UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN November 22 , 2005 Issue 14
Federal “mini-budget” promises $1.2 billion for universities
Canadian universities can expect a $1.2 billion infusion for indirect costs of research over five years, according to federal finance minister Ralph Goodale in his economic update Nov. 14. This would nearly double the indirect costs funding from $260 million to more than $500 million annually. Goodale said “Canada is now first in the G7 for research conducted in universities and public labs” and pledged continued support to help maintain this position. This includes an additional $85 million to the three research councils: NSERC ($35 million), CIHR ($35 million), and SSHRC ($15 million). This would increase the combined Tri-council budgets from about $1.6 billion to about $1.7 billion. Goodale also proposes that the Canada Foundation for Innovation receive another $500 million over five years on top of the $3.65 billion the government has already committed. The CFI and its partners have so far supported more than 4,300 projects at 120 institutions across Canada, one of the most notable of which is the Canadian Light Source synchrotron at the U of S.
U of S Maintains Maclean’s Ranking, but Lags in Total Research Funding
According to the latest Maclean’s Canadian university rankings published Nov. 14, the U of S has successfully defended its 10th-place overall spot among medical-doctoral universities. Success of researchers in the social sciences and humanities in securing grants aided this, pushing the U of S ranking to 9th from 12th in their sector. This success is tempered by the U of S lagging well behind the mean in securing research grants overall. SSHRC grants have increased in size but not in number, and would need to double to reach the 2005 mean among Canadian universities. CIHR and NSERC grants would have to almost quadruple. Likewise, Research Money reports the U of S dropped to 15th place from 13th in terms of total sponsored research income. In 2003, this stood at $117 million, compared to $108 million in 2004. A significant factor in the decrease was related to decreasing construction and related funding for the Canadian Light Source as the project is completed.
Lily Wu to deliver Distinguished Researcher Lecture Nov 24
“Too Sweet to be Good” is the theme explored by pharmacology professor Lingyun (Lily) Wu in the Fall 2005 Distinguished Researcher Lecture. The event, organized by Research Communications, will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Room 146 in the Arts Building. Wu’s pioneering research on the role of methylglyoxal, a metabolite of sugar, is opening new fields of inquiry and understanding for insulin resistance syndrome, which includes hypertension, obesity and diabetes. She also examines the role of diet, and in particular, sugar, coffee, alcohol and broccoli, in the development or prevention of modern diseases.
Hockey poetry book launch at McNally-Robinson Nov. 23
English professor Michael Kennedy, known for his popular first year hockey literature course, will read from his newly released anthology of Canadian hockey poetry, Going Top Shelf, at 7:00 p.m. at McNally-Robinson, on Wednesday, November 23. The collection, which has a foreword by Hockey Night in Canada’s Kelly Hrudey, includes poems from Michael Ondaatje, Al Purdy, Margaret Avison, Don Gutteridge and Lorna Crozier, as well as lyrics by The Tragically Hip, The Rheostatics, Kathleen Edwards, and Stompin’ Tom Connors. Kennedy’s book, Words on Ice: A Collection of Hockey Prose, was published in 2003. Both books are published by Heritage House.
“Enhancement Medicine: The Final Frontier” Lecture Nov 23
University of Calgary biochemist and ethicist Dr. Gregor Wolbring will discuss two challenges increasingly faced by professionals in all aspects of health care policy and delivery at the RUH Mall Lecture Theatre at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 23. On the one hand science and technology usage, research and development follow social norms, expectations and markets. On the other hand, these things change and influence the quality of our lives, our perception of what is a ‘good life’ and our ability to pursue ‘the good life.’ Wolbring, an executive member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, is a consultant for bioethics, disability, health research, emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, as well as governance of science and technology issues looking in particular at how these issues affect marginalized groups.
U of S Experts Contribute to $2 M Alberta Grizzly Project
An interprovincial team has been awarded $2 million from the Alberta government’s Innovation Program and partners to develop tools that will harness high-tech veterinary diagnostics, satellite-generated maps, and computer modeling to assess and predict the effects of landscape change on the health of resident grizzly bears. Led by Alberta grizzly bear specialist Gordon Stenhouse with the Foothills Model Forest (field work pictured here), the team aims to provide a suite of tools and training for resource managers. Steven Franklin, geography professor and U of S vice-president research, is using remote sensing to produce maps of key habitat areas. U of S wildlife health specialist Marc Cattet, U of S stress physiologist David Janz, and University of Waterloo stress physiologist Matt Vijayan, will produce health profiles of individual bears, as well as isolating proteins that animals produce when they are under long-term stress for use in diagnostic “protein chips” to quickly assess stress levels.
U of S signs MOU with Beijing Institute of Technology
A memorandum of understanding between the U of S and the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) was signed in China on Oct. 24 as part of the Team Saskatchewan Asia Mission. The MOU focuses on science and engineering and signifies a formal commitment to match top-ranking BIT students with opportunities at the U of S. It will also lead to increased projects in teaching and research which stand to benefit from international collaboration. U of S Vice-President Research Steven Franklin and Shuxing Yang, BIT's Vice-President of International Relations (pictured here), signed the MOU. Tom Wishart, U of S Associate Vice-President Research and Dean of Graduate Studies and Research also signed, with Wenbo Mei, BIT's Dean of College of Graduate Studies.
CIHR, SHRF Public Awareness Initiatives Highlight Health Research
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are promoting health research accomplishments across the country with a Public Awareness Event Campaign. The U of S, through Research Communications, is one of 14 universities across the country to be awarded a $10,000 CIHR grant for this purpose. The funds are being used for a program of activities to increase understanding among the public and media of the benefits of CIHR-funded health research conducted at the U of S. The program includes videos, lectures, and media stories. The Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) is also promoting awareness of the work it funds through Health Research Week from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4 in Saskatchewan. Watch the SHRF website for details.
Hubbard wins Gemini for Two Worlds Colliding
U of S English graduate student Tasha Hubbard received the prestigious Canada Award for her documentary film, Two Worlds Colliding, at the 2005 Gemini Awards on Nov 17. The 49-minute documentary was written and directed by Hubbard and produced by Bonnie Thompson of the National Film Board (NFB). It chronicles the story of Saskatoon's infamous “freezing deaths,” and the racial divide between the Aboriginal community and the police force. The film is Hubbard's directorial debut and part of the NFB's Aboriginal Filmmaking Programming. Hubbard and the NFB will receive the award. Earlier this year, Hubbard took home the Golden Sheaf award (pictured here) for “Best Aboriginal Film” at the Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival. The film has appeared on CBC and at several film festivals.
Co-op studies team awarded largest-ever U of S SSHRC grant
A U of S research team has been awarded $1.75 million from the federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to study social enterprises - the largest such grant to the university to date. The team is led by Lou Hammond Ketilson, director of the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives (pictured here with U of S SSHRC Coordinator Peter Stoicheff and President Peter MacKinnon). The team is investigating how social economy enterprises help build more respectful relationships within communities, with the environment, and among stakeholders. Such enterprises include not-for-profits, co-operatives, community economic development organizations, community-based organizations, and other voluntary-sector initiatives. The project is part of a five-year national study of social economy enterprises, and includes almost $1 million in student funding, topped up by $100,000 from the U of S. The project is co-ordinated through the Centre and the Community-University Institute for Social Research (CUISR).
Pulse Field Lab opens
About 200 people, many from rural communities, were on hand to officially open the U of S Crop Development Centre’s (CDC) $3-million pulse crop research lab Nov. 9. Among the guests was professor emeritus Al Slinkard (pictured here), who was instrumental in establishing the multi-million-dollar pulse crop industry in Saskatchewan and has been named to the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame for his tireless work. The lab is the result of more than three years of effort by the university, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG), the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan, and numerous partners in industry. With 1,200 square metres of additional space, it brings together all aspects of the CDC’s pulse research programs. The event, organized by the CDC and Research Communications, drew considerable media interest.
Veterinary Professors on Top 20 List for Most-Cited Authors
A scientific literature publication lists two Western College of Veterinary Medicine professors among the 20 most-cited authors in international veterinary medicine between the years of 1994 and 2004. In the May-June 2005 issue of Science Watch, Dr. John Ellis was listed as the second most-cited author with 1,693 citations while Dr. Deborah Haines’ 1,083 citations earned her seventh place. The two faculty members in WCVM’s Department of Veterinary Microbiology were the only Canadians named on the list. Science Watch also ranks institutions: 5,597 citations earned the U of S 14th place among the 25 most-cited institutions. In terms of citation impact (citations per paper), U of S was in 20th place. The University of Saskatchewan ranks third in research impact in plant and animal sciences among Canadian universities. The ranking is derived from scientific indicators from Thomson Scientific to examine the research of 46 Canadian universities in 21 scientific fields spanning 2000 to 2004. Data is organized by number of citations per journal and average citations per journal. In plant and animal sciences, the U of S ranked third in total citations (3,255) behind UBC (3,858) and Guelph (3,458).
