Amber Hanson

Communications Manager

Office of the Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation, Research & Innovation Office (VPRI)
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.


New Research Data Centre opens at UBC Okanagan as part of a national network of 30 university-based research facilities.

Managed by Statistics Canada, in partnership with UBC, the RDC will offer accredited researchers secure access to microdata gathered through the Census program, population, social, and health surveys. The wide variety of data available includes a Canadian cancer registry, statistics on mental health, financial security, and public health. Accessible information is relevant to many disciplines and will enable Okanagan faculty and students to advance their research without lengthy travel to Vancouver.

Assistant professor Andrea Craig joined UBCO last July in the Department of Economics, Philosophy, and Political Science. She has been travelling to the Lower Mainland almost every month to access the RDC on the UBC Vancouver campus.  Her research focus is on where people choose to live and how they commute for use in urban planning.

Craig will not miss travelling from the Okanagan to Vancouver during the winter months and is looking forward to getting permanently settled in Kelowna. Local RDC access will enable her to focus on research, teaching, and attracting new talent.

“I’m excited to settle in Kelowna and form connections with colleagues. Now that we have access to great data, I can recruit grad students to do their dissertation or thesis.”

The UBC Okanagan RDC is supported by an on-site assistant who manages the operational details and provides administrative services, and a remote analyst who supports data users.

RDC analyst and UBC alumna Wendy Kei is based at the UBC Vancouver campus and provides personalized support to UBCO researchers through MS Teams and virtual meetings. Kei understands the importance of good data. She used census results to attain her PhD in Economics, and helps RDC users navigate data science and answer research questions using statistical insights. Kei has been in her RDC analyst role for five years and describes assisting researchers on their data quests  a richly rewarding experience.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, the only way to close that gap is with reliable information. Having access to accurate data through the RDC is important for people to make wise and unbiased decisions, and research is at the heart of that”.

Associate professor Ross Hickey describes how he uses confidential microdata to assess the effects of income tax policy on charitible giving. He also shares how the new RDC has benefited the campus in the recruitment and retention of new faculty and graduate students.



The secure RDC facility at UBCO is located on the second floor of the Charles E. Fipke Centre for Innovative Research.

A strict vetting process is required to gain access through Statistics Canada including fingerprinting, credit checks, and an oath of secrecy not to disclose any identifiable information to protect the privacy and confidentiality of respondents. Applications for data access can be initiated through the Statistics Canada website. Once approved, researchers can book their sessions through an online portal.

Questions about the UBC Okanagan RDC can be directed to Paul van Donkelaar, associate vice-principal, research .

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


UBCO Announces Four New Principal’s Research Chairholders

UBC Okanagan is pleased to announce the second cohort of appointments under the Principal’s Research Chairs (PRC) program.

Deans submitted nominations for the second PRC call in December 2020, which were jointly reviewed by the Provost and Vice-President Academic and the Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation in January 2021.  We are pleased to announce that four UBCO faculty have been designated Principal’s Research Chairholders by Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal.


2021 Principal’s Research Chairholders

Tier Chair Title Recipient Faculty/School Stream Effective
Tier 1 Cerebrovascular Physiology in Health, Exercise and Disease Prof. Phil Ainslie School of Health and Exercise Sciences Retention April 2021
Tier 1 Resilient and Green Infrastructure Prof. Shahria Alam School of Engineering Retention April 2021
Tier 2 Social Innovation for Health Equity and Food Security Assoc. Prof. Eric Li Faculty of Management Retention April 2021
Tier 2 Energy Storage Technology Asst. Prof. Jian Liu School of Engineering Retention April 2021

These new appointments are evidence of the importance and quality of research on our campus. We anticipate that the research findings and creative scholarly activities of these outstanding researchers will translate into tangible benefits to our region and global society.


2021 PRC Recruitment Allocations:

Three additional PRC positions have been allocated to enable new recruitments.

Tier Chair Title Recipient Faculty/School Stream Start Date
Tier 1 Computational Chemistry TBD Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science Attraction by Dec 15, 2021
Tier 2 Watershed Science TBD Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science Attraction by Dec 15, 2021
Tier 1 Women in Engineering TBD School of Engineering Attraction by Dec 15, 2021

About the PRC Program:

The Principal’s Research Chairs (PRC) program provides internal funding support for top-tier researchers engaged in outstanding research or creative scholarship.

Supported by the UBC Okanagan Excellence Fund, the goals of the PRC program are to:

  • Enable recruitment of outstanding new faculty
  • Retain top researchers
  • Promote research intensification
  • Generate international recognition of research achievements

The requirements of the PRC program are aligned with the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) program criteria and recipients of the award are appointed to a renewable five-year term.

View Chairholders


Should you have questions regarding the Principal’s Research Chairs (PRC) or Canada Research Chairs (CRC) programs, please contact Christine Humphries.


Best regards,

Ananya Mukherjee Reed
Provost and Vice-President Academic, UBC Okanagan

Philip Barker
Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research and Innovation, UBC Okanagan

Today, we announced the 2020 call for nominations for UBC Okanagan’s Principal’s Research Chair (PRC) program, which supports the recruitment of outstanding new faculty and retention of our top research scholars who are, or have the potential to be, leaders in building and intensifying world-renowned research at UBCO.

The PRC program has two streams:

  1. Attraction: aimed at recruiting top caliber faculty members to UBCO; and
  2. Retention: aimed at retaining excellent faculty members at UBCO.

Full program details, including eligibility guidelines, evaluation criteria, and competition deadlines are available here.

Key Dates:

  • Nomination deadline: Dec. 8, 2020 (4:00 pm)
  • PRC allocations confirmed: January 14, 2021
  • Funding available: April 1, 2021 (for retention stream);
    prior to December 15, 2021 (for attraction stream)
  • Recruitment deadline: December 15, 2021

Program Terms:

The requirements of the PRC program generally align with the federal Tier 1 and Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) and include considerations for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).


Application Guidelines:

Nominations must be submitted by deans for consideration.

Deans may submit multiple requests for Principal’s Research Chair allocations but are required to rank their attraction and retention nominations.

Application packages, including a ranked list of nominations from a faculty (if applicable), must be submitted to by December 8, 2020.


Should you have questions regarding the program, please contact: Christine Humphries.