Top Ten

November 28, 2006

CFI Announces $422 Million in Research Grants

The Canada Foundation for Innovation announced yesterday "a $422 million investment in new state-of-the-art research infrastructure" in 86 projects at 35 universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions across the country, to help ensure Canada is "a nation of innovation." Big winner universities were uMontreal ($31 million), UBC ($27 million), uWaterloo ($26 million), uAlberta ($22 million), uSaskatchewan ($22 million), uCalgary ($20 million), uGuelph ($15 million), McMaster ($14 million), UWO ($12 million), uToronto ($11 million), Laval ($10 million), Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal ($8 million), uOttawa ($8 million), uQuebec Chicoutimi ($8 million), Queen's ($7 million), McGill ($6 million), and Dalhousie ($6 million). CFI funds 40% of project costs, and most institutions will be able to apply to provincial governments for matching funds. A full listing of projects appears on the CFI website.

A Flurry of CFI Media Releases

With plenty of good news to go around, media relations departments were busy yesterday. uWaterloo, which hosted the CFI press conference, received funds to equip a quantum-nano building, upgrade the most powerful submillimetre wavelength astronomical camera in the world (in Hawaii), and create an electronically-shielded radio test chamber and labs. UBC received funding to bridge the "commercialization gap" for drug research, investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying brain disease, establish a Quantum Materials Spectroscopy Centre (at uSask), and 3 other projects. UWO received funding for a "Green Building" for developing environmental technologies, and Canada's first "bird wind tunnel" to study avian physiology. uGuelph obtained funding for three world-class research collaborations that will "position the University and Canada at the forefront of X-ray diffraction, nuclear physics and life sciences and bioelectrochemistry." uToronto researchers received funding for seven projects including bioacoustophotonics, scanning tunnelling spectroscopy, and plant phenogenomics. Queen's Centre for Neurosciences will develop new tools for assessing and treating brain disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. (For some reason, the link to McGill's media release did not function.)

Or, the Glass is Half Empty...

The Toronto Star was quick to lament that, with the distribution of $422 million by CFI, the agency often credited with reversing Canada's brain drain has now "run out of money." Yesterday's funding announcements will be CFI's last "unless the Conservative government provides new funds in a budget next spring." Since 1999, CFI has distributed almost $3.5 billion. CFI is considered a very visible Liberal legacy, and the Harper government has signalled that it intends to "consolidate the range of available funding mechanisms" and "better align post-secondary research with the needs of business." Toronto Star

McGill MBA Students "World's Most Innovative"

A team of five students from McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management has been recognized as the "Most Innovative MBA Team in the World" at the 2006 Innovation Challenge competition at the University of Virginia, beating out 439 teams of graduate business students from around the globe for a $20,000 prize. Their strategies for DaimlerChrysler and Hilton Hotels may well be used by the two companies. The world's largest competition for business innovation, the event attracted teams from 88 universities. A team from the U of North Carolina came in second, and MIT third. McGill media release | Award ceremony on YouTube

Brock Faces Potential Faculty Strike December 5th

The Brock University Faculty Association has set a strike date of December 5th, following a mediation session December 3rd. The successful, eleventh-hour resolution of negotiations at Carleton University on November 15th is considered "one ray of hope" by Brock students. Brock Press

War of Words at York

After a month-long "Stop the Hate" campaign, the York Federation of Students' effort to address Islamophobia, disputes and demonstrations nonetheless continue on campus. Last week, about a dozen York security officers responded to another war of words between about 500 students from the Palestinian Solidarity Committee and the Hillel at York association. The protest began in Vari Hall and moved upstairs to "the doorstep of York University president Lorna Marsden's office." Students say they merely wanted to deliver a letter. York Excalibur

Queen's First to Offer iTunes U in Canada

Yesterday, Queen's University announced it was the first Canadian university to launch iTunes U, a web application that offers a wide range of downloadable multimedia files to the public, including campus news, information, promotional videos, public lectures, debates, football games, and convocation footage. Queen's joins US universities like Stanford, Duke, and Berkeley. Queen's iTunes U can be accessed free online at Queen's media release

Canadian Girls More Ready to Learn at Age 5

Yesterday, Statscan published results from a longitudinal study of 3,923 Canadian five-year-olds regarding readiness to learn. The study found that, by age 5, girls have better communication, attention and self-control, while boys are more curious. Household income has a strong impact on school readiness: poorer children have more limited vocabulary and communication skills, less numeracy, attention and co-operative play skills. But household income had no impact on work effort, curiosity, self-control or independence. Regardless of household income, positive interaction with parents was key. Globe & Mail | StatsCan

US Community College Version of NSSE Released

Last week, the results of the sixth annual Community College Survey of Student Engagement (Cessie) showed that academic advising is very important to the majority of students -- more than student aid advising, child care, or tutoring -- but that up to 41% rarely or never participated in it. Full-time students fared better than part-time students on several measures, including faculty-student interaction and time spent with advisors. 43% of students indicated that faculty are the best source of academic advising. 64% say that "memorization" is emphasized at their colleges. 38% spend five or fewer hours per week preparing for class. Unlike the NSSE results, which are confidential, CCSSE results are posted online at Chronicle of Higher Education (requires subscription)

Two Bombs at Russian University

Moscow State University, the most highly regarded university in Russia, has been under tightened security since a rudimentary bomb damaged its main building at 5:00am on Saturday, and another unexploded bomb was discovered in what authorities call an attempted arson. The damaged wing serves primarily as a dormitory for several hundred students. The bomb caused damage, but about 300 students were evacuated and no injuries were reported. The city's mayor seems to suspect chemistry students are responsible. Chronicle of Higher Education (requires subscription)