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Research Prominence

Delivering on the pitch

The Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) recently handed out a total of $28,000 to six companies that participated in its first-ever regional pitch competition.

“The support of the Dunin and Deshpande Foundations makes it possible to provide this type of financial support to QyourVenture and to support ventures in southeastern Ontario,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre.

[Greg Bavington with members of TimberWolf]
TimberWolf Cycles representatives David Timan (Sc'13) and Caitlin Willis (Com'09) receive feedback from Greg Bavington, Executive Director, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, during the recent regional pitch competition. (Submitted photo)

DDQIC hosted the regional pitch competition with the goal of supporting early-stage companies based at Queen’s and the surrounding area.

The pitch competition was open to anyone with a business idea who has not already received more than $5,000 in support from DDQIC. The field included several companies from QyourVenutre, an acceleration program which supports Queen’s students who want to take their idea to the next level. QyourVenture accepts companies on a regular basis throughout the school year, giving them access to space and training for their business venture.

The pitch competition was judged by members of the DDQIC Global Network in London, England, who connected via videoconference, along with the DDQIC executive team. Chaired by Heather Christie (Artsci’09), the London branch is supported by 13 Queen’s alumni who come from a variety of different professional and education backgrounds. This branch offers support to DDQIC ventures that want to expand into the UK and the rest of Europe.

The winning ventures at the pitch competition included:

TimberWolf Cycles ($5,000) – The company, founded by David Timan (Sc’13), produces high-performance road bikes made from wood. Using a variety of woods, Mr. Timan has designed a bike that softens road vibration while efficiently delivering power to the road through an exceptionally lightweight frame.

Capteur ($5,000) – A QyourVenture company, Capteur enables building operators and maintenance companies to ensure facilities are always clean and operating according to sustainable environmental practices. Cole MacDonald (Sci’19) and Nathan Mah (MEI’17) founded the cloud-based technology start-up.

Robot Missions ($5,000 plus time in SparQ Studios) – Robot Missions, founded by Erin Kennedy, has developed a 3D-printed robot that collects harmful tiny trash debris from shorelines. The company’s robot workshops enhance STEM education for elementary students by applying robotics to the environment.

Your Mobility Innovations ($4,000) – Founded by Loyalist College students Dylan Houlden and Brett Lyons, the company designs and produces products to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities and the elderly. Mr. Lyon, who was born with cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair, had the idea for an adjustable grab bar when he was eight-years-old. The founders are trying to turn that idea into a reality, working with several partners including Queen’s Biomedical Innovations Team, PARTEQ, and Queen’s Business Law Clinic.

Pronura ($4,000) – Pronura plans to commercialize a non-invasive, inexpensive method for testing for multiple neurological diseases at the same time – all with accuracy unseen in any current tests. The test, developed by Dr. Douglas P. Munoz of the Queen’s Eye Movement Laboratory, uses an eye-tracker to detect unique biomarkers associated with multiple neurological diseases. Founders Matthew De Sanctis and Adam Palter met in the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation program offered by Smith School of Business.

SŌ Seeds ($3,000 plus in-kind donations from the Department of Chemical Engineering) – The venture aims to disrupt the tree-planting industry by replacing saplings with coated super-seeds. SŌ Seeds was founded by five chemical engineering students as part of their innovation and entrepreneurship course under the mentorship of Jim McLellan, Professor and Academic Director, DDQIC.

SWFT ($2,000) – The start-up focuses on developing portable and wireless charging solutions for festivals, stadiums, transit systems, theme parks, and other venues. The service allows patrons to charge their phones without being tethered to charging stations. Friends Greg Fedele (Com’17) and Anish Sharma (Sc’17) founded the company.

Through a variety of programs, services, and resources, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre encourages, enables, and supports the innovation activities of students, professors, entrepreneurs, and Canadian companies. More information about the centre is available online.

A hip honour

The Tragically Hip recognized by the Canadian Cancer Trials Group for supporting brain cancer research.

  • Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker of The Tragically Hip unveil a plaque honouring the band as Janet Dancey, Director of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, and Lynne Hudson, President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, look on. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
    Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker of The Tragically Hip unveil a plaque honouring the band as Janet Dancey, Director of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, and Lynne Hudson, President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, look on. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, speaks with Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker of The Tragically Hip at Tuesday's event to unveil a plaque honouring the band's efforts to raise funds for cancer research. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
    Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, speaks with Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker of The Tragically Hip at Tuesday's event to unveil a plaque honouring the band's efforts to raise funds for cancer research. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Chris O'Callaghan, Senior Investigator, Canadian Cancer Trials Group, talks about some of the research that is being done thanks to support from donors, including The Tragically Hip.  (Photo by Bernard Clark)
    Chris O'Callaghan, Senior Investigator, Canadian Cancer Trials Group, talks about some of the research that is being done thanks to support from donors, including The Tragically Hip. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Gord Sinclair of The Tragically Hip speaks during Tuesday's event at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group office, where a plaque was unveiled in honour of the band's fundraising efforts. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
    Gord Sinclair of The Tragically Hip speaks during Tuesday's event at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group office, where a plaque was unveiled in honour of the band's fundraising efforts. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) recognized Kingston hometown heroes The Tragically Hip for their support of brain cancer research. A commemorative plaque was presented to the band on Tuesday in honour of their support for cancer clinical trials at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG).

CCTG, housed at Queen’s University in Kingston, is supported by a core grant from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Since the announcement last year that The Hip’s frontman Gord Downie has glioblastoma (an aggressive form of brain cancer), many Canadians have shown their support through donations to CCS.

“The Canadian Cancer Society is very grateful to The Tragically Hip and their generous fans for this donation of $400,000 for brain cancer research,” says Lynne Hudson, CCS president and CEO. “Clinical trials offer hope for people with cancer and provide an opportunity for researchers to find better treatments for others in the future. CCS is proud to be able to support clinical trials at CCTG across the country through donations from the public.”

Clinical trials can help patients directly. For example, in collaboration with colleagues in Europe, CCTG conducted a trial to see if a chemotherapy drug called temozolomide along with radiation following surgery for glioblastoma could improve survival. The trial showed positive results, and this combination therapy is what Downie received at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.

Every day about 25 Canadians are diagnosed with some form of brain tumour. Glioblastoma is an aggressive disease and is the most common primary brain cancer in adults. Unfortunately, most adults with a diagnosis of glioblastoma survive only one to two years after diagnosis.

“This is a great example of the Faculty of Health Sciences’ vision in action: to ask questions, seek answers, advance care and inspire change,” says Richard Reznick, Dean of Health Sciences. “Queen’s is proud to serve as host to CCTG’s cutting edge research; it is humbling to have this research happening right in our own backyard.”

“As researchers, our greatest achievement is to see patients with cancer benefit from treatments that were proven effective by the work we do at CCTG,” says Janet Dancey, the group’s director. “Building on past international research successes, CCTG is looking at future clinical trials using promising treatments, including viral therapies and drugs to stimulate the immune system.”

Donations to the Canadian Cancer Society for brain cancer research allow researchers to make real and significant progress against this disease. 

Up against the clock

Graduate students shine in final round of Queen’s 3MT competition.

The pressure was on as 11 graduate students took to the stage in the Dupuis Hall Auditorium to compete in the final round of the Queen’s Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition on Thursday, March 30.

Using only one static slide and no props, the students had to present their research to a panel of non-specialist judges.

Neuroscience master's candidate Victoria Donovan delivered a presentation on how the brain responds to trauma. Ms. Donovan won the overall and People's Choice awards and will move on to represent Queen's at the Ontario 3MT.

“Queen’s 3MT is a much-anticipated annual event on campus,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies. “Our students put in hours of preparation for their three minutes in front of the judges. The competition helps students hone communication skills – such as making their research accessible and it’s a great way to celebrate the innovative and thought-provoking research our graduate students are conducting across campus.”

A panel of judges, consisting of Principal Daniel Woolf, Chancellor Jim Leech, communications consultant Robert A Wood, CBC reporter JC Kenny, and Denise Cumming, CEO of the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, graded the competitors on clarity, audience engagement and presentation skills. A long-time supporter of the 3MT competition, CKWS Television host Bill Welychka served as the emcee for the event.

“I have promoted the event on CKWS-TV the past two years and it seems like the coolest thing ever,” said Mr. Welychka. “I love that 3MT combines distilling a complicated subject down to a three minute verbal presentation with dramatic elements, public speaking and engaging the audience. Not an easy undertaking to say the least.”

