Waterloo engineering professor wins national research award
Aiping Yu, a professor of chemical engineering, is one of six nation-wide recipients of 2020 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships for highly promising researchers. Her selection was announced today by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. A virtual awards ceremony is scheduled for this afternoon. The prestigious fellowships include $250,000 in research grants, and up to $90,000 a year to universities to free winners from teaching and administrative duties so they can concentrate on research full-time. Yu aims to establish a world-leading carbon nanotechnology centre at Waterloo.
University of Guelph scientists have harnessed tumour-killing viruses that may one day help treat devastating forms of breast, brain and pancreatic cancer. A team of researchers led by Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) professor Sam Workenhe (photo) has shown for the first time that a one-two punch of cancer-killing viruses and chemotherapy can help trigger tumour inflammation, stimulating the body’s immune system to control tumour growth. Published recently in Nature Communications Biology, the study uses mice specially bred to develop an aggressive form of breast cancer. The researchers found that treated mice lived about two months longer than untreated ones. Workenhe, Department of Pathobiology, said the study may ultimately help doctors enlist patients’ immune systems to fight cancers with especially poor treatment outcomes from conventional surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
March is the month that it all changed for the Waterloo Region Foodbank. And while they continued to see and feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s safe to say none of us could have predicted them. The pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and interact; with many people in Waterloo Region feeling the added stress of job loss, limited budgets, and illness and struggling to put food on the table. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region recently released a COVID-19 Report which takes a more in-depth look at the impact of the community’s generosity and how it helped us quickly adjust and adapt our operations to ensure the continued delivery of essential services during the pandemic.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and his colleagues in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) are meeting this week with Federal Cabinet Ministers to discuss the importance of governments working together during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are at a critical moment,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “We are going through the second wave of this pandemic much like other areas of the world, and supporting Canadians through this second wave is top of mind for everybody.” The BCMC met today with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, the Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic Leblanc, and the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen. BCMC will also be meeting with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson in the coming days. These meetings will outline the strength and success of intergovernmental partnerships to date, as well as the need for greater action on housing and homelessness, continued operating funding support for municipalities that protects frontline services for all Canadians and a cities-rooted green recovery.
University of Guelph food scientists have made a discovery that could lead to a healthier, more affordable and more sustainable substitute for palm oil. Published in Nature Food,this study is the first to demonstrate the use of enzymatic glycerolysis (EG) for turning liquid vegetable oils into solid fats – a critical transformation behind a range of widely consumed foods but one that until now has meant trading off health and environmental benefits. Already employed to make food ingredients, EG uses enzymes to break down fats into smaller units. Testing cottonseed and peanut oils to make margarine and peanut butter, Prof. Alejandro Marangoni and PhD student Reed Nicholson were able to produce solid fats with textural and structural properties desired by consumers.
If governments in Canada want to help increase economic productivity growth (and the possibility of a four-day work week), they should remove trade barriers between people and businesses in different provinces, finds a new essay released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank. “Canada may be one country but we’re not one economy, as barriers to investment and trade create artificial walls between our provincial and territorial economies at great cost to productivity and living standards,” said Trevor Tombe, associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary and author of Towards a More Productive and United Canada: The Case for Liberalizing Interprovincial Trade. For example, according to recent estimates, Canada’s overall economic productivity could increase by 3.8 per cent if our internal trade barriers on goods were eliminated. In other words, if our governments (including the federal and provincial governments) removed these trade barriers, Canada’s economy would grow by an additional $90 billion per year—or more than $2,300 per person and more than $6,000 per household—which would increase the possibility of a four-day work week.
Jolene MacDonald, a 1999 Graphic Design graduate and 2016 Conestoga Alumni of Distinction honouree, finished first place with a $5,000 prize during the college’s Pitch Day competition on October 28. The annual event was hosted by the Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective (CEC) through a virtual platform to showcase the best entrepreneurs with pre-seed start-ups in Conestoga’s Venture Lab. Jolene MacDonald, a 1999 Graphic Design graduate and 2016 Conestoga Alumni of Distinction honouree, finished first place at the college’s Pitch Day competition. The competition followed a full-day virtual CEC festival that provided opportunities to learn more about the labs and programs hosted through the Collective as well as celebrate the entrepreneurs in the Conestoga community. “This is such an incredible way to cap off all of that investigation and learning from today,” said Rose Mastnak, CEC director, as she welcomed guests to the competition. “We’re here tonight to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship at Conestoga and the hard work and passion of all the entrepreneurs who have been through the Venture Lab since September 2019.”
The City of Cambridge is honored to receive the 2020 CATT Award of Excellence in the ‘Organization’ category. The Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technologies (CATT) is the leading organization for the trenchless industry in Canada and the CATT Award of Excellence recognizes those organizations that have been instrumental in advancing the trenchless industry both locally and internationally. The City of Cambridge is a champion of trenchless technologies in Ontario. To date, the City has undertaken a variety of trenchless projects with significant environmental, cost, and schedule benefits, and staff have shared their learnings with many municipalities and others in the field. Going trenchless simply means not having to dig a trench. Trenchless technology is tunneling below the surface to install service lines or other infrastructure without disrupting the surface. It makes it possible to do work under rivers and other challenging areas without disrupting water flow, traffic and with minimum damage to the environment. The City received the award during CATT’s virtual AGM Monday.
