Media Releases


2021

Dalhousie University Announces Second Ready2Launch Cohort

Tuesday, June 8, 2021 (Halifax, NS) – Dalhousie University is pleased to announce the second annual Ready2Launch (R2L) summer accelerator cohort, which includes 12 teams from universities across Atlantic Canada. The three-month R2L program is designed for teams who are committed to building and growing technology-based and research-driven ventures.

Ready2Launch is one of the offerings from the Dal Innovates suite of programs that helps deliver innovation and entrepreneurial skills and attitudes to students. To date, graduates have gone on to raise six-figure seed funding investments and participate in prestigious accelerators in Canada and abroad. 

Teams will use their academic backgrounds to commercialize products with the potential for global reach, with a focus on determining their user problem, finding product value, and validating their business model. Participants consist of students from undergraduate to post-doctoral level, with research in areas of medical physics, horticultural science, human resources, civil engineering, and molecular biology.

“We are thrilled to be offering our second cohort of Ready2Launch to Atlantic Canadian university students who are developing tech-enabled business ideas,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President, Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “The teams are coming to this program with a rich diversity of technologies and growth experiences, including those from our Lab2Market cohort who are ready to take their companies to the next stage of growth. I look forward to seeing their incredible new ideas transform into innovations.”

Teams will take part in weekly workshops following the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework developed by Bill Aulet at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In addition, participants will receive up to $15,000.00 in funding, along with guidance from industry in the form of a designated mentor and mock board of directors. Resilience training and skills clinic sessions will round out the program, with sessions drawing on expertise from the Atlantic and national innovation ecosystems, and with instruction from industry experts in corporate law, marketing, and product development, to name a few.

Participating teams represent Dalhousie University, including the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, Acadia University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Saint Mary’s University, Saint Francis Xavier University, University of Prince Edward Island, and University of New Brunswick. One-third of the cohort previously participated in the Lab2Market program, which is a precursor to Ready2Launch.  

“Recognizing significant potential for our venture while seeing the series of challenging decisions awaiting us, our team decided to participate in Ready2Launch to develop the necessary skills and expertise,” said Stephanie Arnold, Co-Founder of Irrigation Management Pro, University of Prince Edward Island. “We are excited about equipping our team with the skills and road map to navigate and prepare for our next steps in commercialization, turning the unknown into opportunities.

The Teams:

Technology Academic Institution Team Members
Centoro is a cloud-based HR platform that empowers teams to modernize and streamline their employee management workflows from recruitment, onboarding to payroll and time tracking. Memorial University of Newfoundland Zainab Khan
Drastic Maritime Ocean Plastics Corp. recovers plastic waste from the oceans and converts it to a sustainable source of raw material. Serving municipalities and manufacturers, Drastic Maritime Ocean Plastics Corp. is the first company in the Atlantic region to create 100% recycled feedstock from ocean plastics.

Saint Mary’s University

Saint Francis Xavier University

Adam Starr

Ghazaleh Afrahi

Spencer Pieczonka

Drinkable Water Solutions Inc. combines novel graphene technology to produce an affordable, sensitive, and accurate sensor to detect water contamination and when paired with a smartphone, delivers unprecedented water insight on the go.

Acadia University

Dalhousie University

Saint Mary’s University

Anita Taylor

Matthew Mizzi

Formula Consulting Inc. develops software to reduce the time and cost of civil construction projects through innovative digital solutions that solve a significant portion of typical formwork problems.

Dalhousie University

 

 

Dougal Armour

Mitchell Kane

HeAIZe Optics and Photonics develops novel Raman spectroscopy technology that allows clinicians and transplant surgeons to obtain accurate measurements of various characteristic biomarkers critical in organ diagnostics.

Dalhousie University

 

Hao Guo

Dr. Alexey Tikhomirov
HOLLO medical supports inhaler users frustrated with the cumbersome size of their valved holding chamber, through the development of a medical device that outperforms the current industry standard and is portable enough to easily fit into a child’s pocket.

Dalhousie University

 

 

David Hodgson

Sara Fedullo

Irrigation Management Pro offers a precision irrigation map generator that helps growers meet crop needs by integrating multiple data sources to accurately determine where, when and how much to irrigate their crop, integrating seamlessly with major agricultural software platforms and irrigation equipment.

University of Prince Edward Island

 

 

Stephanie Arnold

Andrew Clark

Myomar Molecular Inc. is developing a diagnostic tool to identify early stages of muscle atrophy. This technology will be used by physiotherapists and medical doctors to access therapy approaches, reduce hospitalization time, and analyze recovery progress. Dalhousie University



Rafaela Andrade

Dylan Deska-Gauthier

Neuro Amel Technologies combines modern design with cutting-edge technology to create 24-hour personalized rehabilitation that reduces clinical backlog while enhancing patient recovery with live biofeedback and remote monitoring.

Dalhousie University 

Saint Mary’s University

Hayam Mahmoud-Ahmed

Estelle Cochingyan

Nimei Biologicals offers a solution for greenhouse producers to replace synthetic fertilizer use and reduce the cost of production, while enhancing crop productivity and resilience to environmental stresses. Dalhousie University - Agricultural Campus

Raphael Ofoe

Dr. Lord Abbey

Quilt HR empowers managers to be better communicators. By being proactive in tracking employee performance, Quilt HR’s technology helps managers increase employee engagement, lower turnover, and increase profits.

Saint Mary’s University

 

Jaime Christian

 

The STRATUM: Digital Archaeological Field Notes Tool is a mobile platform geared toward use by field technicians and project managers.

 

 

University of New Brunswick

 

 

Dr. Cora Woolsey

Chelsea Colwell-Pasch

Dalhousie University is part of the Incubate Innovate Network of Canada (I-INC), which acts as an umbrella organization providing support to high-performing university-connected incubators and accelerators. Led by Dalhousie University, funding is provided with support from the Government of Canada through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and Morrison Park Advisors Inc., Canada’s premier independent investment bank.

Interested future applicants can find more information at ready2launch.ca

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About Dalhousie University:
Dalhousie University is Atlantic Canada’s leading research-intensive university. Located in the heart of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an Agricultural Campus in Truro/Bible Hill, Dalhousie is a truly national and international university, with more than half of the university’s 20,000-plus students coming from outside the province. Dal’s 6,000 faculty and staff foster a diverse, purpose-driven community, one that spans 13 faculties and conducts more than $181 million in research annually. Part of a cluster identified as one of the world’s top international centres in ocean research, the university proudly celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2018.

About Ready2Launch:
Ready2Launch supports start-up teams who have identified a customer opportunity from the Lab2Market program in building the capacity they need to identify a viable business model, launch their venture, and reach their next developmental milestone. I-INC will offer a Ready2Launch summer accelerator for students and researchers across Canada with the goal of launching sustainable and scalable companies within 6 months of completing the program. Learn more at https://ready2launch.ca/.

About Lab2Market:
Lab2Market supports researchers who foresee impact and potential commercial value in their deep tech research, by providing opportunities and exposure to help commercialize their intellectual property. The program is developed and led by Dalhousie University, Memorial University, and Ryerson University, and leverages the national I-INC network. Learn more atwww.lab2market.ca.

About I-INC:
The Incubate Innovate Network of Canada (I-INC) is a pan-Canadian, internationally connected network of high-performance university-linked accelerators and incubators. I-INC creates an ecosystem for the efficient commercialization of University-based and science and technology-enabled innovation. Founded in 2014, the network has expanded to include 13 universities across Canada. Learn more at www.iincanada.ca.

Media contact:

Emily Neil
Coordinator, Dal Innovates
Dalhousie University
902-300-0022
emily.neil@dal.ca

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
902-222-2817
michele.charlton@dal.ca

 

Dalhousie University professor receives NSERC/Novonix Alliance Grant Funding Award for battery breakthrough

Wednesday, May 19, 2021 (Halifax, NS) - Dr. Mark Obrovac, a Professor in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Science, is the recipient of a $3.3 million research funding award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Novonix, a world-class battery materials and technology company, for research that will help revolutionize the way batteries are made.

The funding is made possible through NSERC’s Alliance Grant program. These grants support research projects led by strong, complementary, collaborative teams that will generate new knowledge and accelerate the application of research results to create benefits for Canada. 

Dr. Obrovac's research is focused on making higher performing batteries that cost less and have a lower environmental impact than current technologies. His research team has been able to synthesize highly engineered particles by consolidating fine, even submicron particles into particles that are tens of microns. This innovative process, called dry particle microgranulation or DPMG, allows for the type of precise control of particle internal composition variation, shape, and morphology that is not possible by previous methods. 

They have also discovered that Li-ion battery graphite and metal oxide particles can be made at 100% yield with no water or waste. This process could be used in many fields to reduce the cost and environmental impact of particle synthesis and enable the synthesis in bulk of new, highly engineered particles. 

And, in a unique twist, the graphite spherical particles they are creating are layered like an onion. Such "onion-type" graphite spheres have previously only been observed in inter-stellar space, or made artificially in micrograms. This unique material could lead to better performing Li-ion batteries, and is highly desirable for powdered lubricants. 

To learn more about Dr. Obrovac’s work, visit the Obrovac Research Group’s website.
 

Quotes:

“I am excited to embark on this new research program. Rarely do we find paths that lead to materials that are not only more sustainable and less expensive, but also potentially have improved characteristics over current materials. The possibilities for new materials synthesis are enormous for the battery field and in other fields too. I am looking forward to continue our exciting to work with Novonix in this new research program, especially in bringing these discoveries out of the lab and into industrial use which presents new challenges as these processes are utilized on a larger scale.”

- Dr. Mark Obrovac, Professor, Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University 

Novonix has been thrilled with the caliber of work from Dr. Obrovac and his team and look forward to another five years of collaborative research. Dr. Obrovac’s goals of developing new processes and materials for cheaper, cleaner and higher performance batteries aligns with Novonix’s business objectives. Novonix is currently investing in scaling up technology developed in Dr. Obrovac’s lab and sees much more opportunity to come through this new research program.”

- Dr. Chris Burns, CEO, Novonix

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have a world-class battery materials innovator like Dr. Obrovac at Dalhousie University. His new simple and scalable processes are enabling the production of Lithium-ion batteries at reduced cost, with less waste and with greater sustainability. It’s this kind of impressive innovation that will play a key role in creating a greener tomorrow.”

- Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation, Dalhousie University

“We are so proud to have Dr. Obrovac as part of the Faculty of Science driving world class research in battery technology. It is because of individuals like him that Dalhousie continues to be a leader in battery solutions that will benefit our planet as we strive for a carbon neutral future.”

- Dr. Chris Moore, Dean, Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University

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About Novonix:

Established in Nova, Scotia, Canada in 2013, Novonix is an integrated developer and supplier of high-performance materials, equipment and services for the global lithium-ion battery industry with operations in the USA and Canada and sales in more than 14 countries.

Novonix’s mission is to support the global development of lithium-ion battery technologies for a cleaner energy future. 

About Dalhousie University:

Dalhousie University is Atlantic Canada’s leading research-intensive university. Located in the heart of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an Agricultural Campus in Truro/Bible Hill, Dalhousie is a truly national and international university, with more than half of the university’s 20,000-plus students coming from outside the province. Dal’s 6,000 faculty and staff foster a diverse, purpose-driven community, one that spans 13 faculties and conducts more than $181 million in research annually. Part of a cluster identified as one of the world’s top international centres in ocean research, the university proudly celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2018. 

Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

New policy briefing authored by Dalhousie University researchers provides recommendations for enhancing COVID-19 vaccination acceptance in Canada

A wide range of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance exists across pockets of Canada. A small minority of people strongly oppose vaccination, a ‘moveable middle’ has varying levels of concern and uncertainty and legitimate questions that need to be answered, and the majority who intend to get vaccinated, but may need help along the way with booking and accessing a vaccination site. 

Vaccine acceptance varies over time with individual and cultural beliefs, attitudes and practices; new knowledge about the risks of getting COVID-19 in one’s community; and policies and the organization of health and community services. 

Five researchers from Dalhousie University have contributed to the latest policy briefing from the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), Enhancing COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance in Canada. It outlines a COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance Framework, inspired by the World Health Assembly’s Immunization Agenda 2030 of leaving no one behind. The RSC report provides 18 pressing recommendations requiring immediate attention, 8 rapid recommendations to be addressed in the next 3-6 months, and 17 longer term ones to be addressed within the next year. 

Some of the recommendations include the need for:

  • Individuals and communities to prioritize and advocate for the immunization needs of underserved groups;
     
  • Paid time-off for all workers to get immunized;
     
  • Real-time assessment of the progress of vaccination uptake in all communities with program adjustments to address gaps;
     
  • Healthcare systems and public health programs to adopt real-world COVID-19 vaccine experiences and lessons learned to strengthen routine immunization programs;
     
  • Federal, Provincial, Territorial, and Indigenous governments to ensure immunization equity for all vaccines recommended by the National Advisory Committee for Vaccination (NACI), including the COVID-19 vaccines;
     
  • All jurisdictions should use the experiences gained during the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen preventative care across Canada. 

The authors argue that carefully designed interventions are required, tailored to community needs and concerns, that build trust in public health authorities and those delivering vaccines, and to promote acceptance. 

Dr. Janice Graham, Dr. Shawn Harmon, Dr. Audrey Steenbeek, Dr. Jeannette Comeau, and Dr. Noni MacDonald are available to provide perspective on this important policy briefing and discuss its specific recommendations. 

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie University researcher finds that farmed fish do well on diet of natural marine oil, providing a more sustainable food source for aquaculture operations

A researcher at Dalhousie University has found that farmed salmon and trout do just as well, if not better, on a diet of feed containing a locally produced marine oil compared to one that uses oil from less sustainable wild-caught fish.

Stefanie Colombo, an assistant professor in Dal’s Department of Animal Science and Aquaculture and a Canada Research Chair, tested oil from a marine algae in the diets of farmed rainbow trout and Atlantic salmon.

The researchers did several feeding trials using varying amounts of the microalgae oil, including one that completely replaced the fish oil with the new marine microalgae oil. They found that both trout and salmon grew as well or better than fish that were fed oil from the wild fish. The salmon and trout also stored more DHA in their fillets, which is important for consumers.

The findings, outlined in two separate studies, are significant for the lucrative aquaculture industry, which now has a more sustainable option for supplying omega-3s in their fish feeds. One of the challenges for the business is finding feed that doesn’t rely too heavily on wild-caught fish for the oil, which is a critical part of the feed. The research also highlights the synergies in Atlantic Canada, regarding the production of local, sustainable materials for the growing aquaculture industry. 

Dr. Colombo is available to discuss the research and how this locally produced oil has proven to be an effective source of DHA in the diets of rainbow trout and salmon.

Please see the studies here: MDPI and Aquaculture.

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Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491
Email: alison.auld@dal.ca

Dalhousie University’s Director of Animal Care honoured for dedication to animal welfare by the Canadian Council on Animal Care

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 (Halifax, NS) –Dalhousie University’s Director of Animal Care has been recognized for his significant contributions to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). 

Dr. Chris Harvey Clark is the recipient of the 2021 Harry C. Rowsell Award for Outstanding Service to the CCAC. The award was named for the CCAC’s founding executive director, who devoted his life to promoting optimal care for animals in Canadian science. Dr. Rowsell’s deep personal commitment to the humane treatment of animals, and his belief in our ethical responsibility for their well-being, are evidenced through the many significant contributions he made during his career.

“Receiving the Harry C. Rowsell award for lifetime contributions in support of the Canadian Council on Animal Care came as a complete surprise to me,” says Dr. Harvey-Clark. “I count myself lucky in having an interesting and varied career and I am honoured to receive this recognition from my colleagues – it’s kind of life-affirming. Most of all, I value the collegiality of fellow professionals in my field; they, and the institutions that have supported us as we have made change, should be sharing this award.” 