Victoria Donovan, a master's candidate in neuroscience was named winner and people's choice for her presentation, Lie low, stay alive. Her research is looking at the evolutionary response to traumatic brain injury. Early results provide evidence that high brain shutdown is an evolved reply to trauma – providing clues as to future treatments.

“I've been at Queen's for six and a half years now and have enjoyed every minute of it,” she says. “I’m thrilled to have the chance to represent the university at the provincial championship.”

Ms. Donovan will move on to represent Queen’s at the Ontario 3MT finals on April 12 in Waterloo. The national 3MT winner will be decided through an online vote on videos of the regional champions, conducted on the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies website.

“Competing in the 3MT was one of the highlights of my Masters studies,” says Anastasia Savrova, MSc’17, winner of the 2016 Queen’s 3MT competition. “It was encouraging to hear people were so excited about my research, and this experience has really pushed me to pursue more opportunities where I can get the public more involved in academic research.”

For more information on the Queen’s 3MT competition, or to see video of the finalists' presentations, please visit the website.

Researchers reach out globally

Queen's University researchers awarded $449,000 for Queen Elizabeth Scholars Network for Equity in Maternal Child Health.

Queen's in the World

Four global health researchers at Queen’s University and Kingston General Hospital Research Institute are aiming to change the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations, particularly mothers and children.

Co-leaders Heather Aldersey (School of Rehabilitation Therapy), Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine), Colleen Davison (Public Health Sciences), and Eva Purkey (Family Medicine) have been awarded $449,000 from the Queen Elizabeth II Scholars Program (QES) to establish the Queen Elizabeth Scholars Network for Equity in Maternal and Child Health.

Working together as part of the Queen Elizabeth Scholars Network for Equity in Maternal and Child Health are (l to r): Eva Purkey, Colleen Davison, Heather Aldersey, and Susan Bartels.

“Inequities in maternal and child health outcomes and access exist globally for certain groups, including those impacted by armed conflict, remote populations, displaced people, and people with disabilities. Unfortunately, these groups are rarely prioritized in research or policy,” says Dr. Aldersey.

The QES project is the first initiative of ARCH – a research collaborative for global health equity that is being established by the four researchers. ARCH will leverage their extensive experience working with partners in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Canadian North, looking at the impacts of war, poverty, natural disasters, and preventable diseases on families and communities.

“The network is demonstrative of research that has the potential to have a tangible impact on people’s lives,” says Dr. John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Importantly, it is also reflective of the fact that many of our scholars are building research capacity for real-world issues in both Canada and abroad.”

The funds will support the research, learning, and advocacy skills of 15 PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, or early career researchers from low- and middle-income countries as well as Canadian trainees in a series of international exchanges. These new scholars will also take part in a common, multi-country study looking at the factors that contribute to maternal and child health inequities.

“We hope to support and inspire global health researchers and to contribute to the evolution of Queen’s as a global health research leader,” says Dr. Davison.

Maternal and child mortality and morbidity is still high in many parts of the world and among particular subgroups, even within Canada. Internationally, it is estimated that six million children die every year before reaching the age of five. The maternal death rate in low- and middle-income countries is still 14 times higher than in developed regions.

“These are preventable outcomes, brought on by such factors as income disparities, lack of access to good quality services, and discrimination based on race, gender, and social class,” says Dr. Bartels.

“Our aim is to equip the next generation of maternal and child health researchers with the skills and knowledge to advocate for these vulnerable populations,” says Dr. Purkey.

The QES is managed through a unique partnership of Universities Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, and Canadian universities. The QES is made possible with financial support from International Development Research Centre and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.

All eyes on the Prize

Prize for Excellence in Research recipients to share knowledge with the community.

Grant Hall will play host to some of Queen’s most exciting and innovative researchers as the recipients of the 2016 Prize for Excellence in Research (PER) deliver a series of keynote addresses on Monday, April 3 from 4:30-6:30 p.m in Grant Hall.

The free, public lecture event will see each of the prize recipients present an engaging 10-minute overview of their work. The lectures – delivered with a non-specialist audience in mind – will focus on a wide array of topics, from art history to evolution.

From Top Left, Clockwise: Stephen Vanner (Medicine), Janet Hiebert (Political Studies), James R. Cordy (School of Computing), Myra Hird (School of Environmental Studies), Gauvin Bailey (Art History and Art Conservation), and Virginia Walker (Biology).

