Distinguished Academics Awards


Each year since 1995, CUFA BC honours the outstanding scholarship and public policy contributions of the distinguished academics at five research universities across the province. They are Simon Fraser University,

University of British Columbia, University of Northern British Columbia, University of Victoria, and Royal Roads University.

At CUFA BC, we believe that the ideas that flow out of our universities are the lifeblood of our citizenry and democratic landscape, our intellectual life, and our economy. The CUFA BC Distinguished Academics Awards celebrate the ideas that contribute to the non-academic community and demonstrate the necessity and vitality of public university-based research and scholarly activity.

Each year, the nominees hail from different institutions and disciplines, and conduct research in very different domains. However different their work, they are united by their passion for rigorous and meaningful scholarship – and for research that contributes to the public good.

The awards bring with it the admiration of one’s colleagues across the institution, disciplines, geographic borders and beyond, and is recognized with a commemorative plaque and cash award. 


Learn more about the Distinguished Academics Awards:

2024 Nominations (CLOSED)

Awards History

Past Winners

2023 Award Winner Videography Profiles


Celebrating the 2024 Distinguished Academics Awards Recipients & Nominees



The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 CUFA BC Distinguished Academics Awards:

  • Early in Career Award: Sean Irwin (Royal Roads University)
  • Ehor Boyanowsky Academic of the Year Award: Amy Parent, Noxs Ts’aawit (Simon Fraser University)
  • Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award: Francis Juanes (University of Victoria)

Every year since 1995, the CUFA BC Distinguished Academics Awards series has honoured faculty whose ideas contribute to the community beyond the academy and whose scholarship demonstrates the necessity and vitality of university-based research in the public interest. Research universities play a crucial role in the social, intellectual, and economic innovation of British Columbians.


“Faculty engage in outstanding scholarship that contributes to new discoveries and creates new understandings of our experiences in the world,” says President Dr. Ken Christie. “The Distinguished Academics Awards give us the opportunity to recognize the valuable contributions of university research to our communities.”


Congratulations to the winners and all the nominees for these awards. The awards will be presented at a gala reception on May 1, 2024 at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC.


Learn more about the 2024 Distinguished Academics

Early in Career Award – Dr. Sean Irwin, Royal Roads University

Dr. Sean Irwin is the recipient of the Early in Career Award. Dr. Irwin is Associate Professor in the School of Business at Royal Roads University. Dr. Irwin receives this award in recognition of his work on international and community development and his continuous efforts in improving the health, livelihoods, and wellbeing of some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities. Dr. Irwin’s research on sustainable social and economic development in the Global South and working with communities to develop food systems in South America, and water, sanitation, and hygiene in health care facilities in low-income countries in Africa. Dr. Irwin is principal investigator on a funded project on improving conditions of health care facilities in Malawi and he’s the co-principal investigator on the funded project “Fish for Life” in Bolivia.

Ehor Boyanowsky Academic of the Year Award – Dr. Amy Parent, Noxs Ts’aawit, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Amy Parent, Noxs Ts’aawit is the recipient of the Ehor Boyanowsky Academic of the Year Award. Dr. Parent is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Indigenous Education & Governance in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. She receives this award in recognition of her project “Raising Nisga’a Language, Sovereignty, and Land-Based Education Through Traditional Carving knowledge,” which successfully established an international precedent for the rematriation of the Ni’isjoohl memorial totem pole from Scotland. This project produced ground-breaking outcomes that are expanding the paradigm of Indigenous methodologies, Indigenous governance, decolonizing museum practices, enhancing partnerships for decolonization and reconciliation, and sharing research knowledge.

Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award – Dr. Francis Juanes, University of Victoria

Dr. Francis Juanes is the recipient of the Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award. Dr. Juanes is the Liber Ero Professor of Fisheries in the Department of Biology at the University of Victoria. He receives this award in recognition of his life’s work conducting fundamental and innovative research in fisheries ecology. Dr. Juanes has transformed the way that scientists model fish population dynamics and he has pioneered research in soundscape ecology, establishing bioacoustics as a novel approach to ecosystem health. One of the primary contributions Dr. Juanes has made to the community is inspiring new generations of leaders and policymakers in the field of fisheries ecology.


Recognizing the Nominees

The Awards Selection Committee had the extremely difficult task of selecting award recipients from the many outstanding nominees, whose excellence is indicative of the high quality of British Columbia’s faculty and of their many contributions to the life in British Columbia. From one year to another, the nominees hail from different institutions and disciplines, and conduct research in very different domains. However different their work may be, they are united by their passion for rigorous and meaningful scholarship – and for research that contributes to the public good. We congratulate all of the nominees who have clearly earned the deep respect of their colleagues, both inside and outside of the academy.


The following faculty members were nominated for the 2024 CUFA BC Early In Career Award:

Dr. Alexandra Tavasoli

Dr. Alexandra Tavasoli is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Tavasoli was nominated for her work on low-carbon alternatives to chemical manufacturing processes. The alternative processes that she developed with her research group use waste feedstocks like captured carbon dioxide, and/or biogas from organic wastes like sewage or food scraps, alongside low-carbon forms of energy, resulting in chemical products with drastically reduced carbon intensities. She also explores how communities could self-finance these systems and implement the net zero economy in a distributed manner, extending the more popular idea of community-based energy systems to community-base chemical and materials manufacturing.  

