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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

Research Excellence Speaker Series past winners

The Research Excellence Awards (REA) recognize Ontario Tech University faculty members who have achieved national and/or international success through their research activities, thereby enhancing  our reputation as a research-focused institution. The event, held in the spring, sees recipients speak about their work and how their research has the potential to positively impact society.

Thank you to all who participated in this year's event! Those who attended were treated to relatable discussions and presentations on relevant topics in an informal but dynamic environment. If you could not make it this year, you can still watch the replay.  

Watch now 

Dr. Arcand's talk begins at 00:03:48, and Dr. Easton's talk begins at 00:34:26.

See you next year!

2018 winners

  • Senior Researcher - Brad Easton, PhD, Professor, Faculty of Science
  • Early Career Researcher - JoAnne Arcand, PhD, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences

Portraits of Brad Easton and Joanne Arcand

Below are the abstracts all of the winners of this prestigious award. Where possible, videos of the previous events or the PowerPoint presentations of the talks are included.

Research Excellence Award winners

  • 2018 Senior Researcher: Brad Easton, PhD

    Watch now

    (Dr. Easton's talk begins at 00:34:26).

    Fuel cells are a clean energy technology that electrochemically reacts hydrogen and oxygen to produce water and electricity. Fuel cells are currently becoming profitable in niche commercial markets such as forklifts and backup power. The technology has the potential to be more widely deployed in the energy landscape, including automotive applications. However, lower-cost electrode materials with enhanced durability are needed to make this commercially viable. Metal oxide-based electrode materials have great potential for this application due to their remarkable stability. However, metal oxides are generally non-conductive, which can be highly detrimental to fuel cell performance.

    Research in the Easton lab focuses on discovering better ways to introduce novel metal oxide materials into fuel cell electrodes in way that can enhance both durability and performance. In this presentation, I will give a general overview of our recent advances with these materials, and describe the new techniques we have developed to identify different degradation pathways in fuel cell electrodes.

  • 2018 Early Career Researcher: JoAnne Arcand, PhD

    Watch now

    (Dr. Arcand's talk begins at 00:03:48)

    A high-sodium diet is a leading global risk factor for cardiovascular death and disability. Reducing dietary sodium is estimated to be one of the most cost-effective strategies to improve health; thus, decreasing population sodium intakes by 30 per cent is one of nine targets endorsed by the World Health Assembly—World Health Organization to achieve a 25 per cent reduction in the global burden of non-communicable disease by 2025. Sodium reduction policies and programs are essential to enable countries to achieve these targets for improved health outcomes associated with excess sodium intake. This presentation will provide an overview of research on sodium reduction interventions at the population and patient levels being conducted by Dr. Arcand and her research team.

  • 2017 Senior Researcher: Pierre Côté, PhD

    Musculoskeletal pain and mental health disorders are the two leading causes of disability worldwide. Despite large societal investments in the treatment of these conditions, the prevalence of resulting disabilities continues to grow. One reason for this epidemic is that musculoskeletal pain and mental health disorders are difficult to prevent, problematic to diagnose and challenging to treat. Dr. Côté’s research program aims to find solutions to these problems by studying the causes of these invisible disabilities. The goal of his research is to inform the development of interventions and policies to prevent and rehabilitate disability related to musculoskeletal pain and mental health disorders. 

    If you were unable to join us in person, watch this video replay of the event. 

  • 2017 Early Career Researcher: Hendrick de Haan, PhD

    The world of the small is one of the frontiers of scientific research. This is particularly true for biological systems where what happens across nanometers can determine the health and behaviour of entire organisms. While there are continuously amazing advancements in experimental techniques to explore biology at small scales, this is an inherently challenging pursuit as the systems are nanoscopic, the dynamics occur very quickly, and the material is 'squishy'. Simulations that are rooted in physics and applied to biological systems are able to resolve small length scales, fast time scales, and soft-matter interactions, and are thus an excellent complement to experimental studies. In this talk Dr. de Haan will discuss research being conducted in his lab that applies biophysical principles to simulate and analyze biological material, including DNA, carbohydrates, proteins, viruses, bacteria and red blood cells. The focus of this talk will be to highlight how experiments and simulations can be used together to give deep insight into biological systems and to develop innovative solutions for new bio- and nano-technologies, advanced materials, and improved health for humans, animals and crops.