Dr. Harvey-Clark has spent the last 35 years of his varied career as a veterinarian, senior administrator, and animal welfare advocate. Driven by the belief that good animal welfare leads to good science, he has made invaluable contributions to the ethical care and use of animals in science through the development of programs for large multidisciplinary teams, spearheading the construction of new research spaces, the clinical management of a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic species, and the promotion of science and natural history in the community as a writer, speaker, and documentary film creator. He has also contributed to the development of the Canadian Council on Animal Care’s guidelines on fish and has participated on dozens of assessment panels over the years. 

Dr. Harvey-Clark first came to Dalhousie University in 1994, as the Director of Animal Care, with the challenge of turning around the institution’s probationary compliance status, which he achieved in only four years. He also initiated active investigator training programs and ongoing professional development for the university’s technical staff and graduate students. After working away from the university from 2004-2013, he returned to help create a three-campus animal care program and dedicate himself to marine and welfare research activities. 

“I’ve had a fascination for animals and the sea since I was a kid,” says Dr. Harvey-Clark. “Being back at Dalhousie and rubbing shoulders with so many great scientists has helped my work in marine conservation – along with writing, filming, and hosting documentaries for the Discovery Channel, BBC, National Film Board of Canada, the History Channel and National Geographic.”

Dr. Harvey-Clark has also authored 36 papers, book chapters, and books, and made presentations on a myriad of topics related to animal welfare in science. 

“Congratulations to Dr. Harvey-Clark on this well-deserved recognition from the Canadian Council on Animal Care,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “His deep passion for animals, and dedication to their humane treatment has made a significant and lasting impact on the welfare of animals in science.”

Founded in 1968, the Canadian Council on Animal Care is the national peer-review organization responsible for setting, maintaining, and overseeing the implementation of high standards for animal ethics and care in science throughout Canada. 

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Media Contact:

 

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation 
Dalhousie University 
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie University scientist represents the future of Nova Scotia’s cancer research efforts

When it comes to cancer treatment options, Dalhousie University’s Dr. Shashi Gujar believes that its out with the old, and in with the new. 

Dr. Gujar, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, is the recipient of $600,000 over five years from the Canadian Cancer Society’s (CCS) Emerging Scholar Award program to explore how cancer killing viruses could potentially be used to treat and cure lung cancer. He is one of 15 scholars selected in the country. 

The Emerging Scholar Award program is aimed at establishing and advancing promising early-career scientists and clinician scientists from across Canada with a focused commitment to undertaking cancer research. Through this program, early-career investigators will develop their cancer research programs in Canada and pursue important scientific advances of the highest quality and potential for impact. 

Dr. Gujar and his team are working on training patient’s own immune system to fight cancer (these modern cancer therapies are known as ‘cancer immunotherapies’). To achieve this goal, Dr. Gujar uses innovative cancer killing viruses. 

Cancer immunotherapies are highly promising but only work in certain patients. To change this, factors that impair the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy must be understood. He is looking to alter one of cancer’s most powerful suppressive mechanisms that dampen the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies: the tumour microenvironment (TME). In the TME, the cancer creates a toxic metabolic environment that makes it incredibly difficult for white blood cells responsible for our immune responses, known as T cells, to operate efficiently. As soon as a T cell enters the TME, it is pummeled by this environment and starved of the fuel it needs to put up a fight. Not only will the TME be altered, but the cancer killing viruses will be used to teach out T cells to respond favourably in this environment – just like an elite endurance athlete training at high altitude to force the body to adapt to a lack of oxygen. 

Although this project specifically focuses on lung cancer, the techniques and knowledge gained will have broad implications in the fight to reduce the burden of all cancers in Canada. 

Dr. Gujar is available to provide perspective on receiving the Emerging Scholar Award, and how it is helping his team conduct truly valuable research, considering that an estimated 9.6 million people die from cancer every year. 

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Media contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie University researcher on a mission to uncover the impact of arsenic and radon exposure on the human body

Half of all Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, with a person’s risk impacted by their age, physical activity, diet, and exposure to environmental cancer-causing substances. 

Metallic arsenic and radioactive radon gas are two of the most abundant environmental causes of cancer in Canada. Recent studies have shown that exposure to dangerous amounts of arsenic and/or radon contributes to 3,500 cases of lung cancer in Canada per year. This is a devastating burden on our healthcare system, and it is preventable. 

Dr. Graham Dellaire, a Professor in Dalhousie University’s Department of Pathology, is leading a team of experts in cancer biology, health geography, environmental science, and population health to address “Cancer risks of Arsenic and Radon environmental Exposures” (CARE). Their mission is to uncover and apply new knowledge to understand the impact of arsenic and radon exposures on the human body and reduce the future burden of cancers caused by these carcinogens. This study was recently the recipient of over $2 million in funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Innovation Fund

Dr. Dellaire is available to provide perspective on the study; how it will help inform health policy; encourage Canadians to test for exposure; and improve the uptake of exposure mitigation strategies.

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Media contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie University Launches Applications for Second Ready2Launch Cohort

Thursday, April 1, 2021 (Halifax, NS) –Dalhousie University, a hub for world-leading research, innovation and entrepreneurship, has opened applications for its second Ready2Launch cohort. Atlantic Canadian university students and recent graduates can apply to participate in a 3-month immersive virtual accelerator program starting in June 2021 to grow and refine their tech-enabled ventures. Undergraduate, graduate and PhD students as well as postdoctoral fellows are welcome to apply

“Dalhousie University is pleased to once again present the Ready2Launch program, empowering university students and graduacross Atlantic Canada to explore tech-enabled ventures in a supportive environment,’ said Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President, Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “The program serves as an important addition to the Dal Innovates suite of programs, which is not only cultivating a pipeline of creators, innovators and entrepreneurs, but creating local and global impact.”

Ready2Launch will take teams on a journey through customer problem identification, refining product value and developing a viable business model. A total of 10 teams will be accepted to participate in the program receiving mentorship, personalized training, and skill clinics as well as up to $15,000.00 in funding. The program will culminate in a demo day in early September and will include in-kind perks and benefits from corporate partners. 

In 2020, the program accepted and graduated eight teams: 3DBioFbR, Caldi Controls, Chipn, Clean Valley Bio-filtration Technologies CIC, Haligone, MyPAQ, Remote Energy Systems, and Smart Design Systems, who have since gone on to raise significant funding as well to participate in globally renowned accelerators.

Ready2Launch is based on the successful Delta V Accelerator program at MIT in the United States. Led by Dalhousie University and supported by Morrison Park Advisors, funding to participating teams is provided with support from the Government of Canada through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).

Those interested in learning more about Ready2Launch are encouraged to join one of the upcoming information sessions on April 8, April 15, or April 22. Program applications can be submitted at Ready2Launch.ca before 5:00 p.m. April 26, 2021. 

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About Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University is Atlantic Canada’s leading research-intensive university. Located in the heart of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an Agricultural Campus in Truro/Bible Hill, Dalhousie is a truly national and international university, with more than half of the university’s 20,000-plus students coming from outside the province. Dal’s 6,000 faculty and staff foster a diverse, purpose-driven community, one that spans 13 faculties and conducts more than $181 million in research annually. Part of a cluster identified as one of the world’s top international centres in ocean research, the university proudly celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2018.

Media contacts:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: 902-222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie Announces Third Lab2Market Cohort Featuring 23 Teams from Across Canada

Monday, March 15, 2021 (Halifax, NS) – Dalhousie University is pleased to announce the launch of Lab2Market (L2M) - Halifax’s Winter 2021 cohort, which will include 23 teams from 11 universities across Canada. This cohort will include research in areas including pharmacology, plant science, chemical and petroleum engineering, and neuroscience, and will explore topics such as sustainable energy recovery, archaeological data automation, and driver drowsiness technology.

The 16-week program will equip graduate and post-doctorate researchers with the skills required to assess the commercial opportunity for their research and translate it beyond the doors of university laboratories. Teams will focus on validating their ideas through customer discovery to find commercial value in market.

“Dalhousie University is pleased to be offering our third cohort of Lab2Market in Halifax, and fifth cohort nationally with our partners at Ryerson University and Memorial University,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President, Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “After the Fall 2020 cohort, we saw 85% of participants identify that their research had commercial potential with 91% interested in starting their own company. This demonstrates the value of this program in supporting our researchers to think like entrepreneurs.” 

Participants will be provided with hands-on support, access to mentorship, a tailored curriculum, and the opportunity to receive $15,000.00 in funding. Each research team includes three participants: the graduate student or post-doctorate fellow, the applicant's supervisor or primary investigator, and an industry mentor from a related business sector.  

“As a Post-Doctoral Fellow, I’m entering the program to gain knowledge and skills to translate my research into a marketable product,” said Dr. Rafaela Andrade-Vieira of Dalhousie University, who is participating in Lab2Market to support the development of a muscle performance molecular test. “I look forward to meeting fellow entrepreneurs, and senior leaders and welcome the opportunity to build connections with others interested in health science to create and innovate.”

Participating teams stem from Dalhousie University, Memorial University, University of Ottawa, University of Calgary, Ryerson University, McGill University, University of Victoria, University of New Brunswick, McMaster University, Saint Mary’s University, University of Toronto representing the widest range of participating postsecondary institutions to date. 

The program is based on the successful I-Corps program in the United States, and the ICURe program in the United Kingdom. Led by Dalhousie University, Ryerson University, and Memorial University, funding to participating teams is provided with support from the Government of Canada through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), Mitacs as well as the Ocean Startup Project.

Lab2Market is one of a suite of offerings from Dal Innovates that helps deliver innovation and entrepreneurial skills and attitudes to students. Teams can go on to participate in the Ready2Launch accelerator, which is an intensive 3-month pre-accelerator to help teams advance and spin-out new start-ups.

To date, Lab2Market has graduated 68 teams from cohorts across Halifax, Toronto, and St. John’s with a focus on health technology and innovation. Interested future applicants can find more information at lab2market.ca.

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The Teams:

Technology

University

Team

AttentionTrip: A video-game-like cognitive assessment tool. 

Dalhousie University

Colin McCormick

Dr. Raymond Klein

Recycled plastic waste to create different forms of Sustainable Sandwich Structures (SSS) for use in construction.

Dalhousie University

Raghad Kassab

Dr. Pedram Sadeghian

Carvacrol-incorporated Honibe lozenges for the management of bacterial sore throat.

Dalhousie University

Niluni Wijesundara

Dr. Vasantha Rupasinghe

Tunable, High Throughput UV Exposure Device to support Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection and oxidation technologies for surfaces and fluids.

Dalhousie University

Sean MacIsaac

Dr. Graham Gagnon

Highly sensitive sensors with applications in the healthcare industry.

Dalhousie University

Alireza Ghasemi Ghodrat Dr. Ghada Koleilat

A muscle performance molecular test to provide detection of patient recovery and risk stages both in and out of hospital.

Dalhousie University

Dr. Rafaela Andrade-Vieira

Dr. James Fawcett

Downstream processing for fish-derived peptide bioproducts.

Dalhousie University/   Verschuren Centre for Sustainability

Subin Rajendran

Dr. Beth Mason

Anthocyanin-based healthy food products and ingredients to boost immunity and manage inflammation-based chronic disorders.

Dalhousie University

Surangi Dharmawansa

Dr. Vasantha Rupasinghe

Weather-based predictor of cannabinoid metabolites (CBD &THC) in hemp crops.

McGill University

Dr. Dina Saleh

Dr. Donald Smith

An intraocular injectable platform for long-term treatment of retinal diseases.

McMaster University

Dr. Karim Soliman

Dr. Heather Sheardown

3D-Printing for Remote Industries (3DPRI) focuses on the needs of industries working in remote areas, such as the offshore and oil and gas industries.

Dalhousie University

Alireza Vahedi Nemani

Dr. Ali Nasiri

A numerical tool to provide solutions for advanced numerical analysis of geotechnical engineering problems.

Memorial University

Jin Chen

Dr. Bipul Hawlader

An autonomous defect recognition and correction (AIDRAC) system for robotic welding and additive
manufacturing using digital image correlation and machine learning.

Memorial University

Salar Salahi

Dr. Ali Nasiri

A mobile soil-flushing and enhanced oxidation (MSFEOP) system for the remediation of petroleum
brownfields.

Memorial University

Dr. Bo Liu

Dr. Bing Chen

Lipopeptide production using fish waste as substrate.

Memorial University

Dr. Zhiwen Zhu

Dr. Baiyu Zhang

Microfluidic Hydrogel-based biomolecule detection through the development of a device for rapid, inexpensive, and portable point-of-care diagnostics.

Ryerson University

Adrian Nash

Dr. Dae Kun Hwang

Automated driver drowsiness control technology using artificial intelligence-based decision support system.

Ryerson University/ University of Toronto

Dr. Vahid Abolhasannejad

Dr. Birsen Donmez

Designing a novel class of super-antioxidant cell-protectants from carbon nanotubes functionalized with natural phyto-phenols.

St. Mary's University/Mount Saint Vincent University

Lázaro Andrés Castanedo

Dr. Chérif F. Matta

Sustainable development of late-life post- Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) reservoirs for energy recovery.

University of Calgary

Pachari Detpunyawat 

Dr. Ian Gates

STRATUM: A Digital Archaeological Field Notes Tool:

Mobile platform geared toward use by field technicians and project managers.

University of New Brunswick

Dr. Cora Woolsey

Dr. Scott Bateman

Parallelization of solid-state nanopores for high-throughput digital biosensing.

University of Ottawa

Dr. Kyle Briggs

Dr. Vincent Tabard-Cossa

Point-of-care breath and saliva analysis for early stage disease diagnosis.

University of Toronto

Dr. Moein Shayegannia 

Dr. Nazir Kherani

Augmented reality navigation assistant for sailboats.

University of Victoria

Dr. Eduard Wisernig

Dr. Bruce Kapron

 

About Dalhousie University:
Dalhousie University is Atlantic Canada’s leading research-intensive university. Located in the heart of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an Agricultural Campus in Truro/Bible Hill, Dalhousie is a truly national and international university, with more than half of the university’s 20,000-plus students coming from outside the province. Dal’s 6,000 faculty and staff foster a diverse, purpose-driven community, one that spans 13 faculties and conducts more than $181 million in research annually. Part of a cluster identified as one of the world’s top international centres in ocean research, the university proudly celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2018.

About Lab2Market:
Lab2Market supports researchers who foresee impact and potential commercial value in their deep tech research, by providing opportunities and exposure to help commercialize their intellectual property. The program is developed and led by Dalhousie University, Memorial University, and Ryerson University, and leverages the national I-INC network. Learn more at www.lab2market.ca.

About Ready2Launch:
Ready2Launch supports start-up teams who have identified a customer opportunity from the Lab2Market program in building the capacity they need to identify a viable business model, launch their venture, and reach their next developmental milestone. I-INC will offer a Ready2Launch summer accelerator for students and researchers across Canada with the goal of launching sustainable and scalable companies within 6 months of completing the program. Learn more at https://ready2launch.ca/.

About I-INC:
The Incubate Innovate Network of Canada (I-INC) is a pan-Canadian, internationally connected network of high-performance university-linked accelerators and incubators. I-INC creates an ecosystem for the efficient commercialization of University-based and science and technology-enabled innovation. Founded in 2014, the network has expanded to include 13 universities across Canada. Learn more at www.iincanada.ca.

Media contacts:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Government of Canada invests in innovative, world-class research at Dalhousie University

Monday, March 8, 2021 (Halifax, NS) - Thanks to a $13.2 million investment from the Government of Canada, Dalhousie University’s world-class researchers are able to think big, innovate, and push the boundaries of knowledge. 

This funding, which has been provided through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Innovation Fund, is helping Canada remain at the forefront of exploration and knowledge generation while generating social, health, environmental and economic benefits and addressing global challenges. 

The announcement was made today, Monday, March 8, by Mr. Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. It is part of a larger $518 million investment announced last week that will support 102 projects at 35 post-secondary institutions and research hospitals across the country. 

