Advance, October 2021: New appointments, resources and support for faculty

View of Museum of Anthropology

In this issue of Advance, hear about new appointments at Graduate Studies, learn about initiatives and upcoming events, and take a moment to get aquainted with resources to support your work in recruiting prospective graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.


How-to guide for prospective graduate students

UBC’s Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) office is pleased to announce the publication of a new guide aimed at helping prospective graduate students strengthen their applications. The “Graduate School Application Guide” is styled as a how-to guide for applicants, with sections on considering programs, financial concerns, writing statements of interest, requesting references, arranging for interviews and more. 


Graduate Studies welcomes new Associate Dean and Assistant Vice-Provost

Michael Hunt and Jenny Phelps

Dr. Michael Hunt: Associate Dean, Graduate Programs

Dr. Hunt comes to G+PS from the Faculty of Medicine. In his appointment Dr. Hunt will be responsible for providing academic leadership in supporting graduate programs, working collaboratively to develop further resources on graduate education excellence and supporting community-building within the graduate education community.


Dr. Jenny Phelps: Assistant Vice-Provost of Graduate and Postdoctoral Strategic Academic Initiatives

Dr. Phelps previously served as Assistant Dean in G+PS from 2003 to 2016, when she took on a leadership role in the Integrated Renewal Program at UBC. In her new appointment, Dr. Phelps will be working closely with Vice-Provosts, Deans, Associate Deans and other senior leaders across campus both within, and outside of, G+PS, on a number of strategic initiatives.


Public Scholars Initiative launches new cohort

Now entering its seventh year, UBC's Public Scholars Initiative (PSI) has announced 38 new doctoral students for the academic year. The scholars are from nearly every faculty and discipline. Congratulations to the new 2021/22 cohort!

The PSI was launched in 2015 to support UBC doctoral students whose research extended beyond traditional/academic disciplinary approaches. Recognized at the Reimagining the PhD Symposium 2017 as ‘revolutionary', and praised in the UBC Strategic Plan as "a key component" of UBC's Public Relevance strategy, the PSI has also received multiple awards for its promotion of excellence and exceptional service to students.


Campus engagement about funding for graduate students who identify as Indigenous, Black/People of Colour

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies is currently beginning conversations with colleagues, students and others about how (additional) award funding might best support graduate students who identify as Indigenous, Black or Person of Colour. Beyond initial conversations with colleagues and the Graduate Student Society, G+PS will be inviting participants to further engagement sessions in the fall.

We will hear about the lived experience of graduate students in those sessions, and discuss opportunities for funding to enhance their studies. We will strive to reach as many UBC community members as we can, offering flexible options for participation such as providing comments or feedback from the community outside of these scheduled opportunities.

The first scheduled engagement sessions focus on Black/POC perspectives. If you would like to share with specific graduate students who you know identify as Black or as part of a racialized group, information is posted on our website. The sessions run October 25 to November 4.

Further sessions for Indigenous graduate students will be shared in the coming weeks.


Reminder: recruitment support for open faculty, grad student and postdoc positions

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) launched a successful pilot service last year for the advertisement of faculty, grad student, and postdoc positions. More than 250 positions were posted to sources such as Nature Careers and EurAxess, in addition to appearing on G+PS websites and external career portals.

UBC has extended its subscription, and will be covering all costs centrally until August 2022. Faculty, staff or units across the university are free to utilize the resource to advertise open PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow and faculty positions. Additionally, the G+PS advertising service allows you to post positions with a single click to six other career portals, saving you considerable time and extending your recruitment reach.


A new transdisciplinary collaborative PhD model

We are living in an era of unprecedented and increasing complexity, interdependence, and chaos. Many of the ‘normal’ ways of thinking and working in the world are not up to the task of addressing our society’s and planet’s most vexing problems, and in fact have contributed much to the problems themselves. For these ‘postnormal times’, our graduates – whether they are at the forefront of addressing the grand challenges of our day or are contributing in innumerable ways across all fields of work and societal sectors – will need abilities and experience in crossing boundaries: boundaries of disciplines, of ways of thinking and knowing, of communication, of approaches to understanding and eliciting change. 

