Arezoo Emadi, Mike McKay, Kendall Soucie, and Kenneth NgProfessors Arezoo Emadi, Mike McKay, Kendall Soucie, and Kenneth Ng are pictured along the Windsor-Detroit riverfront, showcasing the interdisciplinary team leading the $15 million INSPIRE project to advance Canada’s biomanufacturing and pandemic response capabilities.

$15 million research project to boost Canada’s pandemic preparedness

The University of Windsor is leading a $15 million research project to help Canada respond to future pandemics by strengthening our country’s biomanufacturing sector.

INSPIRE, short for the Integrated Network for the Surveillance of Pathogens: Increasing Resilience and Capacity in Canada’s Pandemic Response, brings together 43 experts from seven universities and public and private agencies in Canada and the United States. This team of microbiologists, biochemists, engineers, computer scientists, and experts in supply chains and public policy will look for ways to improve biomanufacturing and health sector supply chains, bolster cross-border trade and mobility, and explore new technologies in pathogen surveillance.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had supply chain shortages, we couldn’t get enough PPE in Canada, we weren’t making our own vaccines,” said Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research director Mike McKay, who is leading INSPIRE together with a researcher from the University of Guelph.

Dr. McKay is a founding member of the Ontario Wastewater Surveillance Initiative. During the pandemic, his research group tested sewage for the COVID-19 virus, providing an early warning system for outbreaks.

“We need to shore up the ability of the private sector in Canada to meet demands of the health sector in case of another pandemic,” he said. “We must learn from experience to develop proactive strategies to prevent the devastating impact of infectious diseases on the biomanufacturing and health sectors and improve efficiencies moving assets across borders.”

Funding for INSPIRE was part of an announcement Monday by federal tourism minister Soraya Martinez Ferrada, also minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. On behalf of François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry, and Mark Holland, minister of health, Ferrada announced nearly $574 million in funding for 19 projects.

“The projects that we’re supporting today will strengthen our ability to supply medicines, vaccines, and therapeutics for the benefit of Canadians,” Ferrada said. “These collaborations between research hubs, post-secondary institutions, and research hospitals will foster innovation across the country. Thanks to the work of experienced scientists in institutions at the cutting edge of innovation, Canada will be ready to respond to future health priorities.”

Shanthi Johnson, UWindsor vice-president – research and innovation, said she is deeply grateful for the confidence the government is placing in the University by funding INSPIRE.

“This announcement speaks to our local to global scale expertise, experiences, and excellence in research and innovation within the University of Windsor, our ability to engage a diverse cadre of experts and trainees, and collaborate with other universities, community, and industry partners throughout the province and in the United States,” Dr. Johnson said.

“INSPIRE is an important initiative with the significant potential to improve the lives of Canadians.”

INSPIRE is being funded through the Canada Biomedical Research Fund and the Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund. Earlier funding established five research hubs across the country. The Canadian Hub for Health Intelligence and Innovation in Infectious Diseases, housed at the University of Toronto, endorsed the UWindsor application for INSPIRE and is helping to facilitate networking with the other hubs.

INSPIRE will develop strategic partnerships with researchers in Michigan, Ohio, and New York to create a cross-border pathogen surveillance network covering regions where many supply chains supporting Canadian industry originate.

Those supply chains will be the focus of the Supply Chain Advancement Network in Health (SCAN Health), led by CEO and scientific director Anne Snowdon, a professor in the Odette School of Business. SCAN Health designs, validates, and scales collaborative supply chain solutions, practices, and measurement tools to improve health system supply chain resilience and economic recovery in Canada's post-pandemic future, Dr. Snowdon said.

“Through our engagement with INSPIRE we will mobilize the collective expertise of healthcare supply chain stakeholders across Canada to gain a real-world understanding of the implications of a potential pathogen outbreak, to inform solutions that improve health system capacity, and support the biomanufacturing sector to strengthen self-reliance and economic recovery,” she said.

