Killam Annual Professorships

Up to eight Killam Annual Professorships are awarded each year to outstanding academics at the University of Alberta in recognition of their distinguished scholarship.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.

The duties of Killam Annual Professors are not changed from those they regularly perform. Each professor is presented with a cash prize of $3,500 and a commemorative plaque. A committee appointed and chaired by the Vice-President (Research) selects recipients and forwards its recommendations to the Killam Scholarship Committee, which then submits the list of recommended applications for approval by the Killam Trustees.

2021 Killam Annual Professors

Evangelos Michelakis, Medicine
Read more about Dr. Michelakis' work:

Tian Tang, Mechanical Engineering

Sophie Yohani, Educational Psychology
Read more about Dr. Yohani's work:

Hongbo Zeng, Chemical & Materials Engineering
Read more about Dr. Zeng's work:


2020 Killam Annual Professors

Lingyun Chen, Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences
Plant Protein Structure Underlying their Functionality for Healthy Foods and Biomaterials Development

Dr. Lingyun Chen is Professor in the Dept. of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in plant protein area. She is internationally recognized for advancing the knowledge of plant protein structure-function relationships, and applying these to develop protein ingredients of improved physicochemical, nutritional, sensory, and functional properties towards food applications. Such approach has allowed her to develop a series of novel applications that improve food quality, such as superior plant protein gels that are promise in the development of high-protein plant-based foods with desirable textures and health contributions (e.g., meat analogues, fat replacers) and protein based functional foods that can deliver dietary fibers, vitamins and minerals to lowered the risk of chronic diseases. The concept of designing protein higher-order functional organization from molecular level, has also propelled our research into materials science, leading to nanofiber fabrics that are stronger than cancellous bones with many potential biomedical applications, as well as carbon nanofibers with potential as foldable energy storage materials and "taste buds" for sensor devices. Due to their sustainability and biodegradability, these biomaterials derived from plant proteins may provide novel solutions to challenges in the materials industry.

Read more about Dr. Chen's work: Lentils replace eggs and milk in baking process (Faculty of ALES)

Nadir Erbilgin, Renewable Resources
Ecology and Management of Emerging Forest Pest Problems: Forest Health Impacts of Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreaks in Western Canada

Photo: SuppliedDr. Nadir Erbilgin is a Professor in Forest Entomology & Chemical Ecology in the Department of Renewable Resources, The Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of California-Berkeley, and joined the University of Alberta as a Canada Research Chair in 2007. His research program focuses on the adaptive responses of forest trees to biotic (e.g., insects and pathogens) and abiotic (e.g., drought) stressors. Specifically, his research group characterizes the changes in tree conditions as well as in soil microbial community in response to biotic and abiotic stressors and how these changes in turn affect the health of forests. He uses the invasion of the lodgepole pine and jack pine forests by the mountain pine beetle as his study system. Giving that emerging pest problems are causing wide-spread forest decline, investigations on the causes of pest invasions have become more critical than ever. Dr. Erbilgin has developed a new framework describing why some tree species, and thus forests, are more vulnerable to pest invasions but not others. This framework successfully explained the establishment of several forest pest species in North America.

Read more about Dr. Erbilgin's work: Pine trees with larger resin ducts better able to survive mountain pine beetle attack (Folio)

George K. Georgiou
, Educational Psychology
Helping All Children Become Fluent Readers

Photo: SuppliedHow do children learn to read? What should we do to prevent reading difficulties from happening? What can we do to help children who continue to struggle in learning to read despite receiving high quality classroom instruction? Dr. Georgiou's research aims to answer the above questions in collaboration with school authorities across Alberta. His research has shown that reading difficulties can, to a large extent, be eliminated when four conditions are met: a) teachers assess their students on standardized reading measures which allows them to screen children for reading difficulties and provide immediate, targeted intervention, b) teachers participate in ongoing professional development on the science of reading as well as in job-embedded collaborative learning, c) schools rely on evidence-based intervention programmes for those students that continue to struggle, and d) schools endorse a "no excuse" policy in addressing reading difficulties (i.e., all children can learn to read irrespective of race, socioeconomic status, first language). For the impact of his research in schools, in 2018, Dr. Georgiou was inducted into the College of the Royal Society of Canada and, in 2019, he received the Alberta Teachers' Association educational research award.

