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Aspiration Post-doctoral Fellows program welcomes the second intake of outstanding talent

Over the past year, UVic has welcomed six new early-career researchers in the second intake of Aspiration Postdoctoral Fellows. This VPRI initiative attracts outstanding postdoctoral fellows from around the world to conduct cutting-edge research at UVic. Aligned with Aspiration 2030, UVic’s Research and Creative Works Strategy, their funded projects will advance one or more of the five research impact areas. This investment extends our world-class training and commitments to developing the next generation of research leaders.

Meet the 2023 cohort:

Nathaniel Brunt

Lead supervisor: Jonathan Bengtson – UVic Libraries
Impact area: Social justice and equity; Technology and the human experience
Project title: Conflict Aftermath Digital Archive Project (CADAP)

CADAP explores ethical methods for producing collaborative digital archival projects in conflict and post-conflict environments. The research draws from knowledge accumulated during long-term field work in Kashmir and Iraq.

Nathaniel is an interdisciplinary scholar, documentarian and educatorHis work critically examines armed conflict and the way it is represented photographically. Trained as a cultural historian and documentary photographer, he is interested in the way individuals, institutions and groups make sense of their worlds visually during wartime. 

Adriano (Adri) Chaves

Supervisor: Marie-Eve Tremblay - Medical Sciences
Impact area: Health and wellness
Project title: FIXER: Fixing Depression through Extracellular Matrix Remodeling

Microglia, the brain's immune cells, are critical for brain health across our lifespans. Psychosocial stress, a major risk factor for depression, impairs microglial functions, driving them to disease states. Adri's research investigates new strategies to promote microglial remodelling of neural circuits, with the potential to be exploited as novel antidepressants.

Adri (they/them) holds an MD. and a Ph.D. in Neuropsychopharmacology from the Federal University of Ceara, Brazil. Adri's research goal focuses on understanding how risk factors for mental illness impact microglial functions, brain circuits and behaviour. Adri is a non-binary transgender person and a fierce advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Jake Eager-Nash

Lead supervisor: Colin Goldblatt – Earth and Ocean Sciences
Impact area: Climate, environmental change and sustainability
Project title: Millennial timescale climate change in the Canadian Earth System Model

Jake’s research focuses on the effect of human-induced climate change on the millennial scales. He will investigate how the slow warming of the ocean will affect the warming atmosphere and how the climate extremes of Canada will change over the next millennium, and how this may affect future forest fires.

Jake holds a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Exeter. The focus of this was on the climate and the interaction between life and the atmosphere on the Archean Earth and potentially similar exoplanets - planets outside our solar system.

Xin Gu

Lead supervisor: Lin Cai – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Impact area:
Technology and the human experience
Project title: Driving Towards the Future: Advancing Vehicle-to-Everything Communication for Intelligent Transportation

In the intelligent transportation system, vehicles are empowered to make safer and smarter decisions through comprehensive communication with various entities, including vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, infrastructure and network/cloud platforms. Xin’s research aims to facilitate a seamless vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication system that provides reliable, high-speed and ubiquitous connectivity.

Xin completed her PhD at the Central South University, where her research centered on developing reliable vehicle-to-vehicle communication protocols for autonomous driving.

Mohammad-Reza Pendar

Lead supervisor: Peter Oshkai - Mechanical Engineering
Impact area: Climate, environmental change and sustainability
Project title: Development of Computational Fluid Dynamics  tools for prediction of underwater radiated noise

The underwater noise acoustic signature in marine environments, caused by shipping lanes and commercial vessels, poses a significant environmental threat to ocean life. In this work, high-fidelity computer modeling and optimization-based design aim to diminish the noise produced by marine propellers, leading to minimizing environmental pollution and improving the health of undersea creatures.

Mohammad-Reza holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Beira Interior and was awarded the best doctoral thesis in Engineering for 2021 in Portugal. He has conducted extensive research on numerical modeling of multiphase flows, electrostatic spraying, plasma flow and wave energy converters.

Liquaa Wazni

Supervisor: Mona Lisa Bourque Bearskin - Nursing
Impact area: Health and wellness; Indigenous-led scholarship
Project title: Advancing Epistemic Justice in the Context of Indigenous Health Nursing

The overarching purpose of this project is to develop an Indigenous nursing framework in collaboration with local Indigenous nurses, community leaders, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers. It aims to explore wise practices that incorporate both Traditional and Western Knowledge pathways, thereby informing an enhanced nursing scope of practice. Emphasizing self-determination, health sovereignty, and distinction-based approaches, this initiative seeks to improve health outcomes for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada.

Liquaa, currently undertaking a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Victoria and holding a PhD in Nursing from the University of Ottawa, is building upon her research into the dominant discourses and mechanisms that uphold neoliberal and postcolonial interests within organizations and nursing knowledge. Her fellowship is grounded in a dedication to advancing Indigenous governance, self-determination, and well-being, employing ethically respectful, distinction-based and community-led approaches, furthering her contribution to transformative knowledge in healthcare.

Aspiration PDFs 2024

The next round of Aspiration fellowships is now open.

More information on the program.