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UWindsor chemistry professor John TrantUWindsor chemistry professor John Trant is working with local industry to produce hand sanitizer.

UWindsor chemists lend expertise to produce locally-made hand sanitizer

University of Windsor chemists have teamed up with three local businesses to bring a made-in-Windsor-Essex hand sanitizer to market.

UWindsor researcher John Trant is working with Wolfhead Distillery; InnerSeasonings International, maker of the TBQ line of sauces; and Peak Processing, a local maker of edible and topical cannabis products. Dr. Trant is securing the ingredients he needs to make the product in short supply globally because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trant intends to use an ethanol-based by-product of the distilling process as the main ingredient in his formula. He’ll need additives to give the product a gel-like consistency and glycerine or propylene glycol to protect the skin from the harshness of the disinfectant.

“We are going to customize the formula,” Trant said. As luck would have it, one of the post-doctoral fellows in his lab, Fred Shahbazi, is a cosmetics chemist.

Dr. Shahbazi has the background and knowledge to pull this off pretty quickly,” said Trant. “We think it’s pretty straightforward.”

He said the most difficult part of the process will be adhering to social distancing protocols, forcing the researchers to take turns working in the lab.

The bottling will be done at Peak Processing in Tecumseh. The processing plant can mix 8,000 litres of the product at a time and has a cosmetic-filling line up for the task, Trant said. His lab will work with Peak Processing’s chief scientific officer Justin Binder on mixing samples and getting the product ready for market before bottling a gel-form on site.

The hand sanitizer project is the brainchild of Helena Racovitis, president of InnerSeasonings. She reached out to the University hoping to collaborate.

While she initially offered up the bottling line at her Erie Street plant, Racovitis will instead contribute bottles and help source ingredients. She has worked on getting regulatory approvals and to secure funding.

The intention is to offer the hand sanitizer on a cost-recovery basis, first to local healthcare facilities.

The use will be local,” Racovitis said.

Trant had an existing relationship with Wolfhead Distillery, helping owner Tom Manherz with the formulations of the company’s small-batch whisky.

Manherz has offered Trant his supply of “heads and tails,” the captured liquid that boils off at the beginning and the end of the distillation process.

That liquid is usually either disposed of or sold for finer distillation.

Wolfhead will bottle a liquid form of the sanitizer.

Chris Houser, dean of the Faculty of Science, sees this as part of the faculty’s Extension Science program, developed to support collaborations with local industry. He said he leapt at the opportunity to lend assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Extension Science is about building research and industry partnerships and opportunities for knowledge transfer,” Dr. Houser said. “We want to make sure that we are doing what we can to support the Windsor-Essex community.”

K.W. Michael Siu, UWindsor’s vice-president, research and innovation, said the hand-sanitizer project is an example of how the institution’s expertise can benefit the local community.

“The University has a history of collaborating with business and industry partners for product development,” said Dr. Siu. “I am delighted that we are able to translate our knowledge into a useful and high-demand product.  This is an exemplary collaboration that helps build viable, healthy and safe communities.”

—Sarah Sacheli

John Thibert, Frank Guarasci, Connor Ajersch, Mathew DunneFour UWindsor engineering students placed third in the Canadian Engineering Competition for their design of a crop duster that travels on a zipline. From left to right: John Thibert, Frank Guarasci, Connor Ajersch, and Mathew Dunne.

Crop-dusting design earns recognition for engineering students

A national competition has recognized the skills of four University of Windsor first-year students.

Connor Ajersch, John Thibert, Mathew Dunne, and Frank Guarasci placed third in the Canadian Engineering Competition for their design of a crop duster that travels on a zipline and drops various liquids onto specific plots along its path. The team had eight hours to build a prototype out of everyday household materials.

“The biggest challenge in making the crop duster was figuring out the timing for when we had to drop off the liquids on the zipline,” says Ajersch. “This was challenging for us as we weren't allowed to use any electronics and had to figure out how to mechanically time the dropping of the liquid.”

The national competition was held by the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students in Winnipeg in early March. The UWindsor team had to first win the Windsor Engineering Junior Design Competition and beat 16 universities in the Ontario Engineering Junior Design Competition to make it to the finals.

“We were able to represent the University of Windsor at a national competition, which was a big honour,” says Dunne. “While at the competition, we learned a lot about the importance of time management and teamwork when working on difficult projects.”

Once their prototype was complete, the students had to prepare a presentation that included a cost and feasibility analysis, prototype phase, and final design proposal. The cost of the materials used — which included household items such as straws, popsicle sticks, string, and coffee cups — was factored into the final score.

The UWindsor contingent competed against the top seven teams of first- and second-year students from universities across the country. Learn more about the Canadian Engineering Competition.

—Kristie Pearce

Dishes prepared by Food ServicesFood Services will offer a take-out service from the Club in Vanier Hall seven days a week.

Food Services to offer take-out from the Club in Vanier

Effective Monday, March 23, Food Services will shut down all campus restaurants and coffee shops with the exception of the Club (formerly the faculty club) in Vanier Hall.

The restaurant will offer a take-out service seven days a week:

  • breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m.
  • lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. 

At this time only debit or UwinCARD will be accepted as payment.

UWin Alert graphicFour Amazon gift cards worth $50 each await in a draw to encourage registration by May 1 in the University’s alert notification system.

Registration extended for UWin Alert contest

The deadline to qualify for a draw to encourage UWindsor students, staff, and faculty to register for the University’s alert notification system has been extended.

Register or verify your contact information in the UWindsor Alert system By May 1 to be entered into a draw to win one of four Amazon gift cards worth $50 each.

UWindsor Alert allows the University to send simultaneous alerts through text messaging, voice calls, and email to registered devices, providing students, staff, and faculty with an additional layer of security and protection in incident response. Stay informed by registering — or verify existing — contact information in the system.

Visit the UWin Alert website for more information or to register your contact information.

Health institute invites membership

On March 9, WE-Spark Health Institute launched with officials from the University of Windsor, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, St. Clair College, and Windsor Regional Hospital signing a memorandum of understanding.

Membership in the WE-Spark Health Institute is an important next step and key to help grow health research capacity across the region. If you are a nationally funded health researcher, hold health-related seed grants, are an indirect supporter of health research, are associated with health research or health care – you should consider joining WE-Spark.

Becoming a member keeps people connected to the latest updates and news, provides access to seminar series and other educational opportunities, and provides access to funding and research opportunities.

Core members are eligible for WE-Spark Innovation grants and having their profile and work included on the WE-Spark website. Core membership is a distinction reserved for those people with a primary affiliation at one of our four partner institutions.

However, the institute welcomes anyone interested in health research to become engaged in its growing research culture as affiliate, community, or ambassador members. Join now to be part of this research community driving advancements in health.

For more information, email

Dr. Matt SchollDr. Matt Scholl provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and outlines resources available to students, faculty, and staff.

Campus doctor provides guidance on pandemic precautions

Matt Scholl, director of Student Health Services, outlines resources available to students, faculty, and staff feeling anxiety and worry during the global COVID-19 pandemic in a video message produced Friday.

Dr. Scholl acknowledges that the situation creates a sense of uneasiness and uncertainty, but emphasizes that no one is alone in this feeling and that help is available.

He also reminds viewers that the best defense against this illness is to exercise social distancing.

Watch the video:

For the latest information about COVID-19 on campus, including class cancellations, visit