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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Speakers and bios

  • Opening

    Doug HoldwayDr. Douglas Holdway, Interim Vice-President Research, Innovation and International, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

    Dr. Douglas Holdway’s undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Marine Biology and Aquatic Toxicology are from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He did postdoctoral research at the University of Waterloo and the National Water Research Institute, CCIW, Burlington, Ontario. Following his graduate work, he worked for three years at the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute in Jabiru, Northern Territory, Australia, after which he spent 13 years at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He returned to Canada in 2002, spending a year at the University of Prince Edward Island prior to accepting his position at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in July 2003 as Professor of Ecotoxicology. In 2004, he was awarded the university’s first Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Toxicology. This was renewed in 2011.

    Dr Holdway has more than 355 publications and professional works including 131 refereed papers and reports and 192 conference abstracts investigating the impacts of contaminants on aquatic organisms and has supervised 14 Master of Science and 12 PhD students to completion. His expertise is in aquatic toxicology and marine biology with particular interest in fish reproduction, endocrine disruptors and biomarkers.  He and his research team have made, and continue to make, significant breakthroughs in our understanding of the deleterious impact on aquatic organisms of chemicals including pharmaceutical and personal care products that escape unscreened into our aquatic systems. His work has broad public policy implications related to the regulation and use of synthetic chemicals. He served as a former Interim Dean in the Faculty of Science and has been appointed Interim Vice-President, Research, Innovation and International (VPRII) effective April 1, 2017. 

    Tim McTiernan

    Tim McTiernan, PhD, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

    Tim McTiernan, PhD has held a variety of executive roles as a university administrator, college administrator, government official and government negotiator, including the positions of President of Canadore College in North Bay, Ontario; Acting Deputy Minister during the establishment of the Ontario Government’s Ministry of Research and Innovation; and Assistant Vice-President Research and Interim Vice-President Research, University of Toronto. 

    He serves on the boards of Atlantic Corridor—Ireland, and The Ireland Fund of Canada, and is a member of the Global Irish Network. He is currently the Co-Chair of the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT) and serves as a member of Universities Canada’s Education Committee.  He previously served on the Boards of the Yves Landry Foundation, Science Rendezvous, MaRS Discovery District (Toronto), MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund Inc., MaRS Innovation, and BioDiscovery Toronto. He has served as a trustee of the Ontario Innovation Trust, as a member of the Council of Canadian Academies' Expert Panel on Science Performance and Research Funding, and on the Industrial Research Assistance Program Advisory Board for Canada’s National Research Council. 

    He earned his Bachelor of Arts (Mod) in Psychology and Philosophy from Trinity College in Dublin, and his MA and PhD in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. 

  • Keynote speakers

    Romeo DallaireLieutenant General the Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire, O.C., C.M.M., G.O.Q, M.S.C., C.D., (Retired)

    Roméo Dallaire is a retired Lieutenant-General and former Senator, and is celebrated as a humanitarian worldwide. He ended his distinguished career in the Canadian military at the rank of Lieutenant-General and position of Assistant Deputy Minister of Human Resources - Military. His passion for child rights and protection led him to establish the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership with the mission to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers. This mission was inspired by his experience as the United Nations Force Commander leading United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), a peacekeeping mission. His account of the genocide became the subject of the book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, which received the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004.

    Since he left his appointment as a Canadian Senator in 2014, Dallaire works as an author and public speaker while continuing his research on conflict resolution and prevention, and the protection of child rights across the globe. In his most recent book, Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD, he details his personal struggle with the condition, and his leadership as a mental health advocate who continuously offers support to other Canadian veterans who are also coping with traumatic injuries.

    He spends much of his time working with the Dallaire Initiative to develop innovative ways to help militaries across the world understand the unique dynamics of child soldiers recruitment and use.

    Neil Pasricha

    Neil Pasricha, Author

    Neil Pasricha’s work contributes to raising mental health awareness and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. The Oshawa, Ontario-born author, speaker and award-winning blogger earned acclaim in 2010 for his first publication The Book of Awesome, which was on the bestsellers lists for five years and sold more than a million copies in 12 countries. His newest book The Happiness Equation has rocketed to the top rungs of the Globe and Mail’s Canadian nonfiction list.

    Pasricha connects with audiences through a unique blend of humour and authenticity. His inspirational TEDx lecture The 3 A’s of Awesome recounts his journey through depression after the loss of his marriage and the suicide  of his best friend. Those difficult times prompted him to launch the website, which encourages people to notice and appreciate everyday pleasures we often overlook and undervalue. By compiling a list of simple moments—such as cashiers opening new lanes in the grocery store, or idly popping bubble wrap—Pasricha and his perspectives became an international sensation.

    In 2015 he partnered with a Discovery Channel animation studio on an interactive children’s book, Awesome is Everywhere, which teaches resilience through gratitude. In addition, The Awesome Project donates books to children in need, thanks to a partnership with Kobo and First Book Canada. Pasricha is Director of The Institute for Global Happiness, whose mission is to improve happiness levels inside organizations. His focus on workplace well-being and productivity extends to his current position as a human resources executive at Walmart Canada, where he initiates leadership development programs for CEO development.

    A graduate of Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby, Ontario, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts. 

    Pasricha is a member of the Durham District School Board’s Definitely Durham Hall of Fame. He has served on the Board of Directors for Shad Valley, a Canadian charity that empowers exceptional high school students to become tomorrow’s leaders and change makers.

  • Forum 1: Mental Health of Vulnerable Populations
    Wendy Stanyon

    Moderator: Dr. Wendy Stanyon

    An Associate Professor with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology's (UOIT) Faculty of Health Sciences and a registered nurse, Dr. Wendy Stanyon has worked in mental health for more than 30 years. Given the prevalence of mental illness, she considers mental illness awareness a required life skill and works collaboratively with individuals and community groups to raise awareness and facilitate a greater understanding of health and wellness strategies. She has also completed a certificate in applied mindfulness through the University of Toronto, Faculty of Social Work and trained in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy facilitation at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies.

    Jennine Agnew-Kata

    Jennine Agnew-Kata

    Jennine Agnew-Kata is the Executive Director of the Literacy Network of Durham Region.  Previously, she co-ordinated information and referral services for the network, and performed academic assessments with Ontario Works clients.

    With a 23-year history in the field as an administrator, project manager, practitioner and basic skills assessor, she has developed considerable experience in the area of basic literacy and essential skills. She has developed training modules for literacy volunteers as well as facilitating diversity training. In addition, she has worked as a professional writer in the financial and business marketing sectors. 

    As a senior project developer and manager she headed the development of several key research initiatives. Most recently these have included two pilot phases of the Career Ladders model and a provincial apprenticeship pathway project.

    Agnew-Kata has a Masters of Education degree from the University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and a Human Resources in Action certificate from Queens University. 

    Daniel Desjardins

    Daniel Desjardins

    Captain Daniel Desjardins joined the Canadian Forces in 2004 and completed the Regular Officer Training Program at the Royal Military College of Canada, where he earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Physics. After completing military pilot training in 2012, he was stationed at 424 Search and Rescue Squadron in Trenton, Ontario where he flew the CC130H Hercules. Captain Desjardins is currently stationed at the Royal Military College where he teaches physics and space science. 

    Bruce Townley

    Inspector Bruce Townley

    Bruce Townley has been a Police Officer with the Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) since 1987. Over the past 30 years, he has worked in most areas of DRPS. His accomplishments during more than 10 years as Senior Officer include:

    • Being part of the team that opened the new Durham Court House.
    • Several high-profile criminal investigations including Project Mansfield, which uncovered an international human smuggling ring out of Europe.
    • Project Lakeland, which resulted in the takedown of an international high-end car theft ring.

    In 2006 Bruce established the Mental Health Support Program with DRPS and key clinical and community partners. The program was recognized as the gold standard in Ontario. In late 2015, he returned to overseeing the Mental Health Response Program. After a lengthy review, he is overseeing a transition in collaboration with Lakeridge Health and the Central East Local Health Integration Network with the goal of creating an elite team that will address the growing complexity of mental health calls in Durham Region.

  • Forum 2: Occupational Health and Well-Being
    Bernadette Murphy

    Moderator: Dr. Bernadette Murphy

    Dr. Bernadette Murphy's research examines how the brain and body interact. She investigates how the brain changes in conditions such as chronic musculoskeletal pain and depression, and how physical interventions such as spinal manipulation and exercise aid the re-establishment of meaningful neural connections. She is translating this knowledge of brain plasticity into the development of immersive simulations such as training games to decrease injury risk in first responders. 

    Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton

    Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton

    Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, PhD is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Regina, and serves as the current Scientific Director of the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment. He has published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles, entries and book chapters exploring anxiety- and trauma-related disorders. He has also completed more than 200 national and international conference presentations, and serves in various editorial capacities for several international peer-reviewed journals. He has received several prestigious honours, including awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and is actively involved in researching assessment and treatment of operational stress injuries. He maintains a small private practice for military and public-safety personnel who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    Dr. Pierre Côté

    Dr. Pierre Côté, PhD

    Dr. Pierre Côté is an epidemiologist and a chiropractor. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Canada Research Chair in Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation from the Canadian Government. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Director of the UOIT-Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) Centre for the Study of Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation, and an Associate Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. 

