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.


Explore the work of UBC Okanagan’s 2019 Researchers of the Year.

Each year, we recognize the outstanding achievements of researchers who have made significant contributions to research and/or creative scholarly activity at UBC Okanagan. Three prizes are awarded in the areas of Natural Sciences and Engineering, Social Sciences and Humanities, and Health. This year’s recipients epitomize excellence and are leaders in their respective fields and disciplines, working across traditional boundaries to help make the world a better place.


Rachelle Hole, Associate Professor, Social Work

Kasun Hewage, Professor, Engineering

Jon Corbett, Associate Professor, Geography


Katrina Plamondon, PhD Student, Nursing

 Emily Giroux, MSc Student, Health and Exercise Sciences

Dear colleagues,

As the 2018/19 fiscal year draws to a close, I’d like to invite you to join me for a Town Hall update on Monday, April 1, 2019, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

I will review the activities and successes of the past year and look ahead to some of the projects and partnerships we have on the horizon.

Town Hall details

Date: Monday, April 1, 2019
Time: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Location: University Centre Ballroom, room UNC 200

Topics of discussion will include a review of our core research strengths, updates on new and expanding programs and partnerships, and major infrastructure programs and projects, including the Innovation Precinct and the Digital Learning Factory.

We will also have an interactive audience Q&A session where you can post and up-vote topics that are important to you.

Please RSVP to attend. I am looking forward to discussing the growth of our research community at UBCO and hope you are able to join us.

Best regards,

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

Jonathan Corbett, assoc. prof. of geography and SSHRC researcher of the year, Kasun Hewage, prof. of engineering and NSERC researcher of the year, and Rachelle Hole, assoc. prof. of social work and health researcher of the year.

Jonathan Corbett, assoc. prof. of geography and SSHRC researcher of the year, Kasun Hewage, prof. of engineering and NSERC researcher of the year, and Rachelle Hole, assoc. prof. of social work and health researcher of the year.

Dear colleagues,

Each year, we recognize the outstanding achievements researchers who have made significant contributions to research and/or creative scholarly activity at UBC Okanagan.

Three prizes were recently awarded in the areas of Natural Sciences and Engineering, Social Sciences and Humanities, and Health.

This year’s recipients epitomize excellence and are leaders in their respective fields and disciplines, working across traditional boundaries to help make the world a better place.

They are actively engaged in tackling big societal issues from homelessness and food security to sustainable energy and supporting youth living with developmental disabilities and autism.

Please join me in acknowledging and congratulating our 2019 Faculty Researchers of the Year, who will be celebrated at a special awards ceremony and reception next month.

We are also pleased to honour the achievements of MSc student Emily Giroux and PhD student Katrina Plamondon, our 2019 Student Researchers of the Year.


Prof. Phil Barker
Vice-Principal Research and Innovation
UBC Okanagan

Industrial Research Chair partnership will advance sustainability measurement and management

As a leading Canadian expert in sustainability, UBC’s Nathan Pelletier has been awarded a prestigious Industrial Research Chair by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The award will advance Pelletier’s research activities that focus on sustainability measurement and management, life-cycle thinking and resource efficiency, with an emphasis on the Canadian egg industry.

Pelletier, an assistant professor at UBC’s Okanagan campus, teaches in both the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Management. He has spent roughly a decade researching the science of sustainability, with a focus on food systems. Since 2016, he has collaborated with Egg Farmers of Canada as their Research Chair in Sustainability, exploring opportunities to improve resource efficiencies and reduce the environmental impact of egg supply chains.

“I am passionate about the development of food systems that are environmentally sustainable, economically viable and that contribute to our health and well-being,” says Pelletier. “Achieving this in modern food systems requires considering food supply chains in their entirety, from the beginning of production to the consumer’s end use of a product—in other words, a truly holistic evaluation of sustainability risks and opportunities.”

Only a handful of researchers are awarded an Industrial Research Chair from NSERC each year, making it a great honour for Pelletier, explained Marc Fortin, VP Research Partnerships at NSERC. This support will allow Pelletier to grow his research program as the first-ever NSERC/Egg Farmers of Canada Industrial Research Chair in Sustainability.

