Leading Scholars Program

Since 2014, the Green College Leading Scholars Program has provided opportunities for UBC faculty members newly appointed at the rank of Assistant Professor or Assistant Professor of Teaching (tenure-track) to make connections across disciplines while sharing ideas in a convivial setting. If you were appointed as an Assistant Professor at UBC in 2022 or since, you will be eligible to apply for the next iteration of this program when the call for applications goes out in summer, 2024.

The appointment is for two years, after which Leading Scholars have the option of continuing as Members of Common Room at Green College for a further two years. In their first year, Leading Scholars meet several times in groups before and over dinner at the College. In the second year, they organize and host one or more series of presentations as part of the College's interdisciplinary programming, for which they are allocated a budget. They are encouraged to involve members of the College's resident community of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in their planning for events.

The 2023-25 Green College Leading Scholars Cohort

  • Aleska Alaica
    Aleska Alaica, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
    Email: aleksa.alaica@ubc.ca

    My work examines human-animal relationships in the Andean past. As an anthropological archaeologist, I investigate the way that multispecies worlds are co-constructed through the affordances and constraints of animal lives. My key interests involve understanding how the management of animals, such as llamas, alpacas, guinea pigs and dogs, in the south-central Andes provides opportunities for the influence of sociopolitical networks, economic exchange, and ideological genesis. My research program investigates how animal resources were involved in sustaining food security, and also how the care of animals reflects embedded worldviews about the natural and non-human world.

  • Alisabath Ayers
    Alisabeth Ayars, Assistant Professor, Philosophy
    Email: alisabeth.ayars@ubc.ca

    I'm interested in morality and human psychology. I want to know what moral thought is, how it is related to emotion, how we are motivated by moral ideas, and how we should be motivated by them.

  • Green College
    Laura Yvonne Bulk, Assistant Professor, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
    Email: laura.bulk@ubc.ca

    I am a daughter, friend, cousin, tante; I am a Dutch settler to W̱SÁNEĆ territory. I am also a first-generation university student, a disabled scholar, and an occupational therapy educator. As an Assistant Professor of Teaching in Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy at the new site located in Surrey, I have the opportunity to engage in educational leadership activities. My work focuses on promoting justice (right relationship) in academia, interprofessional education, and in distributed health professions education specifically. I am particularly interested in the power of creative techniques and solidarity in anti-ableism, decolonization, and other equity-focussed work.

  • Rubee Dev
    Rubee Dev, Assistant Professor, Nursing
    Email: rubee.dev@ubc.ca

    I am a global women's health researcher with a primary focus on their reproductive and cardiovascular health. I am well-versed in using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. My work entails extensive research to identify the data gaps and opportunities for action in meeting the needs of women's health, nationally and around the world. My program of research aims to address health inequities and promote timely access to quality, culturally safe care.

  • Joel Finbloom
    Joel Finbloom, Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences
    Email: joel.finbloom@ubc.ca

    My research is at the intersection of chemical biology, nanomedicine and microbiology. By taking inspiration from dynamic biological systems such as viruses and bacteria, my lab creates synthetic nanoscale materials that interact with microbial communities to advance human health. We are leveraging this bioinspired approach to better study and treat antibiotic resistant bacterial infections with nanoparticle drug carriers. In a separate project, we are working to improve the encapsulation, oral delivery and microbiome integration of probiotics to treat gastrointestinal disorders.

  • Shawn Forde
    Shawn Forde, Assistant Professor, Curriculum and Pedagogy
    Email: shawn.forde@ubc.ca

    My research is concerned with the ways that sport and physical activity have historically been, and continue to be, used for the purposes of health education, community development, and political mobilization. My approach to research has involved historical, ethnographic, and arts-based methods. My current research, through a SSHRC IDG, is concerned with using comics to tell stories about health, physical education, and sport. Underpinning this work, is an interest in health narratives, masculinity, and social change.

  • Nikki Georgopulos
    Nikki Georgopulos, Assistant Professor, Art History, Visual Art and Theory
    Email: nikki.georgopulos@ubc.ca

    My research concerns European painting in the nineteenth century, particularly focusing on realism and its intersections with histories of science, philosophy, and cultural constructs of gender. My book project traces representations of mirrors in nineteenth-century French painting, examining the confluence of mechanical and chemical advances in mirror-making technology with the mirror’s rise to prominence as an artistic motif in the age of realism. Moreover, I am interested in speculative methodologies and their application in art history; I am currently collaborating on an edited volume on the topic of counter-archives, critical fabulation, and expansive writing practices in art and art history.

