Killam Laureates

The University of Alberta acknowledges with gratitude the invaluable financial assistance the Killam Trusts have given to the University and its Killam laureates (doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors). Since 1967, the endowments created by the Killam bequest have provided more than $127.3 million in program funding to the University of Alberta.

Dorothy J Killam Memorial Graduate Prize

Three prizes are awarded annually to the most outstanding Killam Memorial Scholarship recipients. Recipients receive a cash prize of $5,000 and a certificate acknowledging their award.

Connor Lambert, Department of Psychology

Connor Lambert is a PhD student in Psychology whose research examines the evolution of animal behavior and intelligence. One of the hallmarks of human intelligence is physical intelligence- the ability to learn and understand the physical properties of the world, which allows humans to use tools and construct shelters and much more. However, many other species are also known to use tools, and an even greater variety of species build shelters. Nest building is an especially widespread behavior across many birds and mammals, is similar to tool use, and may be important in understanding the evolution of physical intelligence. Connor’s research seeks to examine how similarities and differences in physical intelligence have evolved across different species. In particular, he is examining how nest building behavior relates to physical intelligence using zebra finches, wherein males are the primary nest builders and may have special cognitive adaptations that allow for nest building. This research will hopefully provide greater insight into animal intelligence, how birds’ physical intelligence helps in the building of nests, and how this physical intelligence relates to that of other animals and humans.

Angeline Letourneau, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology

Angeline’s dissertation, titled Masculinity in the shadow of resource extraction: identity negotiation on the path to a just transition, takes an intersectional approach to examine the role of identity in climate obstruction and the maintenance of fossil fuel hegemony. Through interviews and a combination of quantitative and qualitative social media analysis, Angeline analyzes the influence of far right and colonial narratives on fossil fuel workers within Alberta and Indigenous mine workers in the Northwest Territories. Drawing on social identity theory, she examines how the multidimensionality and mobility of worker identities can be operationalized to support just transition policies. She argues that, though the relationship between hypermasculinity, climate change denial, and far-right political discourse plays a significant role in fossil fuel workers’ identities, it does not eliminate the possibility of worker support for a just transition to the low-carbon economy. This work was supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship, Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship, and Research at the Intersections of Gender Thesis Grant.

Shubham Soni, Pediatrics

Heart failure is a complex syndrome where the heart cannot properly pump enough blood to the body. While fats and sugars are the main energy sources for the healthy heart, recent evidence shows that the failing heart relies on ketones, a molecule produced by the liver during low energy conditions. However, the importance of this switch requires more exploration. Although ketones have mainly been known as energy molecules, they can also favorably reduce inflammation in other cell types, and therefore “ketone therapy” may be useful for heart failure. Thus, we are using a new clinically safe ketone drink to determine if elevating ketones in mice with heart failure can improve their heart function. So far, we have shown that increasing ketones through a genetic model can preserve the heart’s function when faced with a cardiac injury and reduce inflammation in the heart. Now, we have also shown that increasing ketones with this ketone drink can also protect the failing heart from becoming worse. Currently, we are exploring some interesting sex differences with how ketones are handled, and also determining how effectively ketones can reduce a tremendous inflammation and organ damage, such as that observed in sepsis.

Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship

The Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarships are the most prestigious graduate awards administered by the University of Alberta. They are awarded to outstanding doctoral students who, at the time of application, have completed at least one year of graduate study. Killam Scholarships are awarded for two years and include a stipend of $45,000 per year. Each award is renewable for a second year upon continued exceptional performance in a doctoral program at the University of Alberta.

