Spring 2023



Welcome to the Spring 2023 issue of Letter from the President, a regular communication to members of the UBC community.


Welcome to Frank Laezza

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Frank Laezza, our new Vice-President, Finance and Operations. He is responsible for leading the VPFO team in the core financial, facilities, and safety functions of the university across both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. He comes to UBC after serving in leadership roles at a suite of Australia’s post-secondary institutions, including Murdoch University, Technical and Further Education State Vocational College, the University of Technology in Sydney, and the University of New South Wales. He holds a degree in Business/Commerce from the University of Technology Sydney, and an MBA from the University of Wollongong. You can read more about Frank here.

I’d also like to express my thanks to Yale Loh and John Metras for serving as interim vice-president, finance and interim vice-president, operations respectively over the past several months.


UBC Researchers Receive International Honours

Three UBC researchers have received prestigious international accolades recently.

UBC evolutionary biologist Dr. Dolph Schluter has been awarded the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (RSAS) and the Crafoord Foundation for his research into the role of natural selection in adaptive radiation and the origin of species. The Crafoord Prize, which includes 6,000,000 Swedish krona ($780,000 CAD) to fund further research by the winner, is awarded by the RSAS in disciplines they don’t consider for Nobel Prizes.

And Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries professors Drs. Daniel Pauly and Rashid Sumaila (School of Public Policy and Global Affairs) were awarded the 2023 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. The $250,000 Tyler Prize is administered by the University of Southern California.


Congratulations to Faculty Research Awards Recipients

I’d like to congratulate Mark Halpern (Jacob Biely Research Prize), Paul Kershaw (President’s Award for Public Education Through Media) and all the other recipients of the 2022 Faculty Research Awards. You can read more about the winners here.


UBC Okanagan Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Innovation building

In early January, UBC Okanagan broke ground on the site of the new Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Innovation (ICI) building. Set to open in December 2025, the ICI will bring together scholars and students in a new and innovative way. The ICI will be uniquely organized into neighbourhoods shared by teams of interdisciplinary researchers from across UBC Okanagan’s entire research spectrum. Learn more about the ICI building.

UBC to lead Immuno-Engineering and Biomanufacturing Hub

Canada’s biotech ecosystem is poised for a major boost with the federal government announcement earlier this month that B.C. will be home to Canada’s Immuno-Engineering and Biomanufacturing Hub (CIEBH). The B.C.-based research and innovation hub, led by UBC, brings together a coalition of provincial, national and international partners to position Canada as a global epicentre for the development and manufacturing of next-generation immune-based therapeutics.


UBC breaks ground on new Food and Beverage Innovation Centre

I had the honour to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new UBC Food and Beverage Innovation Centre earlier this month. Joining me were (l-r) Anubhav Pratap-Singh, Rickey Yada, Srishty Maggo, Dana-Lyn Mackenzie, David Kitts & Dave Eto. Read more about the new centre here.


News from around UBC

Faculty of Applied Science: together with Teck Resources, the Faculty announced a $4 million investment into a new professorship focused on enhancing safety and sustainability in mine tailings management. • Dr. Kristen Haase from the School of Nursing is leading a new study about systemic discrimination experienced by older adults with cancer. • Dr. Mohammad Arjmand, together with a team of researchers from UBCO School of Engineering, is working on solutions to the 380 million tonnes of plastic waste produced globally each year • Dr. Tony Yang, UBCV Engineering, is leading new research in carbon neutral, disaster-resilient timber construction, that may be the answer to addressing Canada’s urgent housing needs and climate change commitments.

The Faculty of Arts has honoured five recipients with its new Dean of Arts Mentorship Award, celebrating Dr. Christina Laffin, Dr. Mark Turin, Dr. Mary Chapman, Dr. Patrick Moore and Dr. Tamara Mitchell for their outstanding commitment to promoting the academic and personal growth of junior colleagues, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. Additionally, Dr. Aynur Kadir, Dr. Kay Duffy, Dr. Kimberley Huyser and Dr. Lisa Coulthard were selected as recipients of the 2022/23 Dean of Arts Faculty Research Awards. Dr. Rashid Sumaila was co-awarded the 2023 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for research on the connections between fisheries and climate. • UBC Geography was ranked 7th in the world in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023.

The Faculty of Education recently released its Research Report 2020–2022, featuring the research of twelve Education scholars who embody, individually and collectively, the Faculty’s and University’s strategic research priorities, community engagement, and contributions to knowledge and social justice in relation to four broad themes. To appreciate the full breath of diversity and innovation in research in education at UBC, download the full report [PDF].

The Integrated Renewal Program is holding two call-in sessions to help UBC community members increase their understanding of the changes that will come with the launch of Workday Student. The two sessions, Student Journey Through Registration and Graduate Education Session, take place May 2 and May 30 respectively. Find out more information at irp.ubc.ca/c-events and also check out the latest blog post here.

Peter A. Allard School of Law: Though Allard Law’s new Afghan Women Judges Program, three judges from Afghanistan have recently joined the law school. Judge Bibi Wahida Rahimi accepted a two-year position as a Research Associate. Judges Freshta Masomi and Zamila Sangar accepted two-year appointments as visiting scholars with the Centre for Asian Legal Studies.

UBC Okanagan partnered with the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce for a special event on February 9 to share an insider’s view of UBCO Downtown, currently under construction in the heart of Kelowna. The event included an introduction by Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Lesley Cormack and presentations by three outstanding health researchers who will be based in the new space and who are already engaged with community partners in cutting-edge research: Dr. Mary Jung from the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, who explores Type 2 diabetes prevention; Dr. Shelly Ben-David from the School of Social Work, who focuses on youth mental health and early intervention; and doctoral student Lauren Airth from the School of Nursing, who is researching drug-checking models as a way of preventing toxic drug poisonings.

Pharmaceutical Sciences: Catalyst for Change 2.0 is the Faculty’s new strategic plan that will provide direction from now through to the end of 2026. The plan will build on the Faculty’s successes and leverage unique opportunities to create lasting change in the profession and practice of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences. • The new Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences website has a fresh, updated look that makes use of the latest brand assets from UBC as well as improved accessibility features. A snapshot of latest publications, grants, and overall Faculty metrics may now be viewed on the homepage.

UBC Sauder Faculty Advisory Board Chair Warren Spitz along with his wife Maureen and their family, have donated an additional $500,000 to the Spitz Fellows Program which is aimed at enabling and supporting Indigenous women to pursue business education. Launched by the Spitz family in 2015 with a $1 million initial gift, the program was developed in consultation with UBC Sauder and Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education, and with input from Indigenous and academic communities. • Dean Darren Dahl has been awarded the top honour by the Society of Consumer Psychology for his research on creativity and social influence. He has been named a 2023 Fellow for his outstanding contributions to consumer psychology through research and service. • The Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics and the UBC Sauder Dean’s Office congratulate the eight thought leaders who have been awarded Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Catalyst Grants for 2023. These grants provide seed funding to support research in the field of EDI.


Deborah Buszard
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor