Article by Darra Hofman

2017 has been extremely busy for everyone at Blockchain@UBC, myself included. The number of people becoming aware of the revolutionary potential of blockchain is growing at a rapid rate, with the work we do at Blockchain@UBC in more demand now than it has ever been. Every Ph.D. student is accustomed to hearing “You study what?”, on a regular basis. However, blockchain has entered the popular imagination, and I often feel excitement from everyone when explaining my research.

What have I been up to? I hear you ask…

In June, I was fortunate enough to be a panelist with Vicki Lemieux and Hrvoje Stancic on “How Blockchain Technology Could Transform Records and Archives Management” at the Association of Canadian Archivists’ Annual Conference. I am currently supporting the PROOF (Prevention of Organ Failure) Centre in its development of a proof of concept for a blockchain based solution for sharing research data across sites (more on this below). I have put myself forth as an undergraduate research mentor with the UBC Undergraduate Research Organization (URO)’s Research Experience (REX) program to lead a team of 3 -5 undergraduate students in developing a blockchain-based research proposal and literature review, to be presented in poster form at the Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference in Spring 2018 (if you’re one of our Blockchain@UBC undergrads and you’d like to have some research experience, please sign up! I’d love to work with you!). I have been an active participant in the development of the Blockchain Terminology database, providing definitions and assisting with the syndetic relationships between terms. I have written/co-authored two papers which address blockchain, and given several talks on blockchain. In October, I presented a professional education session on blockchain technology from a records and information management perspective for ARMA Live! 2017, for which I have developed several job aids that will be distributed through ARMA. The Slides from my presentation are available here: Blockchain Technology: An Introduction for Information Professionals. And to top it off, I am the recipient of the Killam Doctoral Scholarships: awarded to students who are “likely to contribute to the advancement of learning or to win distinction in a profession”. These are provided each year from the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Fund for Advanced Studies and are awarded to the top doctoral candidates in the annual Tri-Agency/Affiliated Fellowships competition. These scholarships provide up to $30,000 per year plus a $2,000 research travel allowance over a two-year term.

A little more on the project I am supporting with PROOF, the project is being done in collaboration with St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In my research capacity on this project, I have had the privilege of attending a number of meetings with the PROOF team, examining archival and legal issues including privacy and records integrity in proposed data models, while also answering the team’s questions about blockchain technology generally.

I feel extremely lucky to be undertaking my PhD in this new technology with valuable potential to support future social good projects. There is much more to come this year for me and for Blockchain@UBC!



Photo credit: Green Chameleon on Unsplash