"As a government that supports science, we know we must also support researchers with the high costs of research infrastructure,” says Andy Fillmore. “This funding will go a long way to help researchers in our region to carry out their important work."

“Congratulations to the remarkable researchers at Dalhousie who are receiving funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Dalhousie University’s Vice President Research and Innovation. “From exploring the ocean to understanding exposure to cancer-causing substances and advancing sustainable energy technology, the infrastructure provided by these grants will allow these scientists to continue leading the way forward on important research.”

The exceptional Dalhousie-led projects being funded by CFI include:

A BGC Argo Program for the NW Northwest Atlantic Ocean

The ocean is rapidly changing. This is especially critical for the northwest Atlantic for two reasons. The region’s lucrative fisheries are increasingly threatened by ocean warming and oxygen loss; and deep convection in the Labrador Sea is a major pathway for supplying oxygen to and storing CO2 in the ocean’s interior and is highly sensitive to climate-induced changes. 

Dr. Katja Fennel and her research team, which includes collaborators from Memorial University of Newfoundland (Dr. Uta Passow), will install and operate an array of Argo floats that measure eight properties (oxygen, nitrate, pH, suspended particles, chlorophyll, light, temperature, salinity). With an unprecedented suite of observations and the ability to integrate them into new data products, scientists will be able to address pressing questions about ocean productivity and carbon export in the North Atlantic Ocean. This project will also advance Canadian sensor technology and be a major contributor to the training of personnel in this growing sector of the economy. 

Cancer risks of Arsenic and Radon environmental Exposures (CARE)

Half of all Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, with an individual’s risk modified by their age, physical activity, diet and exposure to environmental cancer-causing substances.

Through an innovative research program, Dr. Graham Dellaire and his collaborators from the University of Calgary (Dr. Aaron Goodarzi) will determine the impact(s) of these exposures at the cellular, individual and community level. Aided by many key research partners in the non-profit sector, in industry and regulatory bodies, their mission is to uncover and apply new knowledge to understand the impact of arsenic and radon exposures on the human body and to reduce the future burden of cancers caused by these carcinogens by informing health policy, encouraging Canadians to test for exposures and improve the uptake of exposure mitigation strategies. 

Advanced Sustainable Energy Technology (ASET) Research Program

Solar energy is the most abundant renewable energy source on the planet and the best option for transitioning Canada to a low-carbon economy. Given the intermittent nature of renewable energy (wind and solar), storage of energy in batteries and in the form of fuel is essential to increasing its use in an ever-growing energy market.

Led by Dr. Michael Freund and Dr. Erin Johnson, the Advanced Sustainable Energy Technology (ASET) program research program will produce breakthroughs in solar energy conversion and storage, positioning Canada as a scientific leader in renewable solar energy technology.  This will be the most comprehensive program of its kind in Canada and the only one presenting a convergence of expertise in fundamental materials research, battery knowledge, and integration, leading to viable sustainable energy solutions. 

Artificial Intelligence meets Ocean Science (AIOS)

The AIOS research program links two research fields in which Canada excels, and in which significant national investments have been made: Artificial Intelligence and Ocean Science.

AIOS will address challenges related to the intelligent curating and analysis of massive ocean data streams using “new AI” methods, such as Deep Learning. Led by Dr. Stan Matwin, the interdisciplinary team of renowned computer and ocean scientists will apply AI to: investigate the impact of anthropogenic noise and shipping activities on endangered marine mammals; improve the efficiency of tracking marine life in a non-intrusive manner; investigate the migration patterns of invasive species; and assess fish stocks in the face of climate change. 

Next Generation Manufacturing of Advanced Ceramics

Advanced ceramics are utilised across a broad range of industries, including transportation, biomedical, architecture, petrochemicals, mining, pulp and paper – all markets that are vital to the Canadian economy. However, manufacturing of advanced ceramics for these applications is expensive, with many component geometries  (i.e. multiple internal channels for fluid or gas flow) extremely challenging or even impossible to produce conventionally.

Led by Dr. Kevin Plucknett and Dr. Vincent Sieben, this research is focused on eliminating these barriers, through the investigation and development of state-of-the-art approaches for ceramic manufacturing. Working with a broad variety of industrial partners, from international organizations to small-to-medium enterprises, the research team will ultimately develop a selection of higher technology readiness level demonstrator components. These will focus on bio-implants for health care, highly robust sensors for ocean and down well monitoring, “smart” architectural building components, solar energy, and highly wear-resistant coatings. This project will bring multiple socio-economic benefits for Canadians. 

In addition to the five awarded Dalhousie led projects listed above, Dalhousie also received funding as a collaborating institution on three externally led projects.

More information about the Canada Foundation for Innovation can be found here.

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Media contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

 

Study underway in Nova Scotia long-term care facilities to determine health factors related to severe COVID-19 outcomes and vaccine effectiveness

The Government of Canada, through its COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF), is supporting a study in the Maritimes aimed at determining which health factors cause long-term care residents to experience severe COVID-19 outcomes, including death. The study is also investigating vaccine effectiveness in its elderly population over the next year. This $1.9 million study will be carried out by a team of experts in frailty research, immunology, virology and clinical infectious disease. The team is led by Dr. Lisa Barrett, an expert in infectious diseases and a clinician scientist at Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Health. 

“We still do not understand why residents in long-term care facilities have been so badly affected by COVID-19,” says Dr. Barrett. “Our study aims to determine which health factors cause elderly people to be more susceptible to severe or fatal cases of COVID-19. What role does frailty play in COVID-19 outcomes? Do very frail elderly people form an adequate antibody response to ward off reinfection? Does the presence of other viral infections affect COVID-19 disease severity? We aim to find out through this study.”

Dr. Barrett’s study will involve residents of long-term care facilities in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As of September 2020, two of the facilities included in the study had accounted for over 30% of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 cases and 82% of the province’s COVID-19-related deaths. Interestingly, while one facility had a COVID-19 outbreak last spring, the other had very few cases. This will allow the study team to compare the immune response in residents who were never infected, residents who were highly exposed but never infected, residents who had moderate symptoms of COVID-19, and residents who had severe symptoms of the disease. In the first wave cohort, all residents of the facilities enthusiastically volunteered to participate in the study, which has provided meaningful data.  

The study is also investigating whether vaccines protect residents in long-term care facilities from reinfection, or at least from severe cases of the disease. “Although all vaccines undergo rigorous trials before being approved, the trials did not include frail elderly people,” explains Dr. Barrett. “We took blood samples before vaccination and have taken another blood sample after the first dose of vaccine. We will be taking four blood samples after the second dose from all residents participating over the next year. This will allow us to study their body’s immune response over time to see if the vaccines work effectively in frail elderly people.”

In addition to examining the immunologic changes associated with COVID-19, this study will also help provide an understanding of immunology in the elderly population, which will be important for vaccine development and healthy aging. 

“COVID-19 has taken an enormous toll on the elderly and studies like this one are needed so we can better protect them going forward,” says Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice-President, Research, Innovation and Discovery and Chief Nurse Executive, Nova Scotia Health and CITF Leadership Group member. “We need to understand what makes people more at-risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms. We also need to understand how effective the vaccines are in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. This study will help provide those answers.” 

“There has never been a greater need to conduct medical and health-related research to collect real-time evidence to inform practice, policy and decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice-President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “We are incredibly proud of Dr. Barrett, who is at the centre of the fight against COVID-19 as one of Canada’s leading voices on infectious disease mitigation.”

“Long-term care facilities have been among the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Darren Fisher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. “With vaccine rollouts underway in Nova Scotia and across Canada, these studies are critically important to help us understand their effectiveness and impact on seniors, staff and the broader Canadian population.” 


“This study will contribute to our understanding of COVID-19 and of vaccine-induced immunity in seniors living in long-term care facilities, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” says Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam. “Vaccines are a critical tool in our response, and this research will support their most effective use.”

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About the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force
In late April 2020, the Government of Canada established the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force with a two-year mandate. The Task Force is overseen by a Leadership Group of volunteers that includes leading Canadian scientists and experts from universities and healthcare facilities across Canada who are focused on understanding the nature of immunity arising from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To that end, the CITF is supporting numerous studies to determine the extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Canada (in the general population as well as in specific communities and priority populations), understand the nature of immunity following infection, develop improved antibody testing methods, and help monitor the effectiveness and safety of vaccines as they are rolled out across Canada. The Task Force and its Secretariat accordingly work closely with a range of partners, including governments, public health agencies, institutions, health organizations, research teams, other task forces, and engages communities and stakeholders. Most recently, the Task Force has been asked to support vaccine surveillance, effectiveness and safety as part of its overall objective to generate data and ideas that inform interventions aimed at slowing – and ultimately stopping – the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Canada. For more information visit: www.covid19immunitytaskforce.ca

About Dalhousie University 
Dalhousie University is Atlantic Canada’s leading research-intensive university. Located in the heart of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an Agricultural Campus in Truro/Bible Hill, Dalhousie is a truly national and international university, with more than half of the university’s 20,000-plus students coming from outside the province. Dal’s 6,000 faculty and staff foster a diverse, purpose-driven community, one that spans 13 faculties and conducts more than $181 million in research annually. Part of a cluster identified as one of the world’s top international centres in ocean research, the university proudly celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2018.

About Nova Scotia Health
Nova Scotia Health provides health services to Nova Scotians and a wide array of specialized services to Maritimers and Atlantic Canadians. Nova Scotia Health operates hospitals, health centres and community-based programs across the province. Our team of health professionals includes employees, doctors, researchers, learners and volunteers. We work in partnership with community groups, schools, governments, foundations and auxiliaries and community health boards. 

Media contacts: 

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: +1.902.222.2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Deidre Taylor
Director of Communications – Research, Innovation and Discovery
Nova Scotia Health
Cell: +1.902.225.6709
Email: deidre.taylor@nshealth.ca

COVID-19 Immunity Task Force
media@covid19immunitytaskforce.ca
Rebecca Burns, Cell: +1.438.871.8763
Caroline Phaneuf, Cell: +1.514.444.4532

Dalhousie University researcher examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and mental performance of national athletes

On the evening of Sunday, March 22, 2020, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced that Canadian athletes would not be participating in the Tokyo Olympic Games, which were scheduled to occur during the summer of 2020, due to the risks involved with COVID-19. Most of Canada was approximately one week into increasing restrictions and states of emergency related to the global pandemic. This included the closures of most sports facilities where Canada’s best athletes were fiercely training to qualify for, and compete at, the upcoming Summer Games.

Similar to the majority of Canadians, athletes continue to experience significant disruptions in their daily lives and worry about their safety and future. As a result, the potential for athletes to experience mental health challenges may be increased. For potential Olympians, the pandemic threatens their life-long dream to represent Canada at the Games (the Summer Games now slated to occur in 2021, and the Winter Games in 2022), and puts into question the thousands of hours they invested into training.

Dr. Lori Dithurbide, an Assistant Professor in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Health, recently received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and mental performance of national athletes, and more specifically, the interplay between these variables.

The outcomes of this research may be used to optimize mental health and mental performance support provided to athletes and support staff, create or strengthen policies to effectively mitigate the effects of major disasters and social disruptions, and allocate the necessary resources to preserve the mental health of Canada’s most talented athletes.

Dr. Dithurbide is available to provide perspective on the study, which will be conducted in partnership with the Own the Podium program.

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University 
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Global citizenship during COVID-19 - Could climate change and a pandemic bring an end to experiential learning?

The September 2019 Global Climate Strikes saw hundreds of thousands of students express forms of global citizenship through street-level environmental activism. These strikes were led and motivated by youth who chose to strike from class in order to send a message to world leaders. 

Five months later, everyone was told to stay at home. COVID-19 ordinances effectively made many normal activities suddenly illegal, including the sort of activism that engaged youth around the world only a short time before. 

Dr. Robert Huish, an associate professor in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is exploring how the Global Climate Strikes and the COVID-19 pandemic are providing an important opportunity to advance the concept of global citizenship education within International Development Studies (IDS) - especially around the place of international experiential learning in the discipline. 

In an article recently published in the Canadian Journal of Development Studies, Dr. Huish argues that IDS can adapt to these events through “Anthropocene Activism”, a term used to depict global connectedness and consciousness for change-making politics. He believes IDS programs will need to focus curriculum on inclusive postcolonial pedagogy, including land-based pedagogy, foster skills of intercolonial communication, and encourage change-making politics, even if it means expressing it indoors and online. 

Dr. Huish is available to provide perspective on why climate change and COVID-19 are global problems that will require a global citizenship education that goes far beyond experiential learning, through service-learning, and instead recognize that meaning can be made out of our current global challenges. 

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dal researchers partner with United States Department of Agriculture on study focusing on unintended consequences of apple improvement

Not only is the apple one of the most economically important fruit crops, its tremendous diversity elicits a fascination among consumers that is arguably unmatched by any other plant species. Considerable knowledge of the different varieties of the fruit is even common among non-experts, and people often know the names and characteristics of five or more apples. 

However, centuries of apple improvement might be having unintended consequences. Researchers from Dalhousie University and the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) examined one of the most diverse collections of apples in the world – the USDA-ARS apple germplasm collection. The full study, recently published in Horticulture Research, outlines how breeders have been extensively re-using the “tried and tested” varieties (like Golden Delicious) as parents during apple breeding, which has led to Americans eating apples largely from a single family tree. This could leave the apple industry vulnerable to pests, pathogens, and a changing climate.  

In addition, the researchers observed that one of the newest and most commercially successful varieties, Honeycrisp, is not closely related to other commercial varieties. This leads them to suggest that future apple improvement can likely benefit from the exploitation of a broader base of genetic diversity.  

Dr. Zoë Migicovsky, a Postdoctoral Fellow from Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture and lead author, is available to provide perspective on the study, and how collections, such as the USDA apple collection described in the study will serve as an essential source of diverse accessions and wild relatives, which have enormous potential for future plant breeding. 

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University 
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

New research chairs at Dalhousie University join exclusive partnership with Tesla

Monday, January 18, 2021 (Halifax, NS) –Two outstanding scientists have been named as Dalhousie University’s newest research chairs and have joined the university’s exclusive partnership with Tesla.

Dr. Chongyin Yang is the Tesla Canada Research Chair and has been working on materials and devices for energy conversion and storage for 12 years. Prior to coming to Dalhousie University, Dr. Yang was an assistant research scientist in the Department of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Maryland, where he led research projects on material and device development for high energy aqueous lithium-ion batteries.

Dr. Yang’s research group will focus on developing high-performance materials for advanced lithium-ion batteries, which includes sustainable electrode materials that contain no transition metals. It will be a crucial part of Dalhousie-Tesla partnership that seeks lower-cost, longer lifetime, and higher-energy battery technologies as the next-generation energy storage solution for electric vehicles and sustainable green energy.

Dr. Michael Metzger is the Herzberg-Dahn Chair and received a diploma from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the top-ranked university in Germany and the European Union. While completing his graduate studies, Dr. Metzger developed innovative methods to study the lifetime and aging of lithium-ion batteries in close collaboration with BASF and BMW. He has also worked in the Silicon Valley tech industry as a research engineer for Robert Bosch, the largest supplier for the automotive industry.

Dr. Metzger’s research group will focus on developing novel methods to study the performance and lifetime of advanced lithium-ion batteries, lithium metal batteries and desalination batteries. The goal is to create fundamental understanding that will help develop new electrode materials and electrolytes for stationary and electric vehicle batteries.

Dr. Yang and Dr. Metzger will both work very closely with Dr. Jeff Dahn, the NSERC/Tesla Canada Inc. Industrial Research Chair, and Canada Research Chair in Materials for Advanced Batteries.

The initial research agreement between Dalhousie University and Tesla was signed in June 2015. This collaboration is a first between the leading American electric vehicle company and a Canadian university. Work officially began with Tesla in 2016, and the partnership has been renewed until at least 2026.

