Science Rendezvous showcasing NSERC innovation success stories across Canada

Festival will feature local researchers behind 16 success stories at select sites

Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

TORONTO, May 11, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Over 300 free events will take place in 30 cities across Canada for the 10th edition of Science Rendezvous on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Science Rendezvous is Canada’s largest nation-wide science festival. Science Rendezvous will launch the national science, technology, engineering and mathematics series of events for Science Odyssey; a ten-day national celebration of Canadian innovation that is put on by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). 

Science Rendezvous will host NSERC's Innovation Showcase at festival sites across Canada in an effort to bring current Canadian innovation to the public, and demonstrate what can be achieved by collaboration between industry leaders and top Canadian researchers.

NSERC is the largest investor in science and engineering research and innovation in Canada. As a convenor, they connect universities and colleges with industry partners to enable innovation-driven activities – allowing scientists and engineers across the country to develop world-leading discoveries and work with companies to turn these discoveries into inventions and products that will benefit Canadians.

The NSERC Innovation Showcase will be presented by the researchers involved and will be at selected Science Rendezvous event sites across the country.  They are free and open to the public, with most taking place between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

For more information about Science Rendezvous events and the NSERC Innovation Showcase in your city visit:‐sites/ 

Science Rendezvous is an annual nationwide science festival dedicated to science outreach. Founded in 2008, it has grown to include over 300 simultaneous events in partnership with 40 of Canada’s top research institutions, 6,000 innovators and 122 community organizations across the country.

This year’s Science Rendezvous activities will launch the ten-day Science Odyssey series in partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).


This is only a sample of participating venues. See for more details


Cybermentor - Telus Spark (Science Centre) (10am – 3pm)
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) will showcase their solution to our fresh water requirements at the Telus Spark. Desalinated water powered by bicycles. 

University of Alberta- May 12 (1pm- 4pm)
Nasseri School professors and students will share advances in building engineering research at an Open House event. This event features the research of Dr. Mohamed Al-Hussein, with support from NSERC. Dr. Mohamed Al-Hussein is a professor and NSERC Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in the Industrialization of Building Construction at the University of Alberta, and a highly sought researcher and consultant in the areas of automated machine development, lean manufacturing, construction process optimization, CO2 emission quantification, and building information modelling (BIM), with the development of modular and offsite construction technologies and practices forming the hub of his research. 


Kwantlen Polytechnic University – Langley Campus (11am – 3pm)
Kwantlen's Institute for Sustainable Horticulture (ISH) was created in 2004 to be a partnership of academia with B.C.'s horticultural industries and the community to support British Columbia in meeting demands for a higher level of sustainability and environmental responsibility from horticulture, silviculture, forestry, and urban landscapes. The development of biological pest management products useful to growers, and economically viable to producers, is one of the primary goals of Kwantlen's Institute for Sustainable Horticulture.

The work of Dr. Deborah Henderson (Director, ISH and LEEF Regional Innovation Chair in Sustainable Horticulture), the Institute's innovative research into bio-products and pollination will be highlighted at this Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Science Rendezvous event.  Benefits for plants from extracts of a native kelp species, better pollination of greenhouse tomatoes with native bumblebee pollinators, biofertilizers made from insects, and biofungicides that can be used to replace pesticides, will be showcased.

Simon Fraser University – Burnaby campus (11am – 3pm)
Better brain protection will be demonstrated from the work of Dr. Farid Golnaraghi at the Head Injury Prevention Lab (the HIP lab). Collisions with the head are rarely normal impacts to the surface of the helmet; most come at an angle, causing both sharp twisting and compression of the brain. At the HIP lab a micro-engineered membrane called Shield-X membrane was developed; technology that can better mitigate the injurious effects of the sharp twisting of the brain. Shield-X membrane disengages the impacting force from the head and results in significant reduction of the sharp twisting of the brain. The technology has been successfully tested by helmet manufacturers in the US and Canada, and soon you may see bicycle, hockey, ski, and football helmets equipped with Shield-X membrane.

Let’s Talk Science with the University of British Columbia – The Old Barn Community Centre (10am – 2pm)
Discover the future of touch screens, the foldable technology, and a glimpse into the future.  The work of Mirza Saquib Sarwar, PhD Candidate and NSERC CGS (Alexander Graham Bell) Scholarship Holder and John D. Madden, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Advanced Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory, UBC will be showcased.  An innovative smart skin that detects the proximity and touch of fingers to a surface will be displayed. It is stretchable and bendable.