    If you were unable to join us in person, watch this video replay of the event.

  • 2017 Early Career Researcher: Shahryar Rahnamayan, PhD

    This talk will reveal a novel problem-solving scheme that transforms the complex property of real-world problems as enhancement factor for nature-inspired algorithms. In this direction, several applied optimization case studies, including large-scale, noisy, many-objective, and highly constraint problems, are discussed accordingly. This seminar would be beneficial for faculty members, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students who conduct 'research in optimization' or 'optimization in research.'

    If you were unable to join us in person, watch this video replay of the event.

  • 2016 Senior Researcher: Hossam Gaber, PhD

    In his talk, entitled Toward Resilient Energy and Transportation Infrastructures, 2016 Senior Researcher award winner Dr. Hossam Gaber spoke of his work in smart energy grid and sustainable transportation, among other areas. Dr. Gaber's work has real-world potential for the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    If you were unable to join us in person, watch this video replay of the event.

  • 2016 Early Career Researcher: Leigh Harkins, PhD

    In her talk, entitled Understanding Multiple Perpetrator Sexual Violence, 2016 Early Career Researcher Award winner Dr. Leigh Harkins discussed her research in this thought-provoking area, including context and theories of the behaviour. Dr. Harkins' work not only advances scholarly understanding of sex offending, but also informs practitioners who treat sex offenders.

    If you were unable to join us in person, watch this video replay of the event.

  • 2015 Early Career Researcher: Christopher Collins, PhD

    Dr. Christopher Collins delivered an informative presentation entitled Understanding Culture and Society through Linguistic Information Visualization, which dealt with a timely topic that affects the majority of our population. He described his research as "the human side of computing" which, to paraphrase,  looks at the "kinds of data tracing we leave behind" every day as we use our computers, and how we handle the large amounts of data and text information generated daily.

    If you were unable to join us in person, watch this video replay of the event.

  • 2015 Early Career Researcher: Sheldon Williamson, PhD

    In his talk on Transportation Electrification Initiatives at UOIT: Charging Ahead to a Sustainable Future for Mobility, Dr. Sheldon Williamson discussed his  work and the future of transportation. He spoke about his research from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science's point of view, by drawing attention to the university's one-of-a-kind research centre, ACE. He also talked about how his research is relevant to the work being done by colleagues in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

    If you were unable to join us in person, watch this video replay of the event.

  • 2014 Senior Researcher: Bernadette Murphy, PhD

    Dr. Bernadette Murphy, Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, won the 2014 Research Excellence Award. A full audience listened as Dr. Murphy gave a public presentation entitled Understanding How to Shape Technology so It Doesn’t Shape Us.

    If you were unable to join us in person, watch the video replay of the event.

    The presentation provided an overview of current research at our university including:

    • How researchers study neural plasticity in humans.
    • The importance of the neck in controlling arm movement.
    • How researchers are starting to use technology to help prevent musculoskeletal injuries, rather than cause them.

    "We now know that abnormal postures and muscle fatigue can lead to changes in the way the brain processes incoming sensory information and formulates outgoing commands to muscles - a process called neural plasticity," says Dr. Murphy. "If we are going to harness the power of technology to improve society and increase our efficiency, we need to better understand the human brain and how it responds, so we can ensure that technology use does not lead to maladaptive plasticity."

  • 2013 Senior Researcher: Ed Waller, PhD

    On March 31, 2014, the university hosted a successful Research Excellence Speaker Series. The 2013 Senior Researcher Award winner was Dr. Ed Waller, Professor, Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science and NSERC/UNENE Industrial Research Chair in Health Physics and Environmental Safety. He gave a public presentation at the 2014 event entitled Is it safe? Marathon Man to man at marathon: How safe and secure are we?

    His informative talk highlighted his work and explained how his research has the potential to positively impact society.

    Michael Owen, PhD, introduces Dr. Waller at the 35:29 mark.

