UBCO receives nearly $1.5 million in Canada Foundation for Innovation funding across multiple projects
Children and families in the Okanagan region will be better able to access resources to help them overcome reading difficulties, thanks to recent funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and of the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, made the funding announcement Tuesday, August 29.
A total of six outstanding researchers from across UBC Okanagan were awarded $1.48 million for research infrastructure on campus through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). The fund helps universities recruit and retain incredible faculty members and acquire the tools to support their leading and innovative research.
Dr. Jessica Chan, Assistant Professor from the Okanagan School of Education, is one of the successful recipients. As the principal investigator and leader of the Reading, Language and Mathematics (ReaLM) Lab, she is working to improve literacy outcomes for linguistically diverse students and their families. These diverse students include children from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds, including children exposed to more than one language, as well as children at risk for language or reading difficulties.
The funding from CFI will support Dr. Chan’s research program to apply a holistic approach in understanding children’s literacy development. Part of the award will go towards creating a family-friendly environment in the ReaLM Lab where children and caregivers can read and interact together naturally.
There will also be opportunities within the lab for Dr. Chan to work with the community to understand different learning environments where reading occurs. Dr. Chan emphasizes, “It’s really about increasing representation of those included in research studies and providing the equal opportunity to participate in research.”
Dr. Chan’s research interests include language-based disorders such as dyslexia and developmental language disorder (DLD). As Dr. Chan explains, “One challenge in the identification of students with language-based disorders is that their language skills and profiles vary.” For example, individuals with DLD have broader language difficulties that might show up in difficulties regarding how sentences form or understanding the meanings of words.
“A long-term goal is to improve identification rates of students who may be at risk for language-based disorders through investigating children’s literacy strengths and reading experiences,” says Dr. Chan.
She hopes that her growing partnerships within the local community, including the Okanagan Regional Library and the Central Okanagan School District, can help increase public awareness about language-based disorders.
“Overall, it’s about meeting families and children where they are,” she says. “How can we increase public awareness and develop resources and tools that are community-based so that we can support these learners in different capacities?”
This new funding is invaluable for that goal.
“CFI JELF is a fantastic opportunity for early career scholars. For my research, this award enables the opportunity to create a research environment to support collaborations within our community and across institutions.”
Across both campuses, UBC researchers received more than $9 million for 34 successful projects in this latest round of funding.
UBCO CFI JELF recipients
Chan, Jessica (Okanagan School of Education)
Improving Literacy Outcomes for Diverse Students and their Families in the Reading, Language, and Mathematics Lab
Gargoum, Suliman (School of Engineering)
Smart Analytics Lab for Modelling Advanced and Livable Infrastructure Systems
Holzman, Jonathan (School of Engineering)
Emerging Technologies for Optical Wireless Communications
Irani, Pourang (Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science, CMPS)
Infrastructure for Exploring In-situ Interfaces
Kiesser, Alyse (School of Engineering)
Applied Microbial Systems Ecology: An Integrated Approach to Stable Bioprocesses
Tobber, Lisa (School of Engineering)
Multi-Axial Subassemblage Test System (MAST) to Develop Resilient and Sustainable High-rise Buildings