An Opportunity Like No Other

My name is Nicolette Horvath. I am currently a student at the University of Alberta’s francophone faculty, the Campus Saint Jean, and am entering the fourth year of my undergraduate studies in sciences. I am also the 2017 recipient of the GCCIR Experience Abroad Award.

During the summer of 2017, I have been participating in the University of Alberta’s e3 French Alps program in Grenoble, France. This program consists of three components (a French course, an internship, and an academic course); however, I have chosen to participate in only two of them, the 6 week internship from mid-June until the end of July and the 3 week academic course during the month of August.

My internship took place in a laboratory, Laboratoire HP2 (Hypoxie PhysioPathologie), in the South Hospital situated in Grenoble. I worked with a research team called “Hypoxie-exercice” under the supervision of researcher and pulmonologist, Dr. Bernard Wuyam. One of the main focuses of this research team is to study physical adaptations of the body when faced with intermittent or chronic hypoxia due to physical effort, illness, or altitude.

A previous study has shown that there appears to be a link between muscle weakness in lower limbs and the morbidity and mortality rates of patients with certain pathologies, notably for those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) (Swallow et al., 2007). A testing technique proposed in a technical sheet titled Maximal isometric voluntary quadriceps strength assessment in COPD by Bachasson et al. was published in 2014. In order to measure the isometric MVC (maximum voluntary contraction) of a person’s quadriceps, this test uses an immobilized hand-held dynamometer, an inextensible belt (comparable to a seat belt), and some small cushions for comfort and stability. Data obtained through a test such as the one described in Bachasson et al.’s technical sheet appear relatively simple to acquire and could be very useful to healthcare professionals in the assessment and treatment of some patients, but there has not been any previous official or standardised description of how to carry out this type of test. My internship was mainly focused around the immobilized hand-held dynamometer testing technique that measures the isometric MVC of a person’s quadriceps muscles. Among other things, I tested the reliability of the hand-held dynamometer used to measure the isometric MVC of the quadriceps, the reproducibility of the isometric MVC test of the quadriceps, as well as the sensitivity of the test to muscle fatigue. I am also very pleased that Dr. Wuyam wishes to use one of the data sheets that I created when evaluating patients who take the isometric MVC test in the future at the South Hospital in Grenoble.

Test pic 1

This internship opportunity provided through the University of Alberta e3 program and the support from GCCIR have allowed me to both challenge myself and grow on personal, academic, and professional levels while simultaneously working to improve my French skills. I believe that this opportunity has provided me with skills and experiences that are invaluable, and that they will surely play a major role in my future endeavors.

I would like to express that I am very grateful for the support provided by GCCIR, the staff at University of Alberta GoAbroad office, as well as certain administrative staff and professors at the Campus Saint Jean. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation for the knowledge, guidance and friendliness provided by Dr. Bernard Wuyam, Marie Guillard, Carole Cerutti, other staff members, and other interns at Laboratoire HP2 throughout my internship.

References:

Bachasson, D., Villiot-Danger, E., Verges, S., Hayor, M., Perez, T., Chambellan, A., Wuyam, B. (2014). Mesure ambulatoire de la force maximale volontaire isométrique du quadriceps     chez le patient BPCO. Revue des Maladies Respiratoires, 31(8), 765-770. doi:0.1016/j.rmr.2013.10.645

Swallow, E.B., Reyes, D., Hopkinson, N.S., Man, W.D-C., Porcher, R., Cetti, E.J., Moore, A.J., Moxham, J., Polkey, M.I. (2007). Quadriceps strength predicts mortality in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thorax, 62(2), 115-120. doi: 10.1136/thx.2006.062026

Links:

http://hp2.ujf-grenoble.fr/equipes/equipe-cerveau-exercice/presentation-equipe-cerveau-exercice/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260213871_Mesure_ambulatoire_de_la_force_maximale_volontaire_isometrique_du_quadriceps_chez_le_patient_BPCO

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ATB Catalyst 2017

Each year ATB Financial organises so-called Catalyst events throughout Alberta. The aim is to inform interested Albertan companies about the opportunities that are out there for them, in order to advance their business. This year’s Catalyst event in Edmonton focused on four different topics that all have the potential to help Albertan businesses grow.

