Lisa Porter in laboratoryThe Ontario Medical Association has conferred its Centennial Award on biomedical sciences professor Lisa Porter.

Prof recognized for contributions to health care

The Ontario Medical Association has recognized biomedical sciences professor Lisa Porter with the 2023 Centennial Award, which honours non-physicians for outstanding achievements in advancing the health and welfare of the people of Ontario.

“I’m so grateful and humbled that my physician colleagues at Windsor Regional Hospital and Essex County Medical Association would take their valuable time to nominate me for this award,” says Dr. Porter. “It speaks to their passion for health research and the incredible potential for growth in our region.”

Windsor physician Padmaja Naidu says she nominated Porter for her notable research as well as her involvement with WE-Spark Health Institute. She calls Porter an international leader in understanding unique aspects of cell growth that lie at the interface of healthy development, aging, and the initiation and progression of diseases like cancer.

“As the founding director of WE-Spark Health Institute, Porter has passionately established a thriving multi-disciplinary research community that incorporates equity, diversity, and inclusion to support the health, well-being, and care of people in our local region and beyond,” says Dr. Naidu.

“Porter's innovative approaches have supported translation of her discoveries from the lab into the clinic and early-stage drug discovery. In addition to her world-class research program, Porter has been a visionary leader in advocating and transforming health research capacity in southwestern Ontario to benefit the Canadian research ecosystem.”

Other nominators included all Essex County Medical Society past presidents: Jen Bondy, Vikesh Maraj, Amit Bagga, and Maher Zayouna.

WE-Spark Health Institute brings together health research strengths across the University of Windsor, Windsor Regional Hospital, St. Clair College, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Erie Shores HealthCare with a mission to enhance the health, well-being and care of people through transformative research and knowledge translation.

Christine Wong, Alice Yu, and Farinam Hemmatizadeh are a research team applying a humanistic solution to a computer science challenge.Undergrad Christine Wong, high schooler Alice Yu, and master’s student Farinam Hemmatizadeh are a research team applying a humanistic solution to a computer science challenge.

Student researchers translate computer problem into human languages

The unsolicited reviews people post on the internet are feedback gold to companies looking to enhance customer satisfaction and retention.

A team of researchers in computer science professor Hossein Fani’s lab combed social media sites looking for these reviews. However, they hit a roadblock when some reviews failed to explicitly mention the products or services being reviewed.

These types of posts are referred to as implicit, or latent, reviews. The LADy team, which derived its name from “Latent Aspect Detection,” had a trick up its sleeve: applying a social science solution to a computer science challenge.

The team used the art of language translation to improve their machine learning Artificial Intelligence coding.

Master’s student Farinam Hemmatizadeh leads computer science undergraduate Christine Wong and high school student Alice Yu as the LADy team.

“I really like the combination of these two areas and the way it makes it understandable for people with any level of technical knowledge,” says Hemmatizadeh.

“I’ve been working on natural language processing, going deeper into the linguistic part and features behind these languages to reach grammatical features that are behind these languages.”

She explains that existing methods fall short in teasing out the information. To bridge this gap the team used a method called natural language back-translation to augment the data. Essentially, they translated the text from English into another language and then back into English.

“Specifically, we presume that back-translation can reveal latent aspects by uncovering social knowledge between languages, generating context-sensitive synonymous aspects, and clarify semantic contexts of terms and sentences,” Hemmatizadeh says.

“We used 10-plus languages, including some forgotten languages, and found that some can have beneficial and positive impact on languages like English. If we translate to that language and come back it will be a richer review and come up with more words.”

She says humans would understand these latent reviews but machines will not pick up on it, which is why they employed back-translation to enrich the reviews.

Third-year undergraduate Wong will present the team’s findings at the annual conference of the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group in Information Retrieval, July 14 to 18 in Washington, D.C.

She joined the project in 2023 and says she had no experience with natural language processing prior to joining the lab.

“I really like the interdisciplinary method of using computer science, which we often think of as a more rigid, binary sort of science, and combining it with linguistics, which we think of as more human, more social and often is a lot more complex to understand,” says Wong.

Hemmatizadeh says working with Yu, a Grade 12 student at Vincent Massey Secondary School, allowed for different perspectives and points of view. She says she contributed a lot to the team.

“I got involved in due to my passion for programming and interest in natural language processing,” says Yu. “Additionally, my background in digital art translated well to UX/UI design, enhancing the user-friendliness of the websites.”

The team plans to publish its findings after presenting in Washington.

Alan Drouillard congratulates Binny Kaur, Rohith Mahadevan, Kalyan Parimi, and Shrirang Shripad Rajguru.Alan Drouillard, a regional vice-president National Bank of Canada, congratulates the winning team of the case competition: Binny Kaur, Rohith Mahadevan, Kalyan Parimi, and Shrirang Shripad Rajguru.

Case competition tests student marketing skills

Students in the Master of Management program tested their skills June 1 at the Odette School of Business in the second annual case competition hosted by the National Bank of Canada.

Six teams competed to propose a marketing plan for the bank that capitalizes on the immense growth potential in southwestern Ontario to capture greater market share in retail banking. A panel of six judges from NBC selected the top three teams, awarding each a cash prize. Each of the top teams will meet with NBC leadership to share their analysis and plans.

Rohith Mahadevan, a member of the winning team, said the competition gave his team the opportunity to expand their knowledge and gain real-world experience.

“It was exciting to participate in such events, especially when data-driven case study is involved,” he said.

All participants enjoyed a lunch sponsored by the bank and had the opportunity to meet with company managers prior to the competition to learn more about the organization and the case.

“NBC has once again provided Odette Master of Management students with an outstanding opportunity to develop their capacity to address the complex problems faced by business managers,” said Master of Management program director Brent Furneaux.

Canadian passports atop world mapFor fastest processing of travel or hospitality expenses, make sure claims follow University policies.

Finance: follow University policies on expense claims

The Finance Department reminds all faculty and staff submitting expenses or using their purchasing cards to be sure to follow University travel expense and hospitality expense policies.

Doing so will avoid delays in processing claims, notes acting controller Jenifer Gritke.

“As a public service body, it is important for all of us to take responsibility and ensure that claimed expenses are reasonable and in line with our set guidelines,” she says.

These policies cover all expenses claimed, not just those related to travel.

For reference to these materials, visit the policies database or the finance website.