Ryan Hoiland has spent the last few years researching with UBC Okanagan’s Centre for Heart, Lung and Vascular Health. Photo: UBC Okanagan

UBC Okanagan’s top student takes research to new heights

Ryan Hoiland won the univeristy’s Governor General’s Gold Medal

Ryan Hoiland has literally climbed mountains to conduct his UBC Okanagan research.

The recent PhD graduate was awarded the Governor General Gold Medal, the universities top academic recognition, for his research towards how the human body adapts to low oxygen levels.

“When people experience low oxygen—either at high-altitude or perhaps through illness— the brain works to increase the amount of blood it receives to maintain a stable supply of oxygen. Failure to do so can end in catastrophic consequences and neurological injury,” Hoiland said.

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During his nine years at UBC Okanagan, Hoiland earned three degrees and took his research to new heights with high-altitude labs in Peru, California and Nepal.

His research has led to more than 45 peer-reviewed published papers, with 15 of those as the lead author.

While completing his Bachelor of Human Kinetics, Master of Science and PhD in Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, he partnered up with professor Phil Ainslie and in the first few years of his undergraduate, Hoiland and Ainslie were 5,050 metres high near Mt. Everest base camp as part of an international research team.

“After that, I was hooked,” said Hoiland.

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While the difficult and intriguing questions have motivated Hoiland during his research, he credits the team culture in Ainslie’s lab that highlights his combination of academic and research success, including winning the UBC Okanagan’s student researcher of the year award in 2018

“I cannot stress enough the importance of the team I have been a part of,” said Hoiland.

“Being part of a supportive group that is working together to grow and explore new research avenues is vital and what initially drew me to UBC Okanagan.”

Ainslie, the Canadian Research Chair in Cerebral Vascular Physiology, describes Hoiland as an exceptionally enthusiastic and driven researcher.

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