Friday, August 5, 2022

Ground-breaking companies develop at Velocity Science

Michael Phillips (R) and Phil Cooper (L) standing in front of a Vena Medical sign.

This article was originally published on Waterloo News.

Global advancements in sciences, together with digital transformation, continue to accelerate innovation, significantly impacting all sectors of the economy. Velocity Science companies lead the way, helping thousands of patients, combating production shortages, and solving accessibility issues and sustainability for long-term solutions.

This fall, Velocity Science is reopening to welcome a new wave of student entrepreneurs. Velocity Science initially launched in 2014 but temporarily closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Velocity continues to support successful science ventures through their partnership with the Faculty of Science and the Science Innovation Hub.

“We are excited to welcome students back into Velocity Science. Many successful science-based companies have come out of Velocity Science. I can’t wait to see what the next group of entrepreneurs will create,” says Robert P. Lemieux, University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Science dean and professor of Chemistry. The program offers an on-campus lab and discovery space with world-renowned mentorship for students working on startups in life and physical sciences.

“I am absolutely thrilled that we are reopening Velocity Science this fall. The space resonates with me personally because in many ways it was where my own entrepreneurial journey began with Nicoya. Not only did it supply our fledgling company with much needed lab space and supplies, but it also introduced us to a community of student startups to work beside and support. I cannot wait to bring that fantastic culture back to campus,” says John Dick, director of Velocity Campus.

In addition to Nicoya, Velocity Science was the birthplace of many companies that continue to operate in the region like AryllaAvro Life ScienceHalion DisplaysKenota HealthMembio Inc.Nano CNETNERvQidni Labs and Vena Medical, which went on to collectively raise more than $70 million in investment. Some of these companies, like Arylla, Halion Displays and Qidni Labs still reside in the Velocity incubator.

Velocity Science fosters health care innovation

Several Velocity Science companies, like Vena Medical and Membio Inc., are making a significant mark in health care.

Michael Phillips (BASc ’17) and Phillip Cooper (BASc ’17) founded Vena Medical in the final year of their undergraduate degree with supports including Velocity Science. Vena creates tools to change the way that physicians perform minimally invasive neurosurgery. Their flagship product is the world's smallest camera, capable of going inside veins and arteries to help physicians treat stroke. The camera provides doctors with the ability to look from inside of the body in real time and offers greater image quality allowing for improved treatment of patients and ultimately better outcomes. Without this technology, doctors are guided by external X-Ray.

Michael Phillips (L) and Phil Cooper (R) of Vena Medical

Michael Phillips (L) and Phil Cooper (R) of Vena Medical during their early days at Velocity Science.

"Velocity Science gave us the first opportunity to access to prototyping and space that was dedicated to the bio-related activities we were working on. It prevented us from having to test things out in our bathtub and we were surrounded by experts to make sure we were doing things the right way. We learned more every week from the peer-to-peer Velocity Science meetings than we ever could on our own, and now those innovations we developed are helping real patients since we've received our Health Canada Medical Device License,” says Michael Phillips, co-founder and CEO of Vena.

Phillips and Cooper were inspired by the combined seven physicians within their immediate families and specifically Cooper’s father, who is an interventional radiologist and guided by external X-Ray for procedures he conducts. Dr. Steven Cooper shared with them that he just wanted to see what was going on inside the veins and arteries of the patient. Vena Medical is making that, and much more, possible.

Another company that continues to imagine new possibilities in health technology, Membio Inc. knows the importance of access to support at an early stage. “Velocity was really critical for Membio from the very beginning of the company and the University of Waterloo is really the only place that I know of where you can go in, and test your ideas, and get access to equipment that would simply be prohibitively expensive. Waterloo has amazing opportunities to really combine depth of engineering in new and unique ways into the field of biotechnology,” recalls Shane Kilpatrick (MASc ’17, MBET ’18), founder and CEO of Membio.

Membio is focused on commercializing cell manufacturing technology such as single use bioreactors that make cells easier, faster and less expensive to manufacture.

Velocity Science is just one of the many supports available to students interested or working on their entrepreneurship journey. Students can also work at the Problem Analysis & Ideation HQ or the 5G Digital Zone or participate in the many events, opportunities and programs like Zero, Problem Pitch or Cornerstone, held each term by Velocity. There’s something for everyone, whether you are just starting out or further along in your journey.

Velocity Science looks forward to welcoming students back in the 2022 fall term. The lab is located on campus within The Science Innovation Hub at ESC 319. Working at Velocity Science, students can expect guidance from mentors, technical advice and support, access to lab instruments and consumables, all while working among other student teams.