It could be useful for providing touch sensation to robots, making it easier for them to work with humans, and to replicate human dexterity.  As a transparent and stretchable touch interface that could be used on stretchable tablets or smart phones, or any surface – kitchen cupboard, table top, floor etc. to make it interactive.  It is part of broader technology movements to make our devices more portable, wearable and connected.


University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus, Science and Engineering Bldg (11am – 4pm)
This event is featuring the research of Red River College, who have been working in collaboration with various partners, with support from the NSERC. Assisted by NSERC’s innovation programming, Red River College has developed an all-electric transit bus and charging system, and is currently developing MotiveLab – a climatic chamber with chassis dyno large enough for a highway bus.


Memorial University
(11pm – 3pm)
This event will feature four NSERC Innovation Showcases

The research of Dr. Julissa Roncal, who has been working in collaboration with Stantec Consulting, with support from NSERC will be showcased.  Stantec turned to Dr. Roncal to help them understand how the specific environmental conditions of a particular geographical area - potentially being approved for natural resource extraction - may or may not support rare plants. This research collaboration has led to the development of unique probability models of suitable habitats for five rare plants in Labrador. This new knowledge will be added within Stantec's environmental impact statements, which will improve their assessments on the real distribution of rare plants, and the real impact of proposed natural resource developments. This work will also fill a knowledge gap that results in sometimes-unnecessary mitigation plans, therefore the general environmental assessment industry will benefit from the research outcomes, as well as the natural resource sector, and government regulatory agencies responsible for approving natural resource extraction.

The research of Dr. Eric Vander Wal, who has been working in collaboration with Manitoba Hydro, with support from NSERC will be showcased. Assisted by NSERC’s innovation programming, Manitoba Hydro turned to Dr. Vander Wal to help them understand how transmission right-of-ways constructed through the wilderness affects behavior in keystone predators (wolves) and prey (moose) and their population dynamics. The project also has value to rural and indigenous communities through which transmission right-of-ways are routed. It is hoped that this research collaboration will produce results that illustrate whether wolves select or avoid transmission right-of-ways and how this may affect predator-prey interactions. Canada will benefit from this information because it will help companies that transmit hydrogenerated electricity economize their transmission line routing and monitoring of right-of-way impacts, while balancing the possible local and ecological impacts of these large human-made features on the landscape.

The research of Dr. Stephen Butt, who has been working in collaboration with Anaconda Mining Inc., with support from NSERC will be showcased. Assisted by NSERC’s innovation programming, Anaconda Mining turned to Dr. Butt to help them solve the mine blasting challenge of identifying ore and waste rock intervals within a drilled blast hole due to the dilution of the cuttings. This challenge results in portions of the blasted muck being grouped in the wrong ore grade category for processing or, worse, being designated as waste with no gold recovery at all.  It is hoped that this research collaboration will lead to a more efficient way to determine if the content is designated as ore to send to the mill for processing, or waste. The project will also lead to further collaboration on rock penetration and fragmentation problems within the company's mining and development activities.

The research of Dr. Baiyu (Helen) Zhang, who has been working in collaboration with Altius Minerals Corporation, with support from the NSERC will be showcased. Assisted by NSERC’s innovation programming, Altius turned to Dr. Zhang to help them investigate the feasibility of natural processes to decrease concentrations of an oil-contaminated site in an Inuit community in Labrador. It is hoped that this research collaboration will ultimately lead to the development of a promising approach for monitoring microbial activities without drilling monitoring wells in Labrador; which could facilitate future remediation actions. The project will also lead to an improved and healthier working and living environment for Canadians, especially the Inuit community in Labrador. 


Ryerson University at Yonge-Dundas Square (10am – 4pm)
Visit this year’s Science Rendezvous event at Ryerson University to see how chemistry can help to light up your life!  Featured at this year’s event will be dynamic young Ryerson researcher, Dr. Bryan Koivisto, who -- with support from ‘Engage’ and ‘Engage Plus’ Grants from NSERC -- has been working with London, Ontario-based Sciencetech Inc. to develop a prototype LED solar simulator that can be tuned to match any natural lighting condition – from ambient indoor conditions to compact fluorescent lighting to bright outdoor conditions in the Arctic. This great partnership between Dr. Koivisto’s Ryerson research team and Sciencetech Inc. has been able to create an innovative technology that will help the Canadian company stay competitive in the growing solar simulation market and shine brightly in Canada and around the world.

