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2018 Discovery Awards

It was an evening of inspiration as Nova Scotia’s best and brightest were celebrated at the 2018 Discovery Awards for Science and Technology.

Co-presented by Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University and in support of the Discovery Centre. A crowd of nearly 600 enjoyed the gala dinner as recipients in four categories were invited on stage to accept their award. Award categories include Professional of Distinction, Emerging Professional, Innovation, and Science Champion.


2018 Science Hall Of Fame Recipients:

Dr. William David (Dave) Jamieson (1929-2017)

Dr. William David (Dave) Jamieson (1929-2017) is being inducted posthumously into the Discovery Centre Hall of Fame for his work as a public service scientist with lasting impacts in instrumentation, standards, and programming in analytical chemistry.

Dr. Jamieson was born in Toronto but spent his formative years and most of his life in Halifax, except for his time at Cambridge University where he earned his PhD in Physical Chemistry in 1954. Returning to Halifax he enjoyed an influential 35-year career at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), mainly in the regional lab facility that became the Institute for Marine Biosciences (IMB).

Dr. Jamieson retired in 1990, but during his tenure at IMB he chalked up many “firsts”. He is perhaps best known for establishing the analytical mass spectronomy group and for initiating NRC’s Marine Analytical Chemistry Standards Program. Dr. Jamieson was a skilled user of analytical equipment, and liked to tinker and improve such devices, sometimes even at the invitation of vendor engineering teams! After an oil spill in 1970 he prototyped a way to de-foul equipment, saving time and resources. This led him to a new focus area in methods and standards for monitoring environmental contaminants. In response to several deaths from domoic acid in mussels in 1987, he developed advancements in marine toxin identification and new calibration standards.

Dr. Jamieson was actively involved in many professional societies, including the N.S. Chemists’ Society, the Nova Scotian Institute of Science, and the Chemical Institute of Canada. From 1990 onwards he remained active as an advisor, consultant, and developer of new scientific methods.

Dr. Gerhard Stroink, P. Eng.

Dr. Gerhard Stroink, P. Eng., is being inducted into the Discovery Centre Hall of Fame for his breakthrough work in biomagnetism and for his contributions to science education.

In 1974. Dr. Stroink obtained his PhD in Physics from McGill University. After moving to Halifax, he joined Dalhousie’s Physics Department. He also co-founded the School of Biomedical Engineering and helped recruit its original faculty members. Dr. Stroink’s lifelong research focus was measuring and interpreting the “small potentials” and magnetic fields generated by the bioelectrical activity of the human body. For example, he studied biomagnetism of the heart and brain and was a pioneer in this area. His particular interest was in translating this research into clinical practice.

Dr. Stroink has always had a passion for bringing science to the public. He began promoting “hands-on” physics by organizing a traveling science show for schools and shopping malls. Following the success of these efforts in the late 1970s and 1980s, he was one of three original co-founders of the Discovery Centre in 1990, with early DC exhibits based on his outreach activities and lecture demonstrations at Dalhousie. He continued to chair the exhibits committee as a volunteer for many years and served on many other DC committees as well.

Dr. Stroink is a member and past-president of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science (1995-96). Active in the role of science in global affairs, he is a past board member of Science for Peace, a national organization that stands against militarism, environmental degradation, and social injustice.

2018 Youth Award Recipient:

Eli Wood

Eli Wood– Project: Stimulation of the Vagus Nerve through Targeted Temperature Therapy; Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School

When Eli Wood was a Grade 12 student at Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School he participated in the Canada Wide Science Fair for the third time. His project was a study on vagus nerve stimulation for the treatment of “pre-test” anxiety, an all-too common affliction among youth. Vagus nerves are a pair of cranial nerves that run along each side of our skull and neck. They align with the parasympathetic nervous system.

Eli’s project studied a form of vagus-nerve stimulation that combined a sensor and a cooling device. The method proved effective in treating situational anxiety, such as before exams and tests. So why is this important? Eli’s discovery means that the device he invented may allow people to help treat anxiety without medication.

Now a first-year university student, Eli’s goal is to practice clinical psychology someday. His current investigation was driven by a desire to help his peers manage burdensome anxiety symptoms. He has plans for more prototype additions, as well as further testing. Eli has good advice for students interested in science-fair projects: look around and find a topic you are passionate about. “Never stop learning,” he says. “Learning is how we change the world, and how we think about the world. There’s an aspect of science for everyone, so try things out!”

2018 Award Category Recipients:

Emerging Professional: Dr. Erin Bertrand

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. Her work generates new knowledge about phytoplankton nutrition and contributes to the development of a predictive understanding of microbial contributions to marine ecosystems.

Combining careful laboratory work with experiments conducted in a series of research cruises, Dr. Bertrand led her research group in the discovery of micronutrient-based controls on phytoplankton production using novel measurements of proteins. One of the proteins she identified and characterized is now part of a patented process for ocean micronutrients. Commercial applications include biofuel and the purification of vitamin B12.

Innovation: DMF Medical

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 postoperative cognitive decline. Our aging society is particularly vulnerable to these side effects caused by surgery and general anesthesia. DMF’s device provides a solution-driven product that addresses these and other safety and environmental issues.

Dr. Schmidt is a Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Management, and Perioperative Medicine. He holds cross-appointments in several other disciplines and has a clinical practice at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. A native of Germany who immigrated to Nova Scotia in 2007, he is a global expert in new anesthetic procedures.

Dr. Schmidt’s research history connects DMF’s work to international research groups and industry. His goal for the spin-off is to develop a collaborative model of biomedical, engineering, and business expertise in Nova Scotia that will attract skilled researchers from across the globe while improving the health outcomes of our aging population.

Science Champion: Dr. Kevin Hewitt

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 STEM enrichment environment that ILA provides.

The program is now considered one of Dalhousie’s flagship pathways programs and is inspiring similar approaches in other provinces and the Caribbean. Now offered province-wide, ILA began as a summer volunteer effort led by Dr. Hewitt. Due to his dedication and relationship building skills, the program has enjoyed a sustainable foundation of funding and outreach that is measurably advancing more ANS youth in STEM careers.

Professional of Distinction: Dr. Patrick McGrath

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.

Dr. McGrath was VP Research, Innovation and Knowledge Translation at the IWK and Nova Scotia Health Authority for a decade. He introduced many methods of moving research into clinical care, including the Translating Research into Care Grants. Recently, he was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Order of Canada and received the initial Legacy of Leadership Award from HealthCareCAN, the association of Canadian health centres. Dr. McGrath is an Officer of the Order of Canada and elected to fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

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