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Leading medical device entrepreneur joins Dept. of Surgery

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 10:38
In his role as Professor of Practice at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, Arless mentors student entrepreneurs in the Clinical sector, delivers lectures and advises the surgical innovation program funded by a prestigious NSERC CREATE grant called “Innovation at the Cutting Edge.”

“Students tell me that they appreciate learning about real life situations rather than solely out of a textbook, says Steve Arless.

By Jason Clement

Prominent McGill alumnus Steve Arless, BSc’71 (Chemistry), returned to his alma mater this fall as Professor of Practice in the Faculty of Medicine as part of the Department of Surgery’s new, cutting-edge, Surgical Innovation Program.

Arless recalls his time as a student at McGill as being “a real treat,” with fond memories of attending football games and of playing touch-football with friends in the wide-open space of campus, which he found to be inspiring. After graduating from McGill, he worked for 17 years at Smith & Nephew Inc., serving as President for close to five years. His experience includes extensive involvement in technology transfer and strategic acquisition projects across the United States and Canada and numerous international marketing mandates in the areas of orthotics, prosthetics, orthopaedics, wound care, and more recently, cardiovascular diseases.

His innovative talent led him to CryoCath Technologies Inc., which he nurtured from a start-up to commercial success, serving as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from 1996 to 2006, ultimately selling this to Medtronic Inc. for $400 million.

Returning to education, Arless completed an MBA at Concordia University in 2008.  He maintained his interest in the diagnosis and minimally invasive therapies for rhythm disorders of the heart, assuming the position of CEO of CardioInsight, beginning in 2009. He currently serves as CEO of Soundbite Medical, a Montreal-based shockwave technology company, also in the field of cardiovascular diseases.

Providing mentorship to budding medical entrepreneurs 

Arless first became aware of the Surgical Innovation Program at McGill while serving as adjunct professor at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University and through his son Dustin, also a McGill alumnus (BSc’2006 (Biology)), who was part of the initial 2013 pilot that launched the new Masters program in Surgical Innovation, offered in partnership with the John Molson School of Business and l’École de technologie supérieure.

At the end of the pilot year of the Program he was invited to serve as a judge for student project presentations. “Of course I didn’t judge my son’s team,” notes Arless. Being able to learn about the Program, he says it was, “love at first sight.” After serving as a judge again for the second year, McGill approached him and asked whether he would be interested in taking on a more formal role within the Program.

In his role as Professor of Practice at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, Arless mentors student entrepreneurs in the Clinical sector, delivers lectures and advises the surgical innovation program funded by a prestigious NSERC CREATE grant called “Innovation at the Cutting Edge.” “The surgical innovation program brings together the private sector experience and my skill set along with the medical and clinical depth and experience of members of McGill’s Faculty of Medicine to create a fertile environment for innovation and medtech start up opportunities,” says Arless. “This program is a must for graduate students in the medical, engineering and business faculties across Montreal who are interested in the entrepreneurial world of start-ups, and who want to explore and learn how to bring them to reality.”

“We see this program as an opportunity to transform health care by bringing clinicians, engineers and business experts together to focus on a clinical challenge,” says Dr. Gerald Fried, Chair of the McGill Department of Surgery. “The opportunity to have someone of Mr. Arless’s talents as part of our team is invaluable, providing practical real-world experience and true entrepreneurial talent to our program. His success is also an example to inspire students in our program by showing that advancement of clinical care and commercialization can co-exist.”

Arless himself finds it gratifying to be able to share his experience with the students, who can’t seem to get enough of what he brings to the table. “What I really enjoy about being a part of this program is that the students are there to learn from me and from my experience,” he says. “When I prepare my lectures I am giving them real stories and examples and the students tell me that they appreciate learning about real life situations rather than solely out of a textbook.”

The program is changing how technology interfaces with clinical specialties and acts as a nucleus towards building a community of medical device innovators around the hospital environment.  “We envisage expansion into other clinical areas and already our program includes Radiology and Gynaecology and anticipate more to follow,” notes Dr. Jake Barralet, Vice-Chair Surgery (Research) at McGill’s Department of Surgery.   “Our ultimate goal is student-initiated enterprises selling products to improve the quality of life of patients, the quality of surgical education and the quality of clinical care.  We have come a long way in a short time and I look forward to working with Mr. Arless in progressing further.”

From his perspective, Arless is looking forward to mentoring the students not only on the theoretical aspects of medical start-ups, but also on taking them to the next level and getting some of the best ideas from the program up and running, including learning how to find financing. “I think the opportunity to truly measure the success of this program will be based on how many projects we can help the students actually get off the ground.”



Update on undergraduate medical education accreditation

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 14:05
McGill's Life Sciences Complex

McGill’s Life Sciences Complex

The following is a message from Dr. David Eidelman, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine to update people on the undergraduate medical education accreditation.

Dear students and colleagues,

I remain pleased with the implementation of our Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) accreditation plan. Our program is much stronger today, thanks to the many groups and individuals involved at all levels, including our students.

In February 2017, CACMS and LCME* will visit the Faculty to conduct a “limited site survey.” Their job will be to assess our status to date compared to their last visit in 2015. Our ultimate goal is to exceed accreditation standards over time and to continue to excel, which I have no doubt we will do. Our new MDCM curriculum is also resolving certain deficiencies identified by the accreditors, which is excellent news.

In summary, most actions we introduced over the last 18 months are now completed, while ongoing initiatives are working very well. Certain improvements will take longer before the outcomes can be measured and demonstrated, which is normal. It is a question of time.

Key areas of focus in the coming months include:

  • Launch of the Faculty’s next strategic planning exercise, referred to as Project Renaissance, and closure of the current Think Dangerously plan, which will occur in spring 2017, when the first cohort of the new MDCM curriculum graduates.
  • Implementation of Entrada™, our newly acquired curriculum management software, which will enable us to more effectively map objectives to course content, monitor comparability between sites, track student assessments, and continuously measure and improve MDCM curriculum performance.
  • Fair and timely summative assessments, to address ongoing, unacceptable delays in the submission of grades to students in certain areas.
  • Monitoring of time students spend in education and clinical activities, to ensure the UGME workload policy for students is respected at all times.
  • Launch of the Learning Environment Advisory Panel (LEAP), to ensure comprehensive oversight of the learning environment.
  • Ongoing improvements in our communication with students.

Details of our UGME accreditation initiatives are posted online for consultation at any time.


Dr. David Eidelman, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in our simulated accreditation exercise in October, which enabled us to validate our progress, identify gaps and hone in on those areas where more work is needed. Your participation was invaluable, as was the input of our “mock” accreditors, Drs. Joyce Pickering and Jay Rosenfield, for which we are very grateful. A similar exercise will be conducted in January 2017.

From early in the process, we saw our accreditation status as an opportunity to reinforce our governance and operations and, most importantly, to improve the overall educational experience for students. The major changes we have made and the lessons learned are being incorporated into our normal operations, based on a continuous quality improvement philosophy and approach. We are confident the investment in time and effort will more than prove its worth, benefiting students, as well as faculty members and staff, into the future.

Thank you, in advance, to everyone involved, directly or on the periphery, including our exceptionally engaged students, for ensuring we remain on track.

David Eidelman, MDCM

Vice-Principal (Health Affairs)
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine

*CACMS/LCME refers to the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and the U.S. Liaison Committee on Medical Education.





Mélodie Daoust named province’s top female athlete

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 13:57
McGill recipients of 2016 Quebec Foundation Awards. / Photo: Normand Huberdeau/Groupe NH Photographes

McGill recipients of 2016 Quebec Foundation Awards. / Photo: Normand Huberdeau/Groupe NH Photographes

15 McGill athletes receive bursaries at Quebec foundation awards gala

By Earl Zukerman

Mélodie Daoust of the McGill women’s hockey was named female athlete of the year in the team sports category and was one of 15 McGill students to receive an athletic financial award before more than 650 guests at the 31st annual Quebec Foundation for Athletic Excellence gala held at the Hotel Sheraton Laval, Wednesday.

Mélodie Daoust

Mélodie Daoust

The Foundation issued 76 bursaries for a total of $262,750. Laval and Montreal led all universities with 18 recipients each, followed by McGill (15), Concordia (9), Sherbrooke (6), Bishop’s (5), UQTR (3) and UQAM (2).

Daoust, a native of Valleyfield, Que., who was voted league MVP in RSEQ women’s hockey last year and helped Canada win gold at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, pocketed $2,000.

McGill students took five of the 11 academic excellence bursaries, which were handed out to cross-country runners Melanie Myrand ($1,750) and Francois Jarry ($1,750), both natives of Lachine, Que., track & field sprinter Steven Murray ($1,750) of Burlington, Ont., basketball player Alex Kiss-Rusk ($1,500) of Beaconsfield, Que., and rugby’s Sebastien Boyer ($1,500) from the Town of Mt. Royal, Que.