“The Prize for Excellence in Research public lectures give members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities the opportunity to learn from researchers who have made unique contributions in a variety of diverse and exciting fields,” says Dr. John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “The six speakers taking part in this year’s lectures are at the leading edge of their respective fields and reflect the strength, depth and breadth of our faculty. I offer my sincerest congratulations to all of this year’s speakers.”

This year’s lecturers are Gauvin Bailey (Art History and Art Conservation), James R. Cordy (School of Computing), Janet Hiebert (Political Studies), Stephen Vanner (Medicine) and Virginia Walker (Biology). In addition, 2015 recipient Myra Hird (School of Environmental Studies) will deliver her lecture along with the 2016 cohort.

The Alfred and Isabel Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a world-renowned expert in the arts and architecture of early Modern Europe, Latin America and colonial Asia, Dr. Gauvin Bailey’s research examines the art of different regions using multidisciplinary methodologies to pursue the viewpoint of non‐European cultures. He will deliver a presentation titled A Baroque Palace in the Haitian Rainforest.

Dr. James Cordy’s research has led to the development of methods and tools that make the management of today’s large software code bases possible. His work has been used to safely make systematic modifications to large code bases – notably used by Canadian banks to solve the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem – and for identifying trouble spots in other complex programs, such as those behind the development of autonomous vehicles. In his lecture This Means That: Programming by Transformation, Dr. Cordy will dive deeper into the development and management of complex computer programs.

An internationally-celebrated scholar of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Dr. Janet Hiebert is the foremost authority on how bills of rights influence Westminster parliamentary democracy. Her expertise has led to invitations to provide briefs, advice, and expert testimony for governments in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the International Bar Association. Dr. Hiebert will examine the innermost workings of our parliamentary system in her lecture, Can Parliament Protect Rights?

Recognized for his innovative research into the causes of, and treatments for, the pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome, Dr. Stephen Vanner has made a tremendous impact on his field. In his lecture, Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Light and the End of the Tunnel, he will discuss the current state of research in this field, including the work taking place in the Queen’s Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Unit (GIDRU).

A prolific researcher with an international reputation, Dr. Virginia Walker has contributed more than 150 publications to top science journals in her nearly 40-year academic career. With special expertise in understanding the mechanisms of stress resistance, her research includes the full range of biology from cell and molecular biology, physiology, ecology and evolution, and she has worked on mammals, plants, insects and most recently fish. She will deliver a lecture titled Piecing Together a Cold Quilt.

A Queen's National Scholar and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Myra Hird is a distinguished interdisciplinary scholar with an international reputation for her multifaceted, collaborative investigations into a variety of research areas, including human influence on the environment. Her lecture, Canada’s Waste Flow and our Global Legacy, examines Canada’s place in the global discussions around waste management, conservation and environmental protection.

The event begins at 4:30 pm. It is free and all are welcome to attend. For more information on the Prize for Excellence in Research Public Lectures, please visit the website.

Awarding a commitment to outreach

Queen’s professor receives award for outstanding efforts in sharing earth science with Canadians.

In recognition of his research and public outreach, Queen’s paleontologist Guy Narbonne (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering) has received the E.R.Ward Neale Medal from the Geological Association of Canada.

In recognition of his research and public outreach, Dr. Guy Narbonne has been awarded the E.R.Ward Neale Medal from the Geological Association of Canada. (Supplied Photo) 

“I feel tremendously honoured to be recognized by the Association with this award,” says Dr. Narbonne. “Just as the research isn’t done until you’ve written the publication, the research also isn’t done until you’ve told all the stakeholders what they got out of it. We went from almost no one having ever heard of Mistaken Point, to paleontologists around the world knowing about it, to designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a stamp issued by Canada Post to celebrate this UNESCO designation. This shows the kind of level of recognition that we’re getting by conducting rigorous research, sharing it with the public and showing why it matters.”

Over the course of his more than 30-year career, Dr. Narbonne has dedicated his efforts to both high-impact research and sharing his findings with the public. His research has been profiled in a number of television documentaries - including BBC’s Snowball Earth, a documentary series on the geology of Canada in The Nature of Things narrated by David Suzuki, and First Life narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Dr. Narbonne also played a leading role in Mistaken Point receiving World Heritage Site designation by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“Dr. Narbonne’s research has made a tremendous impact on our understanding of early life on Earth, and his outreach efforts have brought the geological sciences into the mainstream Canadian consciousness,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “I wish Dr. Narbonne my sincere congratulations for this well-deserved national recognition.”

