Posts By: Galina Nikitina

CivMin Professor Shoshanna Saxe was a speaker at Climate Economy Summit

Meric Gertler at the podium at the Toronto Region Board of Trade Climate Summit in Toronto

U of T President Meric Gertler delivers remarks at the Climate Economy Summit, which was co-hosted by the university’s Climate Positive Energy initiative and the Toronto Region Board of Trade (photo by Johnny Guatto)

Partnerships between the public and private sectors are crucial to help the Toronto region capitalize on its strong cluster of clean energy companies, University of Toronto President Meric Gertler says.

He issued the call for collaboration at the recent Climate Economy Summit, co-hosted by U of T’s Climate Positive Energy initiative and the Toronto Region Board of Trade, which brought together business leaders and experts to discuss the challenges – and opportunities – of investing in a sustainable future.

Home to Canada’s largest cluster of clean-tech firms, the Toronto region is positioned to become a leading centre of sustainable growth, President Gertler said in his opening remarks.

But it will take a concerted effort to unlock this potential, he said, urging governments, public institutions, not-for-profits and private firms to work together to find homegrown solutions to the global climate crisis.

“U of T and its partners are collaborating to move the needle quickly,” said President Gertler.

“In the face of barriers to progress at the international level, it’s important to be reminded that progress at home is possible.”

For example, the university is set to receive $56 million in financing from the Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB) to advance the university’s plan to reduce more emissions than it emits on the St. George campus by 2050. The plan, which includes building Canada’s largest urban geoexchange system under King’s College Circle, is just one of the ways the university prioritizes sustainability initiatives across its three campuses, with ongoing initiatives at U of T Mississauga and U of T Scarborough.

In particular, the CIB partnership will support sustainable infrastructure initiatives under Project LEAP, including deep energy retrofits for university buildings and labs, and the installation of energy-storage solutions.

U of T – recently ranked second in the world in the inaugural QS Sustainability Ranking – has leveraged this federal financing to secure an additional $70 million in loans from the private sector on very attractive terms, said President Gertler.

He said these investments will accelerate the university’s progress towards its climate targets by a decade, with emissions projected to drop by nearly 60 per cent before 2030.

Moreover, he said, U of T will continue to tap into the expertise of its researchers at the Climate Positive Energy Initiative, launched earlier this year. The institutional strategic initiative brings together researchers from across disciplines to devise clean-energy solutions that are guided by political, human and societal considerations.

Their work could help Canada address competitive pressures that are emerging and being closely watched by the federal government. This month, the Standing Committee on International Trade is studying how the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which invests US$369 billion in supporting clean energy, will impact the development of Canada’s clean-tech industry.

Some of the faculty members involved in the Climate Positive Energy initiative shared their insights at the summit, including academic lead David Sinton, a professor of mechanical engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and Canada Research Chair in microfluidics and energy.

Prof. Shoshanna Sax

Among the other U of T speakers at the summit were: Ali Hooshyar, an assistant professor in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. department of electrical and computer engineering and Canada Research Chair in electric power systems;  and Shoshanna Saxe, an associate professor in the department of civil and mineral engineering and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Infrastructure.

Hooshyar is leading a proposed $20-million grid modernization testing and simulation centre. The proposed centre would be the first of its kind in Canada, convening stakeholders in the electricity sector to accelerate the integration of renewable energy solutions, energy storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure into the grid.

General view of the conference participants

The Climate Economy Summit brought together business leaders and experts to discuss the challenges – and opportunities – of investing in a sustainable future (photo by Johnny Guatto)

Saxe, for her part, told a panel that the goal of retrofitting buildings toward net-zero emissions is well within reach – but that the greatest impediment North America faces is a “deficit of imagination” about how to develop infrastructure for a sustainable society. “Our emission goals are totally achievable. We just have to be willing to achieve them,” said Saxe. “The tools are waiting there for us to grab them.”

