Western News names Newsmakers 2012

We’ve got ‘Next’

In December, six Western students from three faculties were selected as part of ‘The Next 36’ – a search for Canada’s most promising and innovative undergraduates. Pictured are, from left, Lauren Hasegawa (Faculty of Engineering); Owen Ou, Ali Jiwani and Steven Wellman (Richard Ivey School of Business); and Bianca Lopes (Faculty of Social Science). (Ivey student Mallorie Brodie is not pictured.) Along with the potential of $80,000 in developmental seed money, the students will be given the academic foundation, practical skills, role models and networks to become Canada’s next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.


Big Blue meets ‘Big Purple’

In April, IBM Canada, led at the time by then-president Bruce Ross, BESc’85, announced a landmark $65 million gift-in-kind of computers and software to Western, part of a larger $210-million Canada Research and Development Centre, which will use state-of-the-art computer infrastructure to drive innovative discoveries and bring them to market.

Joining IBM Canada (contributing $175 million) and the governments of Canada and Ontario (contributing $20 million and $15 million, respectively), Western joined the University of Toronto as a major partner in the new Ontario-based multi-million dollar computing network. The new Ontario-based computing network uses state-of-the-art cloud-computing systems to process data in research areas with significant commercialization opportunities, including infrastructure, resource management and neuroscience.


Meet the new ‘U.’

In some ways, it was back to the future for Western University. In January, the university rolled out a new visual identity – and with it a ‘new’ name – top administrators said would project a more unified brand as well as better position the university on the global stage.

Chief among the changes was the adoption of Western University as the institution’s widely used moniker. The university’s official name remains The University of Western Ontario, and will continue to appear as such on diplomas and official documents. But for communication, marketing and web purposes, Western University – or, at times, simply Western – is the name.

The ‘new’ name came with a new look as Western dropped the ‘Tower Logo’ in favour of a more traditional shield, an element pulled from the university’s crest. The new logo, coupled with a custom font, is now used to present the overall university as well as other appropriate areas (e.g. faculties, departments, libraries, etc.).

The more unified brand puts the university in a better position in promoting itself on a global stage, said Terry Rice, Western’s marketing and creative services director.


Driving the future

In November, Western and the Fraunhofer Institute of Chemical Technology celebrated the launch of the Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research at Western. Led by Tobias Potyra, Fraunhofer manager of operations, pictured, the facility is located at Western’s Advanced Manufacturing Park.

Together, Western and Fraunhofer have begun focusing on developing lightweight composites at this testing-ground facility through full industrial-scale trials. This joint venture, the first comprehensive initiative between a Canadian university and an institute of Fraunhofer, will create a unique platform for the training of the next generation of engineers for years to come.


A major breakthrough
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry virologist Dr. Chil-Yong Kang reached a major milestone this year in his ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS, as his preventative HIV vaccine, developed from a genetically modified killed whole virus, made significant progress with results from Phase I of human clinical trials.

Patients in this first phase saw no adverse reactions. Phase II will test for immune responses in healthy individuals and will take about a year, followed by Phase III, which will test the efficacy of the vaccine and is expected to take at least three years.

Following more than two decades of dedicated research, a marketable vaccine could be a possibility within five years, Kang said.


Volunteer spirit takes flight

Leesa Couper never would have imagined an injured hawk on Western’s campus would have led her to volunteer her time at a Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre. But now, four years later, the Faculty of Education staff member can be found at the Mount Brydges facility regularly caring for everything from owls and squirrels to raccoons and hummingbirds. “I think, as volunteers, we get as much, if not more, out of it than we’re putting in,” she said.

Couper is one of thousands of Western volunteers in the community. A 2007 community involvement survey found 65 per cent of faculty and staff respondents volunteer with at least one group; 58 per cent volunteer with two or more groups; and 30 per cent volunteer more than 11 hours per month.


