Amber Hanson

Communications Manager

Office: ADM006H
Phone: 250.807.8035


Amber’s communications career spans two decades and includes leadership expertise in large public, private and non-profit organizations.

Her specializations include strategic communications planning, audience analysis, media relations, branding and promotion, digital storytelling, government relations, crisis communications, issues management, public engagement, event programming and promotion.

Her career highlights include the implementation of a national visitor experience and external relations strategy for Parks Canada, Canada-US bilateral affairs for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC, media relations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, managing humanitarian and community outreach programs for the Canadian Red Cross, and the successful launch of a $55-million sustainable waterfront development on Vancouver Island.


• Develops strategic communication plans to increase awareness and elevate the reputation of UBCO research and innovation activities.

• Provides communication expertise and support to interdisciplinary research clusters and institutes and the UBC Survive and Thrive Applied Research (STAR) initiative.

• Oversees knowledge exchange events and entrepreneurship activities (interim role)

• Plays key role in partnership development and stakeholder engagement.


two new research clusters funded

Two new Clusters of Research Excellence were awarded Eminence funding in the 2021 competition that closed on September 16th, 2021.

Two existing clusters also received a second round of funding based on special criteria, including progress achieved towards cluster goals and potential for financial sustainability.

The Office of the Vice-Principal, Reseach and Innovation has funded 19 interdisciplinary research teams focused on solving key challenges facing society since the Eminence Program launched in 2017.

2021 Clusters of Research Excellence:

Urban Indigenous Wellbeing
Responding to urban Indigenous community needs through a holistic approach to spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health.

Cluster leads: Donna Kurtz and Gabrielle Legault; 7 cluster team members


Plastic Recycling
Addressing plastic waste from diverse technological, environmental, management, social and policy-making perspectives.

Cluster lead: Mohammad Arjmand; 5 cluster team members


2021 Funding Renewals:

  1. Green Infrastructure (Green Construction Research and Training Centre) Cluster lead: Shahria Alam; 8 cluster team members
  2. Indigenous-Led Impact Assessment Cluster lead: Kevin Hanna; 7 cluster team members


Special thanks to the committee who adjudicated the 2021 Eminence Fund competition.

2022 Competition:

Letters of intent for the next cycle of funding will be accepted starting in August 2022 with award notification in November 2022.  Please contact Nicole Bennett with any questions.


Best regards,

Dr. Phil Barker
Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research and Innovation
University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus

Celebrating Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarly Activity


Dear colleagues,

I am delighted to announce this year’s faculty and student Researcher of the Year award recipients. Each has made significant contributions to research and creative scholarly activity at UBC Okanagan. Please join me in congratulating this year’s outstanding awardees.


2022 Faculty Researchers of the Year


Jennifer Davis | Faculty of Management

Health award

Jennifer Davis is a Canada Research Chair in Applied Health Economics. Her research focuses on improving the health of older Canadians at risk for falls or cognitive decline. Jennifer assesses the economic value of dementia and mobility intervention and prevention efforts through partnerships with clinicians. Her international collaborations have resulted in policy change and significant advancements in applying health economic evidence to lifestyle interventions.


Kyle Larson | Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science


Kyle Larson is an innovator of analytical techniques for tectonics research. Kyle’s novel methods have led to fundamental discoveries about how major mountain belts form, including a solution to a decades-old geological controversy surrounding the origin of the Himalaya. As Director of the Fipke Laboratory for Trace Element Research (FiLTER), Kyle has helped develop paradigm-shifting methods for rapid dating of geological material.


Margaret MacIntyre Latta | Okanagan School of Education

social sciences and humanities award

Margaret Macintyre Latta is a prominent researcher transforming traditional approaches to education. A champion of interdisciplinary and community-based research, her focus is to advance curriculum as a shared participatory learning experience that inspires reconciliation. Her practice-engaged research with Indigenous, school district and community partners supports educators in decolonizing their curriculum and teaching practices.



