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Updated: 8 min 31 sec ago

McGill students record holiday lip dub

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 13:43

What are the holidays without a little seasonal music? On Dec. 13, a cross-section of McGill’s student body – organized by students Cedric Yarish, Natasha Fontarensky and Jacqui Geday – performed Michael Buble’s rendition of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). The lip dub was shot entirely on upper campus, just outside the Redpath Museum. Perhaps the most unique part of this lip dub is that some of the participants use American Sign Language to recite the lyrics of the song. Click the video below.

Sussman wins Strategic Impact Grant to improve the quality of life of frail older adults

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:48

Tamara Sussman of the School of Social Work.

A McGill-led project was among the two funded under the inaugural call for the Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network’s (TVN) Strategic Impact Grant Program. The funded projects are collaborative by design, requiring that researchers work together with other like-minded researchers with projects in similar areas to achieve greater impact. Strategic Impact Grants are awarded to four to six projects annually for up to 24 months, to a maximum of $300,000 per year. Tamara Sussman of the McGill School of Social Work will partner with Project Leader Sharon Kaasalainen of McMaster University on the project, Improving Palliative Care in Long Term Care Homes Using Participatory Action Research. The proposed study promises to address the need for new approaches to palliative care in long-term care homes for frail older adults. McGill is a Network Member Institution of TVN.

To learn more, go here.



Creative MUHC health professionals win big at Hacking Health Challenge

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:12

Left to right: Dr. Nancy Low, Dr. Hans Van Lancker and Sylvia Papazian were three of the MUHC finalists who impressed the audience with their innovations at the Hacking Health Challenge.

By MUHC Public Affairs

Imagine dreaming up a practical solution to a common healthcare problem, such as a game that eases anxiety in kids as they go through an MRI exam or a guided self-help app for patients with depression. Now imagine being in a room full of talented web designers, video game experts and programmers, eager to help bring your idea to life. Well, the dream became a reality in November during Design Challenge Montreal, which was part of the Montreal Summit on Innovation.

Design Challenge Montreal was organized by Hacking Health – a group that fosters collaboration between front-line clinicians, healthcare workers and technology experts to produce innovative and realistic solutions to healthcare problems. On Dec. 10, the group held its Hacking Health Challenge Grand Finale. After three weeks of intense work, eight teams had a chance to pitch their prototypes to investors and more than 200 health technology entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals and industry leaders. Four MUHC health practitioners were among the finalists. These are their stories:

Helping patients keep on track with depression treatment

When she conceived an app to help students facing depression, RI-MUHC researcher Dr. Nancy Low, a psychiatrist in the Mood Disorders Program at the Royal Victoria Hospital and clinical director of the McGill Mental Health Service, was eager to find a solution to a very concrete problem. “Our clinics are overburdened, with long wait times,” she says. “I wanted to improve service to our patients and help them adhere to treatment between appointments.”

Dr. Low and her team created OnTrack, an app that gives patients timely access to guidance on three types of treatment for mild to moderate depression: mood monitoring, medication and talk therapy homework, which includes doing suggested pleasurable activities. Although the combination of those treatments is very effective, patients have a hard time following them, so they fall off their plan and can even get worse.

From a business point of view, the whole process was a revelation to Dr. Low. “It was a steep learning curve for me, but the whole process is so interesting and stimulating,” she says. “The resulting app is super cute and I’m amazed that we already have a prototype. The whole team put their heart and soul into the effort which made this whirlwind of weeks extremely rewarding.”

Dr. Low’s team struck gold several times during the competition. Their app received an award from the Anges Quebec Network, a prize from FounderFuel, as well as The Pitch Most Likely to Succeed award from the Development Bank of Canada. Dr. Low and her team also received positive responses from the many attendees of the events.

“They told me the app touched them because they knew people who had been affected in some way by depression,” she said “They are eagerly waiting for it to come online.”

A mission to the moon: using role-play to help kids go through MRI exams

“Hacking Health is a wonderful occasion for people like me to see the business side of innovation,” says Sylvia Papazian, an administrative agent in the Radiology Department of the Royal Victoria Hospital. “They helped me realize that I can be a leader as well as an idealist.”

With the help of her team of experts, Papazian developed an app to help reduce stress in children going through MRI exams. “When my son was two years old, he had a traumatizing experience during an MRI for a suspected brain tumour,” she says. “As parents, we were so anxious about the results that we didn’t think of preparing our kids for the exam itself. The MRI involves lying in a dark and loud tunnel for 15 minutes without moving or talking.”

The app involves a game about a secret mission to the moon and astronauts disguised as nurses and doctors. It trains kids to get used to the sounds of the MRI machine and not move or talk during the exam. Papazian was very touched by the support she got from her department. “It’s nice to see that there’s space for innovation within the MUHC,” she says.

Even before the finale, her app, The Children’s Empowerment Story, had already attracted attention from pediatric clinics and imaging innovation companies. “This competition feels like a dream to me,” says Papazian. “As a team we’ve already decided we’re going through with this project and we’re going to make it work.”

Papazian will get some help in her enterprise. She won a prize from Cossette Lab during the Challenge as well as support from the Anges Quebec Network.

“It was fantastic to be recognized by industry leaders and to be surrounded by people who dream of bringing quality healthcare solutions to the beautiful city of Montreal.”

A neat organizer for resident doctors’ case logs

As an orthopaedic surgery resident operating at six different hospitals, Dr. Hans Van Lancker knows how hard it is to keep his case logs organized. “It’s our responsibility to keep personal logs of all our cases,” he says, “This information is required by health institutions and government bodies, but there is currently no standardized system for entering and storing the data, so it ends up scattered on scraps of paper or in Excel documents.”

Dr. Van Lancker and his team of designers and programmers created Pearl, an app that helps physicians to keep the data of their cases clearly and concisely organized. Although case logs do not contain information that can be linked to specific patients, they should nevertheless be secure. “An added advantage of Pearl is that the app will be password protected for added security beyond what is currently available.”

Pearl piqued the interest of many investors and Dr. Van Lancker is confident it will be adopted and used on a daily basis. “Our app is designed specifically for doctors and provides the efficiency and security necessary for the field,” he says.

Intelligence to predict “invisible” breast cancer

Less than a year ago, Dr. Jonathan Kanevsky, a resident in Plastic Surgery at the Montreal General Hospital, had the idea of applying the principles of machine learning to early breast cancer detection. With the help of mathematicians and programmers, he created Envisionary, a software system that helps radiologists prevent misdiagnosis and predict breast cancer.

Dr. Jonathan Kanevsky presents Envisionary, a software system that helps radiologists predict breast cancer, at the grand finale of the Hacking Health Challenge.

“Artificial Intelligence is already used in many contexts in our everyday lives,” he explains. “Our email, for example, has a spam filter with an algorithm trained to detect words and patterns that resemble spam. That same idea can be applied to series of images in mammograms.”

According to Dr. Kanevsky, patterns that lead to breast-cancer aren’t always visible to the human eye.

“I once had a patient who had a mammogram that was benign, but when she came back a year later, it showed extensive disease,” he says. “Something had happened within that year that wasn’t detectable.”

Envisionary was one of the winners at the Hacking Health Challenge, attracting the attention of start-up accelerator FounderFuel.

“This is a very big undertaking. The founding principles have been laid. I hope that we’ll develop a solid team that can make this idea a reality,” says Dr. Kanevsky, who is happy to see that there’s an infrastructure in Montreal that supports technological innovation in health care.


