Western researchers participate in new national centres

University of Western Ontario researchers are helping to create new centres of excellence focused on issues critical to Canadian industry, society and economy.


These networks are looking to find treatments to help children with developmental brain disorders, finding ways to lessen the impact of fossil fuels on the environment, and using social media to improve education and skills development.


Copyright expert Samuel Trosow, an associate professor in the faculties of Information and Media Studies and Law, has played a key role in the development of the Graphics, Animation and New Media (GRAND) Network, one of three new research centres announced last week by the federal government.



“It really is very exciting,” says Trosow. “It gives me the opportunity to learn about research people are doing in other disciplines.”


GRAND is a large, multi-disciplinary and multi-institution (19 universities) research group led by computer science professor Kellogg Booth at the University of British Columbia. The group’s vision is to help Canada develop its position in new media, animation, and games.



The GRAND network will undertake a number of projects on five varied themes. Trosow is a network investigator and the leader of Theme 4: Social, Legal, Economic and Cultural Perspectives. The co-leader for the Theme 4 is Elaine Toms of Dalhousie University, a Western Library and Information Science alumna.


The other themes to be explored include: new media challenges and opportunities; games and interactive simulation; animation, graphics and imaging; and enabling technologies and methodologies.



GRAND comprises of 32 projects, one of which was proposed by members of the Digital Labour Group at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS), including Nick Dyer-Witheford, Jonathan Burston, Matt Stahl, and Trosow. FIMS professors Jacquelyn Burkell and Anabel Quan-Haase are also involved in other projects in the GRAND network.


“Each and every project doesn’t have to have a commercialization aspect,” he says, adding much of the GRAND projects are focused on applied research.


“One of the overall goals of all the networks is to generate what we refer to as ‘policy-relevant information.'”



Roy Eagleson, Associate Professor, Engineering (Software) and Psychology (Cognition), at Western is also a network investigator for GRAND.



His research program deals with the use of new media for education and training in health care, particularly for surgical training and simulation.  



“The establishment of this network will lever research by three or four times over top of the traditional funding that professors normally receive in our operating grants,” he says, adding the money is mainly dedicated to the support of graduate students.


“Both (Trosow and Eagleson) were chosen to participate in GRAND because of the expertise in their respective areas, and for their experience working with other researchers across the country on important problems that are relevant to GRAND,” says Booth.


The federal government is investing $125 million in the networks, as well as Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research to help researchers develop their findings into new practical, applied and marketable solutions and facilitate and advance the commercialization of technologies, products and services.


Other University of Western Ontario researchers will be participating in the new centres of excellence. These include:

* The NeuroDevNet Network, led by Daniel Goldowitz of the University of British Columbia, will study ways to reduce the long-term costs to the health care system through early intervention and effective treatment of children with developmental brain disorders. NeuroDevNet involves Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Chair Bryan Richardson and Robarts Research Institute Imaging Research Group scientist Ravi Menon.


* The CMC Network, led by Stephen Larter from the University of Calgary, will develop technologies necessary to “decarbonise” fossil fuel production and utilization. Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering professor and director of the Chemical Reactor Engineering Centre at Western, Hugo DeLasa, and Richard Ivey School of Business professor Tima Bansal will be taking part in CMC.