'Brain Gain' for six McMaster researchers

August 3, 2010

    Six McMaster postdoctoral fellows are among more than 80 of Ontario's top PhDs who will share a pool of $9.95 million to carry out complex research on real-life projects. Photo by Federal Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

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Six McMaster postdoctoral fellows are among more than 80 of Ontario's top PhDs who will share a pool of $9.95 million to carry out complex research on real-life projects.

The new program, dubbed Elevate, provides PhD holders with fellowships to partner with Ontario companies. The fellowships will support experience in leading projects and building strategic and business collaborations, complement specialized research skills and bolster non-technical, professional skills.

The awards were part of a $9.95 million program announced last week in Kitchener by Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and Arvind Gupta, CEO & Scientific Director of MITACS, a leading national research network that connects industry and academia through innovative programming. In total, 80 awards each valued at $55,000 to $70,000 per year were awarded to postdoctoral fellows working in institutions across Ontario; the awards are renewable for up to two years.

"In order to keep the economy growing and create jobs in southern Ontario, we need to develop, attract and retain the next generation of leading researchers," said Minister Goodyear. "This investment will help businesses increase innovation and bring new ideas to market."

Gupta dubbed the Elevate program "Brain Gain", saying, "we need to provide opportunities for highly skilled young researchers to apply their research & right here in Ontario. Losing even one of these young innovators to the U.S. or a country abroad represents a loss for Ontario."

Four Industrial Fellowship recipients will each team up with a faculty member and an Ontario-based business. Peter Basl will join Rafik Loutfy in the Xerox Centre for Engineering Entrepreneurship & Innovation on a project for Bombardier Transportation Canada Inc.; Li Liu will team with Natalia Nikolova in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Sinclair Technologies Inc.; Oleksandr Romanko will work along with Antoine Deza in the Department of Computing & Software on a project with Algorithmics Inc., Peter Bevan comes from Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre to collaborate with Mike Noseworthy on a biomedical engineering assignment with Sentinelle Medical Inc.

Two Elevate Strategic Fellowship recipients will complement their postdoctoral research with programs teaching them how to connect their areas of interest with private sector partners: Eva Szabo has been a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Mick Bhatia in the Stem Cell & Cancer Research Institute since 2008; Wei Zhao will arrive at McMaster in August from the University of Alberta to collaborate with Dmitry Pelinovsky in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics.

"Postdoctoral fellows play a critical role in the research enterprise at McMaster University," said Allison Sekuler, associate vice-president and dean of Graduate Studies. "The Elevate program helps us recruit and retain the very best postdocs, and equips them with the skills and networks they need to translate their research into meaningful economic and social contributions to society."

MITACS, founded in 1999, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2009 and has experienced significant growth since inception. By 2009, the MITACS network included 633 researchers, 1114 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and 526 partner organizations, creating opportunities to collaboratively generate solutions to real-life problems.

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