“NSERC’s Industrial Research Chair program provides for dynamic research and development collaborations between Canada’s brain trust and partners,” says Fortin. “We are proud to support this chair, which is developing the knowledge and supporting innovation necessary to advance the success of the sector and improve the sustainability of that production. The results this team will deliver could have broad benefits across Canada.”

“We are very proud that Nathan is doing his innovative work at UBC Okanagan,” says Phil Barker, Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “His insights on sustainability and agriculture are benefiting industry, our community and the environment. This cutting-edge and relevant research will have direct impacts on our region and on global production methods. His work is a wonderful example of the outstanding and impactful research performed at UBC’s Okanagan campus.”

“Food systems sustainability is a subject of increasing importance. Egg Farmers of Canada strives to promote innovation and the continuous improvement of egg production through the latest scientific research,” says Tim Lambert, CEO of Egg Farmers of Canada. “His work helps us understand the link between environmental sustainability and egg production, while developing processes and technologies with environmental and social impacts in mind.”

Local MP Stephen Fuhr also wanted to highlight the significance of the partnership and the good work coming out of UBC Okanagan.

“Food systems and sustainability are two topics that are very important to our government,” said Fuhr. “We know that partnerships like the one between UBC Okanagan’s Nathan Pelletier and Egg Farmers of Canada, supported by organizations like NSERC, lead to discoveries that benefit all Canadians.”

Brianna Wells, PhD

Brianna Wells, research support specialist for the Office of Research Services.

Brianna Wells, research support specialist for the Office of Research Services.

The Office of Research Services is delighted to announce that Brianna Wells has joined the team as a research support specialist to oversee the social sciences and humanities portfolio. Brianna was previously with the University of Alberta, where she earned her PhD in the Department of English and Film Studies and was a postdoctoral fellow with the newly formed Sound Studies Initiative in the Faculty of Arts.

Wells settled in quickly and is providing valuable guidance and support to faculty members pursuing funding opportunities to support their research. Wells is a natural communicator and collaborator with an innate ability to mobilize people and resources to design compelling project proposals. A UBC alumna, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Vancouver before moving to Montreal to complete her Master’s (also in Arts) at McGill University.

Wells’ background in English has fostered a passion for all aspects of communication.  She is a skilled writer, editor and vocalist, who began singing in choirs at the early age of six. An art (and artist) enthusiast, opera buff and cultural theorist, Wells conducted research with Opera America in New York and Pacific Opera Victoria and has published articles in 19th-Century Music and Opera America magazine.

Her research interests include North American studies, opera, circulation theory, media genealogies, performance theory and the interrelations of media and opera histories in twentieth-century Canada and the United States. The Office of Research Services invites you to take advantage of Wells’ breadth of experience.

Contact: FIP 318 | 250-807-8520 |

Gabrielle Legault, PhD

Gabrielle Legault, Indigenous community liaison for the Office of Research Services.

Gabrielle Legault, Indigenous community liaison for the Office of Research Services.

Meet Gabrielle Legault – the Office of Research Services’ new Indigenous Community Liaison.

Legault is Métis, originally from Saskatchewan and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise from her engagements with the Métis Nation of BC and Parks Canada. She recently joined the Office of Research Services to help researchers develop collaborations with Indigenous communities and other partners.

No stranger to our campus, Legault completed her Master’s and PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies at UBC Okanagan, worked in the Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice as a research assistant, and co-authored publications with Profs. Jon Corbett and Mike Evans in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts & Sciences.

Perfectly and passionately suited to her new role, Legault’s areas of research specialization include: Contemporary Métis culture and identity, Métis history, Indigenous territories and homelands, Indigenous research methodologies, community-based research methods, Indigenous knowledge and Indigeneity.

An accomplished speaker, facilitator and dedicated community engagement specialist, Legault has devoted her studies and career to helping the ‘Metis-curious’ and people from all backgrounds and origins better understand Indigenous issues and perspectives. Legault’s humble and respectful approach is a welcome addition and tremendous asset to our campus. From capacity-building to curling, Legault has a knack for finding the heart of any community.

