Campus Digest: Way’s forest research rooted in new CFI funding

Danielle Way needed a window into our past, in order to provide us a direction for the future.

In support of her efforts, the Western Biology professor received $179,347 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (previously named Leaders Opportunity Fund) toward equipment allowing Way to analyze climate change impacts on Canada’s boreal forest. The funding was announced on Monday.

Way’s lab is one of 149 facilities at universities across the country to benefit from new federal investments through the Leaders Fund.

Ed Holder, Minister of State, Science and Technology, announced more than $30.4 million in funding for research infrastructure at 32 universities across the country. In addition to climate change, these funds will also go to institutions with researchers working in areas such as pharmacology, infectious disease and materials engineering.

“Canadian researchers need state-of-the-art tools in order to undertake world-class research,” Holder said. “Our government believes significant investment in these tools is essential to making scientific breakthroughs, which improve the lives of Canadians and increases economic prosperity.”

At its root, Way’s research explores the physiological responses of key boreal tree species over time to the stresses of climate change – a combination of elevated temperatures, higher CO2 concentrations and dryer conditions. Climate change is reducing the productivity of Canada’s boreal forest during hot, dry years through reduced tree growth and increased mortality.

Canada’s forestry sector, including pulp and paper from boreal species, is worth more than $23 billion annually. Maintaining forest productivity for sustainable economic development requires predictions of how boreal tree growth and function will be affected by climate change.

Through infrastructure provided by the funding, Way’s research findings will help forest resource managers assess climate change impacts on forest growth and allow them to adapt their practices, such as avoiding planting species that are most vulnerable to future conditions and prioritizing harvesting of these species from existing forests.

“Cutting-edge facilities found at universities across the country become hubs where communities of students, researchers and entrepreneurs inspire each other to innovate,” said Gilles Patry, CFI president and CEO. “Their collaborations are vital to enhance Canada’s position as a global leader in research and enterprise.”

CFI is awarding $23.4 million for tools and infrastructure that allow leading researchers to continue expanding the frontiers of science, health, social sciences and humanities. An additional $7 million will be used to support the operational costs of this infrastructure.


Western medical students student Kevin Dueck, Julian Surujballi and Daniela Kwiatkowski earned third place honours for the team’s Vitals Student Wellness Initiative in the Council of Ontario Universities’ Mental Health 2.0 Student Competition. The group also won the People’s Choice Award, which was voted on by the public. The competition encouraged undergraduate students to address mental health challenges through social media tools in the following categories: changing attitudes; awareness of signs and symptoms of mental illness; self-care and management; and community building.

Vitals is a student-run initiative to promote wellness in all years of undergraduate medical training by centralizing campus and community resources, hosting workshops and raising awareness to support students in all the dimensions of wellness.

Visit the site at

*   *   *

Western Information Technology Services (ITS) was alerted to the most recent Internet threat – known as the ‘Heartbleed bug’ – on Tuesday and took immediate action, said Jeff Grieve, Information Technology Services director.

The Heartbleed bug affects encryption technology meant to protect online accounts, passwords and other personal data. Until this week, the bug has gone unnoticed for two years or more.

“Fortunately, Jeff Gardiner, our central information security officer, and the Network Security Office were proactive in raising awareness of the vulnerability and working with our IT colleagues across campus to identify and mitigate systems that might be at risk,” Grieve said.

ITS has implemented firewall changes to block and detect such attacks. Scans of the entire network are complete, and a list of vulnerable systems has been created. Patching/updating of those systems is complete and/or underway with system owners from across campus.

ITS is not asking the Western community to take any action at this time.

However, Grieve reminded the campus community that regular password changes are always a best practice. Visit the About Passwords page on the ITS website for more details.

*   *   *

Western postdoctoral scholars, are you interested in establishing interdisciplinary collaborations and expanding your professional network? If so, Western has the event for you.

Sponsored by the Postdoctoral Association at Western and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Postdoc Interdisciplinary Collaboration Workshop is scheduled for 1-4 p.m. Thursday, May 29, in the University Community Centre, room 147 a/b.

This free networking and collaboration opportunity is designed to spark conversations and collaborations between postdocs working in diverse areas. Organizers stress the workshop format will be postdoc focused.

Register at the event page,

*   *   *

Steven Kleinknecht, a Sociology professor at Brescia University College, has been awarded a 2014 Connection Grantfrom the  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to support a conference in qualitative research hosted by Brescia.

The 31st annual Qualitative Analysis Conference, commonly referred to as ‘The Qualitatives,’ will explore the social construction of boundaries and features more than 200 researchers and speakers from around the globe.

The concept of boundary will take centre stage at this year’s conference. The organizers selected it as the conference theme based on its power as a social construct in people’s everyday lives and the theoretical utility it serves researchers in their studies. Presenters will reflect on how notions of the boundary continue to inspire our analytical imaginations.

The conference will be held June 25-27. For more information, including registration details, visit the conference website at