The second Faculty of Science Strategic Plan update, covering the period May 1, 2014 to April 30, 2015, lists the Faculty of Science's achievements and progress within six strategic initiatives.
This year the Faculty of Science progressed in a number of areas including new industrial partnerships and awards for collaborations with industry partners. Other notable achievements include the establishment of Canada's first Sports Vision Clinic, a media series on Invasive Species research at Waterloo and increased recognition globally for Science faculty members.
Equally impressive were student performances by Waterloo's Gold-medal-winning iGEM team at this year's international synthetic biology competition as well as impressive wins by Velocity Science student at various international and local pitch competitions.
- Canada Research Chair Janusz Pawliszyn partners with Concordia University and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to develop a new probe to study the living brain. Designed to produce a full chemical profile of the brain, the probe could speed up the drug discovery process and unlock the mysteries behind devastating degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
- A Faculty of Science delegation participated in the second series of bilateral workshops with Soochow University (China) to explore new research partnerships.
- Velocity Science startup Qidni Labs partners with the Canadian Space Agency to develop nano filters that filter out viruses and bacteria to clean spacecraft air and ensure astronaut food safety. The filters, with pores only about one to ten nanometres wide, are also being developed by Qidni as an alternative to costly and time-consuming machine-based dialysis for patients experiencing kidney failure.
- Chemists and Earth scientists participated in a Water Institute delegation which visited four universities in China and the first Sino-Canadian Water Environment Workshop in Shanghai.
- Science's Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC), David Cory and Phillippe Van Cappellen, hosted a successful two-day annual meeting that brought together all of the CERC chairholders in Canada.
- Optometrist and vision scientist Kristine Dalton (pictured above) established Waterloo's Sports Vision Clinic, it is among the first in Canada and uniquely housed in a university setting. Vision training can help improve athletic performance.
- Waterloo biologists Kim Cuddington, Kirsten Müller, Michael Power, Rebecca Rooney, Ralph Smith, and Heidi Swanson were highlighted in a digital and print series on invasive species to support the 2015 TD Walter Bean Visiting Professorship in the Environment, hosted by Science. Their stories cover everything from predicting the invasion of Asian carp to genetically tracing the progression of an ancient algae across the Great Lakes to participating in an international response to the latest Great Lakes invader.
- Waterloo scientists published at least seven papers in the prestigious journals, Science and Nature.
- Research in the Faculty of Science continues to be recognized globally through international awards, honours and by the media (Time Magazine, Yahoo!, Discovery Channel, Scientific American), including:
- Materials chemist Linda Nazar named a 2014 Thomson Reuters' Highly Cited Researcher and is on their list of 2014's Most Influential Scientific Minds. Nazar ranks within the top one per cent of scientists worldwide for the number of academic citations received within the field of material science;
- Waterloo scientists received more than 20 local, national and international awards;
- Astrophysicists Michael Hudson, Jonathan Carrick and Stephen Turnbull with Guilhelm Lavaux, Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, created a 3D master map of the universe. The spherical map nearly two billion light years across presents the most complete picture of the cosmos to date and will help scientists understand how matter - including mysterious dark matter - is distributed in the universe;
- Phillippe Van Cappellen, Raymond Laflamme and Melanie Campbell partnered with Research2Reality, a national campaign to raise awareness about Canadian research. Their "orange chair" interviews discussing the long-term relevance of their research were promoted Canada-wide on television and through social media;
- School of Pharmacy researcher Paul Spagnuolo found molecules derived from avocados could be effective in treating acute myeloid leukemia, advancing the fight against cancer. The molecules target leukemia stem cells, which according to Spagnuolo are the cells that drive the disease; and
- Physicists Robert Mann and Niayesh Afshordi proposed a new theory on the Big Bang. Their theory - mind-bending yet based on solid mathematics - was featured on the August cover of Scientific American.
- The Faculty of Science continues to play an important role in several Waterloo research institutes:
- In 2014/15, Science established 77 new industrial collaborations, representing more than $8.5M in direct industry partner investment.
- Canada Research Chair David Blowes won his second NSERC Synergy Award for his partnership with Diavik Diamond Mines. Their innovative storage solution for mine waste deep within the permafrost layer ensures the adjoining lake remains pristine. This is Science's second Synergy Award in two years.
- Industrial Research Chair Janusz Pawliszyn partnered with the World-Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to develop a fully automated urine drug testing method. The method will allow officials to rapidly test athletes on site for over 110 illegal doping compounds.
- Velocity Science, a partnership between the Waterloo entrepreneurship program Velocity and the Faculty of Science, has grown during its first year to fifteen startups and counting. Some award-winning startups include:
- Suncayr which was named a runner-up for the international James Dyson Award for their color-changing marker that indicates when to reapply sunscreen;
- Vitameter, Suncayr and Kue which won $65K at the 2015 Winter Velocity Fund Finals. Vitameter is developing a rapid and inexpensive home vitamin testing kit. Kue is designing custom time-release caffeine capsules to improve sleep and morning energy; and
- Ourotech, which won $50K US at the Wolves Summit in Poland for their soft tissue 3D printer.
- Science students won prestigious awards that support research commercialization, including:
- Harry Gandhi (pictured above), a Science and Business student, Velocity Science student community co-founder, and CEO of Medella Health, a company developing smart contact lenses to monitor blood glucose levels, won a $100K Peter Thiel Fellowship; and
- Mark Kryshtalskyj, Science and Business student and founder of Rockstar Café, a sustainable coffee house and meeting place for young entrepreneurs, was named a Canada's Next 36 Top Entrepreneur.
New Academic Programs
- A new Bioinformatics option was introduced to provide an academic path for students interested in biological data analysis using computational methods.
- The School of Pharmacy's Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program received full accreditation status from the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (Pharmacy student Sarah Johnson pictured above).
Strengthen Excellence in Teaching
- Five introductory biology, chemistry and physics online courses are now part of the Ontario Universities Online Consortium to meet rising interest in online B.Sc. programs.
- Two new Chinese universities, Northwest University and Chang'an University, signed agreements with the 2+2 collaborative University of Waterloo-China undergraduate education program. In 2015, the number of 2+2 students in Waterloo Science doubled to 142.
- Earth scientist David Blowes was awarded and now leads the $1.65M TERRE CREATE training program for Highly Qualified Persons in sustainable mineral extraction.
- Science developed “e-valuate”, a completely online student course evaluation tool for all course evaluations which has been adopted by three Faculties — Applied Health Sciences, Mathematics and Arts. Engineering is using it for exit surveys for graduating students.
- Science Outreach celebrated its 20th Science Open House, and together with the Earth Sciences Museum, both continue to expand their outreach to the community and local classrooms.
- The School of Pharmacy partnered with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to increase the capacity for experiential training of pharmacy students in northern Ontario.
- Waterloo’s iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) student team (pictured above) won their first Gold medal and Best Model Award at the 2014 International Jamboree. They developed a synthetic bacterium that can turn off the antibiotic resistance gene in the superbug MSRA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).