Other McGill bursary recipient winners included football’s Qadr Spooner ($1,500) of Brossard, Que., and alpine skier Hannah Kapur ($1,500) of North Vancouver, B.C., in the categories of athletic excellence and leadership, respectively.

McGill also had seven recipients In the recruitment category, which are handed out to top student-athletes graduating from Quebec CEGEPs who chose to compete in a Quebec university sport. The group included soccer’s Mehdi Ibn-Brahim ($8,000) of Montreal, football’s Frederic Paquette-Perrault ($8,000) of Montreal and Jean-Philippe Hudon ($3,000) of Levis, Que., hockey’s Jade Downie-Landry ($4,000) of St. Jean, Que., and Louis-Philip Guindon ($3,000) of St. Joseph du Lac, Que., plus volleyball’s Claire Vercheval ($4,000) of Ste. Julie, Que. The final bursary went to hockey’s Lauren Bowman ($3,000) of Calgary, who merited her award for choosing to study in Quebec from out of the province.

“We are extremely proud of what our bursary recipients continue to accomplish. They stand out not only by their superior athletic abilities, but also by their discipline, their resolve and their commitment to academics and athletics,” said Claude Chagnon, president of the QFAE. “These are values we share at the Foundation, and this is why we’ll continue to work to unite the business, sports and educational communities in order to promote the development of tomorrow’s leaders.”


Remembering a beloved Dean

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 11:48
Ellen Aitken had been a member of the Faculty since 2004, teaching Early Christian History and Literature. Before coming to McGill, she was at Harvard University, where she served on the faculty of the Divinity School. / Photo: Owen Egan

Before coming to McGill, Ellen Aitken was at Harvard University, where she served on the faculty of the Divinity School. / Photo: Owen Egan

By Kate Sheridan

Professor Ian Henderson was in Winnipeg a few years ago when he got a phone call from the then-Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies, Ellen Bradshaw Aitken. At the time, Henderson was teaching a graduate seminar on the religious and cultural diversity of ancient Rome. Aitken’s request: could he help put together an application for funding to take their students to Rome to see evidence of that diversity first-hand? The only catch: the application was due the next day.

According to Henderson, it was an incredible chance to give their students a chance to be fully immersed in what they were studying, and a perfect example of what made Dean Aitken unique. “She had this knack for seizing opportunities,” Henderson says. “She would see something that might look insurmountable, like applying for something by tomorrow, and we would do it.” Not only did he and Aitken complete the application in time, but they received the funding – one of many examples of Aitken’s leadership and relentless dedication to graduate education.

Aitken passed away suddenly from cancer at the age of 53 in June 2014, showing what friends described as dignity and grace in the face of a difficult illness. But thanks to the spirited efforts of a group of volunteers, alumni and former colleagues, who have thus far raised $300,000 in contributions, her legacy will live on in perpetuity through the recently inaugurated Ellen Bradshaw Aitken Graduate Fellowships.

“If you could give Ellen a parting gift, this would be the gift you give her,” says Dan Cere, Interim Director of the School of Religious Studies, which is now part of McGill’s Faculty of Arts.

The Fellowship’s first recipient is expected to be selected for the next academic year and will be chosen from among graduate students in the School in any area of study – an apt way to recognize Aitken’s dedication to graduate education and her ability to reach across religious and academic lines in her work and her life.

Despite her administrative responsibilities, Aitken maintained one of the largest graduate supervision loads in the Faculty. As Henderson notes, she was also uniquely able to combine academic rigour with a deep personal faith in her work.

“Ellen was very committed to her own faith, so she was not someone speaking from a disengaged position. That was very important for her.”

For the many former students, colleagues and volunteers whose lives were touched by Aitken, the Fellowship affords a means to make sure that her passion and commitment to the field lives on in future generations of scholars.

“While she was unique, there are other individuals that I hope we can attract to our School of Religious Studies,” says Jonathan Birks, BA’67, chair of the School’s volunteer Advisory Board, which was instrumental in driving the fundraising efforts.

To Birks, the most fitting tribute to Aitken would be the ability to support a graduate student who grows into a leadership role within the McGill community. “Maybe, in someone who receives this fellowship, we’ll find the next Ellen Aitken,” he says.

Though the campaign has met its initial fundraising goal, donors can still contribute. Additional funds would allow the School to potentially expand the Fellowship program in the future.

If you’d like to make a gift in support of the Ellen Bradshaw Aitken Graduate Fellowships, you can do so with the online giving form.


Exams continue as scheduled despite snowstorm

Mon, 12/12/2016 - 06:22

Final examinations for the fall term will continue as scheduled on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, despite this morning’s wintry weather.

Students writing exams today are encouraged to leave extra travel time this morning, especially if driving any significant distance. Public transit, especially buses, will be affected by the snowstorm, which is expected to bring 15 centimetres of snow to the Montreal region by later in the day.

Good luck on your exams!


“I have a healthy backlog of books, in

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 14:49

“I have a healthy backlog of books, in both French and English, I would like to dive into,” writes Principal Suzanne Fortier. “During the holidays, I plan to start with L’archipel d’ une autre vie, by Andreï Makine, an author I greatly admire. I also want to read Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last. We had the great pleasure of having Margaret as our Beatty Lecturer this year and I am eager to read her again. Finally, I am planning to read The Invention of Science, by David Wootton, one of our 2016 Cundill Prize finalists.


Victor Chisholm, Undergraduate Research Officer in the Faculty of Science, says that he’s been ”pecking away at a book for a while” but the our annual reading list “made me think what i really WANT to read instead.”

Chisholm’s picks include Ru, by Kim Thuy. “I’ve heard many good things about this book, her debut novel which won the Governor General’s Award for French language fiction at the 2010 Governor General’s Awards,” says Chisholm. “A novel about Vietnamese refugees coming to Canada seems very à propos now, since Canada’s welcoming of the Vietnamese some years ago has inspired many of us to try to do the same for Syrian refugees today… I haven’t decided whether to read it in the original French, or the English translation by Sheila Fischman who has done so much to bring French-language literature to the Anglo-sphere.”


Mathieu Hemery, a post doc Fellow in Physics/Biology has his sights set on four books including Satellite Sisters, by Maurice Dantec; The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell; Jean de Florette, by Marcel Pagnol; and the iconic To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee.


“I had planned to read Q by Luther Blissett (aka Wu Ming) – the first book one reads by an author is always extra exciting – but a friend of mine, finding out that I hadn’t read anything by Nick Harkaway, thrust Angelmaker into my hands with a stern look,” writes Torsten Bernhardt, course administrator and pedagogical developer in the Department of Biology. “If I make it through those I’ll dive into The Sting of the Wild, by Justin Schmidt, about one man’s personal exploration into stinging insects. Now I have three books, all by authors I’ve never read. Extra exciting!”


“I am very interested in history and identity – and how, in different times, places, and cultures, people adapt and respond to life’s circumstances – often resulting from difficult political situations or one’s status as an individual (or group member) outside the dominant culture,” says  Kendra Gray, projects officer in the Office of Student Academic Services. “I don’t find the subject matter to be depressing; rather I am amazed by our capacity to adapt and work within constraining circumstances.”

To that end, Gray will be finishing Hitler:  Ascent, 1889-1939, by Voker Ullrich and Memory Mambo, by Achy Obejas. Gray also will tackle some new titles, including Nightwood, by Djuna Barnes; Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov; and Leaving Berlin, by Joseph Kanon.


Emily Heer, an M.Sc. Public Health Candidate in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, recommends a trio of books for people looking for inspiration – sounding every bit like a a seasoned literary critic.

Of The Sellout, by Paul Beatty, Heer writes; “Paul Beatty is the master of satire and this particular one will make you cringe and almost hate yourself for enjoying the book so much, and I think that’s the point. It’s thoroughly entertaining and gives a perspective on race in America that is otherwise hard to find.”

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. “If you’re a fast reader and enjoy 900-pages of dreamy images, this is the book for you,” writes Heer. “It’s set in India, and Roberts’ vivid descriptions of the heat and humidity will almost make you forget the snow outside. It’s enthralling, fantastic, and will send you through a whirlwind of facial expressions in a single sitting.”

Finally, Heer recommends East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. “Everyone should read this book at least once in their life,” she says, “and now is as good a time as any.”


Speaking of suggestions, Isabelle Carreau, senior planning analyst in the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), “warmly recommends” Du domaine des Murmures, by Carole Martinez.


You’d think training seven days a week and maintaining a 4.0 GPA would leave little time for extracurricular reading, but François Jarry, McGill’s Top Eight Academic All-Canadian is looking forward to “reading a bit of science-fiction, probably some stories by H. G. Wells.”

Not surprisingly, for a person who, in a recent Reporter profile, said he tries to be as efficient as possible with his downtime, Jarry also plans on reading Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Workout Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise, by by McGill alumni and school 1500m record holder, Alex Hutchinson “I want to find out what I should do to improve my running and what’s useless according to science,” says Jarry.