    Dr. Côté graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1989. In 1996, he obtained a master's degree in Surgery from the University of Saskatchewan. He completed his PhD in epidemiology at the University of Toronto in 2002. In 2003, he received a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

    He was a member of the scientific secretariat of the 2000-2010 Bone and Joint Task Force on Neck Pain and its Associated Disorders—a large international collaboration aimed at synthesizing the scientific evidence on the problem of neck pain. In 2010 he reviewed and proposed modifications to the definition of catastrophic impairment related to traffic collision for the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. In 2012, he was mandated by the Government of Ontario to develop evidence-based Clinical Practice Guidelines for the management of traffic injuries. He submitted his report on the management of common traffic injuries to the Ontario Government in 2015. Together with the Canadian Mental Health Association Durham, he is currently the Co-Principal Investigator of a seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to study mental health and wellness in UOIT undergraduate university students.

    Dr. Côté’s research focuses on understanding the etiology, prognosis and evidence-based management of musculoskeletal pain and disability and mental health. Dr. Côté has published more than 195 scientific papers in prestigious peer-reviewed journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Annals of Internal Medicine, Pain and the American Journal of Epidemiology. Learn more at

    Dr. Cindy Malachowski

    Dr. Cindy Malachowski

    Dr. Cindy Malachowski is a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)-funded Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Waterloo. She is an occupational therapist and a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner, and has more than 10 years of clinical experience in a variety of mental health settings. She has completed two Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR)-funded fellowships in Public Health Policy and Work Disability Prevention. Her current research investigates workplace mental health and work disability prevention.

  • Forum 3: Physical Activity and Healthy Communities
    Caroline Barakat-Haddad

    Moderator: Dr. Caroline Barakat-Haddad 

    Dr. Caroline Barakat-Haddad received her PhD in Medical Geography—Environmental Health from McMaster University, Canada in 2008. In 2005, she started her full-time academic career as a Lecturer in Health Sciences and an Assistant Professor (2008) in Environmental Health, Health Sciences at Zayed University, Dubai. In 2009, she moved to the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) as an Assistant Professor in Health Studies. She was the Discipline Representative for Health Studies at UTSC in 2011-2012. She has been an Assistant Professor in Environmental and Occupational Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology since July 1, 2014.

    Her research interests and expertise include environmental health, environmental epidemiology, population health, child and adolescent health, and environmental and health inequities. She has been involved in a number of research projects. Her PhD dissertation focuses on the long-term health effects of childhood exposures to adverse air pollutants. She is principal investigator on a research project that collected national data related to medical diagnoses and various environmental exposures for a sample of over 30,000 national and expatriate residents of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including over 6,000 adolescents who reside in the UAE. She is also co-investigator in a national project funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada that systematically reviews the literature on risk factors related to the onset and progression of 14 neurological conditions. She is currently Principal Investigator on research projects that examine constraints of physical activity among ethnically diverse female adolescents. She is a peer reviewer for the Qatar National Research Fund and Chair of the Geography of Health and Healthcare Study Group of the Canadian Association of Geographers.

    Shilpa Dogra

    Moderator: Dr. Shilpa Dogra

    Dr. Shilpa Dogra is an Exercise Scientist and Assistant Professor, Kinesiology in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). Her research expertise is in chronic disease prevention and management, active aging, and exercise-induced asthma. She has more than 30 peer-reviewed publications on these topics and has an additional 30 published peer-reviewed conference abstracts. She is also a member of the University Student Mental Health Awareness Research Team (U-SMART) at UOIT, focusing on the association between exercise and mental health among post-secondary students. She is a Certified Exercise Physiologist with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, and a member of the university's Healthy Workplace Committee. 

    Dr. Catherine Sabiston

    Dr. Catherine Sabiston

    Dr. Catherine Sabiston is a Professor of Exercise and Health Psychology at the University of Toronto and holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Physical Activity and Mental Health. Her research primarily focuses on strategies to improve physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior among individuals across the lifespan, and how physical activity relates to mental health. She has more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and many book chapters, and has participated in more than 300 conference presentations and community public health talks. She has received numerous career awards for her work in sport, exercise and health psychology. She has held $18.5 million in funding to conduct her research, which has been the impetus behind television documentaries, radio and newspaper articles, and a lifestyle behaviour show. She is also a Director of the newly developed Mental Health and Physical Activity Research Centre at the University of Toronto.

