Top Ten

April 14, 2020

Fast Grants seek to get funds in the hands of COVID-19 researchers within 48 hours

Philanthropists have banded together to provide “lightning-quick research grants to COVID-19 researchers” through the organization Fast Grants. The initiative was reportedly inspired by the World War II-era National Defense Research Committee. “Usually it takes months for researchers to receive grants,” said Shopify Inc CEO Tobi Lütke, who committed $5M to Fast Grants with his spouse Fiona McKean through the Thistledown Foundation. “We can get money to them in 24 hours. This is the speed by which everything must happen.” The grants range from $10K to $500K in value and are focused on research expected to have an impact on the pandemic within six months. The first grant awards were issued over Easter weekend, and the Business Insider reports that grant applications will be decided on within 48 hours of receipt. Lütke expressed hope in an interview that the Canadian research community would respond to the call for grants. Globe and Mail (Account Required) | Business Insider (National)

USask, TRU each awarded Indigenous Research Chair in Nursing

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan and Thompson Rivers University have each been awarded an Indigenous Research Chair in Nursing. USask’s Holly Graham has received $1.05M in funding to build capacity in Indigenous nursing and improve the health of Indigenous people. TRU’s Lisa Bourque Bearskin has received over $1.52M in funding to advance Indigenous health through enacting and supporting policies that are informed by the experiences of Indigenous peoples and to empower nurses to advocate for access to traditional wellness practices. USask | TRU

Students worry about financial relief during, after COVID-19 pandemic

Canadian postsecondary students are increasingly expressing concerns about a lack of available COVID-19 financial reliefs and bleak job prospects. Postsecondary students in New Brunswick say that a provincial aid package that provides eligible students with a one-time offer $750 has too many qualification restrictions, while Manitoba students have expressed concerns about their job prospects. "Even if I make it through financially in the next couple of months, what happens after that?” asks University of Manitoba architecture student Alex Squire. While the Canada Summer Jobs program recently underwent changes to encourage businesses to hire students, Canadian Federation of Independent Business President Dan Kelly adds that there are problems with the changes insofar as it may incentivize workplaces to hire students rather than employees recently laid off. "That's not going to be a particularly comfortable HR move in many workplaces," said Kelly. CBC (1) | CBC (2)

McGill, York launch video games to advance scientific research, education

McGill University and York University have launched video games to advance scientific research and education. McGill’s Borderlands Science is an interactive game that invites players to map the human gut microbiome to advance medical studies while earning in-game rewards. “Borderlands Science is the vanguard of a new nexus between entertainment and health […] where your playtime actually generates tangible data that will be applied toward improving research, helping cure disease, and contributing to the broader medical community,” explains Gearbox co-founder Randy Pitchford. At York, researchers have launched Shadowpox: #StayHome Edition, an online immersive science fiction game that helps players visualize the impact of deciding to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effect on their community if they do not. “I’m really excited about Shadowpox because it highlights the way that art and data can come together in order to inform and engage people in how to respond to infectious disease threats,” said York Professor Steven Hoffman. McGill | York

U of A professor launches law internship program

University of Alberta Professor and Edmonton lawyer Peter Sankoff recently announced the 100 Interns Project, an initiative that aims to create internships for 100 law students across Canada by the end of May. Sankoff originally planned to hire two summer students, but the court shutdowns saw hundreds of applications pour in. "There was this flood of people who were not only losing jobs but losing opportunity and really losing hope," Sankoff explained. "Once I saw that, I didn't feel like I could just stop at hiring two people, so all of a sudden it just exploded." Successful candidates will work part-time for three weeks with notable lawyers and academics across Canada. The virtual placements will allow candidates to work with employers in other cities and provinces, and lawyers can participate on the condition that they do not benefit from the donations funding student salaries. CBC

Planning for reopening must start sooner rather than later

“Colleges must start planning now for reopening in the fall,” writes Karen Gross, “as adjusting to our new educational environment won’t be fast or easy.” The issue, according to the author, lies not in preparing our physical spaces, but ensuring that when our higher learning institutions re-open, students of all ages and stages of learning continue their educational process successfully, “both educationally and psychosocially.” Toward this end, Gross offers three strategies to prepare for a successful reopening: stay connected with students now; plan for extra time to consult with students about the return to classes; and consider readjusting educational delivery to reduce stress. “Bottom line, there is no timeline for adjusting to our new educational environment,” concludes Gross. “And one thing is for sure: it won’t be a fast transition.” Inside Higher Ed

SK launches one-time bursaries for PSE students

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced $1.5M in financial aid that will be available for students impacted by the pandemic. Students who meet eligibility requirements will be able to apply for one-time bursaries that are available from April through September. "Our government is committed to helping students achieve their educational goals," Advanced Education Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said in the release. "This is especially true during this unprecedented time, as some students are faced with limited supports." The Ministry added that it will work with publicly-funded institutions without emergency financial aid programs to put emergency bursaries in place. CBC | SK

QS releases school by subject rankings, Canadian institutions reach Top 50 for all broad subject areas

Canadian postsecondary schools have reached the top ranks of several of the QS World University Rankings by Subject. The University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and McGill University ranked among the top 50 for all five broad subject areas. The University of Waterloo tied for 41st for the broad area of Engineering and Technology. Several institutions also ranked in the top 50 of specific subject areas, such as SAIT Polytechnic, which ranked 29th in hospitality & leisure management; the University of Guelph, which ranked 18th in Agriculture & Forestry; and McMaster University and University of Alberta, which ranked 33rd and 44th respectively in anatomy & physiology. QS Top Universities | SAIT

Recommendations for ensuring success in a virtual job interview

In order to be successful in a virtual job interview, writes Berlin M Louis Jr, you must control what you can. While the hiring process has numerous influential factors that are out of the control of the applicant, the author provides 3 recommendations for managing the factors that can be controlled. Specifically, Louis Jr advises applicants to dress their best for the Skype or Zoom job interview, convey enthusiasm about the role and the ways you could contribute to the department you’re applying to, and anticipate for and prepare for the interview questions. Louis Jr adds that interviewees should always send a follow-up email thanking them for the opportunity. “Some of these tidbits of advice may seem like common sense to certain readers,” concludes the author, “but many of you would be surprised and shocked at how many candidates fail to prepare for interviews.” Inside Higher Ed

Canadian institutions launch free business training, coaching

Several postsecondary institutions have launched free training for businesses in the form of online workshops and courses. Grande Prairie Regional College has launched “Coronavirus (COVID-19): Action Plan for the Workplace,” which covers topics such as limiting exposure, communicating with the workforce, and regulatory responsibilities. The University of Guelph’s Gordon S Lang School of Business and Economics partnered with the Guelph Chamber of Commerce to launch a webinar series called “Leading Through Crisis.” The series seeks to provide organizational leaders with tools and tips related to the pandemic’s impact on the global economy. Saint Mary’s University’s Entrepreneurship Centre has also announced that it is expanding its services to provide free virtual business coaching sessions. GPRC | Chronicle Herald (SMU) | UoGuelph