DailyNews Issue for Thursday, Jun 22nd, 2017

UWindsor students confront illegal trade in rhino horn

An African rhinoceros is pictured in this handout photo.An African rhinoceros is pictured in this handout photo.

It is so coveted that it’s worth more than its weight in gold.

Its intended use has long been proven ineffectual, and yet the demand is contributing to the obliteration of a species.

The illegal trade of rhinoceros horn in Africa is fraught with controversy and two University of Windsor business students have become engrossed in the issue.

“It’s just not fair to these animals,” said master of business administration student Fred Wilkins.

“You hear the stories of the rhinos being poached and then to see the photos was too much. I have the knowledge and the skills, so I wanted to help.”

Outstanding Scholar Kara Kristof was tasked by her business ethics professor Kent Walker to untangle the complexity of the rhino horn trade.

 “We wanted to look at the situation with rhinoceros horns in South Africa from the stakeholders’ perspective,” the 19-year-old undergrad said.

“Before this case study, I had no clue the complexity of the whole situation.”

Kara Kristof says that demand for rhinoceros horn is created largely by incorrect beliefs about its curative properties.

The black rhinoceros is considered critically endangered with fewer than 5,000 left in the wild. Poachers will cut the horn off the rhino, often killing the animal, and will sell it on the black market for up to $86,000 per kilogram.

Kristof’s study examined the issue from the perspective of the rhinoceros, crime bosses, poachers, legal game farmers, professional hunters, park rangers, and the South African government.

She said if the current levels of poaching are sustained, the rhinoceros will be extinct by 2020.

It was working alongside the park rangers that brought Wilkins face-to-face with the pressure illegal poaching has on the rhino.

After serving for nine months with a specialized unit in the British military, Wilkins injured his shoulder while working out and decided it was time for a change.

“The first time I went to the bush was in 2010 and I saw loads of game reserves,” Wilkins said.

“A couple of years later I went back with my friend and decided that we need to do something to help the rhinos.”

It was during that trip that the two were encouraged to use their military experience to train rangers on how to better protect the rhinos.

From October through December in 2015, Wilkins and his friend trained the rangers on weapon care, weapon handling, drills and manoeuvres.

“These poachers are carrying high-power weapons and are potentially getting a horn worth $500,000,” Wilkins said.

“After training the rangers on what kind of tactics and manoeuvres to use, from day one to the end was really a night and day difference.”

Kristof said the demand for the rhinoceros horn is largely created by incorrect beliefs about its curative properties.

“In Vietnam, the rhino horn is falsely believed to have these medicinal uses,” Kristof said, explaining it’s mistakenly thought to be an aphrodisiac and can cure fever, hangovers and cancer.

“They have no clue that scientific tests have been done and show that it doesn’t do anything. It basically has the same medicinal benefits as biting your fingernails.”

Because the horns are made out of keratin, Kristof said a proposed solution to help stem poaching is to cut the horns down.

“If you cut the horn down to a certain point it will still grow back,” Kristof explained.

“The downside to this is that there are these stockpiles of horns which creates the possibility of crime.”

Kristof’s case study was presented during a roundtable discussion at the 2017 Administrative Sciences Association of Canada conference on May 29.

Wilkins said he hopes to return to South Africa following his master’s degree to assist in a research project on the use of deadly force by field rangers in high-threat night operations.

Researchers identify lake trout spawning grounds using fish sex recordings

Dennis HiggsBiology professor Dennis Higgs prepares a hydrophone to record underwater sounds

Dennis Higgs and collaborators analyzed hours of intimate audio recordings of lake trout mating rituals to pinpoint popular spawning grounds in the Great Lakes. The head of the biology department says the study aims to help boost lake trout populations by deterring fishing near confirmed spawning grounds during known mating periods.

“Since the introduction of the sea lamprey, lake trout populations have shrunk, yet they remain a popular recreation fish, so if we can protect them during mating season, their population has a chance to grow,” says Dr. Higgs.

