Kristen Brooke



Undergraduate Research Ambassador Piya Bajaj combines her passion for research with principles of kindness and positivity learned at an early age.

Street lights illuminate the footsteps of many residents in New Delhi, India—but it wasn’t always this way. Early efforts by UBC Okanagan Undergraduate Research Ambassador Piya Bajaj helped increase safety for women in New Delhi while also igniting a lifelong passion for research and helping others.

Growing up on the quieter streets of Mumbai, Piya noticed a culture shift after moving to New Delhi with her family at 11 years old. Transitioning to life in her new city meant adapting to a different culture and rules that would ensure her safety and security in the larger centre. “As a young girl, it was an initial shock to me being told not to leave the house after 5pm because it was unsafe,” Piya explains. “So that shaped a lot of community work I did.”

When Piya reminiscences about her childhood experiences, she points to lessons about the importance of helping others. Education was highly valued in her family, but an equal emphasis was placed on kindness and generosity. “My mother and grandmother were always very involved in community service and teaching underprivileged children back home,” shares the third-year Bachelor of Arts student. “When I continued with my school career, one thing I knew I wanted for sure was to help people and work with them.”

These experiences served as an inspiration for Piya to be a force for change and a strong advocate for women’s safety. She joined the Centre for Active Citizenship at her school, where she was part of both the women’s safety and road safety teams. Piya and her classmates set forth on a research project that saw them survey more than 200 women in busy metropolitan areas over five hours to learn more about how safe they felt in these areas. The researchers learned that women felt most unsafe where there were fewer street lights, so, armed with this information, Piya and her team made it their goal to make streetlights a reality.

Over the next few months, the group advocated passionately to the municipal government until their mission was a success. “This was my entry into the world of research. I collected data, analyzed it and took action to get those lights installed. Working on this project as a young child shaped my passion for international relations and research.”

Piya came to UBC Okanagan with the continued desire to support and help others while pursuing her own education—and she has embraced every opportunity to do so. From serving as an Orientation Leader and Student Connector to working in the Student Experience Office and volunteering for Amnesty International UBCO, Piya found joy in helping and encouraging others. “Wherever I go, I try to do good to people. I try to carry that in my personal life and my professional life to make a positive impact in the world.”

When Piya first came across the Undergraduate Research Ambassador program, she saw an exciting opportunity to combine her passion for research with her strong desire to help her classmates. UBC Okanagan’s Undergraduate Research Ambassadors assist students to navigate the many opportunities available to undergraduate students to get involved in research, perfectly fitting. “Research is the way forward. Unless we dive into things we don’t know about, the world won’t change,” she says. “As human beings, we all have a desire to know something about the world we live in.”

As an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, a role she shared with two other students, Piya was excited to work with students from a variety of different fields and backgrounds. Bringing her love of research into her own work, Piya currently serves as a directed studies student in Psychology as well as an Undergraduate Research Assistant with the Faculty of Management. These personal experiences gave Piya a deeper understanding of the challenges her fellow students faced in research and allowed her to grow in her role as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador. “Every experience has been uniquely beautiful,” she shares. “Every conversation is different, every person is different. Everybody is looking for different things.”

One of her favourite memories at UBC Okanagan was moderating an event hosted by the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors—called Undergraduate Experiences in Research—that brought together students from different facilities to share their experiences and ask questions.

In the future, Piya sees herself in a field where she can continue to help people develop and grow. After graduating, she plans to spend time growing her career before bringing her lived experiences to further education in Psychology or Data Analytics. She encourages fellow students to look for their passion and take advantage of opportunities: “The world is so big, and there’s so much that humanity has left to do. Look around yourself and see what inspires you.”

Meet Janet Kalesnikoff

Role: Senior Manager, Strategic Projects

Janet Kalesnikoff joined the Office of the Provost in 2019 as Senior Manager, Strategic Projects. She completed her undergraduate (BSc) and graduate training (Ph.D. in Experimental Medicine) at UBC Vancouver, and postdoctoral training (Pathology/Immunology) at Stanford University. She held various administrative roles at Stanford University, where she worked for 16 years, serving as Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Stanford University School of Medicine before returning to Canada to work at UBC Okanagan.

Please describe what you do in the Office of the Provost?

In my role, I work closely with Mike Burgess, Associate Provost, Strategy, to advance strategic objectives and projects at UBC Okanagan through engagement with faculty, staff, students and the community. I support a number of working groups and task forces that provide important recommendations and feedback that shape the future of UBC Okanagan. I love the range of projects I get to work on—from capital projects and strategic reviews to developing new initiatives and programs, exploring new partnerships, and everything in between!

My favourite thing about my job is that it allows me to work closely with faculty, students, and staff across multiple Faculties and units at UBC Okanagan and UBC Vancouver. I also work closely with our community partners, including the Syilx Okanagan Nation. We get immense value from the diversity of perspectives providing input into our projects, and important opportunities to learn from others as we work to advance strategic projects on our campus.

What upcoming projects or current initiatives are you most excited about?

Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Innovation (ICI) building

One of the first projects I began working on when I started at UBC Okanagan was the Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Innovation (ICI) building. It has been exciting to see this project take shape over the years. We are currently working with the VPRI office and representatives from all Faculties/Schools to develop a plan to fill the building, which is scheduled to open in 2025. I’m looking forward to launching this process and getting our campus community excited about this unique interdisciplinary opportunity.

Strategic Review of Health

We recently completed an external review of the campus’ health-related programming and activities. I am looking forward to broadening this conversation with our campus community, UBC Health and our external partners as we define the next steps over the coming months.

What made you choose to work AT UBC Okanagan?

I truly enjoyed every stage of my education and training and love working in academia! After 16 years in the states, I was looking to return to an academic institution in Canada. I had been watching the development of UBC Okanagan for years, and I was eager to join the team. I was most excited about the size of the campus—it is growing quickly, but has retained the values of a small campus—and tremendous opportunities for growth, impact and service both locally and globally. I completed my undergraduate and graduate training at UBC Vancouver, so I was delighted to be able to return to UBC!

What’s your favourite Okanagan activity or spot and why?

I love skiing! There is a LOT of excitement in our house when it snows. I missed the mountains and snow during my 16 years in California. My kids graduated to blue runs this year, so I look forward to exploring more of Big White and our other local mountains next season when I’m not in the ice rink watching my kids play hockey.


On May 24, 2022, the Office of the Provost and the Wine Research Centre are co-hosting an event with the Consul General of France in Vancouver regarding the impact of climate change on wine regions. This is part of a series called the French Ameri-Can Climate Talks – Biodiversity (FACT-B), a series of high-level conferences bringing together French and American or French and Canadian speakers from the academic world, regulatory bodies, NGOs and think tanks.

The purpose of FACT-B is twofold: to strengthen exchanges between experts on biodiversity issues and to raise awareness among the public and decision-makers in France, the United States and Canada in order to better understand the issues and challenges ahead for our three countries. FACT-B is part of France’s broader efforts to make the fight against climate change and its consequences a priority at the international level.

Register Here

Dear colleagues,

UBC Okanagan is proud to celebrate outstanding and innovative teaching. Each year, we recognize exemplary role models who make a significant impact on the culture of teaching and learning on our campus with the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence and Innovation. This year, we are pleased to expand our award category to recognize the contributions of instructors holding limited-term appointments at UBC Okanagan.

Please join us in congratulating the 2022 award recipients:

2022 recipients of the Provost Teaching Excellence and Innovation Award

Ayman Elnaggar | Associate Professor of Teaching | School of Engineering

With over 30 years of industrial and academic experience, Dr. Ayman Elnaggar has been an innovative problem-solver inside and outside the classroom since he joined UBC Okanagan in 2014. He has led the development of several new initiatives and academic opportunities, including his successful proposal to introduce Fall Reading Week to the UBC community and the School of Engineering Dual-Credit Program.


Bowen Hui | Associate Professor of Teaching | Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science

A well-known mentor, collaborator and leader, Dr. Bowen Hui has championed computational thinking and active learning for learners of all ages. An innovative instructor, Dr. Hui has piloted new techniques in her classroom, including a personalized learning approach, and has been involved in the redesign and creation of several courses as well as provided formal mentorship to more than 50 students.


Firas Moosvi | Lecturer| Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science

Dr. Firas Moosvi’s has been a significant driver of teaching and learning innovations, using technology-enabled solutions and personal connections to support and engage his students as partners in learning. Dr. Moosvi is a strong advocate for building a community of teaching and learning, regularly collaborating with colleagues as well as conducting and facilitating more than ten Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) projects.


Mehran Shirazi | Lecturer | School of Engineering

Dr. Mehran Shirazi has quickly gained a reputation as a dedicated and supportive educator thanks to his tireless work and advocacy to ensure positive learning experiences for his students, earning several notable teaching accolades, including Thank a Prof and Golden Apple awards as well as the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students Association Appreciation award. He has worked extensively with the CTL and led important campus-wide initiatives, such as the Learning Technology Rovers and Learning Design Interns.

2022 recipients of the Provost Award for Teaching Assistants and Tutors

We are also pleased to announce the 2022 recipients of the Provost Award for Teaching Assistants and Tutors, which recognizes exceptional undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants and tutors for their contributions to academic life on our campus.

    • Cara Johnston – Student Learning Hub
    • Jesse Ghashti – Student Learning Hub
    • Megan Schroeder – Student Learning Hub
    • Mahmoud Sakr – School of Engineering
    • Negin Jalili – School of Engineering
    • Jacqueline Barnett – Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science


Teaching Excellence Celebration

The campus community is invited to join us to recognize the achievements of UBC Okanagan teachers and mentors and celebrate our community of teaching excellence.

Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Time: 4:30 to 6 pm | Celebration followed by award presentations
Location: UBC Ballroom | UNC 200
RSVP: Register to attend the celebration

Congratulations to the 2022 teaching award recipients.


