Introducing the Dr. Ken Denike Award in Transportation Studies

We are pleased to announce the establishment of the Dr. Ken Denike Award in Transportation Studies, thanks to the generous creation of an endowment by alumnus Dr. Luigi G. (Joe) Sulmona.

Named in honour of Dr. Ken Denike, Assistant Professor Emeritus at UBC Geography, the $3,500 annual award is open to students who demonstrate an interest in the fields related to urban and global transportation, connectivity and mobility, and — importantly — a commitment to an interdisciplinary approach within these themes.

“We are delighted that Ken Denike is being celebrated in this way and so grateful to Joe Sulmona for his generosity in creating this award,” says Dr. Geraldine Pratt, head of the Department of Geography. “The commitment to tackling societal challenges from many perspectives lies at the heart of our ever so interdisciplinary discipline. We are keen to support this trans disciplinary award.”

The award is open to students across UBC, and Dr. Sulmona, who has previously served as Director of Transportation Planning for the province, is keen to encourage the kind of systems thinking that he himself benefitted from when completing his PhD at the university.

“If we’re serious about sustainability, and about the glue that makes urban, regional, national and international movement possible, we need to encourage integrated thinking,” he says.

“This interdisciplinary approach is essential if we are to help build the leaders of tomorrow to lead change and resolve complex issues. Only in this way can we seriously engage to meet pressing environmental sustainability challenges; and critically understand that effective labour relations, respect for Indigenous peoples, and community acceptance go hand-in-hand with the many public and private transport decisions to come.”

Unlike many awards that are created posthumously, Dr. Sulmona wanted to establish this award during Dr. Denike’s lifetime. “Ken has been my most important mentor, among others in the department and at UBC,” he said.

Dr. Denike has made a notable contribution to the teaching and research of spatial analysis, urban planning, and transportation. He also played a central role in establishing the Vancouver Coastal Health district.

“After developing the Expo Line from design to build, representing Vancouver on study of what became the Canada Line, and working with Joe to get the right-of-way to YVR dedicated, I am excited and proud to be recognized by a scholarship in my name,” says Dr. Denike.

It is Dr. Sulmona’s hope that this award will take its place among other initiatives at UBC, like the Centre for Migration Studies, that are stimulating a cross-disciplinary approach to some of our biggest societal challenges. There is more to come, he says, in furthering opportunities for students working on the transport issues of tomorrow.

“That’s really what I want to encourage; continuing that dialogue across boundaries. It’s served me so well in my career, and that’s what I wish to promote.”

No application is required for the award; you may be nominated by your department if you are eligible, and will be notified if you are successful.

The inaugural recipient will be announced during the 2022/23 academic year.