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Quotes: 

“This research chair gives me a really good opportunity to start my future career as a scientist working with batteries. Dr. Jeff Dahn is one of the pioneers on lithium-ion battery research. Tesla is a Tier 1 company and using really innovative technology to make the high-performance electric car more widely available. It’s an honour for me to take part in this partnership with them at Dal, and I hope that, together, we can keep making more influential contributions to the whole industry.”

- Dr. Chongyin Yang, Tesla Canada Research Chair

“Becoming a part of the excellent work that is happening here at Dalhousie is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Not only are our batteries “high energy”, it’s also the style of work we have here at the university. I am glad I can contribute to this now and explore my own ideas in advanced battery research that will hopefully be impactful for a lot of people.”

- Dr. Michael Metzger, Herzberg-Dahn Chair

“I am so pleased to welcome Chongyin Yang and Michael Metzger to Dalhousie University assistant professors and Chairholders. Both are outstanding scientists and charismatic leaders. Our goal is to continue to help Tesla develop better advanced batteries for its products. Dr. Yang and Dr. Metzger bring new ideas, new methods, and new expertise as well as a full commitment to electric transportation and renewable energy to the partnership.”

-  Dr. Jeff Dahn, NSERC/Tesla Canada Inc. Industrial Research Chair, and Canada Research Chair in Materials for Advanced Batteries.

We are thrilled to be extending and expanding our work with Dalhousie and Jeff Dahn with the addition of Chongyin and Michael. We look forward to their important contributions in battery technology to help achieve our mission.”

- Tesla, Inc. 

Additional materials:

Media contact

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca 


2020

Dalhousie Announces Fall 2020 Lab2Market Cohort Looking to Make an Impact

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 (Halifax, NS) – Dalhousie University is pleased to announce the launch of Lab2Market (L2M) - Halifax’s Fall 2020 cohort, which will include 17 teams from five universities: Dalhousie University, Memorial University, Saint Mary’s University, Queen’s University, and York University. 

L2M supports researchers who foresee impact and potential commercial value in their deep tech research, by providing opportunities and exposure to help commercialize their intellectual property. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and their supervisors will be equipped with the skills required to assess their research’s commercial opportunity with the goal of translating it out of university laboratories. 

For the next seven weeks, a wide variety of research will be conducted, including electrical and mechanical engineering, agriculture, cosmeceuticals, and neuroscience, from drone sensor technology to cognitive assessments. Each research team includes three participants: a graduate student or post-doc from a Canadian university, the applicant's university supervisor or principal investigator, and an industry mentor from a related business sector. 

“Dalhousie University is pleased to partner with Ryerson University and Memorial University on this program to support graduate students, their supervisors and institutions build capacity around commercialization and translate their research,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, vice president, research and innovation at Dalhousie University. “Canada needs innovators with an entrepreneurial mindset who have the attitudes, knowledge, skills, discipline and resilience to generate solutions to local, national and global challenges.  And Canada has world-leading research-intensive universities, which helps to generate a pipeline of more and stronger ventures emerging from them.” 

This is the second cohort of L2M for Dalhousie, with the first cohort focusing on health technology and innovation launched in Halifax earlier this year. The next year will see three additional cohorts with up to 60 teams participating in Toronto, Halifax and St. John’s. Over the next year, the Lab2Market pilot program will apply and adapt these best practice models to the Canadian market to support Canadian researchers working to commercialize their technology. The overall goal is to help develop a national research commercialization program on par with global leaders to better our society and economy. 

“Atlantic Canada’s academic community helps fuel our flourishing startup ecosystem,” said Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Halifax, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. “The L2M program supports the commercialization of research out of our universities while helping to grow the number of scalable, knowledge-based companies in the region.” 
 
The program is based on the successful I-Corps program in the United States, and the ICURe program in the United Kingdom. Being lead by Dalhousie University, Ryerson University and Memorial University, the Lab2Market pilot program offers $15,000 in funding to participating teams and with support provided by the Government of Canada through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), Mitacs as well as the Ocean Startup Project.        
                                                                  

The Teams:
 

Technology 

University 

Team 

Optimizing Multi-source Heating Systems in Response to Real Time Pricing and Weather Conditions

Dalhousie University

 

Nathaniel King 
Dr. Clifton Johnston

Infra-Climate Hybrid Bridge Design System

Dalhousie University

 

Ahmed Abdullah 
Dr. Hany El Naggar

Optimized Controllers for Second-life Battery Energy Storage Systems

Dalhousie University

Chris White 
Dr. Lukas Swan

Harnessing the potential of land-based Aquaculture by-products through the use of aerobic bioreactor technology

Dalhousie University

Allan Thomson 
Dr. Gordon Price

Crop assessment system using a real-time, hardware-based drone image processing system to support on-the-spot decision in agriculture

Dalhousie University

Sabiha Antora 
Dr. Young K. Chang

 

Atlantic Energy Storage

Dalhousie University

 

Mark Elliott 
Dr. Lukas Swan

 

Enhancing horticultural production through carbon dioxide enrichment and heat recovery from municipal organics composting

 

Dalhousie University

 

Weixi Shu 
Dr. Gordon Price

 

Re-purposing poultry industry wastes to generate high value microbial bio-stimulants

Dalhousie University

 

Raphael Ofoe 
Dr. Lord Abbey

 

A highly integrated processing platform to enable a remote Internet of Things node.

Dalhousie University

 

Ningcheng Gaoding 
Dr. Jean-Francois Bousquet

 

Teacher Help: Classroom Management

Dalhousie University

 

Matt Orr 
Dr. Penny Corkum

 

Developing a Smart Tool for Enhanced Oil Recovery Screening Based on Artificial Intelligence

Memorial University

Seyyed Masoud 
Seyyedattar Shoushtar 
Dr. Sohrab Zendehboudi

 

Beyond processing waste of sea cucumber- cosmeceutical potential of North Atlantic sea cucumber

Memorial University

Tharindu Senadheera 
Dr. Deepika Dave

 

Reconfigurable Legged Robot for Structural Inspection with Confined Spaces

Memorial University

Yaru Gu 
Dr. Ting Zou

 

Passive airborne sensor platform

Queen’s University

Joshua Galler Dr. David Rival

 

Developing Digital Brain Assessment Tools for the Home

Saint Mary's University

 

Katie McKearny 
Dr. Gail Eskes

 

Using drone and remote sensing technology to increase profitability and climate resilience of potato production

University of Prince Edward Island

 

Stephanie Arnold 
Dr. Adam Fenech

 

Enhanced thermo-photovoltaic systems with directional and spectral selectivity

York University

 

Nima Talebzadeh Dr. Paul O'Brien

 

More information can be found at lab2market.ca.

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About Lab2Market 
Lab2Market, developed and led by Dalhousie University, Memorial University and Ryerson University, leverages the national I-INC network. I-INC is Canada’s network of innovative and entrepreneurial universities, which is focused on strengthening innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship, moving ideas and inventions to innovation and impact, and connecting Canadian companies to the talent and ideas emerging from our universities. 


About I-INC
 
 I-INC accelerates the transfer of Canadian research-driven science and technology from lab-to-market and commercial application. Founded in 2014 by Ryerson University, Simon Fraser University and Ontario Tech University, the network has expanded to include 13 universities across Canada: Ryerson University, Dalhousie University, Simon Fraser University, Concordia University, Polytechnique Montréal, University of Manitoba, University of New Brunswick, McMaster University, Queen's University, Concordia, Ontario Tech University, University of Saskatchewan, Memorial University and University of Calgary.    

Media contacts:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation Dalhousie University
902-222-2817 
michele.charlton@dal.ca

Chris Brooks
Communications Director, Nova Scotia
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
902-830-3839 
chris.brooks@canada.ca

 

Danger in the deeps: SARS-CoV-2 spread through wastewater could have devastating consequences for whales, seals and other endangered marine mammals

Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 (Halifax, NS) - Certain species of whales, seals and other endangered marine mammals are predicted to be highly susceptible to infection from COVID-19, according to Dalhousie University scientists who say the virus could be spread to the animals through improperly treated human sewage and wastewater.

In a study published in Science of the Total Environment, the team describes how it used genomic mapping to determine which marine mammals would be vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They looked at key amino acids that the virus binds to and found that there were striking similarities between those in humans and in several marine mammals, including dolphins, beluga whales, seals and sea otters.

Graham Dellaire, director of research in the Department of Pathology at Dalhousie, led the research that used a modeling approach to predict a marine mammal’s susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. The team found at least 15 marine mammal species were susceptible to infection from SARS-CoV-2 because of their ACE2 receptors -- the critical protein required for the virus to enter and infect the cell.

Importantly, more than half of the species determined to be vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 are already at risk globally.

“Many of these species are threatened or critically endangered,” says Dr. Dellaire. “In the past, these animals have been infected by related coronaviruses that have caused both mild disease as well as life-threatening liver and lung damage.”

The team predicts that the majority of whale, dolphin and porpoise species -- 18 out of 21 -- have the same or higher susceptibility to the virus as humans, while eight out of nine seal species are also predicted to be highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2.

“Our major concern is in developing nations, where there is already a disparity in public health and the wastewater treatment infrastructure required to handle the COVID-19 crisis,” says Saby Mathavarajah, a Killam pre-doctoral fellow in Dr. Dellaire’s lab who co-authored the report. “Monitoring susceptible species in these high-risk areas around the world will be pertinent for protecting wildlife during and post-pandemic.”

Studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 is excreted in feces and can survive in water for up to 25 days, raising the possibility that wastewater provides a separate mode of spread for this coronavirus, as has happened in Spain, Italy and France where the virus was detected in untreated sewage.

Many jurisdictions have at least primary waste treatment but sewage systems can be overwhelmed in certain conditions, leading to the overflow of raw sewage directly into waterways that are home to vulnerable mammals, according to the researchers. Even wastewater treated via primary means has been shown to have detectible levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Primary treated wastewater can be released from settling ponds or lagoons, a risk the researchers identified as a potential issue in Alaska where beluga whales could be infected from sewage leaking into local waterways from the state’s system of lagoons.

There have been no documented cases of SARS-CoV-2 in marine mammals to date, but both dolphins and beluga whales have been infected with related coronaviruses in the past. And since most marine mammals are social, it is also possible for coronaviruses to be spread between animals through close contact. So, once one animal is infected it could threaten entire populations.

The researchers hope their findings can help shape policy decisions regarding wastewater management around the world and protect at-risk marine mammal species that may be exposed to this coronavirus.

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Media Contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491
Email: alison.auld@dal.ca

 

New app makes COVID-19 pre-screening for students in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Health easier and more accessible

A new app has been created to help streamline COVID-19 pre-screening for students in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Health, who are among the few currently having in-person classes at the university. Using the app before each gathering is helping to ensure the safety of learners, faculty and clinical staff. 

Dr. Diane MacKenzie and Dr. Derek Rutherford, Associate Directors in Dalhousie’s School of Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, recognized the need for a new way to make pre-screening easier and more accessible to faculty and students from their computer or mobile device. They worked with Matt Peachey, a fourth-year student in the Faculty of Computer Science, on developing an app to decrease the entrance and screening time required prior to entering the building, and provide an electronic record for tracking purposes. 

Using a link that is placed in the Brightspace course, students complete the pre-screening questions (resembling those developed by Nova Scotia Health) either on their computer or mobile device on the day of their face-to-face class. Once the student has submitted the form, they receive an immediate response to their Dalhousie email address advising if they are able or not able to attend the class they have identified in the form. 

Before each class, faculty members receive the summary result for each student who completes the screening. They can then take this information, in the form of an Excel spreadsheet, to their on-campus course to check-off students as they come into class. It has become the pre-screening standard for all Faculty of Health, return to campus experiences this fall term. 

Dr. MacKenzie, Dr. Rutherford, and Matt Peachey are available to provide perspective on the new app, and how it has helped get schools in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Health get on track for the return of their accredited entry to practice programs. 

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University 
Cell: 902-222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

New funding ensures Dalhousie University researchers are well equipped to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic

Friday, November 6, 2020 (Halifax, NS) — As the global threat of COVID-19 remains ever present, Canadian researchers are working tirelessly to better understand and combat the virus. Whether developing a vaccine, learning about how COVID-19 affects the body or studying how the pandemic has influenced every aspect of our lives, Canada’s researchers rely on cutting-edge research infrastructure to do their work.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced close to $28 million in research infrastructure support through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Exceptional Opportunities Fund. The funding, which covers the urgent need for equipment for ongoing research related to COVID-19, will support 79 projects at 52 universities and research hospitalscolleges, polytechnics and Cégeps across Canada. 

One of the funded projects is being led by researchers at Dalhousie University, the IWK Health Centre and the QE II Health Sciences Centre, who have received $1.2 million to advance the development of new COVID-19 vaccines with upgrades to the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology’s level 3 containment facility at the IWK Health Centre. This will allow them to create models of COVID-19 to test the efficacy of vaccines, learn why people develop different degrees of severity of the disease, and produce new tests to determine at the earliest stages of infection who may be hit the hardest. 

Elevating the capacity and operation of this facility will be an important achievement for Canada. The development and testing of pre-clinical and clinical COVID-19 vaccines is a key part of the pipeline of providing Canadians with safe and effective immunity – allowing for a secure return to “normal” conditions. 

“We are so very proud to have this amazing group of researchers playing a key role in the fight against COVID-19,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice-President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “The innovative work they are doing will provide real-time results that can be used right here in Nova Scotia, throughout the country, and around the globe.”

For more than 20 years, the CFI has been giving researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. Fostering a robust innovation system in Canada translates into jobs and new enterprises, better health, cleaner environments and, ultimately, vibrant communities. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI also helps to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers and to support world-class research that strengthens the economy and improves the quality of life for all Canadians.

“Canadian researchers’ immediate response to the pandemic has demonstrated the research community’s crucial role in helping to resolve this crisis,” says Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation. “Working to find a vaccine, to learn about how COVID-19 affects the human body, or to study how this pandemic has influenced every aspect of our lives, Canada’s researchers have taken centre stage as our guides and our source of hope. The CFI is proud to support their efforts by equipping them with the research infrastructure they need to further their significant work.”

Dalhousie University, the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, the IWK Health Centre, and Research Nova Scotia have also committed to contributing funds to support operations and maintenance of the infrastructure over five years.  

To learn more about all of the funded projects, visit the Canada Foundation for Innovation website.

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Researchers from Dalhousie University and the Center for Genetics and Society discover that heritable human genome editing is prohibited in most countries with relevant policies

New research from Dalhousie University and the Center for Genetics and Society (CGS) recently published in the CRISPR Journalfinds that 70 countries categorically prohibit heritable human genome editing – procedures that would result in the genetically modified children. These results contrast with widespread underreporting of existing policies, as well as with claims that international cooperation would be unlikely on the issue of heritable genome editing for human reproduction.

Policies from 106 countries were surveyed (which is more than half of the world’s nations), and researchers discovered that in addition to the 70 countries prohibiting heritable genome editing, five prohibit it - but allow for possible exceptions. The policies in the remaining countries either have no clear stance on the permissibility of heritable genome editing or are silent on the topic. Currently, no country explicitly permits it.  

When it came to related research on human germline genome editing (in which early embryos, gametes, or gamete precursor cells are genetically modified for laboratory research but are not used to initiate a pregnancy), researchers found that the policy landscape was less clear. The majority of the countries surveyed (56) have no policies on its permissibility or impermissibility. Eleven countries explicitly permit it, twenty-three prohibit it (four of these allow exceptions), and six have indeterminate policies. 

The authors of this report argue that these findings are particularly important, because high-profile international committees are currently issuing global policy recommendations. These committees have been convened by the World Health Organization; the U.S. National Academy of Medicine; the U.S. National Academy of Science; and the UK Royal Society. 