He partnered on the study led by Nick Johnson from the United States Geological Survey in Hammond Bay Michigan, as well as with researchers from the University of Vermont. Dr. Johnson tagged the fish with transponders to find out where they aggregated and Higgs provided underwater microphones — called hydrophones — to record the fish sounds, and offered his skills as a fish sex sounds expert.

“Lots of fish make sounds and being able to identify these sounds is crucial in confirming where fish mate in the wild,” he says. “In this case no one had ever recorded lake trout so Johnson needed my expertise,” he says.

The hydrophones can record long-range high quality sound and be left out in the wild for a month. They were placed off spawning reefs in Lake Huron and Lake Champlain.

“It is great because we can do this all by eavesdropping on the fish and the fish don’t even know we are there, it’s a completely non-invasive technique,” says Higgs. “We were pretty sure the snaps and growls were mating sounds, because they were similar to other species, but this particular species had never been recorded before.”

The researchers also corroborated the sounds recorded in the wild by recording lake trout in a tank in Johnson’s lab.

“This information has helped boost population numbers with other species,” he says. “We aren’t telling people flat-out not to fish, but by using the recordings to show that spawning happens only at night and only during a few weeks in late May and early June, we can ask fishing to be avoided in those areas, during those times.”

To listen to acoustic recordings, go to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission publication on the collaborative study.

Watch a video of the lab tank:

Report looks back at first year of the World Health Innovation Network

cover of Making WavesTitled “Making Waves,” the annual report of the World Health Innovation Network documents its exponential growth over its first year.

In the annual report of the World Health Innovation Network, academic chair Anne Snowdon says the organization has enjoyed a “fantastic” first year.

“Our work to create the evidence for impact, scalability and value of innovations in healthcare has fuelled health sector knowledge and leadership in transforming health systems, achieving value for Canadians, and driving economic growth for the province and the country as a whole,” writes Dr. Snowdon.

The network’s collaboration with partners in the private sector, government, health systems and academia enables the development of new knowledge and novel approaches to applying knowledge, creating the capacity for high-performing, safe and sustainable health systems.

Read the full report on the WIN website.

Curriculum Development Fund invites letters of intent

The $1 million Curriculum Development Fund announced June 1 by UWindsor president Alan Wildeman is now accepting applications to support units planning and implementing academic program renewal and development.

“In order for the University to thrive,” says Dr. Wildeman, “the University’s programs must continue to reflect the advancement of our disciplines, and appeal to today’s and tomorrow’s students.”

The fund is intended to provide systematic support for collaboration, exploration, and some of the heavy lifting involved in program renewal, says provost Douglas Kneale, whose office is coordinating its launch.

“We want to ensure that the time and effort put into these activities will result in sustainable and energizing programs that units are proud of,” Dr. Kneale says.

The fund offers three progressive stages of funding:

  • up to $15,000 for groundwork, data gathering, and curriculum analysis;
  • up to $10,000 for development of an enrolment plan; and
  • up to $50,000 for implementation of the approved enrolment plan.

The final plan could involve a range of strategies, such as rebranding, program repackaging, changed delivery pathways, program re-design, interdisciplinary initiatives, systematic retention initiatives, or new programs, depending on what best fits the unit’s needs and goals.

Units pursuing initiatives through the fund may also take advantage of working sessions to help them with data analysis, curriculum mapping, survey design and implementation, curriculum development, learning technologies, and so on. They will also have the option to work collaboratively with other project teams for information and resource exchange.

The application process is simple: units submit a one-page letter of intent. Details for what to include are outlined in the guidelines posted on the provost’s website. A committee chaired by the provost will begin reviewing submissions this summer, and will continue to review applications as they are received until the fund has been fully allocated.

“I look forward to the journey!” says Kneale. “This is an important opportunity to build departmental expertise as well as institutional support for ongoing program renewal.”

Read the call for the University of Windsor Curriculum Development Fund. For more information, contact Beverley Hamilton at beverley@uwindsor.ca.

Charity party will school 10 orphans

Dhruv Patel, Kashmira Surti, Najam Patel, and Meet PatelDhruv Patel, Kashmira Surti, Najam Patel, and Meet Patel enjoy slices of mango during the tasting party outside Essex Hall on Tuesday.