  • 2013 Early Career Researcher: Bradley Easton, PhD

    On March 31, 2014, the university hosted a successful Research Excellence Speaker Series. The 2013 Early Career Researcher Award winner was Dr. Bradley Easton, Associate Professor, Chemistry, Faculty of Science. He gave a public presentation at the 2014 event entitled Electrochemical materials for clean energy and safe roads.

    His informative talk highlighted his work and explained how his research has the potential to positively impact society.

  • 2012 Senior Researcher: Douglas Holdway, PhD

    In his talk, entitled Aquatic Toxicology Research at Ontario Tech University, Dr. Douglas Holdway, Full Professor and Tier I Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Toxicology, discussed his lab's work over the past eight years.

    Michael Owen, PhD, introduces Dr. Holdway at the 35:20 mark.

  • 2012 Early Career Researcher: Janette Hughes, PhD

    In her talk, entitled From texts to social media…and how our kids are smarter than we think, Dr. Janette Hughes, who has since been named Canada Research Chair in Technology and Pedagogy, discussed the disconnect between what adolescents do outside and inside class with respect to technology.

  • 2011 Senior Researcher: Igor Pioro, PhD

    In his talk, entitled Nuclear Power Reactors: Current Status and Future Advancements, Dr. Igor Pioro, Professor and Associate Dean, Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science, discusses his work involving nuclear power reactors (his talk starts at the 28:24 mark).

  • 2011 Early Career Researcher: Shahram ShahbazPanahi, PhD

    In his talk, entitled New Paradigms in Wireless Communications, Dr. Shahram ShahbazPanahi, Associate Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, discusses his work in wireless communications.

  • 2010 Senior Researcher: Marc Rosen, PhD

    In his presentation, entitled Energy Sustainability: A Critical Quest, Dr. Marc Rosen, Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, discussed how sustainability is a critically important goal for human activity and development. Energy sustainability is a fundamental link with overall sustainability given the breadth, scope and frequency of energy use; its importance in economic development and living standards; and the significant impacts energy systems have on the environment. His presentation addressed a variety of factors related to energy sustainability from an engineering perspective including:

    • Appropriate selection of energy resources and carriers.
    • Efficiency enhancement.
    • Holistic approach to environmental stewardship.

    A special focus was placed on climate change, which poses one of the greatest challenges facing humanity and is greatly affected by energy utilization. The presentation was based on research conducted by Dr. Rosen's team, which tackles the broad objectives of sustainability and aims to identify sustainable energy solutions and their applications for developed and developing countries.

  • 2010 Early Career Researcher: Carolyn McGregor, PhD

    Critical-care units across the globe boast state-of-the art medical equipment that constantly monitors vital organs. However, these units have arrived at a critical crossroad because the ability of the equipment to gather information has outpaced the ability to aggregate and interpret the data in a clinically meaningful way.

    In her presentation, entitled Can and Will Clinical Judgment be Replaced by Technology?, Dr. Carolyn McGregor, Canada Research Chair in Health Informatics, discussed how new computing approaches may address this growing gap and potentially replace clinical judgment made with technology. With one out of every 14 Canadian mothers giving birth prematurely, many happening in the seventh and eighth month of pregnancy, these early births are responsible for three-quarters of all infant deaths in Canada. If the infant survives, he or she may develop lifelong problems in the crucial days and weeks after birth. Neonatal intensive-care units have state-of-the-art medical devices to monitor and support premature babies. However, neonatologists are increasingly weighed down by vast quantities of manually charted data. In addition, 86 per cent of the information is from false alarms from medical devices. Recent research shows the conditions these babies can develop tell the same subtle story through their progression, which is not detectable through the human eye until the impact is severe enough for manual detection. Early detection may result in reduced mortality, mobility, shorter recovery time and hospital stays. Dr. McGregor presented new research directions to detect earlier the onset of devastating events. In addition, there is a potential to provide rural and remote communities with greater options for advanced critical care within their own community health-care facilities.

  • 2009 Senior Researcher: Barbara Perry, PhD

    Dr. Perry, Professor, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, discusses her research surrounding hate crime in her presentation entitled The Community Impacts of Hate Crime: Challenging Canadian Ideals.

  • 2009 Early Career Researcher: Dan Zhang, PhD