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2023 REACH awards

The REACH Awards recognize outstanding achievement at the University of Victoria. On May 2, we will honour the extraordinary teachers and researchers who lead the way in dynamic learning and make a meaningful impact at UVic.

“These exciting awards allow us to acknowledge and celebrate faculty and graduate students who are creating significant impact in teaching, research and creative pursuits. This year’s 20 distinguished honourees are inspiring positive change in our communities through impactful research, and through their passion and dedication to creative and innovative learning experiences for students. Congratulations to the award recipients and nominees and thank you for your commitment and leadership.”

— UVic President and Vice-Chancellor Kevin Hall, PhD

Research awards

David H. Turpin Gold Medal for Career Achievement in Research
Research award winner Julio Navarro.

Dr. Julio Navarro - Physics & Astronomy

Julio deciphers the laws of the universe. The world-leading cosmologist has made ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of the formation of structure, galaxies and galaxy clusters in the universe. Julio’s most recognized work is on the structure of dark-matter halos—enormous, invisible structures in space that surround galaxies—and how “cold” dark matter arranges itself. His research produced the highest-ever resolution cosmological simulations of dark matter. One of Julio’s 375 articles ranks in the 30 top-cited papers in astronomy according to NASA’s Astrophysics Data System; he shares that distinction with Dr. Stephen Hawking.

Silver Medal for Excellence in Research
Research award winner Lin Cai.

Dr. Lin Cai - Electrical & Computer Engineering

Imagine this: cars talking to each other, travelling together seamlessly, breezing through intersections without waiting for traffic lights – Lin is driving this futuristic reality. As a leading expert in wireless network architecture, Lin is a trailblazer in topology control for sensor networks. In simple terms, she devised a smarter way to network sensors, facilitating effortless communication between devices, reducing energy consumption and optimizing coverage. Lin's research directly impacts our daily lives with her breakthrough innovations now embraced by major companies like Bell, Nokia, Intel and Huawei. Additionally, she actively promotes gender equity through keynote speeches, panel organization, mentoring and even the distribution of manga comics.

Research Impact Award
Research award winner Phalguni Mukhopadhyaya.

Dr. Phalguni Mukhopadhyaya - Civil Engineering

A professor of civil engineering, Phalguni has changed the way we build homes. From building materials to building codes, construction professionals must now follow the model he’s created through new test standards, design guidelines and standard practices that are shared and used throughout the world. Notably, Phalguni developed a moisture durability index for wood-frame constructions to address BC’s leaky condo problem – a development that influenced the changes in the National Building Code of Canada. He has introduced vacuum insulation panels (up to ten times more energy efficient than traditional thermal insulations) to the Canadian construction industry, which is a game changer in efficient thermal insulation.

Excellence in Creativity and Artistic Expression
Research award winner Yasmine Kandil.

Dr. Yasmine Kandil - Theatre

Yasmine is an associate professor in Theatre. Her work amplifies the voices of Indigenous, Black and racialized artists, putting them front and centre for purposes beyond just art. Yasmine’s projects directly confront truths of racism, genocide and trauma using her method of celebratory theatre. A co-producer of three performances and a producer and director of two full-length performances through the Staging Equality project, she also develops creative performances, such as Homecoming: A Queer Journey, for her SSHRC-funded research. Yasmine continues her remarkable research on celebratory theatre to foster social cohesion and acceptance for and with immigrants and refugees.

Early Career Award for Excellence in Research
Research award winner Makhsud Saidaminov.

Dr. Makhsud Saidaminov - Chemistry

Makhsud grows life-saving perovskite crystals to solve pressing global challenges in medical diagnostics and in energy distribution. An assistant professor in chemistry and a Tier 2 Canada research chair in advanced functional materials, he has discovered a new way of growing crystals that detect photons. This improves new x-ray technology by using lower doses of x-rays – making it safer for patients and cheaper for operators, while also saving energy. Makhsud’s breakthroughs with crystals have also spurred new, printable solar-cell technology, so this technology is more affordable and readily available. At 36, Makhsud is a Clarivate Analytics highly cited researcher.
Early Career Award for Excellence in Research
Research award winner Brianna Turner.

Dr. Brianna Turner - Psychology

Brianna Turner, an associate professor in psychology, sheds light on some of the darkest moments of peoples’ lives. She contributes to the theory and practice of suicide prevention by asking why people engage in risky or self-damaging behaviours. Investigating predictors, determinants and prevalence of these behaviours has distinguished Brianna as a rising star in mental health research. Her efforts are seen practically, too, by co-leading UVic’s Health Behaviours & Interventions cluster at the Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health. Further, Brianna cultivates partnerships with non-profits, mental-health advocacy groups and governments to support the impact of her work and to boost mental health for all.
ʔəy̓ nəwəl ʔist | ÍY,NEUELIST
Research award winner Jean-Paul Restoule.