“I’m into historical fiction or fantasy combined with mysteries at the moment,” writes Dr. Colleen Cook, McGill’s Trenholme Dean of Libraries.

Over the holidays, Cook will read Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway, which she calls “a combination of fantasy and British crime with a labyrinthine plot.”

Also on Cook’s list are 2000 Whitbread Book Award-winner, English Passengers, by Matthem Kneale; C. J. Sansom’s Dissolution; and Jamaica Inn, a murder mystery written in 1936 by Daphne du Maurier and made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock three years later.


Earl Zukerman, the Athletics and Recreation communications officer known for issuing press releases at all hours of the day and night, says that the holidays are usually the time he tries to catch up on his sleep. But, says Zukerman, “as someone who has a fascination with the origins of hockey, I am planning on reading Architecture On Ice – A History of the Hockey Arena, a new book by Howard Shubert, just published by the McGill-Queen’s University Press.”

Zukerman notes that the book includes pictures of six of the seven rinks that the McGill hockey team has called their home since being founded in 1877, including the Lower Campus Rink, Victoria Skating Rink, Crystal Rink, Westmount Arena, Mt. Royal Arena, Montreal Forum and McConnell Arena.


Like Earl Zukerman, Elyse Cragg, Assistant Manager on the Web Communications team, is hoping to use the holidays to rest up and recharge her batteries. That being said, she says “I may keep reading the fairly low-brow Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris, which is a mystery in the vein of books like Gone Girl. I may also pick back up Redefining Realness if I have the chance. It’s the autobiography of Janet Mock, a leader in the trans community whose honesty has brought a lot of visibility to the often life-threatening challenges facing this marginalised group.”


“My ‘to read’ list is always growing! I read widely, but for holiday reading, I particularly love intricate mysteries and smart, engrossing, character-driven novels,” writes Jan Bottomer,Music and Arts Career Advisor in the McGill Career Planning Service. “For the former, Wilkie Collins’ classic Victorian detective novel The Moonstone seems like a perfect winter read. I’ve also recently discovered Irish author Tana French and her excellent Dublin Murder Squad Series so next up is #2, The Likeness. For the latter, Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and Zadie Smith’s Swing Time are all on my wish list. Last but not least, over the holidays I love to re-read fellow bibliophile Helene Hanff’s totally delightful 84 Charing Cross Road which chronicles her warm and hilarious decades-long correspondence with Marks & Co. Booksellers in London.


Nicolas Chatel-Launay, M.Sc. Candidate and McGill-Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute NEO Fellow, has divided his holiday book suggestions into two categories.

For those who have “way too much reading time” Chatel-Launay recommends a pair of  ”brick-like volumes.”

First, he suggests The American Commonwealth, by James Bryce. “If people are still shocked by Trump’s election, they may find interesting to read this classic of political science that describes the United States as they were in 1888. So much of what has happened can be explained by the fundamental structure of the American democracy,” writes Chatel-Launay The Viscount Bryce also managed to predict a lot of what has happened since his time. The Chapter titled “Why Great Men Are Not Chosen Presidents” sheds a new (or rather old) light on both Obama and Trump.


People still looking for inspiration on what to read over the holidays or what to give as gifts should take a look at the recommended book gift list of McGill-Queen’s University Press titles. Support you University press!







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Thomas Robinson wins Bloomberg Manulife Prize

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 11:36
Dr. Thomas Robinson has been named winner of the 2016 Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health.

Dr. Thomas Robinson as the 2016 winner of the Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health.

Source: McGill Newsroom

Dr. Thomas Robinson, a Stanford University professor of Pediatric Medicine and pioneer in using novel motivational techniques to combat childhood obesity, has been named the winner of the 2016 Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health.

The Bloomberg Manulife Prize, which includes a CAD $50,000 research award, was established in 2011 by McGill alumnus and Toronto-based investment manager Lawrence S. Bloomberg, C.M., O. Ont. MBA’65, and corporate sponsor Manulife to recognize researchers whose work is enhancing our understanding of how physical activity, nutrition or psychosocial factors influence personal health and wellbeing. The prize is housed at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management and administered by the McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics.

Dr. Robinson is being recognized for developing a unique research program that goes beyond looking at the root causes of obesity and other health-related conditions by developing creative and sometimes unconventional interventions – from dance classes to educational courses – and measuring their impact on diet, weight loss and other barometers of health. The ultimate goal is to persuade children, adolescents and their families to adopt healthier lifestyles, often without them even knowing.

Among his more notable projects is one in which he introduced after-school dance classes to at-risk communities where children have been historically inactive. Within weeks, involvement in the classes showed positive effects on participants’ cholesterol and insulin levels, and showed signs of slowing obesity. In another project, focused on diet, university students who had taken classes that explored the environmental impact of certain unhealthy foods showed decreases in consumption of red meat and sugary snacks.

“In your career, you only have a limited time in which to create change and to move research forward so that it has an impact on health,” says Dr. Robinson. “Prizes such as this one give investigators like me the support we need to push the boundaries of our research. The increased attention that comes with this award makes it easier to share the implications of my research with opinion leaders and others beyond the realms of science and public health.”

Dr. Robinson, MD, MPH, is the Irving Schulman, M.D. Endowed Professor in Child Health and Professor of Medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. He is also Director of Stanford’s Center for Healthy Weight. In addition to his research and clinical practice, Dr. Robinson is a frequent appointee to expert and advisory panels for leading scientific and public health agencies, including the Scientific and Technical Advisory Network of the World Obesity Federation and the Clinical Obesity Research Panel of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

“With the awarding of this year’s Prize to Dr. Tom Robinson, McGill University continues to recognize researchers whose work is building awareness of the important links that exist between physical activity, healthy living and disease prevention,” says Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, Dean of the Desautels Faculty of Management. “Through his pioneering research program, Dr. Robinson is not only discovering novel ways to help stem the tide of life-threatening obesity among children and adults but is also ensuring that these discoveries are put into practice.”

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. In Canada, the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased at an alarming rate: more than doubling in children and quadrupling in adolescents over the past 30 years. Obesity in childhood is associated with a wide range of serious health complications, including the premature onset of such life-threatening illnesses as diabetes and heart disease.

“The healthy choices we make today have a positive outcome on our long-term health and wellness. Learning how and why we should make those healthy choices is crucial at a young age for developing lifelong habits,” says Marianne Harrison, President & CEO, Manulife Canada. “Manulife promotes the health and well-being of Canadians through corporate sponsorships and by providing products that encourage and reward healthy living, like Manulife Vitality.”

Since its inauguration, the Bloomberg Manulife 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, YMCA Canada and the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation.

Dr. Robinson will accept the Bloomberg Manulife Prize at a special ceremony in Toronto on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, where he will also speak about his research. This will be followed by a visit to McGill in Montreal on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Dance and medicine come together in support of unique therapy

Tue, 12/06/2016 - 23:01

Dance-2By Jason Clement

Growing up in France, Eloise Passarella began dancing at the age of six. She eventually worked her way up to take classes at the Conservatoire de Paris. Following a brief break – and a move to Montreal – Passarella enrolled in the danse-études pre-professional program in high school at the Collège de Montréal, attending classes in the morning and then dancing for three hours each afternoon at Ballet Divertimento.

First-year medical student Eloise Passarella.

First-year medical student Eloise Passarella.

During the same period, Passarella became fascinated by dissections in high school and then while in the health sciences program at Dawson College. As someone always searching for ways to answer questions she had, she was intrigued by the manner in which pathology helps to get to the truth in diagnoses, and decided she wanted to pursue a career in forensic medicine.

Combining two passions

Now a first-year medical student at McGill, Passarella has continued to dance four times per week and had been trying to come up with an idea that would combine her two passions.

“For a while I had this idea to combine my two greatest passions, dance and medicine,” says Passarella, “both in terms of the beneficiaries of an initiative and in the process of creating it.” The initiative to which she refers is the production of a calendar featuring Eloise and a collection of her fellow McGill medical students who also had previous dance training.

“The pictures were taken in various medical settings or in our learning environments so as to represent the health care system and we tried our best to include as many different dance styles as possible,” explains Passarella. Fellow first-year medical student Karmin Yu served as the photographer and, “has done a fabulous job with the photography and design of the calendar.”

Donating to dance therapy

Passarella, whose objective is to sell 250 copies of the calendar, decided early on that all profits would be donated to the National Centre for Dance Therapy of les Grands Ballets Canadiens. She had previously volunteered in a study aiming to determine if dance had an effect on the motor and non-motor skills of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and found it, “very rewarding and touching to see these patients progress due to this art form that I love so very much.”

