Students Matthew Lemay and Megan Udala also receive top research awards
Civil and environmental engineer Rehan Sadiq was named Researcher of the Year at UBC’s Celebrate Research awards ceremony on Friday, March 7.
Sadiq’s study is in the area of drinking water quality modelling, environmental risk assessment and decision-making, and asset management of civil infrastructure systems.
“I have always been very passionate about my research and I really enjoy the process,” says Sadiq, acting director of the School of Engineering. “It is my dream that UBCO emerges as a leader in research related to drinking water infrastructure management and environmental risk analysis. This award and recognition is a ‘feel good’ experience, but also humbling for me.”
Sadiq is applying his expertise to a new project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where water quality is a major issue, by evaluating potential water quality failures in distribution networks and tracking potential human health risks.
The $450,000 research collaboration with King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) and Laval University will help the oil-rich kingdom determine the potential for contamination in potable water distribution systems. The objective is to develop a decision support tool (DST) that can determine the likelihood of contamination in the water distribution network; and risk assessment of contaminants traveling through the distribution system.
Sadiq has generated $5 million in national and international funding from agencies in the US, UK and Saudi Arabia. His research is funded by Canadian agencies including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Health Canada, BC Oil and Gas Commission, BC Ministry of Environment, Infrastructure Canada, Canadian Water Network and numerous municipalities across Canada. He has authored more than 270 peer-reviewed publications.
For the first time, both graduate and undergraduate students were also honoured as top researchers at the Research Week awards ceremony.
Matthew Lemay was named Graduate Student Researcher of the Year. His PhD thesis research is on the ecological genomics of kokanee, the freshwater form of sockeye salmon. Lemay is applying leading DNA sequencing technologies and analytical tools to a multi-scaled investigation of life history evolution and adaptation in kokanee. His work will contribute to the development of a panel of genetic markers that will transform provincial fisheries management strategies.
Lemay has earned a number of highly competitive scholarships and fellowships, including a UBC Graduate Entrance Scholarship (2009-2010), University Graduate Fellowships (2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013) and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Postgraduate Scholarship for 2011-2014.
“Moving forward in my scientific career, I am keen to continue using cutting-edge genomic technology in order to learn more about the ecology and natural history of threatened species,” says Lemay, who credits Assoc. Prof. Michael Russello for his guidance and support. “There is very high-calibre research being carried out by graduate students and professors at this campus, and I feel lucky to be part of the scientific community here at UBCO.”
Undergraduate Student Researcher of the Year is Megan Udala, an honours bachelor of arts student in the forensic psychology specialization program.
“UBC in the Okanagan is producing a lot of high-quality research, so to be recognized for some of the work I’ve done at the undergraduate level is a pretty cool experience,” says Udala. “I’ve always been interested in law and psychology and I am very fortunate to have this program available to me right in my back yard. Dr. Stephen Porter and his research team have been incredibly receptive and supportive of my academic pursuits and interests, allowing me the amazing opportunity to become deeply involved with research as an undergraduate student.”
Udala thesis examines misinformation effects in memory through two main studies. The first involves written descriptions of photographs to induce emotion. The second study involves auditory primes — participants hear a short sound clip designed to induce emotion before viewing the photograph.
Participants then listen to verbal narrations of the photograph, some containing incorrect or false information. Participants undergo a memory recall test in which their general recollection accuracy is measured, as well as any incorporation of the false pieces of information.
Udala has received numerous awards and scholarships, including an Undergraduate Student Research Award, Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Continuing Scholarship, and a President’s Entrance Scholarship.