Dr. Françoise Baylis, a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Committee on Developing Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing, and a University Research Professor at Dalhousie University, is available to provide perspective on this study, and why it is critically important to have a clear and accurate understanding of the global policy landscape for heritable human genome editing. 

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca 

Dalhousie researcher part of global report that outlines challenges for social workers resulting from COVID-19

“The dilemma I experience in four families is that I don’t have a good view on the level of tension and – possibly – domestic violence . . . Video call conversations have far too little depth, take less time than a home visit would take . . . I can’t get the children out of their situation. That’s what’s bothering me.”

This quote from a Dutch social worker illustrates the findings of a global survey on the challenges social workers around the world face as a result of COVID-19. Dr. Merlinda Weinberg, a Professor at Dalhousie University’s School of Social Work was the only Canadian on a global team of eight social work ethicists who conducted this ground-breaking research in partnership with the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW).

According to Dr. Weinberg, relationships are foundational to social work, along with face-to-face communication, which is critically important, and the pandemic has thrown that up in the air. Issues range from not having access to proper PPE or the technology for online communication, to concerns with confidentiality and lack of non-verbal cues and information.

Dr. Weinberg provides the example of social workers trying to conduct online home visits in domestic violence situations where they found it impossible to evaluate whether the perpetrator was in the home, and therefore whether the victims could speak freely to get the support they needed. 

The report was published on the International Federation of Social Workers website, and had more than 53,000 views in its first week. It included the following six key themes relating to social workers’ ethical challenges:

  • Creating and maintaining trusting, honest and empathic relationships via phone or internet with due regard to privacy and confidentiality, or in person with protective equipment 
  • Prioritising service user needs and demands, which are greater and different due to the pandemic, when resources are stretched or unavailable and full assessment often not possible 
  • Balancing service user rights, needs and risks against personal risk to social workers and others, in order to provide services as well as possible 
  • Deciding whether to follow national and organizational policies, procedures or guidance (existing or new) or to use professional discretion in circumstances where the policies seem inappropriate, confused or lacking.
  • Acknowledging and handling emotions, fatigue and the need for self-care, when working in unsafe and stressful circumstances. 
  • Using the lessons learned from working during the pandemic to rethink social work in the future. 

Dr. Weinberg is available to provide perspective on this global study, and how social workers have been thinking outside the box and finding creative solutions to address the challenges they are facing. 

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Media Contact:


Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation 
Dalhousie University 
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Project aims to get a glimpse inside the lives of Temporary Foreign Workers in the Maritimes during the COVID-19 pandemic

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) have arrived in Canada to take on jobs that are vital to the food supply chain but ones not often sought after by local residents.

In the Maritimes, many migrant workers travelled from Mexico, the Philippines, the Caribbean and Central America to fill positions in the agricultural, seafood processing and other food sectors. But little is known about how the global SARS-CoV-2 crisis is affecting working and living conditions for TFWs, and ultimately their health and safety.

Researchers at Dalhousie University are hoping to fill that knowledge gap through a unique project that will document the impact of COVID-19 on TFWs, while also looking at how access to services and protections for migrants may vary across the Maritimes.

Raluca Bejan, an assistant professor of Social Work at Dalhousie, is leading a team that will ask migrant workers directly about their experiences in the agri-food sector in the Maritimes, and how the pandemic has affected them.

TFWs are migrants to Canada who hold limited work permits for specific employers, for a predetermined time. By mid-April, nearly 300 Jamaicans landed in Halifax to begin work in Nova Scotia. Both Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick expected hundreds more TFWs for the season.

Dr. Bejan, along with colleagues from St. Thomas University in New Brunswick and Cooper Institute in Prince Edward Island, is gathering the information through anonymous phone interviews with people employed as TFWs in the Maritimes who can speak English or Spanish. They will be asked about everything from their accommodations and the ability to social distance to the provision of personal protective equipment and whether they were able to safely quarantine.

Several community organizations are also collaborating on the project, including the Tatamagouche Centre in Nova Scotia, KAIROS Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), and the Filipino-Canadian CommUNITY of New Brunswick (FCNB).

Dr. Bejan is available to discuss the project and explain how this vulnerable population may face new risks during a pandemic that has seen hundreds of migrant workers in Canada and around the world infected with the virus.

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Media Contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491
Email: alison.auld@dal.ca

Dalhousie University researcher co-authors national cross-sectional study on public perceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic

Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in December 2019, we have been inundated with information related to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations such as the World Health Organization, and government public health agencies have used multiple media platforms to keep us informed of emerging details and public health recommendations. In Canada, this messaging has included mitigation strategies, such as appropriate hand and face hygiene practices, physical distancing policies, and travel restrictions. 

Effective and transparent communication of information related to COVID-19 is needed to ensure the public understands how and why they need to adapt their behaviours to bolster public safety. A widespread circulation of misinformation poses many serious dangers to the public, including leading more people to disobey public health rules and recommendations. 

Researchers at Dalhousie University, University of Calgary, University of Toronto, St. Michael’s Hospital, McMaster University, Hamilton Health Services, and the University of British Columbia recently conducted a Canadian-based study on public perceptions related to COVID-19 to better understand perspectives in Canada and inform future public health initiatives. 

The study, which was recently published in PLOS ONE, involved an online survey that took place between April 26 and May 1, 2020. Key findings include:

  • Negative impacts of pandemic conditions were evidenced in several areas, including concerns about healthcare (including having sufficient equipment – 52%), pandemic stress (45%) and worsening social (49%) and mental/emotional health (39%).
  • Most respondents (88%) felt they had good to excellent knowledge of virus transmission and trusted (60%) Canadian news television, newspapers/magazines and non-government news websites.
  • A high compliance with distancing measures, including self-isolating and physical distancing (80%). A surprisingly high number felt that they could maintain this for a long time ( 6 months or more). This demonstrates that most are motivated to limit social and physical interactions as a means to protect themselves and others from becoming infected with COVID-19.

These results highlight the broader impact of a pandemic on the general public’s overall health and wellbeing, outside of personal infection. The researchers involved in this study are also now in the process of writing a second manuscript that will offer a more comprehensive look at differences across demographical variables such as gender, age, education, and socioeconomic status. 

Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh, an Assistant Professor in Dalhousie’s University’s Faculty of Health and co-author of the article, is available to provide perspective on the study, and how understanding public views and behaviours provides us with crucial information about how to effectively compose and deliver public health information in a way that will reach and be taken up by the most people.

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca  

Innovative machine learning model will help safely guide vessels into Halifax Harbour

The Atlantic Pilotage Authority’s mandate is to operate, maintain and administer the safe guidance of vessels into ports in Atlantic Canada. This includes collecting critical information about prevailing weather and wind conditions and sub-surface characteristics, which are used to make decisions about the safe passage of vessels. With more than 3,000 assignments to marine pilots in Halifax Harbour in 2018, the efficient movement of vessels is critical to the sustainability and reliability of the port. 

Sensor buoys, like the Smart Atlantic Herring Cove Buoy (owned by the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship [COVE] and used by the Port of Halifax and Atlantic Pilotage Authority), provide crucial decision-making infrastructure, but can often be a single point of failure. In addition, the SMA-H Buoy in the Halifax Harbour must be removed for planned maintenance within the next year, with a planned downtime of six weeks. This could significantly impair the ability of the Atlantic Pilotage Authority to ensure the safe guidance of vessels without wasted cost. 

Researchers at Dalhousie University and ocean data analytics innovation environment, DeepSense, have developed a machine learning method for predicting wind speed and wave height measurements to support safe and more accurate decision making by the Port of Halifax and the Atlantic Pilotage Authority. Initiated by COVE and partners at the Port of Halifax, the Atlantic Pilot Authority, and the Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association (CMPA), the project aims to solve a long-standing issue with the Herring Cove Smart Atlantic Buoy. 

Results recently published in the Journal for Ocean Technology demonstrate how the team used data from smart buoys to provide predictions for use during periods of buoy maintenance or unplanned sensor failures to enable safe travel and transfer between vessels. Initial findings have opened up future possibilities for the project, with the team now looking ahead to phase two and the development of a live data and prediction dashboard with Master of Computer Science student, Amruth Kuppili. 

The research team was led by Dr. Chris Whidden, assistant professor in the Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie, with support from Master of Applied Computer Science student, Jesuseyi “Will” Fasuyi.

Dr. Whidden and Melanie Nadeau, Chief Executive Officer from the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, are available to provide perspective on this study, and how this machine learning model can be used to provide relatively reliable predictions of wind speed and wave height when a primary source is not available.

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Media contacts:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Leslie Munro
Communications Manager
Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship
Cell: (902) 266 2685
Email: leslie.munro@coveocean.com

New policy briefing provides recommendations for supporting the mental health of Canadians during COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of Canadians. Most have found it challenging to cope with social distancing, isolation, anxiety about infection, financial security and the future, while balancing the demands of work and home. For some, especially those who have had to face pre-existing challenges such as structural racism, poverty and discrimination, and those with prior mental health problems, the pandemic has had a major impact. 

Four researchers from Dalhousie University, Dr. Hélène Deacon (Faculty of Science); Dr. Patrick McGrath (Faculty of Medicine); Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo (Faculty of Health); and Dr. Sherry Stewart (Faculty of Medicine), are among the authors of the latest policy briefing from the Royal Society of Canada, Easing the Disruption of COVID-19: Supporting the Mental Health of the People of Canada. The report focuses on the current situation, how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated significant long-standing weaknesses in the mental health system and makes 21 specific recommendations to meet these challenges to improve the well-being of the people of Canada. Some of these recommendations include:

  • Having the Provinces and Territories attempt to keep children in school and carefully weighing the cost/benefit ratio of closing schools in the event of another wave of COVID-19.
  • If schools close again, Provincial and Territorial governments should have the mental health and substance use supports ready to stabilize wellbeing using the vehicles used to deliver school curriculum to families.
  • If hospital family restrictions are implemented again, Provincial governments should have mental health supports ready to stabilize family wellbeing using virtual care delivery similar to school curriculum to families. 

The authors argue that Canada will need to strengthen our knowledge base in mental health, learn from the pandemic, and provide all Canadians with the support they need to fully participate in and contribute to our recovery.  

Dr. Deacon, Dr. McGrath, Dr. Campbell-Yeo, and Dr. Stewart are available to provide perspective on this important policy briefing and discuss its specific recommendations.

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University 
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Media release: Investing in our most vulnerable - The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force funds comprehensive new SARS-COV-2 seroprevalence study focused on aging Canadians

Thursday, October 1, 2020 (Halifax, NS) -  Canada's COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) announced its support for a new SARS-CoV-2 study focused on aging Canadians, a population that has been shown to be at greatest risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19 disease. This involves a $4 million investment, which will be carried out by the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), a national platform for research on aging in Canada, led by McMaster University.

The CLSA's COVID-19 Seroprevalence Study will collect and analyze blood samples from more than 19,000 CLSA participants in 10 provinces. In addition to providing blood samples, participants will complete a questionnaire that collects information on symptoms, risks factors, health-care use, and the psychosocial and economic impacts of COVID-19. Linking the results about the presence of antibodies and other immune markers obtained from the blood sample analyses to the CLSA's questionnaire findings will paint a more comprehensive picture of the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and the impact of COVID-19 among older adults in Canada.

“As we have seen, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is impacting different regions of the country in different ways,” says Dr. Susan Kirkland, Professor and Head of the of Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University, and Co-principal Investigator on the study. “In the Atlantic region we have had the protection of the Atlantic bubble, but this means that it is likely that a greater proportion of our population is still at risk of becoming infected. We also have a greater proportion of older adults with underlying chronic conditions than in some other parts of the country.”

“Assessing the proportion of people who have developed antibodies to the virus, combined with information about sociodemographic characteristics, symptoms, testing, health and behaviours will allow us to better understand symptomatic and asymptomatic infections and immunity,” adds Dr. Kirkland. “The CLSA is an ongoing national study that can play a key role in gathering this information from Canadians and help us to prepare for future waves.”

The study, which will launch this fall, is headed up by Lead Principal Investigator, Dr. Parminder Raina, of McMaster University (Hamilton). The Co-Principal investigator, along with Dr. Kirkland, is Dr. Christina Wolfson (McGill University, Montreal). A national team of researchers will also be involved. 

“As we begin a second wave of the pandemic,” says Professor David Naylor, CITF Co-Chair, “finding novel ways to further understand immunity in aging Canadians is increasingly important. The CLSA project will illuminate the many interrelated factors that influence the spread and impact of COVID-19 among older adults, be it their living conditions, access to health care, or underlying conditions, to name just a few.”

“Protecting individuals at high risk of severe outcomes, including aging Canadians, is a top priority in our ongoing management of COVID-19 in Canada," says Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. "Older individuals are at risk of more severe illness due to their age and other underlying medical conditions. Improving our understanding of immunity among high risk populations will allow us to plan and target our public health approaches.”

More information about the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging can be found here.

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Media contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: 902-222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie researchers discover that brain fog, memory loss in lupus patients may be linked to leaky blood vessels

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 (Halifax, NS) - For the millions of people who suffer from lupus, a devastating complication of the disease can be the loss of certain cognitive functions, such as memory and the ability to concentrate.

It has long been known that lupus is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own organs. But, scientists studying lupus have struggled to understand why roughly 40 per cent of patients experience confusion, fatigue and difficulty expressing their thoughts -- a collection of symptoms known as cognitive dysfunction or “lupus fog.”

Now, researchers at Dalhousie University have used a new brain imaging technique to uncover a possible explanation which involves the blood-brain barrier -- the lining of the brain’s blood vessels that blocks harmful substances from entering the brain. When that barrier leaks, foreign molecules can seep from the blood vessels into the brain and trigger inflammation that can undermine brain function.

The researchers have found that lupus patients with leaky blood vessels in the brain were twice as likely to have impaired cognitive function, compared to patients with non-leaky blood vessels.

“These findings are an important step forward,” says study lead author Lyna Kamintsky, a PhD student in the Department of Medical Neuroscience at Dal. “Usually when people think of cognitive difficulties, they imagine an issue with the brain’s most famous cells – the neurons.

“Our research shows that the brain’s blood vessels may be the key to understanding what causes neurons to dysfunction. Hopefully soon, this will lead to a new generation of treatments.”

This research opens up a whole new field for neuroscience. Until recently, the tiny blood vessels of the brain could only be examined after a patient died.

“Now that we can look at the blood vessels of living patients using MRI, we’re realizing that the source of many problems is a failure to keep the things in our blood from entering our brain,” she says.

Kamintsky believes this MRI technique has major potential as a diagnostic tool for the neurological complications of other diseases linked to leaky blood vessels in the brain, including diabetes, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, bipolar disorder and COVID-19.

The study is described in a new paper being published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases .

Kamintsky is available to explain how this discovery marks an important step towards understanding why lupus patients have cognitive difficulties, while also advancing research into prevention and treatment.

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Media Contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491
Email: alison.auld@dal.ca

Dalhousie University researcher studies disaster preparedness, response, and recovery in the homeless community of Halifax, Nova Scotia

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, those who find themselves homeless, or in precarious housing situations, are potentially among the most vulnerable to the spread of the virus.  

Individuals have been asked by federal and provincial governments under states of emergencies to “stay home” and “self-isolate” to stop the spread of COVID-19, but what happens when there is no home to go to? Cities across Canada have responded in different ways to address this issue, but as systems move to disaster recovery, responses need to move forward by avoiding returning to the status quo for addressing issues of homelessness. 

Dr. Jeff Karabanow, a Professor at Dalhousie University’s School of Social Work, is exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on individuals experiencing homelessness and the responses by both informal and formal systems to support the needs of these individuals in Halifax and how these systems will move forward in disaster recovery. His research will provide an in-depth understanding of the health and wellness of the homeless population; the processes involved in supporting homeless populations during a pandemic; and determine what has worked, what has not, and the changes that are needed. This will be the first-ever study of its kind in Nova Scotia, and will significantly contribute to the examination of how the pandemic has impacted homeless populations. 