Dance-3Dance therapy has ties to medicine in other ways as well. For example, it was a theme of one of the workshops at the Simnovate Summit hosted by McGill’s Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning in May 2016. Dr. Rajesh Aggarwal, Director of the Simulation Centre also sits on the board of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.

“Dancing helps me deal with and express emotions and live for the moment,” says Passarella. “I highly recommend the National Centre for Dance Therapy as I believe it can help others as well.”

Calendars are available for $15 each ($12 for students). Those interested in purchasing copies can do so by contacting Passarella at and arranging for payment by e-transfer, cash or cheque. She will be delivering the calendars to various locations across the McGill campus, at the McGill University Health Centre’s Glen site and at the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning.


Fall semester final exams

Tue, 12/06/2016 - 22:30

Exams-in-FieldhouseThe Fall semester final exams start on Wednesday, Dec, 7, and end on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Most exams will be held in the McGill Sports Complex (e.g. Currie Gym and Fieldhouse) with a small number in various classrooms on campus. As weather and transit delays are always a possibility in December, please stay informed of any potential scheduling delays by checking:

The final schedule with room locations can be found on the Exams website, along with other helpful information.

For exams administered by the Faculties of Law, Medicine, Dentistry, School of Continuing Studies and those held at Macdonald Campus, please refer to their respective websites.

A few important reminders before you arrive at your exam:

  • Please leave your valuables at home – you will not be allowed to keep personal items at your exam seat along with any materials not necessary for the exam – the University is not responsible for lost or stolen property.
  • Don’t forget your valid McGill ID cardyou must present it when you arrive at your exam.
  • Cell phones, smart watches or other electronic devices cannot be accessed or consulted during exams (including when escorted to the washroom) and must be placed under your desk with your belongings for the duration of the exam.
  • All final examinations are governed by the University examination regulations.
  • Conduct during examinations is also governed by the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures in the Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities.

If you are looking for ways to de-stress during exams, the McGill Counselling Service is holding daily sessions of Yoga, Therapy Dogs and Guided Relaxation. No registration necessary.

Safe zone for completing online transactions

Tue, 12/06/2016 - 21:57

Online-exchange-zoneSecurity Services has launched a new Online Exchange Zone (OEZ) at McGill in an effort to make online transactions safer for buyers and sellers. In a move to improve safety for people who buy and sell goods online, the OEZ offers a place where people can complete transactions in the relative safety of Burnside Lobby.

The buy and sell zone is a crime prevention initiative aimed at reducing all types of crime, including fraud or even violent crime.

The exchange zone is under camera surveillance (but not necessarily monitored) in the lobby and the building is opened between 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Even if you don’t use the Exchange Zone, Security Services recommends that you think about the following if you do buy or sell something online: avoid conducting transactions alone; make a friend or family member aware of the details; meet in public areas if possible, complete the transaction during daylight hours, be extra cautious buying/selling valuable items, consider using email to transfer funds; and if someone is not willing to come to the Online Exchange Zone it could be a scam; finally -always trust your instincts.


Study to explore e-cigarettes as smoking cessation tool

Tue, 12/06/2016 - 21:38

e-cigarette.webParticipants sought for clinical study

Despite the well-established risks of smoking, it continues to contribute to the death of more than 37,000 Canadians annually. Moreover, only 10 to 20 per cent of smokers will succeed in quitting using current cessation therapies, including nicotine patches, gum and counselling. The search for novel techniques prompted a new multi-centre clinical study of the effectiveness and safety of electronic cigarettes, which is being led by Dr. Mark Eisenberg at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH).

“The single most reversible cause of mortality in Canada is smoking,” emphasizes Dr. Eisenberg, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Lady Davis Institute at the JGH. “The goal of our study is to determine whether e-cigarettes can be used as a transitional tool from smoking conventional cigarettes to quitting completely.”

““The goal of our study is to determine whether e-cigarettes can be used as a transitional tool from smoking conventional cigarettes to quitting completely,” says Dr. Mark Eisenberg.

““The goal of our study is to determine whether e-cigarettes can be used as a transitional tool from smoking conventional cigarettes to quitting completely,” says Dr. Mark Eisenberg.

Participants over the age of 18 who have smoked at least ten cigarettes a day for more than a year and who are motivated to quit are being recruited. Investigators hope to involve 486 people. They will be randomized into one of three groups: nicotine e-cigarettes with individual counselling; non-nicotine e-cigarettes with individual counselling; or individual counselling alone. The treatment period will be twelve weeks, with follow-up for a year to evaluate whether the participants maintain abstinence, and their experience of withdrawal symptoms and side effects.

“Ultimately, multiple trials in multiple populations will be necessary to establish the efficacy of e-cigarettes,” said Dr. Eisenberg, “but ours is a significant first step.”

At the moment, neither Health Canada, nor the US Food and Drug Administration have guidelines concerning e-cigarettes. This trial will provide regulators, health care professionals, and smokers with important information about the efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.

For further information about the clinical trial, contact Shauna McGee, E3 Trial Coordinator, 514-340-8222, ext. 3240 or

Library offers delightful holiday diversions

Tue, 12/06/2016 - 16:16

books-dvd.webFrom novels to albums, DVDs to streaming audiobooks, board games to eBooks, the McGill Library is your go-to destination for holiday entertainment, enlightenment and enjoyment. Students, faculty, and staff members have access to millions of items found in our catalogue and online resources like Kanopy and OverDrive. Alumni can borrow print books, journals, audio materials and scores using their free Library Borrowing Card and with their McGill email address can access e-resources for alumni. Don’t know where to start? Library staff members have shared their picks for the holiday season. Questions? Want more recommendations? Ask us!

TV series

  • Slings and Arrows (3 Seasons) is a Canadian TV series that won 13 Gemini awards. Set at the fictional New Burbage Festival, a Shakespearean festival similar to the real-world Stratford Festival, this comedic series depicts each season as a modern day rendition of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, MacBeth and King Lear. The all-star cast is insanely funny and the theatrics are a laugh a minute thereby creating an unpredictable comedic soap opera. (EL)
  • The French TV series of George Simenon’s detective Maigret, formidably interpreted by Bruno Cremer. We have the complete series (54 episodes) with English subtitles. Sit back and enjoy Paris and the performances.  (LW)


  • Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands for performances by Johnny Depp and Dianne Weist, and for Danny Elfman’s music.  For the irony of casting Vincent Price creating his robot boy, Edward “Scissorhands”, as a substitute for the son he never had.  When Price has a heart attack before he can put the last touch to his creation – Edward’s hands, Depp looks at him, astonished and sad, and says “I’m not finished”….  Aren’t we all?  (LW)
  • I plan to view some of the performances and music documentaries available via Kanopy, one of McGill Library’s streaming video services. A couple on my wish list so far: A Not So Silent Night, the McGarrigle Sisters’ 2009 live Christmas performance at the Knitting Factory stage; and Brasslands: Uniting Cultures Through Music, a documentary that explores Balkan brass music through the stories of individual musicians. (CM)
  • Catalogue summary: “Brooklyn is the emotional tale of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant building a new life in 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland for the shores of New York City and is soon swept up by the intoxicating charms of new love. But when her new life is disrupted by her past, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.” Brooklyn was filmed here in Montreal – can you find the McGill “bits”? (JA)
  • Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 classic The Kid is a heartwarming tale about The Tramp, played by Chaplin, and an orphaned child – The Kid. Enjoy this timeless, silent comedy-drama “with a smile and perhaps a tear”. View it online through the Kanopy streaming service. (MR)


  • From our former Principal, now Governor General, The idea of Canada : letters to a nation by David Johnston is a collection of inspiring, thought-provoking and sometimes laugh-out-loud entertaining letters from an inveterate letter-writer.  Easy to pick up and put down for those of us short on time.  Available in our collection in print and eBook. (LR)
  • Publisher’s note: “Must the sins of America’s past poison its hope for the future? Lately the American Left, withdrawing into the ivied halls of academe to rue the nation’s shame, has answered yes in both word and deed. In Achieving Our Country, one of America’s foremost philosophers [Richard Rorty] challenges this lost generation of the Left to understand the role it might play in the great tradition of democratic intellectual labor that started with writers like Walt Whitman and John Dewey.” (CC)
  • L’art presque perdu de ne rien faire by Québécois author and Immortel of the Académie française, Dany Laferrière. “Je ne sais pas trop comment qualifier ce livre. J’hésite entre un roman des idées et un essai lyrique. En tout cas, j’essaie de brasser ensemble mes réflexions, mes émotions, mes sensations comme mes rires et mes délires, car je n’ai pas l’impression qu’on arrête de vivre parce qu’on est en train de penser.”- Dany Laferrière. (MDM)
  • HamiltonNow that I saw the musical Hamilton in New York, I’m reading about the musical and about the life of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton : the revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCater is a book giving a behind-the-scenes view of Hamilton the musical and detailing many dramatic episodes in Alexander Hamilton’s life. We have it as an e-book and an e-audio book, along with the biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow that Lin-Manuel Miranda read and was inspired by to write his musical. Available in print book, e-book and e-audio book. For these and more resources related to the musical Hamilton click here. (JH)
  • John Waters : Interviews in print or eBook version is a collection of interviews with Baltimore’s most revered weirdo. (MC)


