Meet the new faces of UBC Okanagan

New Faculty 2021

Brad Epperly, Assistant Professor, Political Science

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

Research: rule of law, courts, democracy Teaching: political economy, law and politics, democracy and authoritarianism

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I’m working on a project examining the use of law and violence as tools of voter suppression in the post-Reconstruction US South. In term 2 I’m teaching a class on democracy and authoritarianism. Both are new to me, and therefore fun and exciting.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

Cascadia is my favorite corner of the continent, and UBC is a great university.

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

Arriving in the middle of a pandemic has made for an odd experience, and has limited my activities. Walking my dog through Rotary Marsh Park every morning is a pleasure.


Elena Nicoladis, Professor, Department Head, Psychology

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

I am interested in understanding how children and adults learn language. By language, I mean both speech and other communicative bodily movements (like hand gesture and facial expressions and stance). I’m interested in both bilingual and monolinguals.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

We just completed a study in which we found that Punjabi-English bilinguals were more comfortable speaking Punjabi with another bilingual than English. This was a curious finding because they were more proficient in English than in Punjabi.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

It is exciting to be on a campus with such high morale for what can be done here. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

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

My new favourite pastime is to drive at the speed limit: it’s great fun. Drives people nuts, particularly on one-lane roads.


Madeleine Ransom, Assistant Professor, Philosophy

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My current research is on perceptual bias, and how this can undergird or reinforce social stereotypes. My teaching interests range from the philosophy of psychology to the meaning of life.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I am excited to teach Philosophy of Biology next Fall, with a focus on failed biological explanations of race and sex. This ties into my research as it focuses on the interplay between perceptual categories and biological theorizing.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

It’s a top Canadian research university in a beautiful setting.

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

I’m not sure yet as I only move to Kelowna this summer. I suspect it will be the beach.


Camille Simardone, Assistant Professor, Economics

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research interests are in applied econometrics, machine learning, and labour economics. Most recently, I have been investigating how the pandemic has affected the labour market outcomes of women, particularly mothers, in Canada.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

My research will evaluate the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic on labour market outcomes of women in Canada, using both traditional and novel econometric approaches.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

I chose UBCO because of the interdisciplinary nature of the department, the communal culture, and the strong focus on equity, diversity and inclusion.

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

As a former ski instructor, I am looking forward to the ski season!


Shawn Wilson, Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research focuses on the development of Indigenous research methodologies and methods in the fields of culture, health and well-being. We apply the resulting Indigenous knowledge in community contexts to make the world a better place.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

We are currently working to revive traditional methods in Indigenous Astronomy. Indigenous astronomy helps us to better understand the underlying nature of the universe so that we are better able to fulfill our roles as humans within it.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

The other faculty working at UBC Okanagan!

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

Due to the global Covid pandemic, I am currently working from home in Australia. I look forward to making the physical move to the Okanagan in the coming months.

Astrida Neimanis, Associate Professor, English and Cultural Studies

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

I work in the field of feminist environmental humanities – i.e. feminist, queer, crip, antiracist, decolonial approaches to climate change and environmental crisis. I work with artists and scientists. Mostly, I write about water and weather.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Finding new ways to understand climate catastrophe and the various deformations of social relations that subtend it. This work is depressing and difficult, but can also be joyful, affirmative, inspiring, and best of all – contagious.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

A tremendous research-focused opportunity to work across two departments – Cultural studies in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, and Gender studies, in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. This is my perfect fit! A unicorn, actually.

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

Swimming in the lake before swimming season really begins. It is solitary, freezing cold, and entirely life-affirming.

Michael Benoit, Assistant Professor, Manufacturing

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research falls into two main areas: metal additive manufacturing and welding & joining. What excites me the most about my research is that we get to push the limits of materials science & engineering while also solving industry-driven problems.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I am very excited by the opportunity to build & lead my research group, to engage with local industry to solve meaningful problems, and to build interdisciplinary collaborations with a dynamic group of colleagues in the School of Engineering.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

I chose UBC Okanagan because of the opportunity to join & help shape the new manufacturing engineering program. The Okanagan is also an absolutely beautiful place to be!