Spreading the holiday cheer one cookie at a time

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 10:47

By McGill Reporter Staff

On Dec. 23, Oliver de Volpi, McGill’s Executive Chef, will be up to his elbows in flour as he and his team of volunteers from the McGill community (including students who can’t make it home for the holidays), prepare a giant batch of cookies to put a smile on the faces of Montreal’s less fortunate. The 3,000 cookies, including gingerbread and shortbread, will be donated to the Old Brewery Mission, along with other food items from McGill kitchens.

Below, find De Volpi’s recipe for healthy Christmas cookies


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • ½ cup wheat germ
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • ½ cup trans-fat free soft margarine
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 large orange (zest only)
  • 1 cup bitter sweet chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or better still cook directly on parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Combine the first eight dry ingredients in a large bowl with a wire whisk. In a separate bowl, cream the margarine and sugars. Add eggs, apple sauce, vanilla and orange zests. Mix well.

Chef Oliver de Volpi

Slowly add flour mixture until combined. (“I like to use my kitchen aid stand mixer to make this cookie dough. As the mixer is running on low, I slowly add the flour mixture,” says De Volpi) And finally the chocolate chips and cranberries, and mix until they have spread out throughout the dough.

Makes approximately 24 cookies large cookies

Scoop with 2 oz. ice cream scoop onto cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes depending on the size of the cookies or until done. Take from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheets for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove cookies to wire rack and cool completely before storing them.



What’s on your bookshelf? McGill’s holiday reading list

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 10:08

The New Novel, by Winslow Homer (1877)

By Neale McDevitt

For the second year in a row, the Reporter put a call out to the McGill community to share with us their holiday reading lists. The response was enthusiastic as we received input from virtually every constituency of the university including students, staff, faculty, alumni and upper administrators.

Not surprisingly, the list we’ve compiled is long, challenging at times and diverse, ranging from fiction and non-fiction to poetry and even podcasts. If you’re still deciding what you want to read over the break and need some inspiration, or if you just want to know what books are on the respective night tables of McGillians, read on.

Provost Anthony C. Masi has lined up the following books for his holiday reads, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, by Mark Blyth; Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think, by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler; The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, by Erik Brynjolfson and Andrew McAfee; and Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change, by Edmund Phelps

Ingrid Birker, Science Outreach Administrator at the Redpath Museum, has a trio of books on her holiday wish list. They include Boundless, by Kathleen Winter; The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, by McGill prof Dan Levitan; and the Giller-winning novel Us Conductors, by Sean Michaels, “because I played my friend Brian’s theremin a long time ago and have always been enraptured by this amazing instrument and the story of its inventor, Lev Teremin.”

Andrew Mullins, Communications Officer with University Advancement, is planning to read William Faulkner’s Light in August, partially because “one of the main characters is named Joe Christmas – though I know better than to expect any holiday cheer from that coincidence.” He will also “revisit” poetry collections of Seamus Heaney, T.S. Eliot and Shakespeare (sonnets, Venus and Adonis) that will be “rotating on the coffee table.” Finally, Mullins says, “I hope to sneak extended peeks at McGill professor Gabriella Coleman’s book about Anonymous – Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy – after I give it to someone as a gift.”

Lynn Mark, Alumni Relations Officer, sent the following two selections (Shoot the Moon, by Billie Letts and Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan) but says, “I plan on adding more, so I look forward to everyone else’s list for ideas.”

Chandra Madramootoo, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has four books teed up for the holidays. They include How We Lead: Canada in a Century of Change, by Joe Clark; Rise to Greatness: The History of Canada from the Vikings to the Present, by Conrad Black; The Big Shift, by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson; and I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education by Malala Yousafzai.

Barbara Lewis, Special Projects Officer (University Services) first contacted the Reporter to suggest asking Jim Nicell, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, about his holiday list, noting “he always has an interesting, eclectic list of books he’s reading or about to read.”

When asked about her own list, Lewis said she will be finishing Dr. Brinkley’s Tower, by Robert Hough – last year’s Christmas gift from her son. “He was sure I’d enjoy the description of life in a small Mexican border town, which evoke for me the many stories my Grandmother used to tell of her childhood in Cananea, Mexico. He was right, but it’s a great romp that anyone can enjoy,” she says, noting that she’s also looking to delve into The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Us Conductors, by McGill grad Sean Michaels. It is the second appearance of Us Conductors on our list.

“And, of course, whatever wonderful books my son picks out for me this year,” she says. “Last year’s highlight choice was The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden. “Loved it!”

Lewis’s assessment of Jim Nicell’s reading list was pretty accurate – interesting and eclectic… and challenging. “A lot of people comment on my ‘light reading,’ says Nicell, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. “But I find it nicely distracting to have to focus on heavy reading. I think it is a bit like meditation.” Over the holidays, Nicell plans on meditating on a number of books including The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, by Doris Kearns Goodwin; Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, by John Guy; and Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R. Hofstadter.

“I have been waiting almost 20 years to read Godel, Escher, Bach,” says Nicell. “When I first attempted it, I didn’t think I was smart enough to really understand it. My hope is that I will be up to the challenge this time. Perhaps eggnog will help.”

Abida Subhan, Co-Ordinator, Departments of Animal Science and Natural Resource Sciences, Macdonald Campus, has a plan to “try out new authors, especially Canadian.” To this end she has armed herself with a collection of short stories by Alice Munro, and a mystery novel by Louise Penny. Subhan will also tackle The Witness, by Nora Roberts.

Kelly Bonin, Manager of Business Development, McGill Executive Institute, has his sights set on a single book – Strategic Assumptions: The Hidden, Yet Powerful Beliefs that Control Every Decision You Make, by Mark Hollingworth.

Wayne Wood, Associate Director, University Safety (EHS), will be mixing a little business with pleasure over the break. “I have to read a new textbook I assigned to the safety course I teach in the Occupational Health Masters Program. It is called Accident Prevention Manual Essentials, by Philip Hagan, which most people (except me) will find to be dry reading,” he says. “But the book I am most looking forward to reading is called Thinking Fast and Slow, written by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. I am hoping it will help me understand the sometimes irrational behaviour around risk-taking and the tendency to ignore the best in scientific evidence in favour of unproven beliefs, practices and therapies.”

Merika Ramundo,
Communications Officer for the McGill University Library, is planning on a holiday spent largely curled up with a good podcast. “I will be listening to the Serial podcast from start to finish,” she says. “I have heard nothing but good things from friends – the writing is superb, the true story riveting and the case is yet to be solved.”

Jessica Berger, Associate Director, Donor Relations, is one of three repeat holiday book listers from last year, who had readied two books for a Mexican vacation. “For the record, I finished Wool [by Hugh Howey] on vacation last year, but only got through about 200 pages of The First Circle [by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn]. I’ll find my way back to it someday, but it’s not exactly a beach read as I discovered.” This year Berger has lined up NW, by Zadie Smith and Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt

José María Mateos, a postdoctoral researcher at the MNI will be reading Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, by Tim Weiner, a book he considers “pretty relevant given the latest news reports.”

Natasha Racco, who earned her BA from McGill in 2013 and is currently working for Porsche Centre Oakville as a Customer Care Consultant, has no fewer than five books lined up for the holidays. Her selection includes A House in the Sky, by Amada Lindhout and Sara Corbett; Darling You Can’t Do Both, by Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin; Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari; The Athena Doctrine, by John Gerzema; and Yes Please!, by Amy Poehler

Raphaël Fischler, Director of the School of Urban Planning hasn’t finalized his list yet but two novels that have already made the cut are La Cousine Bette, by Honoré de Balzac,;and L’enfant qui savait parler la langue des chiens, by Joanna Gruda.

Benjamin Mappin-Kasirer, one of McGill’s two most recent Rhodes Scholars plans on reading Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; and Les gommes, by Alain Robbe-Grillet.

Daniel McCabe, Editor of the McGill News Alumni Magazine, tries to balance fiction with non-fiction over the holidays. “For the non-fiction, I feel like doing a deep-dive into a lively, thoughtful analysis of recent Canadian political history,” he says. “It’ll be a coin-toss between The Longer I’m Prime Minister, by Paul Wells; and The Morning After, by Chantal Hébert and Jean Lapierre. If I have the time, I’ll read both.”

On the fiction front, McCabe is looking to tackle The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer and/or Heather O’Neill’s The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. “I also like books with pictures in them – occasionally featuring people in silly costumes hitting other people in silly costumes,” he says which means he may be reading Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s “fun run” on Daredevil; or Canadian Jeff Lemire’s recent work on Green Arrow.

“And, because some graphic novels DON’T involve silly costumes, I’m thinking of checking out Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? It’s supposed to be funny and poignant, it’s about caring for aging parents and it’s turning up on a bunch of ‘Best of 2014’ lists,” he says.

Salima Visram, now in her final undergraduate year in International Development Studies, plans on reading The Power of Now; by Ekhart Tolle and The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy.

Over the holidays, Pauline Frixione, Convocation and Chief Returning Officer, is looking forward to curling up with Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, and The Truth About Negotiations, by Leigh Thompson.

David Harpp, Macdonald Professor of Chemistry and the Tomlinson Chair in Science Education, has set his sights on a pair of Malcolm Gladwell books – Outliers and David and Goliath. “Maybe the latter will help me slay some academic issues that surround us,” he writes.

Karl Moore, a professor in the Desautels Faculty of Management, has lined up no fewer than five books “dipping into one and then into another and back and forth.” Moore’s list includes Rise to Greatness: The History of Canada, by Conrad Black (the second appearance of the book on our list); The Firm: The Story of McKinsey, by Duff McDonald; Intellectuals Don’t Need God & Other Modern Myths, by Alister McGrath; Hope to Die, by James Patterson; The Village Effect, by Susan Pinker.

“Here’s a few,” says Martin Grant, Dean of the Faculty of Science, of his six-book list. Strange Brew: Eric Clapton and the British Blues Boom 1965-1970, by Charles Horton Christopher Hjort; Fluid Mechanics, by L. D. Landau and E. M. Lifshitz; The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition, by Thomas S. Kuhn; An Officer and a Spy, by Robert Harris; A Man Without Breath, by Philip Kerr; and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition, by Jared Diamond.

Anne Suzanne Leahy, an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Religious Studies has a trio of good reads lined up: Anthill, by E.O. Wilson; Le présent liquide, peurs sociales et obsession sécuritaire, by Zygmunt Bauman; and Quand l’Europe parlait français, by Marc Fumaroli.

Kimberley Stephenson, Trade Buyer at the McGill Bookstore, also submitted a reading list last year. “I looked back at last year’s list and realized I forgot to read the Drunken Botanist, by Amy Stewart, so that just hit the top of the list,” she says. As for the rest, Stephenson will tackle The Children Act, by Ian McEwan; Tennessee Williams, by John Lahr; Hush Hush, by Laura Lippman; and Boundless, by Kathleen Winter – the second time Winter’s book has appeared on this list.

Mariusz Galczynski, a lecturer in the Dept. of Integrated Studies in Education, says “Since I always travel over the holiday break, I treat myself to leisure reading as I pass the time on trains, busses and airplanes. Right now I’m finishing up Salvador Plascencia’s surreal debut novel, The People of Paper. Next in line are two non-fiction titles: Alastair Bonnett’s Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies; and the newest biography of Polish musical icon Maryla Rodowicz, titled after her song, Wariatka Tańczy (which translates to The Madwoman Dances). And as I’m wrapping up my doctoral thesis in education, I’ll try to find time to leaf through Lisa Delpit’s Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children. Finally, I hope to see my family and friends reading my first book, Redefining Multicultural Education: Inclusion and the Right to Be Different, co-authored with McGill professor Ratna Ghosh – I can guarantee that it’s going to be a popular Christmas present this year!”

David Syncox, Graduate Education Officer at Teaching and Learning Services, notes that his six-book list is “an aspirational reading list… if I dig through at least one I will have accomplished my goal.” His choices include “anything by Rawi Hage”; the Jack Reacher series, by Lee Childs (“This is the one full of testosterone,” says Syncox.); A Sense of Ending, by Julian Barnes; Half a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; The Beauty of Humanity Movement, by Camilla Gibb; and The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Yōko Ogawa.



Vigil at McGill to honour victims of the Peshawar massacre

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:37

A vigil to honour the memory of the victims of this week’s brutal massacre at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, is being organized by Pakistani students in Montreal to take place at 6 p.m. this evening at McGill’s Roddick Gates.

“I encourage people to attend this event to show solidarity with the victims and their friends and loved ones, and to make a strong statement against such barbaric acts of terrorism that have no place in any society,” said Ollivier Dyens, McGill’s Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning).

“We mourn the loss of 132 school children and at least nine adults, who were murdered in a cold-blooded act for which the Taliban has claimed responsibility.” Dyens said. “And we think, too, of the more than 120 who were injured in this utterly senseless attack on the innocent.

“Those in our own community who have been shaken by this event and are in need of counsel, can contact a variety of counseling and other services on campus, including our Counselling Service, and the McGill Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, as well as through our International Student Services office.”

The Pakistani consulate here in Montreal, represented by Madame Azra Jamali, Consul General, is also organizing a vigil and prayer outside the consulate today at 4:30 p.m., at 3421 Peel St.


Making a difference for Montreal’s homeless

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:16

From left to right: Ala Bdira, Jiameng Xu, Sanda Rotari and Saman Ahmad, all members of the Health and Hygiene for Homeless executive, with some of the 300+ pairs of socks they collected for Montreal’s homeless people. / Photo: Fayeza Ahmad

By Jason Clement

“We wanted to do something on foot care because foot injuries, infections and ailments seem to be the number one reason for ER visits among the homeless population,” says Saman Ahmad, the founder of Health and Hygiene for the Homeless, of the student club’s recent initiative to collect socks to donate to local homeless shelters. “The shelters tell us that they never have enough socks!” The club surpassed its goal of collecting 300 pairs of socks, which will be donated to Welcome Hall Men’s Mission and Our 2nd Home Shelter.

Health and Hygiene for the Homeless, a McGill Medical Student Society club that currently counts between 50-60 students as members, was launched officially in September 2013, though Saman, now in her second year of medical school at McGill had been thinking about the idea since 2012. “During Med-P was the first time that I started coming downtown every day,” she says. “And that’s when it really hit me, seeing all of the homeless people around Montreal – wow these people are part of our society and yet they are just out there on the streets and marginalized. It made me want to do something.”