2022 Student Researcher of the Year

Rhyann McKay

Graduate Studies (PhD) award

As a PhD candidate, Rhyann McKay conducted leading-edge research in partnership with provincial spinal cord injury (SCI) organizations across Canada to co-develop behaviour change interventions for support providers to enhance wellbeing and self-care. Rhyann is currently a health system impact fellow at the University of Alberta, evaluating the implementation of acute care intervention.




award celebration

We will be hosting a special celebration to honour our 2022 Researcher of the Year award recipients. This is a unique opportunity for our campus community to come together and celebrate our research achievements from the past year. We hope you can attend.


Date:         Friday, May 6th, 2022
Location:  Innovation Centre | 460 Doyle Ave
Time:        2:00 – 4:00 pm | Award presentations followed by a rooftop reception
RSVP:        Register to attend the celebration. All are welcome.



Phil Barker
Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research and Innovation
University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus


The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced today a combined investment of more than $550 million for more than 5,500 researchers through the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) 2020 Transformation Competition, the Canada Research Chairs and Tri-Agency scholarships and fellowships.

“Our government has taken action to establish the role of science and scientists, and over the past two years, all Canadians have seen the true impacts of science and research in our lives. Such is the value of Canadian institutions and researchers who think outside the box to tackle major challenges. These programs are a catalyst for generating new breakthroughs and discoveries that will improve people’s lives, nourish our innovation ecosystems and shape Canada’s prosperity for years to come. Congratulations to all recipients!”

– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Prominent and emerging researchers are focused on the environment, health, reconciliation, economic development and more.



The Canada Research Chairs Program is investing more than $151 million to support 188 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 43 institutions. The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), a partner with the Canada Research Chairs Program, will invest more than $9.5 million to support 43 chairholders at 19 institutions across the country through its John R. Evans Leaders Fund for the cutting-edge labs and equipment they need to pursue their important work.

Twenty-two UBC researchers were appointed as new and renewed Canada Research Chairs in the latest round of appointments announced on January 12, 2022. The new and renewed UBC chairholders being announced represent an investment of $19.5 million through the Canada Research Chairs program. $1 million was awarded to seven new chairholders at UBC through the CFI John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

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.

new ubco chairs

  1. Davis, Jennifer (Faculty of Management) Tier 2CRC in Applied Health Economics
  2. Li, Isaac (Faculty of Science) Tier 2 CRC in Single-Molecule Biophysics and Mechanobiology
  3. Neimanis, Astrida (Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, English and Cultural Studies | Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences) Tier 2 CRC in Feminist Environmental Humanities



The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) also awarded funding through its John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), in partnership with the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program. The JELF funding allows universities to attract top talent in diverse fields of research by providing them with the state-of-the art infrastructure required to think big and innovate. CFI announced an investment of more than $9.5 million to 43 Canada Research Chairs at 19 universities across the country for the cutting-edge labs and equipment they need to pursue their important work. The total includes more than $2 million under the CFI’s Infrastructure Operating Fund to help institutions with the incremental operating and maintenance costs associated with the new infrastructure.

A combined total of $1m in JELF Funding was awarded to 7 new UBC Canada Research Chairs: Drs. Jennifer Davis, Jane Hill, Janice Leung, Isaac Li, Manu Sasidharan Madhav, Lillian Hung and Heidi Tworek.


  1. Davis, Jennifer (Faculty of Management UBCO) Patient-oriented Health Economics Research Laboratory $85,168
  2. Li, Isaac (Chemistry UBCO) Investigating the Mechanobiology of Diseases at the Single-molecule Level $200,000


Dear Colleagues,

On July 12, 2021, the federal government released new National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships.  The federal government is introducing these guidelines to ensure the Canadian research ecosystem is “as open as possible and as secure as necessary”.