  • Carry me by Peter Behrens is a work of historical fiction extensively researched in McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections.  Beautifully written and totally engaging.  Available in our collection in print and eBook.  (LR)
  • And the birds rained down, eBook translated by J. Saucier and R. Mullins. Catalogue summary: “An award-winning and haunting meditation on aging and self-determination”. This is a terrific translation of Il pleuvait des oiseaux. Le Devoir calls Jocelyne Saucier “a magician for the soul”.  (JA)
  • La femme qui fuit by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette was the recipient of the 2015 Prix des libraires. “Un style magnifique, un sujet prenant, une sensibilité certaine. Cette lecture fait partie des grands coups de la rentrée littéraire. L’auteure trace le portrait de sa grand-mère, une figure qu’elle a à peine connue. Suzanne Meloche a côtoyé les signataires du Refus global, a été l’épouse du peintre Marcel Barbeau et a vécu une vie étonnante. – Dominique Lemieux, Les libraires.” (MDM)
  • Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine. Imagine a character who is a mix of Snow White, Harry Potter, and the Karate Kid.  This novel is an action-packed, fantasy adventure based on the story of Snow White, including a prince who can turn into a dragon, a princess who wields magic and street-fighting moves, and a quest to destroy a despot queen.  An easy, fun read. (GB)
  • Publisher’s note: “Seventeenth-century Japan: Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords force the faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. Shusaku Endo is one of the most celebrated and well-known Japanese fiction writers of the twentieth century, and Silence is widely considered to be his great masterpiece.” (CC)
  • 15 Dogs by Canadian author André Alexis won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2015 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. It all starts with a bet between the Greek gods Hermes and Apollo. The gods choose 15 dogs and decide to instil them with human intelligence and linguistic skills. What follows is a thought-provoking story that left me questioning everything I know about myself and the world around me. It’s a quick, fun read and dog-owners, like me, will love it! Available in print and Ebook. (MR)
  • RURu by Québecoise author Kim Thùy. Catalogue summary: “A runaway bestseller in Quebec, with foreign rights sold to 15 countries around the world, Kim Thuy’s Governor General’s Literary Award-winning RU is a lullaby for Vietnam and a love letter to a new homeland. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec.” Available in original French and English translation. Also recommended: Thùy’s Vi, and Mãn. (MDM)
  • Anything by Pierre Lemaitre is going to be a page-turner, but one glass of your favourite wine won’t be enough while reading The great swindle – you’ll need the whole bottle. (LW)
  • À cause des garçons : roman & follow up novel Parce que tout me ramène à toi : roman by Québécois author Samuel Larochelle. « Il a 27 ans, du bagou, du talent. [C’est] l’histoire d’un photographe, orphelin de père, qui quitte sa Gaspésie natale pour Montréal, en quête du grand amour. Un jeune gai allumé qui pourrait très bien être notre meilleur ami.  » – Danielle LAURIN, Elle Québec (MDM)


  • For your listening pleasure, I recommend these thrilling Doctor Who episodes written specifically for audio. If you are a fan of David Tennant, you won’t want to miss The Day of the Troll, read by the 10th Doctor himself. If you are more of a Matt Smith fan, he reads two (1, 2) of the audio adventures available in OverDrive. (AC)


dk2-product[1]Take technology home for the holidays! Have you thought about tinkering with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi? Or maybe experiencing a virtual reality rollercoaster ride with an Oculus Rift headset?  These items are on loan now at the Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering: Technology @ Schulich Library  (AC)


Did you know that the library lends board games? Strategy games like Settlers of Catan or 1812: The invasion of Canada are available for two-week loans at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library service desk in the McLennan Library Building. Just bring the call number to a staff member. And please don’t lose any pieces! For a full listing of board games, click here. (ED)

Special thanks to our contributors:

  • (JA) Jane Aitkens, Coordinator, ILS & Catalogue, Digital Initiatives
  • (GB) Giovanna Badia, Liaison Librarian, Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering
  • (CC) Colleen Cook, Dean of Libraries
  • (AC) April Colosimo, Liaison Librarian, Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering
  • (MC) Melissa Como, Senior Library Clerk, Osler Library of the History of Medicine
  • (ED) Eamon Duffy, Coordinator of Operations & Liaison Librarian, Humanities and Social Sciences Library
  • (JH) Joseph Hafner, Associate Dean, Collection Services
  • (EL) Edmund Lesniowski, Library Assistant, Loans, Humanities and Social Sciences Library
  • (CM) Cathy Martin, Liaison Librarian and Coordinator, Music Library Access Services, Marvin Duchow Music Library
  • (MDM) Michael David Miller, Liaison Librarian, Humanities and Social Sciences Library
  • (MR) Merika Ramundo, Communications Officer, Office of the Dean
  • (LR) Louise Robertson, Coordinator, Receiving, Processing, Special Collections and Database Maintenance, Collections Services
  • (LW) Lonnie Weatherby, Liaison Librarian, Humanities and Social Sciences Library


McGill remembers Polytechnique victims

Mon, 12/05/2016 - 13:58

Polytechnique-plaqueMcGill will commemorate the École Polytechnique massacre at the Université de Montreal, in which 14 women were murdered on Dec. 6, 1989, and another 14 injured. McGill’s flags will be set at half staff on Tuesday, Dec. 6, and a memorial service will be held at Birks Chapel (3520 University Street, 2nd floor) beginning at 5 p.m.

The Senate Subcommittee on Women submitted the following statement to the McGill Reporter:

On Dec. 6, 1989, 14 women were killed at École Polytechnique. They were killed because they were women, because most were students in an engineering program. What has come to be called the Montreal Massacre is an event we are all called upon to remember: violence against women continues to be part of our present.

It is 27 years since the murders of these women, and Dec. 6 is again to be commemorated as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It is an occasion to remember the women murdered and for all of us to recommit to ensuring their deaths were not in vain. As we mourn the 14 deaths in 1989, as well as the too many women and girls murdered or abused since then, we need to continue to work for women’s equality, for policies that lead to equity among women, and to an end to structural and individual violence against women and girls.

Canada is still not a safe country for all women who live here, with more than 50 per cent likely to experience violence sometime in their lives, usually before they are 25. For some women, those most marginalized, these risks are even greater. Societal and structural policies and programs continue especially to harm single mothers, women with disabilities, and indigenous and immigrant women. These, as well as increasing limits on women’s access to justice and to continuing inequities, may explain why Canada is only at 19th place in the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum.

The Fourteen Not Forgotten are:

  • Geneviève Bergeron, 21, was a second year scholarship student in civil engineering.
  • Hélène Colgan, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to take her Master’s degree.
  • Nathalie Croteau, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering.
  • Barbara Daigneault, 22, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and held a teaching assistantship.
  • Anne-Marie Edward, 21, was a first year student in chemical engineering.
  • Maud Haviernick, 29, was a second year student in engineering materials, a branch of metallurgy, and a graduate in environmental design.
  • Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31, was a second year nursing student.
  • Maryse Laganière, 25, worked in the budget department of the Polytechnique.
  • Maryse Leclair, 23, was a fourth year student in engineering materials.
  • Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, was a fourth year student in mechanical engineering.
  • Sonia Pelletier, 28, was to graduate the next day in mechanical engineering. She was awarded a degree posthumously.
  • Michèle Richard, 21, was a second year student in engineering materials.
  • Annie St-Arneault, 23, was a mechanical engineering student.
  • Annie Turcotte, 20, was a materials engineering student.

Excelling in the classroom and on the field of play

Sun, 12/04/2016 - 05:24
Civil Engineering student Dori Yeats (in red) is following in the footsteps of her five-time Olympian father Doug Yeats. / Photo courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Committee

Civil Engineering student Dori Yeats (in red) is following in the footsteps of her father, five-time Olympian, Doug Yeats. / Photo courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Committee

By Neale McDevitt

The recent launch of McGill’s Jean Béliveau Award to support top student-athletes underscored the commitment and discipline required to be successful in both sports and scholastics. Recently, the McGill Reporter spoke to two of McGill’s most successful student-athletes – Olympian Dori Yeats and Top Eight Academic All-Canadian François Jarry – to find out how they handle the enormous demands placed upon them.

François Jarry: Earning his successes the old fashioned way

When McGill distance runner François Jarry got called into coach Dennis Barrett’s office earlier this fall, his first reaction was ‘Uh-oh, what have I done now?’

As it turned out, Jarry had done something. Something quite exceptional.

rançois Jarry received his Academic All-Canadian commendation from David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and former McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in November.

