FHS professor Ralph Pantophlet and BSc candidate Amrit Tiwana received individual awards earlier this spring recognizing the value of their contributions to and achievement in health sciences

Spring 2021 awards for FHS professor Ralph Pantophlet, BSc candidate Amrit Tiwana

July 29, 2021

Earlier this year, two members of the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) were recognized with awards for their work and contribution to their respective communities.

Ralph Pantophlet

FHS Associate Professor Ralph Pantophlet received the 2021 CAHR-CANFAR Excellence in Research Awards (Basic Science category). This prestigious recognition highlights and celebrates the contributions of Canadian researchers in HIV/AIDS research in Canada and internationally. Pantophlet was bestowed with the award at the CAHR conference in April 2021, which was held remotely due to COVID, and notes that he is honoured “to be recognized by peers as deserving of [this] processional recognition.”

Pantophlet’s career in HIV-related research focuses specifically on vaccines and spans approximately 20 years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has applied his knowledge and experience to learning more about the function and behavior of SARS-CoV-2. While it’s too early to say how his current COVID-19 research will impact his ongoing HIV work, Pantophlet notes that “the success of mRNA-based vaccination has not gone unnoticed and it is possible that mRNA technology may prove useful in the HIV vaccine field also.”

Amrit Tiwana

Faculty of Health Sciences BSc candidate Amrit Tiwana won the Patrick D. Morawski Award for Ethical Engagement earlier in 2021 for demonstrating leadership in advancing an understanding of public health ethics and advocating for vulnerable populations.

Tiwana, who is entering her fourth year of studies, is interested in both spatial epidemiology (the distribution and mapping of diseases) and advocating for and working with marginalized populations. During a co-op work term in 2020, she worked with FHS Assistant Professor Travis Salway and his research collaborators to design and distribute a survey to collect data and gain a better understanding about individual experiences with sexual orientation or gender identity or expression change efforts (SOGIECE), aka conversion therapy. Although Tiwana has worked in research previously, she noted that her experience in Salway’s lab was the first project where she was entrusted with the authority and independence to be a key contributor. “My work experience was great. I started off as a co-op student and ended up asking [Salway] to be my undergraduate honours supervisor. I am using the data from the survey…towards my honour’s thesis. It’s amazing to contribute to such an important research project that is trying to improve the health and well-being of all Canadian sexual and gender minorities.”

Tiwana intends to apply for graduate school when she completes her BSc at FHS and is considering many options for the future. Wherever she lands, she will continue to work towards addressing health equity issues, and will push to encourage more investigation of and data collection for 2S/LGBTQ+ health.