Researchers net $4.4M in social sciences and humanities funding

A celebratory light explosion.

This article was originally published on the Office of Research website.

University of Waterloo researchers have been awarded more than $4.4 million in funding by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), to support research that addresses environmental inequality, economic sustainability and Indigenous language revitalization.

Waterloo’s 22 projects, which are among the $175 million funding announcement for 809 projects across Canada, are:

Partnership Development grants

Philip Beesley (Engineering): Empathetic Spaces Partnership (ESP) ($114,176)

Bessma Momani (Arts): Digital transformation of work: Determining impacts on women and skills retraining needs ($199,999)

Dawn Parker (Environment): Why did the "Missing Middle" miss the train? Exploring barriers and solutions to intensified family housing in Waterloo region ($189,926)

Insight Grants


Kathy Acheson (English Language and Literature): The future of research in early modern marginalia ($92,506)

Annik Bilodeau (Spanish and Latin): Mapping artistic sorority in Spanish America ($92,740)

Ramona Bobocel (Psychology): Investigating impediments to achieving organizational justice ($283,089)

Randy Harris (English Language and Literature): Growing the rhetoricon for ML argument mining ($272,411)

Daniel Henstra (Political Science): Effective governance arrangements for climate resilient infrastructure ($378,073)

Naila Keleta-Mae (Communication Arts): Sites and performances of blackness and freedom ($212,932)

Allison Kelly (Psychology): How can an understanding of observational learning promote new ways of increasing self-compassion? ($298,165)

Emmet Macfarlane (Political Science): Hate speech legislation, the commonwealth model, and parliamentary debates on rights ($243,737)

Lennart Nacke (Stratford): Entering the metaverse: Investigating social virtual reality platforms and experiences ($383,816)

Marcel O'Gorman (English Language and Literature): Critical by design: Fostering responsible innovation with critical design methods ($290,586)

Guy Poirier (French Studies): Superbe et imaginaire entrée d'un roi devenu reine, l'espace d'un pamphlet ($95,495)

Uzma Rehman (Psychology): Testing the perfectionism model of women's sexual desire ($217,242)

Andrew Stumpt (St. Jerome's): Observational studies to improve end-of-life care in Canada ($177,733)

Sarah Turnbull (Sociology and Legal Studies): Reforming detention: Race, gender, and nation in the national immigration detention framework ($85,685)

David-Antoine Williams (St. Jerome's): Opening the Oxford English Dictionary: A data-enhanced, research-ready historical dictionary ($265,720)


Bon Koo (Management Sciences): Capital structure and innovation: Canadian biotechnology industry ($89,560)


Peter Johnson (Geography and Environmental Management): Who owns the map? Data sovereignty and the shifting government role in spatial data collection, use, and dissemination ($202,050)


Warren Dodd (School of Public Health Sciences): Interrogating different pro-poor policy approaches in the context of intersecting social-ecological crises in the Philippines ($178,423)

Aid to Scholarly Journal

Jay Dolmage (Arts): Canadian Journal of Disability Studies/Revue canadienne d'téudes sur le handicap ($90,000)

Philosophy lecturer Nick Ray is a WUSA Teaching Award winner

WUSA teaching award banner for 2021

This article was originally published on the Philosophy department's website.

WUSA’s Teaching Award is a yearly award that celebrates professors who have displayed quality teaching, shown commitment to student success, and looked beyond the classroom. This is also the only award presented by the University of Waterloo Senate selected entirely by undergraduate students.

The Philosophy department's Nicholas Ray is the winner of the 2021 WUSA Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching award. Some student testimonials:

“Nick is a brilliant professor. He engages us with humour and personal anecdotes to help us better understand the concepts we are learning and to prompt our critical thinking. His class is the kind of class you WANT to participate in and as a result, our class is doing very well. He really makes the class his own rather than merely regurgitating the basics – diving into films like Ex Machina and allowing us flexibility in our projects and assignments as well as assigning us frameworks to submit information (such as online blogs and collaborative PechaKuchas). We are allowed to choose any area of focus for our projects which interest us whether it be animal minds, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars etc."

"Depending on your interests, Nick will also recommend sources outside of the ones provided in class for you to further your learning. He clearly wants to see us succeed and makes himself easily available to us. Additionally, he set aside time to coordinate Library Workshops with the librarian so that we can learn how to engage academically in the correct way with writing/research and gave us class time to work on group projects."

"Thank you, Nick, for [your] contributions to our minds about minds. It has been a privilege to attend a class of yours.” 