Dr. Karabanow is able to provide perspective on how this research will assist governmental and non-governmental organizations in exploring the strengths and challenges involved in disaster work, and how to best support the homeless community’s post-disaster recovery processes and move forward.  

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Media Release: Genomics project seeks to gain critical understanding of how aquatic species thrive together and provide insight into the evolution of life on Earth

Sept. 23, 2020 (Halifax, NS) - Scientists from around the world are taking on an ambitious project to sequence the genetic codes of 1,000 aquatic species – representing 500 symbiotic partnerships – in a bid to understand how these organisms have changed to depend on each other for survival.

The Aquatic Symbiosis Project, a new collaboration between the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, will help researchers answer important questions about the ecology and evolution of symbiosis – where two different species live in very close association – in marine and freshwater ecosystems at a time when biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate.

Dr. John Archibald, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Dalhousie University, has been selected to lead one of four international teams of collaborators. His multi-year project will focus on endosymbiosis, which involves one type of cell residing within another. Without endosymbiosis, we would not have algae, plants and trees or the oxygen they produce.

“Symbiosis is a massively important part of life on Earth, past and present. But when organisms live in close association, it can be difficult if not impossible to study them,” says Dr. Archibald.

“With the latest DNA analysis technologies, such as those used by the Wellcome Sanger Institute, we will be able to sequence the genomes of both symbiotic partners at the same time and then use computers to infer each of their genomes from the resulting data.”

Symbiosis covers a spectrum of relationships, from temporary to lifelong, and from mutually beneficial to exploitative. For example, relationships between corals and algae are mutually beneficial, with the algae receiving a home and the coral access to nutrients through photosynthesis. These coral collaborations are the foundations of hyper-diverse reef systems worldwide.

Little is known about how symbiotic partners adapt to one another over time, how resilient these partnerships are and how they respond to disruption. The Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics project will bring all the tools of leading-edge genomics to bear on these questions and benefit scientists working to understand and conserve ocean and freshwater biodiversity.

The project will create gold-standard genome sequences for around 1,000 marine and freshwater species that form around 500 symbiotic partnerships. When done, the genomes will be publicly available via an online data platform run by EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute.

Access to genomic information will be used to address some of the most urgent conservation challenges in our oceans, rivers and lakes. This includes such things as coral bleaching, where higher ocean temperatures lead to corals losing their symbiotic algal partner and becoming sick or dying. A greater understanding of the impact of this threat may allow researchers to develop strategies that could help reefs survive.

“Symbiosis is a key part of the way the world works, and it has always fascinated me that organisms that might otherwise be predator and prey have evolved to co-operate to survive,” says Mark Blaxter of the Tree of Life programme at the Sanger Institute and lead investigator of the Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics Project, which is being funded by Wellcome Sanger and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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Media Contacts:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University
902-220-0491
Email: Alison.auld@dal.ca

Matthew Midgley
Press Office
Wellcome Sanger Institute
Cambridge, CB10 1SA
Phone: 01223 494856
Email: press.office@sanger.ac.uk

Atlantic universities to offer region-wide virtual events for student entrepreneurs

Monday, September 21, 2020 (Halifax, NS) - Seven universities in Atlantic Canada are co-ordinating efforts to engage and support student entrepreneurs by hosting virtual workshops this fall.

Five virtual workshops and an additional three virtual fireside chats for female-identifying students will be hosted by different participating institutions. Students across all campuses are eligible to attend for free.

The fireside chats, titled Women Leading Startups, are in partnership with the Canadian Ecosystem Gathering and aim to provide additional support and inspiration for female-identifying students, who are traditionally under-represented in entrepreneurship. The chats will introduce students to women who have founded high-growth startups in Canada and allow them to network in a safe and dedicated virtual space.

Two of the workshops, How do I entrepreneur? and Stayin’ lean, are supported by Propel, an online accelerator for technology startups in Atlantic Canada.

The post-secondary institutions participating in these workshops include:

  • Cape Breton University
  • Dalhousie University
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Mount St. Vincent University
  • Saint Mary’s University
  • University of New Brunswick
  • University of Prince Edward Island

“Creating a culture of innovation and increasing awareness of available programming across the Atlantic region is amplified by this effort,” said Jeff Larsen, executive director of innovation and entrepreneurship at Dalhousie University. “By working collaboratively, we are able to expand our networks and reach to allow students, academics and community members exposure to the markets, opportunities and experiences that exist outside their home institution.”

Florian Villaumé, director of the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship at Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L., says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity to reach more students through virtual events and by co-ordinating efforts between all the universities.

“Having most students studying online has opened new opportunities to inspire and enable aspiring student entrepreneurs,” said Mr. Villaumé. “With the support of Propel and Canadian Ecosystem Gathering, we are collectively investing in the future of student-led startups. This collaboration will create a strong connection between entrepreneurial students across the region, thus making the foundation of the Atlantic Canada startup ecosystem stronger.”

The workshops include topics such as: How do I entrepreneur?, Uncover the right idea; Stayin’ lean and Take on tech.

The first workshop, How do I entrepreneur?, will be held on Sept. 24. 

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University 
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

 

Pandemic! The class: Real-Time Simulation-Based Course Challenges Dalhousie University Students to Prevent Virus Outbreaks

With COVID-19 pushing the majority of classes at Dalhousie University online, faculty members have had to rethink, reconfigure and redesign their methods of teaching and course delivery. While these new ways of designing courses have brought on a lot of uncertainties and worries about diving into these unchartered teaching waters, they have also created opportunities for faculty members to be creative and innovative with the ways they will now design their courses and engage with students. 

 

Dr. Robert Huish, an Associate Professor in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has designed a course based loosely on the board game Pandemic (by Z-man Games). “Pandemic! The class” is a real time simulation-based course on pandemic management with the goal of preventing pandemics from occurring. Students take on roles that are based on characters in the game, and must work together and with other groups in order to cure four diseases, while being mindful about the consequences of their actions. Trying to eradicate one disease may allow another to become a pandemic. Putting too much attention into vaccine research can have consequences, as can putting too much attention into quarantines and military medical responses.

View a video preview of Pandemic! The class

Dr. Huish is available to provide perspective on how this course presents a great global snapshot of COVID-19 policy approaches, and how it might normalize policy and management behavior, like collaboration, trust, cooperation, and resolution.  

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Media Contact: 

 

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie University researcher honoured with prestigious Rutherford Memorial Medal in Chemistry from Royal Society of Canada

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 (Halifax, NS) - A world leading expert in theoretical chemistry from Dalhousie University has been honoured by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) for her outstanding achievements. 

Dr. Erin Johnson, a Professor in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Science, has received the 2020 Rutherford Memorial Medal in Chemistry. This award was established in 1980 by the Royal Society of Canada in memory of Lord Rutherford of Nelson, a scientist and leader in nuclear research. It is awarded for outstanding research during the formative stage of a career in any branch of chemistry and in recognition of Lord Rutherford’s own research carried out in Canada at a relatively young age. 

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Rutherford Memorial Medal,” says Dr. Johnson. “The list of previous winners is extremely impressive, and I am proud to join this distinguished group of researchers. Given some of the strong recent faculty hires in the Chemistry department, I hope and expect that there will soon be further Rutherford medalists at Dalhousie.”

A graduate of Carleton University in Ottawa, and Queen’s University in Kingston, Dr. Johnson is recognized internationally as a rapidly rising star in theoretical chemistry, where computational tools are used to model chemistry at the atomic level. With possible real-world applications, those computational models are rapidly gaining prominence with possible global benefits, including the design of new drugs, catalysts, and materials for energy applications.  

Dr. Johnson currently holds the Herzberg-Becke Chair in Theoretical Chemistry, established after Dalhousie University’s Dr. Axel Becke was awarded NSERC’s Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. She has been referred to as not only the best young theoretical chemist in Canada, but perhaps the “best young chemist (of any kind) in all of North America,” and has published 122 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, which have received over 15,000 citations – nearly tenfold what might be expected for someone at this stage of their career. 

“Congratulations to Dr. Johnson on this well-deserved recognition from the Royal Society of Canada,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “Since arriving at Dalhousie, she has demonstrated unflagging scientific leadership, with astounding accomplishments to date. She is determined, dedicated and diligent, and is clearly having an exceptional impact on her field.”

No stranger to accolades, Dr. Johnson received the 2018 Tom Ziegler Award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry; the 2017-18 Faculty of Science Killam Prize from Dalhousie University; and the 2016 CMOA Promising Scientist Award from the Centre for Applied Wave Mechanics. Most notably, in 2018 she became only the second Canadian to receive the Dirac Medal. This is presented each year by the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists to one outstanding theoretical and computational chemist under the age of 40. She is also one of six recipients of the 2019 NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships, which are awarded annually to enhance the career development of outstanding and highly promising scientists and engineers who are faculty members of Canadian universities. These are Canada’s most prestigious national awards for early-career researchers across all science and engineering disciplines. 

It is the first time ever that a researcher from Dalhousie University is the recipient of the Rutherford Memorial Medal in Chemistry. Dr. Johnson will receive her award in November, during the Royal Society of Canada Celebration of Excellence and Engagement, which will be hosted by the University of Toronto.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada is comprised of established leaders across the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences and well as emerging leaders in the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. The objective of the RSC is to serve Canada and the world by recognizing Canada’s leading scientists, scholars, and artists and mobilizing them in an open discussion to advance knowledge and understanding of critical issues with a view toward contributing to a better future. 

For more information, visit the Royal Society of Canada website.

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Five world-class researchers from Dalhousie University recognized by the Royal Society of Canada


Tuesday, September 8, 2020 (Halifax, NS)
 -  Five of Dalhousie University’s world-class researchers have been recognized by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) for their outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement. This includes three new Fellows and two new Members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Dalhousie’s newest Fellows include: Dr. Leonard Diepeveen, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; Prof. Jennifer Llewellyn, Faculty of Law; and Dr. Douglas Wallace, Faculty of Science.

According to the Royal Society of Canada, the Fellows comprise over 2,000 Canadian scholars, artists, and scientists, peer-elected as the best in their fields, who are making remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life.

The two new College Members are: Dr. Helene Deacon, Faculty of Science; and Dr. Rita Orji, Faculty of Computer Science.

Those named to the College represent the emerging generation of scholarly, scientific and artistic leadership in Canada. They address issues of concern to new scholars, artists and scientists, for the advancement of understanding and the benefit of society.

“Congratulations to these five remarkable researchers on their appointment to the Royal Society of Canada,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “Their work is exceptional, and they are having a profound impact in our communities and around the globe. We are proud to have them call Dalhousie University home.”

Learn more about Dal’s newest Royal Society Fellows and College Members:

Dr. Leonard Diepeveen, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (Fellow)
Dr. Leonard Diepeveen, George Munro Professor of Literature and Rhetoric at Dalhousie University, is an internationally-recognized scholar who focusses his work on early twentieth-century culture, particularly on the relationship of modernism to its publics. His cross-disciplinary work has resulted in three single-authored books, three co-authored volumes on visual art, two editions, and numerous book chapters and articles, as well as many conference presentations and invited lectures in North America and Europe. 

Professor Jennifer Llewellyn, Faculty of Law (Fellow)
Prof. Jennifer Llewellyn is a leading public intellectual on justice transformation and a world leader in restorative justice. She is the Yogis and Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, and her scholarship and practice has been ground-breaking for justice systems and other social institutions. It has affected justice reforms, human rights protection, public inquiries, disciplinary processes, and international peacebuilding and reconciliation. 

Dr. Douglas Wallace, Faculty of Science (Fellow)
Dr. Douglas Wallace is a world-leading researcher who has made significant and ground-breaking contributions related to the use of innovative observations and ocean technology for unravelling biogeochemical processes connecting the upper ocean and the atmosphere. The impact of his pioneering work is being felt today through the design of global ocean observing programs and intensive process studies. He is the Canada Research Chair in Ocean Science and Technology and Scientific Director for the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction & Response Network (MEOPAR).

Dr. Hélène Deacon, Faculty of Science (Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists)
Dr. Héléne Deacon, Killam Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University, is a world leader in research into reading development. Through large-scale studies following children over several years, Dr. Deacon provides ground-breaking insight into which skills support success at which points in time. Through her multi-site research program, she also leads a much-needed ‘globalization’ of reading research, building new knowledge in English and in the many other languages in which children learn to read. 

Dr. Rita Orji, Faculty of Computer Science (Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists)
Dr. Rita Orji, Associate Professor of Computer Science, has been recognized globally as one of the leading researchers in Persuasive Technologies (PTs) and Behaviour Change Systems for her transformative work on Personalizing Persuasive Systems. She utilizes user-centered approaches to design interactive systems to motivate people for actions and causes that are beneficial to them and their communities. She also investigates how interactive systems can be designed for under-served populations. 

This year’s cohort will be formally inducted into the Royal Society of Canada in November during the annual Celebration of Excellence and Engagement, which will be held in partnership with the University of Toronto. 

For more information, visit the Royal Society of Canada website.

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University 
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Harnessing COVID-19 for cancer therapy? Scientists hopeful they can repurpose anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune response to kill cancers

COVID-19 has touched almost every country around the world since it emerged months ago, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and millions infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But there might be a silver lining to this catastrophic pandemic. 

Dr. Shashi Gujar, a scientist with the Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University, who is leading an ongoing international collaboration with partners in France, Denmark, Germany, US and India, is examining whether the body’s immune response to SARS-CoV-2 could be repurposed to kill cancer cells.

Following infection with SARS-CoV-2, our defence system -- the immune system -- recognizes the virus and activates a particular type of immune cell called “T cells.” These T cells act in a highly precise manner and kill only virus-harbouring cells. Most importantly, T cells can establish a ‘memory’ response that maintains active protection against possible re-infection with the virus.

As a result, SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells can hunt for the virus inside the body, eliminate the niches where the virus replicates and aid in recovery from COVID-19. Interestingly, multiple COVID-19 vaccines that are being tested internationally have shown similar capacity to activate SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells -- induced by either infection or vaccinations -- will be found in millions of people worldwide. 

The T cells generated in response to the viral infection remain in the body for a long time and Dr. Gujar and his scientific partners believe that these virus-specific T cells could be redirected to go after cancer cells. With the initial support from Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, the team has started work on repurposing SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells to target cancers of various types, as outlined in their recently published article in the journal OncoImmunology.

Dr. Gujar is available to explain the research and the potential promise of exploiting anti-COVID-19 immunity to destroy cancer cells in what could be the next generation of cancer immunotherapy.

Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University
Alison.auld@dal.ca
Mobile: 902-220-0491

What started as a Dalhousie student’s class project on greening everything from mouthwash to dog food now selling on Amazon as ebook guide

Ever wonder about the impact of the beef industry on the environment and what you can eat in its place? Or how much plastic ends up in the ocean every year and what alternatives you could use to help cut down on packaging that is often just thrown away? Or, how to see through greenwashing marketing trends and become a more eco-minded consumer?

Well, a new ebook by Dalhousie student Hannah Solway offers comprehensive guidance on how to ‘green your life’ and make ecologically friendly choices for everything from dental floss andsunscreen to travel, dining out and doing your laundry.

Solway produced the book after being assigned a project in her Conservation Biology class at Dal to design a research study that would have an environmentally positive impact. She originally intended to create a short list of ecologically harmful everyday products and habits, along with eco-friendly substitutions. But as she researched products and alternatives, her small list expanded into a 76-page document that explains a range of lifestyle changes.

A Guide to Going Green was published in July and is now selling on Amazon, with formats available for all devices (iPad, iPhone, Kindle, etc).

The guide has eight chapters, starting with a glossary of key terms, such as sustainability and biodiversity. It then goes through some of the biggest challenges to the environment, why they are happening and ways to mitigate their impact.

Solway is available to discuss her guide and the ways it has helped her make more eco-minded choices when it comes to the products she buys, the food she eats and how she lives her life.