University of Toronto St. George campus (11am – 5pm)
Ever heard somebody say, ‘That’s about as interesting as watching paint dry?’  Well, for automotive manufacturers and their supplier companies, watching paint dry really is interesting --- and important.  That’s because the quality of a new vehicle’s paint finish is a critical part of buyer appeal.  Bad paint?  No sale.  Unfortunately, drying conditions at the manufacturer’s paint shop can result in all kinds of problems in the final finish -- problems with colorful names like ‘orange peel’ and ‘fish-eye’!  To try to understand how these defects happen and – more important -- how to prevent them, carmaker General Motors and Canadian manufacturing giant Magna Corporation recently partnered with Professor Sanjeev  Chandra at the University of Toronto’s Mechanical Engineering department to find some answers.  Funding support came from Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) by way of a ‘Collaborative R&D’ grant.  Working together, the GM-Magna-U of T team prepared painted ‘coupons’ (small plates of freshly-painted sheet metal) and took videos of the paint drying under different temperature and humidity conditions.   The flow patterns in the drying paint samples were captured on video and then the video was used to generate a computer simulation of the drying process.  The end result?  A new computer-based tool that lets the companies predict the quality of the paint finish before it even gets sprayed on the vehicle.  Watching paint dry pays off!

Queen’s University at Rogers K-ROCK Centre (10am – 3pm)
Ever heard of ‘3D printing’?  In industry, it’s called ‘additive manufacturing’ and it’s rapidly changing the way that everything from aircraft engines to automobile parts to smartphones are made.  An Additive Manufacturing printer uses a computer-based ‘CAD’ drawing to guide a special laser beam as it scans over a bed of metal powder.  The laser beam fuses the metal powder, layer by layer, so that it ‘writes’ a 3D metal component.  Kingston and Queen’s are hotbeds of innovation for this laser-based manufacturing technology.  Starting back in 2014, Queen’s physics researcher Dr. James Fraser and local company Laser Depth Dynamics (itself born at Queen’s) have used funding support from NSERC to build an innovative research collaboration in this exciting area of technology. Come visit the Queen’s-Laser Depth Dynamics team at Science Rendezvous Kingston to learn more about how lasers are being used to turn piles of metal powder into complex parts that help products from smartphones to cars deliver better performance and offer great new features.  You’ll even be able to try your hand at being a laser physicist!  Visit Dr. Fraser and let him show you how to use a laser beam to measure the diameter of a single strand of your own hair!

York University at Main Street Markham Farmers’ Market (10am – 3pm)
Smartphones use all kinds of leading-edge technologies to help them deliver all the features and performance that users enjoy – and demand.  Like watching video content!  From anywhere!  Recent hardware developments in these mobile devices have created a demand for completely new video compression techniques with adjustable quality of services. When the receiver is a mobile user, the high bit-rate video data needs to be transcoded to a low bit-rate format that’s capable of being adjusted to the network and receiver’s specifications, while preserving the best possible video quality.  Working with funding support from Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC), York University computer engineering researchers Dr. Aijin An and Dr. Amir Asif launched a long-term research collaboration with computing giant IBM Canada in 2014 to develop an innovative ‘transcoding’ video compression strategy capable of sustaining video delivery performance with certain immunity to the bandwidth fluctuations which occur in network connectivity.  So what, you ask?  Well, now you’ll be able to watch your favourite videos on your smartphone even while you’re out in the middle of the lake in your boat at the cottage!


University of Saskatchewan- Canadian Light Source tours (7pm)
Dr. Matthew Lindsay and his graduate students recently completed a study of metal leaching from oil sands petroleum coke, which is a major byproduct of bitumen upgrading at oil sands mines. Their research, with funding from NSERC, in partnership with Syncrude Canada Ltd. identified geochemical conditions under which potentially hazardous metals – nickel and vanadium – are leached into groundwater. These findings are helping Syncrude identify locations for storing petroleum coke within reclamation landscapes to reduce metal leaching. Dr. Lindsay has partnered with Syncrude on several other projects aimed at minimizing long-term impacts of mine wastes on water quality within reclamation landscapes.