 18 and is open to all, including researchers, clinicians, students, innovators, entrepreneurs and the public.

For event information and registration details, visit: futureofhealth.ca

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Gibsons’ CAO shares experience developing eco-assets strategy

What: Nature’s Role as Municipal Infrastructure
Who: Emanuel Machado, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Gibsons, BC
When: Wednesday, September 18 starting at 4:30 p.m.
Where: The Engineering, Management and Education building, room EME 1202, 3333 University Way, UBC's Okanagan campus

Natural assets and the ecosystem services they provide are a fundamental part of local government infrastructure. When properly managed, natural assets such as forests, wetlands and green spaces have many advantages over engineered infrastructure—including being less expensive to operate and maintain.

The Town of Gibsons, BC, was the first North American municipality to manage natural resources using asset management, financial management and ecology principles that are systematically applied to managing engineered assets.

Gibsons’ Chief Administrative Officer Emanuel Machado will share his experience in developing the town’s eco-assets strategy at a special event on September 18 at UBCO. Machado has worked with communities across Canada, promoting a greater use of renewable energy, net-zero buildings, water strategies, social plans and sustainability frameworks, all with a focus on people.

This event, presented by UBC’s Okanagan Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystem Services (BRAES), is free and open to the public. BRAES is a group of more than 30 researchers and graduate students working in ecology, biodiversity and conservation, and environmental sustainability on UBC’s Okanagan campus.

To learn more about BRAES, visit: braes.ok.ubc.ca

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Celine Edwards is this year's Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize winner.

Celine Edwards is this year's Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize winner.

Near-perfect grades, volunteerism and desire to help others leads to Pushor Mitchell recognition

It’s been a dream of Celine Edwards for as long as she can remember—to attend medical school at UBC and improve healthcare delivery for rural populations.

This week, Edwards graduates with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology. She walks the stage not only as a new graduate, but also with the Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize—the highest award available for an Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences student.

Now in its tenth year, the $10,000 prize recognizes a top graduating student who has excelled academically and shown leadership while earning their degree.

Andrew Brunton, managing partner at Pushor Mitchell LLP, says the firm is proud to recognize the accomplishments of another exceptional student at UBC Okanagan.

“We are happy to support Celine in her further studies and development as a community leader,” he says. “We hope she continues to chase her dream of improving healthcare in rural communities. We are proud to be a supporter of UBC Okanagan and to be able to add Celine to the distinguished list of Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize winners.”

Originally from a ranch in the small town of Falkland, BC, Edwards moved to Kelowna to attend UBC Okanagan after receiving a UBC Major Entrance Scholarship. Throughout her studies, she has received many undergraduate awards that recognize her academic excellence and her well-rounded character. Edwards’ decision to major in microbiology was based on its challenging nature and the fascinating research avenues it presented in health care.

Aside from her academic achievements, Edwards gave back to the campus community by working as a teaching assistant, a supplemental learning leader, running the Microbiology Course Union and conducting research on both Alzheimer’s disease and lung cancer. She also serves as a support group facilitator for people with Alzheimer’s, and has devoted much of her time to fundraising for Alzheimer’s research.

Edwards shifted her research direction from neuroscience to cancer last spring when she joined the Early Detection Research Team at the BC Cancer Agency. During her time as a medical physics research intern, she’s been working on characterizing the lung cancer treatment pathway in order to improve the quality and access of care.

UBCO Biology Instructor Janet Kluftinger says Edwards is more than deserving of the award.

“I had the pleasure of teaching Celine in two very challenging courses and in both her level of achievement was exceptional,” says Kluftinger. “Despite a rigorous academic commitment, Celine also managed to find time to pursue valuable volunteer and research opportunities. These experiences seem to have solidified her aspiration to pursue a career in medicine.”

Edwards plans to continue her research at the BC Cancer Agency this summer, before moving to Vancouver in August for her first semester of UBC Medical School. She is thrilled to have been accepted into her top choice of UBC’s Island Medical Program.

“Being selected as the recipient of this prestigious award not only means a lot to me and my family, but also my community,” says Edwards. “I’ll be using the award to finance my studies in medicine, enabling my dream of improving the healthcare and quality of life of people living in rural communities.”

UBCO graduate Celine Edwards crossed the stage at the 11 a.m. ceremony on Thursday, June 6.

UBCO graduate Celine Edwards crossed the stage at the 11 a.m. ceremony on Thursday, June 6.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.

UBC hosts ecologist who explains the science behind pollinator conservation

What: What's the Buzz? Understanding the status of native bees and what you can do to help
Who: York University ecologist Sheila Colla
When: Tuesday, April 16 at 6 p.m.
Where: room ASC 130, Arts and Sciences Building, 3187 University Way, UBC Okanagan

As April showers bring May flowers, those flowers are going to need something to help with pollination. Enter the simple bee.

In Canada, bees make up the most important group of pollinators. However, the status of most wild bee populations in Canada is unknown. UBC Okanagan’s Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystems Services is hosting York University ecologist Sheila Colla, who will talk about the conversation of bees.

Her research uses scientific principles to address conservation issues and focuses on the lesser understood native species such as bees, butterflies and flowering plants.

On April 16, Colla will host a public talk where she will discuss native bee diversity and the ecosystem services they provide. She will give an overview of their conservation status and describe how people can help declining species at both the policy and individual levels.

While in Kelowna, Colla will meet with UBCO Professor Nancy Holmes, who runs the Border Free Bees project and UBC Assistant Professor Adam Ford who runs UBCO’s Wildlife Restoration Ecology Lab. She will also take part in a biodiversity seminar series, present her research at a graduate student seminar, meet with students and faculty and explore Kelowna’s nectar trail and.

Colla’s talk is open to the public, but registration is required. To register, visit: eventbrite.ca/e/whats-the-buzz-tickets-60139222032

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.

Genetic makeup can define whether cancer therapy may do harm

A UBC Okanagan researcher has determined that genes on a specific chromosome may be the answer as to why thoracic radiotherapy leads to a lung injury in some lung cancer patients.

Christina Haston, an associate professor of medical physics, recently published a study examining how chromosome 6 can contribute to radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Her study finds that genetic differences can determine whether or not this lung injury follows radiotherapy in an experimental system.

Christina Haston, associate professor of medical physics.

Christina Haston, associate professor of medical physics.

“Currently, 50 per cent of cancer patients in Canada receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment course,” she explains. “In addition to effects on the tumour, up to 30 per cent of these patients develop side effects to this treatment, or injuries to non-tumour tissue.”

Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive disease related to damaged lung tissue, making it difficult for patients to breathe and process oxygen effectively. Some lung cancer patients have developed pulmonary fibrosis after radiation, while patients with other cancers have developed it after receiving a specific cancer medication called Bleomycin.

“One of the limiting side effects of thoracic radiotherapy is the development of pulmonary fibrosis in a susceptible subpopulation of treated patients,” explains Haston. “However, the specific pathways contributing to fibrosis susceptibility in radiotherapy patients remain unidentified.”

It has been thought that white blood cells, the body’s natural defense mechanism, may contribute to pulmonary fibrosis. Building on this, her research has drawn a connection of chromosome 6 genes to fibrosis susceptibility.

She examined the susceptibility to pulmonary fibrosis on lab mice after radiation therapy and on mice after treatment of Bleomycin. The mice with a replaced chromosome 6 were protected from both radiation-induced and Bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis.

“The recent findings by our lab have specifically identified these genetic differences to reside on chromosome 6,” she adds, explaining that her work may open the door to individualized cancer treatments depending on a person’s specific genetic makeup.

Her study, published in Radiation Research, was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“This research aims to develop a pre-treatment marker based on knowledge of specific genes of radiation injury response,” she adds. “Such a marker could significantly affect Canadians with cancer, by sparing side effects and increasing the dose to a tumour which may, in turn, increase cure rates.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.

Learn about the world-changing discoveries and achievements

What: Nobel Night panel discussion at UBC Okanagan
Who: University researchers discuss this year’s Nobel Prizes
When: Wednesday, December 12, beginning at 7 p.m., refreshments to follow
Where: Lecture theatre FIP 204, Fipke Centre for Innovative Research, 3247 University Way, UBC Okanagan

On December 10, thousands of miles away from the Okanagan, world leaders will gather in both Stockholm and Oslo to watch the 2018 Nobel Prizes be officially awarded.

It was on this same day in 1901 when the first Nobel Prizes were awarded, fulfilling the intentions of Alfred Nobel’s will. For more than a century, the Nobel Prize awards and Laureates continue to garner international attention for their discoveries and achievements.

At UBC Okanagan’s Nobel Night, university professors will explain why the 2018 awards are relevant and significant in today’s changing world. From lasers to curing cancer to the economics of climate change and more, people will learn about some of the world’s most outstanding contributions in physics, chemistry, medicine, peace and economics.

The event will be emceed by UBC Okanagan Chief Librarian Heather Berringer. Following the presentations, there will be an opportunity for audience questions and a social with refreshments. Admission is free. For more information and to register: nobelnight.ok.ubc.ca

About the Nobel Prize in Physics

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering Kenneth Chau will talk about the work of Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Stickland for their groundbreaking work in the field of laser physics.

About the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Associate Professor of Chemistry Kirsten Wolthers will discuss the work of Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter and their research in harnessing the power of evolution.

About the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Associate Professor of Medical Physics Christina Haston will highlight the accomplishments of James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo who were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work in discovering a new cancer therapy.

About the Economic Sciences

Associate Professor of Economics John Janmaat will discuss the work of William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer who have been awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel. The work of Nordhaus and Romer has broadened the scope of economic analysis by constructing models that explain how the market economy interacts with nature and knowledge.

About the Nobel Peace Prize

Professor of Political Science Helen Yanacopulos will speak to the accomplishments of Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad and their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.

Dana Klamut graduated this week with degrees in math and computer science (honours) from UBC Okanagan.

Dana Klamut graduated this week with degrees in math and computer science (honours) from UBC Okanagan.

Winner excels at both math and honours computer science

Things have been adding up for Dana Klamut since she began her academic career at UBC's Okanagan campus five years ago.

Graduating with degrees in math and computer science (honours), Klamut was recognized this week with the Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize—the highest award available for an Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences graduating student.

Now in its ninth year, the $10,000 prize recognizes a top graduating student who has excelled academically and has shown leadership while earning their degree.

“Pushor Mitchell is proud to be a supporter of UBC Okanagan and the Gold Medal Leadership Prize, and continues to promote the outstanding efforts of students,” says Managing Partner James Paterson. “We think that the selection of Dana Klamut is an excellent choice as winner. Her achievements epitomize academic excellence and support gender diversity. Her accomplishments are many and we are proud to be able to add her to our distinguished list of Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Prize winners.”

With a grade point average of 96 per cent, a number of academic accomplishments and a long list of volunteer hours, Computer Science Professor Yves Lucet says Klamut was a shoe-in for the award.

“She is clearly a top academic performer who takes her passion about the promotion of women in science to heart,” says Lucet.

Originally from Penticton, Klamut changed her academic focus to include both mathematics and computer science in her second year. After attending a women in computer science conference, which she called an “enlightening experience” she then grew more passionate about a career in the computer science industry.

In 2015, she helped organize the first-ever Canadian Undergraduate Computer Science Conference, and Lucet says her participation in the event was more than impressive. Along with planning the event, she recruited sponsors, promoted female participation, organized a panel on women in science while also participating in the event.

“Organizing a conference is very challenging, creating a whole conference series is unheard of for undergraduate students,” adds Lucet. “I honestly did not think undergraduate students could pull this off. I attended the conference and I can attest that the speakers were world-class. It left me speechless and the impact on attendees was deep and long-lasting, leading to a highly active course union. This is Leadership with a capital L.”

Ramon Lawrence, associate professor of computer science, taught Klamut in three different courses and he says she is one of the highest performing female students in computer science in the last 10 years. In 2016, she received an undergraduate student research award to study embedded database systems with Lawrence’s research group.

