Congratulations to the 2018/2019 Les Lavkulich Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2018/2019 recipients of the Les Lavkulich Graduate Student Fellowship and the Les Lavkulich Outstanding Leadership and Service award!

Les Lavkulich Graduate Student Fellowship:

Brianne Della Savia, IRES MA Graduate Student


Research Summary:

Brianne’s research will explore municipal implementation strategies to reduce potential environmental and human health risks caused by endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC). Exposure to EDC contaminants originates from pharmaceuticals and personal care products designed for attending to medical conditions and the aesthetic qualities of life, however, exposure can bind, block or mimic hormone receptors threatening irregular cognitive development, reproductive growth and related cancers. The aim of her research is to understand the capacity and perspectives of municipal utilities to effectively reduce the risks posed by EDCs. The focus will be to analyze implementation options to manage EDCs through source control programs and end-of-pipe water treatment technologies. Brianne’s thesis will contribute an interdisciplinary understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of municipal utilities to address endocrine disrupting compounds as perceived by municipal wastewater utilities.

Links to research:

Brianne is part of the Gunilla Öberg’s EGESTA lab. Check out her profile here!

Les Lavkulich Outstanding Leadership and Service:

Krista Cawley, IRES MSc Student



Krista’s research is centred around nature-based coastal flood protection in the Fraser Delta. Through wave modelling and fieldwork in the tidal marshes of the Fraser Delta in British Columbia, her work aims to evaluate the potential flood protection offered by the vegetation in these unique marsh ecosystems. By evaluating the wave attenuation in coastal ecosystems, this research may provide evidence to inform nature-based solutions and planning for flood risk reduction in the future.


Coastal communities are at an elevated risk of coastal flooding from the combined impacts of future sea level rise, storm surge, and winter storms. While communities situated in these low-lying areas are planning for future flood risk, often nature-based solutions are vaguely described due to the complexity of their flood protection services. Vegetation in tidal marsh ecosystems can act as a buffer to flooding by reducing wave height and dissipating wave energy. However, most research on tidal marshes focuses on salt marshes and mangroves, and little is known about the variability of flood protection across seasons. Using field measurements and numerical modelling, this research aims to evaluate the potential flood protection of the Sturgeon Bank brackish marsh near the City of Richmond, to provide evidence informing nature-based solutions which may assist in planning for flood risk reduction in the future.

About the Les Lavkulich Awards:

The Les Lavkulich Scholarships for Resource and Environment has been endowed by colleagues, friends and UBC alumni in honor of Professor Les Lavkulich, who created the RES program in 1979, the first truly interdisciplinary graduate program at UBC. As the program’s inspirational leader between 1979 and 2004, he was able, with his unrelenting effort and visionary thinking, to build it into an internationally renowned program. The two awards are given every year.