Cory Habermehl

(He, Him, His)

Communications Manager

Office of the Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation
Office: ADM006H


UBC Okanagan researchers received a boost today as the Government of BC announced nearly $750,000 in infrastructure support for research projects on campus.

The funds come as part of the latest round of BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) awards.

Two UBCO researchers from the School of Engineering received support for their projects.

Assistant Professor Dr. Lisa Tobber received infrastructure funding to research the capacity of building components, substructures and sub-assemblies to resist earthquakes and other destructive forces like wind loads. The project will help increase understanding of the behavior of buildings in BC and provide engineers with data needed for the rehabilitation of structures to avoid any substantial damages due to potential natural disasters.

Dr. Alyse Kiesser, also an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering, received support for research infrastructure dedicated to investigating the impacts of climate change on the resilient properties of microbial systems, the results of which will contribute to estimations of the impact of climate change on microbial carbon storage, greenhouse gas production and consumption.

“At UBC Okanagan, our researchers are driving projects that have direct implications for the lives of those in BC’s Interior and far beyond,” said Dr. Lesley Cormack, Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UBC Okanagan. “This round of support from the BCKDF is pivotal in bolstering our research endeavours, from creating resilient infrastructure to withstand natural disasters to paving the way for greener, sustainable solutions for the future. We are immensely grateful to the provincial government for supporting the transformative work happening on our campus.”

A combined $1.5 million in funding was announced for seven research projects across UBC, and a total of $2.5 million in infrastructure for 16 research projects at five BC universities in the latest round of BCKDF support.

Read the announcement.

Experts recognized for work from physical activity strategies for the physically disabled to the development of better batteries


Two noted UBCO scholars have received prestigious honours from the country’s top academic body recognizing career achievement in the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences.

Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) and Dr. Jian Liu named as a Member of the RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

The scholars are among 10 new UBC Fellows and Members elected to the RSC this year. Recognition by the RSC is one of the highest honours an individual can achieve.


Dr. Martin Ginis, a Professor in the Department of Medicine and in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, focuses on understanding and changing physical activity behaviour, with a particular interest in physical activity among people with spinal cord injury and other types of physical disabilities.

For her, the Royal Society honour is recognition of not just her work, but of the collective effort from entire communities of people.

“There is so much community in what I do: the community of my students, the spinal cord injury community, the Kelowna community, the broader Canadian and international communities who’ve engaged in this work. I’m truly honoured, but this isn’t about me. It’s about all of us.”

As the international authority on physical activity behaviour-change interventions and psycho-social outcomes in people with disabilities, Dr. Martin Ginis’s innovations in theory, measurement, intervention design and knowledge translation are used worldwide.

In addition to academia, her research also frequently appears in the media, having been featured everywhere from The Globe & Mail and The New York Times to Men’s Health Magazine and “O” The Oprah Magazine.

“I think it’s a travesty when research findings don’t make it beyond a shelf in a library. I believe we have an obligation to get that research into people’s hands, so it’s gratifying seeing the work used around the world,” she says.

Among a number of factors, the unique environment at UBCO and the campus leadership’s approach to research have been key contributors to her success, says Dr. Martin Ginis.

“There’s a sense of support from leaders for us to take chances, to do things differently—a willingness to think about change,” she says. “As scientists and researchers, we feel that energy. It’s what makes UBCO so special.”

Altogether, the recognition is an incredibly rewarding experience.

“I am honoured. It’s incredible. This is recognition that the hard work and sacrifice have added up to something bigger than I ever could have imagined when I started out 25 years ago.”


Dr. Jian Liu, an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering, is creating solutions for clean energy through innovative advancements in next-generation battery development. He is an internationally renowned emerging leader in energy storage technologies.

The honour of being inducted into the Royal Society of Canada is deeply meaningful to Dr. Liu personally, for his research, and for the opportunities it will provide to his team.

“I feel really excited and honoured to be inducted into this family of top Canadian scholars. This award helps us to build connection with other researchers and bring awareness of our research to community and industry. It helps not only my own work but also strengthens the research program of the Battery Innovation cluster.”

With increasing demand for environmentally responsible energy sources, Dr. Liu says his fellow researchers as well as government and industry partners are optimistic about sustainable energy solutions not only on the ground, but in the skies.

“The goal is to transition from carbon-intensive energy to renewable energy. Sustainable battery technology will play a role in transportation for vehicles and electric flights. Small passenger planes are the first frontier, and I look forward to the technology being developed for commercial flights.”

The future of clean energy is promising, and the many applications and need for renewable energy sources are good news, says Dr. Liu. The fact that there is very little battery manufacturing capacity in North America means there are opportunities for Canada to lead in the clean tech sector.

“We have an opportunity to create a local supply chain to build and distribute batteries. My hope is to contribute to the creation of a circular battery economy that has global impacts.”