Other UWindsor researchers involved in the project include chemistry and biochemistry professors Kenneth Ng and Yufeng Tong, psychology professor Kendall Soucie, computer science professor Pooya Moradian Zadeh, engineering professor Arezoo Emadi, biomedical sciences professor Lisa Porter, and Bill Anderson and Marta Leardi-Anderson of the Cross-Border Institute.

The Cross-Border Institute will study Windsor-Essex’s location in terms of potential biothreats entering Canada. It will focus on optimizing cross-border policies and programs to make Canada a more attractive destination for life sciences companies.

Local partners include the WE-Spark Health Institute, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, and the Municipality of Leamington. Key cross-border partners include the City of Detroit’s Great Lakes Water Authority, the Ohio Department of Health, and the Great Lakes Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health.

Lawrence Goodridge, professor of food science at the University of Guelph, is McKay’s co-director on INSPIRE. Also involved are researchers from the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, York University, Ohio’s Bowling Green University, State University of New York at Buffalo, and Canadore College.

Funding for INSPIRE includes $2.5 million for new equipment, including a mobile lab that will allow teams to analyze samples at remote locations.

The project will also offer unique training opportunities for graduate students who will be able to rotate between research locations.

educators under banner African Diaspora Youth ConferenceThe 20th African Diaspora Youth Conference will welcome more than 300 high school students to campus May 9 to 11.

Conference to gather high school students of the African diaspora

The University of Windsor will welcome more than 300 high school students and 50 teacher chaperones to campus May 9 to 11 for the 20th African Diaspora Youth Conference, “Dream Learn Grow: the Bridge to Success.” Attendees represent 35 secondary schools from nine school boards, including Chatham-Kent, Detroit, Oakland County, Durham, Guelph, Halton, Toronto, and both Greater Essex County School Board and Windsor-Essex County District School Board.

“Year after year it’s about the students’ experience on campus, staying in a dorm, meeting new people, and making friends,” says conference chair Andrew Allen, an associate professor of education. “The conference demystifies going to university for first-in-the-family to attend university and for non-traditional students.”

During the conference, students will tour the campus, make new friends, create a group performance, hear presentations from all faculties, and be inspired by two keynote speakers:

  • UWindsor alumna Petra Owusu (BA 2018), a doctoral candidate at Western University, is fuelled by a passion for serving and advocating for the mental health of Black youth. Owusu was a student leader and conference co-ordinator during her undergraduate studies in psychology and facilitated workshops as a graduate student.
  • Vidal A. Chavannes has worked in a full-time and consulting capacity with a variety of public, private, and non-profit organizations, all within the training and education ecosystem.

This year’s workshop facilitators include UWindsor alumni, faculty, and staff, including Adam Harris, Kaye Johnson, Richard Douglass-Chin, Irene Moore Davis, Camille Armour, Sherida DuBose Parsons, Katia Benoit, Neil McEachrane, Karim Malik, Festus Moasun, Juanita Stephen, Natalie Delia, Camisha Sibblis, and Alleson Mason. Dr. Allen and Sheri Gaetz will conduct workshops for the attending teachers.

The conference is organized by Allen; special events co-ordinator for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Yvonne Zimmerman; and a team of six students from across campus: Lana Yacoub, Lynn Micka Omwongerinka, Larissa Turizeye, Grace Mitchell, Liin Mohamed, and Olatunbosun Obiwale. The students invite and schedule workshop facilitators, select keynote speakers, and prepare materials, in addition to working the conference.

The conference also provides an opportunity for UWindsor students to gain leadership skills.

Allen cites the example of Fardovza Kusow, who served as conference co-ordinator in 2021.

“She was very shy and quiet when she started her involvement,” says Allen. “She went on to be the conference student co-ordinator, got involved in student government, and became a UWindsor Student Ambassador.”

Watch a video interview with Kusow on YouTube.

Owusu began her involvement with the conference in 2014 as an undergraduate psychology student. She served as a fundraiser, conference co-ordinator, and leadership mentor. Since 2019, she has been a workshop facilitator.

“One of the biggest takeaways for high school students who attend ADYC is representation — seeing people who look like you not only running the conference but attending the university,” says Owusu. “It’s motivating. It resonates. These students see that they could come to university too. ‘Okay, there are people like me here. I can excel, no matter my background, I also belong here.’ Representation can make a substantial difference and it matters.”

The African Diaspora Scholarship/Bursary provides $1,000 to students who attend the African Diaspora Youth Conference and apply and are accepted to any program of study at the University of Windsor. Learn more on the conference website.

nursing students and instructors staff educational displayHands-on learning will greet visitors to Science Rendezvous, Saturday in the CAW Student Centre.

Science Rendezvous promises a meeting of the minds

Inquiring minds will be satiated at the 2024 Science Rendezvous on Saturday, May 11.

“Science Rendezvous is a festival that will not only appeal to kids but your entire family,” says student chair Tim Igbokwe, a senior majoring in biology.

Canada’s largest science festival is a day of hands-on science displays and activities that is dedicated to getting research and innovation out of the lab and into the street. It offers hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

“You are bound to learn something new at the event that will pique your curiosity,” says Igbokwe.

Festival highlights include:

  • exploring models of the human body,
  • making flashlights with popsicle sticks,
  • robotics demonstrations, and
  • a Chemistry Magic Show.

All the captivating displays for the UWindsor iteration will be located in the Alumni Auditorium, CAW Student Centre. The event runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find more details on the Science Rendezvous website.

students in refresher classThe UWindsor Prep Program offered by Continuing Education aims to smooth the transition to university-level classes.

Online session to provide info on prep courses for incoming students

Incoming first-year and transfer students have the opportunity to prepare for university classes through the UWindsor Prep Program offered by Continuing Education.

Designed to ease the transition from high school to university, this program offers a range of preparatory courses in key subject areas:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • advanced functions and problem-solving strategies
  • calculus

Each non-credit course provides a condensed review of the Grade 12 curriculum, aimed at refreshing knowledge and smoothing the transition to university-level classes.

A virtual information session is scheduled for May 29, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Microsoft Teams. During this session, instructors will provide a comprehensive overview of each course and will be available to answer any questions attendees may have. Students, parents, educators, and counsellors are encouraged to attend. Registration is available on the program information page.

Participating in the Prep Program offers students the chance to sharpen their academic skills, connect with future classmates, and become acclimated to the university culture in a supportive environment. Qualified secondary level teachers lead these academically geared programs. They ensure an engaging online learning environment with small class sizes, allowing for personalized attention and support to maximize student success.

Courses can be taken individually, and a certificate of participation will be issued by University of Windsor Continuing Education upon completion.

Visit the Continuing Education website for full details and schedules.

Students and dependents of staff and alumni are eligible for various discounts on enrolment. Contact for more information.

cartoon birders with binocularsAn urban birding challenge will celebrate World Migratory Bird Day.

Activities to aid itinerant avians

World Migratory Bird Day is May 11, and UWindsor sustainability officer Nadia Harduar has a few suggestions for how to observe the occasion.

Rodrigo Lopez Valdes, founder of the Central West Mexico Birding Society and a board member of the Sociedad Audubon de Mexico, will give two addresses on the rose-bellied bunting, struggling to survive in its native habitat on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, buffeted by global warming, wind farms, and an interoceanic railway.

Lopez will speak at the Ojibway Nature Centre at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, and reprise his presentation at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 9, at Café Amor, 1464 Ottawa St.

Olivia Maillet, an assistant bander with the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, will discuss what she has learned from dowitchers, a wading shorebird, in a webinar at 7 p.m. Friday, May 10.

The events will culminate in the Urban Birding Challenge, a race to spot the most birds in Windsor during a 24-hour period. The contest will introduce new birders to this form of natural discover, while challenging experienced birders in an unfamiliar environment.

Get details on all these activities through the observatory’s website.

