UBC Okanagan Lauds Researchers

Smart building materials. Innovative public art. Improved palliative care. These Researchers of the Year are developing new ways to improve their communities.

From smart building materials, to innovative public art, to improved palliative care, UBC Okanagan’s Researchers of the Year are pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and developing new ways to improve their communities.

Announced earlier this year, the awardees are Associate Professor Shahria Alam in the category of natural sciences and engineering, Associate Professor Nancy Holmes in social sciences and humanities and Professor Barbara Pesut in health.

Associate Professor Shahria Alam

Natural Sciences and Engineering Researcher of the Year

Engineering professor Shahria Alam develops smarter, safer and greener construction materials and structural systems. His work has led to important advances in the construction of sustainable infrastructure, particularly in seismically active regions.

“Prof. Alam’s research perfectly exemplifies the core values of our school, which are to improve the social well-being of our community, province, country and planet,” says Rehan Sadiq, associate dean of the School of Engineering at UBC Okanagan. “His work is helping to build safer structures around the world and I’m excited to see where his research goes next.”

Associate Professor Nancy Holmes

Social Sciences and Humanities Researcher of the Year

Bringing together skills as a writer, researcher and organizer, creative writing professor Nancy Holmes’ research focuses, in part, on developing community-driven eco-art projects. The Border Free Bees Project is Holmes’ most recent work and invites hundreds of people, organizations and businesses in Kelowna to learn about native bees and to commit to creating and preserving habitat for them in backyards and public lands. This project was the recipient of the 2017 Pollinator Advocate Award for Canada.

“Prof. Holmes brings a profound depth of knowledge of literature and poetry to her eco-art projects,” says Sharon Thesen, professor emeritus of creative writing in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. “Her work is distinguished by its commitment not only to art and literature, but to the role the arts play in the health of the community and the environment.”

Professor Barbara Pesut

Health Researcher of the Year

Barbara Pesut, professor of nursing in the Faculty of Health and Social Development is part of a research team at UBC's Okanagan campus focused on improving palliative care. Working with patients and families in rural communities to better understand their experiences and needs, her work is helping to build rural capacity for end-of-life care by working with hospice palliative care societies from throughout the B.C. interior and across Canada.

“As Canada Research Chair in Health, Ethics and Diversity, Prof. Pesut is one of the foremost experts in palliative care in Canada and internationally,” says Marie Tarrant, director of the School of Nursing at UBC Okanagan. “She is developing innovative and meaningful programs to improve end-of-life care for underserved populations.”