Linda Olver



Join Provost and Vice-President Academic, Dr. Ananya Mukherjee Reed, on November 14th for an inaugural community reception. Enjoy wine, appetizers, and refreshments, connect with your colleagues and peers, and help recognize and celebrate diversity of the UBC Okanagan community.

Following the reception, you are invited to join Ananya for a livestream keynote by Dr. Damon A. Williams, a recognized scholar, educator, and leader working to advance equity, diversity and inclusion in higher education and the broader society.

This event is being hosted in partnership with the Equity & Inclusion Office.

All are welcome to attend and encouraged to RSVP.



November 14th, 3:45 – 4:45 p.m.

EME Reichard S. Hallisey Lower Atrium

Keynote Livestream Presentation 

November 14, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

EME 1121



Keynote Details

This session will focus on sharing some of the latest equity, diversity, and inclusion related research, concepts, and best practices in higher education that all leaders can leverage in their day-to-day lives to help promote a culture of everyday inclusion.

Some of the concepts and topics that will be covered during this session include: inclusive excellence & strategic diversity leadership; unconscious bias, microaggressions, and micro-affirmations; strategies that reinforce culturally relevant decision-making; and the importance of leaders demonstrating innovation, courage, empathy, and active-listening. By leveraging national data, introspective stories, and the pragmatic voice that can only come from having led diversity, equity, and inclusion-related organizational change efforts at all levels of leadership, this session will empower, educate, and inspire hope in all of those that attend.


About Dr. Damon A. Williams

Dr. Damon A. Williams is an award-winning scholar, leader, and educator passionate about making organizations inclusive and excellent for all. He guides higher education institutions, government, Fortune 500 companies, and non-profit organizations in their efforts to future-proof themselves by:

  1. empowering the millennial and centennial generations
  2. establishing evidence-based diversity and inclusion strategies
  3. engaging youth digitally
  4. building sustainable corporate responsibility and social impact initiatives
  5. closing the educational and social achievement gap for vulnerable communities.


This livestream is part of the Vancouver Provost’s Distinguished Lecture Series on Race and Leadership. Which was created to foster holistic discussions on equity, diversity, and leadership at UBC. The series seeks to engage in critical conversations on strategic and diversity-focused initiatives on campus and inspire organizational change and leadership.


Dear colleagues,

I am delighted to share with you my second newsletter of 2019.

Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme is “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty”.  Additionally, 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) – a landmark treaty that sets out the rights of every child, regardless of their race, religion or abilities.

The theme acknowledges the important fact that we cannot address poverty one individual at a time, and not one issue at a time (such as unemployment, illiteracy etc.). Rather, we need to approach poverty at the level of communities where children live their lives. In Canada, when we consider child poverty, we must remember the particularly difficult – and unequal – conditions indigenous children continue to endure.

On our campus, the month of September was indeed a historic one. On the afternoon of September 24th, UBC Okanagan signed a declaration in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Elders, chiefs and community members from throughout the Syilx Okanagan Nation joined with students, faculty and staff at UBC Okanagan to witness the historic signing of commitments to action toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. I was honored to be here for this historic moment. I look forward to working with all of you on the commitments in the declaration. You can read more about the commitments here.

Also on September 24, the Board of Governors of UBC approved a $100M allocation from the university’s TREK endowment to UBC Okanagan. The $100M will be used towards a fundraising campaign for the campus and the annual revenue will go towards supporting students beginning immediately.

UBC Okanagan reached an enrolment milestone in September 2019 with 10, 723 students, of which approximately 2000 are international (from over 100 countries). 3000 new students joined the Okanagan campus this year and we now have over 1000 graduate students.

From left: Deborah Buszard, Minister Carr, Yu Teshima (fourth-year management student) and Ananya Mukherjee Reed

On September 5th we had a visit from the Honorable James Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification. Minister Carr met with DVC Deborah Buszard, AVP Students Ian Cull and myself to identify areas of synergy between UBC Okanagan’s priorities and new opportunities provided through Canada’s International Education Strategy. The strategy includes increased funding and financial support for Canadian students who want to study abroad on exchange and increased scholarship funding for incoming international students to Canada.

Minister Carr visited the new Commons Building and met with UBC students. One such student was Yu Teshima, who is in her 4th year of a UBC Okanagan Bachelor of Management Degree. She is also the student liaison for the Okanagan Young Professionals Collective, which works to retain talent in the region and connect graduates with local work opportunities.

Our students continue to do incredible things. Rob Shaw, a doctoral student in the Faculty of Health and Social Development, landed on top of the podium with a Gold medal at the Parapan American Quad-tennis championships.

Rob Shaw

Closer to home, Dela Hini – a third-year sociology student – received a Top 20 Under 25 award in the Strong Woman category from non-profit, Think for Actions, recognizing her work with a local vulnerable population. The Pink Backpack Project is a campaign that was founded by Dela and provides sanitary supplies, toiletries and cosmetics for exploited and marginalized women in Kelowna.

Dela Hini

Stacy Dikareva and Daria Hutchinson, two students in the Southern Medical Program, won the 2019 Reichwald Family Foundation Southern Medical Program award for demonstrating excellence in academics, leadership and community service.

I am truly inspired by the breadth of impact of our students – it spans cities, countries, continents and even extends into space! A group of 5 international undergraduate students sent their experiment into the stratosphere after winning the opportunity in a nationwide competition sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency.

From left: Philip Noah Eibl, Giulia Rossi, Hector Carrillo Estrada, Javier Perez Tobia and Leonardo Caffarello.

In September we also saw global climate action. A rally was organized by UBC Okanagan Students’ Union (UBCSUO) on September 26th.  Hundreds of students, faculty and staff participated and our DVC Deborah Buszard addressed the rally.

I hope that you enjoy reading through the stories featured in this newsletter to find out more about exciting initiatives and developments on our campus. I encourage you to contact me with your questions or comments at

Before I sign off I want to express my gratitude to my team without whom none of this work would be possible.


Warmly, Ananya


Ananya Mukherjee Reed 

Professor, Department of Economics, Philosophy and Political Science

Provost and Vice-President Academic

I respectfully acknowledge that UBC’s Okanagan campus is situated on the territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation


Next Section: Student Successes

Meet our high achieving international students

Here are the stories of two of our international students and their passion for research

Sayra Gorgani, electrical engineering student from Turkey

Sayra Gorgani, originally from Turkey, is passionate about research. She is involved in two projects as an undergraduate researcher in electrical engineering. This September she is entering her second year in the Faculty of Applied Science and has maintained a 4.0 GPA. This past summer, she took up a Work Study position with Dr. Ian Foulds in the Electromechanical Microsystems & Polymer Integration Research (EMPIRe) Group. She worked on how blood sample collection can be made more accurate and require smaller sample sizes by using microfluidic systems and image analysis.  Her latest research opportunity begins this September with Dr. Jonathan Holzman. His research focuses on free space optics, replacing fibre optics with the use of lasers that could aid in long distance communication and potentially enhance deep space communication.

As a high school student in Turkey, Sayra wanted to pursue electrical engineering and set on a course that led her to Canada and to UBC Okanagan. She loves math and sees electrical engineering as an opportunity to apply math extensively. “In this field, there is a high potential to come up with innovative solutions and devices”, she says.  The smaller class sizes and the opportunity to access research opportunities at UBC Okanagan played a big part in her decision to come here. During the coming year, she hopes to get more involved in research and get published. This, she says, will help to pursue graduate studies. Sayra was recognized recently for her high academic achievement, contributions to research and campus life through an International Community Achievement Award.