Phil Barker, Vice Principal, Research and Innovation says the honours are a sign of UBC Okanagan’s ever-increasing research strength and expertise.

“I’m proud to see these well-deserved recognitions by the Royal Society of Canada. The outstanding work of Dr. Martin Ginis and Dr. Liu speaks for itself and reflects UBCO’s excellence in research and our expertise in a number of important fields. I congratulate them on this significant honour and look forward to their continued contributions to advancing knowledge and making a difference in our region and our world.”

Researcher Mary Clare Kennedy from UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Health and Social Development was today named the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Substance Use, Policy and Practice.

Dr. Kennedy’s research examines the social-structural aspects of health among people who use drugs and evaluates the implementation and effectiveness of novel harm reduction interventions, including safe supply programs and innovations in supervised consumption service delivery.

She is currently co-leading the scientific evaluation of the Safer Alternatives for Emergency Response (SAFER) initiative. This Health Canada-funded safe supply pilot program in Vancouver aims to reduce overdose risk through the prescription of pharmaceutical alternatives to the unregulated drug supply, and serves as a low-barrier point of access to the continuum of care for people who use drugs.

Dr. Kennedy is also currently co-leading a CIHR-funded study investigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on supervised consumption service delivery, access and outcomes in Vancouver and Surrey.

The Canada Research Chairs Program was established by the federal government in 2000 to promote excellence and innovation in research by rewarding the country’s leading academics and attracting the best research minds in the world to study at Canadian universities. Chair holders are some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds.

The announcement came as part of a larger funding announcement by the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.


In addition to the new research chair, seven UBC Okanagan researchers and their collaborators were collectively awarded nearly $350,000 in funding today from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council‘s Insight Development Grants.

Read the SSHRC announcement

Insight Development Grants support research in its initial stages. The grants enable the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas. Funding is provided for short-term research development projects of up to two years that are proposed by individuals or teams.

Researchers will use the funding to explore everything from experimental digital cities to the impact of evolving public discourse on the perceived credibility of sexual assault disclosures.

SSHRC Insight Development Grant recipients

Jonathan Cinnamon (Community, Culture and Global Studies)
The experimental digital city: Learning from the Kelowna model of smart urban innovation
Co-applicant: Agnieszka Leszczynski (Western University)

Manfred Elfstrom (Economics, Philosophy and Political Science)
Mobilizing the Mountains: Natural Resources and Popular Protest in Appalachia and North China

Roberto Filippello  (Community, Culture and Global Studies)
Queer Threads: Critical Fashion Practices in Contemporary Palestine (2010-2022)

Gabrielle Legault  (Community, Culture and Global Studies)
The Strength of Our Ancestors: A Youth-led Investigation of Urban Indigenous Identities
UBC Collaborator: Donna Kurtz  (Nursing UBCO)
Collaborator: Kendra Langrish

John Lyon (Community, Culture and Global Studies)
Tense and Aspect in Nsyilxcn: Linguistic and Syilx Perspectives on Meaning
UBC Co-applicants: Jeannette Armstrong (Community, Culture and Global Studies)
Christine Schreyer (Community, Culture and Global Studies)
Collaborators: Maxine Baptiste (En’owkin Centre), Tracey Bonneau

Emily Murphy (Creative and Critical Studies)
Modernist Remediations: Embodiment, Technology, and Cultural Memory
Collaborator: Lydia Vermeyden (St. Francis Xavier University)

Leanne Ten Brinke (Psychology)
Emotional Survivor Effect: How Evolving Public Discourse Impacts the Perceived Credibility of Sexual Assault Disclosures
Co-applicant: Alysha Baker (Okanagan College)
Collaborator: Emily Lloyd (University of Denver)

Federal research funding agency head, Alejandro Adem, inspired by ongoing research progress and impact

Past successes and future opportunities were the main topics of discussion when Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) president, Alejandro Adem, visited UBC Okanagan.

The recent day-long trip marked the first time an NSERC president has visited the campus. Adem reached out to UBCO to arrange the visit, having been impressed by the university’s research progress in the fields of engineering and natural sciences.

“I wanted the opportunity to hear first-hand from leaders, researchers and students, and to see the campus for myself because I’ve been impressed with how it has developed over the years,” said Adem. “The excellent partnerships that have been cultivated and the vibrant group of young researchers are yielding terrific results.”

UBCO is one of the fastest-growing research campuses in Canada, with research activity increasing more than four-fold since 2015.

Total research funding increased from $11 million in 2015 to more than $46 million in 2022, and is projected to increase to more than $60 million by 2023.

UBCO has attracted more than $9 million in NSERC grants this year alone. The federal funding organization is fuel in the tank for UBCO science and engineering research, said Vice-Principal of Research and Innovation Phil Barker.