The Guidelines integrate national security considerations into the development, evaluation and federal funding of research partnerships.  These guidelines will apply to “federal research partnership funding starting with all applications to the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Alliance Grants involving a private sector organization partner”.

Researchers applying to this program are required to complete a risk assessment form for projects involving private sector organization partners, and any identified risks will require an accompanying risk mitigation plan. Information about the new guidelines and guidance for UBC applicants to NSERC Alliance grants can be found at

As we learn more about these new requirements, we will continue to develop appropriate support and processes. We appreciate your patience as we collaborate to best support you in responding to these new requirements. UBC remains committed to international engagement and global research partnerships.

Please direct any questions or concerns about the new Guideline to


Gail and Phil

“* All quotes from:

Gail C. Murphy, PhD, FRSC

Vice-President Research & Innovation
Professor, Computer Science
The University of British Columbia |
Vancouver Campus
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Traditional Territory

Philip Barker, Ph.D

Vice Principal and Associate Vice-President,  Research & Innovation
The University of British Columbia |
Okanagan Campus
Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory


Dear colleagues,

To support the identification, development, planning and implementation of new shared research facilities at UBC Okanagan, we are launching a call for proposals to help identify core infrastructure that could be housed within the new Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Innovation (ICI) building.

Facilities that may be appropriate elsewhere on campus will also be considered.

The term “shared research facility” is inclusive of all infrastructure that supports research or knowledge creation activities in any discipline.

Deans are invited to submit proposals on behalf of researchers and scholars in all research or knowledge creation fields. Full details are available here.

Program terms  Proposal template

Please contact Christine Humphries with any questions.


Philip Barker
Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research & Innovation

The Offices of Research Ethics on the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses have updated their guidance in anticipation that authorization to resume in-person behavioural research will be fully implemented in the coming months.

Although the safety of research participants continues to be a factor in how research ethics applications are reviewed, the Behavioural Research Ethics Boards (BREBs) have eased their requirements in alignment with updates issued by the Provincial Health Officer (PHO).

The BREB will be reviewing ethics applications taking into consideration the conditions in the research region including:

1– Vaccination rates
2– Rates of COVID-19 infection
3– Rates of hospitalizations due to COVID-19

Both the Safe Research Guidelines and the Safe Research Plan template have been updated.

In instances where a Safe Research Plan is no longer required, researchers will still need to describe their safe research protocols for both new and resuming research. The BREBs will not approve activities that do not adhere to the minimum standards imposed by the public health order for the community where research is taking place. Researchers should continue to consider ways they can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission within research teams and with participants.


1– All in-person research that can be done safely may proceed.
2– Researchers may not undertake research activities that will unnecessarily increase the risk to participants of contracting COVID-19.
3– Researchers will provide details of their safe research plan to the degree required (see the scenarios below) based on the risk status of the region where in-person research is proposed and the nature of the research methods being employed.

An amendment is required to resume all previously approved in-person research that has been on-hold or to convert online studies to in-person research.

Supplementary Research and COVID-19 forms are no longer required as part of the research ethics review process.

The BREBs will review ethics applications and related safety protocols in view of the specific research context and the risks entailed for both research participants and researchers. For full details on the implications of immunization, or to learn how your specific research may be affected:

View the webpage

If you are unsure which section or scenario applies to your research, please contact: Lisa Shearer.

The Government of Canada announced today that it is investing $635 million in science, research and engineering to support more than 4,800 researchers across Canada.

UBC researchers were awarded $17.3 million through the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council’s Discovery Grants and Discovery Accelerator programs, $13 million through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Partnership Grants, Partnership Development Grants and Insight Grants programs, and an additional $2.7 million through NSERC’s Research Tools and Instruments program.

These investments will support emerging and ongoing research in areas of critical importance that will help inform governments, businesses and individuals as they make decisions to grow our economy, protect our environment and ensure the well-being of communities across Canada.