  • Torsten Jaccard
    Torsten Jaccard, Assistant Professor, Economics
    Email: tjaccard@mail.ubc.ca

    My research is in international trade, which I approach from an empirical perspective. I make use of detailed micro-data to understand demand for imported goods and the various economic forces that shape consumer gains from trade, such as: local retail markets and the expansion of dollar stores to rural communities, the role of immigrant communities in shaping consumption of goods from their origin country by non-immigrant households, and the role of multinationals and off-shored production.

  • Jaya Joshi
    Jaya Joshi, Assistant Professor, Wood Science
    Email: jaya.joshi@ubc.ca

    I am a synthetic biologist, and my research program is focused on making sustainable carbon farming and a circular economy a reality by 2050. My research delves into the design space of enzymes and involves harnessing microbes and plants as green factories by using designer catalysts. We reconfigure metabolism through the utilization of genomics, enzyme evolution, metabolic engineering, and machine learning approaches. Our objective is to engineer microbes with tailor-made catalysts, aiming to convert biomass-derived feedstocks (waste) into fuels, valuable commodities, or pharmaceutical products, thereby paving the way for sustainable chemistry.

  • Tarun Khanna
    Tarun Khanna, Assistant Professor, Public Policy and Global Affairs
    Email: tarun.khanna@ubc.ca

    I am the Assistant Professor of Energy and Climate Policy at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, and a visiting researcher at the Mercator Research Institute on Climate Change in Berlin. I am interested in the economics of the energy sector and the incentives needed to create low carbon energy systems. My wider research interests include evidence synthesis, policy evaluation, electricity markets, and the role of clean energy in development. Before turning to academia, I was a policy practitioner. I worked with regulators, governments, and utilities in the design and implementation of electricity policy in South Asia. I am excited to see the variety of interdisciplinary initiatives advancing the research on climate change at UBC. It is excellent that students, faculty, and administration are committed to placing climate research and clean energy at the center of learning. I hope to work in partnership with colleagues to further our understanding of what it takes to create the low carbon energy systems of the future while providing equitable access to clean energy to all world citizens.  

  • Kim Hyosub
    Hyosub Kim, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology
    Email: hyosub.kim@ubc.ca

    My research program aims to shed light on fundamental principles of human motor learning. Towards this end, I combine behavioral experiments, computational modeling, and Bayesian inference. I now lead the Computation, Cognition, and Movement (CCM) Lab at UBC, where ongoing projects involve modeling and testing how the brain combines motor prediction and sensory feedback to guide reaching movements, and how our recent movement history shapes future motor decision-making. 

  • Caroline Lebrec
    Caroline Lebrec, Assistant Professor, French, Hispanic and Italian Studies
    Email: caroline.lebrec@ubc.ca

    My Educational Leadership research is situated at the crossroads of language studies, gender studies and social justice. It explores ways to express gender identity when speaking a language without having to endorse gender bias when using language forms. Beyond the binary expression of gender identity (masculine/feminine), the current debate about non-binary forms of language (pronouns, adjectives and verbs) allows us to look at languages in a new perspective. Are language professors equipped to teach it? Are we to teach a norm or are we to introduce students to the possibilities a language has to offer in terms of gender equity?

  • Alex Marzano-Lesnevich
    Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, Assistant Professor, Creative Writing
    Email: alex.marzanolesnevich@ubc.ca

    I am a creative nonfiction writer, working primarily in hybrid forms that allow me to mix memory, history, archival research, and imagined renderings to create work that transes the historical and the personal. My training is in both writing and law, and much of my writing concerns questions of what narratives we place on the body and the self and how to resist simplification in those narratives. I am currently at work on two projects: Both and Neither, a transgender and trans-genre inquiry into life beyond the binary, and Body of Knowledge, about selfhood and medical epistemology.

  • Cecily Nicholson
    Cecily Nicholson, Assistant Professor, Creative Writing
    Email: cecily.nicholson@ubc.ca

    My research and writing involve the practice of poetry and other creative writing forms as they interrelate with ecology, geological time, and social movement—centering poetry itself as a place that can enact liberation, refuge, and belonging. My writing involves poetic research and technique as a mode of embodiment and critique that engages documentary forms, as well as collective organizing and archival practices. My recent projects have involved studies of site-specific labour, industry history, land-use, and resource extraction.

  • Alexandra Peck
    Alexandra Peck, Assistant Professor, Art History, Visual Art and Theory
    Email: alexandra.peck@ubc.ca

    I am the Audain Chair in Historical Indigenous Art and Assistant Professor within the Department of Art History, Visual Art, & Theory. As an anthropologist and material culture specialist, my scholarship examines historic Coast Salish art, landscape, and cultural change, as well as Northwest Coast Indigenous art more broadly. My past research explored the 20th century adoption of totem poles into Coast Salish artistic repertoire, Coast Salish public art in urban settings, and Coast Salish mortuary practices. My current projects range from ancient Coast Salish stone carvings and Kwakwaka’wakw repatriation claims to Haida depictions of fungi and sexuality via argillite. 

