Students, faculty, and staff return to the University of Calgary campus while observing the covid-19 restrictions

Sept. 15, 2021

Innovation and technology transfer: 2021 Parex Resources Innovation Fellows announced

Six UCalgary scholars granted fellowships for research into quality of life for older adults, treatment of chronic pain, parallel reservoir simulators, and more

This summer, a six scholars from across the University of Calgary started their one-year term as the latest cohort of Parex Resources Innovation Fellows.

Currently in its third year, the fellowship program aims to enable researchers to focus on innovation and technology-transfer activities. The Innovation Fellows are researchers in various stages of their careers from across the university who are immersed in academic research and community partnerships leading to startups or technology advancement based on new discoveries, insights, and innovation.

“These fellowships provide researchers and students resources to focus on the entrepreneurial aspects of their science that will positively impact society. Each of the Fellows has demonstrated research excellence often in trans-disciplinary teams and a history of innovation and technology transfer,” says Dr. Bernhard Mayer, Faculty of Science interim dean. “It is very exciting to see that the 2021 Fellows are investigating some of the world’s most complex challenges.”

University innovation, knowledge engagement and commercialization deliver tangible impact that includes job and new venture creation, product and service sales, and new research opportunities. It creates economic impact through social and technical advances that lead to new technologies, policies and behaviours, and healthier societies. In Canada, research universities are responsible for 83 per cent of all contracted private-sector research.

One of this year’s fellows, associate professor Dr. Yeonjung Lee, PhD, from the Faculty of Social Work, will integrate aspects of geographic information system (GIS) technologies, social factors, and the built environment, with a goal of improving quality of life for older adults. Lee’s research project, Communities of Concerns for Older Adults (CoCOA) in Calgary, is an innovative study conducted in partnership with The City of Calgary. It combines qualitative and quantitative analysis to develop best practices to determine community viability for aging populations.

When complete, the study will provide evidence-based information for policy development, city planning, and practice interventions The City of Calgary can use in reassessing and applying to its Age-Friendly Calgary Strategy.

The Parex Innovation Fellowship will allow Lee to build research capacity for this study and support innovation and entrepreneurship within her teaching practice. Ensuring students in the Faculty of Social Work have opportunities to engage in social innovation and entrepreneurship, Lee will develop the faculty’s first social entrepreneurship course and the first social enterprise speakers’ event.

The full list of the 2021 Parex Innovation Fellows includes:

  • Dr. Zhangxin (John) Chen, PhD, Schulich School of Engineering: Development and Commercialization of a Parallel Reservoir Simulator
  • Dr. Laura Curiel, PhD, Schulich School of Engineering: Multiaxial Transducers for High-Precision Transcranial Therapy Devices
  • Dr. David Eaton, PhD, Faculty of Science: Software Innovations for Induced Seismicity Risk Analysis and Mitigation
  • Dr. Yeonjung Lee, PhD, Faculty of Social Work: Using Geographic Information System (GIS) to Enhance Quality of Life for Older Adults
  • Dr. Guenther Ruhe, PhD, Faculty of Science: Mentoring Software Startups for Data-Driven Product Innovation
  • Dr. Gerald Zamponi, MD, Cumming School of Medicine: Novel Precision Therapeutics for Treatment of Chronic Pain

About the Parex Innovation Fellowships

In 2019, alumnus Wayne Foo, BSc ’77, and Parex Resources Inc. invested in the Faculty of Science to create the Parex Resources Innovation Fellowships to help position the university as a hot spot for innovation and discovery. Foo says the investment was intended to foster leaders and researchers who are incubating excellent, innovative ideas as well as remove barriers of time and finances so that researchers can push toward commercialization in a new economy.

Innovation postdoctoral fellowship program

In addition to the Parex Innovation Fellowships, the Faculty of Science and the Haskayne School of Business award postdoctoral innovation fellowships. These awards recognize postdoctoral fellows with a track record of innovation activities, including creating a startup, working with non-academic research partners engaging with government and not-for-profit organizations on policy development.

This year's postdoctoral innovation fellows are:

  • Dr. Mahmoud Farhat, PhD, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
  • Dr. Vibha Kaushik, PhD, Faculty of Social Work