Message from the Dean

Dean Peter Loock at Impact Week
Dean of Science Peter Loock at UVic’s first Impact Week. Credit: Erin Hall

Greetings from the Faculty of Science,

We have again have a smorgasbord of exciting news! Now where do I start? Did you know Dr. Caroline Cameron in the Biochemistry and Microbiology Department leads one of only a few labs in the world studying the bacterium that causes syphilis? Open Philanthropy, an American Foundation, saw the potential in her team’s research on the vicious Treponema pallidum and awarded her team a $2M USD grant to fund their research developing a direct diagnostic test and vaccine for a disease plaguing humans for over five centuries. While the level of the support is astonishing, it is also remarkable that this is the largest grant the US-based organization has given to a single Canadian university.

Many of our alumni are also tackling global issues, just like Dr. Cameron. In this newsletter you can catch up with Robert Niven (BSc '01) and Bryce Hugo Jones (BSc '16) who are on the front lines of battling climate change with cutting-edge technology in CO₂ removal, and autonomous drones and mapping software to help regenerate ecosystems, respectively. Meanwhile, aerospace engineer Damineh Akhavan (BSc '06) advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM with Global Women in STEM Inc. All three received UVic Distinguished Alumni Awards this year.

And speaking of impressive alumni, on April 5 we hosted a faculty-exclusive virtual event to meet our inaugural Alumni Advisory Board. Many alumni and current students were in attendance, but also faculty members passionately advocating for the importance of establishing a peer network for our students. Many reached out to me to say these kinds of ‘inspirational’ events can change the course of a student’s career! Our board consists of accomplished scientists, entrepreneurs, authors, innovators, and CEOs; they provide valuable advice for our faculty and unique opportunities for our students and recent alumni.

In our research update, we travel from tiny nanoparticles for biomedicine to the geophysical scales of earthquake measurement and preparation.  If you’re curious about the next generation of scientists, I invite you to explore the Honours Fest undergraduate research projects available online this year. And don’t forget the critical supports that make all this research possible—explore a day in the life of our Science Stores Team.

Last month we launched a new Indigenous science speaker series, hosted by Lydia Toorenburgh, our Tri-Faculty Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator. The talks that I saw were inspirational, deeply engaging and thought-provoking – highly recommended! Recordings of the presentations are available online. If you have questions or recommendations for future speakers, please contact Lydia at

Also in March UVic launched the first Impact Week. From March 14-18, we celebrated the acts of kindness, generosity, and engagement that make UVic more accessible and enriching. I was able to connect to the many students who were recipients of our donors’ generosity, and chat with them over ice cream sandwiches (in March! …I love Victoria!)

As always, please feel free to , drop me a line, or meet me for coffee or lunch.


Peter Loock
UVic Dean of Science