UCalgary Spirit Shines in the Annual 2017 Top 40 Under 40 List

Twenty faculty, staff and alumni round out this year’s roster of Calgary’s most visionary young leaders

By Jacquie Moore

Top 40

For nineteen years and running, Avenue magazine’s “Top 40 under 40” has provided an anticipated annual round-up of some of the city’s best and brightest. While these honourees invariably share many traits — vision, ambition, entrepreneurial thinking, extreme compassion — you’ll forgive us for zeroing in on a common denominator dear to our hearts:  their connections to UCalgary. 

This year, as always, nearly half of the individuals in this illustrious group are alumni and/or faculty and staff. From non-profit pioneers enriching the lives of our city’s most vulnerable to mould-breaking business leaders, to art stars and environmental innovators, these are the stewards of our city and our future who continue to connect our campus to the community. Each of them are driven to make their community healthier, smarter, kinder and happier; each no doubt finds inspiration in myriad places. We convinced 15 of them to share the memories, advice and personal philosophies that compel them to strive with passion.

Read the entire Avenue feature and meanwhile, please join us in congratulating all 40 of this year’s top 40 — with special thanks to those that make UCalgary proud.


“One of the most important things that took me a very long time to learn is this: having fun doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. For a long time, I thought good and serious work had to hurt, but it turns out that, even for philosophers, suffering doesn’t have to be the path to wisdom.”

—David Dick, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy

Mark Erickson

"Seeing ideas become real inspires me. When an idea is still in the clouds, still a vision — it’s the process of getting to see that something become real and physical that drives me. I love seeing how it positively effects the place and people around us.”

—Mark Erickson, BFA’07; co-founder, Studio North

“I’m driven by the work ethic instilled into me by my parents, my own personal desire to always put my best foot forward, and a desire to model hard work and dedication so that my children will hopefully adopt that approach to pursuing their own personal aspirations.”
—Dr. Daniel Niven, MD’06, MSc’12, PhD’16, intensive-care physician and assistant professor, Cumming School of Medicine

Jennifer Winter

“There are so many interesting things to discover about the world and how it works, and it's my job to think about them, and share that knowledge with others.

As well, I recently went to my brother-in-law's UCalgary convocation where Bob McDonald gave the convocation address. I do my best to follow his advice to always say yes to new opportunities.”
—Jennifer Winter, BA’05, MA’07, PhD’11; assistant professor, School of Public Policy

Aubrey Hanson

“The short and sweet version of what propels me is just two words: social responsibility.” 
—Aubrey Hanson, PhD’17; assistant professor, Werklund School of Education

“My dad taught me that kindness goes a long way in making the work day impactful. A conversation with him years ago always keeps me motivated. He’d come home from work visibly happy. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Dad, why so happy?” Dad: “My entire team volunteered to stay overtime, and our president was surprised — my team was the only one where everyone volunteered.”
Me: “Wow. That’s great. How did you do it?”
Dad: “My team told me they wanted to make me look good because I always do everything I can to help them.”
Me: “Like what?” Dad: “Giving them extra time off to assist a sick family member; helping them with problems at home or school or with their kids. Stuff like that.”

—Anila Lee Yuen, BSc’06; CEO, Centre for Newcomers. Anila is the recipient of a 2017 Alumni Achievement Award. 

“When I shared the Top 40 news with my dad, he reminded me of the same thing that I’ve heard from him for years: be proud, but be humble. He taught me to always acknowledge the people, experiences and privileges that have helped me get to where I am today. Moving through the world with a balance of pride and humility is a complicated feat, and I don’t always do it well. I do take great pride in the work that I do, and I also know that I have so much to learn (and unlearn).”

—Jessica Shaw, PhD’15; assistant professor, aboriginal issues, Faculty of Social Work

“Tune into your life. Inspiration is all around. Some of my best research ideas have been sparked by my own children.”

—Melanie Noel, assistant professor, Department of Psychology; member, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute

Fiona Schulte

“One piece of advice I received from the former Division Chief of the Hematology, Oncology and Transplant Program at the Alberta Children's Hospital was: ‘Never say no.’”

—Fiona Schulte, assistant professor, Department of Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine

“My patients’ stories and journeys in the health care system, as they try to navigate a complicated system during stressful and difficult periods in their lives, inspires me to improve health care communication and work to find ways to empower them to make full, informed decisions that take the patient’s individual goals and priorities into careful consideration. But my interest in improving communication between health care providers and patients/families began at UCalgary in a student research project that I worked on in med school with Dr. Anderson. We were helping parents of paediatric oncology patients better understand and remember the overwhelming details of a first consultation in the Oncology service.” 

—Dr. Amy Tan, MD’02, associate professor, Cumming School of Medicine; clerkship director, Family medicine

“A good doctor once said, “Don’t forget, you’ll be working the rest of your life.” I disagreed. I chose to play. I chose a creative life. And the good news is that so can anyone. No matter what path we follow, we can make things, draw things. Tell stories in our way, and touch the lives of people all around us. Somehow, this makes getting up easy no matter how late you got home from the party the night before.”

—Anton deGroot, BFA’04, MFA’16; award-winning scenographer  

Dr. Geoffrey Gotto

"I am inspired by the patients I care for and the team of people I work with. Seeing the difference I can make in other people’s lives makes all of the personal sacrifices worthwhile.”

—Dr. Geoffrey Gotto, clinical associate professor, Cumming School of Medicine

“There is such extraordinary research happening across UCalgary. But there’s only so much funding to go around, and even the best ideas need help to be successful. Me and my team work with researchers to develop their ideas and position them strategically. If we’re successful, then we’ve helped some amazing research come to fruition. And anytime you can see the link between the work you do and the benefits to Canada — it’s truly inspiring!”

—Liz Scarratt, director, institutional programs, Research Services, University of Calgary

“I am inspired to do the work that I do because I truly believe that our incredibly talented team is improving the way people build modular buildings by pushing the envelope in both architectural design and functionality, and changing building practices for the better.”

—Julia Read, BComm’06; VP finance, Nomodic Modular Structures

“I am always inspired when I hear or see a new way of looking at a problem that advances or challenges current thinking. This inspiration comes from family, colleagues, mentors, students, and — in particular — from patients who have to live with the diseases I study. I always try to keep an open mind to new ideas.”

—Dr. Glen Hazlewood, MD’05; assistant professor, Department of Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine

Read Avenue's profiles of the other Top 40 recipients who are part of the UCalgary family: