Discovery Awards


Dr. William Howard Feindel (1918-2014) is being inducted posthumously into the Discovery Centre Science Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to neurosurgical research and development of medical diagnostic equipment. His research focused on the application of the successive new scanning methods that were becoming available for imaging the human brain: Computer Aided Tomography (CAT); Positron Emission Tomography (PET); and, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Dr. Feindel was born in Bridgewater, studied at Acadia University (BA Biology 1939) and Dalhousie University (MSc 1942) before receiving his medical degree from McGill University (M.D., C.M. 1945). A Rhodes Scholar, he received a D. Phil. from Oxford University in 1949. After completing his residency, he was in neurosurgical practice for two years at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI). He founded the Neurosurgical Department at the University Hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1955. In 1959, Dr. Feindel rejoined the MNI, where he became the first William Cone Professor of Neurosurgery. He became MNI Director in 1972. During his twelve years as director, Dr. Feindel introduced the first CAT and MRI units in Canada and installed Canada’s first PET system using a miniature cyclotron. He was the Chancellor of Acadia University from 1991 to 1996 and then Honorary Governor. Among Dr. Feindel’s other distinctions are membership in the Order of Canada, the Royal Society of Canada, and the National Order of Quebec. He was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2003.

Dr. Peter Allen, CEO and founder of Thermo Dynamics Ltd, and Professor of Engineering at Dalhousie University, is being inducted into the Discovery Centre Hall of Fame for his contributions to the solar energy research and development community. Thermo Dynamics Ltd, in Dartmouth, carries out research, development and manufacture of solar thermal equipment for domestic and export markets – and has contributed in a major way to the economy of the province. Dr. Allen was born in Middleton, in the Annapolis Valley, and received his Ph.D. from the Technical University of Nova Scotia. His research has focused on two areas: thermal and hydraulic performance of heat exchangers for use in low-flow and/ or buoyancy induced-flow applications, and the application of liquid flat-plate collectors for heating with solar thermal energy. Dr. Allen currently serves as the Chairperson of the R & D Technical Advisory Committee of Natural Resources Canada, a committee that advises the Federal Government on formulation of policy on research and development in the area of renewable energy utilization. He is a member of the board of the Solar Energy Society of Canada, and the Canadian Solar Industries Association. Recently, Dr. Allen completed a three-year tenure of service with the Canadian delegation to the International Energy Agency’s task force on advanced solar water heating. He also serves on the advisory committee to the Centre for Sustainable Economic Development.


Janani Venkat is currently a Grade 9 student at Bedford Academy in Bedford. Janani is being recognized for the Science Fair project that she conducted last year, entitled Antibacterial Effects of Microemulsified Oils & Chitosan Nanoparticles. Her interest in searching for solutions to the growing issue of bacterial antibiotic resistance for many current drugs began a year earlier, where her project Investigating antibacterial properties of spices and herbs won the Best Human Health award at the Halifax science fair. She expanded that project to study properties of essential oils, microemulsions, and combinations with chitosan nanoparticles, with her results pointing to some potential applications. This project won the Best Biology award at the Halifax fair, where it was also chosen to advance to the Canada Wide Science Fair held in Regina last May – winning one of the ten gold medals awarded for the Junior Category at the national fair. Aside from her interest in science, Janani is a long-time dancer, studying both bharatanatyam (an Indian classical dance) and ballet (which she has been doing since she was three years old).

Nova Scotia youth recognized for earning Gold Medal status at the 2017 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

Anisha Rajaselvam is currently a Grade 9 student at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax. Anisha is being recognized for the Science Fair project she conducted last year, entitled The Answer to Cancer: Killing Breast Cancer Cells with Triptolide. Her interest in cancer treatments was sparked when someone close to her was diagnosed with breast cancer, and so she began her own investigations two years ago. She was particularly interested in whether or not the “Thunder God Vine” used in traditional Chinese healing might be useful in battling cancer. Her project from last year tested the extract of this herb (Triptolide) and demonstrated effectiveness in killing four different cell lines of breast cancer. Her studies won her Grand Award selection at the Halifax Science Fair two years in a row, providing her opportunity to compete at the Canada Wide Science Fair in each of these last two years – winning one of the ten gold medals awarded for the Junior Category at last May’s national fair in Regina. Outside of her science projects, Anisha has demonstrated success in mathematics and French competitions, and has earned the Girl Guides’ Lady Baden Powell Award.

Nova Scotia youth recognized for earning Gold Medal status at the 2017 Canada-Wide Science Fair.


Emerging Professional Recipient

An individual under the age of 35 who demonstrates intellectual achievements, excellence and potential for ongoing growth and development.

Ghada Koleilat is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Dalhousie University. She has an Electrical Engineering degree from Concordia University, and completed her Masters and PhD at the University of Toronto. With a focus on exploiting the new quantum dot technology for solar cells, as a graduate student Dr. Koleilat developed the world’s first functional colloidal quantum dot tandem solar cell employing a single quantum tuned material. She also conceived a material processing that enabled prolonged stability and improved electrical properties in photovoltaic junctions based on colloidal quantum dots. That process is now patented and licensed to InVisage, Inc. Before joining Dalhousie University in 2016, Dr. Koleilat was awarded a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Canadian government which led to her completing her postdoctoral training at Stanford University, where she investigated the properties of single walled carbon nanotubes and their potential in photovoltaics. Her work has frequently been highlighted in major media outlets for technology reporting, such as Nanotechweb, Materials Today, the National Post, MIT’s Technology Review and Engadget. Notably, her first research publication in the American Chemical Society’s journal “ACS Nano” was one of the ten highest cited articles in the journal for four consecutive years.

Innovation Recipient

A company that has produced a commercially viable product or service and is ready or has already launched it into the market.

Densitas Inc. is an early stage medical software company focused on machine-learning solutions in the breast imaging enterprise, and sees digital mammograms as “imaging fingerprints” that enable tailored patient care. Densitas was founded in 2011 by Mohamed (Mo) Abdolell, a biostatistician with 25 years’ experience in modeling data for clinical decision-making, and currently also an Associate Professor in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at Dalhousie University and an Affiliated Scientist at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. Densitas’ flagship technology is DM-Density, an automated breast density assessment tool which serves as the foundational product for a suite of technologies that complete a comprehensive imaging analytics platform targeting mammography quality and delivery of personalized care. Mo credits the ability to develop innovative companies like Densitas in Nova Scotia as being the result of a unique combination of an environment of collaboration and opportunities to link clinical outcomes and associated image data.   Densitas’ goal is to empower radiologists and hospital administrators to confidently navigate the rapid shift from a volume to a value-based model of care delivery. In an environment of strict fiscal constraints, Densitas’ ability to support appropriate patient management based on individualized risk has the potential to radically change how patient care in breast cancer screening practice is delivered in Nova Scotia and globally.

Science Champion Recipient

An individual who promotes science and technology to the public above and beyond the normal avenues of communication.

Matthew Lukeman is a Chemistry Professor at Acadia University. An alum of Saint Francis Xavier University, Dr. Lukeman completed his PhD at the University of Victoria and then was an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow in Ottawa before joining the faculty at Acadia. Since his arrival at Acadia, his passion for teaching chemistry has been recognized through winning the Student Union Teaching Recognition Award twice, along with the Faculty of Pure and Applied Science Teaching Award – driven in no small part by his development of a course for non-science majors entitled “Chemistry in Our World” which has become Acadia’s most highly registered class. The demonstrations Dr. Lukeman developed for his courses became the basis for a science education “show” featuring attention-grabbing and hands-on activities which has been presented now dozens of times to school and community groups – including regular interactions with the Acadia Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience ( or “S.M.I.L.E.”) Program, which provides deep engagement opportunities for children with physical or cognitive delays. Drawing from his teaching, Dr. Lukeman developed a series of public lectures on Pseudoscience and The Sky is Falling: Separating Fact from Fiction in Our Chemical World aimed at demystifying the media’s many conflicting messages about chemicals. Dr. Lukeman’s public lecture tour garnered media attention from local radio and newspaper outlets as well as the Canadian Chemical News, shining the light on his efforts to help people determine what sources of science information are credible – ranging from his students at Acadia, to local school and community groups, to public audiences in towns around the Maritimes.

Professional of Distinction Recipient

An individual who is a leading innovator, a role model for people who choose science as a career.

Jason Clyburne is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Saint Mary’s University and former Canada Research Chair in Environmental Science. Internationally recognized as a leader in the study of green chemistry, Dr. Clyburne has received over 2.2 million dollars of research grant support for fundamental and applied research projects, in addition to numerous awards. His pioneering research is widely recognized for its potential to mitigate a wide range of environmental challenges, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. He focuses on the application of simple chemical principles to identify designer chemicals for the removal of environmentally hazardous substances from industrial processes. His work also directly addresses problems that hinder the development of the Nova Scotia economy, particularly in the energy sector. Whether investigating remediation of mercury or researching the effectiveness of various dispersants for oil spill remediation,  Dr. Clyburne leads the way in the development of creative, unique, and effective solutions to issues facing our region (and world). Dr. Clyburne has built a reputation for excellence and innovation, exemplified by his recent discovery of the elusive CO2 compound “cyanoformate,” which is a simple complex formed between cyanide and carbon dioxide. This discovery received significant international scientific and media attention. In pursuit of carbon management solutions, Clyburne unveiled the manner in which nature tames catalyst poisons produced during the fruitripening process—a discovery that has eluded detection for decades. This discovery has promising implications for the future of bio-inspired approaches to carbon-capture technologies.


About the Discovery Awards

The Discovery Awards began in the spring of 2002, to recognize talented individuals and outstanding companies in Nova Scotia for their national and international work in the science and technology fields.

The awards bring together universities, corporations, businesses, government and the local community for an evening of celebration. Our award recipients put science achievement in the minds of the local community and serve as role models for youth who may well be future Discovery award winners!

Past Participants

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