Dr. Mahmudur Fatmi

Dr. Mahmudur Fatmi - UBCODr. Mahmudur Fatmi is Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the School of Engineering at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Dr. Fatmi was nominated for his work on advancing transportation and climate action research by developing innovative models and simulation tools for effective planning and policy-making for equitable, economic and sustainable travel options, mitigating transportation emissions. Dr. Fatmi has developed state-of-the-art travel demand models that recognize the complexity associated with travel decisions. He has created a national and international network of multidisciplinary researchers, government agencies, and industry partners to decarbonize the transportation sector of Canada and beyond by advancing climate science and translating knowledge to practice.

Dr. Theodore Cosco


Dr. Theodore Cosco is an Associate Professor of Mental Health & Aging at the Department of Gerontology, Simon Fraser University and Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, University of Oxford. Dr. Cosco was nominated for his innovative work in gerontology and public health, especially his community-engaged research, demonstrates his significant contributions to both academia and the wider community. His recently funded projects on ‘Co-creating the future of older adults’ mental health’ include the development of an online mental health peer-support platform for older adults. These initiatives have provided practical, tangible benefits to the community, particularly in improving the mental health and social connectedness of older adults.




Dr. Julia Smith


Dr. Julia Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Smith was nominated for her research to identify health and social inequities and inform policy approaches to infectious disease events. She is recognized by her peers as an emerging leader in feminist and rights-based approaches to research on the health and social inequalities relating to HIV/AIDS, the tobacco industry, Indigenous Peoples, and pandemic planning and response. She has raised public awareness of the gendered dynamics of health and promoting gender-responsive research, policy, and practice.



The following faculty members were nominated for the 2024 CUFA BC Ehor Boyanowsky Academic of the Year Award:


Dr. Alexandra Lysova

Dr. Alexandra Lysova is an Associate Professor at the School of Criminology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Lysova was nominated for her research addressing the intricated dynamics of intimate partner violence and homicide-affecting women, men, and children-as pervasive criminal justice, social, and public health issues in Canada, Russia, and other countries. Her research has delved into some of the least studied and contentious issues withing partner violence research. She is nominated based on specific contributions in the past several years, which include a series of academic papers that explore men’s experience of abuse both in Canada and internationally, yielding tangible outcomes beyond the research boundary.


Dr. Lori Daniels

Dr. Lori Daniels is Professor and Koerner Chair in Wildfire Coexistence in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Daniels was nominated for her research elucidating historical fire regimes, including Indigenous fire stewardship, disruptions due to colonization, fire suppression, land-use and climate change – all of which contribute to the megafires in recent years. Dr. Daniels has combined her knowledge of wildfire science with their excellent communication skills to educate and inform the people of BC and Canada about the causes and consequences of these megafires and the proactive solutions to coexist with wildfire.


The following faculty members were nominated for the 2024 CUFA BC Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award:

Dr. Grace Iarocci

Dr. Grace Iarocci is a Professor at the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Iarocci was nominated for her research in typical and atypical development of selective attention and its relationship to social competence, mental health, and family and societal well-being. Co-editor of three books with Oxford University Press and 80 journal articles, Professor Iarocci is recognized as one of BC’s key researchers on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and has improved access to diagnostic and treatment services for BC immigrant and Indigenous communities.

Dr. Diane Gromala

Dr. Diane Gromala, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Gromala was nominated for her research combining approaches from computer science and interactive art and design to address chronic pain. An intriguing aspect of her work is how it innovatively merges art and science to empower people to regain agency over their internal states, a phenomenon known as meta-plasticity that holds immense potential for long-term benefits to health and wellness. Her research has expanded beyond chronic pain to explore the development of systems of acute pain, cancer, precision medicine, menopause, mantal health and addition, and even the preservation of cultural heritage. Her work to demonstrate the complexity of chronic pain, reduce its social stigma, and insist on mitigating ethical risks for at-risk groups have laid a solid foundation for responsible technology interventions for BC’s growing population.


Dr. Faisal Khosa

Dr. Faisal Khosa, MD, MBA is Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Khosa was nominated for his work on improving gender and racial disparities in educational institutions as well as advanced in the field of radiology. His work helps to ensure a sustainable legacy of inclusive excellence in academia, increasing accessibility of higher education and achievement for underrepresented students. Dr. Khosa has shown exemplary initiative and leadership through actions that epitomize altruism, integrity, persistence, and perseverance in serving those in need. His research has catalyzed academic and social change.

Dr. Katherine White

Dr. Katherine White, is Professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. Dr. White holds a Watkinson Professorship in Sustainability and is a world-class researcher in Marketing and Behavioural Science. She is also the Senior Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Sustainability at the UBC Sauder School of Business. Dr. White was nominated for her research utilizing clever field experiments where she measures real behaviours such as residential recycling, charitable donations, and eco-friendly purchases. Her work has shifted the traditional focus of the field from marketing as a profit-maximization tool to a catalyst for prosocial and sustainable consumer actions.


* NOTE: Not all nominees for this category are listed due to personal privacy reasons