Early Career Invited Lecture Award

The Early Career Invited Lecture initiative gives units within UBC Science a unique opportunity to introduce promising researchers from around the world to the inclusive, top-tier community of scholars already working within the Faculty.

It enables units to more strategically identify top candidates for future faculty searches, increases UBC's visibility within major research groups outside of Canada, showcases talented graduate students and post-docs to our own trainees, and provides career mentorship to invited scholars.

Note: The Early Career Invited Lecture Award is temporarily closed for 2023. Please check back later for more details!

The process

Departments and academic units identify top senior graduate students and post-docs in their fields. These rising stars are invited to UBC Vancouver to deliver a unit-level lecture, network, and experience British Columbia. Funding is provided from the Dean of Science, the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic, and the Strategic Initiatives Fund to cover the costs of travel and accommodation.


  • The scholar must be from a historically under-represented group
  • The scholar must have completed at least three years in a PhD or already be a post-doc
  • Nominees must be clearly differentiated—through awards, funding, affiliations—as rising stars in their area
  • Nominees must be suitable for a research-stream appointment
  • The scholar must not have any ties to UBC (undergraduate, graduate, post-doc) and must not be a collaborator with a UBC researcher
  • Nominations must come from heads or directors of UBC Science units and be sent directly to ADR for approval. There are no deadlines
  • Invited lectures do not replace interviewing a candidate for research positions. If there is a current search in the same field, then the candidate should be invited to apply for the position and not this award

Nominate an Early Career Scholar

Nominations should be made by the head or director of units in UBC Science. For more information about the Early Career Invited Lecture Award, or to nominate a speaker, contact:

Mark MacLachlan
Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies
Email: maclachlan@science.ubc.ca

Select Recipients

Nidhi Kaihnsa, Brown University (2022)

Inviting UNIT: Mathematics

Nidhi Kaihnsa is a Prager Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics at Brown University. She completed her PhD from Max Planck Institute, Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig. Her current research interests lie on the intersection of dynamical systems, chemical reaction networks, and real and convex algebraic geometry.

“I am happy to have received the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award. It was an incredible opportunity to share my research and to interact with the faculty at UBC.”

Amy Herbert, Stanford University (2022)

Inviting UNIT: Department of Zoology

Amy Herbert is a postdoctoral fellow in David Kingsley’s lab at Stanford University where she investigates the genetic mechanisms behind evolution in vertebrates, particularly in the context of trait gain. In this work, she has been developing new vertebrate model systems including the sea robin fish and the fourspine stickleback fish. Originally from Wyoming, Amy received her Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis where she studied the molecular mechanisms of myelination in the lab of Kelly Monk.

“I was thrilled to receive the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award and to present my research to the Department of Zoology. I had a memorable experience meeting with both faculty and students and learning about the exciting research happening in the Department. This award gave me the unique opportunity to form connections with scientists in my field, which will benefit my future research endeavours.”

Marlou Slot, National Institute of Standards and Technology (2022)

Inviting UNIT: Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute

Marlou Slot is a Rubicon Postdoctoral Fellow and NIST-Georgetown PREP Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She received her PhD from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her research focuses on engineering novel electronic quantum matter at will: from fractals to flat bands, built atom by atom (in a scanning tunneling microscope) or created layer by layer (twisted van der Waals materials).

“Receiving the Early Career Invited Lecture Award was a tremendous honor and compliment! It was wonderful to be hosted at the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute colloquium and I look back on inspiring discussions with students and faculty, paving the way for future collaborations.”

Sophia Sanborn, University of California, Berkley (2022)

Inviting UNIT: Mathematics

Sophia Sanborn is a Post-Doctoral Scholar in the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research on the neural computation of group invariant and equivariant representations bridges computational neuroscience and machine learning research and incorporates tools from group theory and harmonic analysis into neural networks. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley in 2021 as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

"It was a pleasure and honor to deliver the Early Career Invited Lecture and to engage with the mathematics community at UBC. The many interesting conversations I had during my visit have already resulted in new collaborations.”

Carolina Lucas, Yale University (2021)

Inviting UNIT: Microbiology & Immunology

Carolina Lucas is currently a postdoctoral associate in the Iwasaki lab at Yale University. She received her Ph.D. from UFRJ/ETH in Brazil and Switzerland, where she explored the role of virus primed dendritic cells in modulating immune response and as a therapeutic autologous vaccine against HIV. She joined Iwasaki’s lab in 2018 as a Latin America PEW fellow and has been focused in the study of emerging virus pathogenesis, such as Zika virus, CHIKV and currently SARS-CoV-2.

"I'm grateful to receive the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award. It was an honour and pleasure to present my research and to be inspired by the enthusiastic students and great faculty at UBC.”

Siddhi Pathak, Chennai Mathematical Institute (2021)

Inviting UNIT: Math

Siddhi Pathak's work utilizes analytic and probabilistic techniques to investigate the arithmetic nature of special values of L-functions. She completed her PhD at Queen's University, Canada in 2019 after which she was a S. Chowla Assistant Research Professor at Penn State. She is now an INSPIRE Faculty Fellow at Chennai Mathematical Institute, India.