Harduar suggests individual actions that can help protect our feathered friends, including creating habitat for birds and avoiding the use of pesticides. She also reminds the campus community to report any collisions by birds into windows by filling out this form and submitting a photo of the bird and the surrounding area.

Charlene SennA reception June 4 will celebrate Charlene Senn as the 2024 recipient of the Mary Lou Dietz Equity Leadership Award.

Award recognizes contributions to advancing equity

Charlene Senn, professor in the departments of psychology and Interdisciplinary and Critical Studies, is the 2024 recipient of the Mary Lou Dietz Equity Leadership Award.

The Windsor University Faculty Association’s Status of Women, Diversity and Equity Action Committee bestows the honour on individuals who demonstrate leadership through their contributions to creating an equity culture on campus. It is named for Mary Lou Dietz, a late UWindsor faculty member in recognition of her commitment to the advancement of women in Canadian universities and colleges.

The association will host a reception to celebrate Dr. Senn’s commitment, contributions, and accomplishments to diversity and equity on Tuesday, June 4, in the Freed-Orman Centre from 4 to 5:30 p.m. RSVP to by May 27.

Learn more about Senn’s achievements on the WUFA website.

trees viewed upward through canopyMFA student Garvin Chinnia will lead a free Creative Ecologies Masterclass at Art Windsor-Essex on May 16.

Masterclass to explore ecology through art

A workshop May 16 will give students and members of the community the opportunity to explore how drawing can build new relationships with local ecosystems and ecological interactions.

Sponsored by UWindsor’s SSHRC-funded Science Meets Art (SMArt) Communications initiative, the Creative Ecologies Masterclass is dedicated to promoting and improving science communications skills through arts training.

UWindsor MFA student and bioartist Garvin Chinnia will lead the free workshop, inviting participants to create circular drawings of subjects found on Art Windsor-Essex’s third floor Green Roof Terrace using handheld microscopes. Through observational drawing, participants will exemplify the inherent fragility and subjectivity of local ecology as it relates to the degrees of change in species abundance, composition, and environmental disturbances.

The SMArt Communications initiative is a partnership between the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science, and Incubator art lab. It will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. May 16 at Art Windsor-Essex, located at 401 Riverside Drive West.

Students and community members can register directly on the creative ecologies Eventbrite site or by visiting the SMArt Communications Masterclasses website.

educators during francophone Open Door DayThe second annual Francophone Open Door Day promoted French-language programming at the University of Windsor to high school students.

Event opens door to study of French

More than 150 Grade 11 students from French and French immersion high schools came to campus April 30 for the second annual Francophone Open Door Day.

Organized by Languages, Literatures & Culture department head Tanja Collet-Najem; political science professor Emmanuelle Richez; and Sheri Lowrie, recruitment and outreach co-ordinator in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences ¾ and supported by all French Studies faculty, the event promotes French-language programming at the University of Windsor.

“We want to raise awareness among future applicants that there is a significant shortage of qualified French-language personnel in a number of areas on the job market in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent,” said Dr. Collet-Najem.

Among the shortages she identified in relevant sectors are teachers in French and French immersion school systems; nurses, technicians, and other health-care practitioners; judges in courts of law; and translators, editors, speech pathologists, computer programmers, and other language professionals.

A secondary aim of this event is to highlight the size and vitality of the French-language minority of Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent, an area officially designated as bilingual by the province of Ontario.

Visitors came from École secondaire catholique E.J. Lajeunesse, École secondaire catholique l'Essor, École secondaire catholique pour adultes Sainte Trinité, and French immersion programs at Sandwich Secondary School and Saint-Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School.

After being welcomed to campus by Erika Kustra, associate vice-president academic, and Cheryl Collier, dean of FAHSS, they heard a plenary address by Drs. Collet-Najem and Richez highlighting French-language programming at the University of Windsor and the area’s need for French-language professionals.

