Outstanding up-and-coming researchers honoured at 3rd Annual Mitacs Awards Reception
Five students from universities across Canada were recognized on Tuesday night for their significant research achievements which are advancing industry innovation, creating new products and services and transforming the lives of Canadians.
Each of the students received an award at the 3rd Annual Mitacs Awards Reception, held to honour the amazing contributions of these emerging researchers, who have participated in Mitacs programs aimed at fostering research and innovation, as well as forging stronger bonds between academia and businesses across Canada.
Winners at a glance
- Mitacs & NRC-IRAP Award for Commercialization: Adam Metherel from the University of Waterloo for a research project with Certo Labs
- Mitacs Undergraduate Award for Outstanding Innovation: Liang Feng, hosted in the summer of 2013 by the University of Ottawa
- Mitacs Master’s Award for Outstanding Innovation: Emily Morris from the University of British Columbia for a research project with the BC Mental Health and Addictions Research Institute
- Mitacs PhD Award for Outstanding Innovation: Andre Bezanson from Dalhousie University for a research project with Daxsonics Ultrasound
- Mitacs Post-Doctoral Award for Outstanding Innovation: Cindy Chamberland from Université Laval for a research project with Ubisoft
Following a keynote speech by the Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology and the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, the five students were recognized from among the thousands of young researchers who take part in Mitacs programs each year.
Minister Rickford offered congratulations to Adam Metherel, a postdoctoral fellow from the University of Waterloo, who partnered with Certo Labs through the Mitacs Elevate program. The winner of the Mitacs & NRC-IRAP Award for Commercialization, Adam developed a novel method that accelerates the time-consuming process of measuring fatty acid and cholesterol content in food and tissue samples, a necessary step required to comply with mandated food labeling regulations in Canada. The one-step process represents a huge time-savings over the standard, multi-step protocol for extraction, leading to substantial productivity improvement and cost savings. The fatty acid and cholesterol extraction kits Adam developed are now commercialized and being used by Certo clients in both Canada and Argentina
Next, the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, congratulated Liang Feng as the winner of the Mitacs Undergraduate Award for Outstanding Innovation. Liang, from China’s Nanjing University, spent the summer of 2013 at the University of Ottawa through the Mitacs Globalink program. Under the supervision of UOttawa professor Dr. Jacob Krich of the Department of Physics, Liang made a significant and original discovery about the behaviour of electrons in the materials used to make solar cells. Liang’s discovery will aid in the development of highly efficient and affordable solar cells.
Minister Michelle Rempel then offered congratulations to Emily Morris, who undertook a Mitacs Accelerate internship as a Master’s student in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. In partnership with the BC Mental Health and Addictions Research Institute, Emily designed, led and ran an important study regarding when medical geneticists should discuss with parents the psychiatric risks of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome during their child’s diagnosis. 22q11DS is a rare genetic condition in which individuals can have a variety of problems including heart defects, learning disabilities and an increased chance to develop psychiatric disorders. Emily found that doctors discussed the psychiatric disorders less often than they discuss other physical aspects of the condition. Her approach ushers in a new model of healthcare management for people with genetic disorders. Emily was awarded the Mitacs Master’s Award for Outstanding Innovation.
This was followed by the Honourable Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, who recognized the research of Andre Bezanson, who undertook a Mitacs Accelerate internship as a PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Dalhousie University. The winner of the Mitacs PhD Award for Outstanding Innovation, Andre created a miniature, low-cost, high-resolution ultrasound probe in partnership with Daxsonics Ultrasound, helping to advance important clinical research. The cost-savings are possible because Andre replaced expensive electromagnetic motors found on most probes with a novel piezoelectric actuator, introducing the first mechanically scanned high-frequency array of its kind to be packaged in a miniature form factor. The device captures more pixels per frame and more frames per second, producing higher-quality two-dimensional images on a much finer scale.
Finally, the Honourable Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, offered congratulations to Cindy Chamberland for receiving the Mitacs Post-Doctoral Award for Outstanding Innovation. Through Mitacs Accelerate, Cindy undertook a research project in partnership with Ubisoft Quebec, a video game development company. A postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Université Laval, her research involved analyzing the eye movements of gamers as they played specific games developed by Ubisoft in order to assess the relationship between eye movement and game outcome. What she discovered is that players are more likely to quit a game early if they miss critical information due to conditions such as inattentional blindness, a phenomenon where you fail to notice changes in a visual scene when your eyes are under a high workload. Cindy’s findings will enable developers to pinpoint exactly where game parameters need to be changed in order to keep gamers engaged, improving the overall gaming experience for people who play video games.
“I would like to extend my congratulations to the five up-and-coming researchers highlighted last evening,” said Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director, Dr. Arvind Gupta. “They represent only a few of the thousands of students at Canadian universities who participate in Mitacs programs each year, all of whom play a vital role in the development of new products, services and technologies which will improve the lives of not only Canadians, but people around the world.”
Mitacs would like to acknowledge the following governments for their partnership: the Government of Canada, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Networks of Centres of Excellence’s Industrial R&D Internship Program, the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program and the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador through the Research and Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Québec and Saskatchewan.
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