Engineering professor is UBC Okanagan Researcher of the Year

Trio of student researchers also recognized at Celebrate Research Week gala

An engineering professor with a penchant for designing lighter and stronger aerospace materials has been named UBC Okanagan’s Researcher of the Year. Associate Professor Abbas Milani of the School of Engineering was recognized at a gala event wrapping up UBC’s Celebrate Research Week on Friday.

Milani, who joined UBC in 2007, has designed cutting-edge composite materials for Boeing and Bombardier. His current research for non-conventional manufacturing simulation methods based on composite material models includes partners NASA, Boeing and the US Naval Undersea Warfare Centre.

Milani has attracted more than $12 million in research grants and his project results have been published in more than 150 peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, books, chapters and technical reports. He has also supervised more than 40 undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, international visiting scholars and senior research engineers.

“Dr. Milani’s knowledge, energy, generosity and exceptional productivity have all made him one of the leading experts in his field,” say his nominators, Rehan Sadiq, acting director of the school of engineering and Spiro Yannacopoulos, associate dean, School of Engineering. “We have no doubt that Dr. Milani will continue to create new knowledge, add to his already distinguished record of publications, and educate highly productive students who will use their knowledge to make meaningful contributions to society.”

Three top student researchers, all of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, were also recognized at the Celebrate Research Week event. Alysha Baker was named Graduate Student Researcher of the Year. Undergraduate Researcher of the Year is shared by Nishat Tasnim and Jeffrey Kerkovius.

Baker, a doctoral student in psychology, has a record of productivity and expertise in areas of forensic psychology. She has co-authored seven manuscripts accepted for publication, with five manuscripts under review. Baker supervises undergraduate students and has been selected for a number of research assistantships. She completed a two-year master’s degree in one year, has presented at global conferences, and won several awards.

Tasnim, a biology student, has volunteered as a research laboratory assistant and worked as a technician, project spokesperson, clinical trial assistant and independent scientist. She learned to prepare DNA samples for next-generation sequencing and developed an undergraduate research project on microbial ecology and health immunology in addition to working on collaborative projects. Tasnim’s co-authored research is expected to be submitted to a scholarly journal.

Kerkovius, a chemistry student, is recognized for his involvement beyond the classroom in tutoring his peers, working as a teaching assistant, and serving as president of the organizing committee for the 29th annual Western Canada Undergraduate Chemistry Conference. Kerkovius is so fascinated by chemistry he built a home lab – complete with fume hood, distillation systems and liquid nitrogen tanks.

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