The first moderated talk focused on programs and organisations that help with New Market Opportunities. The panel comprised representatives from the Alberta Export Expansion Program, from Export Development Canada, and from the Albertan Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. All three organizations support Albertan companies expanding into new markets abroad in a variety of different ways. Export Development Canada provides targeted advice for companies that are facing problems entering new markets. The Albertan government also supports certain activities to promote export. The Alberta Export Expansion Program provides travel grants for fairs and exhibitions and an Export Readiness Micro-Voucher Program is also in place.

The second talk was about Machine Learning and AI and the potential this field holds for Albertan Manufacturers. Canada Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence and UofA Professor, Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer, provided some excellent insight into the topic of Artificial Intelligence and its industrial applications. With the UofA being one of the best places in the world for machine learning, Albertan companies have an excellent resource right here in our province.

The third talk was about New Frontiers and how the defence and aviation industry might be interesting sectors for Albertan companies to consider getting involved in. The talk quickly revolved around government procurements and why it makes good sense for small and medium sized enterprises to consider putting in bids.

Innovation Support Programs available to Albertan companies were the focus of the fourth talk. The talk included representatives from Mitacs, Alberta Innovates, the Industrial Research Assistance Program, as well as our Manager, Katelyn Petersen, who talked about the Alberta-Germany and Alberta-Canada-France Collaboration Funds. Overall it was impressive to see how many programs are available to Albertan companies interested in innovation and research.

Following the four talks was a presentation by ATB Financial on Industry 4.0 and the ATB Manufacturing Revitalization Program. At the end of the event, ATB handed out their ATB Innovation and Export Awards. The 2017 ATB Catalyst event once again provided an excellent overview of the many support programs that are out there for Albertan companies. For companies it is often only a matter of knowing about them, which is why informative events like these are so important.

GCCIR Experience Abroad Award

The German-Canadian Centre for Innovation and Research (GCCIR) is happy to announce the launch of the GCCIR Experience Abroad Award, available exclusively to Campus Saint-Jean students. The Campus Saint-Jean is the only French-speaking Campus in Western Canada, and is part of the University of Alberta. The official announcement occurred at the Campus Saint-Jean’s “Thank-a-thon” on March 14, 2017. This event provided an opportunity for students to acknowledge the donors behind the many awards made available to them.

The GCCIR Experience Abroad Award is intended to support students in gaining research-based study or work experience in France. Business and/or Science students enrolled at Campus Saint-Jean will have the opportunity to receive a grant of $2,500 CAD. There is one award available each year, and the deadline for this year’s applications is April 15th, 2017.

Bernd speech.jpg

Since 2016, the GCCIR has been mandated by the Albertan Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (EDT) to manage the Alberta-Canada-France Joint Industrial R&D Projects program.

With this Experience Abroad Award, the GCCIR aims to further strengthen the connection between Alberta and France through research-based alliances and student experiences.

More information can be found here: https://www.registrar.ualberta.ca/ro.cfm?id=533

 

Compound Eyes Inspire Camera Technology

A team from the Fraunhofer IOF Institute in Germany is working on a project called facetVISION Camera. Their objective is to build ultra-thin cameras and microscopes. The current technology, inspired by the mammalian eye, has reached its limits in terms of size, the best example being the bulge in your smartphone camera.

In order to miniaturize cameras, the research team at Fraunhofer IOF needed to develop another technology and found inspiration looking at the eyes of the male Xenos peckii, a parasite of the Northern Paper Wasp. Insects usually have compound eyes, which consist of tiny lenses, called facets, and a few receptor cells. They are very compact, but have low resolution. Mammalian eyes have a single lense to focus light onto a sheet of receptor cells, the retina. That is how we get higher resolution, but at the cost of bulkiness.

However, the eyes of male X. peckii are a compromise between these two extremes. The other advantage of this technology is the possibility to have a wider field of view at a low cost. So far, the project’s researchers have succeeded in making a camera with 135 facets that is only 2mm thick, but that has a resolution of one megapixel. Now the team is aiming to achieve a four megapixel resolution, which is enough for many applications, including medical probes, smartphones, or cameras in cars.

The project website (http://www.facetvision.de/) is highly interesting and offers a detailed explanations.

 

Links:

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21718859-series-eyelets-can-make-cameras-much-smaller-insects-eye-inspires-new

http://www.facetvision.de/

https://escsecblog.com/2014/03/11/the-brief-lives-and-loves-of-male-strepsipterans/

French Tech Ticket

The French Tech Ticket is a programme designed for entrepreneurs from all over the world who want to launch their startups in France. Its second call for applications just closed with a selection of 70 foreign projects. The French Tech Ticket encourages foreign entrepreneurs to create startups in France with the goal of attracting international talent, sharing entrepreneurial cultures, and creating the conditions in the company for international growth. In 2017, 8,150 projects were submitted from 100 countries, which shows a real interest in this programme.

