2021-23 Leading Scholars

  • Kimberly Bain
    Kimberly Bain, Assistant Professor, English Language and Literatures
    Email: kimberly.bain@ubc.ca

    In my scholarly and critical-creative work, my most pressing and urgent concerns have consolidated around questions of the history, theory, and philosophy of Blackness. I am currently at work on two scholarly monographs. The first, entitled On Black Breath traces a genealogy of breathing, Blackness, and racial capitalism in the United States. My second book, Dirt: Soil and Other Dark Matter, turns to dirt for understanding how Blackness has shaped global considerations of the Anthropocene and refused the extractive relations of racial capitalism.

  • Samuel Beswick
    Samuel Beswick, Assistant Professor, Law
    Email: beswick@allard.ubc.ca

    I am a private law scholar with primary research interests in the areas of torts, unjust enrichment, limitations, remedies and privacy. My current research concerns the temporal scope of judicial changes in the law. Does, and should, new “judge-made law” serve as precedent to past circumstances? I am also the editor of an open-access coursebook Tort Law: Cases and Commentaries (2021 CanLIIDocs 1859), which explores the law of civil wrongdoing through the themes of the rule of law (equality of officials and ordinary people under law) and comparativism (common law development through judicial conversations over time within and between jurisdictions).

  • Anna Blakney
    Anna Blakney, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
    Email: anna.blakney@msl.ubc.ca

    My laboratory is a multidisciplinary group of engineers, immunologists and molecular biologists seeking to engineer the next generation of RNA vaccines and therapies. We seek to gain a deeper understanding of how the components of gene delivery formulations interact with the immune system to improve potency and enable clinical translation. We use a type of RNA called 'self-amplifying RNA', which is able to replicate upon delivery to a cell and requires a ~100 times lower dose than normal messenger RNA.

  • Benjamin Bryce
    Benjamin Bryce, Assistant Professor, History
    Email: ben.bryce@ubc.ca

    I am a historian of migration in the Americas. At UBC, I teach courses on the Americas and global history. I am working on two SSHRC-funded projects. Healing the Nation examines the role of immigrant-run hospitals and mutual aid societies in providing healthcare in Buenos Aires. Grounds for Exclusion highlights the many ways that bureaucrats, politicians and nationalist agitators in Argentina developed both formal and informal methods to exclude a range of groups based in race, gender, health and ability. I am also a co-editor of the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association

  • Annie Ciernia
    Annie Ciernia, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    Email: annie.ciernia@ubc.ca

    My research focuses on understanding the molecules and processes that control how our brains develop during childhood and what goes wrong in the cases of brain disorders such as Autism. I specifically focus on immune cells in the brain and how they interact with the rest of our body and environment. We use mouse models to test how genetics combine with early life experience to shape brain function and our behaviour. The ultimate goal is to understand these mechanisms and leverage them to develop new therapeutics for brain disorders. 

  • James Connolly
    James Connolly, Assistant Professor, Community and Regional Planning
    Email: james.connolly@ubc.ca

    I am an urban planner specialized in the intersection between environmental planning and social justice. Broadly, my work asks how cities can be made greener and more socially just at the same time, without forcing one goal to be traded off for the other. My published works thus far explore this topic through a highly interdisciplinary and decidedly mixed methods approach with a focus on contemporary cities. I examine the issues at stake within several topics including urban climate planning; green gentrification; urban environmental stewardship; urban social-ecological justice; urban greening policies; and critical urban sustainability and resilience politics. 

  • Megan Daniels
    Megan Daniels, Assistant Professor, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies
    Email: megan.daniels@ubc.ca

    I research social, political, and religious developments in the eastern Mediterranean world in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages (1500-500 BCE) through ancient texts and iconography. My current book project explores the long-term ideologies that undergirded divine kingship in this region to articulate the religious mechanisms behind the emergence of the Greek city-states. More generally, I research the social functions of religion in human societies. I also have interests in ancient migration across Eurasia and in particular the historiography of migration studies in archaeology. I will be heading up the Mobilities Cluster next year at the Centre for Migration Studies, so I am excited to see how these interests intersect with the opportunities at Green College!