French literature professor Jeremy Worth gave a mock lecture on the poetry of Québécois poet Émile Nelligan and Richez delivered a mock lecture on political science. Collet-Najem moderated a student panel with six UWindsor student participants: French studies majors Sascha Batke, Carter Hodgins, Soleen Depape, and Athina Woldemichael, and political science students Victorieuse Samboa and Andrelle Mboudjeke. The panellists spoke about what made them choose French at Windsor, life on campus, their career aspirations, and more.

Community organizations that joined this year’s event included Workforce Windsor-Essex, Centre communautaire francophone Windsor-Essex-Kent, and Association des communautés francophones de l'Ontario, Windsor-Essex-Chatham-Kent.

Model UN delegates hold voteHigh school students roleplay as delegates to the United Nations during a conference organized by UWindsor political science students April 26.

Model United Nations develops student skills in diplomacy

Delegates to the Model United Nations conference hosted by UWindsor political science students for local high schoolers April 26 in the Toldo Health Education Centre impressed faculty advisor Jesse Salah Ovadia.

“Our political science program attracts passionate students like these, so I know I’m going to be seeing them in my classes very soon,” Dr. Ovadia said.

He also praised the students who organized the conference, the first held in person since 2019: “I’m so proud of the work our students have done putting this event together for local high schools.”

First-year political science student Abhilaksh Abhilaksh, whose own experience dates to Grade 9 and includes more than 50 Model UNs, served as secretary-general. He said the conference is educational for the delegates.

“High school students attending this conference learn more about international cooperation; learn to be a global citizen; and improve their research, public speaking, argumentation, critical thinking, and communications skills,” Abhilaksh said.

Attendees represented a country in sessions of either the Security Council or the General Assembly

Teams act as national delegations, research the issues to be discussed, and write a one-page position paper. Over the course of the day, they form alliances to develop and adopt resolutions addressing each issue.

Under-secretary-general Jana Jandal Alrifai is a third-year environmental studies major with a minor in political science. She said the General Assembly debated the ongoing global concern of children’s safety in Haiti.

“We use issues that have been recently resolved, or are still being discussed, and compare their resolution with the one the UN passed, Alrifai said. “Sometimes we come up with a better resolution.”

In contrast, the Security Council took on a territorial dispute between Cyprus and Turkey, said third-year international relations student Tan Kaur: “The UN resolved this dispute earlier this year.”

Teams were evaluated on their teamwork, research, and communication skills by secondary school teachers in attendance. Vincent Massey Secondary School took top honours with its team members Zayna Yousuf, Iman Ahmer, Ajay Bullar, Sitraj Singh Gadhri, Heba bint Naveed Qazi Raika Alam, Nermeen Mohie el-Deen, and Joban Singh.

The student organizers have already started planning for a larger conference next year.

Quoc Viet Truong, Zeina Haider, Jiasi Liu, Chelsea Ymana, Lyla Pratt, Maria Oliveira, Ashley Jun, and Khaled Al Khatib hold bowling balls.Student Ambassadors enjoyed one last outing together to celebrate the end of the school year — and for some, their university careers. Ready for fun at Revs Rose Bowl were, from left: Quoc Viet Truong, Zeina Haider, Jiasi Liu, Chelsea Ymana, Lyla Pratt, Maria Oliveira, Ashley Jun, and kneeling Khaled Al Khatib.

Student ambassadors enjoy sociable send-off

An appreciation event hosted by the Office of Enrolment Management on April 26 expressed gratitude to the student employees who contributed to recruitment efforts, says student ambassador co-ordinator Youstina Asaad.

“Our office heavily relies on their support. They play an indispensable role in our tours, events, and social media presence,” she says. “While some will continue with us, others are graduating. It was nice to have a heartfelt opportunity for everyone to gather together one last time.”

The day’s activities extended from an awards luncheon to a bowling outing. Each student received a personalized certificate acknowledging their contributions with awards that included “Helping Hand,” “Dress to Impress,” and “Social Bee.”

“Without their commitment, we would be unable to accomplish as much,” says Asaad. “I am deeply grateful for their assistance and passion throughout the past school year.”