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Ten new Aspiration Postdoctoral Fellows join UVic

New postdoctoral fellows Hector, Crystal and Truzaar

UVic will welcome ten new early career researchers this summer in the inaugural intake of Aspiration Postdoctoral Fellows. This new VPRI initiative attracts outstanding postdoctoral fellows from around the world to conduct cutting-edge research here. Aligned with Aspiration 2030, UVic’s Research and Creative Works Strategy, their funded projects will advance equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) principles in 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 2022 cohort:

Crystal Acosta

Supervisor: Brian Christie – Division of Medical Sciences
Impact area: Health and wellness
Project title: Drinking with Mary Jane: Understanding sex differences in the effects of prenatal marijuana and alcohol consumption for learning and memory processes

Up to 14% of women in Canada continue to drink alcohol during pregnancy and an increasing number of women (4-12%) report using cannabis, which is commonly viewed as safe. Crystal’s research will examine the effects of alcohol and/or cannabis to understand better their sex-specific impact on brain development. 

Crystal holds a BSc in Microbiology, an MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences, and PhD in Pharmacology & Therapeutics from the University of Manitoba.  She conducted her doctoral research at the Kleysen Institute for Advanced Medicine and St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, where she studied blood vessels in the brain during cardiovascular disease.

Truzaar Dordi

Supervisor: Katya Rhodes – School of Public Administration
Co-supervisor: Basma Majerbi – Business
Impact areas: Climate, environmental change and sustainability; Social justice and equity
Project title: Financial policies in achieving Canada's climate targets

Truzaar’s research explores how effective financial regulations and policy interventions can spur the reallocation of capital toward a low-carbon transition, restrict economic activities that contribute to climate instability, and enable new opportunities for low-carbon investment.

He holds a doctorate in Sustainability Management from the University of Waterloo, where he examined fossil-fuel divestment and shareholder engagement in the fossil fuel industry. Truzaar currently serves as the Vice President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics and was recognized as a 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leader by Corporate Knights.

Zachary M.I. Gould

Supervisor: Madeleine McPherson – Civil Engineering
Co-supervisor: Andrew Rowe – Mechanical Engineering
Impact areas: Climate, environmental change and sustainability; Technology and the human experience
Project title: A mycorrhizal model for power-gas systems integration in transactive community energy markets

The rapid increase of solar power in communities is creating a strain on electrical infrastructure. Zachary’s research will explore using forest ecosystems and machine learning to create an underground fungal network where trees generate and trade their own solar energy to enable shared, community-level energy production and storage systems.

Zachary completed his BSc in Mechanical Engineering at Cornell University and recently completed his PhD in Environmental Design and Planning from Virginia Tech as part of the BioBuild Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program. He has lived and worked in New York, Brazil, Germany, Portugal, Myanmar and Tanzania on a variety of bio-inspired, sustainable development and renewable energy projects.

Patrick Hayes

Supervisor: Loren McClenachan – History & Environmental Studies
Impact areas: Climate, environmental change and sustainability; Social justice and equity
Project title: Applying digital humanities to recover sustainable and equitable fisheries in British Columbia 

A lack of historical information about past fisheries productivity, sustainability and equity often results in poor fisheries management decisions. Patrick aims to increase the quality and quantity of long-term fisheries data available to First Nations in their ongoing negotiations to restore fishing rights.  

Patrick completed his PhD in environmental history at Trinity College Dublin and worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the 4-Oceans research project (2020-22).

Lucy Hinton

Supervisor: Sophia Carodenuto – Geography
Co-supervisor: Marlea Clarke – Political Science
Impact areas: Health and wellness; Social justice and equity
Project title: Decolonizing global food systems: Caribbean processing gap

Lucy’s project will trace the impacts of colonizer policies and subsequent trade agreements and governance for food systems in the Caribbean. By tracing the legacies of power that contributed to underinvestment in domestic agricultural and food processing, she will help shine light on how food systems can be transformed to better support planetary health for humans and ecosystems.

Lucy completed her PhD in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the University of Waterloo. She currently teaches at the University of Waterloo and King’s University College.

Grant Macdonald

Supervisor: Randy Scharien – Geography
Impact areas: Climate, environmental change and sustainability; Health and wellness
Project title: Deep learning and community-focused sea ice feature detection

Grant will apply machine learning methods and artificial intelligence to remote sensing data to improve the identification of sea ice hazards in the Canadian Arctic. He will work in collaboration with Arctic communities and stakeholders to improve understanding of how Arctic Sea ice is responding to climate change.

Grant completed his PhD at the University of Chicago, investigating the surface hydrology of ice shelves, and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Kehinde Olobatuyi

Supervisor: Laura Cowen – Mathematics and Statistics
Co-supervisor: Patrick Brown – Statistical Sciences, University of Toronto
Impact areas: Health and wellness; Social justice and equity; Technology and the human experience
Project title: Homeless population estimation under COVID-19

As economic circumstances fluctuate, so does the size and composition of a city’s homeless population. During a pandemic, addressing the public-health concerns of homeless people is a major challenge for service providers due to lack of updated enumeration. Kehinde’s study will aid government in estimating the homeless population and quantifying the level and impact of undetected COVID-19 infection within the homeless community.

Kehinde completed his BSc and MSc in Statistics at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. He completed his PhD at the University of Milano-Bicocca, where he received a 2017 scholarship award for exemplary academic performance.

Stanislas Richard

Supervisor: Peter Dietsch – Philosophy
Co-Supervisor: Colin Macleod – Philosophy and Law
Impact area: Social justice and equity
Project title: Just incomes and public policy 

Stanislas’ project will assess the notion that a just wage is obtained in a competitive market through a dialogue between normative philosophy and labour economics.  He will further explore how just wages can inform current debates on global justice and advance EDI considerations in the philosophy of economics. 

Stanislas completed his PhD at Central European University, a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tel Aviv, and a research fellowship at the Rachelle Bascara Foundation in Gloucestershire, England.

Hector Vazquez-Cordoba

Supervisor: Anita Prest – Curriculum & Instruction
Co-Supervisor:Todd Milford – Curriculum & Instruction
Impact areas: Health and wellness; Indigenous-led scholarship; Social justice and equity
Project title: Immersive community-learning experiences with Coast Salish and Huasteco

This study will compare methods used by student music teachers to co-create culturally sensitive educational tools. Students will work with local Indigenous culture bearers to embed Indigenous music in British Columbia’s K–12 music classes. A second group will work with schools in Veracruz, Mexico.

Hector is originally from Naolinco, Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance (Universidad Veracruzana) and an MEd (Tecnológico de Monterrey). His PhD research at the University of Victoria addressed the embedding of music with Indigenous roots into Mexico’s national elementary curriculum.

Demelza Wright

Supervisor: Reuven Gordon – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Impact area: Health and wellness
Project title: Single protein detection and monitoring

Demelza will develop a simple, easy-to-use device for studying single proteins and monitoring changes to a protein’s structure, size and interactions with other molecules without chemically modifying the protein. 

Demelza completed her Master’s and PhD at the University of Cambridge using optics to study green-energy chemistry.

(Image: New Aspiration Postdoctoral Fellows Hector Vazquez-Cordoba, Crystal Acosta and Truzaar Dordi)

Aspiration PDFs 2023

The next round of Aspiration fellowships is now open.

More information on the program.