Wanting to make an ongoing and positive difference in the lives of Montreal’s homeless while simultaneously exposing medical students to the issues faced by homeless people, Saman sees the club eventually holding student-run clinics and trying to address issues like access to care. To reach that point properly, and sustainably, Saman and the club’s dedicated VPs want to take it one step at a time, beginning with the development of an education program being developed as workshops by sub groups within the club on topics ranging from bed bugs to foot care.

Working with Welcome Hall Men’s Mission and Maison du Père, they hope to begin delivering the workshops in early 2015. Saman says that their goals are “not to be imposing something on them. We want them make their health and hygiene a priority for themselves.”

Saman and the club have begun to receive recognition for their efforts. As a result of starting the club, Saman recently received the 2014 Medical Student Leadership award, sponsored by former Canadian Space Agency astronaut and current Southlake Regional Health Centre CEO, Dr. Dave Williams, BSc’76, MDCM/MSc’83, DSc’07. And last May, Health and Hygiene for the Homeless was voted top project at the medical student event, SHOUT, an award which brings additional funding to the club.

To learn more about Health and Hygiene for Homeless, visit their Facebook page.


Plus de 3 000 biscuits pour la Mission Old Brewery

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:16

Le 23 décembre, le chef exécutif des services alimentaires de McGill, Oliver de Volpi, préparera des biscuits pour les bénéficiaires de la Mission Old Brewery, avec la collaboration de plusieurs étudiants de McGill. Ils prépareront des biscuits au gingembre, des biscuits sablés, des biscuits au pain d’épice et des biscuits de Noël santé dont nous vous présentons ici la recette.


Ingrédients :

  • 1 tasse de farine de blé entier
  • 1 tasse de farine blanche
  • ½ tasse de germe de blé
  • 1 cuillerée à thé de poudre à pâte
  • 1 cuillerée à thé de bicarbonate de soude
  • 1 cuillerée à thé de sel
  • 1 tasse de flocons d’avoine
  • 1 cuillerée à thé de cannelle
  • 1 tasse de sucre
  • ½ tasse de cassonade
  • 1 cuillerée à table de vanille
  • ½ tasse de margarine molle sans gras trans
  • 3 œufs entiers
  • 1 tasse de compote de pommes non sucrée
  • 1 grosse orange (le zeste seulement)
  • 1 tasse de brisures de chocolat noir ou semi-sucré
  • 1 tasse de canneberges séchées

Chef Oliver de Volpi

Préparation :

Préchauffer le four à 350 °F. Graisser légèrement les plaques à biscuits ou les tapisser de papier parchemin. À l’aide d’un fouet, combiner les huit premiers ingrédients secs dans un grand bol. Réserver. Dans un autre bol, battre en crème la margarine, le sucre et la cassonade. Ajouter les œufs, la compote de pommes, la vanille et le zeste d’orange. Bien mélanger.

Incorporer graduellement les ingrédients secs jusqu’à l’obtention d’un mélange homogène. (« Je préfère utiliser mon batteur sur socle pour préparer cette pâte à biscuits, précise Oliver de Volpi. Pendant que le batteur tourne à basse vitesse, j’ajoute lentement les ingrédients secs. ») Ajouter ensuite les brisures de chocolat et les canneberges, et mélanger pour bien les répartir dans la pâte à biscuits.

À l’aide d’une cuillère à crème glacée d’une contenance de deux onces, déposer des boules de pâte sur les plaques à biscuits. Cuire au four pendant 15 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que les biscuits soient légèrement dorés. Retirer les biscuits du four et les laisser refroidir 1 ou 2 minutes sur les plaques. À l’aide d’une spatule, retirer les biscuits des plaques, les placer sur une grille et les laisser refroidir complètement avant de les ranger.

Cette recette permet de préparer environ 24 gros biscuits.

Pour lire d’autres articles du numéro de décembre, cliquez ici.


McGill dans la ville : Decembre 2014

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 08:04

L’infolettre mensuelle McGill dans la ville présente des projets d’engagement communautaire, des collaborations avec des entreprises ou des organismes locaux, des rencontres avec des experts de McGill, des événements à ne pas manquer ou d’autres renseignements susceptibles d’intéresser la communauté montréalaise.

La nature aux portes de Montréal

Pour apprécier l’hiver, rien de mieux pour petits et grands que de profiter du grand air. L’Université McGill vous offre des centaines d’hectares de nature – tout près de Montréal – à arpenter à pied, en ski de fond ou en raquettes ou à descendre à la luge : le mont Saint-Hilaire et l’Arboretum Morgan. Pour lire la suite, cliquez ici.


Plus de 500 paires de chaussettes pour les sans-abri

Un groupe d’étudiants en médecine de McGill a recueilli 518 paires de chaussettes qui seront remises à des organismes de bienfaisance de la métropole. « Les responsables des centres d’hébergement nous disent qu’ils n’ont jamais assez de chaussettes », affirme Saman Ahmad, l’étudiante qui a lancé l’initiative Santé et hygiène chez les sans-abri. Pour lire la suite, cliquez ici.

Choix de lectures pour les fêtes

Toujours à la recherche d’une idée de cadeau pour l’un de vos proches? Voici quelques suggestions de livres, choisies parmi de récentes parutions de professeurs de McGill. Pour lire la suite, cliquez ici.



McGill dans la ville : Novembre 2014



Plus de 500 paires de chaussettes pour les sans-abri

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 08:04

Photo : Fayeza Ahmad

Par Jason Clement

Un groupe d’étudiants en médecine de McGill a recueilli 518 paires de chaussettes qui seront remises à la Mission Bon Accueil et à la maison d’hébergement Our 2nd Home Shelter, dépassant ainsi l’objectif de 300 paires qu’il s’était fixé.

« Les responsables des centres d’hébergement nous disent qu’ils n’ont jamais assez de chaussettes », affirme Saman Ahmad, fondatrice de Santé et hygiène chez les sans-abri, le club étudiant qui a mis sur pied cette initiative et qui compte plus de 50 étudiants en médecine parmi ses membres. « Nous voulions poser un geste concret pour la santé des personnes itinérantes, une population au sein de laquelle les blessures, les infections et les maladies touchant les pieds semblent être les principaux motifs de consultation à l’urgence. »

L’initiative Santé et hygiène chez les sans-abri a vu le jour en septembre 2013. « J’ai commencé à me rendre au centre-ville tous les jours lors de mon année préparatoire de médecine, indique Saman, maintenant en deuxième année de médecine. En voyant tous ces sans-abri, je me suis dit que je devais faire quelque chose pour les aider. »

Saman, qui souhaite améliorer les conditions de vie des personnes itinérantes de Montréal tout en sensibilisant les étudiants en médecine aux difficultés qu’elles vivent, aimerait éventuellement organiser des cliniques animées par des étudiants sur des sujets aussi divers que les punaises de lit et les soins podiatriques. Elle travaille à cette fin avec la Mission Bon Accueil et la Maison du Père, et espère que les premiers ateliers auront lieu au début de 2015.

Pour suivre le groupe sur Facebook (page en anglais) : www.facebook.com/healthandhygieneforhomeless


La nature aux portes de Montréal

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 08:04

L’Arboretum Morgan / Photo: Paul Scheiwiller

L’Arboretum Morgan et le mont Saint-Hilaire : près de 1 250 hectares pour profiter de la nature

Pour apprécier l’hiver, rien de mieux que de profiter du grand air. La réserve naturelle Gault du mont Saint-Hilaire et l’Arboretum Morgan de l’Université McGill vous offrent des centaines d’hectares de nature – tout près de Montréal – à arpenter à pied, en ski de fond, en raquettes ou à descendre à la luge.

L’Arboretum Morgan est une réserve forestière de 245 hectares située sur le campus Macdonald de l’Université McGill, à Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Les sentiers qui sillonnent l’Arboretum sont ouverts au public tous les jours, sauf le 25 décembre et le 1er janvier. D’ailleurs, si vous ne vous êtes toujours pas procuré votre sapin de Noël, vous pouvez le faire ici (vous y trouverez aussi d’autres idées cadeaux). Consultez l’horaire.

En plus de grands espaces boisés où la plupart des essences indigènes du Québec sont représentées, le site regroupe 18 collections d’arbres et d’arbustes de partout dans le monde. L’Arboretum abrite également une trentaine d’espèces de mammifères, une vingtaine d’espèces de reptiles et d’amphibiens et plus de 170 espèces d’oiseaux nicheurs et migrateurs. Pendant le congé des fêtes, amenez vos petits en apprendre plus sur ces oiseaux lors d’ateliers de découverte qui se tiendront les 29 et 31 décembre, ainsi que le 2 janvier, de 10 h à midi (en français) et de 13 h à 15 h (en anglais).

Le mont Saint-Hilaire

Le mont Saint-Hilaire – légué à l’Université McGill en 1958 par le brigadier Andrew Hamilton Gault pour en faire une réserve naturelle – protège près de 1 000 hectares de milieux naturels au mont Saint-Hilaire. Elle est ouverte 365 jours par année et offre au public l’accès à un réseau de sentiers de 25 kilomètres.

Reconnu pour la diversité de ses minéraux, de sa faune et de sa flore – on y a notamment recensé 600 espèces de plante, plus de 372 espèces minérales, des arbres vieux de quelque 400 ans et au-delà de 800 espèces de papillon connues –, le mont Saint-Hilaire accueille de nombreux scientifiques. Plus de 400 articles scientifiques et près de 100 thèses de maîtrise et de doctorat y ont été consacrés.


Choix de lectures pour les fêtes

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 08:03

Toujours à la recherche d’une idée de cadeau pour l’un de vos proches? Voici quelques suggestions de livres, choisies parmi de récentes parutions de professeurs de McGill.

Album Gabrielle Roy, préparé par François Ricard, professeur au Département de langue et littérature françaises

Collection de photos et de documents iconographiques, dont de nombreux inédits, préparée par le biographe et grand spécialiste de Gabrielle Roy et qui rappelle les principales étapes de la carrière de l’auteure de Bonheur d’occasion.

Pourquoi Bologne, d’Alain Farah, professeur au Département de langue et littérature françaises

Finaliste aux derniers Prix littéraires du Gouverneur général, Pourquoi Bologne met notamment en scène un écrivain dédoublé entre deux époques – 1962 et 2012 – et qui ne se sent bien dans aucune, et un psychiatre qui se livre à des expériences de déprogrammation sur ses patients.

The Organized Mind, de Daniel Levitin, professeur au Département de psychologie (ouvrage en anglais)

Le neuroscientifique, connu pour ses recherches sur l’influence de la musique sur le cerveau, se penche ici sur les problèmes de concentration et de mémoire engendrés par la surabondance d’information.







The 2014 McGill Reporter by the numbers

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:35

With 2014 drawing to a close we’re entering the time of year when everyone is compiling their respective year-end lists. The McGill Reporter is no exception.

Because our journal is primarily online, we’re able to gather data on everything from how many people read an article, to how long they stayed, to where in the world they were when they clicked on one of our stories.

And yes, we know whether you’ve been naughty or nice.

2013 was a pretty good year for us in terms of readers, as we had more than 581,000 page views. With two weeks to go in 2014, we’re on pace to edge past that lofty number by a couple of thousand page views.

The Top 10 countries in terms of Reporter sessions (which may include reading several articles in one sitting), isn’t that surprising. Of the 424,000 Reporter sessions this year, the following countries led the way: Canada (with 311,446 sessions), the United States (60,675), the United Kingdom (6,659), France (4,221), India (3,450), Australia (2,453), Germany (2,190), China (2,109), Italy (1,176) and Japan (1,152).

True to McGill’s reputation as one of Canada’s most international schools, we attracted readers from 216 countries (compared with 213 last year), from Azerbaijan to Zambia and from Antigua & Barbuda to Zimbabwe. And while most of our readers came from larger, well-known countries, we also had people logging onto our site from tiny enclaves like St. Barthélemy (population 9,000), Sint Maarten (population 37,000) and the Åland Islands (28,000 people spread out among 6,700+ islands between Sweden and Finland). Needless to say, we’ve come a long way since 2012, our last year as a primarily print newspaper that had a print run of 7,500 papers per issue that was found mostly in newsstands around campus.

We’re particularly pleased at being on track to pass last year’s numbers without benefitting from the hugely popular stories that marked 2013. In particular, the massive flood in January 2013 drew a record-setting 100,000 page views that month, including a whopping 35,000 in one day. That was topped only by the article we ran in June on a revolutionary new 3D digital brain atlas that pulled in almost 45,000 page views all by itself.

In comparison, the biggest month for us in 2014, was June (67,000+ page views) and the top story, Spring Convocation in pictures, tallied a mere 13,000+ page views. Sometimes slow but steady really does win the race.

We’ve compiled a year-end Top 10 list of most-viewed Reporter stories that you can see below. The stories run the gamut from a pair of Convocation stories and the recollections of his time at McGill by Nobel Prize winner John O’Keefe; to the untimely death of Ellen Aitken, Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies and the Green Party’s Elizabeth May’s bold assertion that Canadians are living in a dictatorship. The eclectic nature of the list points to the incredible scope of interest and activity of the McGill community.

1. Our most viewed story was Spring 2014 Convocation in pictures – proof positive that everyone loves a good photo gallery. To date, the gallery has been viewed 13,489 times.

2. Odds that global warming is due to natural factors: slim to none. The polarizing subject of global warming drew 12,606 page views and was easily our most commented-upon article.

3. Ellen Aitken loses battle with cancer, later updated to Tony Blair adds tribute to Ellen Aitken. News that Aitken, Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies died following a short battle with a very aggressive form of cancer rocked the McGill community. The story was viewed 11,227 times and elicited an outpouring of touching tributes in the comments section.

4. Nobel winner has very fond memories of McGill. In an exclusive interview with the Reporter, John O’Keefe, the co-winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Medicine, remembered his time at McGill as being “incredibly exciting.” The interview excited enough people to garner 9,718 page views.

5. Storm forces evacuation of Arts Convocation (the headline was subsequently changed several times with each update). Mother Nature can be pretty tough on tents. The article drew some 9,657 page views.

6. Two more for the Rhodes from McGill. The interview with McGill’s two newest Rhodes Scholars was viewed 9,311 times.

7. “It’s arguable that we now live in a dictatorship, punctuated by manipulated elections,” says Elizabeth May. And with those controversial words in advance of her March lecture at McGill, Green Party leader Elizabeth May drew 7,978 page views.

8. Fourteen individuals to receive honorary degree from McGill. Photo galleries and Hon Docs – everybody loves them. 7,928 page views for this one.

9. McGill maintains Top-25 place in QS rankings. For the 11th year in a row, McGill was ranked in the top 25 universities worldwide by Quacquarelli Symonds. McGillians like rankings stories – especially when it is good news for McGill. The story was viewed some 6,426 times.

10. Rosalind Goodman loses battle with cancer. McGill mourned the passing of Rosalind Goodman, devoted alumna, generous philanthropist and tireless volunteer. The article was viewed 5,859 times.







A quickie year-end quiz

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:46

By McGill Reporter Staff

It was a very eventful year, both here at McGill and around the world. How closely were you paying attention to events?  Here’s a year-end quiz to test your knowledge of the University and global events in 2014. Answers can be found at the bottom of the page.

1. You will have heard the name Kevin Vickers this year. What does he do?

2. “You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together – and blow.” For two points, name the actress who died this year and the movie in which the line was spoken.

3. Another two-pointer: who hosted the Giller Prize gala this year? Who was supposed to host it?

4. This man won the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

5. Brian Gallant got a new job this year. What is it? A bonus point if you know where he went to university. A second bonus point if you know what is distinctive about him relative to his peers.

6. Who is the backup goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens?

7. Name four candidates for the leadership of the Parti Québécois. Yeah, the first three are easy….

8. What do Wade Davis, Wayne Riddell, Kristina Johnson and Robert Winsor have in common?

9. What movie won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2014?

10. Without decimal points, what was the margin of victory for the No side in the Scottish referendum on independence?

11. What work involving McGill prof Alan Evans made MIT’s Top 10 list of technological breakthroughs for 2014?

12. What’s a GROOC? Bonus point if you know a McGill prof involved with it.

13. What was the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year this year?

14. The creator of Adam Dalgliesh died recently. Name the author.

15. The Royal Victoria Hospital has been uppermost in many McGill minds of late. In 1958, doctors at the hospital performed the first of this kind of transplant. What was transplanted?

16. James Brady, Charles Keating and Bob Hoskins all did what this year?

17. A well-known Montreal public relations figure, who has worked for both McGill and the MUHC, failed in a bid to win a federal Liberal Party nomination recently. For two points, name the PR person and the riding.

18. Another two points: 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of which military conflict? In what city did the event that triggered the war take place?

19. Which McGill Redmen team won its fourth national title this year?

20. Who won American Idol in May 2014?

21. How many McGill grads are ministers in the provincial cabinet?

22. Who did the winner of the Vanier Cup defeat at Molson Stadium this year?

23. What job did Dimitrios Berk add to his workload at McGill this year?

24. Gary Bass won a big prize this year. Which one?

25. This Institute celebrated its 20th birthday in 2014 with an event called Canada Remix. For two points, name the Institute and its Director.

Bonus tiebreaker question: How were Peter McGill and James McGill related?


A Quickie Year-end Quiz Answers

1. He’s the Sergeant-at-Arms in the House of Commons; the man who shot and killed an armed intruder on Oct. 22.

2. Lauren Bacall; To Have and Have Not

3. Rick Mercer; Jian Ghomeshi

4. McGill alumnus John O’Keefe

5. The new Premier of New Brunswick is a McGill grad who happens to be Canada’s youngest premier.

6. Dustin Tokarski

7. Here’s the full list: Pierrre-Karl Péladeau, Bernard Drainville, Jean-François Lisée, Alexandre Cloutier, Martine Ouellet, Pierre Céré

8. They were all awarded honorary degrees by McGill in 2014,  Johnson and Davis in the spring, and Winsor and Corber in the fall.

9. Twelve Years a Slave

10. 55 per cent to 45 per cent

11. Brain mapping

12. A Group Open Online Course; Prof. Henry Mintzberg is developing one.

13. Vaping.

14. P.D. James

15. A kidney

16. They died

17. Jonathan Goldbloom lost his bid to be Liberal candidate in the riding of Mount Royal.

18. World War 1; Sarajevo

19. The Redmen baseball team

20. Caleb Johnson

21. Three: Finance Minister Carlos Leitao; Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister Kathleen Weil; Native Affairs Minister Geoff Kelley

22. The Université de Montréal defeated McMaster University.

23. Ombudsperson for Students

24. The Cundill Prize

25. Will Straw is the Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC).

Bonus tiebreaker question: They were not related


McGill-Centraide campaign surpasses goal by $19,500

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 16:33

Part of the McGill contingent to Centraide’s annual March of 1,000 Umbrellas walk through downtown Montreal on Oct. 2. / Photo: Owen Egan

By Meaghan Thurston-Dawes

McGill is celebrating a milestone in its support for the fight against poverty in Greater Montreal. The McGill Centraide campaign announced today that it has met its highest fundraising goal ever, and surpassed it by almost $20,000. At the time of publication, the grand total stands at $444,559, and pledges are still coming in.

“The generosity of the McGill University community to Centraide of Greater Montreal is inspiring,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier. “We are pleased to have exceeded our goal of $425,000 for this year’s campaign. We extend our thanks to all who have supported the Centraide campaign; your contributions will provide support to the most vulnerable Montrealers.”

Every year, from the beginning of October until the end of December, organizations and individuals across Montreal are asked to contribute toward Centraide of Greater Montreal’s campaign goal, set this year at $57 million. Centraide redistributes the funds raised to approximately 370 organizations and projects that assist low-income individuals in and around Montreal. McGill has participated in the campaign for over 10 years and is one of the top workplace fundraisers.

“We are humbled by the generosity of the McGill community — students, faculty, and staff as well as retirees, alumni, and members of the Board of Governors — who banded together to make a big difference for Montrealers living in poverty,” says campaign co-chair Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations). “The 2014 campaign marks the highest level of contributions and participation in recent memory.”

818 McGillians made one-time donations or committed to giving throughout the year via payroll deduction in 2014, an increase of more than 267 donors — a 49 per cent jump — from 2013. The campaign also observed 30 per cent increase in the number of “Leader” donors, those who contributed $1,000 or more to the campaign.

“The jump in the participation rate has been remarkable,” said Daniel Jutras, campaign co-chair and Dean of Law. “Though universities are once more facing tough economic times, McGill’s community has rallied to show that we are committed to giving back, and to giving a little more.”

The campaign co-chairs said the campaign was a “University-wide effort,” and its success is due in large part to the hard work and enthusiasm of the campaign committee members, who represented units across the University and took the lead in organizing events, including bake sales, book drives, loonie walks, as well as a 50/50 raffle. The winner of the McGill-Centraide 50/50 raffle was Jessica Lalonde from Student Accounts, who received $612.90 with an equal amount going to the campaign.

McGill’s students got involved in several different ways, including organizing a trivia night at Gert’s Pub and a Senate samosa sale.

“SSMU is proud to be part of the McGill campaign,” says Courtney Ayukawa, campaign co-chair and SSMU president. “I want to thank all the student donors and also express my sincere appreciation to the student volunteers who said “yes” with enthusiasm when I asked for their help co-ordinating fundraising activities.”

The campaign co-chairs stressed, however, that while the McGill campaign has exceeded its goal, the fight to end poverty in Montreal is far from over.

At the time of this article Centraide is still short of its 57 million goal. McGill community members can still give until Dec. 31.

Learn more about how to donate and view the campaign highlights on the McGill-Centraide website. The final campaign tally will be announced in January.



HPV vaccine does not appear to increase risky sexual behaviour in teen girls

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 15:38

By Cynthia Lee

Sexual behaviour of teenage girls does not appear to have been affected by routine human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination, according to a large study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

“These findings suggest that fears of increased risky sexual behaviour following HPV vaccination are unwarranted and should not be a barrier to vaccinating at a young age,” write Leah Smith, a former McGill PhD student in the of Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, and Prof. Linda Lévesque, of Queen’s University, Department of Public Health Sciences, with co-authors  Jay Kaufman, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health at McGill and Erin Strumpf, a professor in the Department of Economics at McGill.

Since 2006, the HPV vaccine, which protects against four types of the human papilloma virus that cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers and the majority of anal and genital warts, has been licensed in almost 100 countries, including Canada. Many of these countries have national HPV vaccination programs to protect young girls against the virus before they become sexually active. However, there are concerns that the vaccine may make girls engage in riskier sexual activity through a false sense of security that they won’t contract sexually transmitted infections.

This large study looked at a cohort of 260,493 girls, of whom about half (128,712) were eligible for Ontario’s Grade 8 HPV vaccination program during the first two years it was offered (2007/08 and 2008/09). The researchers followed the girls until Mar. 31 of Grade 12 or their death, if applicable. The study outcome was a combination of pregnancies and non–HPV-related sexually transmitted infections, which were used as proxies for sexual behaviour.

About six per cent of the girls became pregnant or contracted a sexually transmitted infection between Sept. 1 of Grade 10 and Mar. 31 of Grade 12, with 10 187 pregnancies and 6,259 cases of non–HPV-related sexually transmitted infections. Just over half (51 per cent) of the eligible girls received all three doses of the HPV vaccine in Grades 8 and 9. Girls born January to March were consistently more likely to become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted infection than those born later in the year, which indicates “the importance of controlling for birth timing in the analyses,” state the authors.

“Neither HPV vaccination nor program eligibility increased the risk of pregnancy and non–HPV-related sexually transmitted infections among females aged 14–17 years,” write the authors.

Data were obtained from population-based databases at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

This is the largest study on the association between HPV vaccination and proxies for sexual behaviour. The only other study on this topic, which was conducted in the United States, involved 1,398 girls and reported similar results.

“The results of this study can be used by physicians, public health providers and policy-makers to address public and parental concerns about HPV vaccination and promiscuity,” the authors conclude.

To read the study, go here.


McGill, Greek-Canadian community come together to strengthen Modern Greek Studies

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 13:19

Photo: John Kelsey

New gift of $1.2-million from community leaders will endow Chair in perpetuity while supporting vital research and scholarship

A $1.2-million gift to McGill from leaders of Canada’s Greek community will strengthen Modern Greek research and scholarship at McGill and endow the University’s Phrixos B. Papachristidis Chair in Modern Greek and Greek-Canadian Studies in perpetuity.

The gift, which includes contributions from over 70 donors in Montreal and across Canada, will allow McGill, already Canada’s most international university, to expand the scope of its Greek studies program, one of the few in the country that examines the Greek cultural diaspora through a contemporary lens.

“We are grateful to the Greek-Canadian community for the generosity exemplified in this extraordinary gift,” said Suzanne Fortier, McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “This endowed Chair will strengthen McGill’s already vibrant Modern Greek Studies program and further cement the University’s position at the forefront of this important area of study.”

The Papachristidis Chair, which is housed within McGill’s Department of History and Classical Studies, was first established in 1988 by the Papachristidis family in honour of the late Montreal shipping industrialist. McGill, committed to expanding its academic footprint in Greek Studies, has supported the Chair financially on an annual basis since its inception. The program has also received considerable funding from the Government of Canada, as well as a $400,000 donation from the Government of Greece, which was announced during a visit to McGill in 1998 by Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, the then-Greek Minister of Culture and current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The decision by members of Canada’s Greek community to step forward now, and in such a generous fashion, will ensure that McGill can recruit and retain global experts in the field in perpetuity. The new funding announced today will also enable McGill to enrich its Greek studies program more broadly by expanding opportunities for students to travel to Greece, by bringing renowned visiting scholars to McGill, and by creating deeper ties with Montreal’s Greek language institutions.

The current Chairholder is Anastassios (Tassos) Anastassiadis, an expert in the study of transnational networks of activists (religious and educational) and their role in institutional change and state formation, especially with regard to Greece within its Balkan and Mediterranean context in the modern era. Born in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, Professor Anastassiadis studied political science, linguistics and history in the United States, France and Greece before becoming an Assistant Professor of History at McGill in 2011.

“This endowment allows us to envision with serenity the development of the Modern Greek and Greek-Canadian Studies program at McGill as one of the most innovative in North America involved in fields such as the study of Greek immigration in Canada, research in Greek state formation within its Balkan, Mediterranean, European and global context, the joint organization of summer studies programs in Greece with Greek Universities, and the training of primary and secondary education teachers for the Greek diaspora,” said Professor Anastassiadis.

Playing a pivotal role in bringing this endeavor to fruition was a volunteer team led by Basil Papaevagelou, Andrew Christopoulos, Demetrius Manolakos, Nick Photiades, Dip Man’76, and George M. Tsoukas, BSc’64, MDCM’68, who spearheaded an ambitious fundraising campaign over the last two years.

“The Greek community rallied around this important cause, not just to do something special for McGill, but to pay tribute to a remarkable philanthropist who helped countless Greeks over the years,” said Papaevagelou, who serves on the board of directors for the Hellenic Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. “Being able to endow this Chair in perpetuity is a huge achievement, especially for a culture that measures its age in millennia.”



Parasites and the evolution of primate culture

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 15:41

Study examines ‘costs’ of innovation, learning from others

By Chris Chipello

Learning from others and innovation have undoubtedly helped advance civilization. But these behaviours can carry costs as well as benefits. And a new study by an international team of evolutionary biologists sheds light on how one particular cost – increased exposure to parasites – may affect cultural evolution in non-human primates.

The results, published Dec. 3, in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggest that species with members that learn from others suffer from a wider variety of socially transmitted parasites, while innovative, exploratory species suffer from a wider variety of parasites transmitted through the environment, such as in the soil or water.

“We tend to focus on innovation and learning from others as a good thing, but their costs have received relatively little attention,” says McGill biologist Simon Reader, co-author of the study. “Here, we uncover evidence that socially transmitted pathogen burdens rise with learning from others – perhaps because close interaction is needed for such learning – and environmentally transmitted pathogen burdens rise with exploratory behaviour such as innovation and extractive foraging.”

Chimpanzees, for example, live in groups and have a wide range of such behaviours, such as digging for food underground or eating new kinds of insects. Previously, studies have not been able to determine whether costly parasites force primates to engage in more exploratory behaviour – by diversifying food sources, for example – or whether exploratory behaviour leads to their having more parasites, Reader notes. “Our results support the idea that exploratory and social behaviours expose primates to specific kinds of parasites.”

“The findings also lead to questions about how people and other primates have developed solutions to minimize these parasite costs – such as eating medicinal plants – and may help us better understand how the processes underlying human culture arose,” Reader says.

The research team, led by Collin McCabe of Harvard University and Charles Nunn of Duke University, based their analyses on databases obtained by surveying thousands of articles on primate behaviour and parasites.

To read the study, go here.





McGill announces 2014 winner of Bloomberg Manulife Prize

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 15:06

Dr. David J.A. Jenkins, winner of the 2014 Bloomberg Manulife Prize.

$50,000 research award to promote active health goes to Dr. David J.A. Jenkins – inventor of the glycemic index and inspiration behind low-cholesterol diets

By McGill Reporter Staff

McGill, in association with Lawrence and Frances Bloomberg and Manulife, announced that David J.A. Jenkins, University Professor and Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Toronto, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Director of the Risk Factor Modification Centre and Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, is the winner of the 2014 Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health.

