Alumni News

Dr. Tracie Afifi standing at a podium

Three-time alum recognized for innovation

Tracie Afifi [B.Sc./99, M.Sc./03, PhD/09], professor of community health sciences and psychiatry, was honoured with the 2023 UM Distinguished Alumni Award for Academic Innovation.

Afifi, who holds a Canada Research Chair in childhood adversity and resilience, is also a researcher with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. She studies the long-term physical and mental health effects of child maltreatment.

She has created an innovative research program aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect, fostering resilience and improving mental health. “If you can reduce or prevent violence in a child’s life, it actually changes their whole life trajectory,” she said.

Afifi’s research has been used to inform health policy. Her findings were cited in a 2018 policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics that parents and caregivers should not hit or spank children.

She uses innovative methods for broadly sharing her study findings, including social media and infographics.

Her numerous awards include the Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research, the Alexander Leighton Award and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Gold Leaf Prize for outstanding achievement by an early-career investigator.

Dr. Linda Kristjanson speaks at a lectern. She is wearing academic regalia.Distinguished nursing alum honoured by UM

Dr. Linda Kristjanson [BN/77, MN/83], an alum of the College of Nursing, received an honorary doctorate of science from UM at Fall Convocation, recognizing her distinguished achievements as a scholar, leader and humanitarian.

Kristjanson, former president and vice-chancellor of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, is a highly cited researcher with particular expertise in palliative care. Before leaving Canada in 1997, she co-directed the Cancer Nursing Research Centre at UM.

Kristjanson is an Officer of the Order of Australia, recognizing her service to postsecondary education through leadership and governance, strategic and innovative university reforms, contributions to cancer research and palliative care, and to women.

In her Convocation address, she recalled the uncertainty she felt early in her career, and how she overcame it. “I chose to see the nervousness that accompanied the impostor syndrome as insight,” she said. “[It meant I was] facing something new that I would be challenged by.”

She urged the grads of 2023 to trust their knowledge, skills and values and “know that the next chapter is waiting to be written.”

Grant Pierce.Esteemed researcher named to Order of Canada

Grant Pierce [PhD/83] has been appointed to the Order of Canada for his achievements as a distinguished professor of physiology and pathophysiology and a cardiovascular disease researcher.

“The University of Manitoba has provided me with the environment and support I required throughout my career to achieve what I did, and I’m eternally grateful,” Pierce said.

Pierce has published more than 250 peer-reviewed research manuscripts and eight textbooks.

His research has shown that dietary flaxseed might be able to regulate high blood pressure to an extent that it would have a significant impact on the incidence of heart attack and stroke. He is further studying flaxseed’s benefits in heart attack recovery and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Pierce is the former executive director of research at St. Boniface Hospital. He is president of the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences and an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Another UM alum recently appointed to the Order of Canada, Keith Walley [B.Sc.(Hons.)/78, MD/81], is a faculty member at the University of British Columbia. He was honoured for his research in the field of sepsis and septic shock.