Link of the day

60 years ago: the life and death of Marilyn Monroe

When and Where to get support

Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, immigration consulting, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

Instructors looking for targeted support for developing online components for blended learning courses, transitioning remote to fully online courses, revising current online courses, and more please visit Agile Development | Centre for Extended Learning | University of Waterloo (

Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment.

Course templates are available within your course in LEARN to help you build and edit your content and assignment pages quickly.

The following workshops, webinars, and events are offered by the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

Supports are available for employees returning to campus. Visit IST’s Hybrid Work and Technology guidelines and workplace protocols to assist with the transition.

The Writing and Communication Centre has in-person and virtual services to support grad and undergrad students, postdocs and faculty with any writing or communication project. Services include one-to-one appointmentsdrop-ins at Dana Porter Libraryonline workshopswriting groupsEnglish conversation practice, and custom in-class workshops.  

Co-op students can get help finding a job and find supports to successfully work remotely, develop new skills, access wellness and career information, and contact a co-op or career advisor.

The Centre for Career Action (CCA) has services and programs to support undergrads, grad students, postdocs, alumni, and employees in figuring out what they value, what they’re good at, and how to access meaningful work, co-op, volunteer, or graduate/professional school opportunities. Questions about CCA's services? Live chat, call 519-888-4047, or stop by our front desk in the Tatham Centre 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Drop-in to Warrior Virtual Study Halls on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Come together in this virtual space to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

Renison's English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health Services or  Counselling Services. You can also contact the University's Centre for Mental Health Research and TreatmentGood2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline available to all students.

The Library is open with expanded hours for access to book stacks, drop-in individual study space, bookable group study rooms, drop-in access to computers and printers, book pick-up services and IST Help Desk support. Librarian consultations, Special Collections & Archives and the Geospatial Centre are available by appointment. Full details on current services and hours are available on the Library’s COVID-19 Update webpage.

The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the FAUW blog for more information.

The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the UWSA blog for more information.

The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) supports all members of the University of Waterloo campus community who have experienced, or been impacted, by sexual violence. This includes all students, staff, faculty and visitors on the main campus, the satellite campuses, and at the affiliated and federated Waterloo Institutes and Colleges. For support, email: or visit the SVPRO website.

The Office of Indigenous Relations is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the University's Indigenization strategy.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at St. Paul’s University College, provides support and resources for Indigenous students, and educational outreach programs for the broader community, including lectures, and events.

WUSA supports for students:

Peer support - MATESGlow CentreRAISEWomen’s Centre - Click on one of the links to book an appointment either in person or online for the term.

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk 24/7 in the Student Life Centre. Drop-off locations are also open again in SLC, DC, DP, SCH, and all residences.

Co-op Connection all available online. 

Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at

WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-833-628-5589.

GSA-UW supports for graduate students: 

The Graduate Student Association (GSA-UW) supports students’ academic and social experience and promotes their well-being.

Advising and Support - The GSA advises graduate students experiencing challenges and can help with navigating university policies & filing a grievance, appeal, or petition.

Mental Health covered by the Health Plan - The GSA Health Plan now has an 80 per cent coverage rate (up to $800/year) for Mental Health Practitioners. Your plan includes coverage for psychologists, registered social workers, psychotherapists, and clinical counselors.

Dental Care - The GSA Dental Plan covers 60 to 70 per cent of your dental costs and by visiting dental professionals who are members of the Studentcare Networks, you can receive an additional 20 to 30 per cent coverage.

Student Legal Protection Program - Your GSA fees give you access to unlimited legal advice, accessible via a toll-free helpline: +1-833-202-4571. This advice covers topics including housing disputes, employment disputes, and disputes with an academic institution.

The Graduate House: Open Monday to Tuesday 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. We’re open to all students, faculty, staff, and community members. The Graduate House is a community space run by the GSA-UW. We’re adding new items to the menu. Graduate students who paid their fees can get discounts and free coffee.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle. Join our “Waterloo Warriors” team on the website or app. #ItsInYouToGive

Warriors Youth Summer Day Camps, July 4 to September 2. Open to boys and girls age 5-18. Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Multi-Sport and Games & Volleyball. Register today.

FLIGHT Virtual Summer Camp, Tuesday, August 2 to August 13. FLIGHT virtual summer camp provides a strong introduction to tech entrepreneurship to girls aged 13-18 who self-identify as Black or another underrepresented minority.

2022 Global Summit: Nanotechnology for a Healthier and Sustainable Future, Wednesday, August 10 and Thursday, August 11.