Maged Abdelkader, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Maged Gouda received his M.Sc. in Transportation Engineering from the University of Alberta (U of A) in Canada in 2016. He is currently working towards his Ph.D. degree in Transportation Engineering at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the U of A. His research area focuses on big sensor data analytics to develop data-driven smart urban mobility solutions, smart city and infrastructure design and studying the impacts of emerging trends/technologies on transportation infrastructure design and construction. The quantitative analyses used are utilized to address equity, resilience, and sustainability in smart infrastructure investments. His current research interests include machine learning, 3D point cloud data processing, deep learning applications for the segmentation of point cloud

Sadegh Aghapour Aktij, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Sadegh's research field is focused on membrane technology, water and wastewater treatment, and renewable energies. Membrane research can provide knowledge development in areas which will contribute to better health care and cleaner environment, supply clean water and energy, and increase the sustainability of our society. Sadegh's research project&; focuses on the advancement of membrane manufacturing processes through bridging the gap between lab scale and industrial scale with the employment of sustainable technology and material design (nano/micro scale). This research topic aims to provide insight into future directions for membrane technologies by introducing some innovative separation technologies and applications including, but not limited to, forward osmosis, reverse osmosis, and pressure retarded osmosis as well as processes for environmental applications, such as desalination, water and wastewater treatment, and power generation. This captivating scientific study will focus on developing novel methodologies and employing state-of-the-art materials to fabricate a new generation of membranes with enhanced properties for renewable power generation and water and wastewater treatment. The research outcome can contribute to the environment, primary energy supply, water and wastewater treatment sector, nano-based industry, and manufacturing sector with breakthrough in separation and renewable energy production technologies.

Bridget Alichie, Department of Sociology

Breanne Aylward, School of Public Health

Climate change poses a significant threat to young peoples mental health and wellbeing. Experiences with climate-related events, such as hurricanes or wildfires, can lead to a range of negative mental health outcomes, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Exposure to slower and longer-term climate changes, such as sea ice loss and sea level rise, can cause disruptions to cultural identities and livelihoods. Yet, there are many gaps in our understanding of young peoples experiences of climate change. Breanne's doctoral research will build understanding of the burden of climate change on young people's mental health and wellbeing. More importantly, it will explore protective factors and coping strategies to promote young people's wellbeing in a changing climate.

Juliana Balluffi-Fry, Department of Biological Sciences

Juliana is studying the diet and nutritional ecology of the snowshoe hare (Leous americanus), a keystone boreal herbivore, in the southern Yukon. Snowshoe hares are limited by the availability of multiple types of nutrients and minerals, but the complexities of their dietary requirements are not yet fully understood. Temperatures and precipitation in the boreal forest are presently changing with a warming climate. I am using experimental designs to quantify the exact nutritional requirements of the diet-sensitive snowshoe hare during winter. In addition, I am measuring the nutrient availability in winter foods across different snow depths and monitoring snowshoe hare behavioural responses to this changing nutrient availability. Her overall goal is to predict how climate change may affect a northern species, from a nutrition perspective.

Chentel Cunningham, Faculty of Nursing

Having a child diagnosed with heart failure (HF) is a distressing and terrifying experience for parents. No statistics are available to understand the burden children's HF places on the Canadian health care system, but is a factor in approximately 11 000 - 14 000 hospital admissions each year within the United States. Health care providers in this field have jointly developed guidelines which have improved the outcomes for children with HF, and more children with HF can now be discharged home. However, discharge can be a stressful event as parents undergo a huge learning curve from the amount of new information about daily management (e.g., daily fluid intake, special diet, management of multiple medications, weight monitoring and symptom recognition). Little is known about what educational tools exist for parents, their learning needs and experiences, and what digital platforms they feel help them learn best about their child's HF. The purpose of Chentel's doctoral research is to: understand and evaluate what educational tools exist for parents about childhood HF, identify important parent knowledge needs and experiences while caring for a child with HF, and use those findings to co-create and refine an educational tool about children's heart failure that targets parent audiences. This novel arts-based knowledge translation tool will be the first tool that combines research evidence about parent experience, health care provider opinion, and most importantly, parent feedback. This tool will improve outcomes for children burdened by HF within the Canadian health care system by empowering their parents with research knowledge to make better-informed decisions.