UBC’s continuing efforts to reimagine graduate education include exploring ways to support innovative forms of doctoral education that include collaboration across those boundaries. As part of that effort, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies convened a working group in 2019 to explore the development of a broader array of ‘Transdisciplinary Collaborative PhD’ models, enabling students and faculty from widely diverse disciplines to work together on a substantive challenge, preferably along with those from outside the academy. The envisioned products of such research would include collaboratively-written work that forms a part of each student’s dissertation. While collaborative dissertation work is common in some disciplines, it is not the norm in many. It is also rare in collaborative work to include the breadth of perspectives envisioned for the models being discussed.

We are thrilled that an example of such a model being developed by Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Naoko Ellis and her colleagues has been recently funded through the UBC Climate Emergency Fund. The initiative will bring together faculty and PhD students from across all Tri-Agency areas as a collaborative cohort to work on a place-based cluster of research questions related to the climate emergency. We’ll share more about this exciting project in the months ahead.  

If this approach to doctoral education is of interest to you, we invite you to join our Collaborative PhD working group, which is re-starting after a COVID-related hiatus. The group will meet bi-monthly over the next year to continue to explore models, opportunities and challenges, with a focus on problem-solving and mobilization of resources to advance promising initiatives in collaborative doctoral education. Please contact to learn more. 


Introducing UBC’s 2020/21 Banting Postdoctoral Fellows 

The Postdoctoral Fellows Office is happy to announce that six Postdoctoral Fellows from UBC have received 2020/21 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, out of seventy fellowships awarded nationally. Congratulations to Dr. Kyle Artelle (Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences, UBC Okanagan); Dr. Ania Bogoslowski (Department of Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine); Dr. Tess Grainger (Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science); Dr. Kyra St. Pierre (Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, Faculty of Science); Dr. Emma Morton (Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine); Dr. Litao Zhu (Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science).

The UBC Internal Banting Competition is managed by the Postdoctoral Fellows Office. Information about the 2022 internal competition will be announced in spring 2022.

Learn more about their research 

2021 Killam Postdoctoral Fellow Research Prize competition now open

The 2021 Killam Postdoctoral Fellow Research Prize Competition is now open. An opportunity to recognize and reward UBC’s postdocs, two prizes of $5,000 each will be awarded to UBC-appointed postdoctoral fellows (PDFs) on the basis of research excellence during their time at UBC.

The Killam PDF Research Prize is funded by the generous donation of Izaak Walton Killam and his wife, Dorothy Johnston Killam, who together created the Killam Trusts. This initiative demonstrates UBC’s recognition of the critical role played by PDFs in advancing the quality and excellence of our research.

The Killam PDF Prize will be administered through the PDFO. Nominations should forwarded to by Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 4 p.m. Information about eligibility and nomination procedures can be found on the PDFO website.


Update your research profile   

UBC is home to more than 2,200 researchers who can supervise graduate students. Researchers conduct their work in collaboration with various units/centres/institutes, in interdisciplinary settings or through affiliated organizations and it can be challenging for prospective students to identify experts in specific research areas.

G+PS maintains a directory of research profiles in part to help prospective graduate students identify faculty members who are looking for graduate students. The directory is viewed more than 76,000 times per month - up-to-date information is crucial.

If you have not done so in the last six months, or if you are a new faculty member, please take some time to update your research profile. Instructions, FAQ and statistics are available on our Faculty-Staff portal. Note: use your CWL to login.


Upcoming events and information

  • UBC Thrive is November 1 to 31. Maintaining mental health plays a crucial role in the ability to live, work, and learn well— whether on campus or at home.
  • Upcoming workshop on graduate supervison, November 4. Interactive Zoom session with case studies and examples.
  • Navigating life at UBC - guide for new faculty available.