Read more about Dr. Georgiou's work: Kids can still overcome reading difficulties by Grade 3 but earlier intervention is better, new research shows (Folio)

Glen Hvenegaard
, Environmental Science, Augustana Campus
Connecting People and Nature, with Benefits for Both

Glen Hvenegaard is a Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Alberta's Augustana Campus in Camrose, Alberta. Glen's research examines human interactions with nature, with a focus on interpretation, parks, birds, ecotourism, and rural sustainability. He has several active projects. First, Glen and Liz Halpenny (Faculty of KSR) are examining the short- and long-term outcomes of park interpretation on visitors in Alberta's provincial parks. Second, Glen, Liz, and others are studying knowledge mobilization in protected area management and planning in Canada. Third, Glen and others are investigating the environmental history of the renowned Camrose-based naturalist Frank Farley from the early 1900s. Last, Glen, students, and colleagues from across North America are helping to conserve the Purple Martin (North America's large swallow species) by exploring migration dynamics, dispersal patterns, nest box selection, and benefits from stewardship efforts. Glen is a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (and the Tourism and Protected Areas Working Group) and a fellow with LEAD International (Leadership for Environment and Development). He is co-editor of Tourism and Visitor Management in Protected Areas: Guidelines for Sustainability (2018; translated into 5 languages) and Taking the Next Steps: Sustainability Planning and Collaboration in Rural Canada (2016).

Read more about Dr. Hvenegaard's work: Don't feed the bears! How parks get visitors to protect nature (Commentary, Folio)

Amy Kaler, Sociology
"Doing Good": Possibilities and Perils

How do people grapple with ethical, spiritual and political quandaries in particular historical circumstances? I'm working with this question in several ways. First, there's a new project on the experiences of Canadian missionaries in West China in the first half of the 20th century, with my collaborator Dr Cory Willmott of Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville. As a narrative "through-line", we're using the life of one missionary, Leslie Earl Willmott (who is also Dr Willmott's grandfather). This group included ardent Communists and atheists as well as Eurocentric theological conservatives, and they attached themselves to "modernity projects" including feminism, positivism, disarmament, a nascent post-imperial internationalism, and left-wing electoral politics, in China and in Canada. We want to make visible the connections between these missionaries' psychic worlds and their political and social commitments, using the concept of the "theopolitical imaginary". Second, there's my ongoing SSHRC project on the ways that people who work in international faith-based NGOs tell their life stories, with Drs John Parkins of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology (REES) at U of A and Robin Willey of Concordia University - Edmonton. We've interviewed over fifty workers for Christian NGOs about how they see the connections between faith and individual and collective social actions - both the actions that faith makes possible, and the actions that faith forecloses. Finally, there's a new project with co-PI Dr Brent Swallow of REES and Drs John Parkins and Rhonda Breitkreuz, in partnership with World Vision International, studying the evolution of their "Empowered Worldview" program in eastern Africa, which is meant to produce normative and ideational change in rural communities. We want to understand both the impacts of Empowered Worldview and the pathways through which these impacts are realized, including unintended consequences.

Read more about Dr. Kaler's work: The Faculty of Arts' 2020 Killam laureates: Outstanding researchers, students recognized with prestigious award (Faculty of Arts)

Yang Liu
, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Resource-Recovery Based Wastewater Treatment to Contribute to a Circular Economy

Dr. Yang Liu is a professor in Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta. She is a Canada Research Chair in Future Water Services, an NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Sustainable Urban Water Development and an elected college member of Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Liu's research is centered in biological treatment technology development for energy efficient and resource-recovery based municipal waste and wastewater treatment for both centralized and decentralized treatment applications. She champions the resource-recovery paradigm in urban water management, and works with communities, utilities, and governments to demonstrate real-world feasibility of new waste management and water service options. These activities contribute to decarbonizing communities and promote their resilience to climate and demographic changes within the circular economy.

Read more about Dr. Liu's work: Meet the U of A's 2019 RSC inductees (The Quad)