“We’re working hard to respond to shifting programs and have been actively partnering with Indigenous communities, municipalities and private industry to perform research that is relevant to our stakeholders,” said Barker. “With NSERC’s support, the work is having a tremendous, real-world impact.”

UBCO Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Lesley Cormack reinforced that past successes at UBCO have positioned Okanagan researchers well for the future.

“We are rapidly gaining speed and are poised to steadily grow research activity and, importantly, our impact and contributions in the communities we serve,” she said. “We have the potential to change the conversation and make leaps in a number of areas, including clean technology and agritech. We’re fulfilling our promise to become a great research university in the BC interior. We are just getting started and are excited about how much more we can do.”

Over the course of the day, Adem held round-tables with researchers and students and discussed progress on EDI initiatives. Visits with UBCO’s Bioreactor Technology Group and researchers at the Innovation Precinct provided a first-hand perspective on the work being conducted.

As a world-class university in the heart of Okanagan valley, UBCO is having a tremendous impact on the region that is only going to increase in the coming years, said Adem.

“I’m a big admirer of what UBCO has done in a short amount of time,” he said. “The acceleration is hard to miss – I look forward to what’s ahead.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced today that six UBCO research projects would collectively receive more than $800,000 in infrastructure funding.

Funded projects include everything from next generation video surveillance for environmental monitoring to optimization of electron-beam facilities for earth materials research.

Funds were received through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), which helps outstanding researchers acquire the state-of-the-art labs, equipment and facilities they need to continue their work and make discoveries that will have an impact on Canadians.

UBC Vancouver received funding for 14 projects, bringing the total number of funded UBC projects to 20.

In total, more than $64 million was announced to support 251 research infrastructure projects at 40 universities across Canada.

Read the full announcement

UBCO CFI-funded research projects

Ultrafast Laser System for Terahertz Development in Food Applications – Chris Collier, School of Engineering

Laboratory of Next Generation Video Surveillance for Environmental Monitoring – Shan Du, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics

Microfabrication for Next-generation Thin Film Solar Cells, Ian Foulds, Alexander Uhl, School of Engineering

Next-generation Pulmonary In Vitro 3D Models to Unravel the Role of Cell-cell and Multiorgan Crosstalk in Lung Disease – Emmanuel Osei, Biology

Optimization of Electron-beam Facilities for Earth Materials Research – Brendan Dyck, Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences

Infrastructure for Theoretical and Experimental Iron-sulphur Laboratory at UBC Okanagan – Robert Szilagyi, Chemistry

BCKDF announces nearly $2.8 million for 23 innovative projects

The British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) has announced funding for 23 research projects at UBCO, the largest number of provincially funded projects in campus history.

With a total amount of $2,777,618, the funding supports infrastructure for projects across the entire UBCO research spectrum, including health, natural sciences, engineering, and the social sciences and humanities.

This innovative work is helping solve problems and make a difference in our region and our world by investigating areas like clean technology, social justice, mental health, concussion, stroke recovery and wildfire management.

“We are grateful to the BC government for their strong show of support for our work and our researchers,” said Phil Barker, UBCO vice-principal of research and innovation. “These types of groundbreaking projects cannot take place without strong partnerships, and we will continue to partner to strengthen our research and find solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues.”

BCKDF also announced funding in support of 55 research projects at UBC Vancouver. In total, 120 projects were funded across eight universities in British Columbia.

“We are fortunate to have world-class talent at many of our post-secondary institutions,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “By providing funding for new infrastructure through the BC Knowledge Development Fund, our researchers are able to acquire new state-of-the-art equipment that will help people and industry be future ready.”

Read the province’s full announcement here.

