16th Annual Discovery Awards shines with Nova Scotia’s science superstars

Halifax, NS – November 23, 2018 – It was an evening of inspiration as Nova Scotia’s best and brightest were celebrated at last night’s Discovery Awards for Science and Technology at the Cunard Centre in Halifax. Co-presented by Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University and in support of the Discovery Centre, the Discovery Awards hosted over 600 guests and honoured recipients in four categories: 

PROFESSIONAL OF DISTINCTION – Dr. Patrick McGrath, Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University and Scientist, IWK Health Centre 

Dr. Patrick McGrath is a clinical psychologist, scientist and social entrepreneur, and a Professor of Psychiatry at Dalhousie. With a career goal of using research to improve healthcare, he built an international reputation for ground-breaking work in the field of pain in young patients. His research has resulted in awards for research, advocacy and mentorship, with his leadership in the field also demonstrated through his position as senior editor of the Oxford Textbook of Pediatric Pain. His work in eHealth has been mostly in mental health and focuses on the Strongest Families suite of interventions. McGrath, with Dr. Trish Pottie, his former PhD student, has won the Manning Principal Innovation Award and a Governor General’s Innovation Award. Strongest Families served over 5,000 families in Canada last year, as well as operations in Finland and Vietnam. 

INNOVATION  DMF Medical Inc.Dr. Michael Schmidt, Founder and Chief Medical Officer 

Operating since 2011, DMF Medical’s mission is to make anesthesia safer for patients and the environment. Dr. Michael Schmidt, a Halifax-based physician and Dalhousie University Professor, founded the company with Dr. David Roach, employing an expert team in the areas of quality, technological development, and operations. The company’s first medical device deploys proprietary technology to eliminate harmful by-products of traditional anesthesia systems, improving patient safety, cost-effectiveness, and waste disposal processes. One in four patients who undergo surgery involving general anesthesia may suffer adverse effects known as post-operative cognitive decline. Our aging society is particularly vulnerable to these side effects. DMF’s device provides a solution-driven product that addresses these and other safety and environmental issues. 

EMERGING PROFESSIONAL – Dr. Erin Bertrand, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University 

Dr. Erin Bertrand is an Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University and holds the Canada Research Chair for Marine Microbial Proteomics. Dr. Bertrand’s achievement and potential were cited in her 2017 award from the international Simons Foundation. She is the only Canadian researcher to have been recognized with this competitive award, worth US$540,000 over three years. Dr. Bertrand studies phytoplankton, microscopic organisms that grow in the sunlit surface of the ocean. Phytoplankton consume carbon dioxide, produce much of the oxygen we breathe, and form the base of food webs that sustain global fisheries and marine biodiversity. 

SCIENCE CHAMPION – Dr. Kevin Hewitt, Professor, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science and Chair of Senate, Dalhousie University 

Dr. Kevin Hewitt is a Professor of Physics & Atmospheric Science and Chair of Senate at Dalhousie University. In addition to his passion for science education and community engagement, he leads an active research program in applied physics, with a speciality in the use of Raman spectroscopy for diagnostics and therapeutics. Also, a champion of diversity and inclusion, Dr. Hewitt is the founding president of Imhotep’s Legacy Academy (ILA), an education and mentoring program for aspiring African Nova Scotian (ANS) STEM learners from grades 6 to 12. Over the past decade, ANS students have achieved success in post-secondary pursuits such as medicine, dentistry, engineering, and physics because of the enrichment that ILA provides. The program is now inspiring similar approaches in other provinces and the Caribbean. 

The 16th Annual Discovery Awards gala also recognized Youth Award winner, Eli Wood originally of Yarmouth and now attending Mount Allison University, for his Canada Wide Science Fair project studying vagus nerve stimulation for the treatment of “pre-test” anxiety, an all-too-common affliction among youth.  

Always a highly anticipated aspect of the night, two new Nova Scotian scientific trail-blazers were inducted to the Science Hall of FameDr. William David (Dave) Jamieson was honoured posthumously for his influential career with the National Research Council and his exemplary 35 years of scientific service to the Canadian public. Dr. Gerhard Stroink was acknowledged for his exceptional contributions to the Discovery Centre and the local science community, as well as the international impact of his research in physics and biomedical engineering. Dr. Stroink spoke to the importance of hands-on learning by quoting the proverb, “I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand”. 

Since inception, and with the early help of Gerhard Stroink, the not-for-profit Discovery Centre is at the heart of bringing interactive learning experiences in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) to Nova Scotian youth. As the Centre’s marquee fundraiser, the annual Discovery Awards for Science and Technology once again has inspired continued contribution to the importance of science, innovation and education in the province.   


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