François Jarry received his commendation from David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and former McGill Principal, during a ceremony in Ottawa in November. / Photo: Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, OSGG

The 22-year-old physical and health education senior from Lachine, was told by his coach that he had been named among the Top Eight Academic All-Canadians for the 2015-16 season by U Sports, (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport). The honour goes to the top male and female student-athletes in each of the four conferences under U Sport, for athletic excellence while maintaining an average of 80 per cent or better over the academic year.

Jarry was named an RSEQ conference all-star last season, while accumulating seven Top 10 finishes in eight races. He won the McGill Open before placing third in both the 2015 RSEQ cross-country championship and the 3000-metre race at the conference track and field championship meet. In the classroom, the three-time CIS Academic All-Canadian achieved a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and has been on the Principal’s Student-Athlete Honour Roll since his freshman year. He also received the Strathcona Trust Plaque in 2016, awarded to students with the highest academic standing in physical activity courses.

Still, even with his many successes, Jarry wasn’t expecting the news.

“Last year, when [Redmen basketball player] François Bourque [was named Top Eight Academic All-Canadian], I thought ‘Wow, that is pretty incredible,’ said Jarry. “Quite honestly, I never thought I had a shot at it. When Dennis told me I was totally surprised – and very, very happy.”

Jarry downplays the challenges he faced in his freshmen year, coming from a French Cegep André-Laurendeau to one of the most demanding universities in the country. “I had done English immersion and I’ve always taken school very seriously,” he said. “Sure that first year was a little tough, but I listened to my academic advisor and took four classes which helped.”

The toughest transition wasn’t in the classroom, it was on the track. Jarry discovered the sport relatively late in life. “I was not a great athlete when I was young. I had played soccer but I wasn’t very good,” he said with a chuckle. “So I stopped when I was 18 and concentrated on running.”

Used to training three or four times a week prior to joining the McGill varsity team, Jarry had to get used to training virtually every day. “I thought I took my running seriously before. But coming here made me realize I had to take it to another level,” he said.

And the hard work is paying off. Jarry’s season last year was like a long-running highlight reel – including winning a bronze medal at the Provincial championships; finishing in the Top 10 at the Canadian Olympic Trials at both 5,000 and 10,000 metres; and breaking the school record at 3,000 metres (“my proudest moment,” he says).

Like so many student-athletes, Jarry’s success has come the old fashioned way – he’s earned it through hard work, dedication and superior multitasking skills. “I don’t waste a lot of time. Every break I try to be as productive as possible,” he says, noting that when he does allow for some downtime, he’ll watch “half a movie” while eating supper. Then it’s off to bed.

In the class, Jarry is just as serious. “I like to work hard and I like to perform well,” is how he characterizes his approach to school. “I try to show respect for my teachers by studying, showing up for class and listening closely to what they’re saying. When I do that, the results usually follow.”

Dori Yeats: Finding the brain-body balance

To say Dori Yeats is goal-oriented is an understatement. The 23-year-old began gymnastics at the age of five with the dream of one day competing at the Olympics. By the time she was 14, Yeats had enjoyed a fair degree of success at the provincial level. But, ever the pragmatist, Yeats understood that her trajectory was going to fall short of achieving her long-held Olympic dream. So she made the most unlikely of career changes, vaulting from the grace and glitter of gymnastics to the guts and grind of wrestling.

The initial transition was not smooth.

Dorothy Yeats (right) receives bursary from Sandy Vassiadis, VP-Corporate Communications for Saputo / Photo: Normand Huberdeau/Groupe NH Photographes

Dorothy Yeats (right) receives her $5,000 bursary from Sandy Vassiadis, VP-Corporate Communications for Saputo / Photo: Normand Huberdeau/Groupe NH Photographes

“I really did not like wrestling very much, at first,” said Yeats. “But I knew it was the avenue for me to get to the Olympics, so I pushed myself to keep that focus because that was my goal since I was five years old. Since then, I’ve learned to love the sport.”

That unflinching focus paid off this past summer when Yeats represented Canada at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Entering the Games with a torn MCL in her knee, the Montreal native battled her way to the bronze medal match in the 69 kg class, losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to Sweden’s Jenny Fransson. “It was pretty bitter sweet,” she said. “Fifth place is the best result I had had internationally at that weight, but I know I could’ve done more. I shouldn’t have set the bar that low. I know now that the girls that I was competing against are not that much better than me and I can make it on to the podium. So that will be what fuels me – to make it to the podium at every major competition from now on.”

But as single-minded as Yeats has been in pursuit of her Olympic dream, she is far from a one-trick pony. The civil engineering student entered this semester with a 3.56 grade-point average and, earlier this fall, earned a $5,000 academic excellence award, from the Saputo Bursary Program in collaboration with the Quebec Foundation for Athletic Excellence.

“A lot of people on the national team are older and have already finished school and some have not gone much beyond high school so they could focus on wrestling,” said Yeats. “The award is good motivation because sometimes I find myself wondering if I should just concentrate on school or just concentrate on sport. This encourages me to do both.”

Even though she is enjoying a little post-Olympic downtime from training in order to recharge her emotional battery and let her body heal, Yeats is not taking it easy. Instead of spending long hours on the mats, Yeats has doubled down on her studies, taking her first full course load.

“It’s definitely tough. Midterms were very challenging. It’s not just sports that require recovery time,” she said with a laugh. “Before coming here, I was on the Dean’s List and I thought I was very smart. But McGill civil engineering has put me back in my place. But that’s good because I like a challenge.”

Yeats, who took last semester off as training ramped up leading to Rio, says the key for her is balance. “Sports and school definitely complement each other, and I’ve learned how much I can do to successfully juggle both,” said Yeats. “When you are a full-time student, you pretty much have to be at school all day and when you get home, you study some more. Especially in engineering. But the periods when I have been a full-time athlete and a part-time student are so productive because both my brain and body are happy.”


Board to test a form of Question Period

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 06:55

Arts-cupolaBy McGill Reporter Staff

McGill’s Board of Governors has decided to take a significant step toward greater openness and transparency by agreeing to include a 20-minute period at two of its five meetings that take place in the course of the academic year (not including joint Board-Senate meetings).

The item will be at the end of the Board’s meeting agenda. Questions will have to be submitted in writing in advance and answers will be provided, as is the case at Senate.

The move, proposed by the Board’s Nominating, Governance and Ethics Committee, following a request made at the Oct. 16 meeting, which had been disrupted by a visiting group, is an attempt to accommodate members of the community who wish to address the Board, but have no place on the agenda to do so.

“We are taking a step where we have never been,” said Board Chair Stuart (Kip) Cobbett at the meeting of Thursday, Dec. 1.

Secretary-General Edyta Rogowska told the Board the measure “is certainly more than most Canadian universities do,” while noting that the model is in wider use in a number of American universities.

Board member Victor Frankel, who represents McGill’s Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS), said the move “is a step in the right direction, but 20 minutes twice a year does not seem like enough. He urged that the measure apply to every Board meeting, a view echoed by Chancellor Michael A. Meighen who wondered why it might apply only twice a year and who noted that Senate has a question period at the start of every meeting.

Principal Suzanne Fortier pointed out that only Senators are permitted to ask questions at Senate, while this measure opens the question period to people who are not members of the Board. She urged that the measure be approved at once so that it can be in place right away. “This is a new practice,” she said. “Why don’t we be among those who do it first? Let’s vote on it; let’s implement it.”

Cobbett proposed that the approach be reviewed after a year to determine if it requires any modification and the motion carried.



16 Canada Research Chairs for McGill

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 11:20

The distinctive pin awarded all Canada Research Chairs.

By Kathryn Jezer-Morton

On Friday, Dec. 2, the Honorable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, announced over $173 million in funding for 203 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at universities across Canada. Sixteen CRCs went to McGill faculty. Eleven of McGill’s new CRCs went to women, which reflects the national trend; this cohort is among the highest percentage of women ever, at 38 per cent.

CRCs are granted to outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields. The CRC program was created to enable Canadian universities to attract and retain established and emerging world-class researchers. McGill research projects that will benefit from the new funds include those investigating the genetics of pain and childhood disability, as well as the ecology of the arctic and engineered quantum systems (complete list of projects below).

“I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the new and renewed Canada Research Chairs,” said Minister Duncan. “The Government of Canada is proud to support talented researchers whose hard work will improve our scientific understanding and strengthen Canada’s reputation for research excellence. The Chairs’ efforts will also provide us with the evidence needed to inform decisions that help us build a vibrant society and a strong middle class.”

There are two types of Canada Research Chairs. Tier 1 Chairs are tenable for seven years and renewable. Each Tier 1 Chair is valued at $200,000 annually. Tier 2 Chairs, valued at $100,000 annually for five years with one opportunity for renewal, are for exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. Seven new Tier 2 Chairs and four new Tier 1 Chairs were granted to McGill researchers in this round. Five McGill researchers were granted renewals on their Tier 1 and Tier 2 awards.

