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"In search of a better tomorrow": Dal innovators celebrated at Discovery Awards

Posted by Tanis Trainor on November 27, 2023 in Awards
2023 Discovery Awards recipients (Jimmy Bennett photo).
2023 Discovery Awards recipients (Jimmy Bennett photo).

Leading researchers and innovators from across Nova Scotia were celebrated last week at the 21st annual Discovery Awards, including eight members of the Dalhousie community.

The event shines a light on outstanding scientists and innovators and showcases a shared vision to inspire youth across Nova Scotia with the marvels of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).

“I’m delighted to be in the company of tonight’s attendees and recognize our shared commitment to strengthening our region through innovation,” said Dalhousie President Kim Brooks in remarks at the event held last Wednesday at the Halifax Convention Centre.

“On behalf of Dalhousie University, I want to congratulate all of this year’s honourees, award recipients, and nominees. Your dedication to discovery is not only raising the bar, but it’s driving us all ahead in search of a better tomorrow.” 

The event served as a reminder that inspiration and collaboration come from play. There were dance performances, a science-trivia challenge, and a discovery demo where tables used household items and simple circuits to create their own dancing Scribble Bot. With just a few games, the laughter and cheers from the room of emerging and established researchers could have easily been confused with a third-grade class.

One table's Scribble Bot – a dancing remote using household items and a simple circuit (Jimmy Bennett photo).

Celebrating innovation

It was between these playful bouts that the accomplishments of those in the room with celebrated.  

The awards started with a posthumous induction to the Discovery Centre Hall of Fame for Dr. Ronald Keith O’Dor (1944-2020). The objective of the Hall of Fame is two-fold: to recognize Nova Scotians who have made international impact on science and technology and to identify exceptional individuals as role models. Dr. O’Dor is both, having international impact on marine management and conservation efforts today while embodying play through gadget creation and creatively repurposing lab equipment. Watch the video now.

Janet O'Dor (left) accepting the Hall of Fame Award on behalf of recipient Dr. Ronald O'Dor (Jimmy Bennett photo).

Celebrated across categories

Dr. Erin Johnson
 was awarded the Professional of Distinction Award for her work on the development and applications of density-functional theory (DFT) to study electronic structure. Watch the finalist video now.

Dr. Erin Johnson recieving the Professional of Distinction Award (Jimmy Bennett photo).

Dr. Pemberton Cyrus was awarded the Science Champion Award for his leadership in outreach to Black Nova Scotian populations through the Imhotep’s Legacy Academy to increase the diversity of voices solving the world’s biggest issues. Watch the finalist video now.

Dr. Pemberton Cyrus recieving the Science Champion Award (Jimmy Bennett photo).

Noreen Kamal was awarded the Emerging Professional Award for her work to reduce disparity in access and optimize time to stroke treatment. Watch the finalist video now.

Dr. Noreen Kamal recieving the Emerging Professional Award (Jimmy Bennett photo).

Dr. Robert AbrahamDr. Daniel Boyd and Dr. Sharon Kehoe were awarded the Innovation Award for their research and development of novel products for the treatment of liver cancer with ABK BiomedicalWatch the finalist video now.

ABK Biomedal recieving the Innovation Award (Jimmy Bennett photo).

Dr. Steven Beyea was awarded the Public Impact Award for his work to improving the quality of diagnosis that patients receive by optimizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies. Watch the finalist video now.

Dr. Steven Beyea recieving the Public Impact Award (Jimmy Bennett photo).

Five additional nominees from Dalhousie — also featured in the videos above — include Dr. Marlon LewisDr. Sarah WellsDr. Sara KirkDr. Finlay Maguire and Jennifer Llewellyn.

Empowering youth

This year’s Discovery Awards — the marquee annual fundraising event for the Discovery Centre — raised more than $125,000 for initiatives such as the Youth Empowerment in Science (YES) program, Trusted Voices and its Why Immunize? campaign, Sprouting Science and Gen Action programs. Learn more about Discovery Centre programs.  

Bram St. Peters, a Grade 10 student from Citadel High School in Halifax, received the Dal-sponsored Youth Award this year for achieving the highest ranking at a Canada-wide science fair. Bram traveled to Edmonton earlier this year to present his research on stimulating plant growth using lunar soil. Watch the video now.