Dr. Jenkins, the first Canadian to win the prize, has dedicated his career to understanding the nutritional value of foods and to helping people make healthy eating choices that can lower cholesterol and blood glucose, prevent chronic disease and provide long-term health benefits. His groundbreaking research led to the development of the glycemic index, a revolutionary tool which identifies the glycemic effect of carbohydrate foods, leading to the creation of diets that can effectively treat chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

The $50,000 Bloomberg Manulife Prize was founded in May 2011 by McGill alumnus and Toronto-based investment manager Lawrence S. Bloomberg, C.M., O.Ont., MBA‘65 and corporate sponsor Manulife Financial. The annual award is given to a researcher whose work has broadened our understanding of how physical activity, nutrition or psychosocial factors influence personal health and wellbeing. Applications for the Prize are judged by a jury of distinguished academics from universities and research institutions across North America.

“The Bloomberg Manulife Prize was created to raise the profile of health research that is a catalyst for real and lasting change to our wellbeing and the way we live,” explains Mr. Bloomberg. “I am delighted that this year the Prize is recognizing a prominent Canadian researcher who has not only made pioneering discoveries that have changed how we view nutrition but who has made public advocacy and education a centerpiece of his work.”

“Dr. Jenkins is a leader in his field and has made significant contributions to the study of Nutritional Sciences,” says Marianne Harrison, Senior Executive Vice President & General Manager, Canadian Division at Manulife. “We at Manulife are proud to support this award that recognizes his forward-thinking work in the study of nutrition and the promotion of healthy living.”

Dr. Jenkins’ influence extends well beyond the laboratory; his research has informed global dietary guidelines, including those of the Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization, influencing the treatment of approximately 115 million individuals worldwide. As an advocate for healthy and sustainable eating, he has represented the medical community on Agriculture Canada’s Science Advisory Board and has partnered with grocers such as Loblaws, inspiring them to produce a line of foods that are beneficial to cardiovascular health.

Since its inauguration, the Prize has gained the endorsement of prominent health organizations including The Canadian Cancer Society, The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, ParticipACTION Canada, The Canadian Diabetes Association and YMCA Canada.

Dr. Jenkins will accept the prize at a special ceremony at the MaRS Centre in Toronto on Monday, Jan. 19, where he will also take part in a conversation about his research. This will be followed by a moderated discussion on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at McGill, to discuss how small changes in our diet can prevent chronic disease, lower cholesterol levels and provide long-term cardiovascular benefits.

Staging exams in winter is a test for anyone

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 09:41

By Doug Sweet

It’s 4 a.m. and Kathleen Massey, McGill’s Registrar and Executive Director of Enrolment Services, is already checking the Environment Canada weather website. She’s not a crazy person; it’s part of her demanding job in overseeing a team that makes sure 600 final exams are administered to thousands and thousands of McGill students.

Massey will be back on that website no less than 10 times a day until finals are finished. It’s one of the joys of managing exams in winter weather.

Massey and her team need to confer by 5 a.m. to determine if weather will compel them to postpone by an hour the start of the 9 a.m. morning exams. By 5:45, the Chief Invigilator, Stanley Whyte, will provide the recommendation to Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens, who will have to make the call.

In the seven years Massey has been at McGill, she can’t recall weather forcing an exam to be cancelled.

“We certainly have delayed the start of exams,” she said during a rare quiet moment this week. “We had to move exams because of an election once, and shifted them to Sunday.

“There are circumstances that occur, but we’re well prepared; the team, headed by Assistant Registrar Heidi Emami and including Stanley Whyte, Elvie Chiappetta, and Danuta Klis, has a good protocol in place for emergency situations, like a flood or a fainting student.

“There are always issues that arise during the exam period. This stellar team is very committed to ensuring that exams run well for students and instructors and do everything they can to minimize any disruptions.”

And the best place for students to get information on any delays or location changes is http://www.mcgill.ca/students/exams/.

McGill Registrar Kathleen Massey.

Massey, who earlier this year was presented in Quebec City with the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada (ARUCC), said the University continues to streamline the examination process and improve ways to help students cope with the inevitable stress.

As in real estate, it can be all about location, location, location. McGill’s exams used to be delivered in a wide variety of classrooms, but this year most exams are being administered in the vast spaces of the Currie Gym and the Tomlinson Fieldhouse at the Athletics Complex on Pine Ave. About 2,200 students write exams at any one session.

“Thanks to the tremendous collaboration with Athletics, it’s much more straightforward to manage a single location,” Massey said. “Its one of our ways of trying to reduce the stress on students, invigilators and instructors.”

Other changes include bringing technology to the exam site, so students who have lost or forgotten their ID card can log into Minerva to prove their identity before taking an exam, rather than having to go back to Service Point to get a new card.

McGill, like other universities, has become better at recognizing student stress and dealing with it, Massey said. “There are better mechanisms in place to support the students,” including guided meditation, yoga programs and therapy dogs available on a daily basis. “Everybody is more aware and attuned to dealing with it,” she said.

The changing nature of post-secondary education has added more mid-year stress than was the case a few decades ago. Most courses, Massey said, are now half-courses – they finish at the end of the term instead of continuing into the new year. This means finals instead of mid-terms before the holiday break for most courses. And when you’re sitting a final exam in early December, it seems like you just finished that mid-term in October.

It’s particularly tough on first-year students. But the switch to predominantly half-courses over the past two decades is not unique to McGill, Massey said. It’s now the norm.

Compared with Massey, Assistant Registrar (Records and Exams) Heidi Emami gets to sleep in – until about 4:45, having got to bed at about 11:30 the night before. Is she sleep-deprived by the end of the exam period?

“Absolutely. The whole exam team – they’re working so hard, everybody’s putting in a lot of long hours. Hopefully by around Friday (at the end of the first week) things will be more on auto pilot and after that not so many people have to put in the 12- and 14-hour days. You get back on track.

“I wouldn’t say that I dread it, but it is a very big operation, so we start planning four or four-and-a-half months ahead of time. It’s a machine. You adjust accordingly when things happen, like weather delays or other urgent situations.”

“We couldn’t do it without the collaboration of everyone, from professors to departmental coordinators, our Exam Deputies and many invigilators, Printing Services, Special Events, Athletics, Associate Deans, Security Services,” Emami said. “It’s a huge logistical challenge that takes place twice a year.”

And there are human moments that make the job interesting. Emami noted that students are told to leave valuables at home but are encouraged to bring snacks for sustenance during the three-hour sit.

Last April, Emami said, one student took that a little too far and showed up with tea, a teacup, a kettle, a pot and an extension cord. Uh, no.

Massey, who worked at York University and the University of Calgary before coming to McGill, said she was very honoured to have been chosen by her peers for the Outstanding Achievement Award, which recognizes “a member’s significant contributions to the registrarial profession, to the work of a regional or the national association, to their own institution, and/or to the improvement of service to students.”

Emami was not surprised to see her boss presented with the coveted certificate.

“Kathleen is one of the best leaders, registrars, bosses I’ve ever had. She’s truly an outstanding example. She’s been an incredible mentor to me. And it has been a great opportunity to work with her over the last seven years. She’s so supportive, always available.

“We’re very lucky to have her. She cares about her staff and she cares deeply about the students.”