Top Ten

August 5, 2015

uLaval awarded $98 M for arctic research from CFREF

In its fifth and final grant of the current funding cycle, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) has awarded $98 M to Université Laval for its Sentinelle Nord research program. This is reportedly the largest research grant ever received by the university. The program aims to advance the “understanding of climate change and its effect on human populations,” according to the release. “This is a vast collaborative scientific undertaking that will see our university and its partners bridging disciplinary boundaries to produce new knowledge,” said Executive Vice-Rector of Development Éric Bauce. CBC | uLaval | CFREF

uWaterloo receives $24.7 M for Science Complex

The University of Waterloo will receive $24.7 M from the federal government’s New Building Canada Fund towards its new $95 M Science Complex. The 215,000-square-foot facility will provide teaching and laboratory space that will allow uWaterloo to expand program offerings in materials science, nanoscience, and bio-based chemistry. In addition, uWaterloo hopes to expand its Velocity Science program, which provides resources to entrepreneurial students wanting to start companies relating to life or materials science. Earlier last week uWaterloo also received federal funding for a shared computing platform that will enable researchers across Canada to analyze and mine large quantities of data. uWaterloo | Waterloo Region Record

NL replaces provincial student loans with non-repayable grants

Newfoundland and Labrador has replaced provincial student loans with non-repayable grants, reports the CBC. Students will still be responsible for repaying the federal portion of the loans, but the 40% provincial portion will now be a grant. The NL government predicts that 7,000 students will be eligible for the grants, which are expected to cost the provincial government more than $50 M over the next four years. The 2015 provincial budget included $12.6 M for the initial implementation of the program. CBC

Western receives $1 M from PHAC to become family violence research hub

Western University’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) has received more than $1 M from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and has been named the National Knowledge Hub for supporting the health and well-being of victims of domestic violence and child abuse. The Centre will use the funds to connect and enhance PHAC-funded projects from across Canada, forming a community of practice that can share and evaluate knowledge and research results. CREVAWC also plans to establish a database of researchers and experts as a resource for communities. Western

MUN reopens after water contamination scare, says inappropriate tests were ordered

Memorial University has reopened, after closing its doors last week in response to “unacceptably high” levels of lead found in the water of the music and engineering buildings. MUN is now saying that this is because the initial tests were improperly ordered; they were taken from the entry points into the buildings rather than from drinking water faucets. MUN has now sent samples from all 55 buildings on campus to be tested, and as of press time, 38 tests have been completed, all indicating that the water is drinkable. The university is taking responsibility for the ordering of the inappropriate tests and has committed to regular testing in the future. CBC | The Telegram | MUN

Excessive social media use linked to mental health issues for teens

Heavy use of social media is linked to a higher incidence of mental health issues in adolescents, according to a new study. Using 753 responses from Ottawa students to the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey from 2013, study authors Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga and Rosamund F Lewis (University of Ottawa) concluded that youth using sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for more than two hours a day also reported “poor mental health, psychological distress, suicidal thoughts, or an unmet need for mental-health support.” While the study does not establish causality, the authors still recommend that parents consider frequent use of social networking sites as a possible indicator of mental health problems. Huffington Post | Metro | HealthDay News | Full Study

Literary and visual arts education can make doctors more effective, study says

Courses in the literary and visual arts can help doctors more effectively observe and diagnose ailments in their patients. This according to a new study by Caroline Wellbery and Rebecca McAteer published in the journal Academic Medicine. Courses in arts teach observational skills which can transfer directly to the practice of medicine. “In learning to study the play of light and shadow in a painting, for example, medical students can gain awareness of different ways of seeing,” wrote Wellbery. At most medical schools in the US and Canada, courses in the arts are optional; Dalhousie University, the University of Alberta, and the University of Toronto offer students the opportunity to participate in extracurriculars with the goal of “developing empathy and creativity.” Globe and Mail  | Full Study

HitchBOT destroyed during US adventure

Canadian robot HitchBOT has been destroyed two weeks into its US hitchhiking adventure. The popular HitchBOT was created by researchers at McMaster University and Ryerson University as a social experiment, and relied on the kindness of strangers to get around. The robot had reached Philadelphia before meeting its demise, and its creators are not yet sure whether the robot will be rebuilt or not. Offers to fix the robot or build a new one have come from organizations in Philadelphia and across the US. HitchBOT’s creators say they have a lot of data to analyze and are focusing on what they can learn from the experiment so far. Asked whether robots can trust humans in the context of this experiment, they said, “mostly.” CBC | People | Ars Technica | Globe and Mail | NY Times

Demand for tech skills pushes students to specialized coding schools

Students holding college degrees are increasingly turning to opportunities in the software world, the New York Times reports, drawn by the promise of good, high-paying jobs. In response to this growing demand, coding schools like Galvanize, Flatiron School, and Hack Reactor, which operate independently of postsecondary institutions, are growing. This year US coding schools will graduate roughly 16,000 students, more than double the 6,740 they graduated last year. The 2015 total is about one-third the number of computer science graduates from American universities. While just 18% of computer science graduates from four-year universities are women, they make up 35% of students at specialized coding schools. NY Times

US education department announces college financial aid pilot for prisoners

The US Department of Education announced on Friday the creation of the Second Chance Pell Pilot program, which will test new approaches to allow incarcerated Americans to receive postsecondary education financed by Pell Grants. Since 1994, students in federal and state penal institutions have been ineligible for Pell Grants, one of the main sources of federal need-based college financial aid. According to one analysis, inmates who participated in correctional-educational programs had 43% lower odds of committing new crimes or violating the terms of their release. “America is a nation of second chances. Giving people who have made mistakes in their lives a chance to get back on track and become contributing members of society is fundamental to who we are [and] it can also be a cost-saver for taxpayers,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Department of Education | Chronicle of Higher Education (Experts) | Chronicle of Higher Education (Three Things) | The Guardian