Peak Scholars graphic

April 23, 2021

Announcing UCalgary’s Peak Scholars in COVID-19 Innovation Excellence

Scholars recognized for their commitment to entrepreneurialism and innovation

The UCalgary Peak Scholars program has been recognizing our institution’s best innovators, entrepreneurs, and community-engaged scholars since 2014. In previous years Peak Scholars have been recognized at an event hosted by the university president, where scholars present their projects to their fellow award recipients, deans, and executive leaders. The opportunity to network and learn from each other’s innovation experiences is a highlight of the program for all who attend.

When it became clear that the event and the opportunities that come with it wouldn’t be possible in 2020, program organizers in the Office of the Vice-President (Research) knew that Peak Scholars, like everything else that year, would need to pivot.  

“Instead of trying to recreate the Peak Scholars experience over Zoom, we decided to re-imagine the program for 2020, and recognize the huge efforts of our community to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research).

For this one-time program, 10 projects were selected from a highly competitive group of applicants to receive Peak Scholars recognition. Scholars were recognized in four categories: Applied research; Clinical research; Equipment, infrastructure and products; and Social impact.

“The Peak Scholars in COVID-19 Innovation Excellence represent the remarkable commitment of our scholars to the greater good,” says Ghali. “They brought their skills in entrepreneurship, innovation, commercialization and knowledge engagement, along with deep understanding of their research areas, and moved rapidly to develop projects that have had a real impact on our communities.”

Recipients will each meet with Ghali to discuss their project, have their projects shared in UToday, and be recognized at the next in-person Peak Scholars event when it is possible to hold one.

“I’m thrilled that we’re recognizing the accomplishments of our scholars during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Ed McCauley, president and vice-chancellor. “Our role as a university is to create and mobilize new knowledge to benefit communities, and these projects are sterling examples of our commitment to this work.”

The Peak Scholars in COVID-19 Innovation Excellence are:

Applied research:

  • Dr. Linda Duffett-Leger, PhD (Faculty of Nursing): ATTACH & VID-KIDS: Rapid User-Informed Web and Mobile Interface Development, Adaptation and Pilot Testing to Support Children's Mental Health and Development
  • Dr. Belinda Heyne, PhD (Faculty of Science): Decontamination of Used Personal Protective Equipment
  • Dr. Casey Hubert, PhD (Faculty of Science) and Dr. Michael Parkins, MD (Cumming School of Medicine): Wastewater Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 to Enable Real-Time Clinical Case-Finding in Calgary
  • Dr. Dylan Pillai, MD, PhD: Diagnostic Test Development for COVID and Other Infectious Agents

Clinical research:

  • Dr. Gina Dimitropolous, PhD (Faculty of Social Work): CASTOFF-YYC (Coronavirus Anxiety and Stress Therapy Online For Families, Youth, Young adults and Caregivers)
  • Dr. Stephen Freedman, MDCM, MSc (Cumming School of Medicine): Characterizing Clinical Outcomes of Children with COVID-19

Equipment, infrastructure and products

  • Rahul Arora (Cumming School of Medicine): SeroTracker: A Dashboard and Data Platform for SARS-CoV-2 Serosurveillance
  • Dr. Michael Kallos, PhD (Schulich School of Engineering): UCalgary Biomedical Engineering COVID-19 Response

Social impact

  • Dr. Bonnie Lashewicz, PhD (Cumming School of Medicine): Supporting Mental Health and Preventing Moral Injury Among Long-Term Care Workers
  • Dr. Naomi Lightman, PhD (Faculty of Arts): Caring Work During the COVID19 Crisis



Since 2014 the Peak Scholars program has celebrated the accomplishments of over 200 scholars at the University of Calgary. These are scholars whose academic work in knowledge engagement, entrepreneurship, tech transfer, innovation or collaborative research has resulted in a positive social or economic impact in our communities. Learn more

This prestigious group represents the breadth and depth of the research and expertise at the University of Calgary, representing a number of the institutes within the Cumming School of Medicine, including the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI), the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education at the HBI, the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, the O’Brien Institute for Public Health and the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases.