Top Ten

October 9, 2020

McMaster receives $1M for Canadian Compound Library for Antibiotic Discovery

McMaster University will receive $1M from the Government of Ontario to develop the Canadian Compound Library for Antibiotic Discovery. This chemical library will help researchers and clinicians develop new antibiotics to combat antibiotic resistance. The researchers will additionally develop a set of guidelines that researchers can adopt to accelerate the discovery and development of antibiotics, as well as creating online education modules to provide information to the public, researchers, and clinicians. “COVID-19 has reminded the world of its vulnerability to infectious diseases, and McMaster is working to ensure that, as a global society, we are able to address that vulnerability and prepare ourselves effectively for the next outbreak,” said McMaster president David Farrar. Global News | ON (ON )

CapU announces new school name, new programming in kinesiology

Beginning in fall 2021, Capilano University’s School of Human Kinetics will become the School of Kinesiology. In addition to the name change, the university will be launching a new Bachelor of Kinesiology and a two-year diploma in Kinesiology, replacing the current diploma in Human Kinetics. Students in the bachelor’s degree program will be able to further specialize by selecting a concentration in either exercise science or health promotion in their final two years of study. “Offering a four-year degree allows our current Human Kinetics diploma students to complete their undergraduate studies at CapU, where they have established connections with faculty and gained valuable, hands-on, career-building experience,” said Lara Duke, dean of CapilanoU’s Faculty of Global and Community Studies. CapilanoU (BC)

UoGuelph receives $1M to continue plant cryopreservation research

The University of Guelph has received $1M from the Gosling Foundation to continue research on conserving plant species through cryopreservation at UoGuelph’s Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation (GRIPP). Researchers will use cryopreservation to store plant tissue at low temperatures for later propagation or tissue culture, enabling them to conserve endangered plant species that are threatened by climate change or disease. “This new funding essentially establishes a permanent basis for our cryo-collection and enables a long-term strategy to make a bank of valuable but endangered Canadian plant species,” said UoGuelph GRIPP Director Praveen Saxena. “It will strengthen international recognition of GRIPP as a uniquely Canadian conservation facility for the cryopreservation of plants.” UoGuelph (ON)

Institutions announce creation of anti-racism, diversity working groups

McGill University, King’s University College, and Brescia University College have recently announced the members of their respective newly-formed anti-racism and diversity working groups. McGill’s Max Bell School of Public Policy’s Working Group on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will address systemic challenges related to racism and discrimination in learning environments. King’s and Brescia have partnered to create the King’s/Brescia Joint Principal’s Anti-Racism Working Group to address social injustices on both campuses. These groups will work to form recommendations to create safe, respectful, and equitable learning environments. McGill | King’s (QC | ON)

Student needs change in the virtual learning environment: Opinion

Students have different needs within a virtual learning environment, argues Beth McMurtrie. The author says that, while a physical classroom creates a sense of shared space, students in an online setting need engagement with their instructors and their peers to avoid finding communication awkward or seeing assignments as a list of tasks to complete. McMurtrie goes on to explain that instructors must carefully create these situations where students will be comfortable engaging in the classroom, or else students may do the bare minimum needed in the class. “Be clear about why you think engagement is important, and reward students for participating in activities in which they’re interacting with others,” said McMurtrie. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required) (National)

Calgary postsecondary institutions see increased academic misconduct

Calgary postsecondary institutions say that they are seeing increased levels of academic misconduct and cheating since classes moved online in March. Karen Parsons, Mount Royal University’s manager of the Office of Student Community Standards, said that rates of academic misconduct have “more than doubled,” possibly because of confusion and ignorance about what is acceptable in an online setting. The University of Calgary also reported an increase, although they noted that this could have been impacted by a change in their academic misconduct policy, which requires instructors to report any academic misconduct incidents. The universities have seen more incidents involving groups of students collaborating in online environments than before, indicating that the switch to online learning has been part of the issue. CBC (AB)

MHC launches Agroecology Technician diploma

Medicine Hat College will launch a new diploma program in Fall 2021 for students interested in sustainable agriculture. The Agroecology Technician program will give learners hands-on experience in designing, monitoring, and assessing agroecological systems, and prepare them for work as agricultural research technicians, urban agriculture designers or landscapers, range management consultants, and environmental consultants. Graduates will be also eligible to become a registered technologist in Agrology (RTAg) through the Alberta Institute of Agrologists. “This program leverages an important part of our region’s economic sector and prepares students to find meaningful, long-term employment and a future income stream that’s not going to be subject to market forces,” said program coordinator Brent Smith. MHC (AB)

TRU, Kamloops renew MOU focused on rebuilding region

Thompson Rivers University and the City of Kamloops have renewed a MOU that will help rebuild the region following the impacts of COVID-19. The MOU strengthens TRU’s partnership with the city, identifies areas where the relationship can be made more efficient, and identifies projects that will be expanded through the partnership. “Thompson Rivers University is home to a rich amount of research and knowledge that can significantly benefit the community of Kamloops,” said TRU President Brett Fairbairn. “There is much more to be achieved by working in partnership and this MOU helps us continue to do just that.” TRU | TRU (BC)

Aurora College’s transition criticized by Yellowknife for lack of ambition

Aurora College’s plan for its transition to a polytechnic university status is being criticized by Yellowknife’s city council, who state that the plan is “lacking ambition” and lacking the ability to attract students from other places. Several aspects of Aurora College’s plans were described as problematic, such as a lack of Indigenous representation, issues around governance, and a plan to offer broad areas of specialization while excluding important subjects like the social sciences. Mayor Rebecca Alty said that the transition “appears to underestimate, rather than celebrate, the academic strengths and opportunities of the Northwest Territories and its people. It is unclear whether the polytechnic university would truly be different from the existing Aurora College.” CBC | Cabin Radio | My Yellowknife Now (NT)

UCalgary experiences drop in petroleum geology, oil, gas engineering students

The University of Calgary has seen a significant drop in undergraduate students who have concentrations in petroleum geology and oil and gas engineering. CBC says that UCalgary saw a nearly 91% drop in petroleum geology students, as well as a 77% drop in students in oil and gas engineering. “The prospects over the next 40 years just doesn’t look as strong [to students] as other areas of energy or other jobs, and so you’re seeing that enrolment drop,” said Jeremy McCrea, analyst at Raymond James Ltd. McCrea noted that the number of undergraduate students enrolled in courses focusing on renewable energy has increased. CBC (AB)