June 29, 2020

2020 Parex Resources Innovation Fellows unveiled

Scholars from across campus fuel innovation and spark discovery with fellowships

On July 1, 2020, a cohort of six scholars from across the University of Calgary will start their year as Parex Resources Innovation Fellows.

Currently in its second year, the fellowship program aims to enable researchers to focus on innovation and technology-transfer activities. The Innovation Fellows are researchers in various stages of their careers from across the university who are immersed in academic research and community partnerships leading to startups or technology advancement based on new discoveries, insights, and innovation.

“These fellowships provide researchers and students resources to focus on how their science will positively impact society. Each of the Fellows has demonstrated research excellence and a history of innovation, technology transfer or interdisciplinary research,” says Faculty of Science interim dean, Dr. Bernhard Mayer.

The 2020 Fellows are investigating some of the world’s most complex challenges in areas such as antimicrobial resistance, cancer research, methane emissions reduction and next generation battery technology.

University innovation, knowledge engagement and commercialization deliver tangible impact that includes job and new venture creation, product and service sales, and new research opportunities. It creates economic impact through social and technical advances that lead to new technologies, policies and behaviours, and healthier societies. In Canada, research universities are responsible for 83 per cent of all contracted private-sector research.

Dr. Belinda Heyne, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Chemistry, and is one of the 2020 Parex Resources Innovation Fellows. Addressing the limited innovation in the disinfectant marketplace since the 1960s, Heyne’s research has inherent commercial potential in health care and other commercial industries by offering an innovative solution to combatting antibiotic-resistant microbes by using engineered light-activated disinfectant that kills microorganisms on contact.

She is also the CEO and a co-founder of hnu Materials Inc., a Calgary startup offering advanced wound care solutions to support the health-care industry. Using nanotechnology, they have developed a safe and non-corrosive solution to eradicate infections. 

The full list of the 2020 Parex Innovation Fellows includes:

  • Dr. Belinda Heyne,  PhD, Faculty of Science: Pushing an antimicrobial disinfectant through to commercial market
  • Dr. Carrie Shemanko, PhD, Faculty of Science: Advances in Bone Metastasis Research
  • Dr. Venkataraman Thangadurai, Faculty of Science: Next Generation Battery Technology
  • Dr.Colin Dalton, PhD, Schulich School of Engineering: Building entrepreneurial networks to strengthen innovation
  • Dr. Amir Sanati Nezhad, PhD, Shulich School of Engineering: Translation of microfluidic electrochemical biosensors to in-vitro diagnostic tools
  • Dr. Chris Hugenholtz, PhD, Faculty of Arts: Accelerating commercialization of made-in-Alberta technology for methane emissions reduction in the upstream oil and gas sector
Wayne Foo speaks at the Parex Resources Innovation Fellowships announcement in October 2019.

Wayne Foo, BSc’77, the founding CEO and now chairman of the Board of Directors for Parex Resources Inc. In 2019, Foo and Parex together made a $3.24-million gift to the Faculty of Science in celebration of the company’s 10-year anniversary.

Adrian Shellard

About the Parex Innovation Fellowships

In 2019, alumnus Wayne Foo, BSc ’77, and Parex Resources Inc. invested in the Faculty of Science to create the Parex Resources Innovation Fellowships to help position the university as a hot spot for innovation and discovery. Foo says the investment was intended to foster leaders and researchers who are incubating excellent, innovative ideas as well as remove barriers of time and finances so researchers can push toward commercialization in a new economy.

Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

In addition to the Parex Innovation Fellowships, the Faculty of Science and the Haskayne School of Business award postdoctoral innovation fellowships. These awards recognize postdoctoral fellows with a track record of innovation activities, including creating a startup, working with non-academic research partners engaging with government and not-for-profit organizations on policy development.

The 2020 recipients are:

  • Dr. Lisa Belanger, PhD from the Haskayne School of Business: How Breaks Impact Mental Wellbeing and Workplace Performance
  • Dr. Agasteswar Vadlamani, PhD from the Faculty of Science: Economical and sustainable process for production of phycocyanin – a high value natural product