Jhon Ralph Enterina, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology

Our bodies rely heavily on high quality antibodies to eliminate infections such as COVID-19. These molecules are made in areas of our lymph nodes called the germinal centre (GC), where antibody-producing immune cell, known as B cells, multiply themselves repeatedly and tailor the antibodies they produce for enhanced pathogen binding and clearance. While it is well-established that GCs select for B cells with the best binding to pathogen, GCs can also maintain a pool of B cells that produce low-binding antibodies. Emerging studies suggest that these cells act as sentinels, to better equip our immune system when a variant of the pathogen is encountered. Presently,however, our knowledge on how the GC makes the decision to select the best antibody-producing B cells over their low-affinity counterparts or vice versa is limited. Understanding this mechanism is crucial in designing better and more durable vaccines.Jhon's research focuses on sugars expressed on B cells and how distinct changes in these molecules affect the fate of B cells during vaccination or infection. In this study, we will determine the impact of sugar modification on B cells in terms of cell survival, production of quality antibodies, and longevity of immune protection.

Kirsty Keys, Department of Educational Psychology

Parenting practices during childhood are key to supporting positive child development and learning. However, to support parents, practitioners need an understanding of parenting across different cultures so they know when to step in and support families in a culturally safe manner versus when to give families space to flourish independently. In Canada, understanding parenting in Indigenous families is particularly important given the overrepresentation of Indigenous families in child welfare and Canada's history of oppression and forced assimilation.

Unfortunately, high-quality Indigenous parenting research that avoids blanket statements and deficits theorizing is scarce. Using a community-engaged, Indigenous approach and narrative inquiry methods, Kirsty's research seeks to gain an in-depth understanding of the parenting experiences of one Indigenous peoples by asking: What are the parenting stories of Cree parents (i.e., any child-rearing adult) raising young children? I will also aim to understand how these stories reflect the parents; cultural beliefs, values, and practices related to parenting and child development, and what these stories tell us about developmentally supportive parenting in Cree families. My hope is that the findings from my study will amplify Indigenous voices and share knowledge about Indigenous parenting to affect policy development, parenting supports, and child welfare decisions.

Aditi Khare, Department of History, Classics and Religion

The narrative of European relies on significant erasure of Indigenous South Asian knowledge, skill, and innovation. Through object-based research, Aditi challenges the eurocentric assumption that 18 th century European development in cotton textiles resulted in a decline in India's textile industry. This approach highlights the role of the Indian artisans and their lasting legacy as innovators and artists within global material culture. By using historic fabrics as material vectors, she questions common labels such as, when used in reference to South Asian textile design. Instead, she argue that these fabrics were complex vehicles of intention, resistance, adaptation, and appropriation; continued acceptance of these ideas is a colonial cultural legacy that defines these pivotal commodities as well as their place in major museum collections. Aditi is a textile historian and designer trained in material culture history. Currently a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta, her dissertation is titled Decolonising the understanding of the Indian textile network and its entanglement with British systems: A material culture analysis, c. 1750-1860. Since receiving my MA from the History of Design programme at the Royal College of Art, London, UK (2017/18), she has been actively researching and publishing on eurocentrism in textile history, early modern trade networks,material culture entanglements, and visual culture.

Connor Lambert, Department of Psychology

Connor Lambert is a PhD student in Psychology whose research examines the evolution of animal behavior and intelligence. One of the hallmarks of human intelligence is physical intelligence- the ability to learn and understand the physical properties of the world, which allows humans to use tools and construct shelters and much more. However, many other species are also known to use tools, and an even greater variety of species build shelters. Nest building is an especially widespread behavior across many birds and mammals, is similar to tool use, and may be important in understanding the evolution ofphysical intelligence. Connor's research seeks to examine how similarities and differences in physical intelligence have evolved across different species. In particular, he is examining how nest building behavior relates to physical intelligence using zebra finches, wherein males are the primary nest builders and may have special cognitive adaptations that allow for nest building. This research will hopefully provide greater insight into animal intelligence, how birds; physical intelligence helps in the building of nests, and how this physical intelligence relates to that of other animals and humans.