"I am happy and grateful to have received the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award. Visiting UBC and interacting with the math faculty there was very encouraging!”

Kelvin Bates, Harvard University (2021)

Inviting UNIT: Chemistry

Kelvin Bates studies the chemical transformations of organic molecules in the atmosphere, with an emphasis on how they contribute to particulate pollution. He is currently a research associate in the atmospheric chemistry modelling group at Harvard University and a visiting researcher in environmental toxicology at UC Davis. He received his PhD in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.

"It was such an honour to receive the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award! The campus visit provided an exceptional opportunity to share my own research and to learn about all the fascinating work happening in UBC's Chemistry Department.”

Anna Seigal, University of Oxford (2021)

Inviting UNIT: Mathematics

Anna Seigal is a Hooke Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley, where her thesis was awarded the SIAM Richard C. DiPrima Prize and the Friedman Memorial Prize. Her research interests lie in tensors and multilinear algebra, applied algebraic geometry and algebraic statistics. In her talk at UBC she spoke about recent work on connections between invariant theory and statistics. 

"I am really happy to have received this award, and greatly enjoyed giving a talk in the UBC math colloquium. I was glad to receive lots of questions from the mathematicians and statisticians in the audience."

Megan Jackson, University of California (2021)

Inviting UNIT: Chemistry

Megan Jackson completed her PhD in chemistry at MIT, where her research focused on understanding the thermodynamics and kinetics of interfacial inner-sphere electron transfer steps. She is currently an Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studies the crystallization of metal-organic frameworks.

"It was a delight to receive the UBC Science ECILA. The experience was very valuable as I prepare to establish my independent scientific career, and I had a wonderful time learning about the exciting chemistry research being conducted at UBC."

Eunice Chan, Western University (2021)

Inviting UNIT: Mathematics

Eunice Chan completed her PhD at Western University in 2019, where she developed a novel, minimal height companion matrix and linearization construction to solve scalar and matrix polynomials, respectively. Her current primary research interests include using biostatistics, machine learning techniques, and data visualization tools in evidence-based decision-making in global perioperative care.

"It's a great honour to receive the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award. I'm grateful for the opportunity to talk about my research and gain new connections with the math community at UBC."

Melissa Emory, University of Toronto (2021)

Inviting UNIT: Mathematics

Melissa Emory works in automorphic forms and representations, sometimes referred to as the Langlands program. The Langlands program is a bridge between different areas in mathematics including algebra, analysis, number theory and harmonic analysis. She was postdoctoral fellow at Kyoto University on a JSPS short term fellowship, and is currently a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.

"I'm grateful to receive the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award. Thank you for the opportunity to meet with the math faculty at UBC and to discuss my research with them."

Helen Jenne, Institut Denis Poisson (2021)

Inviting UNIT: Mathematics

Helen Jenne works in algebraic combinatorics and statistical mechanics as a postdoctoral researcher at Institut Denis Poisson in Tours, France. She completed her PhD at the University of Oregon in 2020, where she studied the double-dimer model. Her current projects include applications of her doctoral research to problems in enumerative geometry and the theory of cluster algebras.

"I'm honored to be a recipient of UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award. I am thrilled to be recognized for my work, and so appreciative of the opportunity to present my research to the mathematics department."

Aline Ramires, Paul Scherrer Institute (2021)

Inviting UNIT: Quantum Matter Institute 

An Ambizione Fellow at the Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland, Dr. Aline Ramires investigates unconventional phases of matter in complex quantum materials. She completed her PhD at Rutgers University, was a junior fellow at the Institute for Theoretical Studies at ETH Zurich, and a distinguished postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Germany.

"It was a pleasure to deliver the invited lecture and to engage in discussions with the faculty members from the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute. This award is certainly going to boost my profile as a scientist and bring more visibility to my research through new contacts at UBC."

Nina Holden, ETH Zurich (2020)

Inviting UNIT: Mathematics

Nina Holden conducts research in probability theory, more specifically in random conformal geometry. She received her PhD at MIT in 2018, and has since been a junior fellow at the Institute for Theoretical Studies at ETH Zurich. In fall 2021, she’ll join the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University.

"I'm very happy and honored to receive this award. Many thanks for the opportunity to present my work to the math department at UBC."

Giuliana Rossi, EPFL in Lausanne (2020)

Inviting UNIT: Michael Smith Labs

Giuliana Rossi is working on embryonic organoids to establish an in vitro model of early heart development. She received her Ph.D. at San Raffaele University in Milan, where she studied mechanisms of skeletal muscle regeneration and muscular dystrophies. She is currently a postdoc at EPFL in Lausanne.

"I was proud and honored to receive the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award. It was an incredible opportunity to share my research with great scientists and establish new contacts for my scientific career."

Sarah Denny, Stanford University (2019)

Inviting UNIT: Michael Smith Labs

Sarah Denny investigates the sequence-structure-function relationship across DNA, RNA and protein. Her PhD research at Stanford focused on characterizing building blocks of RNA with a high-throughput, quantitative platform. Currently Denny works at a biotechnology company to working to improve therapeutic molecules.