This new role is supported by UBC’s Indigenous Research Support Initiative (IRSI) formally established in 2017 to provide better resources and support for Indigenous community-based research at UBC. Interested in getting to know Legault or finding out how she can support your work?  Drop by and say hello.

Contact: FIP 326 | 250-807-8187 |

Kent Dehnel, PEng

Kent Dehnel, PEng

Kent Dehnel’s appointment marks an important milestone in the evolution of the STAR initiative a multi-disciplinary research platform that catalyzes opportunities for researchers on both UBC campuses to work collaboratively with partners to improve human health and safety in extreme environments.

STAR research has applications across a range of sectors and disciplines, including health and social development, materials and manufacturing, and disaster foresight and recovery.

As operations facilitator, Dehnel will coordinate the technical services team and work to create operational synergies across STAR’s multi-faceted, widely distributed research and development activities.

Dehnel will serve as the conduit between STAR’s internal research teams and external partners in a hybrid role that was created to leverage STAR’s rapidly expanding opportunities in the private, non-profit and government sectors. UBC plays a critical role in BC’s innovation ecosystem and Dehnel’s contribution will help strengthen STAR’s regional partnerships to have greater economic and societal impact.

Dehnel is a successful entrepreneur with extensive finance and operations experience in small business and start-up environments. He is also the co-founder and part-time CEO/CFO of three successful technology companies in the energy, mining and particle accelerator industries. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from UBC, an MBA from the University of Toronto, and is a professionally licensed engineer.

To find out more about the Survive and Thrive Applied Research (STAR) initiative, visit:

The Office of Research Services now has two specialists in place to provide research support to faculty members and post-doctoral researchers at UBC Okanagan.

Pierre Rondier. Photo credit: Candace Martyn

Pierre Rondier. Photo credit: Candace Martyn

Pierre Rondier, PhD

Rondier moved to Canada from France in 2002 to complete his Masters and PhD in Land-Use and Urban Planning at Laval University in Quebec City, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in civil engineering at Polytechnique Montréal.

He joined the University of Montreal as Research Coordinator for the Applied Public Health Chair in Urban Interventions and Population, where he prepared grant applications, administered research projects and facilitated knowledge translation activities throughout Canada, Luxemburg and the UK. Rondier traded in his parka for lakeside living in 2016 and joined the Office of Research Services at UBC Okanagan in January 2017.

He brings 10 years of research facilitation, project management and consultancy expertise to his role as Research Support Specialist for the SSHRC portfolio. He also provides postdoc guidance and recently facilitated a Knowledge Mobilization workshop with record attendance.

A trained facilitator and born communicator, Rondier is attentive to detail and guided by the philosophy that research should be fun. True to his French roots, Rondier is also a trained pastry-chef assistant, classical pianist and expert crêpe maker.

Richard Federley. Photo credit: Chris Bowerman

Richard Federley. Photo credit: Chris Bowerman

Richard Federley, PhD

The newest addition to the Office of Research Services is a well-known and respected instructor in the Chemistry department, who is probably best known for his recent ranking with the Canadian Space Agency’s Astronaut Recruitment Campaign.

Federley earned his PhD in Chemistry from Wayne State University in Detroit and spent time in Houston as a post-doctoral fellow conducting brain aneurysm research.

Simply put, Federley loves science. Full stop. He is an accomplished researcher and presenter, who has turned his passion towards helping others succeed. His insatiable curiosity and genuine interest in what others are doing, make him the perfect guide and mentor for the breadth of research being conducted on the UBC Okanagan campus.

Federley is responsible for the NSERC portfolio in his new role as Research Support Specialist. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast and is living out his dream here in the Okanagan. He also recently took top prize for individual achievement at the 2017 Staff and Faculty Sports Day, proving his ability to succeed at everything from neuroscience to the three-legged race.

Celebrate Research 2017

Celebrate Research Week culminates on Friday, March 10 at 1 p.m. with an insightful presentation by Alex Usher, post-secondary education expert and author of the widely followed and occasionally controversial ‘One Thought to Start Your Day’ blog.  Usher will be joined by Phil Barker, vice-principal research, for a focussed Q&A on innovation.

