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.
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 issue has attracted researchers from multiple disciplines, including Danielle Benesch, who is examining how perceptions of free will could impact our response to the overdose crisis. Danielle, a Mitacs intern from the Universität Osnabrück in Germany, has studied free will and decision-making for years. She travelled to Canada this summer to work on a project, supervised by Professor Eric Racine of the Université de Montréal, to research the relationship between perceptions of free will and addiction.
Now, one Mitacs intern is searching for a solution. Arvind Srinivasan is researching an algorithm that will integrate real-time changes into existing mapping programs. The new algorithm allows the app to seamlessly adjust your route — without interrupting the navigation. Normally, unexpected changes to the map require more processing power to integrate. The resulting algorithm is slower and less useful as a navigation tool.
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.
This summer, Nathalia Soares Covre, a Mitacs intern from Brazil, is helping the modelEAU team develop a digital model of an innovative wastewater treatment process. This new process reduces the discharge of nitrogen into lakes and rivers so that plant operators can work to reduce the impact of urban wastewater on local ecosystems.
Canada has always welcomed refugees, but with the recent increase in volume the infrastructure has struggled to keep up. Small cities often lack sufficient resources, while refugees lack the skillset to integrate on their own. Sarah Alkholb has travelled from Saudi Arabia to Saskatoon this summer to address one facet of this problem. Working with Professor Hassan Vatanparast, she is researching the food security crisis facing newly landed refugee populations in Canada.
Led by Professor Filiz Koksel, the team, including Maria Arzamendi, a Mitacs Globalink intern from Mexico, is developing strategies to reduce food waste by using bakery by-products to create high-protein, fiber-rich snacks.
The researchers are combining leftover bread crumbs from a bakery with pulse flour, which is flour from legume crops, and using a novel technique to manipulate the food structure during processing. The local ingredients are resource efficient, environmentally friendly, and nutritional.
Wendlasida Ouedraogo is part of a research team at École Polytechnique de Montréal that is developing the next generation of computer vision software, which automates visual tasks, to help civil engineers and city planners get ahead of construction demand.
Now, a research team at the École de technologie supérieure is developing a technology-based solution to help nurses and doctors distinguish important signals in the ICU: a ‘smart’ earplug for hospital care practitioners. This summer, they’ve engaged an international research intern — through a Mitacs Globalink internship — to help bring the technology one step closer to a care unit near you.