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

My favourite activity/spot in the Okanagan so far is taking my two dogs down to Okanagan Centre for a swim in the lake.


Alon Eisenstein, Assistant Professor of Teaching

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My teaching is focused on entrepreneurship and professional development. This includes transferable skills such as leadership and communication. My research focuses on studying pedagogical approaches such as experiential and problem-based learning.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Work-Integrated Learning is evolving fast these days, including Entrepreneurial Work-Integrated Learning, which is particularly exciting as there are growing calls for more entrepreneurship teaching and innovative pedagogies.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

UBC Okanagan is situated in the breathtaking Okanagan valley and is bubbling with excitement due to super-fast growth. This makes UBC Okanagan the best place to live, work and grow, while enjoying nature at its best.

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

I love hiking, and Okanagan has so many to offer. Both within Kelowna or a short drive up the mountains around, there is so much nature to see and take in.


Suliman Gargoum, Assistant Professor, Civil

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My work focuses on developing ML algorithms that help transform the road design and infrastructure management process into one that is data-driven and road user-centric. I then use the information in advanced modelling of road safety and resiliency.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Laser scanners & ioT sensors have caused an influx of big data. I believe research on translating data into information using statistical models, machine learning, and AI will transform Civil/Transportation Engineering, which I’m very excited about!

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

UBC is one of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions known for promoting cutting-edge research. The School of Engineering’s structure encourages cross-discipline collaboration. The combination made it a great research growth opportunity!

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

To this point, I didn’t really get a chance to explore the region but there are multiple activities on my to-do list!


Alyse Hawley, Assistant Professor, Civil

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

I use systems ecology approaches with big data science to uncover how microbial metabolic interactions underlie the stability and processes robustness within both engineered and natural microbial ecosystems.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I am excited to study parallel processes in engineered systems (eg bioreactors) and natural environments. This provides insights into both engineering interventions and natural processes where microbes impact the environment on a larger scale.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

The feeling of collegiality on a smaller campus. The opportunity to be a part of UBCO growing into something bigger.

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

I have enjoyed picking apricots from our tree with my family.


Vicki Komisar, Assistant Professor, Mechanical

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

Research Interests: Balance, Falls, Aging, Biomechanics, Motor Control, Ergonomics, Assistive Technology, and Built Environment Design Teaching Interests: Anything related to engineering design and biomedical engineering

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I’m excited to work with UBCO researchers, older adults, caregivers and practitioners, on key challenges in balance and falls. Beyond community/clinical contexts, my research recently led to a change in WorkSafeBC’s guidelines for fall prevention.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

UBCO has world-leading researchers in balance, falls and human movement sciences who are well-connected with the community. The combination of research excellence and a small school to facilitate multi-sectoral collaborations was a major draw.

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

My favourite Okanagan activities are anything involving the lake or a hike in the mountains


Babak Mohamadpour Tosarkani, Assistant Professor, Manufacturing

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My areas of expertise are in the field of Operations and Supply Chain Management. COURSES & TEACHING Production Systems Management II (MANF 370), Life Cycle Analysis and Sustainability (MANF 450), Supply Chain Tactics and Strategies (MANF 460).

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Dr. Tosarkani has contributed to various research topics related to the configuration of supply chain networks and reverse logistics networks for the sectors of manufacturing/remanufacturing, energy, healthcare and food production.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

All UBC faculty members are pioneers in their fields which makes me motivated to do the interdisciplinary research. Collaborative research is one of the key factors to enhance the prospective impact of our investigations on society.

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

Walking and swimming are my favourite activities.

Brendan Dyck, Assistant Professor, Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research is focused on understanding the chemical and physical processes operating deep within a terrestrial planet’s crust. I employ thermodynamics, microscopy and, where possible, fieldwork to study deep crustal and metamorphic processes.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

On the experimental side, the integration of mineral microstructure and chemistry. On the theoretical side, it is the integration of new astronomical data with petrological models that were developed for Earth’s crust & mantle that excites me most.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

The research facilities and expertise in trace element & isotope geochemistry and electron-beam microscopy in the FiLTER lab.

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

In the winter, nordic skiing at one of the many excellent ski areas found in the Okanagan. In the summer, biking the trails in and around Kelowna.


Conor Pranckevicius, Assistant Professor, Chemistry

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research centers around the development of new sustainable catalysts for essential chemical reactions. My group approaches this problem by studying new methods for the activation of inert chemical bonds utilizing earth abundant elements.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

The past decade of research has uncovered striking reactivity of earth-abundant Group XIII compounds in challenging bond activations. Developing this technology will help curb our reliance on rare and toxic precious metals in catalysts.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

As a growing university, UBC Okanagan provides a unique opportunity for my research team to shape the future of the Chemistry department here. I am very excited to be in an environment where I can collaborate with many rising stars in the community.

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

Rock Climbing! UBC Okanagan is fortunate to be on the doorstep of many beautiful wilderness areas, and being able to easily access spaces such as KLO Creek and Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park allows one to find a fulfilling work-life balance.


Gema Rodríguez-Pérez, Assistant Professor, Computer Science

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research interests are empirical software engineering; mining software repositories; bug localization and prediction; diversity and social aspects in software engineering, software team dynamics.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I’m excited to develop technologies and approaches that can improve the quality and mitigate the embedded biases of software products developed in online collaborative environments.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

The diversity of the department and its commitment to improving diversity and inclusion on Campus. The beautiful location also helped me 🙂

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

I like all outdoor activities because you can enjoy the beautiful scenery while doing workouts.

New Faculty 2020

Andrea Craig, Assistant Professor, Economics

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

I’m interested in where people choose to live, how people commute to work, and how public policies affect these decisions. I teach an urban economics course, which also focuses on why firms in the same industry cluster together.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Most of my research uses confidential microdata from Statistics Canada. I’m very excited that UBCO now has a Research Data Centre (RDC) branch to access these data.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

I’m excited to be part of a department and campus that focuses on policy-relevant research.

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

Hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. After a decade in Ontario, it’s amazing to be back near the mountains.


Margaret Carlyle, Assistant Professor, History

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

I’m interested in the history of how scientific and medical knowledge is made and transmitted. How do ideas become ‘facts’ or things become ‘technologies?’ My approach to answer these questions is to look at the unsung role of women in this quest.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I am most excited for all the archives I use to reopen! Once they do, I will be jetting across the pond to France, and in the meantime, I can’t wait to teach an upper level seminar on how archives form the backbone of historical research and methods.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

UBC is a fantastic school with excellent research support and fantastic students. Beyond that, I was attracted by the beautiful region and all that nature has to offer: sand, sun, mountains, lakes. Not to mention fresh fruits and great wine.

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

The lake, hands down! I love to swim and I am always hopeful for a chance encounter with Ogopogo. Just like me, she has familial ties across the pond in Scotland, since she’s the Canadian cousin of the Loch Ness Monster.


Jessica Lougheed, Assistant Professor, Psychology

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

I study emotional development during adolescence. I focus on emotion dynamics between parents and adolescents, and their associations with mental health. I teach courses on adolescent and socioemotional development and family relationships.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Research on parent-teen relationships has largely focused on the adolescent developmental context. I’m excited to learn about how parental developmental transitions (e.g., to midlife) are related to the developing parent-adolescent relationship.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

I grew up in Victoria and felt pulled to return to BC. UBCO is a great place to do world-class research in a more intimate setting. Plus, the entire region is gorgeous.

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

I love hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, but my favourite Okanagan activity is going for polar bear swims in the lake! I started going in January and love it so much that I think this will be a year-round activity for me.


Leanne ten Brinke, Assistant Professor, Psychology

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research centres around trust and credibility assessment. I study deception and its’ detection, legal decision-making biases, as well as psychopathic personality traits in leadership.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I am fascinated by how lies affect the flow of a conversation. My current research is examining how observing and interacting with liars leads to distinct responses, even in the absence of suspicion.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

I completed my PhD at UBC Okanagan in 2012, and feel so fortunate to have found my way back to the place (and people!) that I fell in love with a decade ago.

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

I adore the blue-green hues of Kalamalka Lake and you can find me paddleboarding there or swimming with my dogs during the summer months.


Silvia Tomaskova, Dean, Professor, Community Culture and Global Studies

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

Anthropology & archaeology; history of science; prehistoric art; colonialism; gender studies; theory of knowledge

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Community engagement in resource-poor countries; imagination as a source of knowledge; attention to radical difference

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

The enormous future potential; commitment to indigenous issues; smaller size and the possibility to have impact and effect change.

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

Where do I start? Too many beautiful places to go to, the setting is one of the most striking in the world; lakes and lakes and mountains.

Kevin Chong, Assistant Professor, Creative Studies, Creative Writing

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

Fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I’m on the 5th draft of a new novel.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

My colleagues in Creative Writing.

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

The lake.


Megan Smith, Associate Professor, Creative Studies

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research aims to affect change in our future by building critical innovations in immersive media and creative technologies, and in teaching – leading our Bachelor of Media Studies students towards a competitive future in the computational arts.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Working with the RCMP to design Virtual Reality hardware that will be used in training at the Depot in Regina SK. – “All the Stars We Cannot See’, a large-scale installation using real-time data to visualize active satellites orbiting Earth.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

I was looking for a community of researchers working within my field to form partnerships with and to expand my research within a large institution. That formula is here at UBCO. I was also drawn to the Okanagan as a prime location to live.

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

I’ve had a fantastic time skiing at Big White with my children. The hiking trails in McKinley Landing have been excellent during the isolation and taking in a few wine tastings in Lake Country really helped to solidify how amazing it is living here.

Ahmad Al-Dabbagh, Assistant Professor, Principal’s Research Chair in Control Systems (Tier 2)

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research interests are in the area of control systems. My teaching interests are mainly related to control theory and data analytics.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I am excited to research and teach how to improve the control, monitoring, and automation of processes.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

The School of Engineering offers an excellent environment for professional growth. I believe it is a great place for me to establish a strong research program.

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

There are many, but one is playing tennis by Knox mountain (and the Okanagan lake).

Darryl Reed, Professor

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

Co-operatives, Social Enterprises, Development Studies, Fair Trade, Business Ethics, Development Ethics

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

I am very excited about working with and linking students, organizations and social economy business interested in developing/supporting more sustainable production and value chains.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

A combination of personal and professional reasons, including a strong research culture and a commitment to student-centred pedagogy.

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

Not sure that I have one favourite spot (yet). Still exploring.

Michael J Noonan, Assistant Professor, Biology

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My lab’s research is focused on the statistically efficient integration of ecological data into evidence-based conservation, and on developing statistical methods and software for handling the unique challenges posed by ecological data.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Developing open access research software, data, and courses to advance open science.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

The strong academic standing of UBC and the amazing natural setting in the Okanagan Valley.

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

Gardening, because it relaxes my mind after work and gives me a deeper appreciation of the natural world.


 

Paul Tsopméné, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics & Statistics

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research interests lie in mathematics, more precisely in algebraic topology, with a focus on embeddings. My primary teaching interests lie in Calculus, (Linear) Algebra, Mathematical Analysis and Topology.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Research: I am most excited about the study of spaces of embeddings of one manifold into another manifold. Teaching: I am most excited about developing resources in many areas including Calculus and (Linear) Algebra.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

UBC aspires to the highest standards of excellence in teaching, and this is something that I really like. Secondly, UBC is one of the top universities in Canada. Thirdly, Okanagan is just a perfect location for me with mountains, lakes, nice weather…

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

My favourite Okanagan activity is hiking just because I like it.

Peter Simpson, Dean, Professor, Physics

What are your teaching and/or research interests?

My research involves manipulating materials at the nanoscale, including “defect engineering” – the use of defects to control or modify material properties.

What developments in your research/teaching are you most excited about?

Creating silicon quantum dots, which have intriguing properties which are unlike the properties of bulk silicon, and are governed by quantum mechanics.

What made you choose UBC Okanagan?

An exciting opportunity to expand the graduate school on a campus with ambitious plans. There’s a lot of energy here and enthusiasm for doing things differently.

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

Having arrived during Covid I feel like I’m missing some of the excitement, but I’ve been enjoying the many great places to walk my dog.