Representing the Ontario government at the summit were Energy Minister Todd Smith, who spoke about how the province is championing energy innovation, and Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development, job creation and trade, who spoke about how Ontario’s auto sector is shifting to electric vehicles.

On the eve of the event, Joseph Heath, a professor in U of T’s department of philosophy in the Faculty of Arts & Science, made the case for optimism about the potential of innovation to address climate change, suggesting that with the right policy incentives, the next energy revolution could be on the horizon. “A lot of environmental pessimism looks as though it has a grounding in science. Whereas, in fact, what it really is when you scratch the surface is pessimism about human ingenuity,” said Heath.

The Toronto summit came on the heels of the United Nation’s COP27 climate conference in Egypt, where U of T helped co-ordinate a meeting of university networks that collectively represent more than 900 institutions.

Kristy Faccer, director of the President’s Committee on the Environment, Climate Change & Sustainability, said this “network of networks” facilitates the exchange of knowledge among academic institutions in order to amplify sustainable innovation on a global scale.

“What we’re really interested in is collective impact,” Faccer told a side panel convened by the U7+ Alliance of World Universities. “You can imagine the kind of scaling opportunity and the influence that these networks can have.”

By Adina Bresge
This story was originally published by UofT News


Prof. Daeho Kim | U of T prof seeks higher-order construction robotics using AI

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Prof. Jeff Siegel | COVID-19 Brings the Importance of Indoor Air Quality to the Forefront

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Prof. Marianne Hatzopoulou new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Transport Decarbonization and Air Quality

Scott Gray-Owen, Caroline Hossein and Marianne Hatzopoulou are three of 34 scholars at U of T who were awarded new or renewed Canada Research Chairs (photos by Nick Iwanyshyn, courtesy of Caroline Hossein, by Johnny Guatto)

Congratulations to Prof. Marianne Hatzopoulou on being named a new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Transport Decarbonization and Air Quality.Hatzopoulou is a professor in the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering, a director of Positive Zero Transport Futures, and leads the Transportation and Air Quality (TRAQ) research group.“She and her research team are enhancing our capacity to model air quality and environmental justice under decarbonization pathways and to develop new platforms to track human behaviour and air quality across communities and over time. Their findings will help industry, government and communities in Canada and around the world to prioritize transportation innovations that both benefit society and reduce emissions.” – excerpt from Government of Canada Canada Research Chairs website.


Here is the full list of new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at U of T:

 

New Canada Research Chairs

 

Aimy Bazylak in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Tier 1 in clean energy.

Denise Belsham in the department of physiology in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 1 in neuroendocrinology.

Maged Goubran at the Sunnybrook Health Science Centre and the department of medical biophysics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in artificial intelligence and computational neuroscience.

Scott Gray-Owen in the department of molecular genetics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 1 in infectious immunopathogenesis.

Robin Hayeems at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Tier 2 in genomics and health policy.

Marianne Hatzopoulou in the department of civil and mineral engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Tier 1 in transport decarbonization and air quality.

Caroline Hossein in the department of global development studies at U of T Scarborough, Tier 2 in Africana development and feminist political economy.

Muhammad Husain at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the department of psychiatry in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in treatment innovation in mood disorders.

Courtney Jones at the University Health Network and the department of medical biophysics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in leukemia stem cell metabolism.

Andrea Knight at the Hospital for Sick Children and the department of paediatrics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in mental health and chronic disease of childhood.

Sushant Kumar at the University Health Network and the department of medical biophysics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in genomic medicine.

J. Rafael Montenegro Burke in the Donnelly Centre in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in functional metabolomics and lipidomics.

Deborah O’Connor in the department of nutritional sciences in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 1 in human milk and infant nutrition.

Vijay Ramaswamy at the Hospital for Sick Children and the department of paediatrics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in pediatric neuro-oncology.

Gregory Schwartz at the University Health Network and the department of medical biophysics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in bioinformatics and computational Biology.

Jay Shaw in the department of physical therapy in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in responsible health innovation.

Anastasia Tikhonova at the University Health Network and the department of medical biophysics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in stem cell niche biology.

