2017 alumni UBC Achievement Awards Recipients

Honouring eight inspiring members of the UBC community.

For the past 100 years, UBC alumni have proven they are capable of amazing things. On November 30, 2017, at the alumni UBC Achievement Awards Gala Dinner and Auction, we honoured eight inspiring members of the UBC community who, through their extraordinary endeavours, have taken the lead on important issues to create positive social change.

In 1916, UBC's first graduates held their convocation at the Hotel Vancouver. For our 100th year, we welcomed alumni back to the historic Fairmont Hotel Vancouver to help celebrate this year's award recipients. Proceeds from this spectacular evening of celebration will support the Blue & Gold Campaign for Students.


The recipients are:

Alumni Award of Distinction

Indira Samarasekera, OC, PhD’80, LLD’06



Dr. Indira Samarasekera is a metals and materials engineering scholar with international stature whose achievements span research, government relations, industry innovation, and university administration –including her past tenures as VP of Research at UBC and President of the University of Alberta. Bridging academia and industry, her leadership has been described as transformative, and she is a highly effective champion for post-secondary education, research funding, and technology transfer.

Global Citizenship Award

Karim Damji, MD’87



Dr. Karim Damji heads the University of Alberta’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Eye Institute of Alberta. Dedicated to global health — with strong links to East Africa, where glaucoma is a common blinding disease — he shares knowledge and skills with ophthalmologists, so they are empowered to find sustainable solutions and offer quality eye care in their own countries. His approach has enabled thousands of people to benefit from innovative training, detection, and treatment models.

Faculty Community Service Award

Dr. Kyung-Ae Park

Professor Kyung-Ae Park holds the Korea Foundation Chair in UBC’s Institute of Asian Research and leads Track II diplomacy efforts between Canada and North Korea. A core component of this work is hosting six North Korean academics at UBC each year, who study business and economics as part of the Canada-DPRK Knowledge Partnership Program that Professor Park initiated in 2011. This ground-breaking academic program aims to build human capacity in North Korea and improve the quality of life for its citizens.

Faculty Community Service Award

Dr. Mary Ann Murphy



Dr. Mary Ann Murphy is well-known for her advocacy around issues relating to older adults, and developed the first undergraduate ageing specialization within a Canadian School of Social Work. By integrating her community, research, and teaching activities at UBC Okanagan, Dr. Murphy builds strong links between UBC and the wider community, giving her students unique learning experiences and facilitating innovative collaborations to address complex societal needs and challenges.

Honorary Alumni Award

Nancy Hermiston, OC



Professor Nancy Hermiston heads the Voice and Opera divisions in UBC’s School of Music, and also performs ceremonial duties as university marshal. She established the UBC Opera Ensemble in 1995, growing it from seven members into a 90-member company with a busy performance schedule. A devoted and enthusiastic educator, she has nurtured the development of many promising young singers, and her willingness to share her love of classical music with the wider community has enriched the cultural life of Vancouver.

Volunteer Leadership Award

Ian Robertson, BSc’86, BA’88



Mr. Ian Robertson has dedicated many years to the support of his alma mater. While chairing alumni UBC, he helped develop a robust alumni engagement strategy and provided much of the groundwork and volunteer fundraising leadership for the establishment of an alumni centre on the Vancouver campus. A former Thunderbird swimmer, Mr. Robertson is a leader within the Thunderbird alumni community in support of athletes’ success. His diplomacy and leadership qualities make him highly effective as an advocate and fundraiser for UBC.

Young Alumni Award

Lianping Ti, PhD’15



Dr. Lianping Ti is an outstanding young academic whose research focuses on the efficacy of healthcare systems for people suffering with drug addiction and related infectious diseases, with a focus on viral hepatitis and HIV. Her research has uncovered barriers to healthcare for these marginalized populations and has already played a role in shaping new hospital policies to address them. She is a generous mentor to other young researchers, and is admired for the quality, innovation, and exceptional productivity of her work.

Research and Innovation Award

Helen Burt, PhD’80



A highly-respected research leader and innovator, Dr. Helen Burt has been a professor in UBC’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences since 1980. In 2006, she co-founded Canada’s Centre for Drug Research and Development to support the commercialization of innovative academic discoveries. Dr. Burt is best known for developing novel drug-delivery systems, which target specific locations in the body and control the rate of a drug’s release. She has published more than 140 peer-reviewed papers and holds eight patents.

Nominations for the 2018 Awards are now open

The next Awards recipients won’t raise their own hands. That’s why we need you.

The accomplishments of the members of UBC’s global community of alumni represent an inspiring account of positive social, cultural, and economic change in the world. Please help us recognize UBC alumni who are advancing their ambitions for a better world.


Deadline for nominations is February 16, 2018.