Top Ten

December 11, 2018

SFU unveils “data science powerhouse”

Simon Fraser University has opened the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (Canssi), which will house data analytics for an array of research areas that range from climate change to sports. Canssi research lead Leonid Chindelevitch told the Vancouver Sun that researchers will also use the Institute to study drug-resistant infectious diseases. “I would say we are still far from being adequately able to address this emerging threat that these superbugs represent,” Chindelevitch said. “More funding, more research is going to be needed.” The Sun added that if nothing changes, the number of deaths from drug-resistant infectious diseases could surpass fatalities from cancer and diabetes by 2050.” Vancouver Sun (BC)

ON universities must do more to demonstrate their worth: Dehaas

It’s not good enough to use gut feelings or aspirations to argue that universities are producing skilled graduates and impactful research, writes Josh Dehaas. The author cites a recent report by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario in arguing that universities are failing to demonstrate that their students build literacy and numeracy skills during their undergraduate education. Dehaas further argues that certain university faculties and programs are not doing enough to demonstrate the impact of their research. For these reasons, Dehaas argues that Ontario’s next round of Strategic Mandate Agreements, expected in 2020, should require universities to measure student learning and research impact for every program, and then fund programs based on performance. National Post (ON)

Dal receives $1.25M from Invest Nova Scotia for Creative Destruction Lab Atlantic

Invest Nova Scotia has contributed $1.25M to Dalhousie University’s Creative Destruction Lab Atlantic. A Dal release states that the funds will support coaching and seed-stage financing for science and technology startups in Atlantic Canada. “Creative Destruction Lab has established itself as the best mentoring program for massively scalable science- and technology-based companies,” said CDL–Atlantic Fellow Jevon MacDonald. “Having this program in Atlantic Canada is a game-changer that has unlocked unprecedented mentorship and investment for startups in the region.” Dal adds that CDL–Atlantic is a partnership between the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business. Dal (NS)

Merit and excellence are behind calls for diversity in science: Sirois-Delisle et al

“Excellence, not privilege, should define what science can accomplish for Canada,” Write Catherine Sirois-Delisle and a group of co-authors. “We have a responsibility to Canadians, who pay for science and expect opportunities and a return on those investments, to ensure our institutions are defined by excellence. Period.” The authors highlight how a lack of diversity allows for subtle biases to create a gap between a professional’s true and perceived excellence based on factors like race and gender. For this reason, the authors applaud Canada’s implementation of the Athena SWAN program, which has a proven international track record of promoting excellence by knocking down barriers to equity, diversity and inclusion. iPolitics (National)

RDC allocates space for standalone child advocacy centre

Red Deer College has been granted approval by the provincial government to allocate over one acre of land to the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre. According to an RDC release, the land will be used for a standalone Centre of Excellence in support of child advocacy services and education. “The centre’s specialized focus on training, research, community awareness and education will help build a stronger and more resilient community,” said Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education. RDC adds that the land-use approval fulfills part of an existing MOU between RDC and CACAC. RDC (AB)

NS Students call for improved services for deaf and partly-deaf learners

Two students are calling on the government of Nova Scotia to improve services for deaf and partly-deaf learners, reports CBC. Amy Parsons and Jax Warner told CBC that lack of communication and insufficient oversight for the province’s Post-Secondary Disabilities Services make it difficult for deaf students to access the service they need. Ava Czapalay, Senior Executive Director of the Higher Education Branch for Labour and Advanced Education, acknowledged problems with the system, but stated that they are reviewing their processes. If a school fails to accommodate a deaf learner’s needs, Czapalay added, the student should contact her department. CBC (NS)

Lakehead presidential task force gathers input for five-year diversity, inclusion plan

Officials from the Office of Human Rights and Equity at Lakehead University’s Thunder Bay campus are reaching out to students, staff, and faculty to gather input on how to improve equity, diversity and inclusion at the school. CBC reports that the input will be used to develop a five-year action plan on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion that will focus on improving the already existing  practices and creating more programs in hopes of “strengthening the institution around equity, diversity, and inclusion for the entire university community.” “This is a presidential task force, which means sort of coming right from the top to say this is a real priority for the university,” said Lakehead Director of Human Rights and Equity Dreeni Geer. CBC (ON)

Allegations of mishandling funds, sexual misconduct leveled against UManitoba prof

The Winnipeg Free Press has learned that Peter Jones, director of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals at the University of Manitoba, allegedly mismanaged funding at the Centre, dated graduate students while continuing to evaluate them, and failed to disclose his sexual relationships with students. The Free Press states that an anonymous email account named Times Up RCFFN started contacting senior administration about Jones earlier this year, and that three people have since gone on the record about Jones. UManitoba VP of Administration Lynn Zapshala-Kelln stated that officials are investigating the allegations. The Free Press adds that Jones was awarded the distinction of “Distinguished Professor” in 2016. Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

Science must protect expertise in the post-truth era: Stamato

In times of increasing hostility toward academic expertise, scholars must protect their work, writes Linda Stamato. This imperative is particularly urgent in light of the fact that scientists have started to muzzle themselves, the author adds. Stamato cites an incident in which an American researcher was chastised by her colleagues in the scientific community for publishing a paper that pointed out the potential inefficacy of existing measles vaccines for older populations. According to Stamato, some scientists worried that the report would validate public opinion that measles vaccines in general are unnecessary. The author also evokes the climate scientist Michael E Mann, who has relentlessly argued in public forums against the fossil fuel industry, as one of the scientific community’s most important figures. Inside Higher Ed (International)

NorQuest opens new kitchen facility, introduces introductory cooking course

NorQuest College plans to open a new kitchen facility in the new year with the support of half a million dollars from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Hospitality Institute. The Edmonton Journal reports that NorQuest will use the kitchen to offer a Foundations of Cooking course that will help address a shortage of commercial cooks. “(Students will) get that basic learning and then maybe they will want to go to NAIT later and be a chef,” said Chef Brad Smoliak, who will participate as an instructor and brand ambassador for the program. Christine Channer Auguste, program lead of NorQuest’s Hospitality Institute and Lab, told the Journal that NorQuest is looking to partner with larger hospitality groups, such as oilfield camp operators or government food service divisions, to sponsor courses for employees. Edmonton Journal (AB)