Five UCalgary faculty members named 2024 Killam Annual Professors

From left: Jeff Biernaskie, Tavis Campbell, Myriam Hemberger, Sasha Tsenkova, Ha
From left: Jeff Biernaskie, Tavis Campbell, Myriam Hemberger, Sasha Tsenkova, Hamidreza Zareipour.
Scholars internationally recognized for research excellence, community engagement and mentorship across disciplines

Five UCalgary faculty members have been named Killam Annual Professors, in recognition of their remarkable achievements in research, teaching and community involvement. The annual professorships are awarded to those who have been nationally and/or internationally recognized in their field, with a record of outstanding teaching and research scholarship over 10 years or more.

This year’s Killam Annual Professors are Dr. Jeff Biernaskie, PhD, Dr. Tavis Campbell, PhD, Dr. Myriam Hemberger, PhD, Dr. Sasha Tsenkova, PhD, and Dr. Hamidreza Zareipour, PhD.

"I am delighted to announce this year’s distinguished Killam Annual Professors, who have been recognized for their leading academic scholarship and impact in their respective fields," says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research). "They are advancing knowledge in city planning, regenerative medicine, health psychology, electrical engineering and placental biology. On behalf of UCalgary, I congratulate this year’s honourees on this prestigious achievement."

Dr. Jeff Biernaskie, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Chair, Reproduction and Regenerative Medicine Research Group Director, Centre for Cell Therapy Translation

Jeff Biernaskie is a prominent researcher in the field of regenerative medicine. His innovative work in this area has earned him numerous accolades, such as the Till and McCulloch Award from the Stem Cell Network, and an induction into the Royal Society of Canada, College of Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

With his research team, Biernaskie studies cellular and molecular mechanisms that promote fibrotic versus regenerative healing, with the goal of developing treatments to restore healthy organ function following injury or disease. One of his most impactful contributions has been his studies using captive reindeer as an adult mammalian model to study skin regeneration. The findings from this work provide a blueprint for new regenerative therapies and give tremendous hope to patients suffering from severe skin injury such as burns.

Beyond his research talents, Biernaskie is praised for his dedication to mentorship and teaching. With his leadership, a new graduate specialization in regenerative medicine was created for veterinary medicine and engineering students. His commitment extends to community service, where he collaborates with organizations like the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society and steers initiatives such as StemCell Talks, a national organization affiliated with Let’s Talk Science and the Stem Cell Network.

Learn more about Biernaskie’s work.

Dr. Tavis Campbell, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts Adjunct professor, Department of Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine

Tavis Campbell is a behavioural medicine specialist with a program of research focused on mechanisms underlying behaviour change. His work has produced over 300 peer-reviewed published journal articles, book chapters and abstracts, including several behaviour-based RCTs in the area of chronic disease management.

Campbell has held several leadership roles in national organizations, including Chair of Care Delivery for Hypertension Canada and Chair of the Health section of the Canadian Psychological Association. Additionally, he is a consultant with the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Indigenous Services Canada. He has also served as a consultant to the Calgary Emergency Management Agency on public communications.

Campbell is recognized as an international key opinion leader in the field of adherence. In partnerships with both industry and non-profit organizations, he has delivered teaching and training to over 10,000 health-care providers globally (e.g., specialist physicians, nurses, allied health) as well as to several thousand members of the general public regarding motivation and health behaviour change.

Learn more about Campbell’s work.

Dr. Myriam Hemberger, PhD

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cumming School of Medicine Professor, Department of Medical Genetics, Cumming School of Medicine

A distinguished scientist in the realm of placental biology, Myriam Hemberger is celebrated for her pioneering contributions to our understanding of the placenta as a critical organ for healthy pregnancy outcomes. She has contributed to establishing cellular systems to model the earliest, most pivotal steps in placental development, which has been a milestone in the field. In current work, she has been focusing on the role of the placenta in the etiology of developmental defects, most notably the causative link between placental abnormalities and congenital heart defects, including in the context of advanced maternal age.

Hemberger has received many honours and awards for her advancements in health care, including the prestigious March of Dimes and Richard B. Johnston, Jr., MD, Prize in Developmental Biology in 2019. She also was co-awardee of the 2018 inaugural Magee Research Prize, and she has received the Athena SWAN Best Practice Award 2018 for pioneering initiatives to women’s careers in science, and the IFPA Award in Placentology in 2007.

Her work has been featured on CBC’s Quirks and Quarks , and she has been invited to speak as a keynote lecturer at various international conferences and meetings to share her knowledge. She holds several leadership roles outside UCalgary, including serving on the CIHR Stem Cell Oversight Committee and the NIH Study Section in Pregnancy and Neonatology.

Learn more about Hemberger’s work.

Dr. Sasha Tsenkova, MArch, MURP, PhD

Professor, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

Sasha Tsenkova is a global trailblazer in sustainable urbanism, known for her contributions to city planning theory and practice. With extensive expertise spanning many countries, she is one of the most influential scholars in planning, design, and policy, enhancing sustainable neighbourhood transformation.

Tsenkova co-edited the first interdisciplinary International Encyclopedia on Housing and has authored or edited 177 journal articles, books, monographs, research reports, and conference papers on urban planning, housing policy, and social urbanism.

She has supervised 60 postdoctoral, doctoral, and master’s students, significantly contributing to the education of future urban planners. Among her numerous prestigious awards are the Killam Resident Fellowship, Urban Studies Fellowship, Webb Memorial Trust Oxford Fellowship, Cambridge and Harvard Universities Fellowships, and University of Calgary Faculty Sustainability Award.

Her expertise has led to high-impact policy work for the Council of Europe, the World Bank, and the United Nations in over 20 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, improving the lives of citizens in these regions. In 2016, Tsenkova was the only Canadian scholar invited to help develop the UN New Urban Agenda, adopted by 193 countries.

Learn more about Tsenkova’s work.

Dr. Hamidreza Zareipour, PhD, PEng

Professor, Department of Electrical and Software Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering

Hamidreza Zareipour is a globally recognized expert in electricity grid modernization, a vital aspect of the clean energy transition. His work focuses on developing tools and technologies that manage uncertainty in the electrical energy sector. These innovations have significantly advanced the integration of wind and solar power, as well as the use of energy storage systems that stabilize power grids. His research excellence has attracted a diverse array of industry partners, including international technology firms, local electric utilities, and both startups and mature solution providers.

A beloved mentor in Schulich, Zareipour has received several Teaching Excellence Awards, a Professor of the Year Award, and a Teaching Achievement Award. He has trained over 100 highly qualified personnel, including 23 PhDs, 25 MScs, and 12 postdocs.

Collaborating with Innovate Calgary and the Hunter Hub, Zareipour taught capstone entrepreneurial courses that enabled students to connect with top-tier startups in the province. His contributions have inspired many students to start their own successful companies. He also supports the Light Up the World student club, which has made three international trips to install solar energy and battery storage systems in rural communities in Peru and Guatemala. Zareipour’s influential work is leading the way to a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

Learn more about Zareipour’s work.