UBC Okanagan projects

  1. Advanced MRI Hardware Laboratory led by Rebecca Feldman (Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics).
  2. Advanced Co-Located Mobile Interaction Laboratory led by Mohammad Khalad Hasan (Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics).
  3. Mining and Verifying Specification of Complex Software Systems led by Apurva Narayan (School of Engineering).
  4. Development of Crack-Resistant High Strength Aluminium Alloys for Laser Metal Deposition led by Michael Benoit (School of Engineering).
  5. Investigating Parent-Adolescent Dynamics in the Emotion Dynamics Lab led by Jessica Lougheed (Psychology).
  6. Site/ation Studio: Indigenous Land as Art led by Tania Willard (Creative Studies).
  7. Toward Autonomy and Resilience of Control Systems Using an Industry 4.0 Platform led by Ahmad Al-Dabbagh (School of Engineering).
  8. Patient Oriented Health Economics Research Laboratory led by Jennifer Davis (Management).
  9. Investigating the Mechanobiology of Diseases at the Single-Molecule Level led by Isaac Li (Chemistry).
  10. Multifunctional borylenes for metal- and boron-mediated reactions led by Conor Pranckevicius (Chemistry).
  11. Laboratory for Emerging-research in Aerial Visual Extended Surveillance led by Mohamed Shehata (Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics).
  12. Critical Future Studio/Lab led by Megan Smith (Creative Studies).
  13. Sonic Production, Intelligence, Research, and Applications Lab (SPIRAL) led by Miles Thorogood (Creative Studies).
  14. Earth observation and Spatial Ecology Lab led by Mathieu Bourbonnais (Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences).
  15. DARE | Digital Archaeology Research Environment Lab led by Neha Gupta (Community, Culture and Global Studies).
  16. The Canadian Arcminute Resolution Magnetoionic Medium Survey (CARMIMS) led by Alex Hill (Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics).
  17. Basic and applied investigations of motor imagery to promote recovery after stroke led by Sarah Kraeutner (Psychology).
  18. Quantitative Ecology Laboratory with a Focus on Animal Conservation led by Michael Noonan (Biology).
  19. Truth and Trust Lab: A Request for Observational, Physiological, and Social Judgment Research Infrastructure led by Leanne Ten Brinke (Psychology).
  20. Ultrafast laser system for terahertz development in food applications led by Christopher Collier (School of Engineering).
  21. Laboratory of Next Generation Video Surveillance for Environmental Monitoring led by Shan Du (Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics).
  22. Microfabrication for next-generation thin film solar cells led by Ian Foulds and Alexander Uhl (School of Engineering) .
  23. Next-generation pulmonary in vitro 3D models to unravel the role of cell-cell and multiorgan crosstalk in lung disease led by Emmanuel Osei (Biology).
Sarah Kraeutner

Sarah Kraeutner, Michael Smith Scholar

Assistant professor Sarah Kraeutner named a Michael Smith Scholar

Assistant professor and researcher Sarah Kraeutner was recently named as a Michael Smith Scholar by Michael Smith Health Research BC for her work in neuroscience and recovery after stroke.

As BC’s health research agency, Michael Smith Health Research BC aims to attract and retain BC’s best and brightest health researchers and support the advancement of world-class health research in BC.

Their Scholar Program supports early-career health researchers who are building leading-edge health research programs, training the next generation of scientists and expanding their potential to make significant contributions to their field.

Kraeutner’s award reinforces UBCO’s research excellence and comes in recognition of her focused work as the lead investigator of NIMBL – the Neuroplasticity, Imagery and Motor Behaviour Laboratory.

As a named scholar, she will receive $90,000 a year for the next five years to dedicate towards her research.

“It is an honour to be among the list of Michael Smith Health Research BC Scholar Award recipients,” said Kraeutner. “This award is instrumental to the launch of my research program, and the momentum gained is invaluable not only to myself, but to trainees in my lab.”

Through her work, Kraeutner’s overarching goal is to improve motor learning and relearning after stroke and brain injury. Using an approach that encompasses neuroimaging, neurophysiology and behavioural techniques, her research focuses on better understanding brain function associated with motor learning through non-physical forms of practice.

This important research helps inform, develop and test interventions that promote recovery and improve the lives of those people who have experienced stroke.


Eric Li portrait

Associate professor Eric Li named among Canada’s top scholars by Royal Society of Canada

Faculty of Management associate professor Eric Li has received a prestigious honour from the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), having been named a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

The College is Canada’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership. Its members have shown a high level of achievement at an early stage of their careers.

Membership in an entity of the RSC is one of the highest honours a Canadian scholar can achieve in the arts, humanities and sciences.

“It is truly an honour to be selected to join the College of New Scholars. This is a very special recognition and I want to thank my colleagues and students at UBCO for continuously working with me and encouraging me throughout the years. It is always challenging to launch and sustain interdisciplinary research programs in academia. I am very fortunate to work with a wonderful group of colleagues, community partners and students to explore innovative solutions to important societal issues. As a new member of the Royal Society of Canada, I will continue to conduct impactful research to address these issues, locally, nationally and globally”.

A leading Canadian scholar in the rapidly evolving field of socio-economic change, Li’s research focuses on areas including food insecurity, health inequity, urban/rural divide, social innovation and the transformation of markets and consumer culture.

“UBC Okanagan is proud to see associate professor Li recognized by the Royal Society of Canada,” UBCO’s vice-principal of research & innovation, Philip Barker said. “His outstanding work reflects UBCO’s excellence in research and our burgeoning proficiency in a number of important fields. We congratulate him on this significant honour and look forward to his continued contributions to advance knowledge that has tangible impacts on our region and our world.”

In addition to his newly-attained status with RSC, Li is also the Principal’s Research Chair in Social Innovation for Health Equity and Food Security and was named UBCO Researcher of the Year in 2021.

He will now join other College members in providing advice to the government and the public; mentoring promising young scholars, artists, and scientists; and connecting with senior RSC Fellows from a variety of disciplines across Canada.