NSERC program aims to provide professional skills training to researchers
Two projects led by McGill professors are among the 17 that will receive a total of $28 million over six years to help science and engineering graduates add job skills to their academic achievements, thanks to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) CREATE program. The two projects are the CREATE program in green chemistry led by Prof. Chao-Jun Li, and the CREATE Program in Medical Image Analysis led by Prof. Kaleem Siddiqi.
Launched in May 2008, the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program is designed to add professional skills training to the qualifications and technical skills of Canadian researchers to better prepare them for careers in industry, government or academia.
The projects are led by university researchers who see the value in helping students acquire personal and professional skills that are not part of their everyday academic training. Students have the opportunity to enhance their ability to work productively in a research environment that has become increasingly multidisciplinary. Important areas of training include leadership training, entrepreneurship, communication and project management.
“NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program is providing a valuable experience for students and postdoctoral fellows to learn practical skills and engage in cutting-edge, multidisciplinary and, in some cases, international research,” said NSERC President Suzanne Fortier. “Exposing our trainees to an innovative, collaborative training environment will enable them to succeed in careers that contribute to the world’s top research.”
The CREATE grants will help McGill build on the leadership it has established in green chemistry and medical imaging. Green chemistry is the relatively new field that strives to replace current polluting chemical feedstocks, reactions, processes and products with alternatives that are "benign by design". But the implementation of research advances made in green chemistry is being slowed by the training gap that exists between research chemists, specialists in the health and environmental impacts of chemicals, and business decision-makers.
GreenChem-CREATE is directly addressing this interdisciplinary training gap with program elements that include internships in industrial research/development laboratories and business/policy centres, international student exchanges, workshops (toxicology, business plan development, new laboratory techniques), professional skills building (ethics, scientific writing, media management), and an analysis of the global chemical enterprise including commercialization case studies, the role of regulatory frameworks, and intellectual property in innovation.
The GreenChem-CREATE program broadly aims to produce trainees who will be capable of assuming leadership roles in Canada's transition to a clean technology-based economy.
The CREATE Program in Medical Image Analysis is targeted towards industries which employ image analysis technologies for healthcare. Trainees in this program will receive advanced training in medical image acquisition and analysis, signal processing, computer vision and biomedical imaging. Upon completion, these individuals will have acquired expertise in image processing, medical imaging, mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, machine learning and software engineering. In addition to the industrial and academic career opportunities in medical imaging research, graduates of the program will be highly qualified to work in the wider domains of computer vision, imaging and signal processing.
In addition to the possibility of growth and development within industry, this expertise can lead to innovations in other areas of medical imaging and biotechnology. These are among the fastest growing segments of the Canadian economy.