Nov. 7, 2023
Calgary’s rising stars address some of society’s biggest challenges
On Nov. 2, some 45 honourees (20 of whom have University of Calgary connections) were inducted into Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2023 at the Southern Alberta Jubliee Auditorium among a crowd of colleagues, families, fans and alumni. It was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Top 40 honours and the people whose commitment and contributions to our city have shaped Calgary into what it is today.
In Part 2, you’ll meet: Dr. Benjamin Tutolo, PhD; Ishita Singla, BComm’16; Dr. Dion Kelly, MBT'18, PhD’23, and Dr. Eli Kinney-Lang, PhD; Ashley Wanamaker, MC'17; Krista F. Lauridsen, MArch’14; and Dr. Nauzer Forbes, MSc’18, MD.
Dr. Benjamin Tutolo, PhD
Associate head (research) and associate professor, Department of Earth, Energy and Environment, Faculty of Science
As a geochemist, Benjamin Tutolo traces the history of life-supporting environments across the solar system to design ways to maintain Earth’s habitability. In April 2022, Tutolo was selected to join NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover team as it visited the Gale Crater. His research has led to internationally adopted advancements and innovations in the study of planet Earth.
Tutolo’s work as a key investigator for the Solid Carbon project and his study of clay and weathering reactions on Mars with NASA have fundamentally changed scientists’ understanding of how fast geochemical reactions occur. This has resulted in unique lab techniques that make it possible to design timely carbon dioxide removal strategies to mitigate global warming on Earth.
Ishita Singla, BComm’16
Artistic director, Madhuban Performing Arts
Senior communications officer, CBC
Ishita Singla founded Madhuban Performing Arts in 2016, a non-profit organization created as a safe space for South Asian musicians and dancers. At age 23, the self-taught dancer started Madhuban so other South Asian artists didn’t have to experience the alienation she experienced as a child. Madhuban now includes more than 40 artists and has given more than 200 live performances for more than 80 organizations.
Singla additionally works full-time at the CBC as a senior communications officer, where she started the Asian Changemakers campaign that profiles Asians and South Asians who are breaking barriers in the community. She’s also a founding member of the Sifarish Network, a South Asian professional networking association. For all these community contributions, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal in 2022.
Dr. Dion Kelly, MBT'18, PhD’23, and Dr. Eli Kinney-Lang, PhD
Co-founders of Possibility Neurotechnologies and BCI Games
Developed by Dion Kelly and Eli Kinney-Lang, the Think2Switch translates signals from a headset to control everyday devices. This is groundbreaking work in the challenging world of paediatric brain-computer interfaces (BCI). Kelly and Kinney-Lang are now helping position Calgary as a global leader in the field.
They are founding members of BCI-CAN, an international network of engineers, clinicians and trainees advancing paediatric BCI and help lead BCI4Kids, one of the first integrated clinical paediatric BCI programs in the world. Kelly and Kinney-Lang have raised and managed millions of dollars in funding for their research. They are co-founders of BCI Game Jam, an annual 48-hour competition that challenges developers to create a game experience from scratch that is 100 per cent playable with a BCI. Since 2019, more than 200 developers have built 40 BCI-enabled games.
Ashley Wanamaker, MC'17
Founder and psychologist, Being Human Club
Ashley Wanamaker founded Being Human Club in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many were struggling with mental health and seeking support. The first feminist and trauma-informed mental-health space of its kind in Calgary, Being Human Club focuses on inclusivity and providing space and understanding for complex trauma that traditional practices within psychology may not address.
The clinic sells merchandise to fund therapy for those who can’t afford services and participates in ongoing anti-racism work with Inclusive Canada. It also collects donations for Walls Down Collective Calgary, a grassroots organization that addresses hunger and social issues on the ground level.
Krista F. Lauridsen, MArch’14
Associate vice-president, People Places & Spaces, ATB Financial
The ATB Financial head office has seating for different body types, a library for dedicated focus, and multipurpose wellness rooms. It’s all the brainchild of Krista Lauridsen, a registered architect who oversees real estate, facilities and workplace at ATB. In April 2022, her team replaced the banking company’s cubicles with activity-based spaces (like meeting rooms) that allow for spontaneous conversations.
In ATB’s retail locations, which serve more than 800,000 clients, Lauridsen and her team of 50 have responded to changing client expectations in banking by removing some traditional teller counters and adding couches for informal meetings, as well as closed-door spaces for more formal meetings. Not only do these spaces address people’s changing routines, but their design also considers diversity and inclusion, an extension of Lauridsen’s experience as the only queer female executive in the history of the portfolio at ATB. Her design of ATB’s corporate spaces keeps in mind the needs of neurodiverse team members from a space perspective.
Dr. Nauzer Forbes, MSc’18, MD
Interventional endoscopist and associate professor, Cumming School of Medicine
Every day, someone in Alberta who would have required surgery a decade ago is treated without a single incision. That’s thanks, in part, to Nauzer Forbes, a gastroenterologist with a specialty in interventional endoscopy. Forbes is training a new generation of physicians to treat disease through interventional endoscopy.
After joining UCalgary in 2017, Forbes founded the Calgary Registry for Advanced and Therapeutic Endoscopy (CReATE), a research collaborative that collects data from endoscopies performed at nine major medical centres in North America and Europe. This work will answer key questions about when, how, and in whom interventional endoscopy should be used. CReATE “has put Calgary on the world map of endoscopy research,” says Forbes, who is the first Canadian to serve on the international body that sets clinical guidelines for endoscopists.
In Part 1 of our three-part series on the Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2023, we introduced six young powerhouses who are changing the face of Calgary: Anna Murphy; Dr. Husein Moloo, MD’13; Dr. Lauren DeDieu, PhD; Dr. Steven Yip, MD; Andrea Marie Urquhart, LLB'10; Stephanie Hutchinson, BComm’07; and Dr. Julie Deleemans, PhD’22.
In Part 3, you’ll meet more rising stars who are paving the way for what comes next: Renee B. Matsalla, BComm'13, BA'13; Dr. Aravind Ganesh, MD'12, DPhil; Dr. May Choi, BHSc’10, MD; Dr. Hadis Karimipour, PhD; Adam J. Martinson, MEDes'09, MBA'14; and Kathryn Pearce, MArch’11.