Outstanding young researchers honoured at Mitacs inaugural awards ceremony
Their research can turn skin cells into blood cells, create new jobs and encourage industry innovation, and there is every indication it will continue to change and improve our lives for years to come.
The inaugural Mitacs Awards ceremony was held on Wednesday evening to recognize the amazing contributions young researchers participating in Mitacs programs aimed at fostering research and innovation, as well as forging stronger bonds between academia and businesses across Canada.
Following a keynote speech by the Minister of State for Science and Technology, the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Mitacs highlighted and rewarded five of the most meritorious among the hundreds of young researchers who take part in its programs each year.
“To keep the economy growing and create jobs, the Government of Canada needs to develop, attract and retain the next generation of leading researchers,” said Minister of State Goodyear. “Thanks to the government’s investment in Mitacs, we are training the highly skilled young researchers who will provide a competitive advantage to our Canadian companies.”
Minister Goodyear was the first to offer congratulations to Logan Volkers, a University of Victoria Master’s student who partnered with Wesley Clover and the Alacrity Foundation to conduct research analyzing Internet television viewer data through a Mitacs Accelerate internship. The research led to the launch of Victoria-based company Yupiq which began to sell two products based on the internship research within a few months of the project’s completion. Mr Volkers won the Mitacs Commercialization Award. The Alacrity Foundation is supported by BCIC and Western Economic Diversification.
Next, Isabelle Blain, VP of Research Grants and Scholarships at NSERC, congratulated Viet Hung Vu, a postdoctoral fellow from the École de technologie supérieure of Montreal, who partnered with IREQ – Hydro-Quebec’s research institute – to develop software to assess the structural integrity of mechanical systems, such as alternators, much more quickly and more accurately than was previously possible. Mr Vu was rewarded with the Mitacs Novelty in Application award for his efforts made possible through the Mitacs Accelerate program.
Then Kitchener – Waterloo MP Peter Braid took to the stage to honour Sundaram Ananthanaryanan, an undergraduate from Anna University College of Engineering (Guindy) in Chennai, India, who partnered with the University of Waterloo, through the Mitacs Globalink program, to conduct research which will lead to increased energy efficiency of multi-core processors. By video, Mr Ananthanaryanan accepted the Mitacs Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award.
This was followed by Clément Fortin, CEO of CRIAQ, recognizing the work of Carine Bourguet, a Ph.D. student at Université de Montréal’s Department of Chemistry, who partnered with Allostera Pharma Inc. and developed a small molecule which could be used to delay labour in treating preterm birth. For her efforts, Ms Bourguet was awarded the Mitacs Outstanding Graduate Research Award.
Senator Kelvin Ogilvie offered congratulations to Eva Szabo, a postdoctoral fellow from McMaster University, who received the Mitacs Outstanding Post-doctoral Research Achievement Award for her role in a fascinating scientific breakthrough: converting human skin cells into blood cells.
“Reducing all the achievements of Mitacs program participants to only five names and awards is to dramatically understate the value of the work and efforts all of these promising minds have accomplished,” said Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director Dr Arvind Gupta. “Of course, tonight’s winners deserve all the praise they are receiving for their exceptional success, however I want to extend our most heartfelt congratulations to all participants in Mitacs programs for their commitment to research and for the difference their work has made, and will continue to make in our lives.”
Mitacs would like to acknowledge the following governments for their support: the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Western Economic Diversification, the Networks of Centres of Excellence through the Industrial R&D Internship Program, the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program, the Province of Alberta, the Province of British Columbia, the Province of Manitoba, the Province of New Brunswick, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Province of Nova Scotia, the Province of Ontario, the Province of Québec, le Fonds de recherche Santé and the Province of Saskatchewan.