Angeline Letourneau, Department of Resource Economics, Environmental Sociology

Angeline's dissertation, titled Masculinity in the shadow of resource extraction: identity negotiation on the path to a just transition, takes an intersectional approach to examine the role of identity in climate obstruction and the maintenance of fossil fuel hegemony. Through interviews and a combination of quantitative and qualitative social media analysis, Angeline analyzes the influence of far right and colonial narratives on fossil fuel workers within Alberta and Indigenous mine workers in the Northwest Territories. Drawing on social identity theory, she examines how the multidimensionality and mobility of worker identities can be operationalized to support just transition policies. She argues that, though the relationship between hypermasculinity, climate change denial, and far-right political discourse plays a significant role in fossil fuel workers; identities, it does not eliminate the possibility of worker support for a just transition to the low-carbon economy. This work was supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship, Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship, and Research at the Intersections of Gender Thesis Grant.

Shubham Soni, Department of Pediatrics

Heart failure is a complex syndrome where the heart cannot properly pump enough blood to the body. While fats and sugars are the main energy sources for the healthy heart, recent evidence shows that the failing heart relies on ketones, a molecule produced by the liver during low energy conditions. However, the importance of this switch requires more exploration. Although ketones have mainly been known as energy molecules, they can also favorably reduce inflammation in other cell types, and therefore;ketone therapy; may be useful for heart failure. Thus, we are using a new clinically safe ketone drink to determine if elevating ketones in mice with heart failure can improve their heart function. So far, we have shown that increasing ketones through a genetic model can preserve the heart's function when faced with a cardiac injury and reduce inflammation in the heart. Now, we have also shown that increasing ketones with this ketone drink can also protect the failing heart from becoming worse. Currently, we are exploring some interesting sex differences with how ketones are handled, and also determining how effectively ketones can reduce a tremendous inflammation and organ damage, such as that observed in sepsis.

Alexa Thompson, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a virus that spreads through blood contact and, without treatment, can cause severe liver damage. Fewer women in Alberta are tested and treated for HCV compared to men. This finding is concerning for pregnant persons because HCV can pass from mom to baby during pregnancy. Additionally, disadvantaged populations (lower-income people, those who inject drugs, and incarcerated individuals) are less likely to meet with a special hepatitis doctor, be given treatment, and be cured of HCV. Alexa's research aims to monitor and assess the effectiveness of population screening and direct referral programs for prenatal patients in Alberta; and evaluate referral and treatment rates for disadvantaged populations after implementing a reflexive HCV diagnostic method in the provincial public health laboratory. We expect our programs to improve health outcomes for pregnant and disadvantaged patients infected with HCV and reform health policies in Alberta. If effective, these programs could be used in other provinces and territories across Canada.

William Wadsworth, Department of Anthropology

Liam is a Ph.D. student at the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology/Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta. He specializes in applying geophysical/remote sensing techniques to Canadian archaeology, primarily at the request of Indigenous communities. This has included work on diverse sites representing different time periods and cultures, as well as, the identification of unmarked graves at former Indian Residential Schools. His doctoral research project is called "Community-driven Archaeology of Removal and Eviction" (CARE) and it investigates landscapes of removal and erasure with modern communities. This includes the archaeological documentation of historic villages where Indigenous peoples were removed. As a result, his work investigates colonialism and its impacts using interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches. For this work, he was previously awarded a Canada Graduate Scholarship (Master's) in Honour of Nelson Mandela as well as a doctoral Canada Graduate Scholarship. Although still early in his career, Liam has published scientific articles in local and international journals regarding Indigenous archaeology, erasure and dispossession, and case studies in remote sensing archaeology. Finally, Liam holds an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts from the University of Alberta.

Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring

The Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring recognizes academic staff members at the University of Alberta who demonstrate outstanding performance in mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in research, as well as postdoctoral fellows and visiting researchers. The recipient receives a cash prize of $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.

