Social science researcher Michael Evans and biochemistry researcher Susan Murch have been honoured as co-recipients of the 2009-2010 UBC Okanagan Researcher of the Year award.
“I am proud to say that we could not pick only one recipient for the award — the committee chose two very deserving co-recipients to share the award,” noted UBC Okanagan Provost and Vice-Principal Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, at the university’s Celebrate Research Week gala Monday night.
Evans, head of the Community, Culture and Global Studies at UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, was recognized for promoting and leading valuable interdisciplinary collaborations among academic and community researchers.
A leading researcher in applied social sciences and Indigenous research, Evans has developed significant research relationships with people in the Métis community in Northern B.C., the Métis Nation of B.C., the urban Aboriginal community of the Okanagan Valley, and Tonga in the South Pacific.
“He strives to take creative and innovative approaches to research, and the outputs of his research have been incredibly meaningful and useful to the community,” said Abd-El-Aziz.
Murch is a Canada Research Chair in Natural Products Chemistry, and was cited as an exemplary researcher both nationally and internationally.
“She has impressive publication and citation records, and is continuously involved in conferences and events all over the world,” said Abd-El-Aziz. “In addition, she is committed to conducting research that addresses issues of global concern.”
One of those global issues is food security. Murch’s lab has developed innovative new ways to produce disease-free breadfruit plants for long-term conservation and worldwide distribution. Historically, this important food plant has been very difficult to move from location to location, but with these new propagation techniques, breadfruit could soon help feed people in the tropics who otherwise do not have enough to eat.
“This week has been about sharing exciting research that is taking place here in the Okanagan, at your university,” said Doug Owram, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal at UBC’s Okanagan campus. He noted that UBC is shaping the region in many ways – through expanding research programs, as an important economic driver, and contributor to the social and cultural lives of our community. “And perhaps our most powerful impact is that we are preparing today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders,” he said.
The research awards gala was held at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna, with CBC Radio Daybreak South host Marion Barschel serving as master of ceremonies. In addition to the Researcher of the Year award, more than a dozen researchers were recognized for earning major research awards in social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and engineering during the past year.
In 2007-2008 UBC Okanagan researchers developed more than 300 successful proposals, worth $8.3 million in funding. In 2008-2009 there were 348 successful applications, drawing more than $10 million in research funding.
“These statistics are a reflection of the growing and thriving research community at UBC Okanagan, and the ongoing commitment and dedication of our researchers,” said Abd-El-Aziz.
Christopher Schneider, assistant professor of sociology, was honoured for outstanding service to the university and the community by actively and creatively sharing his research expertise via the news media.
“Not only has Chris Schneider been incredibly active in the news media, participating in numerous print, radio and television interviews, but he has gone above and beyond to establish a community accessible dialogue,” said Bonnie Bates Gibbs, Director of Alumni and University Relations, in announcing the Provost’s Award for Public Education Through Media.
Schneider hosts a public discussion every Sunday evening from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Bean Scene on Bernard Ave. in downtown Kelowna. For more information about The Sunday Sociologist, see http://www.sundaysociologist.com/.
“He has truly taken his role as an educator beyond the classroom and into the community,” said Bates Gibbs.
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