“McGill is grateful for the ongoing support of the Canada Research Chairs program, which helps us to attract some of the most innovative thinkers and researchers from around the world and helps to keep Canadian research at the global cutting edge,” said McGill’s Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) Rosie Goldstein. “Congratulations to our latest cohort for this valuable recognition of their work.”

The full McGill’s newest CRCs is below.

Marco Amabili, Professor of Mechanical Engineering – Tier 1 Renewal – Canada Research Chair in Vibrations and Fluid-Structure Interaction

Lea Berrang-Ford, Associate Professor of Geography – Tier 2 – Canada Research Chair in Global Health and Environmental Change

Adele Blackett, William Dawson Professor of Law — Tier 1 – Canada Research Chair in Transnational Labour Law and Development

Anja Geitmann, Professor Plant Science – Tier 1 – Canada Research Chair in Biomechanics of Plant Development

Allan Greer, Professor of History – Tier 1 Renewal – Canada Research Chair in Early Canada/Colonial North America

Lauren Human, Assistant Professor of Psychology – Tier 2 – Canada Research Chair in Social Perception and Expression

Sarah Kimmins, Associate Professor of Reproductive Biology – Tier 2 Renewal – Canada research Chair in Epigenetics, Reproduction and Development

Sylvie D. Lambert, Assistant Professor of Nursing – Tier 2 – Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Self-Management Support for Patients with Cancer and Their Family Caregivers

Karyn Moffatt, Assistant Professor, McGill School of Information – Tier 2 – Canada Research Chair in Inclusive Social Computing

William Muller, Professor of Biochemistry – Tier 1 Renewal – Canada Research Chair in Molecular Oncology

Doina Precup, Associate Professor, School of Computer Science – Tier 1 – Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning

Selena Sagan, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology – Tier 2 – Canada Research Chair in RNA Biology and Viral Infections

Thomas Martin Schmeing, Associate Professor of Biochemistry – Tier 2 Renewal – Canada Research Chair in Macromolecular Machines

Gustavo Turecki, Professor of Psychiatry – Tier 1 – Canada Research Chair in Major Depressive Disorder and Suicide

Aysenur Ipek Tureli, Assistant Professor of Architecture – Tier 2 – Canada Research Chair in Architectures of Spatial Justice

Anna Weinberg, Assistant Professor of Psychology – Tier 2 – Canada Research Chari in Clinical Neuroscience

Next Chair named, Chancellor reappointed

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 10:47

Ram Panda (left) and Michael A. Meighen

During the closed session of its meeting on December 1, 2016, the McGill Board of Governors approved two recommendations from the Nominating, Governance, and Ethics Committee. Board member-at-large Ram Panda will assume the duties of Chair, while the Honorable Michael A. Meighen will begin a second term as McGill’s Chancellor.

Stuart H. (Kip) Cobbett, the current Board Chair, announced the decisions in an e-mail to the McGill community. He characterized Panda and Meighen as people who “understand and appreciate the values of the University, and are deeply devoted to the vitality and well-being of the McGill community.”

Ram Panda (MEng’71, MBA’77) came to Canada – specifically, McGill – from his native India in 1968. After graduation, he stayed in Montreal, co-founding Invera Inc., which is now one of the leading software providers for the metal industry. In recognition of “the hospitality I experienced and the level of acceptance I encountered [that] helped me to settle down quickly and integrate easily into Canadian life,” Panda is dedicated to giving back to the community. He is one of the philanthropic drivers of the Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design and has been a member of the Faculty Advisory Board for Engineering since 2007. “Ram is passionate about sustainability and McGill’s role in the community,” noted Cobbett in his message. Panda has been a member-at-large of the Board of Governors since 2014, a position to which he has been reappointed for a five-year term.

Michael A. Meighen (BA’60) was appointed McGill’s 19th Chancellor on July 1, 2014. Meighen is a prominent lawyer, political player and former Senator (1990-2012), and was presented with an honorary degree by McGill in 2012. Grandson of former Prime Minister Arthur Meighen, he served as co-counsel for the Deschênes Commission on War Criminals from 1985-1986, and was elected president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1974-1977. He was co-chair of Campaign McGill, which raised more than one-billion dollars. In his position as Chancellor, Meighen is an ex-officio member of the Board of Governors, where he has served on several committees. “For the past two-and-a-half years, Michael has presided over our spring and fall convocation ceremonies, congratulating thousands of new graduates as they crossed the stage,” wrote Cobbett, “and has represented the University with warmth and grace at alumni functions and other events around the world.”

Cobbett was first appointed to the position of Chair on January 1, 2010. His current term ends on June 30, 2017.

Panda’s appointment as Chair is for five years; Meighen’s second term as Chancellor is for four. Both appointments are effective July 1, 2017.


Forum on Indigenous studies and education

Thu, 11/17/2016 - 18:04

indigenous-open-forum-cropMembers of the McGill community are invited to the first Open Forum on the Provost’s Taskforce on Indigenous Studies & Indigenous Education at McGill. People are encouraged to share amongst their networks. The Forum will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 22, from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. in the Lev Buhkman Room (2nd floor, to the right of the cafeteria) in the University Centre, (SSMU Building 3480 McTavish St.).  You can find more information and provide written feedback through a form on the website or on the Facebook page.

Questions should be addressed to


Exceptional educators awarded Principal’s Prize

Thu, 11/17/2016 - 17:46
Principal Suzanne Fortier congratulates Prakash Panangaden, winner of the Principal's Prize for Excellence in Teaching in the Full Professor category. / Photo: Owen Egan

Principal Suzanne Fortier congratulates Prakash Panangaden, winner of the Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching in the Full Professor category. / Photo: Owen Egan

By Neale McDevitt

Four of the University’s top teachers were awarded a Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching at the recent Fall Convocation ceremonies. Established in 2000, The Principal’s Prize is presented to one recipient in each of four categories: Faculty Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Full Professor. The McGill Reporter spoke to this year’s recipients and asked them about their early teaching gigs, their mentors and what conditions they must create in the classroom to get the most from their students.

Caroline Begg: Creating connections

Caroline Begg reflects on her days as a student with a rueful chuckle. “In the classes I teach now I always keep an eye on the people sitting in the back row because I know that the students in the front are paying attention,” says Begg, winner of the Principal’s Prize in the Faculty Lecturer category. “I was the one sitting at the back and watching the clock not move. I wasn’t the most receptive student.”


Caroline Begg, winner of the Principal’s Prize in the Faculty Lecturer category. / Photo: Owen Egan

And the self-effacing Begg admits that her early foray into teaching, which she says she “kind of fell into,” wasn’t a rousing success. “Sometimes people come up to me and say they took a course with me 10 years ago and I apologize,” she says with a laugh. “I was really bad then.”

Begg says on top of her nervousness (“People say they could see my hand shaking”) she was more concerned with delivering a lecture than engaging students. “I really thought that the amount of material I presented was more important than whether or not students actually understood it.”

But over time, and with the support of Teaching and Learning Services, Begg has developed a personal style that suits her, her students and her subject matter. Because her areas of expertise – ecological agriculture and ecosystem management – involve large, interconnected systems, she has adopted a teaching style that links seemingly diverse subjects. “I don’t teach one section and move on,” she says. “I try to tell a story so that people see and understand the connections,” says Begg.

Connections and continuity are threads that run through much of Begg’s life.

“Part of my family is from Quebec and in farming so it was a natural progression to continue into something to do with soil or crops,” she says.

The same holds true in her classrooms where she loves nothing more than matching students from different faculties and backgrounds to reflect upon the bigger picture. “One of the courses I teach is ecological agriculture. Students have ranged from bioresource engineering, nutrition and art to geography and agriculture,” she says. “I want people to ask how these different perspectives fit together. How are they linked?

“I may learn something about nutrition that is new to me but I can see how this will fit into food production or how it will influence consumer desire,” says Begg. “I want students to understand that we are all part of one very large system.”

For Begg, teaching’s biggest payoff is watching a student develop their own narrative. She talks about a former student, Sarah Archibald, who won the Macdonald Distinguished Young Alumni Award in 2015. “Sarah has been working with the Meal Exchange in Toronto and she has been helping universities across Canada become more sustainable in their sourcing of food,” says Begg. “It’s amazing to see someone leave here and have a positive impact. Most of my top students are going to be change-makers in the world.”

Hoi Kong: Keeping the conversation going

Hoi Kong was hooked on working with students from the very first time he walked into a class as a teacher. “I remember teaching my first class as an Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School,” says Kong, member of the Faculty of Law and winner of the Principal’s Prize in the Associate Professor category. “It was exhilarating and I get some version of that feeling whenever I get in front of a classroom now.”