Click here for details.

Celebrate Research Week 2017 Event Schedule

Monday, March 6

BRAES Institute Open House & Poster Session

Okanagan Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystems Services (BRAES) members will present posters about their research projects. Come browse and learn about the great work being done in ecology, biodiversity, conservation, and environmental sustainability on UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Time: 12 noon to 1 p.m.
Location: Science building third-floor hallway

UBC Engineering Research Night

Speakers: Shahria Alam, Liwei Wang and Jian Liu
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Engineering, Management & Education Building, EME 1151

Tuesday, March 7

Rural health in rural hands: Building partnerships with a regional alliance for health research

Presented by the Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention

Join us to identify ways to build action-oriented, community-engaged research collaborations that strengthen health and wellbeing in rural communities and enrich educational programs.

Time: 12 noon to 1 p.m.
Location: ART 219
Presenters: Joan Bottorff, Mike Chiasson, Judy Gillespie, and Betty Brown 

Wednesday, March 8

Institute for Community Engaged Research Open House

Time: 12 noon to 1 p.m.
Location: Arts building, room ART 368

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Final

Graduate student competitors have just three minutes and one slide to share the depth, significance, and wider-impact of their research with the judges and audience for a chance to win top honours and prize money.

Time: 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Location: University Centre Ballroom, room UNC 200

To find out more, visit: 

Thursday, March 9

UBC-KEDGE Wine Industry Collaboration

Presented by the Regional Socio-Economic Development Institute of Canada

Bring your lunch and join us for an overview of the UBC-KEDGE Wine Industry Collaboration – a partnership involving KEDGE Business School (Bordeaux, France) that has brought together

BC wine producers and international wine management expertise.

Time: 12 noon to 1 p.m.
Location: Engineering, Management & Education building, room EME 4116
Presenters: Kim Buschert, Malida Mooken and Marcela Valania

For more information about UBC-Kedge Wine Industry Collaboration, visit:

Café Scientifique: Side-stepping the effects of stroke

Time: 5 to 7 p.m.
Location: Okanagan Regional Library, 1380 Ellis St., Kelowna
Free registration:

Friday, March 10

Alex Usher Presents: Trends Affecting Higher Education in Canada

Time: 1 to 2 p.m.
Location: Engineering, Management & Education building, room EME 0050

For more information visit:

Friday and Saturday, March 10 and 11

School District No. 23 District Science Fair

Young scientists will be on UBC’s Okanagan campus to participate in the two-day School District No. 23 District Science Fair. Students individually and in pairs interpret their science projects for judges and public viewers.

Times: Friday — 4 to 7:30 p.m.; Saturday — 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Location: Various locations, including the Engineering, Management & Education building’s Richard S. Hallisey Atrium

For more information visit:

Startup Basics graphic


The Office of the Vice-Principal Research has partnered with Accelerate Okanagan to bring the Startup Basics program to UBC’s Okanagan campus. UBC students, faculty and staff are invited to register for the program at no cost and participate in a series of weekly lunch-and-learn sessions from January 18 to February 22, 2017.

Startup Basics was designed for people who want to learn more about developing a business idea and creating a startup and equip them with the tools and resources needed to accelerate their idea to the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey.

Sessions are presented by Accelerate Okanagan staff, Executive in Residence mentors and community partners. Each session is designed to educate participants on the fundamentals needed to transform an idea into a startup.

Sessions Include:

  • Session #1 – The Fundamentals
  • Session #2 – Positioning Statement and Minimum Viable Product
  • Session #3 – Legal & Accounting Basics
  • Session #4 – Business Model Canvas
  • Session #5 – Customer Discovery
  • Session #6 – Pitching

Date: Wednesdays from January 18 to February 20, 2017
Time: 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.
Location: UNC 334 (Jan 18 only) / EME 2202 (Jan 25 – Feb 22)

To register or find out more, visit:

Know someone who might be interested? Share the event on Facebook. Space is limited to 15 participants.