Shining stars, bright minds win top accolades at UBC Okanagan

UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard (far left) and UBC Okanagan Vice-Principal Research Philip Barker (far right) congratulate award-winning researchers Mary Jung, Jonathan Holzman, Mike Deyholos, and Susan Frohlick.

UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard (far left) and UBC Okanagan Vice-Principal Research Philip Barker (far right) congratulate award-winning researchers Mary Jung, Jonathan Holzman, Mike Deyholos, and Susan Frohlick.

Open minds, creative thinking and cutting-edge research have led to top awards for faculty and students at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

This week, the campus marked Celebrate Research Week with a series of public events highlighting current research projects. On Friday UBC Okanagan recognized its Researchers of the Year.

“I applaud all our researchers who are working at our university and I am delighted to honour the 2017 researchers of the year,” says Vice-Principal Research Philip Barker. “Our campus continues to reach new heights and these awards illustrate the top work performed by our research community.”

A tie was declared for Researcher of the Year award between Prof. Michael Deyholos (Natural Sciences) and Assoc. Prof. Jonathan Holzman (Engineering).

Prof. Susan Frohlick was named Social Sciences and Humanities Researcher of the Year and Assist. Prof. Mary Jung was awarded the Health Researcher of the Year.

“I am delighted to recognize the dedication, perseverance and creativity of professors Deyholos, Holzman, Frohlick and Jung,” says Barker. “Their inquiring minds and hard work are producing superb world-class research that will have a significant and lasting impact.”

Student researcher awards were also presented on Friday: Logan Cochrane won the Graduate Student Researcher of the Year award and Jeffery Krupa received the Undergraduate Student Researcher of the Year.

About UBC Okanagan’s award-winning researchers

Co-Researcher of the Year: Professor Michael Deyholos, Natural Sciences

Biology professor Mike Deyholos uses genetics to research physiological processes in plants, which is leading to a better understanding of how plants can be modified to become more drought and pathogen resistant. Much of his research has focussed on flax and its use in the textile and renewable composite fields.

“Mike uses a wide variety of advanced experimental and computational genomic techniques in his research work,” says nominator Gino DiLabio, head of UBC Okanagan’s Chemistry department. “These techniques provide a rich and valuable learning environment for the next generation of young scientists. He continues to elevate his department, the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, and our campus through his collaborative, insightful and impactful research.”

Co-Researcher of the Year: Associate Professor Jonathan Holzman, Engineering

Engineering professor Jonathan Holzman is described by his peers as a catalyst for growth in research. He established the Integrated Optics Laboratory which fosters collaborative research that has put the Okanagan campus on the international map. His research team has put forward major advances in the emerging field of optical wireless communications and is the forerunner in this technology through the introduction of bi-directional optimal wireless communication.

Holzman’s research accomplishments are “truly exceptional,” says nominator Rehan Sadiq, associate dean of the School of Engineering. Sadiq commends Holzman’s continued dedication to research promotion in the community through school tours, lab demonstrations and workshops for elementary and high-school students.

“It is clear that Jonathan is a shining example of success in research at our campus and highly deserving of this award,” says co-nominator Mina Hoorfar, director of the School of Engineering.

Health Researcher of the Year: Assistant Professor Mary Jung

A professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, Jung’s research has led to successful collaborations with several local and provincial organizations. Notably, Jung’s curiosity and unending research has improved the quality of life of people living with chronic illnesses, says Gord Binsted, dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Development.

“She is a recognized leader in designing novel self-regulatory interventions for improving adherence to exercise and healthy diet for the prevention and treatment of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and chronic disease,” says Binsted, noting Jung has also established interdisciplinary collaborations at UBC, across Canada and in the United States. She is also a leader in the field of research examining psychological responses to high-intensity interval training in active adults.

Social Sciences and Humanities Researcher of the Year: Professor Susan Frohlick

Professor Susan Frohlick’s teaching focus is on cultural anthropology with a special interest in the anthropology of tourism and travel, gender and sexuality, the politics of mobility and transnational/global intimacies. She is described by her peers as an outstanding, innovative and inspiring scholar and teacher.

“Susan is a star among scholars and a mentor among colleagues,” says Pamela Downe, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan who supported her nomination for Researcher of the Year. “Her excellence is unparalleled within anthropology in Canada today.”

Along with balancing the role of department head with teaching and supervising graduate students, Frohlick has also conducted research in tourist-dependent towns in Costa Rica. In addition, she has worked with African immigrants and refugee youths in Winnipeg.