    Dr. Melanie Stuckey

    Dr. Melanie Stuckey

    Dr. Melanie Stuckey completed her PhD in Kinesiology at Western University. Throughout her PhD, her studies were focused on mobile health and exercise interventions to improve cardiometabolic risk. She has been involved in knowledge-translation activities to develop telehealth programs and smartphone apps for health and wellness. She is the Scientific Writer at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, providing support to their clinicians and researchers to develop and disseminate research. 

    Tara Zupanic

    Tara Zupancic

    Tara Zupancic is the Director of Habitus Research. For more than 15 years she has focused on the relationship between the environment and community health and well-being. She works both locally and internationally to advance equity and the priorities of vulnerable or disadvantaged groups in environmental health and climate change policy. Her recent reports for the David Suzuki Foundation and Toronto Public Health, in collaboration with EcoHealth Ontario, led to the Toronto Board of Health’s recommendation to significantly increase the city’s urban green space, particularly in disadvantaged or historically under-served neighbourhoods. She also co-founded the Centre for Environmental Health Equity, based at Queen’s University, where she served as Associate Director until 2013. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. She lives on a small farm in Caledon with her family, and a growing gang of rescue pets. Learn more at

  • Forum 4: Health Technology and Quantifying Health
    Carolyn McGregor

    Moderator: Dr. Carolyn McGregor

    Dr. Carolyn McGregor, AM is the Canada Research Chair in Health Informatics based at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. She has led pioneering research in Big Data analytics, real-time stream processing, temporal data mining, patient journey modelling and cloud computing. She now progresses this research within the context of critical-care medicine, mental health, astronaut health and military and civilian tactical training.

    She has been awarded more than $10 million in research, consultancy and infrastructure funding and has led multiple large research programs, including a multi-million dollar First of A Kind (FOAK) research program with IBM. She has more than 150 refereed publications and three patents in multiple jurisdictions, and has established two startup companies resulting from her research. She has extensive research collaborations in Canada, China, U.S., Russia, Australia and India. She has also been called upon to advise various government working groups in Canada. She has received many awards for her research, and in 2014 she was awarded membership in the Order of Australia for her significant service to science and innovation through health-care information systems. In 2016-2017 she serves as the Chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Life Sciences Technical Community. 

    Bridgette Atkins

    Bridgette Atkins

    Bridgette Atkins is a Faculty Development Officer at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology's (UOIT) Teaching and Learning Centre. She works with members of the university's teaching community on course development projects and educational development programming, and provides instructional consultations and training on various learning technologies.

    Bridgette is also a practicing yoga teacher. Mindfulness forms a growing part of the classes she teaches as well as her personal practice. Inspired by Dr. Wendy Stanyon, Associate Professor, UOIT Faculty of Health Sciences, she is working toward the Foundations of Applied Mindfulness Meditation certificate at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies. 

    Paul McGary

    Paul McGary

    Paul McGary is the Director of the Mental Health and Pinewood Centre Program of Lakeridge Health. His involvement with Lakeridge began in 1992, and he assumed the director's role of Pinewood of 1999, with the mental health program following in 2003. Paul has sat on numerous boards including Connex Ontario and also Addictions Ontario and is currently on the Durham Family Court Clinic. Particular areas of interest include overdose and suicide prevention, system integration and concurrent disorders. 

    Dr. Diana Petrarca

    Dr. Diana Petrarca

    Dr. Diana Petrarca is an Associate Professor and a founding member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. She helped redevelop and implement a new Bachelor of Education program by serving as Program Director for two years. She currently conducts research on the development, implementation and outcomes of the new initial teacher education program. Her research interests include web-based learning tools to support the practicum, and pre-service teacher education program enhancement. She is currently exploring the conceptions of teacher candidates as they progress through a pre-service program via a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)-funded research documentary film project entitled The (Un)Making of the Teacher. In 2013, she received the UOIT Teaching Excellence Award for tenured and tenure-track faculty.

    Dr. Michael Williams-Bell

    Dr. Michael Williams-Bell

    Dr. Michael Williams-Bell is a Professor in the Fitness and Health Promotion program at Durham College, and an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). He completed his PhD in Applied Bioscience at UOIT examining the effects of heat stress on cognitive function in firefighters. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from the University of Waterloo where he determined the physical demands and air requirements during simulated fire fighting tasks in a high-rise structure and subway system. He has also looked at the metabolic demands and performance measures of the Candidate Physical Abilities Test. He has published his research in scientific journals and presented his findings at the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters’ Association Health and Safety Conference, the American College of Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting, and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology’s Annual Research Conference. Through his ongoing research collaborating with the fire services, he aims to understand the physiological demands required of firefighters and improving the health and safety of the profession.