  • Igor Drljaca
    Igor Drljaca, Assistant Professor, Theatre and Film
    Email: igor.drljaca@ubc.ca

    My work deals with memory, diaspora, trauma, ideology and dystopias. My award-winning films have screened at hundreds of festivals including Berlinale, Locarno, Toronto, Telluride and Rotterdam. My recent work includes the feature documentary The Stone Speakers (2018), which examines the intersection of ideology and post-war tourism in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the short The Archivists (2020), a sci-fi dystopian musical. The White Fortress (Tabija, 2021), my most recent feature, is the first co-production between Canada and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and had its world premiere at the 71st Berlinale this year. It is also Bosnia-Herzegovina’s selection in the 2022 International Feature Film Oscar race. I am currently developing a VR project about the Canadian citizenship ceremony, The Oath, and a docufiction film, Park Europa, about Bosnia-Herzegovina’s future admission into the European Union.

  • Olivia Michiko Gagnon
    Olivia Michiko Gagnon, Assistant Professor, Theatre and Film
    Email: olivia.gagnon@ubc.ca

    I work at the intersections of performance studies, critical race theory, feminist and queer theory, and critical Indigenous studies––with additional specific interests in archives, experimental form and performative writing. I’m currently working on a book manuscript about closeness as a minoritarian method of doing history otherwise, through art & performance and beyond archival stricture. My next project takes on a more experimental (at-times dialogic) form, and explores the weave of (classroom) pedagogy, performance (studies) and critical questions of race, gender and sexuality.

  • Friedrich Martin Götz
    Friedrich Martin Götz, Assistant Professor, Psychology
    email: friedrich.goetz@ubc.ca

    I am a social-personality and geographical psychologist, pursuing an interdisciplinary Big Data approach to investigate the causes and consequences of spatial differences in psychological characteristics (e.g., personality traits and values). Applying classic interactionist theories from social and personality psychology to real-world settings, I adopt two integrated streams of research: On the micro-level, I study how distinct regional psychological profiles emerge and shape individual cognitions, behaviours and emotions (e.g., personal spending and well-being). On the macro-level, I research how regional psychological profiles shape an area’s social, political and economic climate and affect relevant macro-level outcomes (e.g., suicide prevalence, election results and start-up rates).

  • Ayasha Guerin
    Ayasha Guerin, Assistant Professor, English Language and Literatures
    email: ayasha.guerin@ubc.ca

    I research Black social life and ecology in New York City’s floodplain and I write about how abolitionist activism on urban waterfronts has been shaped by diasporic relationships and inter-species entanglements. As an artist, I am invested in art practices that are also forms of activism and believe a responsibility of the research profession is to make knowledge accessible through public actions and exhibitions. My second research project is focused on transnational Black feminism and arts activism in Berlin, Germany, where I have ongoing collective work with CCC (Curating through Conflict with Care) and Black Art Action Berlin. 

  • Kristen Haase, Assistant Professor, Nursing
    Email: kristen.haase@ubc.ca

    My research program centres on supporting older adults as they manage cancer, chronic disease and wellbeing, in domains of symptom science, self-management and technology-enabled interventions. I am committed to conducting my research with people with lived experience (often called patients, but not necessarily always accurate). I aim to partner with community groups who play an integral but often overlooked role in supporting seniors’ wellbeing. While my research is health focused, I am also interested in how older adults manage wellbeing and socialization as they age. I aim to leverage all the tools available to support older adults–not just healthcare resources but technologies and community services.

  • Nina Hewitt
    Nina Hewitt, Assistant Professor, Geography
    Email: nina.hewitt@ubc.ca

    I am a biogeographer specializing in plant dispersal, migration and disturbance ecology in temperate forests and alpine ecosystems, with research in Ontario, BC and the Karakoram-Himalaya. I am interested in human impacts associated with ecosystem fragmentation, altered disturbance regimes, introduced invasive species and climate change, and how to manage these impacts. I also research and develop digital tools for experiential field learning, including virtual and augmented reality tours of alpine, forest and other ecosystems that bring the field to the student (virtual reality) or the student to the field (augmented reality) and complement my own ecological research.

  • Manu Madhav
    Manu Madhav, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
    Email: manu.madhav@ubc.ca

    My work investigates how the brains of animals, including humans, create maps of the external world and represent them as neural activity, how we use these ‘cognitive maps’ to navigate, and how this ability to represent and navigate degrades due to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Our lab (NC4) designs and builds experiments where rats or humans navigate physical or virtual-reality environments. We record neural activity from rats and behavioural responses from both rats and humans. Using analysis techniques from control theory, robotics and machine learning, we extract structure hidden within neural and behavioural data.