The UBC Okanagan researchers who received funding are listed below:


Project Title




Kyle Larson
Faculty of Science
Orogen parallel flow in convergent systems NSERC Discovery Grant $ 305,000 5 years
Rehan Sadiq
School of Engineering
‘Digital Water’ Paving a Way towards Resilient Urban Water Systems NSERC Discovery Grant $ 260,000 5 years
Jasmin Hristov
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (Sociology)
Land Violence, Security, and Development in Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico SSHRC Insight Grant $ 229,033 5 years
Michelle Hilts
Faculty of Science (Physics)
The development of advanced imaging and dosimetry for permanent breast seed implant radiation therapy NSERC Discovery Grant $ 205,000 5 years
Lukas Bichler
School of Engineering
A multi-process approach towards the development of novel Mg alloys NSERC Discovery Grant $ 195,000 5 years
Joshua Brinkerhoff
School of Engineering
Cryogenic Flow Physics to Advance Liquid Hydrogen-Based Aviation NSERC Discovery Grant $ 195,000 5 years
Adam Wei
Faculty of Science (EEGS)
Determining forest disturbance thresholds for managing cumulative hydrological impacts NSERC Discovery Grant $ 180,000 5 years
Eric Li
Faculty of Management
Food Odyssey: An exploratory study of the implementation of sustainable and resilient local food systems SSHRC Partnership Development Grant $ 179,800 3 years
Soheil Mahmoud
Faculty of Science (Biology)
Regulation of terpenoid metabolism in lavender NSERC Discovery Grant $ 165,000 5 years
Amir Ardestanijaafari
Faculty of Management
Adjustable Robust Optimization and its Applications NSERC Discovery Grant $ 155,000 5 years
Julien Gibon
Faculty of Science (Biology)
Signaling mechanisms of the pro Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (proBDNF) and the prodomain BDNF (pBDNF) in neurons NSERC Discovery Grant $ 150,000 5 years
Liwei Wang
School of Engineering
Advanced rapid control prototyping testbench for the development of high power converters, battery chargers, mechatronic systems, and AC-DC microgrids NSERC Research Tools and Instruments $ 149,227 1 year
Gino DiLabio
Faculty of Science (Chemistry)
Development of Fast and Accurate Computational Chemistry Methods based on Atom-Centred Potentials and their Application to Crystal Structure Prediction NSERC Discovery Grant $ 145,000 5 years
Conor Pranckevicius
Faculty of Science (Chemistry)
Multifunctional Borylenes for Metal- and Boron-Mediated Reactions NSERC Discovery Grant $ 145,000 5 years
Michael Benoit
School of Engineering
Design of novel crack-resistant aluminium alloys for additive manufacturing NSERC Discovery Grant $ 140,000 5 years
Kenneth Chau
School of Engineering
Multi-scale computational nanophotonics NSERC Discovery Grant $ 140,000 5 years
Michael Noonan
Faculty of Science (Biology)
Statistically efficient integration of animal tracking data into ecological theory and evidence-based conservation NSERC Discovery Grant $ 140,000 5 years
Babak Mohamadpour Tosarkani
School of Engineering
Design and optimization of sustainable closed-loop supply chain networks under uncertainty NSERC Discovery Grant $ 130,000 5 years
Miles Thorogood
Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies
Echo – A New Set of High-level Audio Features for Computational Sound Design Systems NSERC Discovery Grant $ 120,000 5 years
Jian Liu
School of Engineering
Differential Electrochemical Mass Spectrometry for Online Detection and Quantification of Gas Evolution in Energy Storage and Conversion Systems NSERC Research Tools and Instruments $ 100,231 1 year
John-Tyler Binfet
Okanagan School of Education
Undergraduate Student Stress Reduction Through Virtual Canine Comfort SSHRC Insight Grant $ 88,915 3 years
Karen Ragoonaden
Okanagan School of Education
Mindfulness and Antiracist Education: Developing Critical Reflection SSHRC Insight Grant $ 86,370 3 years
TOTAL $ 3,606,576


UBCO receives $250K grant through New Frontiers in Research Fund (2020 Exploration Stream)


Assistant Professors Sepideh Pakpour (School of Engineering) and Kirk Bergstrom (Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science) are leading one of seven UBC research projects funded by the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) 2020 Exploration competition. The initiative is designed to mobilize cutting-edge interdisciplinary, international, and transformative research that strengthens Canadian innovation and benefits Canadians.