"Visiting UBC was energizing, broadening and gratifying. It was an honour to meet UBC faculty members, students and other award members. I especially appreciated the chance to present my work to new audiences."

Ni Feng, Yale University (2020)

Inviting UNIT: Zoology

Ni Feng studies the neuroendocrine pathways that underly variations in behavior and physiology observed in nature. As a postdoc in Elena Gracheva's lab at Yale, she is interested in how hibernating mammals, specifically the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, survive an entire winter without water. Feng received her PhD from Cornell University.

"I feel very honored to receive the Early Career Invited Lecture Award—I especially enjoyed meeting the faculty and students in the Zoology Department and learning about their research on such a wide range of interesting animals.

Ellen Vitercik, Carnegie Mellon University (2019)

Inviting UNIT: Computer Science

Ellen Vitercik is a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests include machine learning theory, algorithm design, and the interface between economics and computation. She has received the IBM PhD Fellowship, the Fellowship in Digital Health from CMU's Center for Machine Learning and Health, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

"Thank you so much for the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award! I loved my visit to UBC. It was fantastic to meet the faculty and students, and to tour Vancouver and the university's beautiful campus."

Cayleih Robertson, McMaster University (2019)

Inviting UNIT: Zoology

Cayleih Robertson is interested in studying how the environment a young animal experiences during early life influence their adult physiology. She completed her PhD at McMaster University where she used mice from high altitude ecosystems to study developmental and maternal adaptations to stressful environments. 

"It was such an honour to receive the UBC Science Early Career Scholar Invited Lecture Award. Being recognized by and getting to discuss my work with such a distinguished group of comparative physiologists was an invaluable experience for me."

Stephanie Barbon, California Santa Barbara (2019)

Inviting UNIT: Chemistry

Stephanie Barbon studies block copolymer self-assembly and uses synthetic skills to create new, interesting materials. A native of London, Canada she completed her PhD at the University of Western Ontario, where she developed a new class of dyes, studied their optical and electronic properties, and investigated their applications as cell imaging agents.

"The UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award was a fantastic opportunity to talk with students and faculty doing incredible research at UBC. I'm very honoured to have been selected, and I know the connections I made and the experience I gained will be extremely valuable in my future career!"

Amelia Palermo, The Scripps Research Institute (2019)

Inviting UNIT: Chemistry

Amelia Palermo is a postdoc at The Scripps Research Institute, where she investigates the role of metabolic networks in the modulation of biological phenotypes by activity metabolomics and mass spectrometry. She received her MSc in pharmaceutical chemistry from La Sapienza University of Rome, and completed her doctoral studies at La Sapienza and ETH Zurich.

"It’s been an honour and a pleasure to receive the UBC Science Early Career Invited Lecture Award. The recognition will greatly help me to establish my path towards independence in science and academia."

Marie Richard-Lacroix, Friedrich Schiller University Jena (2019)

Inviting UNIT: Chemistry

Marie Richard-Lacroix's research focuses on the use of tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy for materials characterization. She earned her PhD from the University of Montreal in 2016, and has received several international awards—the William G Fateley Student Award, the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies Student Award and the ICORS Junior Researcher Raman Award.

"It's a heartfelt honor for me to receive this award from one of the top universities in Canada. I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful UBC campus and meet graduate students and faculty members. The trip was a great opportunity to establish connections and helped me prepare the groundwork for my scientific career in Canada."

Nadia Tsvetkov, York University (2019)

Inviting UNIT: Michael Smith Labs

Nadia Tsvetkov studies the effects of pesticides on honey bee health and behaviour--her work at York University included developing a new method for studying spatial learning and memory in honey bees. The research has influenced governmental policy in Canada and Europe.

"It was a honour to be recognized for my scientific achievement so early in my research career. The connections I've made at UBC will undoubtedly help me establish my career as a scientist."

Kyla Ost, University of Utah (2019)

Inviting UNIT: Michael Smith Labs

A postdoctoral fellow in June Round's lab at the University of Utah, Kyla Ost received her PhD at Duke University, where she studied the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis in the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. She is currently exploring host-fungal interactions in the gut that drive both beneficial and pathogenic immune responses.

"I was very honored to receive UBC Science Early Career Scholar Invited Lecture Award and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to present my research in front of the talented researchers at UBC."

Rosalyn Falconer, University of Edinburgh (2019)

Inviting UNIT: Chemistry

Rosalyn Falconer is a postdoctoral researcher developing the synthesis of low oxidation state aluminum compounds for the activation of small molecules. A member of the Royal Society of Chemistry Dalton (Inorganic) Division Committee, Falconer completed her PhD at the University of Bristol, where she studied the reactivity of phosphorus-containing aromatic compounds.

"I found it inspiring to meet and discuss research with students and academics at UBC, and I was excited to present my work to the department. This award will be of great benefit to my career, both in recognizing my achievements and in building connections for my independent research in the future."