Top Ten

March 17, 2020

Researchers isolate COVID-19 virus, press forward on vaccine development

A team of researchers from McMaster University, University of Toronto, and Sunnybrook Research Institute have successfully isolated the COVID-19 virus. “Now that we have isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we can share this with other researchers and continue this teamwork,” said McMaster NSERC Post-doctoral Fellow Arinjay Banerjee. “The more viruses that are made available in this way, the more we can learn, collaborate and share.” The Montréal Gazette adds that Quebec-based company Medicago has produced a virus-like particle of the virus—the first step of the development of a vaccine—and has been studying developing antibodies in collaboration with Université Laval. Innovate Saskatchewan has also provided the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-IVC with $200K to support their research on a vaccine. USask is reportedly currently evaluating the safety and efficiency of potential vaccines and medications.  Sunnybrook  | Montreal Gazette  | SK (ON, QC, SK)

CMTN moves forward on $19.7M residence project

Coast Mountain College has taken a step forward in the development of its $19.7M student housing project. The college recently completed site tours for contractors interested in the project, which will see the creation of 104 student rooms and four guest suites. The rooms are expected to be ready for occupancy by August 2021. The new residence will replace 71 rooms in four buildings that were constructed in the 1970s as student residences. As part of the college’s bid grading system, a major consideration is the incorporation of First Nations culture and familiarity in the design. CMTN communications director Sarah Zimmerman says the demolitions of the old residence buildings will take place only after the new housing is ready for occupancy.  Terrace Standard  (BC)

ONCAT, northern ON postsecondary institutions partner on business fundamentals co-registration

The Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer has announced the signing of a Northern Business Fundamentals Co-Registration memorandum of understanding between several northern colleges and universities. “This initiative supports students and helps them complete job-ready credentials in a shorter time,” said ONCAT Executive Director Yvette Munro. “ONCAT is proud to support student mobility in communities across Ontario.” The MOU involves Algoma University, Laurentian University, Lakehead University, Nipissing University, Cambrian College, Canadore College, Collège Boréal, Confederation College, Northern College, and Sault College.   Confederation  (ON)

Taking breaks to ensure sustainable effort in the face of crisis

“We already know that work-life balance is a myth in the academy, and it certainly gets skewed in times of crisis,” writes Rebecca Vidra. “But COVID-19 threatens to be a long-term crisis. … We can expect many continuing reverberations. How are we going to sustain ourselves now and for the long term?” Vidra notes that fear for others can lead some to forget to prioritize their personal health. To this end, she encourages others in higher ed to take care of themselves by taking breaks, eating well, and celebrating the small steps in the process instead of “waiting until it’s all over to breathe a sigh of relief.” She additionally encourages reminding one another to take breaks and assure colleagues that “it is okay to log out of email once in a while.”   Inside Higher Ed  (International)

Sidoo pleads guilty in college admissions cheating scandal

David Sidoo, a former Canadian Football League player, has plead guilty to participating in a college admission cheating scheme by hiring someone to take the SATs in place of his two sons. Sidoo was among 50 prominent parents, university athletic coaches, and others charged last March in the scheme, which authorities say involved rigged entrance exams and bogus athletic credentials. Sidoo graduated from the University of British Columbia where he held a four-year football scholarship with the UBC Thunderbirds; and UBC is considering renaming David Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium in light of the guilty plea. CBC  (BC)

Breaking down micro-, digital credentials in ON postsecondary landscape

We’ve been seeing the word “micro” a lot lately [in higher ed] — microcourses, microdegrees, micromodules, write Jacki Pichette and Jessica Rizk. To help create a shared understanding of these credentials, the authors present their understanding of the different credentials implemented in Ontario postsecondary schools, specifically: digital credentials, digital badges, micro-credentials, and micro-certifications. Digital credentials, according to the authors, can be shared and embedded across online platforms and include both traditional and micro-credentials, while digital badges are a subset of digital credentials that are embedded with verifiable metadata. Micro-credentials are awarded for learning tied to specific competencies and can be combined to achieve a full qualification, whereas micro-certifications are a sub-set of micro-credentials that are awarded when assessment criteria are met.   HEQCO  (ON)

Health officials caution students against St Patrick's Day parties

Despite warning from various health agencies, students at Queen's University crowded streets this past Saturday to celebrate St Patrick's Day. “We often see 100 patients extra a day in our emergency departments (related to St. Patrick’s Day)," said Kingston Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore. "When we are trying to ramp up our services for COVID-19 and prepare the health system for any potential impact, now is not the time to be socially irresponsible." Some students told Global News that they had no interest in partaking in the large party. Sam Levy stated that he took many of the advised precautions and chose to come down from his dorm to watch the party from a distance with his friends.  Global News  | The Kingston Whig Standard  (ON)

U of T, IIT Bombay partner to develop entrepreneurship program

The University of Toronto has partnered with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay to develop an entrepreneurship program. The partnership will see both institutions implement exchange programs for budding entrepreneurs, support research collaborations, and develop a two-way innovation talent pipeline. “As leading universities in Canada and India, each located in our respective countries’ commercial hubs of Toronto and Mumbai, this partnership will leverage our many commonalities, as well as our unique strengths, to promote research collaboration, knowledge-sharing and market access, while creating an environment where new business ideas can thrive," said U of T Assistant Vice-President Innovation, Partnerships and Entrepreneurship Derek Newton.   U of T  (ON)

Experts urge postsecondary institutions to develop coaching code of conduct

Postsecondary institutions in British Columbia are being encouraged to create a coaching code of conduct following harassment complaints made against a rowing coach at the University of Victoria. Although UVic has been developing such a code following the complaints, like many other institutions in BC, the school's response to the complaints are governed by a campus-wide discrimination and harassment policy that does not include language that is specific to sports. UVic Athletics Director Clint Hamilton said he expects the code of conduct will be in place by the fall and it will clearly state expectations for coaches and align with safe sport principles, which are widely recognized guidelines to prevent and respond to abuse. The Province  (BC)

Tips for taking a conference online

Just over a week ago, Brianna Beehler and Devin Griffiths expanded their sustainability conference’s plans to incorporate a larger number of remote virtual presenters. "It was challenging," write the authors, "so we’d like to share what we learned in order to help others who are thinking about whether and how to host large events in the coming months." Among their recommendations, the authors suggest that conference organizers consider: exchanging printed programs for online programs that can be easily updated; working closely with A/V and web-streaming professionals; planning for backup software; asking virtual presenters to test equipment in advance of presentations and login early; and recording streamed events so they can be posted later. Inside Higher Ed (International)