People of SFU

People of SFU: Meet Katrina Salvante and Cecilia Kalaw, Faculty of Health Sciences

August 18, 2021
Katrina Salvante (L) and Cecilia Kalaw (R), Faculty of Health Sciences Research Grant Coordinator and Facilitator respectively, are unsung heroes in assisting the FHS research community.

This is a story in our People of SFU series, where we’re celebrating SFU’s unsung heroes—those who go above and beyond the call of duty to create community, advance SFU’s mission and make the university a great place to work and learn. You can read more stories here.

Katrina Salvante, Research Grant Coordinator.

Meet Katrina Salvante, Research Grant Coordinator, and Cecilia Kalaw, Research Grants Facilitator, both working for the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) in coordinating and submitting research grant applications. With many FHS researchers adapting their health research programs to include investigating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the pair have been unsung heroes helping FHS submit a record breaking 132 research grant applications in 2020 while working from home. Seventy (70) applications were successful, while 10 are still pending a decision, resulting in the securing of $10M to date in new research funding in 2020.

Cecilia Kalaw, Research Grant Facilitator.

Kalaw and Salvante also highlight FHS research efforts; they organized the BC COVID-19 Research and Collaboration Symposium – the first of its kind – to raise awareness of the abundant COVID-19 research projects, encourage collaboration, and address challenges to research. Recently, they organized the FHS Student Research Conference – another first – allowing undergraduate and graduate students to present and discuss their student research among classmates and faculty.

When they are out of the office, the two enjoy similar activities in their free time: getting active with friends and family, or indulging in foodie fun!

“I spend most of my time with family, food and trying to stay active; I play a lot of tennis, and even started road cycling a few years ago to join family members on a charity ride around Lake Tahoe (72 mile) for a lymphoma fundraiser,” Kalaw explains.

Salvante took up cycling a couple of years ago and enjoys going out for rides with family and friends. “I’m training to cycle the east coast of Taiwan in Spring 2022 (hopefully!),” she says. “I organize ‘food battles’ where my family and friends would order food (e.g., fried chicken) from different places and try to find the best in the city.”

With over 20 years of combined experience in research and grant work, Salvante and Kalaw have been invaluable assets in building a strong, collaborative, productive, and respectful research culture for FHS. A point of pride for Kalaw is being able to help with the numerous projects in FHS that focus on social justice and population health research. Salvante is particularly proud working with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC)-led I-HELTI project, committing to building long-term research capacity within NTC and creating opportunities for Indigenous community members, students and researchers.

“Katrina and I work so closely together, but from different disciplines; mine – social sciences and qualitative methods, and hers - biological sciences,” Kalaw explains. “It is so enjoyable to have a team mate that has complementary strengths that allows us to back each other up.”

When asked about the best parts of doing this work, Kalaw mentions “it’s very rewarding to help [researchers and faculty members] succeed, and when we ‘win’, it feels fantastic to see both the resources and validation for FHS and SFU.” The relationships built with researchers and staff is an aspect Salvante loves, noting “Cecilia and I are lucky enough to be brought into the planning of many research projects from the very beginning. Seeing these projects go from the big picture idea stage to more focused research questions at the proposal stage, and then get funded and implemented and have such amazing impacts on health at so many levels is wonderfully satisfying, and I’m really honored to help support the process.”