  • Matias Margulis
    Matias Margulis, Assistant Professor, Public Policy and Global Affairs
    Email: matias.margulis@ubc.ca

    My research centres on the global governance and politics of food security. Food is recognized by the United Nations as a fundamental human right, yet nearly one billion people suffer from hunger and that number is rising. The impacts of climate change on food production, a new global land rush, and the rising use of foodstuffs to produce renewable energy are all transforming the global food economy and creating new challenges for ensuring equitable access to food. I seek to understand the role of global economic and political institutions in facilitating food insecurity as well as providing potential solutions.

  • Kelly McCormick
    Kelly McCormick, Assistant Professor, History
    Email: kelly.mccormick@ubc.ca

    I am a historian of modern Japanese visual and material culture. My book project, The Cameraman in a Skirt, traces pivotal women who broke into the highly gendered sphere of the photography world to understand the changing relationship of Japanese women and the camera from the 1930s through 1970s. I am the lead investigator on "Behind the Camera: Gender, Power, and Politics in the History of Japanese Photography," a collaborative digital humanities project on the history of Japanese women in photography from the mid-nineteenth century to today.

  • Leora Morris
    Leora Morris, Assistant Professor, Theatre and Film
    Email: lmorri01@mail.ubc.ca

    As a theatre practitioner, my research focuses on the role of the director in creating new works of performance, and is rooted in my view of theatre as a social practice in which the director serves as a kind of “societal acupuncturist.” In addition to developing and directing new texts with playwrights, I direct adaptations, musicals, devised works and theatre for young audiences at theatres across Canada and the US. Most recently, I have begun to create sensory works for children under five and their caregivers, an emerging practice known as Performance for Early Years (PEY).

  • Priti Narayan
    Priti Narayan, Assistant Professor, Geography
    Email: priti.narayan@ubc.ca

    My research and teaching interests center around urban processes and politics, particularly in South Asia. In my primary research project, I use ethnographic and archival methods to investigate how residents negotiate with local politicians, bureaucrats, and activists to preserve citizenship in urban landscapes marked by violent, large-scale slum evictions. All aspects of my academic work are informed by my decade-long association and work with Pennurimai Iyakkam (“Women’s Rights Movement”), a 40-year-old organization that mobilizes female residents of urban poor settlements around the rights to land and housing and access to basic services in Tamil Nadu state, India.

  • Anaïs Orsi, Assistant Professor, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science
    Email: aorsi@eoas.ubc.ca

    I am a polar climate scientist, or perhaps I should say a climate detective. Today, the Arctic is the region that is warming the most in the whole planet, but we do not have direct measurements of what the preindustrial climate was in vast areas of this largely un-inhabited region. My work is about finding clues in the natural environment to reconstruct past climates so that we can understand what polar environments looked like before the recent warming period. The tools can be esoteric but the aim is clear: What is the baseline that we measure climate "change" from?

  • Chris Patterson
    Chris Patterson, Assistant Professor, Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice
    Email: c.patterson@ubc.ca

    My friends call me Kris. I’m a gender/genre fuzzy dad, a taro-and-potato mash of Filipino and white, and the agnostic grandson of two fervent Christian preachers. My research on race, literature, queer erotics and video games manifested in the books Transitive Cultures: Anglophone Literature of the Transpacific (Rutgers 2018) and Open World Empire: Race, Erotics, and the Global Rise of Video Games (NYU 2020). I also write creative works under my matrilineal name, Kawika Guillermo, like the novels Stamped (2018) and All Flowers Bloom (2020). I've lived in Las Vegas, Seattle, Gimhae, Nanjing, Hong Kong, and now I’m here.

  • Julia Schmidt
    Julia Schmidt, Assistant Professor, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
    Email: julia.schmidt@ubc.ca

    My research aims to understand and improve everyday life for people after brain injury. I am focused on areas including self-awareness, identity, roles and resiliency. I hope to develop health delivery methods and programs to improve the experience and quality of life after brain injury, and build knowledge of the factors that facilitate engagement in life after brain injury.

  • Elise Stickles
    Elise Stickles, Assistant Professor, English Language and Literatures
    Email: elise.stickles@ubc.ca

    I am a cognitive linguist specializing in metaphor analysis; in particular, I study variation in metaphoric usage across linguistic varieties and genres by applying methods from corpus and computational linguistics. Currently, I am focusing on a comparative analysis of metaphors for cancer and COVID-19 in American and Canadian Englishes. I maintain the MetaNet metaphor database, which documents metaphors used in American English and Spanish, and am now expanding it to include Canadian English and French. I obtained my MA and PhD in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley and then completed a postdoctoral teaching fellowship at Stanford University before joining UBC as an Assistant Professor in 2019.