The Government of Canada recently announced funding support for 117 research projects across Canada that bring diverse disciplines together in pursuit of breakthrough ideas and high-reward outcomes. The Exploration stream specifically targets research that defies current models, bridges disciplines in novel ways, or tackles fundamental problems from new perspectives.

Understanding the seasonal impacts of microplastic inhalation on health

Principal Investigator: Sepideh Pakpour, UBCO School of Engineering
Co-Principal Investigator: Kirk Bergstrom, UBCO Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science (Biology)
Co-applicant: Edward Grant, UBCV Faculty of Science (Chemistry)
Award: $250,000


Research Summary:

Microplastics pollution has grown to become a world-wide crisis. The inevitable consequence of dramatically increased plastic use, microscopic plastic particles and fibres contaminate natural marine, terrestrial and atmospheric ecosystems. To date, limited studies conducted in Europe, Asia and the Middle East have detected atmospheric microplastics, but no Canadian data yet exists. No systematic scientific study has characterized the health effects of microplastics in the inhalable and respirable ranges (PM 10 and PM 2.5 microns, respectively). To address this research challenge, we will assemble a unique interdisciplinary team forging a close collaborative interaction of leading groups in the fields of Aerobiology, Analytical and Atmospheric Chemistry, System Biology and Immunology to (1) detect and characterize inhalable and respirable microplastics in indoor and outdoor air seasonally, and (2) explore their potential adverse effects on health. The information and insight we gather will inform internationally integrated strategies for the control and mitigation of microplastics pollution with respect to their impact on health and well-being.

Other UBC-led projects   full project list


The Office of the Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation is pleased to announce the second round of funding for the Critical Research Equipment and Tools (CRET) program.

This internal funding program helps improve the range and quality of our research infrastructure, enables researchers to keep pace with technology, and provides increased opportunities for student research training.

Stream 1 Awards (<$10,000):

Portable Eye-tracking System  

Applicant: Maya Libben

The portable eye-tracker will allow researchers in the Psychopathology Lifespan and Neuropsychology (PLAN) Laboratory to conduct research in the community. This equipment will support the development and improvement of interventions and treatments for psychopathology and stroke.

Invitrogen iBright CL750 Imaging System

Applicant: Jonathan Little Co-applicant: Christopher West

This device is used to capture images and analyze data from western blots and gels efficiently and easily. It will enable researchers in the  School of Health and Exercise Sciences and the Southern Medical Program to develop new collaborative projects with other researchers at UBC Okanagan, and create new training opportunities for students with diverse applications across the life sciences.

Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography

Applicant: Kristen Wolthers | Co-applicant: Isaac Li and Thuy Dang

This tool allows researchers to separate proteins so that they are amendable to structural and functional analysis. This equipment is a vital component in the protein production pipeline and will support researchers and trainees in the Department of Chemistry.

Stream 2 Awards ($10,000 – $100,000):

Accelerated Weathering Tester

Applicant: Abbas Milani | Co-applicants: Mohammad Arjmand, Lukas Bichler, Cigdem Eskicioglu, Sepideh Pakpour

This test chamber tracks the property changes of materials and products caused by sunlight, temperature and moisture in a short period of time. The device can also simulate solar radiation and maintain the temperature in the range of 15-100 °C. This instrument will support research programs for faculty members of the Materials and Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI), the Eminence-funded Cluster of Research Excellence in BioComposites and the Comfort-Optimized Materials for Operational Resilience, Thermal-transport and Survivability (COMFORTS) micro-network.