  • Katharina Piechocki
    Katharina N. Piechocki, Assistant Professor, French, Hispanic and Italian Studies
    Email: katharina.piechocki@ubc.ca

    My work focuses on 17th-century opera librettos and the joint question of poetic production and bodily reproduction which I explore through the figure of Hercules, often associated with the institutionalization of the arts and questions of procreation and filiation. Drawing inspiration from recent gender, masculinity, women and queer studies—often focused on the present times—and conducted against the backdrop of the affective turn and the history of medicine, this project redirects literary, opera and performative studies as it challenges common assumptions about early modern representations of absolutist power, gender politics and medical conceptions of the body.

  • Jonathan Proctor
    Jonathan Proctor, Assistant Professor, Land and Food Systems
    Email: jon.proctor@ubc.ca

    I am an environmental economist and scientist with a background in agronomy, climate science, remote sensing, and machine learning. My group develops and applies new methods to empirically estimate anthropogenic impacts on climate and, in turn, on global socio-environmental systems. I am particularly fascinated by how light, water, and temperature jointly determine crop growth and how high resolution imagery can be used to measure socio-environmental conditions. Green College Leading Scholar for 2023-24.

  • Supriya Routh
    Supriya Routh, Assistant Professor, Law
    Email: routh@allard.ubc.ca

    My research develops an empirically-informed theoretical account of the law of work justified through the logic of fair treatment of workers for their social contribution, thereby overcoming the conventional narrow lens of labour law, which imagines work as a private contract. Such expansive conceptualization will promote innovative regulatory interventions for an extensive range of working arrangements, including unpaid care and socio-ecologically beneficial work such as sustainable agriculture, water management, and waste recycling. In conceiving work as a socio-political idea meriting workers’ social citizenship for their social contribution, I also investigate the role of divergent participatory deliberation in the lawmaking process.

  • Elizabeth Shaffer
    Elizabeth Shaffer, Assistant Professor, Information
    Email: elizabeth.shaffer@ubc.ca

    My research interrogates how information policy, practices and systems emerge and evolve in digital spaces and infrastructures, particularly in collections that document traumatic human events. Informed by anticolonial research and pedagogies, my current work examines how Blackness is constructed from the absences, erasures and violence of colonial archives and narratives of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.

  • Kiran Sunar
    Kiran Sunar, Assistant Professor, Asian Studies
    Email: ksunar@mail.ubc.ca

    My work examines literature, religion, and culture in Punjab across its borders and into its diasporas, exploring questions of gender, sexuality, and ecology. My current major project traces the transformations of narrative and performance within the tale "Sohnī Mahīnwāl," a ubiquitous, riverine legend about two lovers who die tragically in their quest to unite. I take a special focus on the intersections of religious transformation (across Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu continuities). I am also working on a project on Punjabi feminist soundscapes, and on gender, sexuality, and equality in the Sikh tradition. My scholarship often blends critical and creative modes. 

  • Felix Wiesner
    Felix Wiesner, Assistant Professor, Wood Science
    Email: felix.wiesner@ubc.ca

    I am a fire safety engineering researcher, meaning on good days I get to burn things for a living. My research focuses on fire safety in engineered timber buildings. I explore the complex relationship between fire dynamics and structural fire capacity, i.e., how long will a structure last in a fire where the structure itself is made of fuel. My research can be both restrictive or enabling and I explicitly try to build bespoke experimental configurations to obtain data that can be used in performance-based engineering models in lieu of standardised testing.

  • Helena Wu
    Helena Wu, Assistant Professor, Asian Studies
    Email: helena.wu@ubc.ca

    With my background in comparative literature, film studies, and cultural studies, I am keen on developing cross-disciplinary approaches to textual and visual narratives, popular culture, and creative practices. My primary area of research is Hong Kong, with a focus on cinema, literature, and culture, while I am also interested in exploring cross-cultural dynamics and inter-Asian connections at large. My first monograph examined the relationship between cultural icons, thing, and place. Currently, I do research on spectators and spectatorship, with a view to critically examining the changing interactions between cultural expression, memory, affect, and identity.

  • Ron Yang
    Ron Yang, Assistant Professor, Business
    Email: ron.yang@sauder.ubc.ca

    I am an economist specializing in industrial organization, transportation, and urban economics. I am interested in how firms compete with each other in spatial settings, and how competition shapes transportation costs. My ongoing projects study long-haul drivers’ preferences to return home, returns to scale and congestion in freight railroad operations, and the entry incentives of truckstops

  • Previous GC Leading Scholars Cohorts

    If you have questions about Green College or the Green College Leading Scholars Program, please contact the Assistant Principal, Programs (Heather Muckart) at gc.programs@ubc.ca