Hoi Kong, winner of the Principal’s Prize in the Associate Professor category. / Photo: Owen Egan

Hoi Kong, winner of the Principal’s Prize in the Associate Professor category. / Photo: Owen Egan

Kong’s enthusiasm for teaching is equaled only by his zeal for the subject he teaches. “I think the law is a profoundly human endeavour, and so it is almost inexhaustibly interesting,” he says, crediting his stint in 2002-2003 as a law clerk for Justices Marie Deschamps and Claire L’Heureux‐Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada with helping stoke the fires.

The experience, he says, “allowed me to observe up close two people who are leading deeply passionate and committed lives in the law.”

As a teacher, Kong hopes that the lessons learned in his classroom are just starting points. “When things have really worked in a classroom, I hear from students how they continue the classroom conversations with each other after class, over lunch and off campus,” he says. “I also hear from alumni about how things they learned shape what they are doing in their day-to-day lives.”

Kong thinks that there is a special quality to McGill students. He remembers how a colleague from another university told him about walking through McGill’s campus and being struck by hearing students talking about what they were learning. “That level of student engagement is really a precious gift for a teacher,” he says.

The importance of the quest for ongoing conversations – even if they are internal ones – is something Kong learned, in part, from the late Roderick Macdonald, an iconic McGill Law professor. “I learned from Rod how important it is to be sincerely committed to being a good teacher,” says Kong. “For Rod, this involved honestly assessing oneself and continuously learning about teaching.

“’Underlying this process of constant reflection was a recognition that teaching is a lifelong path, that one can always do better, and that one has a continuing responsibility to develop one’s judgment about what makes for good teaching,” says Kong.

Good teaching, in Kong’s view, comes with making “a real connection” with students in ways that are not always directly related to the classroom endeavor. “There is something genuinely lovely about being able to laugh together,” says Kong. “There is a kind of grace that comes with being able to see the absurdity and folly in things.”

Alanna Watt: The evolution of an educator

When asked about her first teaching experience, Alanna Watt chuckles. “I think I’ve blocked out those memories,” she laughs. “Those first few lectures [as a graduate student at Brandeis University] were pretty intense for me. I was incredibly nervous.”

Alanna Watt, winner of the  Principal’s Prize in the Assistant Professor category. / Photo: Owen Egan

Alanna Watt, winner of the Principal’s Prize in the Assistant Professor category. / Photo: Owen Egan

But, Watt, from the Department of Biology and winner of the Principal’s Prize in the Assistant Professor category, overcame those early jitters. “I had the opportunity to design and teach a course [at Brandeis], which was a fantastic experience,” she says. “That made me realize that teaching was something I wanted to be a part of my career.”

Watt understands the impact early university experiences can have on a student. She credits introductory biology courses she took as an undergraduate with piquing her curiosity about the brain and steering her toward a career in neuroscience. “I think that the brain is fascinating to study because there are so many big questions – How is information encoded? How does this incredible structure develop? What happens when things go awry in disease? – that we are in many cases still in the infancy of understanding,” she says.

While she admits she often feels squeezed for time between her classroom and lab commitments, Watt wouldn’t want it any other way. “I would not want to be a researcher without teaching,” she says. “Teaching has a lot of positive impact on my research, and vice versa.”

Watt believes her classroom works best as a dialogue, with students participating freely in the discussion. “To achieve this, I have to work hard to ensure that different students with different backgrounds feel comfortable to express themselves, so that there is a diverse range of opinion and insight into the class discussion,” says Watt. “I feel happiest when this happens. It can be a magical experience.

“The students I teach are passionate and smart, and really want to be in the class, really want to learn. It’s a joy to have such able and committed students,” Watt continues. “Watching students grow intellectually and as scientists is a probably the most rewarding part of my job. Getting to play some small role in that process is deeply humbling.”

Not surprisingly for a biologist, Watt discusses her style of teaching – and the path that she has taken to get here from those early, nervous days in Brandeis – as an evolution. “I’ve been lucky enough to have several professors who have left a lasting impression on me. I have fabulous colleagues in the Biology Department and the wider McGill community who are passionate educators, with whom I discuss teaching,” says Watt. “These colleagues have given me a lot of good advice that has helped me develop as a teacher. I don’t think I model my teaching on any one mentor – rather, I draw inspiration from many mentors, and have used those positive examples to find my own way to teach.”

Prakash Panangaden: McGill students “as good as the best students anywhere”

The year was 1980, and Prakash Panangaden had just completed his PhD at the University of Wisconsin. If you had approached him then and told him one day he would win the Principal’s Prize for Teaching (in the Full Professor category) as a member of the Computer Science Department, he may very well have laughed out loud.

 raw talent." / Photo: Owen Egan

When asked about the best qualities of McGill students, computer science professor Prakash Panangaden is concise. “Two words: raw talent.” / Photo: Owen Egan

For starters, Panangaden’s PhD was in Physics. “I came to computer science late in life. I was a post-doc in the field of physics when I came across a book on the lambda-calculus,” he says. “I realized that computer science was a beautiful subject with deep mathematical ideas and connections with profound philosophical questions like: What can be computed? What is reasoning? Can a computer program understand itself? What is understanding?”

He also hadn’t planned on becoming a teacher. “I didn’t have any idea that I would like or be good at teaching when I was at university. It was only in graduate school when I was required to run recitation sections that I realized that I liked teaching,” says Panangaden. “My main drive was always to be an active researcher but now I see teaching as inextricably woven in with this.

“University teaching must be connected to research and research cannot be sterile; it has to relate to what people care about,” Panangaden continues. “My research helps my teaching because I can tell students, even in the lowest-level classes, about things that are happening at the forefront of research. Crucially, they get to see the subject as living and not fossilized in a book.”

Panangaden says he received some of the best advice on teaching from a professor at the University of Chicago. “This professor gave me low-level practical advice – how to organize your thoughts and ideas and present them in a clear order; what to emphasize; how to use examples; even advice about tone and voice,” says Panangaden. “General purpose ‘advice’ that I often receive about ‘teaching philosophy’ I find useless.”

In the classroom, Panangaden still follows that advice, trying to create an ambience that is both challenging and welcoming for students.

“Lecturing is not about making speeches to the students. They have to interact with me; even in a big class,” he says. “I have to make sure that students feel secure and they understand that intervening is welcome. They must not feel that they are asking a ‘stupid question.’ I tell them that the stupid questions are the ones they don’t ask.”

One of the biggest rewards Panangaden gets from teaching is establishing what he calls “good old-fashioned human relationships” with his students while watching them “think for themselves and do things beyond what I teach them… I have taught at several places around the world including in the Ivy League. The best McGill students are as good as the best students anywhere.”



Une invitation à vivre, travailler, apprendre et s’amuser en ville

Wed, 11/16/2016 - 15:52

4210-AC-LIGHT-CUTTINGEDGEAvec la Semaine de l’innovation qui se poursuit jusqu’au 19 novembre, McGill s’ouvre sur la ville et le monde.

« C’est l’occasion de célébrer ce que nous pouvons apporter au monde », lance la vice-principale adjointe à l’innovation et aux partenariats de l’Université McGill, Angelique Mannella. « Tablant sur les efforts déployés à l’occasion de la Semaine de l’innovation, nous souhaitons que Montréal se taille une place de choix dans ce secteur. »

L’événement qui proposait treize activités lors de sa première édition en 2013 en offre désormais 27. Et quelques jours avant l’ouverture officielle, 150 personnes sont déjà inscrites à L’entrepreneurship au féminin, un atelier-conférence offert par cinq femmes d’affaires de Montréal. « L’innovation ne se développe jamais en vase clos, soutient Mme Mannella. Les révolutions s’accomplissent à l’intérieur d’un écosystème où il y a beaucoup de discussions et de remises en question. Les femmes ont un point de vue éthique et des valeurs qu’il est primordial d’entendre. »

La Semaine de l’innovation de McGill prend place sur le campus, mais également un peu partout dans la ville. Parmi les activités à l’affiche au cours des prochains jours, en voici quelques-unes :

  • Le jeudi 17 novembre, à l’Institut de neurologie, la conférence Thinking Outside the Brain, un atelier sur les innovations dans le domaine des neurosciences intégratives.
  • Le vendredi 18 novembre, au Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en musique et médias, un atelier sur le paysage urbain intitulé Dynamiser les zones piétonnes par la dimension sonore.
  • Le samedi 19 novembre, au Centre Phi, la Faculté de droit de McGill propose L’innovation dans son contexte, une discussion sur l’impact de l’innovation auprès des institutions sociales et politiques à laquelle prend part un panel de prestigieux experts issus des milieux universitaire et des affaires. Les membres du public sont conviés à cet événement gratuit.
  • Du vendredi au dimanche, au 515, rue Viger Est, le Start-Up Weekend Montréal-FinTech propose une réflexion endiablée sur les nouvelles technologies adaptées au monde de la finance. Les séances s’échelonnent parfois sur une douzaine d’heures. Intense!