#IAmInnovation

A compilation of seven young people posing for the camera, each on a solid colour background

#IAmInnovation

Giving young researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate
October 2, 2017

Today’s generation of young researchers sees a future they want, and they intend to create it. They are curious, ambitious, innovative and collaborative problem solvers. The CFI helps make sure they have what it takes to realize their potential, by providing the environments where they find their inspiration, their highly skilled training, their mentors and the roadmap to their future. In this collection, meet a few of these remarkable people.

  • Ryan Greene was writing a literature review when the subject of his research hit him with physical force. He’d just risen from his desk chair when his back muscles seized up and he doubled over in agony. “It hurt really bad. I thought I’d have to go to the hospital,” he says. The subject of the paper he was typing? The effects of prolonged sitting on back pain. Greene is a Master’s student in clinical epidemiology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Working under Diana De Carvalho, Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation Professor in Biomechanics, he studies how sitting...
  • A part-time job in a golf-course kitchen was Nathan Knapp-Blezius’ introduction to professional cooking. Years later, his love of food and his fascination with the interplay of aromas and textures in great-tasting dishes brought him to the experimental kitchens at Niagara College’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre. Applying a scientific angle to the art of cuisine, Knapp-Blezius learned to find commercially viable solutions and new products for the food industry. One of his most innovative projects: a cricket pesto....
  • Jaqueline Anaquod has made giving back to her Indigenous community a lifelong goal. Through her research at the University of Victoria, she is demonstrating the positive impacts of language on Indigenous health. She started working with researcher Carrie Bourassa in the CFI-funded Indigenous Community-Based Health Research Lab during her undergraduate studies at the First Nations University of Canada. Since then, Bourassa has been a tremendous source of inspiration, encouraging her to further her education. Today, she works out of the same lab in downtown Regina, Sask., where she is surrounded...
  • Luis Alejandro Coy grew up in Bogotá, Colombia listening to his uncle, a chemical engineer, talk about working in the oil refineries of South America. “Since I was in high school, I talked to him constantly about his work and how challenging and important it was for everybody,” Coy says. “He used to explain to me how gasoline was produced and how all the plastics and materials in our daily lives were derived from petroleum products. I wanted to be a part of that.” Coy’s dreams of following in his uncle’s footsteps followed him into young adulthood, inspiring him to start a...
  • At the Université de Montréal, Catherine Girard analyzes gut bacteria to understand the impacts of mercury in the human body. She is particularly interested in how mercury interacts with traditional foods in the North and the health impacts it has on those living there. Her PhD project has taken her to Resolute Bay, a remote hamlet in Nunavut, where she collects samples from the local Inuit population. In Montreal, she works in two CFI-funded biology labs and uses a gut simulator to conduct her experiments....
  • Have you ever gone to the hospital and been asked to rate your pain on a scale of one to 10? It’s a highly subjective tool. How can anyone be sure that two people rating themselves as a 7 are actually experiencing the same level of pain? More importantly, how can a non-communicative person, like an infant, tell clinicians how they feel? Emmanuel Alabi is trying to replace this rating system with a more objective approach through his research at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry. Working in a CFI-funded lab, Emmanuel conducts clinical trials that record the involuntary...
  • In 2003, when Shabnam Jabari was in her second year of a civil-surveying engineering degree at the University of Tehran, an earthquake struck Bam, a historic Silk Road city in the southeastern part of the country. More than 26,000 people were killed and another 30,000 injured in the 6.6 magnitude scale trembler. “The news shook the whole country,” Jabari says from the University of New Brunswick, where she is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering. Jabari herself was so unsettled by the scenes of devastation that she decided to change the focus of her...
  • As children, we view our parents as invincible, steadfast — people who will be there for us no matter what. It is confusing and painful to see a chink in that armour, to watch as a parent struggles with illness and realize that they are not immutable but human and vulnerable. Austin Lee was in Grade 9 when he moved to Canada from South Korea with his family, watching his father, a banker and financier, struggle with Type 2 diabetes, knowing that the chronic disease could develop into a myriad of health problems. Managing diabetes involves careful daily recordings in a personal medical log...
  • As a computer engineer, Daniella Niyonkuru is no stranger to being one of the only women in the room. In university, she often found herself surrounded by men, and in her current job as a production engineer, she is one of four women in a group of 60. That’s why she is a strong advocate for women in engineering and computer science. She devotes much of her spare time to mentoring high school girls, striving to show them that a career in tech is not “just for boys.” Daniella completed her Master’s in electrical and computer engineering at Carleton University, in Ottawa, under the...