Mistaken Point shows “when life got big,” and provides a fossil record of the appearance of large multicellular creatures 570 million years ago after nearly three billion years of microbial evolution. Volcanic eruptions 580 million years ago preserved surfaces covered with the fossils of the thousands of the soft-bodied creatures that were covered by beds of volcanic ash on the deep sea floor.

When Dr. Narbonne began his work at Mistaken Point in 1998, none of its abundant fossils had been formally named. It took nearly 12 years of research to bring the scientific understanding of the site up to the level necessary for UNESCO to consider naming Mistaken Point a World Heritage Site.

During this time, Dr. Narbonne produced over 30 scientific papers on Mistaken Point and related fossils – several of which were published in high-profile journals such as Science and Nature. Dr. Narbonne credits many factors for the success of the Mistaken Point project, including the ability to take a long-term approach to his research, and the support of the Queen’s Research Chair.

“There probably would not be a UNESCO World Heritage site at Mistaken Point without the QRC,” says Dr. Narbonne. “I’m deeply grateful to those who set up the program and am grateful for them selecting me. An awful lot of great things came out of their investment and their faith in me.”

Dr. Narbonne will formally receive the medal at the GAC-MAC annual conference, taking place May 15-17 in Kingston, Ontario.

The Neale Medal, named after Canadian geoscientist E.R. Ward Neale, is awarded annually to a researcher in recognition of sustained outstanding efforts in sharing earth science with Canadians – including through public lectures, media, and other forms of public outreach.

For more information, please visit the website.

A passion for harmony

The Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Collaborators series profiles regional innovations, startups and collaborations that are flourishing and which engage Queen’s faculty, staff and/or students.

The tech firm Canarmony has developed a healthcare scheduling tool called MESH. From left: Hassan Nouri, Chief Technology Officer; Dr. Shahram Yousefi, Co-founder, President and CEO; and Ethan Heming, Chief Product Officer. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

As entrepreneurs go, Shahram Yousefi is a paradox – a “black sheep,” he says. 

Most entrepreneurs seek to strike it rich. First and foremost, the professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Queen’s is looking for solutions to problems. Entrepreneurs are single-minded. Once they have an idea, they clamp on like an angry pit bull, to the exclusion of everything else. He has not one but two seemingly different ideas, both of which he is passionate about. And, in a world where new ideas and products are hailed for their “disruptive” potential, he says that at the root of what he does is “my passion for harmony.”  

Innovation Park is helping him realize it.

Arriving at Queen’s in 2003 (drawn, he says, by the university’s generous policies towards the intellectual property its professors develop and  students who “are strong on the technical but understand the social and business aspects of what they do”), he spent his 2008 sabbatical at Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. 

“It’s a very entrepreneurial school,” he says. “And when I got back I decided I wanted to concentrate more on entrepreneurial projects.” 

To that end he has developed a new entrepreneurial stream within electrical and computer engineering programs dubbed ECE innovation or ECEi. Dr. Yousefi praises Kim Woodhouse, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Michael Greenspan, his department head, and Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, for fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Out for a meal with a medical resident friend one evening in 2012 he was shocked when she told him that a young mother and her twins had died because a scheduling mistake meant that a needed specialist was not on duty. 

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and could not get it out of my head for days,” he says.

Talking to other health care professionals, he learned that medical scheduling was incredibly complicated, but usually done with very simple, and inappropriate, tools like spreadsheets and emails. 

“And communications between the scheduler and the team were very spotty and extremely rudimentary,” Dr. Yousefi says. 

A chief resident of cardiology might spend an entire weekend trying to schedule his or her first-, second- and third-year residents. Add in trying to juggle sick days and holidays and other variables, and there were many possibilities for errors.\

“Because I come from an algorithm background, I knew that these were the hardest problems to deal with in computer science. Difficult but not impossible,” Dr. Yousefi says. “Here was a great chance to create a system that would harmonize doctors’ and other healthcare professionals’ work schedules.” 

He started working on it in 2013, and in 2014 he and his co-founder, Dr. Mohsen Omrani, a medical doctor and neuroscientist, incorporated Canarmony (as in Canadian Harmony – there’s that idea again). 

