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Three UVic scholars named to “rising star” national college

L-R: Napoleon, Baum and Loppie.

Three University of Victoria researchers known for their passion and commitment to some of the most significant issues facing the country and the planet have been named to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Marine biologist Julia Baum and Indigenous scholars Val Napoleon and Charlotte Loppie were among 70 Canadians confirmed Sept. 12 as new members of the college.

Founded in 2014, the college is Canada’s first national system of recognition across disciplines for an emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leaders. Members are nominated by their peers and selected for a seven-year term based on having demonstrated a high level of achievement at an early stage in their career. College members have already received other recognition in their fields for excellence.

Val Napoleon

Val Napoleon holds the Law Foundation Chair of Aboriginal Justice and Governance at UVic, and is one of Canada’s most influential Indigenous scholars. She’s the founder of the university’s Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU), which is committed to the recovery and renaissance of Indigenous laws and the only dedicated unit of its kind in the country.

The ILRU has worked with more than 40 First Nations communities to apply their own laws to specific issues within their communities, a process driven by community members, elders and knowledge-keepers. She and UVic colleague John Borrows, the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, are working to establish UVic as the first Canadian university offering a joint degree in Canadian common law and Indigenous law at the university.

“What’s so wonderful about this recognition is that my work is all about Indigenous legal traditions—and ultimately, that’s what is being recognized here,” says Napoleon. “Indigenous law and legal orders are an important part of scholarship, today and into the future.”

Napoleon is from northeast British Columbia (Treaty 8) and a member of Saulteau First Nation. She’s an adopted member of the Gitanyow (Gitksan) House of Luuxhon, Ganada (Frog) Clan. Her current research focuses on Indigenous legal traditions, Indigenous feminism, citizenship, self-determination and governance.

She’s taught and published on Aboriginal legal issues, Indigenous law and legal theories, Indigenous feminisms, governance, critical restorative justice, oral traditions, and Indigenous legal research methodologies. Napoleon also teaches property law.

Charlotte Loppie

Charlotte Loppie is a professor in UVic’s School of Public Health and Social Policy, and director of the Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement. She’s acting director of the university’s Indigenous Governance Program.

Loppie’s work focuses primarily on Indigenous health inequities, Indigenous HIV/AIDS, and the social determinants of Indigenous health. She’s committed to patient-oriented research, a way of thinking about and conducting research as something that is done by, for and with the people with lived experience who are the focus of the research.

“It’s about positioning the people who should benefit from research where they are guiding things,” says Loppie. “This is their life we’re talking about, not just a topic of interest.”

Loppie was one of only three Canadian researchers awarded $100,000 research prizes this year from the Canadian Institutes of Health for patient-oriented research.

I'm grateful that the Royal Society of Canada is acknowledging the contributions made by Indigenous peoples, knowledge systems and cultures.
—Charlotte Loppie

Julia Baum

Julia Baum, a professor in the Department of Biology, studies the resilience of marine ecosystems in the face of human disturbance. Her research focuses on their ecology and conservation, investigating how disruptions such as climate change are altering these ecosystems, and if and how they’ll recover.

Since 2009, Baum has done hundreds of dives in the coral reefs of Kiritimati Island (known as Christmas Island), 2,000 kilometres south of Honolulu. She’s studied the impact of the worst global coral bleaching episode in recorded history and is now watching for initial signs of recovery.

At the same time, Baum is a powerful advocate for a number of issues faced by Canadian scientists. In addition to receiving global coverage for her research, she recently led an investigation on deteriorating funding for fundamental research in Canada which was reported on by Nature and Science magazines.

“It’s a critical time for scientists to be reaching out beyond the ivory tower and making connections to the public and policy-makers,” says Baum. “I’m honoured to be part of the RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and thrilled to be part of a platform that can be used to speak to Canadians about what researchers do and why it’s important.”


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