Supporting communities

Barb McQuarrie, community director for the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children in Western’s Faculty of Education, took on a leadership role in assembling a research team to work with the Muslim Family Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration. She is writing a manual for community mentors who are being trained at the centre, one that aims to provide better support to victims of domestic violence in London’s Muslim community.


The Games our people play

Alexandra Bruce, an Engineering student at Western, was one of four badminton players to represent Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. Competing for the first time in the women’s doubles event, Bruce and partner, Michelle Li, won their quarterfinal match against Australia, but would fall to Japan in the semifinals and Russia in the Bronze medal match. They would finish fourth in the event, capping a rollercoaster ride.

The pair also won gold at the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico, and took home gold at the Canadian National Championships in 2010. They won a total of nine tournaments in 2011, including gold at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax, N.S.


Eyes for design

When Western’s homepage needed a fresh look, the university knew where to turn – Andrea Kim, Travis Neilans, Genevieve Moreau, Cody Boyko, Bhavin Prajapati and Narmata Naguleswaran (pictured clockwise from top). These six Western and Fanshawe College students worked full-time with colleagues from numerous faculties, departments as well as the university’s main web teams in ITS and Communications and Public Affairs, to develop pages upon pages of redesigned sites. “It was definitely cool,” Moreau said. “Hands down this has been the best job I’ve had to date.”


Rising stars

A second-year student at Huron University College, Jaxson Khan was named one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 in 2012. Passionate about engagement, he is the co-founder of the Student Voice Initiative, a group that aims to empower students across Canada to get involved in their education and to have a voice and say when it comes to their education. Khan also represented Canada as a delegate at the 2012 One Young World Summit. His advocacy work includes efforts to end stigma around mental health and he works with mental health professionals through AstraZeneca Canada’s Young Health Program as an advocate for child and youth mental health. Khan has also served as a student trustee on the Peel Board of Education and was the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school, prior to coming to Western.

Khan wasn’t the only Western student to be named one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 this year. Joining him were second-year student Kelly Lovell and first-year student Brooke Harrison.


Campaign marches past halfway

Western’s fundraising campaign team, led by Susana Gajic-Bruyea, associate vice-president, alumni relations and development, realizes its work is far from done. But they did take time to celebrate this past November – and deservedly so – as the campaign hit the halfway mark by surpassing $375 million (currently at $378,248,642 as of  Nov. 30).

That number, interestingly enough, is more than the most recent Campaign Western (2000-04), which raised a total of $327 million.

The current campaign, launched in 2007, has set its sights on raising $750 million by 2018, with a strong focus on Western students. A total of $267 million has been earmarked for students, with $218 million planned for faculty, $163 million for programs and $102 million for infrastructure.


Research cracks into mainstream

It was a hard-boiled controversy that is still popping up in media across the country.

In August, Dr. David Spence of Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, published research that showed eating egg yolks accelerates atherosclerosis in a manner similar to smoking cigarettes. The findings certainly got a share of media attention – from television (CBC, CNN) to newspapers (L.A. Times, New York Daily News, South Asia Mail) to magazines (Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Time, Glamour) to the fodder of late-night comedians Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel.

Spence was not exactly a favourite of the poultry industry after his 2010 research challenged the notion that consumption of dietary cholesterol and egg yolks is harmless. His latest research found regular consumption of egg yolks is about two-thirds as bad as smoking when it comes to increased build-up of carotid plaque, a risk factor for stroke and heart attack.

The study was published online in Atherosclerosis.


Helping hand

This year has certainly been a year of service for Bev Zupancic, projects and student financials officer in the Office of the Registrar. A team leader with Western’s Alternative Spring Break, she went to Winnipeg, Man., and worked with the Siloam Mission and Winnipeg Harvest, the largest food bank in Canada. Passionate about helping people and committed to creating and providing the best student experience, she wanted to engage with students and help the less fortunate, as she does at home in London at the Ark Aid Mission.

Zupancic is also the 2012 Western Sponsored Employee with United Way and feels inspired to continue to help others around her.