Burton Yang at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the department of laboratory medicine and pathobiology in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 1 in cardiac remodeling.

Darren Yuen at Unity Health Toronto and the department of medicine in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in fibrotic injury.

 

Renewed Canada Research Chairs

 

John Calarco in the department of cell and systems biology in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Tier 2 in neuronal RNA biology.

Myron Cybulsky at the University Health Network and the department of laboratory medicine and pathobiology in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 1 in arterial wall biology and atherogenesis.

David Duvenaud in the department of computer science in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Tier 2 in generative models.

Julie Forman-Kay in the Hospital for Sick Children and the department of biochemistry in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 1 in intrinsically disordered proteins.

Bryan Gaensler in the David A. Dunlap department of astronomy and astrophysics in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Tier 1 in radio astronomy.

Alec Jacobson in the department of computer science in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Tier 2 in geometry processing.

Jean-Philippe Julien at the Hospital for Sick Children and the department of biochemistry in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in structural immunology.

Kang Lee in the department of applied psychology and human development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Tier 1 in moral development and developmental neuroscience.

David Levin in the department of computer science in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Tier 2 in simulation-driven graphics and fabrication.

Jed Meltzer at Baycrest Hospital and the department of psychology in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Tier 2 in interventional cognitive neuroscience.

Sean Mills in the department of history in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Tier 2 in Canadian and transnational history.

Kimberly Pernell-Gallagher in the department of sociology in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Tier 2 in economic sociology.

Arun Ramchandran in the department of chemical engineering and applied chemistry in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Tier 2 in engineered soft materials and interfaces.

Andras Tilcsik at the Rotman School of Management, Tier 2 in strategy, organizations, and society.

Haley Wyatt in the department of biochemistry in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Tier 2 in mechanisms of genome instability.

By Scott Anderson

This story originally posted by U of T News


CivMin alumnus wins the first place at BFN Top Venture Award

BFN program manager Efosa Obano (L) with Olugbenga Olubanjo and one of the judges at the BFN Top Venture Award on Wednesday, November 9, 2022. (Photo by BFN)

Congratulations to our CivMin alumni Olugbenga Olubanjo (CivE MASc 1T9) for taking home the top Venture Award prize at the Black Founders Network (BFN). The event was held November 9, 2022 at the University of Toronto.

Olugbenaga Olubanji is a founder of an energy startup Reeddi that completed the BFN Accelerate’s four-month bootcamp among eleven others. “What brought me to the BFN was the community of like-minded founders all working to build amazing things,” said Olugbenga. He took the first place BFN Top Venture Award and awarded with a $15,000 grant by the BFN Investor Judges.

Reeddi developed a portable source of affordable and clean electricity suitable both for personal and businesses needs in energy-poor regions of the world. The company provides rentals of compact and portable capsules charged by solar-powered stations located in communities. The companies’ business model provides affordable energy tool for customers and motivates them to return capsules on time by earning credits toward future purchases.

BFN as a part of U of T works to create an inclusive community for Black entrepreneurs. It is aimed to support impactful startups and founders as they launch, fund and scale businesses.

This story was originally published by U of T News.

 


Prof. Eric Miller | Stuck in traffic? These ‘creative and innovative’ solutions may be the answer

November 5, 2022 | The Globe and Mail


Meet your 2022-23 CivMin club leaders

CivMin club leaders (left to right): Civ Club Chair Kent Straky, CivMin GSA President Sheida Saffari, and Min Club Chair Alec Gilvesy.

The leaders of CivMin’s student clubs are on a mission to boost levels of student involvement while continuing to support undergraduate and graduate students in their academic, professional and personal journeys here at the University of Toronto.

We recently chatted with each club leader to discuss their goals for the year and to get to know them a bit better.

Meet your 2022-23 CivMin GSA President Sheida Saffari

Meet your 2022-23 Civ Club Chair Kent Straky

Meet your 2022-23 Min Club Chair Alec Gilvesy


© 2022 Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering