December 2022



Welcome to the December 2022 issue of Letter from the President, a regular communication to members of the UBC community.


Nineteen UBC researchers announced as Canada Research Chairs

Nineteen UBC researchers were announced last month as new and renewed Canada Research Chairs. representing an investment of $19.3 million through the Canada Research Chairs program. The Canada Research Chairs Program enables Canadian universities to achieve the highest levels of research excellence and become world-class research centres. Chairholders improve our depth of knowledge and quality of life, strengthen Canada’s international competitiveness, and help train the next generation of highly skilled people through student supervision, teaching and the coordination of other researchers’ work.

Read more here.

Frank Laezza appointed Vice-President, Finance and Operations

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Frank Laezza as UBC’s new Vice-President, Finance and Operations.

Mr. Laezza will join us from Murdoch University, Australia, where he is Chief Financial Officer with responsibility for leading the university’s business and finance functions, as well as for the management of its financial and capital resources. He will be starting in his new role on or before March 13, 2023. I look forward to welcoming him to UBC.


Staying safe during the winter flu season

Last week the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal and I sent out a UBC Broadcast reminding the UBC community of the important ways to help prevent illness and help keep yourself, and others, safe, including staying at home if sick, keeping vaccinations up to date, and completing a daily COVID-19 health assessment. You can read the full Broadcast here.

Student affordability and food insecurity

In recent weeks, we have heard from students about concerns related to affordability and food insecurity. The global recession and inflation, at a 40-year high, is causing financial challenges for many members of the UBC community and putting pressure on all areas of the university. Recognizing the urgency around this issue, the university is investing $2.4 million this year in food security-related aid between the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, including: Student Financial Aid, the UBC Meal Share Program and funding student-led programs such as the AMS Food Bank, Acadia Park Food Hub, Sprouts and Agora. More details are available here.


Celebrating UBC’s graduates

On November 25, we completed UBC’s Fall graduation ceremonies at the Chan Centre on the UBC Vancouver campus. We also held make-up graduation ceremonies last month for the Classes of Fall 2020, Spring 2020, & Spring 2021 on both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. I was thrilled to participate in the ceremonies and to celebrate with the thousands of graduates and their families. You can relive the joyful moments at


UBC sends delegation to COP27

I am proud that UBC sent its largest ever delegation of students, faculty, and staff to the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt last month. By participating in the COP as official observers, the delegates deepened their understanding of how global climate negotiations work, and also demonstrated UBC’s exemplary work on the climate emergency with this global gathering. Read more here.

Also, delegate and international economics student Abul Bashar Rahman shared his insights from the UN climate conference, advice for students about advancing climate justice, and why we need more voices to represent those most affected by climate change.


UBC receives Gold certification in Mental Health at Work from Excellence Canada

UBC achieved Gold certification for the Mental Health at Work® Framework at the 2022 Canada Awards for Excellence in Toronto on November 7, 2022.
The Gold certification was presented by Excellence Canada, an independent, not-for-profit corporation and a national authority on quality and healthy workplace practices. Read more here.

News from around UBC

Faculty of Applied Science: Dr. Lisa Tobber is leading a research group that is advancing knowledge of how to design and construct disaster-resilient buildings. UBC Nursing, SALA and Engineering top Canadian university rankings. • A new three-year, $6.6-million collaboration will focus on building research capacity and developing solutions in sustainability engineering, smart cities and the circular economy. • Twenty Applied Science-led research projects received a total of $3M in research support from BCKDF and CFI JELF. • New tools from UBC Nursing aim to improve care for people experiencing substance use stigma. • Dr. John Frostad leads a team that is creating new ways of encapsulating omega-3 fatty acids so astronauts can have better nutrition in space

Faculty of Arts: The Centre for Computational Social Science launched this fall. The Centre will promote interdisciplinary scholarship within and between social science disciplines, focusing on how data and computation can advance our understanding of society, and how data and computation are implicated in forms of power and inequality. •  Four Arts professors were named Canada Research Chairs, including Dr. Billy-Ray Belcourt (Creative Writing), Dr. Sara Knox (Geography), Dr. Renisa Mawani (Sociology), and Dr. Helena Wu (Asian Studies).

Faculty of EducationUBC’s first fully online program, the Master of Educational Technology (MET), celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2022. Since its development by the Faculty of Education in partnership with Tec de Monterrey and UBC’s Distance Education and Technology unit, MET has graduated more than 1300 students from 61 countries. MET graduates have gone on to employment in many fields, including K-12 and post-secondary education in Canada and internationally, film and media, government departments, educational publishing and educational roles in the healthcare, corporate, and tourism sectors. To mark this milestone anniversary, MET is hosting an Inclusive Makerspace Conference in May, 2023. 

The Faculty of Medicine celebrated 20 years of Indigenous excellence in medicine with anniversaries of the Indigenous MD Admissions Pathway and Indigenous Family Medicine Residency Program. • Researchers at UBC and BCCHRI uncovered the diagnosis for a young Syrian refugee facing reduced mobility and recurring cancers. And other UBC researchers and the BC Cancer Research Institute uncovered new insights into how a dangerous subset of breast and ovarian cancers evolve — insights that could help us better understand how to treat these aggressive cancers. • UBC faculty of medicine researchers received $11.1 million in federal funding for two new projects to advance mRNA vaccine technologies and boost the impact of B.C. biotechnology on the global stage.

UBC Okanagan: The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan) announced $1.04 million in funding to UBCO to help local businesses implement cutting-edge circular economy practices. • A group of UBCO students won gold at 2022 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition with their creation of a living light bulb which can convert greenhouse gases into oxygen. UBCO is marking the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence on December 6 with two events, including the installation and lighting of a permanent memorial outside the Engineering Management and Education (EME) building.  

Peter A. Allard School of Law: Professor Karin Mickelson has been awarded the Jim Taylor, QC Faculty Scholar Award, which honours faculty members who have consistently given more than their fair share of time and energy to the Faculty. • At this year’s Allard Law Alumni Achievement Awards, Professor Gordon Christie received theAlumni Award for Research, recognizing his many contributions to the fields of Indigenous studies and jurisprudence.

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Following the completion of the Pharmacists in PCN Program‘s second year of implementation, UBC has published Year Two Highlights: 2021–2022, a document that features milestones, achievements and areas of development to date. Read more here:

UBC Sauder School of Business: Dr. Rebecca Paluch, an Assistant Professor in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division, has been recognized as the 2022 Untapped Workplace Inclusion Champion by the Open Door Group, a non-profit employment service focused on building equity, diversity and inclusion to create to a barrier-free B.C.

Faculty of Science: UBC members of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) were among the leaders in cosmology, pulsar research and high energy astrophysics that were recognized this Fall with the 2022 Brockhouse Canada Prize. The NSERC prize recognizes highly collaborative interdisciplinary teams of Canadian researchers who combine their expertise to produce achievements of outstanding significance in the natural sciences and engineering.


As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments on this newsletter. I wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday season.

Deborah Buszard
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor


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