The guide is available here

Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491
Email: alison.auld@dal.ca

Media Opportunity: Dalhousie researchers help develop new Canadian obesity management guidelines that for the first time address weight bias and stigma

 


New guidelines to help manage adult obesity have been released today (Aug. 4) and includes a chapter authored by a Dalhousie University researcher that, for the first-time, addresses weight bias and stigma.

Dr. Sara Kirk, Scientific Director of the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University and a professor of Health Promotion, is part of the team of health experts from across the country that spent the last two years revising the ClinicalPractical Guidelines for adult obesity management originally published in 2006.

Dr. Michael Vallis, with the Department of Psychology, and Dr. Helena Piccinini-Vallis with the Department of Family Medicine at Dalhousie University, also participated in the guidelines’ development.

The updated guidelines, which were developed in partnership with the national charity, Obesity Canada, are outlined in an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and are available on the charity’s website.

Dr. Kirk is the lead author of a unique chapter devoted to reducing weight bias and obesity stigma, issues that are commonplace today in everything from images in the media and jokes on TV shows to comments from educators, health-care professionals, employers, family and friends.

Such behaviour is not only hurtful but can be harmful. Weight bias, obesity stigma and discrimination can cause anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, binge eating, and avoidance of both physical activity and health care.

The new guidelines target primary health-care professionals, policymakers, as well as people living with obesity and their families. 

Key recommendations:

  1. Ask permission to discuss weight: Health care practitioners must recognize obesity as a chronic disease with stigma and should not assume all patients with obesity are prepared to address it. This step helps to manage bias against people living with obesity.
  2. Assess their story: Discuss the patient's history to understand the root causes of obesity, combined with physicalexamination, calculation of body mass index (BMI) and other investigations.
  3. Advise on management: Discuss treatment options, such as nutrition and exercise, psychological interventions, medications to achieve and maintain weight loss, and bariatric surgery.
  4. Agree on goals: Collaborate on a personalized, sustainable long-term action plan with realistic expectations.
  5. Assist with barriers and drivers of weight gain: Barriers include lack of access to health care providers with expertise in obesity, lack of coverage of obesity medications by drug plans in Canada and long wait times for bariatric surgery.

Dr. Kirk is available to discuss these new guidelines and the importance of understanding obesity, a complex issue that involves far more than simply eating too much or exercising too little.

Media contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation 
Dalhousie University
Cell: 902-222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

 

Media Opportunity: Dalhousie University researcher helping to highlight global problem of sepsis

According to recent estimates, one in eighteen deaths in Canada involves sepsis, making it the twelfth leading cause of death nationally. Many patients diagnosed with sepsis require care in the Intensive Care Unit, placing a considerable burden on the healthcare system. 

Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh, an assistant professor in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Health is one of the principal investigators for a new national research network that recently received $5.7 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to highlight this global problem. Sepsis Canada will bring together researchers and clinicians in sepsis research from across Canada to further understand the causes and improving the prevention, detection and management of sepsis. The project will be organized around three themes: Population Health & Policy; Advocacy and Knowledge Transfer; and Clinical Research & Translational Biology.

Dr. Parsons Leigh is the lead for the Advocacy team. Headquartered at Dalhousie, the National Sepsis Knowledge Transfer and Advocacy Lab will focus on creating a national knowledge translation (KT) campaign that will improve pre-hospital recognition and post-hospital management of sepsis. The campaign will educate and inform the public and healthcare providers about sepsis, optimize detection and early treatment, and enhance the functional recovery of patients with sepsis by recognizing and addressing the consequence of their acute illness. The work they are doing will position Dalhousie University and Halifax as leaders in this specific area.

The research team consists of qualitative scientists, knowledge implementation experts, paramedic and prehospital experts, emergency and critical care physicians and scientists trained in evidence-based guideline creation from across the country. Partners in are the Canadian Critical Care Society, Canadian Sepsis Foundation, Canadian Association of Emergency Physician, among others, and Christine Caron, a triple amputee from sepsis. A passionate advocate for sepsis survivors, Christine runs the Canadian Sepsis Foundation (CSF) twitter account and Facebook support page.

The work for the Canadian Sepsis Research Network is expected to begin the fall of 2020.

Dr. Parsons-Leigh is available to provide perspective on this new research network, and how her team will be focusing on improving sepsis awareness and surveillance across Canada. 

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation 
Dalhousie University
Cell: 902-222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie-based Ocean Tracking Network receives $13.4 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation


Tuesday, July 21, 2020 (Halifax, NS)
 - The Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) has been awarded a grant of $13.4 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund, bringing the total amount awarded to OTN from the Government of Canada to $27M. OTN is the only MSI and national research facility in Atlantic Canada.

The MSI Fund supports the unique operating and maintenance needs of Canada’s large, complex research facilities so that they can stay on the cutting edge and continue to serve communities of researchers in Canada and around the world. Thesefacilities – whether physical spaces or virtual networks – serve a critical mass of researchers tackling some of the most important issues facing society. The funding announced today includes an investment of close to $230 million by the Government of Canada in 14 national research facilities at 10 different institutions across the country.  

Since 2008, OTN has been deploying state-of-the-art ocean monitoring equipment and marine autonomous vehicles (gliders) in key ocean locations and inland waters around the world to measure how the environment is changing, and is using electronic tagging systems to track  the movements and survival of more than 245 keystone, commercially important and endangered species. Results from OTN researchers are used to inform conservation initiatives, sustainable fisheries management and policy development, to assist with environmental impact assessments, and to help monitor the health of the global ocean. 

“This investment from CFI will allow OTN to continue serving its Canadian and international research communities - a network of 600 researchers and counting - who use OTN's infrastructure and data systems to track and analyze animal movements in the face of changing marine ecosystems,” says Dr. Sara Iverson, OTN’s Scientific Director. “These international scale-collaborations are transforming aquatic species research into critical knowledge that is of benefit to Canada, as well as the world."

Using new protocols to operate safely under the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, OTN headquarters personnel have worked assiduously to support the Network’s scientific communities by providing data services and by maintaining the operations of OTN infrastructure. This has allowed the important work of OTN collaborators to continue—and even increase—during a time when researchers are working remotely on data analyses. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, operations with the Coastal Environmental Observation Technology and Research (CEOTR) group’s autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs, a.k.a. Slocum gliders and Wave Gliders) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) continued in support of essential training, monitoring and research—Slocum gliders were prepared and will soon be deployed for missions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to assist principal investigators with protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales from ongoing shipping and fishing activities. CEOTR’s Wave Glider was readied to service the Halifax Line—OTN’s largest tracking array—and other sites where tracking stations are established, to ensure the infrastructure remained operational and to retrieve critical animal movement data. 

“This significant investment by the Government of Canada is recognition of the outstanding research happening at the Ocean Tracking Network,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “OTN continues to lead the way in a rapidly-evolving ocean technology sector. Its work has changed our understanding of the natural world and is making a vital contribution to better management of the world’s aquatic resources.”

With the funding announced today, OTN will be able to:

  • Continue to maintain infrastructure and operations
  • Continue to meet the growing demands of its Canadian and international user communities
  • Allow communication of data and outcomes in support of Canadian and international science and stewardship of global aquatic resources
  • Support Canadian marine technology companies that manufacture equipment for OTN

A full list of the funded projects and stories about the facilities are available online at innovation.ca

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Media Contacts:


Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University 
Cell: 902-222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Anja Samardzic
Communications Manager
Ocean Tracking Network 
Phone: 902-802-6730
Email: anja.samardzic@dal.ca

Dalhousie researchers look to revolutionize the way batteries are made

Wednesday, May 13, 2020 (Halifax, NS) - Researchers at Dalhousie University have discovered new methods of making battery materials that could revolutionize the industry.

Uniform micrometer particles are important in several applications, including the creation of metal oxide and graphite active materials used in Li-ion batteries. However, the current methods of producing these particles can be wasteful and limited in their composition. A typical production facility making 6,500 kg of lithium manganese nickel cobalt oxides per day can consume 99,000L/day of water and produce fine particles that become waste material. Natural battery graphite production is also highly wasteful, with 40-70% of the mined graphite being typically lost as waste.

Dr. Mark Obrovac, a Professor in Dalhousie University’s Department of Chemistry and the NSERC/Novonix Industrial Research Chair in Metal Ion Batteries, along with his students has developed a method for synthesizing highly engineering particles by consolidating fine, even submicron particles into particles that are tens of microns. This innovative process, called dry particle microgranulation (or DPMG), allows for the type of precise control of particle internal composition variation, shape, and morphology that is not possible by previous methods.

By using this method, Dr. Obrovac and his team are able to show that Li-ion battery graphite and metal oxide particles can be made at 100% yield with no water or waste. It is also believed that this process could be used in many fields to reduce the cost and environmental impact of particle synthesis and enable the synthesis in bulk of new, highly engineered particles.

The team also discovered that the graphite they have been able to create with DPMG is in layers, similar to the layering of an onion. This type of graphite has only been observed in inter-steller space or has been made in nano-sized micrograms artificially. This type of graphite could potentially lead to better performing Li-ion batteries, it is also highly desirable for the creation of lubricating powder.

Dr. Obrovac’s industrial research partner, Novonix has filed patent applications around this technology and is working on taking this technique from the lab to pilot demonstration scale. Established in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2013, Novonix specializes in developing equipment with a strong focus on the use of High Precision Coulometry for reliable lifetime evaluation of lithium-ion cells. They have expertise in materials and cell testing and offer a range of battery testing equipment and accessories.  Novonix’s sister company, PUREgraphite, is a commercial producer of graphite for lithium ion batteries with target markets of electric vehicle and energy storage.

The study was published in Cell Reports Physical Science today, Wednesday, May 13, 2020. A link to the full article can be found here.

Quotes:

"I believe that dry particle microgranulation represents breakthrough in reducing the cost, waste, and environmental impact of advanced powder production. In addition, it enables the bulk synthesis of never before seen designer materials, which could lead to enhanced performance. In the Li-ion battery field, I believe this technology shows great promise for reducing battery costs and increasing battery performance; while simultaneously reducing the waste and environmental impact of battery production. I believe that benefits from this technology could also be realized in pharmaceuticals and structural materials; and other fields that utilize engineered particles."

-  Mark Obrovac, Professor, Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University and NSERC Novonix Industrial Research Chair

“Decreasing battery costs is critical in increasing the adoption of technologies such as electric vehicles and grid storage systems and an active area of work for Novonix. This paper is especially unique as it presents a process with the opportunity to decrease cost in active material manufacturing for batteries in both anode and cathode materials. Novonix has been impressed with the high caliber of research coming from Dr. Obrovac’s group since starting to work together in 2018 and is excited about our continued collaboration.”

-  Chris Burns, President and CEO of Novonix.

The paper "Engineered Particle Synthesis by Dry Particle Microgranulation" by Mark Obrovac and coworkers reports a breakthrough in low-cost synthesis of battery materials. The ability to be able to synthesize both state-of-the-art positive and negative electrode materials with this method is truly exciting. I believe that the onion-like morphology of natural graphite particles made from what would normally be considered waste is extremely important and could potentially lead to the best and least expensive graphites for lithium-ion cells. I believe that the ability to synthesize appropriately-sized dense particles of NMC and other positive electrode materials in a completely waste-free process, unlike the current methods used today by industry, has huge potential. I congratulate the Obrovac team for their outstanding and innovative work done in the Chemistry department at Dalhousie University.

- Dr.  Jeff Dahn, Professor, Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University and NSERC Tesla Canada Industrial Research Chair
 

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: 902-222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

 

Dalhousie University researcher co-leads national study collecting data on aging adults’ experience during COVID-19

How does a pandemic affect the physical and psychological health of adults as they age? Does COVID-19 have an impact on the delivery of regular health-care services? Does a COVID-19 infection lead to long-term health problems affecting the lungs or the brain? 

These are just a few of the questions a new study being launched this week hopes to answer. The collaborative research project, conducted in partnership with 11 institutions across the country, including Dalhousie University, will examine the experiences of older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, exploring how they cope, the impacts on their physical and mental health, and changes to how they access health-care services.

Over the next six months, the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) COVID-19 study will collect weekly and monthly data from its participants through online and telephone surveys to gain a comprehensive picture of the spread and impact of the pandemic. In addition to data on symptoms, health and well-being, the study will also gather information on health behaviours, such as physical distancing and handwashing, workplace and economic impacts, as well as travel history.

The CLSA is a national research platform on health and aging involving more than 50,000 participants across 10 provinces. The study is led by principal investigator Parminder Raina of McMaster University, with co-principal investigators Susan Kirkland, Professor and Head of the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University, and Christina Wolfson of McGill University, along with a national team of researchers. It is a major strategic initiative of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Funding for the platform has been provided by the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

The CLSA COVID-19 study is supported by funding provided by the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA), McMaster University and Juravinski Research Institute; additional support has been provided by several provinces, affiliated universities and research institutions across Canada.

Dr. Kirkland is able to provide perspective on this study, and how it will help us learn more about how COVID-19 spreads, which factors appear to protect against or increase the risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms, and why some are more vulnerable than others.

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie ranked in top 100 universities worldwide

Thursday, April 23, 2020 (Halifax, NS) - According to the new Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, Dalhousie is among the top 100 universities in the world.

The Impact Rankings launched last year and are the only global rankings to document evidence of universities’ impact on society, rather than just research and teaching performance. They include metrics based on all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals across three broad areas: research, outreach and stewardship.

Dalhousie ranked 85 among the 767 institutions from 85 countries that participated. There were 19 institutions in Canada that took part, and Dalhousie was the only university in Atlantic Canada to be recognized.

“Achieving standing in the top 100 universities in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings is something we should all take great pride in,” says Dr. Deep Saini, Dalhousie University’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “Taking our place among the best in the world shows the profound difference our work is making in the lives of our students, our communities and around the globe.”

A university’s final score in the Impact Rankings is a measure of how well they are addressing the world’s most pressing issues in these areas. The top performance areas for Dalhousie included SDG 14 (Life Below Water); SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing); SDG10 (Reduced Inequalities); and SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals).

“These rankings are an acknowledgement of the incredible research being done by hundreds of faculty and students at Dalhousie University,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “They also demonstrate that by leveraging our greatest research strengths, and by partnering with others globally, we are able to focus our efforts on solving some of the most complex global issues facing humankind.”

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals can be found throughout Dalhousie University’s Strategic Direction for Research and Innovation. The university’s five signature research clusters and two cross cutting themes are all grounded in specific Sustainable Development Goals. 

"It is tremendous that Dalhousie has been recognized for its exceptional and strategic contributions to the UN’s SDG14 (Life Below Water),” says Dr. Sara Iverson, Scientific Director of the Ocean Tracking Network at Dalhousie University. “Dalhousie has demonstrated its world leadership through its highly innovative interdisciplinary work that is spread across many faculties and departments and through its ground-breaking international research initiatives, such as the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN), the Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network, and the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), among others, all of which are working towards healthier and more sustainable oceans and communities across the globe."

Additional information about the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings can be found here.

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Media Contact:


Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Dalhousie University researchers receive funding from Government of Canada to study COVID-19

Friday, March 6, 2020 (Halifax, NS) – Three researchers from Dalhousie University have received a total of $1.9 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) as part of a Novel Coronavirus Rapid Research Funding Opportunity. 

The rapid response research funding opportunity is aligned with the efforts of international partners, including the World Health Organization(WHO) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness(GloPID-R). Its specific objectives are to:

  • Contribute to the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Enhance local, national and/or international collaborative efforts to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-2019 and its potential negative consequences 
  • Strengthen the understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and communities
  • Provide evidence to inform clinical and public health response, and/or decision-making and planning at national and international levels.

Dr. David Kelvin (Faculty of Medicine), Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh (Faculty of Health), and Dr. Scott Halperin (Faculty of Medicine) and will be studying new diagnostic tools for early case detection and surveillance; the socio-cultural implications of COVID-19; and the effects of public health outbreak control policies. 

