Waterloo Innovation Summit looks to the future of health
Global and individual health has been disrupted over this past year’s pandemic. Looking forward, it will take technology breakthroughs and inspired entrepreneurs, connected in a diverse ecosystem, to infuse innovation into global health systems and solutions. Waterloo entrepreneurs and researchers are advancing health innovation — whether it is engineers developing biomedical devices, mathematicians advancing biostatistics, or social scientists advising global health policies.
Today, the Waterloo Innovation Summit will explore how the new Innovation Arena is poised to be a catalyst for breakthroughs in health technology and innovation, and an epicentre for new and growing companies here at home and globally. Nearly 500 people have registered to attend the virtual event, which runs from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Delivering the keynote address, "Digital disruption in the health sector," via pre-recorded video will be Dr. Louise Schaper, chief executive officer of the Australiasian Institute for Digital Health. Dr. Schaper is an innovator and change agent leading the conversation on how technology is changing health care.
Following the keynote address, Dean of Health Lili Liu will engage Dr. Schaper in a fireside conversation.
The event also features a panel discussion entitled "Health Innovation and our post-COVID Recovery." As we look to recover our global health systems and economies devastated by the pandemic, investing in health innovation will be a spark that ignites our recovery. The panel will discuss how to create the pathways to streamline commercialization, open doorways to global markets and stimulate economic development.
The panel will be moderated by Executive Director of Velocity Adrien Côté and will feature panelists Jun Axup, chief science officer and partner, Indie Bio, Catherine Burns, executive director of health initiatives and sponsored research at the University of Waterloo, and Brian Lewis, president and CEO, Medtech Canada.
The Summit proceedings will be recorded and uploaded to waterlooinnovationsummit.com after the event.
For more information on how to register, visit the Waterloo Innovation Summit website.
Campus Wellness director to retire in June
Director of Campus Wellness Dr. Walter Mittelstaedt will be retiring from the University on June 30, 2021.
“I share this news with mixed emotions as Walter has made significant contributions to the University during this time,” wrote Chris Read, associate provost, students in a memo circulated to Campus Wellness last week.
“Walter has many strong ties to our campus community, and has served as the Campus Wellness Director since 2014,” Read writes. “Walter has played a leading role in the growth and development of an integrated approach to student wellness. Our programs and services have evolved to be some of the most expansive in the country, and the launch of a formal Health Promotion program further sharpened the strategic direction for campus.”
Mittelstaedt is a Waterloo alumnus and has graduate degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Saskatchewan. Prior to becoming Director, Campus Wellness in 2014, he was the Director of the Centre for Mental Health Research and Treatment (CMHRT) in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Psychology beginning in 2008. From 1991 to 2008, Mittelstaedt was involved in senior management positions at Lutherwood Children’s Mental Health Services.
“He has provided the University tremendous steady leadership and guidance in virtually every aspect of university life,” Read continues. “I’d like to highlight his invaluable contributions to our campus community as we navigate the pandemic, as well as all the work on PAC-SMH followed by the implementation with CoSMH.”
“On behalf of all of us, I would like to express my gratitude to Walter for his leadership, commitment and dedication to the University of Waterloo and wish him all the very best,” Read concludes.
A succession plan for Dr. Mittelstaedt’s role is currently underway.
BSIA launches Balsillie Executive Institute
The Balsillie School of International Affairs has launched the Balsillie Executive Institute (BEI), which will offer certificate-based professional development courses focused on international public policy and global governance.
“In the fluid and ever-changing international policy environment, junior officers, mid-careerists and strategic policy leaders will now have access to opportunities to enhance skills and remain abreast of current sector-relevant thinking without a commitment to full-time education,” said Professor Ann Fitz-Gerald, director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and instructor at the BEI.
All BEI short courses are taught via Zoom by globally renowned experts in their fields. The courses are typically four days in duration, and will feature activities including interactive plenary discussions, simulations, break-out group work and reflective exercises, as well as guest speakers.
“These courses cater to current-day demands on both work and personal schedules,” said Olaf Weber, BEI instructor and Professor at the University of Waterloo. “The BEI’s courses support career-focused objectives across various specialized areas within the wider realms of international public policy and global governance.”
The first two courses will be offered in June 2021. “Strategic Policy Leadership” will be taught by Dr. Ann Fitz-Gerald, and will address all critical aspects of a resilient organization from problem solving, strategic planning, data analytics and evidence-based policy analysis, direction setting, and policy implementation. “Strategies for Good: Innovation in the Public Sector” will be co-taught by Dr. Colleen Loomis and Dr. Carrie Wright, and will feature teachings on the full innovation cycle – from establishing the innovation mindset and nurturing innovation teams, to managing perceptions of risk and communicating effectively with decision-makers and stakeholders.
Upcoming courses cover topics including Gender-Responsive Governance, International Sports Governance, and Sustainable Finance. Registration is now open on the BEI’s website www.balsillieinstitute.ca.
The origin of water on planets in our universe
By Elizabeth Kleisath. This article was originally featured on Waterloo News.
Water is essential for life as we know it – water makes up around 70 per cent of the human body, covers about 70 per cent of the planet Earth, has been found in the far reaches of our universe, and is at the centre of our search for habitable planets around other stars.
But how does this water find its way from interstellar space to the comets and planets it is found on? This was one of the questions that Professor Michel Fich from the Faculty of Science, and his international colleagues set out to research, using observations from the Herschel Space Observatory.
Measuring infrared light waves from its orbit around the Earth, this telescope had a unique eye on the stars, away from the water vapour in the Earth’s atmosphere. This let the telescope search the infrared wavelengths for signs of water in the far reaches of our universe.
Five years and over 100 academic papers later, this international group of researchers has published a summary and new analysis of their findings in the paper Water in star-forming regions: Physics and chemistry from clouds to disks as probed by Herschel spectroscopy.
“This paper paints the most complete picture ever done of how water is formed in space, and ultimately ends up in planets,” says Fich. “It’s very exciting to see the work of so many people around the world brought together in one place.”
Every molecule has a unique “fingerprint”, known as a spectrum, that can be studied and traced under different wavelengths of light. By identifying, isolating, and measuring the various spectra of water in its different molecular forms and at different temperatures, Fich and the other researchers were able to piece together the movement of water molecules in regions of space where stars and planets are still forming.
Most of these water molecules are formed in dense molecular clouds between the starry regions of space, also known as star-forming regions. Once these clouds get massive enough, they collapse from gravity and create dense balls of gas, forming stars.
During star formation, most of the hot water vapour is lost to space, due to an outward flow of gas coming from the forming star. This leaves the cool water molecules – liquid and ice still present in these regions. Most of the water molecules are ice, crystallized in layers around particles of dust. These icy dust crystals grow to be about the size of small pebbles, and are used as some of the building blocks as the leftover materials begin to gather together to create planets and solar systems around the newly formed stars.
Through this research, the international team has concluded that new planetary systems likely have enough water to become habitable – enough water to fill several thousand oceans!
Professor Fich, alongside his most recent graduate student Mollie Conrad (BSc ’16, MSc ’19), contributed to this international effort by studying the star forming region NGC 7129, located 3000 light years away from Earth.
“By studying this region, we were able to show that the high energy spectral lines of water that contained heavier-than typical atoms of oxygen have the highest potential for successfully probing the water in star forming regions like this one,” says Fich.
The overall findings of this international research are expected to be an important resource for astronomers in the decades to come, as scientists continue to study the origins of water on potentially habitable planets in distant solar systems.