Campus Digest, March 1

Cassels Brock digs deep for Western Law

Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP has staked a significant claim in mining law education at Western University. The firm’s gift of $750,000 will support a unique mining law program at Western Law as well as initiatives to prepare students for the mining law and finance sector. Western President Amit Chakma, left, speaks with Mark Young, Cassels Brock managing partner, middle, and W. Iain Scott, Western Law dean. “Our firm is excited about playing a role in this unique program in Canada,” said Paul Stein, Cassels Brock co-chair of the mining group and a 1981 Western Law graduate. “I’ve seen a real evolution in the mining sector and know how much our clients recognize and value business-savvy legal advisors who understand their industry and their issues,” he said.

Desjardine answers Wal-Mart challenge

Western University student Mark Desjardine, a PhD student in the Richard Ivey School of Business, finished second in the Wal-Mart Canada Green Student Challenge.

Walmart Canada invited post-secondary students to submit ideas for more sustainable business practices that also deliver to the bottom line.

“Besides the fact that sustainability is right up my alley, I believe in the power of a single good idea,” said the Peterborough native. “A single good idea can change business and our future; I believe I have the next great sustainability idea.”

Five semi-finalist submissions were chosen for their creativity, ease of implementation and potential impact. The semi-finalists presented their ideas at the TMX Broadcast Centre to a panel of Canada’s top CEOs on Feb. 29. Top prize was $30,000 to the winning student/students and an additional $30,000 to their university.

Western research packs a Big Bang

Western University research clashed with pop culture last week. Research led by Adrian Owen of the Brain and Mind Institute made an appearance on the CBS/CTV show Big Bang Theory (Episode 518). Not usually the stuff of comedy, Owen’s work into patient awareness while in a vegetative state set up a punchline for the Thursday night comedy. To see the reference (at the 5:27 mark), watch the clip at the CTV website.

Students’ health innovation makes shortlist

Western University students Alvin Li and Sonia Thomas have been shortlisted for the Health Council of Canada’s third annual Health Innovation Challenge. Li and Thomas, both in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, will have their entry, Organ donation strategy: Reimbursement and job-protection policy, judged against two others shortlisted in their category.

More than 150 entries from 220 students across Canada explained what they think could change the future of health care in Canada. To be announced on March 26, winners receive $1,000 and the chance to apply for a summer internship at the Health Council of Canada office in Toronto.

Grant furthers African research

Are chemicals used in growing flowers causing health problems in Naivasha, Kenya, or can illness in the community be attributed to various sources of stress? Phaedra Henley, a Western University PhD candidate, is conducting on-the-ground research to get at the root of that very question.

Henley is a recipient of the Africa Initiative’s Graduate Research Grant, which sends African and Canadian students on short-term academic placements to conduct field work. The Africa Initiative is headquartered at The Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo.

A student in Western’s Department of Pathology, and a graduate of its Masters in Environment and Sustainability program, Henley is one of two students at Western who took part in the program this year.

Also receiving a grant was Jenna Dixon, a PhD candidate in Western’s Department of Geography, who focuses her doctoral research on a foundation of health geography and developmental geography in order to focus on barriers to health insurance enrolment in Ghana. Specifically, this work analyzes the roles of gender and poverty in achieving access to health care. Dixon has previously studied health care organization in the Canadian context, and has spent time working in health facilities in Kenya and Uganda.

She holds an MA from Western’s Department of Sociology.

Making connections conference

It is not every day a second-year undergraduate student travels with mobile health clinics at the U.S.-Mexico Border to document the health issues caused by cross-border migration. Even more impressive is when that student returns to her home university and presents her research findings to her peers.

Then again, this is just one of the many research topics Scholar’s Electives and Western Scholars students will be presenting at the Making Connections Conference on March 31. With a kick-off by former MP Glen Pearson, this event aims to make connections between ideas, research, faculties and the Western and London communities.

To attend this academic showcase, register to at the Career Central website or email

Western’s workplace honoured

Western University recently received the Neighbors, Friends and Families Workplace Champions certificate for educating its employees about domestic violence. Barb MacQuarrie, community director of the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, Elgin Austen, Campus Community Police Services director, and Larissa Bartlett, Western Equity Services, accepted the award for the university.

The ceremony, attended by Chris Bentley, MPP London West, honoured workplaces that have committed to educating their employees to recognize, respond to and refer in situations of domestic violence and woman abuse (Bill 168). Western was among the 132 workplaces in Ontario honored in 2012, one of a total of 431 Neighbors, Friends and Families Workplace Champions.