Significant And Mentionable

Chancellor named Citizen of the Year

Widely known as one Alberta's most influential people, University of Lethbridge Chancellor Richard Davidson was recognized in May as the Lethbridge Citizen of the Year by the Rotary Club of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Herald.

"Clearly in his law practice, his work with the Chamber of Commerce, his work with the University of Lethbridge and his work with virtually every other volunteer organization you could imagine, this is one cool dude," says Lethbridge Mayor Bob Tarleck, who also presented Davidson with a key to the city. "This is the highest honour we can bestow upon anyone, and Richard is extremely deserving."

Davidson was appointed a Queen's counsel in 1986 and is a partner at the law firm of Davidson & Williams. In recognition of his many contributions to the community, he has received numerous awards including the Commemoration Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada by the Governor General, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Law Society of Alberta Distinguished Service Award for Service to the Community.

U of L at forefront of water hub

World Water Day, on March 22, served as the perfect occasion for federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice to announce $1.5 million in funding for the creation of the Water and Environmental Sciences Water Hub at the University of Lethbridge.

The Hub, which will be developed over the next two years, will serve as a data repository and will be an authoritative public source of information, providing tools to analyze water and environmental data. This data will be used by governments, industry, academia and the public to make more-informed decisions regarding water, and will create a better understanding of this resource by these stakeholders.

Prentice explains that the government needs reliable water data to make better decisions concerning water.

"To make good decisions, governments in Canada need good information – and it's not as though you can just turn on a tap to get it. We need knowledge generated by scientists and researchers who can provide the evidence for informed decisions about freshwater use," says Prentice.

Ellis welcomed as new management dean

On July 1, Dr. Robert (Bob) James Ellis will join the University of Lethbridge as the new dean for the Faculty of Management.

Originally from Vancouver, B.C., Ellis is an accomplished administrator who successfully bolstered business programs at both the University of Northern British Columbia and Wilfrid Laurier University.

With a collaborative and visionary approach, he has a strong record of attracting accomplished faculty and raising the research profile of programs. His current research focuses on increasing educational opportunities in society, specifically for aboriginal students in a business environment.

Ellis is looking forward to the creative atmosphere he sees within the Faculty.

"Throughout my career, my focus has always been to try and increase opportunities for students through the development of new courses or new programs," says Ellis. "The faculty at the U of L are very innovative, and I think at the forefront of management thought and action."

Ellis succeeds Dr. Murray Lindsay, who spent the past five years in the position and is returning to the academic community at the U of L.

Education dean O'Dea passes leadership to Loewen

After 10 years of incredible success, Dr. Jane O'Dea will step away from her role as dean of the Faculty of Education at the end of June. And while she is handing the reins of leadership over with plans to return to the classroom, she has no plans to leave the University.

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Dr. Craig Loewen

"Absolutely not. This is a tremendous University. I love its size, I love its entrepreneurial innovative spirit and its emphasis on community and student engagement," says O'Dea.

Taking over the Faculty, Dr. Craig Loewen (BEd '84) will serve as acting dean for a two-year term.

A veteran faculty member, Loewen admits he will miss the classroom, but stands firmly in a belief that whatever the setting, teaching is an important calling.

"You're looking after the path, building for the future, caring about the kids of today. I find it really hard to see anything much more important than that," he says. "The person who you are can, at some point, be traced back to a teacher or mentor."

CREATE funding translates to employment opportunities

On June 10, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) announced the University of Lethbridge as the recipient of the CREATE program award. The U of L will be the only institution in Alberta to receive the award this year.

With more than $1.6 million, the CREATE program award provides funding for approximately 50 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidates working in satellite and other imaging programs, including photonics, climate change, civil engineering and optical networks.

Through the program, 20 projects will receive $32 million over six years, support that will help science and engineering graduates upgrade their skills to make a successful transition to the workplace.

As part of this, participating students will complete work placements with local, national and international organizations including companies such as Iunctus Geomatics, the Alberta Terrestrial Imaging Corporation, Natural Resources Canada, NASA and several European research institutes.

U of L Vice-President of Research Dr. Dan Weeks says this will give students a strong mix of professional skills development and workforce preparation.

"The exciting aspect for me is the employment rate for graduates," says Weeks. "It isn't unreasonable to expect 100 per cent employment, because we are looking at this as a model that will provide for sustainable training for research workforce preparation."

Top 40 Under 40

Dr. Olga Kovalchuk, a biological sciences and epigenetics researcher at the University of Lethbridge, can now add recipient of Canada's Top 40 Under 40TM to an already long list of accomplishments.

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Dr. Olga Kovalchuk

Canada's Top 40 Under 40TM, a prestigious national award program, annually honours 40 Canadians in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors under the age of 40.

With more than 1,200 nominees, honourees were selected by an independent advisory board based on five key criteria: vision and leadership; innovation and achievement; impact; community involvement and contribution; and strategy for growth.

"This is an outstanding award for Olga, the members of her lab team, for her research collaborators here and literally worldwide – and for our University," says U of L President Dr. Bill Cade.

"Olga has worked very hard to bring new research and new programs to the University and has influenced countless young researchers. With her husband and research collaborator, Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, they have brought new people with a wealth of international talent to the University community. It is an understatement to say that we are extremely proud of her achievement."

A University of Lethbridge Board of Governors Research Chair, as well as a Canadian Institute of Health Research Chair in Gender, Sex and Health, Kovalchuk focuses her research on the effects of long-term exposure to radiation, and how that exposure changes cellular and molecular structures in animals and people.

Inspired by her experience as a high school student living in Ukraine, only 600 kilometres from the nuclear Chernobyl blast, her work examines how radiation induces secondary tumours in cancer patients, the different effects radiation has on women and men, and what can be done to protect the children of radiation-exposed parents from contracting cancer.

Kovalchuk has also played a key role in working toward establishing an Alberta Institute for Epigenetics at the U of L.

Sakamotos give back

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Ron and Joyce Sakamoto

Ron Sakamoto (LLD '03), or "Sak," as he is affectionately known, has presented shows from KISS to Shania Twain. In March, the concert provider and his wife, Joyce, announced a $200,000 donation in support of students in the U of L Digital Audio Arts (DAA) program. The gift will be matched by the Government of Alberta's Access to the Future Fund, bringing the total to $400,000.

Launched last fall, the DAA program is the first of its kind in Canada and produces graduates who are experts in music technology and have skills to integrate with visual media, audio and advanced research.

"The role of audio across all media has changed monumentally from the traditional broadcast media of the past. The culture of audio and visual media is growing and evolving rapidly," says Sakamoto.

"Joyce and I are happy to support students in the DAA program. These are the people who will be superstars in the years to come, and I look forward to the contributions this group will make to the music industry."

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