“Despite being the most junior member in the research group, by the end of the summer she made significant contributions which led to a refereed publication,” Lawrence says. “She is both a great role model for women in computer science and a proponent of increased diversity and female participation in the field.”

Klamut has plans to stay in the Okanagan and begin a career in the computer science industry. But she hasn’t ruled out graduate studies, saying she has become passionate about research throughout her undergraduate career and the award will provide that opportunity when that time is right.

"I am truly honoured to be this year's recipient of the Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize and to be recognized in association with one of Kelowna's most prestigious law firms,” says Klamut. “I am also grateful for the personal and academic growth that I have experienced during my time at UBC Okanagan due to the support and encouragement of my amazing professors and peers.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.

UBC Okanagan sustainability researcher Lael Parrott, report editor and contributor

UBC Okanagan sustainability researcher Lael Parrott, report editor and contributor

University experts comment on how climate change is transforming alpine environments

Mountains are bellwethers of climate shifts according to new reporting led by UBC researchers, who suggest these terrains are experiencing a variety of rapid and worrying changes.

Mountains comprise a quarter of the world’s land surface and are home to a quarter of the world’s human population. Across Canada, mountain landscapes cover 1.5 million square-kilometres.

“These giants respond rapidly and intensely to climatic and environmental variation,” says UBC Okanagan sustainability researcher Lael Parrott, report editor and contributor. “Both social and natural scientists are recognizing that mountains are sentinels of change.”

The State of the Mountains Report describes the abrupt effect of retreating glaciers on the flow of mountain rivers and watersheds. The report states entire mountain ranges are showing evidence of change.

“These observations can be considered a window to the future, providing a glimpse of some of the consequences associated with the rapid loss of mountain glaciers to come,” says Parrott.

Other updates in the report include changes in tourism, avalanche prediction, birds and mammals and treelines.

In spite of the serious consequences of some of the changes documented in the report, Parrott and other editors of the report remain optimistic. They suggest that the aim is to increase awareness and inform Canadians about the changes in mountain places. This, in turn, may lead to support for policies on headwaters protection to mitigate risks of flooding, conservation of alpine species and their habitats, as well as management of tourism.

“In times of change, mountains need stewards more than ever,” adds Parrott.

About the State of the Mountains Report

The 2018 State of the Mountains Report, published by the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC), is a collection of expert summaries written to raise awareness about the ways a changing climate is transforming the alpine environment. Editors include University of Alberta mountain historian Zac Robinson, mountain ecology researcher David Hik and Lael Parrott from UBC’s Okanagan campus.

The report is a follow up to a similar 2011 article, which was a summary of research being carried out across the country. The 2018 State of the Mountains Report was produced for the ACC, in partnership with The Royal Canadian Geographic Society. The “On the Map” pages in the May-June 2018 issue of Canadian Geographic complement the material in this report.

Both Lael Parrott and Zac Robinson serve on the Board of Directors of the Alpine Club of Canada. David Hik is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.

UBC Professor Lael Parrott is working to protect low-elevation ecosystems that are important habitat and wildlife movement routes.

UBC Professor Lael Parrott is working to protect low-elevation ecosystems that are important habitat and wildlife movement routes.

Ecological corridor will create north-south migratory route

UBC research is paving the way for a route that will serve as a pilot project to protect green space and allow wildlife to move throughout the Okanagan Valley.

Kelowna was identified in the 2016 Stats Canada census as one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada. With growth comes development and UBC Professor Lael Parrott says the region is in danger of fragmenting low-elevation ecosystems and losing the habitat and movement routes needed by wildlife, especially on the east side of Okanagan Lake.

“This is the last chance we have to protect these areas which are important for at-risk species and many migratory animals,” says Parrott. “If we develop these areas, wildlife that depend on low-elevation habitats will have no chance of moving north to south.”

Four years ago, Parrott’s team began mapping and computer modelling the Okanagan Mountain to Kalamalka Lake corridor, a route many wildlife species already migrate through. The corridor, a combination of different ecosystems including large tracts of low-elevation grasslands and open woodlands, will be a one kilometre-wide area that will connect the approximately 75 kilometres between the two parks. Parrott notes this has been a collaborative effort including several levels of government and the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program, Regional District of the Central Okanagan, local First Nations, and BC’s Ministry of Agriculture.