Dr. Jean-Paul Restoule - Indigenous Education

Jean-Paul, recipient of the ʔəy̓ nəwəl ʔist | ÍY,NEUELIST | Moving forward together for the good of all | Indigenous Scholar Award for Excellence in Research, is an Anishinaabe professor and chair of the Department of Indigenous education. He believes that Indigenous pedagogies can benefit all learners and his recent research seeks to find ways to encourage teachers to take up Indigenous perspectives in their professional practice. This has culminated in two important accomplishments: his application of the 5Rs of Relationship, Respect, Relevance, Responsibility and Reciprocity to designing online courses and research; and his reflective analysis work on Indigenous pedagogy for the Canadian Commission to UNESCO. All of Jean-Paul’s research projects, past and present, include an implicit goal to serve Indigenous communities and  improve life for Indigenous Peoples.
ʔəy̓ nəwəl ʔist | ÍY,NEUELIST
2023 research award winner Christine Welsh.

Christine Welsh - Gender Studies

Christine, recipient of the ʔəy̓ nəwəl ʔist | ÍY,NEUELIST | Moving forward together for the good of all Indigenous Scholar Award for Excellence in Research, is an emeritus professor in gender studies and world-renowned for her extraordinary career in documentary cinema with seven impactful films, including Kuper Island: Return to the Healing Circle (1997), Finding Dawn (2006) and Lii Michif Niiyanaan (2023). Her films have been called “gentle conversations about not so gentle things.” She emphasizes the importance of beginning and continuing conversations on these topics. Christine's transformative contributions as a Métis filmmaker, storyteller, teacher, program builder, mentor, activist and role model have earned her numerous awards and recognitions, alongside the respect of colleagues, students and audiences around the world.
Excellence in Research Partnerships Award
Research award winners David Harrington and Frode Seland.

Dr. David Harrington & Dr. Frode Seland - Chemistry

David and Frode have chemistry. For more than 25 years, they have made electrochemical energy systems more efficient. Their UVic-Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) partnership began in 1996, which led to an expert knowledge transfer, from making chemical reactions at electrodes faster to improving fuel cells, studying how materials behave at electrode surfaces and working with microfluidic devices. David designed and produced an instrument and software to measure the details of electrode reactions that was replicated at NTNU; Frode developed an apparatus for working with high-temperature electrochemistry, replicated at UVic. Their partnership has established a pipeline for the exchange of talented chemists between Canada and Norway.

Teaching awards

Harry Hickman Alumni Award—Excellence in Teaching & Education
Teaching award winner Christopher Eagle.

Dr. Christopher Eagle - Mathematics & Statistics

Christopher brings a dynamic blend of rigor and real-world relevance to mathematics instruction. His teaching goes beyond lectures, engaging students in large classes through innovative methods, such as a collaborative note-taking system that bolsters accessibility and learning. With an approach that emphasizes storytelling and problem-contextualization, Christopher shows students the excitement of math by tying complex concepts to tangible experiences. His open-source resources and grant-funded projects reflect a dedication to making education accessible and interactive, embodying his core belief that students learn best when they are actively participating and deeply connected to the subject matter.

Gilian Sherwin Alumni Award—Excellence in Teaching
Teaching award winner Andrew MacRae.

Dr. Andrew MacRae - Physics & Astronomy

Andrew transforms the study of physics into an immersive and collaborative experience. His innovative teaching methods—including mini-experiments, flipped classrooms and hands-on projects—engage and empower students. Andrew goes beyond traditional lectures, encouraging students to contribute class topics, fostering a communal learning environment. Recognized for his educational leadership, he spearheaded the introduction of at-home physics experiments during COVID-19, seamlessly adapting to online learning. Andrew’s commitment to student mentorship and his ability to spark a passion for science have made his classes a cornerstone of the department, earning him profound respect and appreciation from students and peers alike.

Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision and Mentorship
Teaching award winner Yang Shi.

Dr. Yang Shi - Engineering & Computer Science

Yang’s mentorship at UVic's Department of Mechanical Engineering extends far beyond academic instruction. Emphasizing equity, diversity and inclusion in his research and teaching, he not only fosters critical thinking and innovation among his 153 mentees but also champions a culture of inclusivity. His commitment to student well-being and personalized mentorship, paired with his systemic strategy for developing young researchers, has cultivated a generation of scholars equipped for industry and academia alike. Yang’s investment in diverse student support systems exemplifies his comprehensive educational philosophy, fostering a climate where each student is empowered to reach their full potential.

Nəc̓əmaat kʷəns čeʔi ʔay̓ šqʷeləqʷən | ĆȺNEUEL OL ÍY, ŚḰÁLEȻEN
Teaching award winner Susanne Thiessen.