Ahmed Sabry, Applied Science student from Egypt

Ahmed Sabry, originally from Egypt, chose UBC for his Applied Science degree because, “it is the most international university in Canada”. The Okanagan campus was a place where he felt he could make a name for himself. “It was the right fit – not too big, not too small and with great academics and amazing research opportunities”, he says. Recognized early for his academic achievement, Ahmed received the Outstanding International Student (OIS) Award. Now in his third year, he has been on the Dean’s Honour List for two years in a row and has won an International Community Achievement Award.

Ahmed says this past summer was the most eventful. He was hired to work on a research project in the field of computer graphics. Using electromagnetic simulations, he studied how light interacts with objects bringing together research in computer imaging and nanoscale structures. Being involved in a research project has sparked his interest to continue in his specialization and create new knowledge. This may lead him to graduate studies, but he wants to get some work experience first. This year, he is also making time for new creative interests. As part of the Enactus UBC Okanagan club, he is planning this year’s Inventathon, a business incubator competition where students pitch new business ideas to a panel of judges. He likes to get involved in projects where he can make a difference and create something new.

 Next Section: New Appointments and Faculty Successes

Welcoming new faculty

I am delighted to welcome new faculty to our campus. We had a few more join us since my last newsletter – so here is a more complete list. This list includes new faculty as of September 30th.  I look forward to meeting all of you soon.

School of Education

  • David Barnum
  • Willow Brown
  • Jennifer Laminger
  • Michael Landry
  • Erika Kim Van Oyen

Faculty of Health and Social Development

  • Seija Emond
  • Shereen Ismael
  • Barbara Oliveira
  • Raechel Pefanis
  • Foley Vicky

Faculty of Applied Science

  • Gokce Kor Bicakci
  • Souvik Chakraborty
  • Malcolm Clough
  • Seyyedarash Haddadi
  • Abu Kamal
  • Mohanad Ali Abdulwahid Obeed
  • Xiaoxiao Zhao
  • Farid Bin Zubir

Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences

  • Jennifer Ingle
  • Vladimir Grebenyuk
  • Mohamed Shehata
  • Jerry Vandenberg

Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies

  • Maria Olive Alexopoulos
  • Cynthia Hernandez Garcia
  • Emily McGiffin
  • Morgan Rauscher
  • Saeed Sabzian
  • Tatjana Smith


Southern Medical Program Faculty honoured for their contributions

Dr. Elizabeth McCoid is the recipient of the 2019 Clinical Faculty Award for Excellence in Community Practice Teaching. Dr. McCoid is a Clinical instructor with the UBC Department of Family Practice and has helped shape the SMP in the Kootney Boundary region.

Dr. Josh Williams is the recipient of the 2019 Clinical Faculty Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching. Dr. Williams is a Clinical Assistant Professor with the UBC Department of Emergency Medicine and was the inaugural Clinical Skills Course Director.


Next Section: New Programs

New Minor in Geospatial Information Science 

A new Minor in Geospatial Information Science has just been approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training (MAEST). The new minor is an interdisciplinary science program that will introduce BA and BSc students to Geospatial Information Science (GIS) theory, concepts, techniques, and applications through completion of 30 credits. Graduates from this program will be equipped with skills that enable analysis of spatial data in ways that enhance society in a variety of disciplines including epidemiology, climate change, and water allocation. It is expected that the minor will be available in September 2020 and it will be open to all majors in a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science program.

Next Section: International initiatives

Statement of Cooperation Signed with the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Ghana

From left: Vice-Chancellor Gabriel Teye (University for Development Studies), Deputy Vice-Chancellor Deborah Buszard (UBC Okanagan)

On September 19th, UBC signed a Statement of Cooperation with the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Ghana, formalizing a long-standing relationship and outlining our commitment to continue to explore areas in which our two universities can partner.

UBC Okanagan’s three-time alumna, Dr. Vida Yakong is the Head of Midwifery at UDS. Dr. Yakong holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies (Medical Anthropology), Master of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of British Columbia Okanagan. She is also the founder and CEO of Ghana Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW), a community-based non-profit organization focused on bridging the gap in maternal and child health in rural settings and educational and economic capacity building for rural women.

This relationship has led to many opportunities for UBC Okanagan students to participate in programs in Ghana. Nursing students complete placements in medical and surgical units, community health clinics, and community health outreach programs as part of the Rural Nurse Practitioner Program. Additionally, Education students have contributed to literacy projects in partnership with Ghanaian School Districts, and Human Kinetics students have worked on health literacy promotion projects.

The Vice-Chancellor of UDS, Dr. Gabriel Teye, and Deans representing four faculties joined Dr. Yakong and were warmly welcomed to UBC. The delegates spent four days on both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses engaging with UBC leadership and faculty members.

I had the pleasure of meeting with the delegates from UDS and discussing opportunities for expanded collaboration, building on an already strong and long-lasting relationship.


Meeting with the Scientific and Higher Education Attaché to the Consulate General of France (Vancouver)

Dr. Fabien Agenes, Science and Higher Education Attaché with the Office of the Consulate General of France in Vancouver visited us on August 19th.  He met with members of the Office of Research Services, Mitacs, and myself to discuss opportunities for collaboration with UBC Okanagan. One initiative under discussion is hosting a climate and biodiversity event on the Okanagan campus in the coming year. Stay tuned!

The call for applications to the France-Canada Research Fund’s New Collaborations Program is open. This fund is for developing new scientific projects by French and Canadian teams who have not previously worked together. The deadline for applications is November 5th.  Additionally, the Mourou-Strickland 2020 Mobility Fund is also open for applications for the initiation of sustainable collaborations between French and Canadian researchers (deadline November 28th 2019).  The Consulate General of France has partnered with the Peter Wall Institute to fund visiting scholars from France as part of the French Scholars Lecture Series. This funding can be applied to bringing outstanding French academics from different disciplinary and academic backgrounds to participate in open dialogue with Canadian counterparts. For support or more information with any of these opportunities, please contact the Office of Research Services at UBC Okanagan.


Next Section: Comings and Goings

Dr. Janet Kalesnikoff – Senior Manager, Strategic Projects

I am delighted to welcome Dr. Janet Kalesnikoff who has joined the office of the Provost as Senior Manager, Strategic Projects. Janet will be working closely with Michael Burgess, Associate Provost Strategy. Her university journey started at UBC Vancouver where she obtained her BSc and her PhD in Experimental Medicine (conducting research at the BC Cancer Research Center). Janet then went on to do her post-doctoral work at Stanford University. She spent the last 16 years there and obtained a wealth of experience in various administrative roles. Most recently, she worked as the Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Stanford University School of Medicine where she fostered partnerships with key academic and industry partners and supported the realization of strategic priorities.

In our next newsletter, we will bring you more information on the exciting strategic initiatives Michael and Janet are working on such as the development of interdisciplinarity (including the planning for an interdisciplinary academic building); a strategic approach to community engagement and cross-campus collaborations.

Pathways to policy: The power of interdisciplinary collaboration

Eric M. Meslin, PhD, FCAHS


Among the reasons many academics work in the fields they do is to make a difference in society.  Influencing public policy is a natural outlet for this laudable motivation, but moving from “laboratory to legislature” is easier said than done: it requires different types of evidence, strategies, techniques and temperaments that few individuals have themselves.  Drawing on examples from domestic and international experiences, this lecture will discuss the value of interdisciplinary collaboration as a means to translate knowledge into the public sphere.

Dr. Meslin is the President and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies. His expansive breadth of experience in bioethics includes over 30 years experience in university and government settings contributing over 150 articles and book chapters and consulting with state, provincial and federal governments in addition to NGOs Philanthropies and industry. Click here to learn more about Dr. Meslin.

Dr. Meslin’s visit to UBC Okanagan campus is funded by the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics and is sponsored by the PiNTS (Political Inquiry and Theory Studies) Speaker Series


When: October 9, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Where: RHS 260, UBC Okanagan

Who: Open to all