Dr. Rebecca Gokiert, School of Public Health

Rebecca Gokiert is a Professor in the School of Public Health and Registered Child Psychologist. As a clinician-scientist and engaged scholar, she has focused her career on advancing community-based participatory research and evaluation in the field of early childhood development. In direct response to community-university needs, her program of research is focused on understanding and addressing measurement and evaluation in early childhood, with the goal of generating knowledge, solutions and capacity that supports the healthy development of children across Canada. She accomplishes this through her leadership roles as Associate Director with the Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families (CUP) and the Director of the Evaluation Capacity Network (ECN). ECN is a SSHRC funded national network that bridges community-university evaluation capacity gaps, serving as a hub for students, researchers, government and community organizations to co-create community engaged research and evaluation initiatives, share and access community-based evaluation expertise, resources, and learning opportunities. Rebecca mentors research staff and students in conducting community-based research and evaluation projects in collaboration with early childhood stakeholders, immigrant, refugee and First Nation communities. Her current teaching is in community engagement, participatory research, partnership development, and program planning and evaluation.

Dr. Lisa Stein, Department of Biological Sciences

Lisa Stein received her PhD from Oregon State University in 1998 and worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech as a postdoctoral scholar. She was an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Riverside from 2001-2008, and an Associate and Full Professor at the University of Alberta since 2008. The Stein laboratory of Climate Change Microbiology at the University of Alberta focuses on the pathways of inorganic nitrogen and single carbon metabolism in bacteria and archaea. The Stein lab studies the integrated cycles of nitrogen and methane at the molecular, whole-cell, and ecosystem levels to predict how and when the greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide, are released. Projects in her lab aim to harness microorganisms to generate commercially valuable bioproducts using single-carbon waste streams as feedstocks. Other projects aim to neutralize and maximize microbial activities in the nitrogen cycle to increase global crop productivity without the production of greenhouse gases. Understanding the interconnections between the nitrogen and methane cycles will enable novel climate change mitigation strategies that simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere while maximizing production of food, fuels, and material resources for humanity.

Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship

Killam Postdoctoral Fellowships are awarded to outstanding individuals who have recently completed a doctoral program. Appointments are for a period of two years and are tenable only at the University of Alberta. All fields of research are eligible for funding. Each Fellowship includes a stipend of $50,000 per year, plus a one-time research allowance of $4,000.

Lisa Brooks, Department of History, Classics & Religion, PhD

Research Fellow, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society
University of California, Berkeley
South Asia Book Review Editor, Asian Medicine

Lisa's current research focuses on multispecies medicine and the intertwined sensory worlds of humans and non-humans, with a focus on notions of sentience, sensory knowledges, agency, and humanness and animality in early South Asia. Their project, Leech Trouble: Therapeutic Entanglements in More-Than-Human Medicine, is a history of human-leech medicine in South Asia and a comparative ethnography of leech therapy in contemporary ayurvedic medicine and biomedicine. Lisa's work expands on scholarship in the history of medicine and medical anthropology that focuses on the embodiment and agencies of human practitioners. In leech therapy, both as represented in first millennium Sanskrit medical texts and in the contemporary practice of ayurvedic medicine, human and leech sensory knowledges guide the course of medical practice and challenges ideas about what constitutes a medical actant or technology. This historical, philological, and ethnographic study of human-leech medicine will contribute to our understanding of the entwined nature of human and non-human life in this anthropogenic era.

Justin Mooney, Department of Philosophy, Visiting Assistant Professor

Justin's research is concentrated in two areas. One of these is the metaphysics of identity over time. What changes do ordinary material objects persist through? Contrary to what is currently the standard view in metaphysics, he has defended the position that material objects virtually always survive metamorphic changes from one sort to another. His work on this subject also touches on related issues, such as whether material objects can survive spatiotemporal discontinuities. The other focus of his research lies in the philosophy of religion, where he has written about the problem of evil and about a variety of metaphysical issues concerning religious doctrines, such as whether resurrection is metaphysically possible. As a Killam postdoctoral fellow, he will bring these two strands of research together in a study of the metaphysics of rebirth (reincarnation), a notion that is present in a number of underrepresented philosophical traditions. His goal is to identify challenges to the metaphysical possibility of rebirth, explore the prospects for meeting those challenges by identifying and developing metaphysical models of rebirth, and draw fruitful connections between work on the metaphysics of rebirth and related work on the metaphysics of resurrection.

Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship (Black Scholar)

Segun Olatinwo, Department of Computing Science

Segun Olatinwo's research investigates the development of a novel recommender or question-answering system that can assist the learners on stack overflow. Stack Overflow is an educational website that supports lifelong learning and allows learners to ask questions related to a subject area or profession. Unfortunately, the learners on stack overflow are often confronted by the problem of unanswered questions because those who have seen the question lack the knowledge needed to answer it. To address this problem, this research aims to employ artificial intelligence techniques to develop a novel recommender or question-answering system that can provide feedback to learners on stack overflow.

Dorothy J Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Prize

The Prize is offered to the most outstanding Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship recipient in the annual competition. The recipient is selected on the basis of academic achievement, research proposal,publications, letters of recommendation, and leadership qualities. The recipient receives a cash prize of $5,000 and a certificate acknowledging their award.

Lisa Brooks, Department of History, Classics and Religion, PhD

Research Fellow, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society
University of California, Berkeley
South Asia Book Review Editor, Asian Medicine

Lisa's current research focuses on multispecies medicine and the intertwined sensory worlds of humans and non-humans, with a focus on notions of sentience, sensory knowledges, agency, and humanness and animality in early South Asia. Their project, Leech Trouble: Therapeutic Entanglements in More-Than-Human Medicine, is a history of human-leech medicine in South Asia and a comparative ethnography of leech therapy in contemporary ayurvedic medicine and biomedicine. Lisa's work expands on scholarship in the history of medicine and medical anthropology that focuses on the embodiment and agencies of human practitioners. In leech therapy, both as represented in first millennium Sanskrit medical texts and in the contemporary practice of ayurvedic medicine, human and leech sensory knowledges guide the course of medical practice and challenges ideas about what constitutes a medical actant or technology. This historical, philological, and ethnographic study of human-leech medicine will contribute to our understanding of the entwined nature of human and non-human life in this anthropogenic era.

Killam Annual Professor

The award is based on scholarly activities including teaching, research, publications, creative activities, presented papers, supervision of graduate students, courses taught, and contribution to the community beyond the University in activities normally directly linked to the applicant's University responsibilities.

Dr. Sally Leys, Department of Biological Sciences

Professor Leys; research focuses on understanding how coordination systems, including nervous systems and non-nervous coordination, arose in the first multicellular animals on earth. Her work encompasses studies of sensory cell types, receptors and mechanisms of signal propagation along tissues in unusual and beautiful animals known as non-bilaterians, which include creatures such as sponges, placozoans, iridescent ctenophores, jellyfish and corals. Much of her groups; work has concentrated on sponges, which lack neurons. Their work describing how signals are received and propagated in a coordinated manner to generate sneeze-like behaviours in sponges has received wide attention. She is a world expert on the physiology, ecology and cell biology of deep sea glass sponges and freshwater sponges. Her group's research on deep water sponge reefs in western Canada has helped guide the formation of marine protected areas around sponge reefs in Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound British Columbia, and she is involved in ongoing efforts to develop mechanisms to protect and monitor reefs in the Salish Sea, British Columbia.

Dr. Erin Bayne, Department of Biological Sciences

Dr. Bayne's research is focused on understanding how human activities impact biodiversity with an emphasis on identifying mitigation options that benefit people and species. Erin applies novel technologies to solve challenging conservation problems. He is best known for his work on birds, and has been awarded several awards in avian ecology. Increasingly he is working to include citizen science within his research program with numerous papers published using data from web-enabled data collection portals that rely on the general public to add information. Much of Erin's work takes a multi-scale approach whereby he seeks to connect detailed information on the behaviour of individual animals in response to habitat structure and composition in order to understand how behavioural variation influences population dynamics and community-level processes. Erin is a professor at the University of Alberta in the Department of Biological Sciences, co-director of the ABMi Science Centre, and a lead on the Boreal Avian Modelling Project