Dr. Susanne Thiessen - Public Administration

Susanne is the recipient of the Nəc̓əmaat kʷəns čeʔi ʔay̓ šqʷeləqʷən | ĆȺNEUEL OL ÍY, ŚḰÁLEȻEN | Work together with a good heart and mind Award for Decolonization and Anti-Indigenous Racism. Susanne’s pedagogy, deeply rooted in her Haida/Gitxsan/Euro-Canadian heritage, epitomizes the principles of interconnectedness and responsiveness, guiding her impactful work in decolonization and Indigenous-specific racism. At the heart of her teaching is the Haida saying "Gina waadluxan gud kwaagid" — "Everything depends on everything else," reflecting her approach to the interconnective nature of learning. Susanne invites her learners to recognize their unique positionalities, world views and passions. Her innovative field trips and the Indigenous Community Development program she champions are just a few examples of how she immerses students in Indigenous prosperity and sustainable practices while fostering critical engagement with global and local impacts.

Award for Inclusive and Innovative Course Design
Teaching award winner Mary-Elizabeth-Leighton.

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Leighton - English

Mary Elizabeth effectively weaves Victorian literature into the 21st century, fostering an inclusive and dynamic classroom. Her strategies integrate technology and experiential learning, inviting students to connect past with present, utilizing unique tactile teaching methods including crafts and digital narratives. Students describe her instruction as approachable, supportive and flexible. Through her Crafting Communities Project and innovative course assignments, Mary Elizabeth empowers diverse learners to engage with historical material creatively, enhancing understanding through hands-on activities and reflective writing. Her use of open-access resources and virtual platforms exemplifies Universal Design for Learning, aimed to reach a wide range of learners and educators.

Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Award
Teaching award winner Camille Zimmer.

Camille Zimmer - Civil Engineering

Camille shines through her dedication to research-enriched teaching and making civil engineering accessible to all. A Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada scholar, Camille was awarded a course-redesign grant, not usually awarded to teaching assistants. Her engaging instruction, which includes easy-to-follow slides, reflects her commitment to access and inclusivity. Recognized by students for her approachability and insightful feedback, Camille’s teaching exemplifies excellence by intertwining practical engineering challenges with interactive learning, empowering students—especially women—to excel in their field of study.
Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Award
Teaching award winner Lucie Kotesovska.

Lucie Kotesovska - English

Lucie’s teaching approach is a testament to her student-centered philosophy, cultivating a vibrant learning environment, both online or in-person, where critical thinking thrives. With a pedagogy rooted in amplifying student voices, she offers timely, in-depth feedback and engages learners in meaningful dialogue. Lucie’s dedication to nurturing community of practice shines through her interactive online discussions and innovative monthly café sessions, which foster genuine connection and shared growth, celebrating the unique contributions of each student.

Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Award—Grad Students
Teaching award winner Nahiane Pipaon Fernandez.

Nahiane Pipaon Fernandez - Chemistry

Nahiane’s (Nahia) unyielding enthusiasm for teaching fosters a learning environment where students are empowered to develop both hands-on and critical thinking skills. She has what seems to be limitless energy which she uses to guide and support student understanding.
Nahia’s philosophy, "Nunca te acostarás sin aprender algo nuevo," translated to “Never go to bed without learning something new,” guides her choice of teaching strategies and ensures the strengthening of a growth mindset in her students.

Provost awards

Advocacy & Activism Award in Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
2023 research award winner David Dunne.

David Dunne - Business

Business Professor David Dunne has a history of advocacy work that spans decades and continents. From 2007 to 2016, he served on the International Advisory Board of the Patan Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS) based in Nepal, and as a volunteer faculty member. The Patan Academy was specifically created to offer medical training to underrepresented minorities in Nepal. Most recently, David has been serving as a volunteer coordinator and advisor to the CEO at iiAfrica, an organization dedicated to providing young African STEM graduates with business skills. His volunteer work has mostly been conducted with the support of Academics Without Borders, an NGO for which David has volunteered as a board member and chair for several years. The Gustavson School of Business is enriched by teachers like David, who bring an established dedication to equity and advocacy in their work.

Advocacy & Activism Award in Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Provost award winner Hannah Brown.

Hannah Brown - Graduate Studies

As a dedicated graduate student studying human evolution, Hannah Brown continues to be at the forefront of the accessibility movement at UVic. Numerous accessibility campaigns—such as 5 Days of Action and #Access4All—have been supported by their tireless volunteer work. These campaigning efforts are largely influenced by the individual case work that Hannah takes on, on top of their graduate work and teaching duties. The Provost’s Advocacy and Activism Award is the most recent recognition of Hannah’s work. They were previously awarded the Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Award for Graduate Students and the Above and Beyond Award in 2022.

Learn more

Read more about the REACH awards, view the timeline and learn how to nominate.

Past recipients

UVic is committed to recognizing research and teaching excellence.