“We are very proud to have three remarkable researchers play a key role in the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “For Dr. Kelvin, Dr. Parsons Leigh, and Dr. Halperin to be recognized in this way is evidence of the significant impact their scientific and innovative thinking is having on their field.”

The funding was announced today (Friday, March 6) by the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health,and the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. In total, $27 million was invested in 47 research teams across Canada. 

“The success of our faculty members to secure funding that will contribute to the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak demonstrates the calibre of researchers that the Faculty of Medicine and Dalhousie University is able to attract and retain,” says Dr. David Anderson, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.

“The work of Dr. Parsons Leigh will be instrumental in identifying knowledge gaps and health behaviours of Canadians, and subsequently creating an evidence- informed plan to inform our national and international community in how to effectively prepare for and respond to COVID-19,” says Dr. Brenda Merritt, Dean of the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University. “This work will enhance the health literacy of our citizens and enable effective heath decisions and behaviours during the spread of 
COVID- 19.”

Highlights of successfully funded projects:

Dr. David Kelvin
Identification of biomarkers that predict severity of COVID-19 patients

One of the major concerns with outbreaks like COVID-19 is the overwhelmed emergency rooms, hospitals and ICU wards. Dr. Kelvin’s goal is to create a device that can be used in any situation and help Emergency Room doctors rapidly determine whether the course of the disease will be mild or severe. 

The work will be conducted through the Canadian COVID-19 Research Network, which includes researchers from China, Vietnam, Spain, Italy, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cote D’Ivoire, Mozambique, the U.S. and Canada. This international team will conduct studies for biomarkers and gene expression assessment of COVID-19 patients. The data from these screenings will be used to determine which biomolecules are associated with mild, severe and critically ill patients. 


Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh

Socio-Cultural Implications of COVID-19: Educating, Engaging and Empowering the Public

Infectious disease outbreaks pose a severe threat to the physical and mental health of individuals and populations worldwide. A better understanding of the social and cultural factors that contribute to public knowledge and perceptions of COVID-19 is needed to develop evidence-informed strategies to combat misinformation, stigma and fear. 

Dr. Parsons Leigh will develop a national knowledge translation (KT) campaign that is centered on understanding and describing the knowledge base, perceptions and associated implications of the COVID-19 outbreak for the Canadian public to develop targeted interventions to close top identified public knowledge gaps. The ultimate goal of her work is to educate, engage and empower members of the public to be informed stewards of their health knowledge in relation to the current outbreak.

Dr. Scott Halperin
Understanding the effects of public health outbreak control policies and implementation on individuals and communities: A path to improving COVID-19 policy effectiveness

While public health policies are required to control an infectious disease outbreak, these policies can adversely affect individuals and communities. Quarantine, limitations in movement and public gathering, and other restrictive measures can put a social and economic burden on individuals, which may be disproportionate depending on their socioeconomic status and other factors. 

Dr. Scott Halperin’s project will examine the cultural dimensions of the COVID-19 epidemic. This will include examining how individuals and communities understand and react to the disease; studying the response of public health; and exploring how public health policy affects individuals and communities.  

The findings from this multi-province, multi-country study in Canada (British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia), Bangladesh, and China (Guangdong) will be used to improve the process by which public health policies are created and implemented. 

For more information about the rapid response research funding opportunity, visit the CIHR website.

 

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University 
Tel: (902) 494-4148
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

 


2019

Researchers from Dalhousie University and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada develop model to determine readiness to engage in HIV initiatives in Nunavut

Thursday, October 24, 2019 (Halifax, NS) – Researchers are concerned that Inuit, especially individuals living in Northern communities, are not getting enough access to confidential and anonymous HIV testing, education and prevention.

Dr. Audrey Steenbeek, a Professor in the School of Nursing at Dalhousie University, and Tracy O’Hearn, the Executive Director of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, have collaborated on the Inuit adaptation of the Community Readiness Model (CRM). Developed by Colorado State University, this tool can help communities determine how ready they are to deal with a specific issue. This specific research project focused on adapting, pre-testing and using the Community Readiness Model to identify how ready three Inuit communities in Nunavut were to handle HIV testing, education and prevention.

“Pauktuutit has welcomed this partnership with Dr. Steenbeek and the project research team,” says Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. “This adapted community readiness tool for Inuit communities will be helpful to the range of issues Pauktuutit addresses to contribute to the health and wellness of Inuit women, children and families.”

The first year of the project was focused on adapting, validating and translating the CRM. This included in-person meetings and multiple teleconferences with the project advisory committee.

The second and third years of the project involved pre-testing and using the adapted CRM to measure community readiness to engage in HIV initiatives in three communities: Arviat, Clyde River and Kugluktuk. Based on the results, the participants and the respective community health representative (CHRs) identified two priority areas and developed appropriate strategies.

The third year also included hosting a two day workshop in Ottawa, on October 9 and 10 2019, which brought together the research team, the Canadian Inuit HIV/AIDS Network (CIHAN) and CHRs to discuss the research project and future directions. 

“In partnership with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, our research aims to help Inuit communities in Canada remain HIV free and achieve better health outcomes for future generations to come,” says Dr. Steenbeek.

Funding for the project came from an Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Operating Grant (HIV/AIDS CBR Program- Aboriginal). Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR collaborates with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

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Media contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Tel: (902) 494-4148
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Lindsay Bacigal
Communications Coordinator
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada
Tel: 1 (613) 238-3977 ext. 248
Email: lbacigal@pauktuutit.ca

Dalhousie University researchers honoured with two prestigious awards from Royal Society of Canada

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 (Halifax, NS) – Dalhousie University is pleased to congratulate Dr. Jeff Dahn and Dr. Ford Doolittle on being awarded two medals by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) for their outstanding achievements. This is the first time ever researchers from Dalhousie have received these particular medals.

Dr. Jeff Dahn, a Professor in the Faculty of Science, has received the 2019 Henry Marshall Tory Medal. Established in 1941, this medal is awarded for outstanding research in a branch of astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, physics or an allied science. 

Dr. Dahn is a world leader in energy storage technologies.  He has made important discoveries of new electrode materials and electrolyte components which have been incorporated in lithium-ion batteries.  His recent work, concentrating on increasing the energy density, improving the lifetime and lowering the cost of lithium-ion batteries, led to the development of high‐precision coulometry – enabling the decades-long life span of modern Li‐ion cells to be ranked in several weeks.

Dr. Ford Doolittle, Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Medicine, has received the 2019 McLaughlin Medal. Established in 1978, this medal is awarded for important research of sustained excellence in any branch of medical sciences. 

Dr. Doolittle is internationally celebrated for his field-shifting contributions to comparative genomics, considered foundational to biomedical research. He has regularly advanced bold and sometimes controversial hypotheses that have served to stimulate deep conversations and debates. Not only has he changed how we look at the world, his ideas are widely accepted as core tenets in how we understand and study the very building blocks of life.  

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Dahn and Dr. Doolittle on receiving this well-deserved recognition from the Royal Society of Canada,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “Their research is profound and wide-ranging and has fundamentally changed the way the world looks at both energy storage and evolutionary biology.”

Dr. Dahn and Dr. Doolittle will receive their awards in November, during the RSC Celebration of Excellence and Engagement, which will be hosted by the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and the National Research Council of Canada.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada comprises established leaders across the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences as well as emerging leaders in The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. The objective of the RSC is to serve Canada and the world by recognizing Canada’s leading scientists, scholars, and artists and mobilizing them in an open discussion to advance knowledge and understanding of critical issues with a view toward contributing to a better future. 

Visit the Royal Society of Canada for more information.

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Media Contact:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Tel: (902) 494-4148
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

Three Dalhousie University researchers recognized by prestigious Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 (Halifax, NS) – Dalhousie University is pleased to congratulate three of its world-class researchers who have been appointed to the Royal Society of Canada’s (RSC) College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Launched in 2014, The College is Canada’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for scholars who have demonstrated a high level of achievement at an early stage in their career. Dalhousie is currently home to 16 College members. 

Elaine Craig (Faculty of Law); Shauntay Grant (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences); and Matthew Herder (Faculties of Law and Medicine) were announced today as part of the College’s 2019 cohort. As members, their role will be to address issues of concerns to new scholars, artists and scientists, for the advancement of understanding and the benefit of society.

“I am very proud to have three incredibly talented researchers from Dalhousie recognized by the Royal Society of Canada,”  says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “Their significant contributions are not only impacting our province, but our country and the world. Congratulations to Dr. Craig, Ms. Grant and Dr. Herder on this well-deserved honour.”

Learn more about Dalhousie University’s newest RSC College members:

Elaine Craig, Faculty of Law
Dr. Craig studies the relationship between legal norms, concepts of sexual integrity and development of a theory of sexuality that will foster law’s capacity to promote justice. Her scholarship confronts some of the most difficult conceptual issues that arise with respect to the legal regulation of people’s identities, relationships, and intimate lives.

Dr. Craig’s work grapples with the tensions between safeguarding sexual liberty, protecting sexual integrity and promoting equality and diversity.

Shauntay Grant, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Born in Halifax, Shauntay Grant is a descendant of Black Loyalists, Jamaican Maroons, and Black Refugees who came to Nova Scotia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her work reflects her deep knowledge of African Canadian cultural traditions and her profound commitment to the unique artistic heritage of Nova Scotia’s Black communities. These communities, which are among Canada’s oldest African diasporic populations, have often been neglected and disrespected by the Canadian mainstream. 

Through her mastery of a range of literary, visual, and performing arts, Grant has brought this heritage to a wide and diverse contemporary audience in forms that are fresh, accessible, and engaging, but also challenging, rigorous, and grounded in careful research.

Matthew Herder, Faculties of Medicine and Law
Matthew Herder has made extensive contributions to the field of pharmaceutical policy. In particular, his scholarly research has shown that information about pharmaceutical drugs in often kept secret as a matter of practice rather than the law. Through his research, Matthew has recovered powerful examples of transparency in Canadian drug regulation and called upon health professionals, researchers, and others to push for fundamental changes in the regulatory form. 

This year’s new College members will be formally inducted into the RSC in November during the annual Celebration of Excellence and Engagement, which will be hosted by the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and the National Research Council of Canada. 

Visit the Royal Society of Canada for more information.

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Media Contact:
Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation
Dalhousie University
Tel: (902) 494-4148
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: michele.charlton@dal.ca

 

Dalhousie University and Barbie join forces to show Canadian kids that You Can Be Anything

As part of a partnership between Mattel Inc. and National Geographic, Ocean Tracking Network Scientific Director and Dalhousie University Professor helps inspire the next generation of explorers and scientists.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 (Halifax, NS) — Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) Scientific Director and Dalhousie University Biology Professor, Dr. Sara Iverson, has been recognized as an influential Canadian scientist and role model for Barbie’s 60th Anniversary campaign.

Earlier this year, Mattel Inc. announced a new global licensing agreement with National Geographic to launch a line of five career dolls and playsets with a focus on research, science and exploration—fields where women have historically been underrepresented— to send the message that You Can Be Anything. The product line up, which will be released this fall, features Barbie as a wildlife conservationist, an astrophysicist, a wildlife photojournalist, an entomologist and a polar marine biologist.

To celebrate the launch of the new dolls and playsets, Barbie will be hosting a contest offering four Canadian girls the chance to live out their career dreams through one-on-one experiences with real-life mentors, including Dr. Iverson. A recent study shows that starting at age 5 many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs. They stop believing that their gender can do or be anything. This is the Dream Gap. These once-in-a-lifetime experiences are one way that Barbie is working to close The Dream Gap.

“We’re honoured to partner with incredible women like Dr. Iverson to help girls experience first-hand some of the careers available to them today,” says Lisa Perry, Barbie Brand Manager, Mattel Canada Inc. “We’ve been offering girls the opportunity to participate in theYou Can Be Anything program for four years now and it’s inspiring to see the difference it’s made in some of our winners’ lives, especially when it comes to self-confidence.”

Dr. Iverson studies how marine animals adapt to and exploit their environments and she uses her research to better understand the biology of free-ranging animals and their populations, as well as their food webs and ecosystems. She has studied seals, sea lions and fur seals throughout the Northwest Atlantic, Arctic, and North Pacific oceans, the Bering Sea and even the Hawaiian Islands. She has also studied polar bears across the Canadian Arctic, whales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and seabirds in the Bering Sea,  Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska. Many young women have been trained in Dr. Iverson’s lab and field programs and have been inspired by the huge, varied and fascinating fields that cut across marine biology. These women have gone on to occupy professional positions in academia, industry and the private sector, and are themselves now mentoring more young women to become the next generation of marine biologists.

On July 24 and 25, Dr. Iverson and one lucky winner will undertake a blue shark tagging trip in the Northwest Atlantic, the gateway to the Arctic, for a truly immersive experience.

"Mattel’s partnership with National Geographic is a terrific opportunity to encourage young girls to dream - and to pursue those dreams - and to expose them to the fascinating world of science and conservation,” says Dr. Iverson. "What better way to play with Barbie than having it inspire girls to imagine and to understand that they can pursue any career they’re passionate about. I’m really pleased to help girls get excited about marine biology and the importance of understanding the ocean, and to play a role in giving them a chance to make their dreams a reality.”

The winner will also have the opportunity to visit Dalhousie University to understand what it means to be a marine biologist, meeting with and learning from some of Dr. Iverson’s impressive students. They may also experience the Aquatron Laboratory at Dalhousie University, Canada’s largest university aquatic research facility.

“This is well-deserved recognition for a world-class scientist,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “ With innovative research that is helping to understand and protect the ocean and its inhabitants,  there is no better mentor for young girls than Dr. Iverson.  We are incredibly proud to have her as a faculty member.”

For more information or to enter a girl in your life for a chance to win an opportunity with one of the four Barbie and National Geographic mentors, please visit www.YouCanBeAnything.ca. To learn more about The Dream Gap, please visit barbie.ca/dreamgap.

About Dalhousie University: Dalhousie University is Atlantic Canada’s leading research-intensive university. Located in the heart of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an Agricultural Campus in Truro/Bible Hill, Dalhousie is a truly national and international university, with more than half of the university’s 19,000-plus students coming from outside the province. Dal’s 6,000 faculty and staff foster a diverse, purpose-driven community, one that spans 13 faculties and conducts more than $150 million in research annually. Part of a cluster identified as one of the world’s top international centres in ocean research, the university proudly celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2018.

About the Ocean Tracking Network: The Ocean Tracking Network is a global aquatic research, data management and partnership platform headquartered at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Since 2008, OTN has been deploying state-of-the-art ocean monitoring equipment and marine autonomous vehicles (gliders) in key ocean locations and inland waters around the world and is tracking more than 220 keystone, commercially important and/or endangered species. OTN has established partnerships with a global community of telemetry users and stakeholders to document the movements and survival of aquatic animals in the context of changing ocean environments with the aim to provide better governance and stewardship of the world’s marine and freshwater resources.

About Dr. Sara Iverson: Dr. Iverson is globally recognized for her groundbreaking and interdisciplinary research, which has had implications for the conservation and management of mammals, seabirds and fish populations. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the NSERC E.W.R Steacie Award, and in 2018, became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Iverson has been invited to national and international conferences to present on oceans research collaboration and has authored more than 150 papers in her almost 30-year career.

Links:

Dr. Sara Iverson: Download High Res image
Dr. Sara Iverson’s lab:
 http://fatlab.biology.dal.ca

Media contacts:

Mattel Canada Inc.

Kaitlin Blackburn
GCI Canada
kaitlin.blackburn@gcicanada.com, 416-486-5929

 

Dalhousie University

Michele Charlton, Communications Advisor
Dalhousie University
michele.charlton@dal.ca, (902) 494-4148

Anja Samardzic, Communications Manager
Ocean Tracking Network
anja.samardzic@dal.ca, (902) 494-4405