It was nice to have so many people enjoy mangoes Tuesday, says biochemistry professor Siyaram Pandey, but the real pleasure is knowing that the generosity of attendees at his party, held on the steps of Essex Hall, will help educate children in need.

The annual event featured several varieties of the tropical fruit, as well as pakoras, a spicy vegetable fritter. Students, staff and faculty donated $800 to support the Canadian World Education Foundation; Dr. Pandey will match that amount for a total contribution of $1,600.

The charity sponsors educational opportunities for schoolchildren whose mothers are widows in India, Kenya, and Tanzania.

“This amount will support the education of 10 children,” Pandey says. “I express my heartfelt gratitude to all friends for their generous support of the foundation’s invaluable work.”

New system to personalize engagement with students

This week, the UWinsite Project will launch the University of Windsor’s new Student Engagement System.

This launch “represents a critical first milestone in our endeavour to re-vision our engagement efforts in the digital era,” says Chris Busch, acting executive director of Co-op, Career and Employment Services, and co-lead of the UWinsite Student Engagement Stream.

The Student Engagement System will enable the University to generate and qualify contact from potential students, nurture them from inquiry to student, and manage and report on customized email marketing campaigns. In addition, the system will provide a platform to continue with personalized engagement throughout the student life-cycle, including post-graduation.

“To be ahead of the curve, the University needs powerful tools to facilitate high-impact enrolment management strategies,” says Busch. “Now, more than ever, we need to collect, analyze, and use data to gain a better understanding and stronger engagement with our prospective students.”

The launch will begin in Student Recruitment as a Prospective Student Engagement Campaign. The campaign focuses on the system’s ability to segment prospective student populations by area of interest and geographical region and provide targeted messaging campaigns that address these specific interests. The lessons learned will be applied as the system is implemented in departments across campus.

Additionally, the Request for Information form used by prospective students and others to request academic program information has been “completely re-imagined and updated,” says Busch. The new form improves the user experience by streamlining the amount of information requested as well as ensuring the form is seamlessly accessible on all devices.

For further information on this exciting new system, contact Busch, Chris Lanoue, or any member of the UWinsite team.

Team rolls to staff croquet championship

Daria Milenkovic sets up a shot in the final round of the IT Services croquet tournament.Daria Milenkovic sets up a shot in the final round of the IT Services croquet tournament, Tuesday in the residence quad.

A late charge saw the team of Milan Cavkunovic, Noah Diesbourg, and Daria Milenkovic come from behind to win the Information Technology Services croquet tournament, Tuesday on the lawn outside Macdonald Hall.

The tournament, an annual tradition for the department’s staff, involved 23 matches over the lunch period since mid-May. The finals saw the winners beat out runners-up Tim Brunet, Adam Rybak, and Chris Zahorak by a score of 29-24.

In addition to bragging rights, members of the championship squad will receive the honour of having their names inscribed in a plaque that hangs in the University Computer Centre.

Funding available for Windsor Welcome Week related campus safety projects

A fund for projects that promote safety for women on campus will make monies available for Welcome Week and fall-winter semester initiatives.

The Women’s Campus Safety Grant Committee invites creative, innovative proposals from members of the University community, including faculty or staff individuals or groups and student organizations.

The committee, established to address women’s safety issues on campus, creates, promotes and improves facilities, programs and services at the University of Windsor. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities provides an annual grant of $64,000 to support efforts in addressing sexual violence and making the campus safer.

In accordance with the parameters set by the ministry, submissions are required to support one of the following broad categories or objectives:

  • Awareness or education (e.g., workshops, websites, awareness campaigns)
  • Student services and supports (e.g., Campus-Walk safe programs, sexual assault prevention initiatives, volunteer training, resource materials)
  • Facilities and equipment (e.g., lighting, mirrors, security cameras, emergency phones)

Applications for funding requests are accepted on an ongoing basis from the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility.

The deadline for the special round of submissions is July 6. Funded projects must be completed and invoices paid by March 15, 2018.