Rehan Sadiq
Provost and Vice-President Academic pro tem
UBC Okanagan

Brad Wuetherick
Associate Provost, Academic Programs, Teaching and Learning
UBC Okanagan


Learners will soon have the opportunity to discover the latest in performance-based design of bridges as the School of Engineering opens registration for UBC Okanagan’s newest micro-credential course, ‘Performance-based Design and Life-cycle Cost Analysis of Bridges’. This 30-hour non-credit micro-credential course will provide professionals with flexible options to increase their knowledge in designing and modelling bridges that satisfy requirements while considering lifecycle impact. Registration opens on March 31, with courses beginning on May 2. To learn more or to register, visit

This micro-credential is the latest Continuing and Professional Education offering supporting the transformative learning vision highlighted in ‘Shaping UBC’s Next Century ‘and UBC Okanagan’s Outlook 2040.


A new issue of the ‘From the Provost’s Desk’ newsletter is now available. Read the newsletter to learn more about milestones and achievements of our campus community, along with current initiatives from the Office of the Provost.

  • Student spotlight – Shriya Agrawal
  • Congratulations to UBC Okanagan’s newest Canada Research Chairs
  • UBC’s Co-op Student of the Year
  • International partnership expands: UBCO-Exeter Excellence initiative
  • PAIR team developing first provincial framework for BC Work Integrated Learning
  • and more . . .

International partnership expands: UBCO-Exeter Excellence initiative

On December 7, UBC Okanagan and the University of Exeter renewed and expanded the institutions’ Statement of Cooperation to further strengthen the relationship and encourage cooperation in the areas of academic exchange, education and research. Building on previous collaborations, the universities have established the UBCO-Exeter Excellence initiative. This includes the creation of three funding schemes over the next three years, in the form of Initiator and Catalyst Grants and a Visiting Scholar Joint Fellowship Scheme. The grant lines will help academics at Exeter and in UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies (FCCS) and Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to tackle research and/or education challenges through collaboration.

“UBC and Exeter are engaging through partnership to address some really vital, shared challenges of our time,” said Exeter’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, External Engagement, Professor Mark Goodwin. “The Excellence initiative will enable people of both institutions to work together and combine their knowledge and expertise to generate new knowledge, new opportunities for faculty and students, and bring impact to our communities.” Dr. Greg Garrard, Associate Dean Research & Graduate Studies, FCCS, who represented UBC at the agreement signing added, “it has been an absolute pleasure to visit the Streatham campus, meet with scholars undertaking innovative research, and renew UBC Okanagan’s partnership with the University of Exeter. I’m confident the joint funding we’re announcing will take our existing collaboration to a new level.”

Applications are available online and due February 9, 2022.

As you know, the month of May is Asian Heritage Month. It comes to us amidst significant adversities: the unprecedented rise of anti-Asian racism, the scepter of the unrelenting pandemic, the humanitarian crisis in India and so on. And yet even in the face of such daunting realities, we see communities coming together, raising their voices and offering support to one another, within and across borders.

It is with this spirit of coming together that I am writing to invite you to the first-ever Asian Heritage Month at UBC Okanagan. Beginning on May 6, we will hold several virtual events during the four weeks of May. The initiative is inspired by our students . . .

Read the full announcement

Visit Our webpage


Dear colleagues,

It is my pleasure to announce two outstanding projects that have received funding through the Aspire-2040 Learning Transformations (ALT-2040) fund. This fund supports faculty in transforming the way we teach and learn at UBC Okanagan.

Please join me in congratulating the 2021 ALT-2040 funding recipients:

Committing to a Culture of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Building a Pathway Towards the Development of Culturally Competent BSN Prepared Nurses

Lead applicant: Dr. Manuela Reekie, Faculty of Health and Social Development

This project seeks to address inclusion, diversity and equity in health care through increased cultural competency education for BSN graduates that better prepares them to meet the social, cultural and linguistic needs of patients. Learn more about this project.

Indigenous Land-based Writing and Pedagogy Guide for Students and Instructors

Lead applicant: Dr. Kerrie Charnley, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies

This project supports the development of an Indigenous academic writing guide that will assist students and faculty to write in culturally relevant ways within university learning environments and expand faculty understanding of Indigenous pedagogies, including how they can be incorporated into courses and programs. Learn more about this project.

I am heartened to see the commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion exemplified by these two projects. In particular, both projects reflect UBC Okanagan’s commitments in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and I look forward to sharing more about this work as the projects get underway.

It is projects like these that make me truly excited to see what the future holds for UBC Okanagan, and the impact this funding will have on our students, faculty and community. Congratulations to the ALT-2040 2021 recipients.


Ananya Mukherjee Reed 
Provost and Vice-President Academic
UBC Okanagan

Message from Santa J. Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor

Today, Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, provided information for B.C. public post-secondary institutions to guide planning for a return to on-campus activity this fall.

Based on current immunization timelines and vaccine approvals, and with strong and effective safety plans in place, I can confirm that UBC is planning for a return to on-campus activity for Winter Session, Term 1, in September . . .

Full statement

UBC COVID-19 response