Synchrotron research sheds light on hydrogen storage
U of S physics professor and Canada Research Chair John Tse and his colleagues have shed light on why clathrates, or gas hydrates, are such poor conductors of heat. Clathrates are composed of ice "cages" that hold a molecule of gas within. Naturally- occurring clathrates (typically containing methane) are being studied for their potential as an energy source. They also have potential to store hydrogen for fuel cells, as they can contain many times their volume in gas. Using a technique called nuclear resonance inelastic scattering, Tse and his co-workers were able to home in on the signal of krypton within the clathrate cages using synchrotron X-rays through a custom-built monochromator at the Advanced Photon Source in Illinois. What they found is that clathrates transmit heat anharmonically - more like a glass rather than a solid crystal. The discovery, published Nov. 6 in Nature Materials, will allow better modeling of methane clathrates, as well as other crystalline substances with similar anomalous thermal conducting properties, such as the thermoelectric materials used for cooling devices such as those for notebook computers.
U of S Start-up CellFor Raises $32 Million in Financing
U of S start-up company CellFor Inc., the world’s first independent producer of improved conifer seeds, has announced the closing of a $32 million Series C round of financing. The company is now ramping up production to produce enough seed to grow more than 200 million trees per year by 2010. CellFor produces high performing varieties of conifer seeds more quickly, more dependably, and in greater quantities than is possible with traditional tree breeding practices by using somatic embryogenesis (SE). The technology, developed at the U of S by Stephen Attree under the supervision of biologist Larry Fowke in 1994, can double or triple forest productivity.
U of S-Essex agreement creates European study opportunities for students
An international exchange agreement between the U of S and the University of Essex in Colchester, England, creates excellent study opportunities, said Essex alumnus and U of S history professor Lisa Smith. For example, John Constable, one of Britain’s great artists, painted a landscape of the parkland on which the University of Essex is built. A building in Colchester still has bullet holes from the Civil Wars of the mid-17th century, and a Roman wall still surrounds part of the town from a previous age. The U of S offers opportunities for British students to learn about native-newcomer history, or the history of the Canadian West. This, the first U of S faculty-initiated international exchange, was established through U of S professors Paul Bidwell and Lisa Smith of the College of Arts & Science. For more information, contact Prof. Smith at 966-2583, or International Liaison Officer Robert Stock at 966-5213.
Medicine, Pharmacy and Nutrition Tech Transfer Officer Joins ILO
Jim Cunningham joined the Industry Liaison Office (ILO) Nov. 21 as technology transfer manager for the Colleges of Medicine, and Pharmacy and Nutrition. Jim studied microbiology at the University of Alberta and business administration at the U of S. In Jim’s career in industrial microbiology career, he focused on developing commercial processes and products in the pharmaceutical and agriculture sectors. Before joining the ILO, he was a senior manager with the pharmaceutical manufacturer Apotex Fermentation Inc. in Winnipeg, and subsequently the business development manager for the Saskatoon office of Lombard Life Sciences, a venture fund management company.
Wildlife Presentation Receives Top Prize at Conference
Dr. Emily Jenkins received the 2005 Terry Amundsen Award for the best graduate student presentation at the Wildlife Disease Association’s international conference in Cairns, Australia in August. Jenkins’ award-winning presentation reported on the “effects of climate warming on the epizootiology of northern host-parasite systems.” Her talk was based on part of her PhD work in parasitology in WCVM’s Department of Veterinary Microbiology. Jenkins, who completed her PhD program this summer, is now a wildlife health specialist with Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service.
Veterinary Graduate Student Finalist in BioContact Québec - CIHR Next Generation Competition
Veterinary graduate student Shane Journeay travelled to Québec City in October for the BioContact Québec-Canadian Institutes of Health Research Next Generation competition. As one of 12 national finalists, Journeay presented his poster to a panel of judges and explained its relevance to the biopharmaceutical industry. In late October, Journeay also received the Perkin Elmer Life Science Toxicology Innovation and Leadership Award for 2005, The award is presented to a U of S toxicology graduate student who shows innovation in research and initiative and leadership. Journeay’s PhD supervisor is Dr. Baljit Singh at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences.
Chemical Engineering Student Second in National Competition
Amanda D’Cruz, a fourth-year chemical engineering student, placed second in the Robert Auld undergraduate student paper competition held during the 55th Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference in Toronto last month. D’Cruz presented the results of the bio-diesel related research that she undertook with chemical engineering professor and Canada Research Chair Ajay Dalai during in the summer. “Her success firstly reflects her hard work and dedication to the project. It also reflects the many positive features of the chemical engineering department and the college of engineering in general, including the excellence and hard-work of our students, the involvement of undergraduates in our research programs, and the high quality communication skills that we impart to our students,” said acting head of chemical engineering Todd Pugsley.
Ag intellectual property newsletter available
PIPRA, the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture, publishes a free quarterly newsletter with the latest news and contributions from its members and from around the world. PIPRA is devoted to enabling access to intellectual property in agriculture for public benefit. This year, the U of S became the first Canadian organization to join the 30-member international initiative.