In addition to protecting habitat, the ecological corridor provides many benefits for humans, including water flow regulation and filtration, habitat for crop pollinators, natural pest control and landscape aesthetics.

UBC Professor Lael Parrott

UBC Professor Lael Parrott

“We can’t fragment our ecosystems,” says Parrott, director of the Okanagan Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystem Services. “A landscape is like a human body and is connected in so many ways. It has water running through it, vegetation and wildlife. If, like a body, it becomes fragmented, it then becomes a series of disconnected sections that don’t function well.”

The corridor is a variety of Crown land and privately-owned property. Much of the area is used for recreational purposes and is populated by animals such as elk, badger, bighorn sheep and a variety of snakes and bats. Protecting this corridor will contribute to maintaining wildlife, ecosystem function and human quality of life in the region.

“We’re hoping to set an example for many parts of Canada because our landscape and our growth and development are not unique to this area,” she adds. “This is an excellent example of UBC Okanagan research having a real-world impact. We live in one of the most beautiful places in Canada, and most of us live here because of the quality of life that comes from our natural ecosystems. We have an opportunity to develop differently, and set an example for other places.”

Parrott recently made a presentation to the Municipality of Lake Country and the corridor is being considered for implementation in the Lake Country Official Community Plan.

This pilot project is partially funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant, Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO), Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP) and BC Ministry of Agriculture.

More information about the wildlife corridor can be found at: http://complexity.ok.ubc.ca/2017/11/06/the-okanagan-mountain-to-kalamalka-lake-ecological-corridor/

 

Newly-minted PhD grad Walaa Moursi and her PhD supervisor Professor Heinz Bauschke celebrate her Governor General gold medal award.

Newly-minted PhD grad Walaa Moursi and her PhD supervisor Professor Heinz Bauschke celebrate her Governor General gold medal award.

Grade point average of 99 per cent solidifies award

A math whiz, who moved with her family more than 10,000 kilometers to continue her education, is UBC’s recipient of the gold 2017 Governor General Academic Medal—one of Canada’s most prestigious academic awards.

Walaa Moursi will receive her PhD in mathematics during convocation ceremonies at UBC Okanagan this week. The award is reserved for the graduate student with the highest academic achievement.

Moursi moved from Egypt, with her husband and young daughter, to pursue her studies in Canada; choosing UBC’s Okanagan campus. A keen student with a bright mind, she has been described by her PhD supervisor Professor Heinz Bauschke as one of the highest-performing students ever in UBC’s Mathematics Graduate Program.

Moursi has specialized in studying the most powerful algorithms in the field of optimization—widely used in applications such as medical imaging and data analysis. A rising star in every aspect, she has co-authored 14 published papers; two years ago, was chosen as the mathematics graduate student of the year. And last year she won UBC Okanagan’s distinguished Provost Award for Teaching Assistants and Tutors.

“Being a Governor General gold medal recipient is a great honour and an extremely prestigious recognition of my doctoral work,” says Moursi, who had a GPA of 99 per cent. “My study at UBC was a life-altering experience. I came to study Mathematics because of its beauty and while here I learned how to convert this beauty into useful tools that contribute to solving real-life problems.”

Currently, she is a Pacific Institute of Mathematics postdoctoral fellow at the University of Calgary. This fall she will spend four months as a research fellow at UC Berkeley, followed by two years with a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

During this week’s convocation events, eight students are being recognized with gold medals for the highest academic achievement for their graduating class. Those students are:

  • University of B.C. Medal in Arts: Josef Zagrodney
  • University of B.C. Medal in Education: Sydney Hertz
  • University of B.C. Medal in Engineering: Trevor Stirling
  • University of B.C. Medal in Fine Arts: Gabriel Delaney
  • University of B.C. Medal in Human Kinetics: Taylor Jordan
  • University of B.C. Medal in Management: Damian Herman
  • University of B.C. Medal in Nursing: Elizabeth Green
  • University of B.C. Medal in Science: Matthew Basso

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