Seneca is contributing to the City of Toronto’s response to COVID-19 with two applied research projects focused on helping vulnerable communities access better broadband and government incentives. The two Seneca projects are among eight resulting from a partnership among the City, Toronto-based postsecondary institutions, the federal and provincial government, and community partners, working collaboratively to assist with COVID-19 response and recovery. “Seneca is delighted to partner with the City of Toronto, provincial and federal governments, our postsecondary colleagues and community partners on research that helps in the response to COVID-19,” said Seneca President David Agnew. “Faculty and our students have been critical resources during the pandemic, providing creative solutions for economic recovery and supporting those in need.” Seneca’s research projects include a partnership with Ryerson University, York University, the University of Toronto and Humber College to identify the challenges associated with digital exclusion of seniors.
In “Gimme Shelter: How High Municipal Housing Charges and Taxes Decrease Housing Supply,” author Benjamin Dachis points to development charges, land transfer taxes, and murky density bonus payments as partial drivers of reduced supply and soaring house prices for would-be buyers. Over the past decade, housing costs have increased dramatically in Canada’s major cities and there is a persistent gap between the cost of building new homes and their market price. The report reveals Vancouver’s housing costs are by far the highest above the cost of construction in Canada, resulting in an extra cost of $644,000 for the average new house. In other major cities – Abbotsford, Victoria, Kelowna, Regina, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa-Gatineau – homebuyers paid an average $230,000 extra on a new house because of limits on supply.
On Wednesday, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released another round of insights from data it has collected to inform its upcoming Ontario Economic Report. “The second wave of this pandemic and prolonged uncertainty about the future are taking their toll on businesses,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Confidence in Ontario’s economic future has dropped to an unprecedented low.” In October, only 20 percent of survey respondents expressed confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook, down two percentage points from September, and dipping to its lowest level since the OCC began measuring business confidence in 2011. By contrast, 45 percent said they lacked confidence. “Many businesses are not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel just yet,” added Daniel Safayeni, Director of Policy of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “However, our survey also reveals 60 percent of businesses are confident that entrepreneurship in Ontario will rebound after the COVID-19 crisis. We’d like this number to be much higher, as Ontario will need small businesses to be an engine of post-pandemic job creation and economic recovery.”
Spot It, a Canadian retail technology company based in Waterloo, Ontario has announced the launch of its next-generation digital shopping marketplace that helps to connect, engage and inform consumers and retailers while saving them time and money. Originally developed to support a B2B/B2C model for retailers focused on employee efficiency and productivity, Spot It founders saw an opportunity to reach shoppers directly and provide them with a safer way to shop in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pivoting to address the immediate needs of consumers, the platform has seen exceptional engagement since its soft launch in May 2020 as it serves the needs of consumers and retailers across Ontario.
Seamus O'Regan, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, announced a $1-million investment in SWTCH to address barriers to electric vehicle (EV) adoption. The company will demonstrate an innovative blockchain-based EV charging platform that will significantly reduce the cost of EV charging transactions and enhance grid efficiency. SWTCH, along with project partners Opus One Solutions, Toronto Hydro, University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, IBI Group and PowerCharge, is contributing to this project, bringing the total project cost to over $2.6 million.
New data from the Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index finds that the world’s largest meat, fish and dairy producers are undermining global efforts to control both climate change and the spread of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19. The Index assesses the 60 publicly-listed animal protein producers, worth a combined $338bn, who provide may of the burgers, nuggets and ready-meals on our tables and supermarket shelves. Firms are ranked against ten environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related criteria including GHG emissions, deforestation, antibiotic usage, working conditions and investment in alternative proteins. The results are presented in an interactive digital tool to help investors integrate ESG data and assess company performance. Norwegian fish farmers Mowi, Canadian packaged proteins firm Maple Leaf Foods and aquaculture firm Bakkafrost are the top three performers in the Index in 2020 and the only companies to rank as ‘low risk’ for investors. Four of the five poorest performing firms are from Asia.
Morneau Shepell, released its monthly Mental Health Index™ report, revealing a consistent negative mental health score among Canadians at the seven-month mark of the pandemic. The findings show the impact of this extended period of strain and the presidential election in the United States are major contributing factors. The Mental Health Index™ score is -11.4, representing a decline from September (-10.2). This decline puts working Canadians back to near the lowest point in April 2020, when the mental health score was -11.7. The score measures the improvement or decline in mental health from the pre-2020 benchmark of 75. The Mental Health Index™ also tracks sub-scores against the benchmark, measuring financial risk (2.5), psychological health (-2.5), isolation (-11.5), work productivity (-12.6), depression (-12.9), optimism (-13.0) and anxiety (-13.4). Given the prolonged period of increased strain, nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents reported needing some form of mental health support.
How do you behave when something goes wrong? Do you a) pause to gauge your part in the matter, accept responsibility, and move toward a solution? Or do you b) immediately look for someone else—anyone else—to blame? If your (no doubt reluctant) answer is b, Karen McGregor says what you’re actually doing is trying to protect yourself from the deep-rooted belief that you aren’t enough. “By making it someone else’s fault, we gain a sense of control and righteousness about life,” says McGregor, author of Wall Street Journal bestseller The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs. “When we blame, we get to be right. We get to have the last word. We get to justify our own unhappiness. “Tragically, we also abdicate our responsibility to make choices for our own lives,” she adds. “We’re forever pointing the finger at the ‘they’ whose fault everything is. And we also relinquish our ability to feel inner peace and joy.”
Get excited for incredible art from some of the region's most talented practitioners AND shop for a good cause! The Art$Pay artists are teaming up with Farwell4Hire and raising money for Cystic Fibrosis. This year Art$Pay is taking our Annual Member Show in a new direction - a unique two part event designed in response to the pandemic and with something for everyone. Part One will be totally virtual so you can enjoy the art from the comfort of your home. We’ll be turning the Art$Pay website homepage into a virtual shopping catalogue of our members’ original art, including an online silent auction and art picks from these well-known people in our community …