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Awards celebrate research, teaching and learning


Toronto, ON – International research collaborations and innovations that are transforming surgery and medical training, and taking research, teaching and learning to the next level in virtual environments, are being recognized with Ontario’s annual ORION Awards.

The ORION Awards, to be presented at the ORION Summit 2010 at the MaRS Discovery District tonight, recognize individuals and groups who have led and championed the use of advanced and collaborative technologies to support research, education and discovery in Ontario or on the global stage. The winners will also received acknowledgements from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

“This year’s ORION Award winners come from a wide diversity of fields and reflect the great scope of innovation taking place at Ontario institutions,” says Phil Baker, president and CEO of the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION). “It’s important we recognize and celebrate our home-grown success stories that are reinvigorating the way teach, learn and conduct research.”

– Bill St Arnaud – Winner of the ORION Leadership Award. Former Chief Research Officer for CANARIE Inc., Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network, He was responsible for the coordination and implementation of Canada’s next generation optical Internet initiatives from CA*net 2 through to CA*net 4. He was also an early advocate for developing Canada’s cyber-infrastructure strategy linking together advanced networks, high performance computing and instrumentation to enable a new generation of eScience. Currently, he is involved with a Green IT broadband and cyber-infrastructure initiative to build a “zero-carbon” next generation Internet, intended to help reduce global warming by reducing CO2 emissions.

– Dr Mehran Anvari – Winner of the ORION Leadership Award. A creative visionary and acknowledged leader in the fields of minimal access surgery, telerobotic surgery and telementoring, Dr Anvari is a professor in the Department of Surgery at McMaster University, and scientific director and CEO of the Centre for Surgical Invention and Innovation, and director of the Centre for Minimal Access Surgery (CMAS). Through CMAS, the first of its kind in Canada, Dr Anvari has promoted the use of minimal access techniques in all surgical specialties and has focused on improving patient outcomes, minimizing the physical, emotional and financial impact of surgical procedures on patients and reducing hospital admissions and the associated costs. Dr Anvari is one of the first surgeons in Canada to use robotics in surgery, and in 2003 he established the world’s first telerobotic surgical service linking St Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton and North Bay General Hospital.

– High Performance Computing Virtual Laboratory – winner of the ORION Discovery Award. Based at Queen’s University, HPCVL is a cluster of fast and powerful Sun computers at five Ontario universities and three colleges, all interconnected over the ORION network. It is accessible from anywhere in Canada, providing researchers with the secure HPC resources they need to do innovative research that will help build Canada’s economy while providing high return on capital investment for government and industry. In addition to reliable, secure computing, HPCVL provides storage resources and support for over 130 Canadian research groups, comprising some 800 researchers, working in a variety of fields.

– The Canadian Research Knowledge Network – winner of the ORION Learning Award. A partnership of Canadian universities dedicated to expanding digital content for the academic research enterprise in Canada. For over 10 years, CRKN has enabled interdisciplinary collaboration among Canadian and international researchers, most recently with the Digital Content Infrastructure project to secure access to social sciences and humanities content. This scholarly content adds to the science and technology content originally licensed, all of which is accessible to the desktops of over 850,000 students, researchers and faculty across every region of Ontario, and across Canada.

– Toronto District School Board’s “Academic Workspace” – winner of the ORION Learning Award of Merit. The Academic Workspace (AW) is the Toronto District School Board’s powerful K-12 web platform that enables collaboration and interactions among students, teachers, school staff, principals and parents using 21st century technology tools. Focused on student outcomes and successes across all programs, AW extends and enhances teaching and learning from a “chalk board” to a “virtual” experience through its numerous secure anytime-anywhere tools, which include online school and classroom spaces, wikis, blogs, project spaces, discussion boards, chat rooms and video-conferencing.