Light Scattering Spectrometer

Applicant: Robert Godin | Co-applicants: Isaac Li, Jian Liu, Susan Murch, Kristen Wolthers

Nanoparticles and macromolecules play a critical role in regulating cellular functions but characterization of these particles in their native environment is challenging. A state-of-the-art light scattering spectrometer will enable best-in-class particle sizing capabilities and allow advanced particle characterization.  This equipment will generate crucial data on the properties of nanoparticles to researchers in the Faculty of Science and the School of Engineering and accelerate research in biochemistry, plant science, medical diagnostics, and clean energy technology at UBCO.

Portable Equipment to Evaluate Muscle Function and Balance

Applicant: Brian Dalton | Co-applicant: Chris McNeil and Jennifer Jakobi

This portable equipment will afford researchers in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences a comprehensive system for community-based testing. This device evaluates the neural control of human movement and balance and is used to conduct fieldwork studies that aim to make real-world measures of muscle activity. This equipment will be used to investigate the influence of assistive technologies (e.g., handrails, walkers, exoskeletons) and acute adaptations (e.g., hypoxia, fatigue) on neuromuscular function across the lifespan.

Blood Gas Analysis System

Applicant: Phil Ainslie | Co-applicants: Jonathan Little, Glen Foster, Rob Shave and Chris West

The Radiometer ABL90 FLEX PLUS allows researchers in the Centre for Heart, Lung and Vascular Health to answer fundamental research questions in mammalian physiology that are germane to the understanding of blood flow control and vascular health, across the lifespan, during physiological stress (e.g., high altitude, diving, exercise), and with patient populations (e.g., sleep apnea, spinal cord injury, respiratory disease, heart failure, diabetes).

Awards for Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarly Activity


Dear colleagues,

Each year, we recognize the achievements of faculty and student researchers who have made significant contributions to research and creative scholarly activity at UBC Okanagan. Please join me in congratulating this year’s outstanding awardees, who were honoured at a special virtual awards celebration on Thursday, May 6, 2021.


2021 Faculty Researchers of the Year



Professor Julian Cheng is an expert in digital communications and signal processing. He is a global leader in optical and radio frequency (RF) wireless communication and optical technology research. Dr. Cheng invented a new indoor optical wireless location technique that substantially improves receiver accuracy and will have significant applications in refined control of robot movement. His research has advanced multiple access techniques and beyond 5G wireless technologies and has applications in machine and deep learning, quantum communications and blockchain technology.


ERIC LI Social Sciences and Humanities

Associate Professor Eric Li is a catalyst for social innovation and knowledge translation. His research focuses on interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers, non-profit organizations and local government to address complex social issues. Dr. Li’s community-based research has resulted in regional impacts in food insecurity, poverty, urban densification, rural community building, and rural health promotion. He was recently awarded Principal’s Research Chair (Tier 2) in Social Innovation for Health Equity and Food Security and is co-lead of the Rural Health Equity Cluster.



Associate Professor Jonathan Little is a leading researcher in nutrition and targeted exercise interventions for type 2 diabetes with a focus on reducing and reversing the disease. He collaborates closely with community and healthcare partners and his broad spectrum of research techniques includes metabolic measurement and advanced cellular and molecular analyses. Dr. Little co-leads the Airborne Disease Transmission Research Cluster, a cross-campus research team working to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses in healthcare settings.



2021 Student Researcher of the Year

michelle st. pierre | PhD candidate

Michelle St. Pierre has made significant research breakthroughs in substance use and mental health with a focus on cannabis and psychedelic use and harm reduction. She has received international media attention for her research on cannabinoid-based analgesics and pain sensitivity and has been featured as a national expert on cannabis policy. She has published in leading pharmacology, complimentary medicine, psychiatry, and psychology journals and founded the UBC Okanagan chapter of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy.




Phil Barker
Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research and Innovation
University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus