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UBCO honours this year's most outstanding researchers

A photo of Heather Gainforth, Greg Gerard and Isaac Li

Drs. Heather Gainforth, Greg Gerard and Isaac Li are UBCO's 2023 researchers of the year.

UBC Okanagan is celebrating six outstanding researchers with one of its most prestigious research awards--Researcher of the Year.

The award recognizes the ways in which UBCO researchers--three faculty and three graduate student or postdoctoral fellows--are making the world a better place through excellence in research and scholarly activity.

The 2023 Researcher of the Year awards ceremony honoured faculty winners Dr. Heather Gainforth for health research, Dr. Greg Garrard for social sciences and humanities and Dr. Isaac Li for the natural sciences and engineering category.

Alongside her teaching in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, Dr. Gainforth's research in the area of spinal cord injury (SCI) is focused on helping people with SCI live better lives. She engages directly with people living with SCI and invites the SCI community to help direct her work, in order to focus on the community's high-priority needs that have historically received little research attention. Dr. Gainforth is dedicated to getting her results to those who need it most.

Dr. Garrard researches how humans' activities and their perceptions of their environments shape the physical landscapes they inhabit. As a Professor of Environmental Humanities in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, he's a globally respected voice in sustainability who is focusing on the Okanagan region. His work asks people to interrogate their own perspectives on issues such as climate change or wildfires and helps individuals understand other perspectives to combat cultural polarization.

Immersed in the study of the physical interactions between cells, Dr. Li, Assistant Professor in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science, is an emerging leader in his field. His interdisciplinary lab builds specialized, DNA-based molecular tools to visualize these interactions at the scale of single molecules and opens opportunities for controlling these interactions, which can lead to a variety of future impacts, including disease treatments.

"UBC Okanagan's vibrant research community continues to foster top-notch talent, which is clearly evident from this year's Researcher of the Year recipients," says Dr. Phil Barker, Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research and Innovation. "I'm so pleased to share and recognize the success of our incredible researchers and their important work."

Three graduate or postdoctoral researchers were also recognized for their excellence in scholarly activity and highlighted as researchers to watch in the coming years:

Postdoctoral Fellow Researcher of the Year Dr. Femke Hoekstra, Faculty of Health and Social Development Doctoral Student Researcher of the Year Melanie Dickie, Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science Master's Student Researcher of the Year Hanna Paul, Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

"It's inspiring to see the breadth of subject matter and the quality of research conducted by our students and postdocs," says Dr. Peter Simpson, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. "These researchers are changemakers--conducting research to investigate some of the world's most challenging problems and producing creative work that addresses the human condition.”

The distinguished award honours leaders at UBCO who have reached across disciplines to have major impacts in their fields, says Dr. Barker.

"Here at UBC Okanagan, we know that working together across traditional boundaries is key to helping advance discovery," he adds. "These researchers epitomize that call to action and I look forward to seeing where it will lead their fields in the years to come."

The post UBCO honours this year's most outstanding researchers appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.

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