Yousefi’s solution is a cloud-based scheduling tool called MESH (which combines the initials of the four developers’ first names and says succinctly what the tool does). 

“It meshes staff schedules seamlessly,  at the push of a button,” he says. “You identify whom you need, say so many E.R. nurses and so many residents and with what skills.” 

MESH can even incorporate who wants to work with whom and what shifts they prefer. 

“When the schedule is done, it gets pushed along to everyone in the pool,” he says.

They can access it through iOS and Android mobile apps on their phones, tablets, or via any web browser on any computer. If anything changes, because of sickness or an accident, everybody gets informed in real time. 

“The other thing MESH does is allow people to swap shifts really easily,” Dr. Yousefi says. “Life does not happen on schedule. Just send out a swap request on your phone and someone can take your shift.”

A self-described perfectionist, Yousefi and partners have taken their time developing MESH. Today the company is trialing the app with medical users, including Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu, and plans to launch a new version of the app featuring an “improved Canarmonizer” (as he terms the algorithm) and a “more user-friendly and attractive version of the interface.” Monetization comes next.

“What got us where we are has been the move to Queen’s Innovation Park,” says Dr. Yousefi. “We’ve received lots of help. There are so many examples. We’ve made connections through IRAP and OCE, we’ve had so many networking and learning opportunities in the last six months.

“Not only has it been good for the company as a whole, but our people have benefited individually.” 

With a mission-focused startup like Canarmony, “it is extra important to make sure the team is highly motivated.” Thanks to Canarmony’s involvement in GrindSpaceXL (Innovation Park’s acceleration program for startups that offers them work space and expert advice), “they understood a lot better what we were doing and why. We also worked out where we were not doing things optimally. The amazing team at the Innovation Park harmonized Canarmony even further.”

MESH would be enough to keep most entrepreneurs busy. Not Dr. Yousefi. 

“I teach my students you want to be the sharpest knife – you do one thing and you do it the best. So I am seemingly violating that by launching a second product” called OPTT (for Online Psychotherapy Tool). Many people seek psychotherapy help, but for various reasons – geographic isolation,  personal schedules, cultural or language barriers or  stigma – cannot get it. OPTT lets them access help over the web, connecting them with mental health professionals, and offering tests, cognitive behaviour therapies and exercises, completely confidentially. 

“OPTT creates a clinic-in-the-cloud delivering the latest clinically proven methods of therapy through our proprietary modules,” he says. Still in its early stages, “We want to get hospitals and governments involved. It’s a challenging feat, but I am not here to do something easy.” 

Currently on sabbatical, as well as researching fifth-generation wireless telecommunication systems (5G) at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he is working with his PhD students at Queen’s on mass cloud-based data storage and transmission technologies for high-rate applications such as video. They have one recent U.S. patent filed with one more under review by PARTEQ Innovations (Queen’s commercialization arm) also located at Innovation Park. Dr. Yousefi is also busy “growing a Canarmony subsidiary in the Bay Area, to benefit from, the rich high-tech ecosystem around San Francisco.” 

Dean Woodhouse has also appointed Yousefi faculty liaison to C100, a non-profit association of Canadian business leaders based in the San Francisco Bay Area dedicated to helping Canadian high-tech start-ups and our  next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. 

“One thing I hear again and again from entrepreneurs and investors is that Canada is the place to be. Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston. They are it. Down here (in the Bay Area), people are not going to offer you the kind of support we have received at Innovation Park, and are still receiving,” Dr. Yousefi says. “So kudos to Janice and the teams at Innovation Park. Deciding to move there has been the single most important decision we have made since Canarmony’s inception."

Smith School of Business new home for IBM Watson in Canada

[IBM Canada | Smith Cognitive Computing Centre]
Smith staff interact with IBM Watson in the new IBM Canada | Smith Cognitive Computing Centre at Smith’s downtown Toronto campus. (Submitted photo)

Smith School of Business unveiled a new cognitive computing centre at its downtown Toronto campus today.

The new IBM Canada | Smith Cognitive Computing Centre, the first of its kind at a business school in Canada, is a collaborative space that will provide an exclusive artificial intelligence demonstration experience for IBM clients and enhanced access to cognitive computing solutions for Smith students and faculty.