  • Bronwen Tate
    Bronwen Tate, Assistant Professor, Creative Writing
    Email: bronwen.tate@ubc.ca

    My areas of interest and accomplishment include poetry, literary criticism, creative nonfiction and scholarship on the teaching and learning of creative writing. I’m currently at work on a book of creative nonfiction that explores the power and traps of stories and storytelling against the backdrop of the final years of an experimental college in crisis. As faculty in UBC’s Educational Leadership stream, I’m also investigating teaching strategies that invite students to experience the deep process and sustained attention necessary for art-making, which are often in tension with social pressures towards efficiency and distraction.

  • Ori Tenenboim
    Ori Tenenboim, Assistant Professor, Journalism, Writing and Media
    Email: ori.tenenboim@ubc.ca

    I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism, Writing and Media. My main areas of interest include digital journalism, political communication and media economics. I investigate how journalists and news organizations blend older and newer norms, behaviours and forms on different platforms, and what elicits user engagement with the news. I also seek to better understand how news organizations can connect with communities to promote shared benefits, such as knowledge gains and increased trust. 

  • Hannah Turner
    Hannah Turner, Assistant Professor, Information
    Email: hannah.turner@ubc.ca

    I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Information, where I research the connection between cultural heritage and technology. I examine systems of classification and categorization in museum ethnographic collections, and experiment with how emerging technologies are used to represent cultural heritage.  

  • Daniel Vigo
    Daniel Vigo, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry | Population and Public Health
    Email: daniel.vigo@ubc.ca

    I am a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist and public health specialist originally from Argentina. I am an Assistant Professor at UBC, a Lecturer at Harvard Medical School, an Advisor to the PAHO and the WHO, as well as the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Mental Health Systems. I have worked in clinical, research, teaching and leadership positions across the public and private sector, in Buenos Aires, Boston and Vancouver. My expertise is in public health, health systems, global mental health, psychiatric epidemiology, psychopharmacology, psychotherapy and e-mental health. I currently work closely with Health Authorities, the BC Ministry of Health and Health Canada to deliver evidence-based mental health and substance use services, with a focus on the most severely ill population with concurrent disorders.

  • Meike Wernicke
    Meike Wernicke, Assistant Professor, Language and Literacy Education
    Email: meike.wernicke@ubc.ca

    I am a settler scholar in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at UBC. My research is situated at the intersection of teacher education and language learning and teaching. In my work I focus on the ideological and discursive workings of language, culture and educational policy, and the impact of these on the identities and practices of language learners and teachers. My work involves drawing on critical perspectives and decolonizing approaches to examine how we can prioritize equitable language practices in both initial teacher education and teacher professional learning.

  • Lydia Wytenbroek
    Lydia Wytenbroek, Assistant Professor, Nursing
    Email: lydia.wytenbroek@ubc.ca

    Health and medicine is a lens through which I analyze the global circulation of medical knowledge and power. My research explores American women surgeon and nurse missionaries in twentieth-century Iran and I argue that mission nurses' efforts to promote American nursing in Iran intersected with Reza Shah's modernizing initiatives in a way that served Iranian nationalism and state building. My work is locally grounded, but I use transnational medical encounters in Iran to explore larger issues of global migration, nursing imperialism, the often false dichotomy between religion and professionalization, gender liberation and the power and politics of global health initiatives.  

  • Renren Yang
    Renren Yang, Assistant Professor, Asian Studies
    Email: renren.yang@ubc.ca

    I do research on 20th and 21st-century Chinese literature, film and popular culture, with a focus on the intersection between critical literary and media studies. My work centers on celebrity authorship, interface design, time-travel imagination and surveillance cinema in modern China.

  • Ayaka Yoshimizu
    Ayaka Yoshimizu, Assistant Professor, Asian Studies
    Email: ayaka.yoshimizu@ubc.ca

    I am Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Department of Asian Studies, and I also teach arts courses for the UBC-Ritsumeikan Academic Exchange Programs. My research is concerned with transpacific migration and cultures, memories and senses, and performance ethnography. I teach Japanese studies in Asian Studies, and Canadian and transpacific studies in the UBC-Rits Programs. My position makes my curriculum development work uniquely multidisciplinary, as I constantly move across national borders as I teach two distinct audiences in the two programs. My pedagogical projects are centred around decolonializing teaching and learning and promoting social justice in and beyond classroom.