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ORION awards celebrate Ontario’s contribution to research, teaching and learning


Toronto, ON – Ground-breaking innovations, from advanced visualization tools to startling computer simulations unraveling the mysteries of the universe were celebrated at the annual ORION Awards in Toronto.

Presented at the Ontario Research and Education Summit at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, the awards recognize achievements in research, education and scientific discovery.

“Educators, scientists and researchers are taking advantage of the enormous potential made possible through sophisticated technologies, placing Ontario at the cutting edge of innovation and scientific research,” says Phil Baker, president/CEO of the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), which presents the annual awards.

Award winners for 2007 include:

(1) The ORION Leadership Award recognizes the achievements of an individual for significant contributions to advancing research, education, science, or discovery through the development and/or application of innovative information and communications technologies.

Winner – Dr Nicolas Georganas is one of Canada’s most accomplished information technology and networking research pioneers. The associate vice-president of research (external) at the University of Ottawa, he has made substantial and enduring technical contributions in computer, cellular and multimedia networking and helped train and mentor the community researchers that have made Ontario a global leader in information technology.

Award of Merit – Dr Ronald M. Baecker, University of Toronto professor of computer science, is widely recognized as one of the world’s pioneers of computer animation and leading authority in the field of human-computer interaction.

(2) The ORION Discovery Award recognizes research and scientific initiatives that successfully apply and leverage the unique capabilities of advanced networks and technology platforms to achieve significant outcomes in research and discovery.

Winner – The EUCALYPTUS Project, at the Carleton University Immersive Media Studio (CIMS), is taking the design and collaborative technology world by storm, with startling innovations in high-definition visualizations that are expected to lead to new applications ranging from architectural design and gaming to emergency response and the performance arts.

Award of Merit – The Black Holes and Cosmic Evolution Project, led by a team of Ontario and US researchers using some of Canada’s top supercomputers, successfully addressed one of the world’s computational Grand Challenges, and effectively confirmed that black holes have played a role in the evolution of galaxies. The research, generating a computer simulation of six billion years of cosmic history, was one of the world’s largest computer-based simulations of its kind. It involved high performance computing facilities at SHARCNET and HPCVL in Ontario and WestGrid in Alberta, interconnected over Canada’s advanced, ultra-high speed Canadian research networks, including ORION, Netera, BCnet and CANARIE.

(3) The ORION Learning Award recognizes the achievements of faculty, students and/or staff in promoting successful examples of collaborative teaching, learning and training.

Winner – The Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology (IKIT), based at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT), has been a global leader in research-based innovations in theory, pedagogy, and technology, all aimed at making citizens part of a 21st-century knowledge-creating culture.

Award of Merit – The Learning Connections Project brings together a dedicated group of partners and champion teachers who are learning how to make full use of the Knowledge Age’s endless resources and new, interactive technologies to raise the literacy and numeracy levels for Ontario students.