“Integrating the latest in artificial intelligence and cognitive computing into our curriculum further enhances the learning experience for Smith students,” says David Saunders, Dean, Smith School of Business. “Access to the centre will also give our students a competitive edge in the work force and in developing new venture concepts.”

The centre consists of seven interactive wall screens for users to work directly with IBM Watson technologies in a multi-media environment. Under this five-year collaboration, IBM will offer a number of annual internships to Smith students, providing opportunities to work with IBM Watson technologies in a business setting.

Visit Smith’s Facebook page to see more photos of the centre and launch event.


Statement from Principal Woolf on federal budget

On behalf of Queen’s University, I thank the Government of Canada for its continuing support of science, innovation and post-secondary education in Canada. Universities such as Queen’s play a critical role in supporting Canada’s prosperity by creating a highly skilled workforce and fostering innovation and discovery.

I note the government’s commitment to cultivating an innovative economy, including through an investment of nearly $1 billion in innovation clusters. Research universities such as Queen’s serve as anchors to virtually all globally competitive innovative clusters and we look forward to working with the federal government more closely. And we look forward with interest to further details on the Canada 150 Research chairs program.

Budget 2017 also makes significant investments in improving access to post-secondary education and training for adult learners returning to school, part-time students, students with dependent children, veterans and Indigenous students. The government has also included a number of measures in the budget that will have a significant impact on women, including through creating more opportunities in the workforce and promoting inclusive economic growth.

Queen’s also welcomes the federal government’s additional investment of $221 million over five years to create 10,000 work-integrated learning opportunities through Mitacs, as well as the government’s commitment to work with the provinces, the private sector, and postsecondary institutions to support skills development.

We look forward to further details of these programs, and to the release of the much anticipated fundamental science review.

Daniel Woolf,
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
Queen’s University

An ambassador of Canadian science

Stephen Lougheed (Biology) has received the Science Ambassador Award from Partners in Research (PIR). The award recognizes an outstanding Canadian researcher for their body of work over a period of time, their contributions to the field of science, and their promotion of this research to the Canadian public.

“I really like the challenge of articulating what we do in our lab or in the field for a general audience” said Dr. Lougheed. “Moreover, making publically-funded university research accessible and intelligible is incredibly important.”

Queen's biology professor Dr. Stephen Lougheed has received the PIR Science Ambassador Award, in recognition of his contributions to the field of conservation biology as well as his dedication to community outreach and knowledge dissemination. (Supplied Photo)

Dr. Lougheed’s research has made significant contributions to our understanding of how historical climate change, shifts in vegetation, mountain uplift and fluctuating sea levels during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs (from 5.3 million to 11,700 years ago) affected the diversification of species in North and Latin America. He has authored more than 100 refereed journal articles and book contributions, and his work on biogeography and evolutionary genetics have been cited more than 3500 times. In December 2016, Dr. Lougheed and his northern and university collaborators received a $9.2 million grant for a project combining leading-edge genomics and Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to develop a non-invasive means of tracking polar bear responses to environmental change.

“Dr. Lougheed is a leading scientist in the field of conservation biology, who has demonstrated both a dedication to fundamental research and to disseminating information to the public at large,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “This award is a wonderful acknowledgment of Dr. Lougheed’s accomplishments and a testament to the excellence of Queen’s researchers and faculty.”

In addition to his research and teaching responsibilities, Dr. Lougheed has made outreach and public engagement a focus of his career. Since associating with the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) in 1994, he has taught over 45 field courses at QUBS and at other locales spanning four continents. He became the station director in 2012, and with his dedicated staff he has dramatically increased the station’s public outreach activities through public lecture series, programming for school and community groups, augmented on-line resources, and a camp for youth.

“Some of my most cherished moments at QUBS have been showing young people a creature like a ratsnake or musk turtle or giant water bug, and talking about their unique ecologies,” stated Dr. Lougheed, “or talking with school groups about how we might contribute to the conservation of one of our many species at risk.”

PIR is a registered Canadian charity founded in 1988 to help Canadians understand the significance, accomplishments and promise of biomedical research in advancing health and medicine. Since its genesis, PIR has broadened its scope to encompass science, technology, engineering and mathematics as fields of discovery and study for Canadian students.

Dr. Lougheed will receive the award at the Partners in Research National Awards Ceremony, held in Ottawa in May.


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