The French Tech Ticket offers funding of €45,000 per project to cover professional expenses. Successful participants will join one of the 41 partner incubators throughout France for a term of 12 months. They will be monitored and assisted by experts. Three projects involving Canadians have been selected.

Uconekt Inc. is one of the Canadian winners and is focused on Biometrics and Security. The founders are Stephen COUCHMAN and Vincent Rudranauth RAMOUTAR. They chose to work at the Fast Forward Normandy Incubator (Normandy French Tech). Uconekt’s products are personal identity devices with multi-factor authentication on certified hardware. These products will protect the user’s personal identity portable devices (smartphones, tablets, and computers). You can find more  information on the company’s website www.uconekt.com.

 

Links:

http://www.lafrenchtech.com/sites/default/files/documents/dp-french-tech-ticket-2-09032017-sircom_bat.pdf

http://www.frenchtechticket.com/

 

Paralyzed monkeys can walk again without rehabilitation

For humans and animals, the ability to walk has its source in the brain. The brain sends electrical signals through the spinal cord to the legs, and this causes movement. If a brain signal is interrupted and does not reach the nerves in the leg, for example, then that limb is paralyzed. For the first time researchers have managed to bypass the damaged spinal cords of rhesus monkeys, allowing them to walk again.

In order to carry out the experiment, researchers severed parts of the spinal cords of two rhesus monkeys to paralyze one of their legs. The transection lead to an interruption of the brain signals to the muscles in one leg, so the rhesus monkeys couldn’t walk normally anymore. Researchers then implanted a microchip into the specific part of the brain responsible for the monkeys’ movements. The chips recorded every electric impulse produced by the monkeys’ neurons and sent these to a computer. The computer then calculated patterns of activity. Those patterns were transmitted to sixteen electrodes that had been previously implanted onto each monkey’s spinal cord below the injured section. By stimulating the right nerves, the electrodes made the leg muscles move again, enabling the monkeys to move their paralyzed legs almost normally. The information exchange between the microchip implanted in the brain and the electrodes took place via Bluetooth and infrared in real-time.

According to Erwan Bezard from the University of Bordeaux (France), both monkeys were able to move immediately after the operation without any training or rehabilitation. So far, the rhesus monkeys can accomplish easy movements like walking; however, balancing or navigating obstacles is currently not possible with this technology.

At this stage it is not clear if the technology can be used for humans as well. It will be necessary to do more research on fully paralyzed monkeys, where a larger portion of the spinal cord has been severed. This would provide a much more accurate representation of the type of paralysis usually found in humans. To date, chips have been implanted into human brains in other experiments and some positive results have been achieved. For example, one paralyzed man was able to move his hand using his thoughts. By wearing a pressure sleeve that responded to his brain activity on his forearm, he was able to stimulate, and therefore move, certain muscles. This gave him some control over his hand, which he previously did not have.

To find more about it :

http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/medizin/chip-im-hirn-gelaehmter-kann-wieder-gehen-a-1120517.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v539/n7628/full/nature20118.html

 

 

GlobalXplorer° – for all the aspiring archeologists out there…

The world of archeology is changing. This particular initiative comes from Dr. Sarah Parcak, an American archaeologist and expert on remote sensing using satellite imaging.

GlobalXplorer° was launched on January 31, 2017. It is an online platform that shares satellite images currently available to archaeologists. Anyone can now access the data and help with everything from preventing looting to discovering new archaeological sites in Peru, Egypt or China. This technique is already used by professional archeologists with great success.

When you access this website, you will be given a 6 min video tutorial showing you how to recognize looting sites on satellite images. And then you can start exploring images in Peru, deciding if there is evidence of looting or not. After you’ve analyzed 1,000 images, GlobalXplorer° will determine that you possess the required skills to start looking for as-yet-unknown archeological sites.

The power of the crowd can help archeologists analyse the enormous number of satellite images, and to fight looting, which destroys so many valuable clues about past civilizations.   

The images are provided by DigitalGlobe. DigitalGlobe is a leading provider of commercial high-resolution Earth observation and advanced geospatial solutions.

And now you, too, can start fighting crime and making fascinating discoveries!