Top Ten

April 22, 2020

UofT supports 31 COVID-19 research projects through $8.4M Action Fund

The University of Toronto has announced that the 31 research projects that will be supported through a $8.4M Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund. The fund will support projects ranging from medical interventions to measures aimed at supporting the economy and vulnerable populations. “COVID-19 presents an array of unprecedented global problems that require urgent attention and expertise from experts in a wide variety of disciplines – from medical specialists and public health researchers to economists, social scientists and mathematicians,” said U of T vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives Vivek Goel. “We are confident these projects will each, in their own way, make important contributions to the global fight against this pandemic.” U of T (ON)

UVic researcher receives $3.5M in NEIHR funding

A University of Victoria researcher has received $3.5M in funding to support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in accessing funding and collaborative opportunities for Indigenous health research. As one of the nine institutions hosting a Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR) across the country, UVic states that the BC branch of the program will help Indigenous communities that already have the capacities to plan, organize, and lead health research translate those abilities in the context of research. “Rather than a platform for research,” explains UVic Professor Charlotte Loppie, “we envision the BC NEIHR as a blanket that supports innovation and uncovers brilliance; it is a representation of our values and principles as well as a tangible foundation upon which to build meaningful partnerships in the pursuit of enhanced wellness for Indigenous peoples.” UVic (BC)

Queen’s partners with local organization to create Kingston Region Business Support Network

Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business has partnered with the City of Kingston and Kingston Economic development to create the Kingston Region Business Support Network. Drawing on Queen’s student and faculty resources, the network will help local businesses, not-for-profits, and social enterprises navigate the new economic environment. The network offers free services such as student time and skills, and community classroom learning sessions with faculty on topics designed for local business needs. “Kingston is tremendously blessed to have the wealth of talent and expertise within our post-secondary institutions at Queen’s and St Lawrence College,” says Kingston Economic Development Chief Executive Officer Donna Gillespie. “During these incredibly challenging business times, leveraging these assets and supporting our business community together is paramount to address immediate needs and how we, as a community can support and prepare businesses for the path to recovery.” Queen’s (ON)

ULethbridge cuts men’s, women’s varsity hockey programs

The University of Lethbridge has discontinued its men’s and women’s varsity hockey programs. ULethbridge has attributed the elimination of the programs to “unprecedented cuts from the provincial government.” 52 student-athletes, several recruits, and coaches are directly affected by the decision, and ULethbridge has indicated that it is providing academic, athletic, and counselling supports to those affected. “This is not a rash decision and it’s the last option we want to pursue, but it’s also necessary to ensure the viability of the University and the sustainability of Pronghorn Athletics,” said ULethbridge President Mike Mahon. “My hope is with a concentrated focus on remaining Pronghorn programs, we can continue to provide our student-athletes with a robust and meaningful experience.” ULethbridge (AB)

Centennial’s ACCEL offers support to businesses, entrepreneurs

Centennial College’s start-up accelerator ACCEL has announced that it is continuing to offer online tools and resources to aspiring entrepreneurs as they navigate the challenges of the new business landscape. ACCEL provides online workshops, events, and consulting services to help businesses and entrepreneurs build their skills. “While we are not present on campus, we are online and we can make ourselves available via technology should our entrepreneurial community wish to ask a question, catch up on any homework or assignments, or need resources,” explain ACCEL coaches Richard Healy and David Cowdery. “This ongoing activity provides further support to equip entrepreneurs and community members for the ‘future of work’ during this period and beyond.” Centennial (ON)

McGill releases action plan to accelerate carbon footprint reduction of endowments

McGill University’s Board of Governors has recommended a series of actions and timelines designed to accelerate the school’s responsible decarbonization of the McGill investment pool. Recommended actions include removing investments from highly carbon-intensive companies, strengthening investment in clean technologies, and increasing the number of fund managers who practice socially responsible investing. “More specifically,” reads a McGill release, “this aggressive approach would translate in a 33% reduction of carbon emissions of the University’s endowment listed equity portfolio, relative to the MIP public equities benchmark.” The Board will consider the action plan for approval at an upcoming meeting. McGill (QC)

5 low-tech, time-saving online teaching strategies

“For many faculty members new to online teaching, much of what they resolutely tried in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic is going badly,” writes Flower Darby. In this piece, the experienced online instructor offers five low-tech, time-saving asynchronous teaching techniques that will make remote pedagogy easier and more interesting in the future: post static content for students to read and watch; use the quiz and assignment functions of LMS to ensure students are completing readings; employ online discussions; create a routine, reliable weekly schedule; and make frequent, strategic, and highly visible appearances online. “Be willing to admit when things aren’t going so well,” concludes Darby. “And be ready to try something new (again), as long as it’s simple.” Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

Dawson to offset two years of carbon footprint by planting 30,000 trees

Dawson College has announced that they will plant 30,000 trees this spring in summer to offset two years of the school’s carbon footprint. The project will reforest approximately nine hectares of land, an area equivalent to 17 football fields, and half of the trees will be planted on marginal land in Nicaragua through Taking Root. “Our investment will also directly support four farmers by increasing their income and building sustainable livelihoods,” said Chris Adam of Dawson’s Sustainability Office. “We are currently deciding on the placement of the other 15,000 trees [and] are now well set-up to maintain our carbon neutrality through a current partnership with reforestation not-for-profit Taking Root.” Dawson (QC)

Facilities management teams step up to keep researchers, students safe

Staff responsible for caring for college and university campuses across the country are working hard to ensure that those still working and living on campuses are able to do so safely. Caretaking staff at the University of Calgary, Brock University, and Dalhousie University, for example, have enhanced sanitation procedures to ensure student, faculty, and staff remain safe. At all three schools, PPEs and physical distancing have been implemented to protect the health of these workers. “It’s all-hands on deck and do whatever you have to do to make sure the students and others are looked after,” said Dal director of operations for Facilities Management Darrell Boutilier. “People have gone way beyond their normal duties the last few weeks to make sure that things are getting serviced and everyone is safe and healthy.” UCalgary | Dal | Brock (AB, NS, ON)

Early journal submission data suggests COVID-19 is impacting women’s research output

“It’s was easy to foresee: within academe, female professors would bear the professional brunt of social distancing during COVID-19, in the form of decreased research productivity,” writes Collen Flaherty. However, some journal editors are beginning to notice unusual gendered patterns in submissions where women are submitting single-authored papers less frequently since the pandemic, potentially providing early evidence to support the idea of the motherhood penalty. Deputy Editor of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Elizabeth Hannon hypothesizes that increased caring and domestic labour during the pandemic may contribute to gendered submission patterns. Hannon notes, though, that her sample size is still too small for anything “particularly meaningful” to be gleaned, suggesting that the downward turn in submissions by women authors could be a “blip,” and submissions numbers could soon normalize as women find ways to cope. Inside Higher Ed (International)