Depression is one of the most prevailing health conditions of the 21st century, affecting over 300 million people worldwide. The illness does not discriminate. It is a leading cause of workplace disability and represents a large financial burden for many families. Consequently, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, under the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases’ mental illness funding initiative have co-funded a five-year implementation project to optimize clinical care.
Mitacs internships facilitate connections between university students and non-academic partners across Canada. Partner organizations get the immense benefit of high-quality, rigorous research support and access to ground-breaking knowledge from academia—which may be inaccessible otherwise. Highly-skilled students get to apply their research expertise beyond their academic settings, while also building important skills and connections that serve them after graduation.
The province’s need to be prepared is even more urgent. An earthquake has a domino effect on infrastructure and services. It can knock out power, and damage railway tracks and bridges. It disrupts essential services that hospitals and emergency personnel need to do their jobs. Although on average 3,000 quakes occur in BC each year, the province has not had its readiness tested by a major event recently. But it could happen at any time.
This is what the team at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHEOS) is curious to explore. And this summer, they’ve engaged Cianan Thomson, a Mitacs research intern from Deakin University in Australia, to help the CHEOS team understand existing tools, as well as the opportunities they might provide for a novel approach.
The app will use audio stories, such as podcasts, to enable users to communicate and feel as if they are doing the same activity at the same time, even though the activity might be taking place at different times in different places. For example, a mother and daughter living in different cities can hike together, with the mother initiating the story during her earlier hike and the daughter able to listen to her mother’s account while she herself goes for a hike.
Now, a team of Mitacs researchers is working to understand the risks involved with aerial firefighting and is developing customized wearable and in-flight technologies that could improve pilot safety during wildfire seasons. Their goal: develop a system to monitor a pilot’s physical and cognitive conditions using the latest in wearable technologies to empower the pilot and flight operations to only deploy when it’s safe to fly.
So she began a Master of Professional Communications at Royal Roads University. Now, thanks to a Mitacs internship, Alina is helping the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT) enlist the public’s support to save endangered woodland areas.
Sana Maqsood, a PhD student at Carleton University, wants to educate young internet users on how to stay safe in the online world. Through Mitacs’ internship program, Sana is working with MediaSmarts — a local not-for-profit organization that promotes digital literacy among youth — to create a video game that helps players combat the risks found in cyberspace.
To help tackle this environmental issue, Mitacs intern Oldooz Pooyanfar, a graduate student from Simon Fraser University’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, is working on a ‘smart’ system that monitors the health of honey bees and their hives. Once installed inside a beehive, her integrated monitoring system allows beekeepers to observe and track the health of their colonies. The device uses microscopic sensors and microphones to pick up sounds and vibrations emitted by bees and can also be used to observe the temperature and humidity of each hive.
Working under the direction of University of Alberta Professor Stephanie Yanow and PhD student Catherine Mitran, Ina is looking at samples from pregnant women in several regions in South America who have been infected with a type of malaria parasite called Plasmodium vivax. She’s then exploring the cross-reaction of those samples to that of pregnant women who’ve been infected by a different malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, to see if the first species can create antibodies that contribute to protection against the second species.