Marc Nantel is the Vice-President of Research & External Relations, and leads the following divisions: Planning and Institutional Research, Development and Alumni Relations, and Government and Community Relations. He is also the President of the Niagara College Learning Enterprises Corporation (NCLEC), which includes overseeing the operations and strategic direction for the Niagara College Teaching Winery, Teaching Brewery, Teaching Cidery, Teaching Distillery, and Cannabis Institute. Marc joined Niagara College in July 2011; prior to that, he had been involved with the college as a Board Member (2006-11) and as the Project Manager/Director from the Ontario Centres of Excellence. As such, he helped introduce the Photonics programs at the Welland Campus. Marc is a Physics graduate from McGill University (BSc 1987, MSc 1990) and from the Institut National pour la Recherche Scientifique – Energie et Matériaux (PhD 1994). He spent four postdoc years in France and at the University of Michigan, pursuing ever shorter laser-produced visible and x-ray pulses and their applications; he was an Adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Toronto from 1998 to 2008. He has published more than 90 papers and given more than 200 academic and industrial presentations. Marc is a Senior Member of SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics.
Krystle Grimaldi is responsible for the day-to-day operations and internal processes, including administration and project management, of Niagara College’s Research & Innovation Division. Krystle’s experience with the division also includes being the Research Project Manager for the Agriculture & Environment portfolio. Prior to undertaking her role as project manager, Krystle started with the department as Co-ordinator of the Niagara Environmental Corps organizing community events and educational outreach initiatives in elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools. Krystle brings to her role experience working with Niagara organizations through her involvement with Niagara Sustainability Initiative where she assists organizations in improving both their environmental and economic performance through carbon management. Krystle holds an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from Brock University and a post-graduate certificate in Environmental Management and Assessment from Niagara College.
Carolyn Mullin joined Research & Innovation in 2012 after several years in the communications industry, including many as a newspaper reporter and editor, and an award-winning freelance writer for publications across the country. More recently, Carolyn has worked as a communications specialist in the non-profit and government sector, based in the Niagara Region. As part of the Research team, she is responsible for business development operations, and the creation and dissemination of research-based communications, in all relevant forms. Carolyn is a graduate of the Journalism Program at Niagara College, and holds an Honours BA and an MA, both in English, from Brock University.
Lyndon William Ashton is the Centre Manager for the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre (CFWI IC). In this role, he is responsible for the overall operations and strategic leadership of the Centre. This includes outreach to key industry partners and the successful development and implementation of food and beverage innovation services. Lyndon joined the Research & Innovation division after a diversified career, beginning in the culinary arts and eventually leading to economic development, management consulting and business planning. He earned his Culinary Red Seal, and he holds a combined degree in Political Sciences and Labour Studies from Brock University, and a certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo. With a passion for food, business development, and strategic planning, Lyndon brings a client-centred focus to the Innovation Centre which recognizes that twinning talent development and knowledge transfer through value-driven R&D supports are key ingredients to the recipe for economic success.
Gordon Maretzki is the Centre Manager for the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at the Welland Campus of Niagara College. As Centre Manager, he is responsible for the overall operations of the Centre, shaping its strategic direction, including outreach to industry, as well as determining new or untapped sectors that could benefit from the Centre’s offerings. Prior to his role as Centre Manager, he spent three years as Researcher and Industry Liaison with the Centre, and was a part-time instructor in the Industrial Automation Certification program. Gordon came to the College from the private sector, where he operated his own business for more than 12 years, holding many applied research government contract in areas of engineering design, automation, manufacturing/fabrication and performance testing/validation. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manitoba (1985) and has his Professional Engineering designation (PEng).
Product development engineering perfectly matches the capabilities and passion that Dr. Al Spence shares as a Research Lead at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at the Welland Campus.
Al has degrees from the University of Waterloo in Applied Mathematics (BMath 1984) and Mechanical Engineering (MASc 1986), and a PhD in CAD-based machining simulation from the University of British Columbia (1992). His specialization in computer-aided design and manufacturing automation has led to work in the spacecraft, energy, textile, manufacturing, and medical device industries. He has also been a faculty member in Mechanical Engineering at McMaster University for 23 years, where he completed numerous government-funded research awards and industry contracts, and supervised over 30 graduate students.
He is a regular reviewer of NSERC and OCE grant applications, and has recently served on both the federal and provincial CFI-CITT expert review committees.
This broad influence with an established network of industry and academic collaborators is good fortune for both students and industry partners involved with the Research & Innovation division. As Al notes: “It’s so very difficult to gain this specific experience. The greatest thing that’s happening here at Niagara College is that the students are getting some experience outside the classroom because we actually have matched equipment and expertise.”
In addition to supervising research projects, Al is developing teaching Coordinate Metrology and Product Development notes to share with laboratory students, and soon hopefully a wider audience of college and industry colleagues.
In particular, he is a proponent of TRIZ style design approaches. “Here’s where the creativity comes in,” he explains, “… you take a specific problem, abstract it, and find a different way to look at it. There is a science to design approaches to this that can be taught.”
The seeds of sustainability and efficiency in agriculture have firmly taken root at Niagara College Research & Innovation through the efforts of Dr. Mike Duncan, the first NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges. With a specialization in Precision Agriculture and Environmental Technologies, the five-year mission of the Chair is to continue the work Duncan has already started when he arrived at Niagara College in 2001; to develop new tools; and to engage provincial and national farming communities.
Duncan came to Niagara College to found the Centre for Advanced Visualization (CFAV), a research group dedicated to exploring the use of virtual reality (VR) for urban and land use visualization. A year later, Duncan received one of the first large grants ever awarded to colleges, when the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT) invested more than $330,000 dollars in CFAV. Two years later, he received one of six NSERC Community College Innovation Pilot Program grants awarded across Canada. While it was a research facility, CFAV worked with international firms like Parsons Engineering, and Delcan Engineering, as well as local governments and cities. In 2006, CFAV Inc. was incorporated to commercialize the CFAV group, and to pursue private contracts, so Duncan then founded the Augmented Reality Research Centre (ARRC) to continue research into VR and to expand its use into other areas such as precision agriculture.
An Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) grant in 2007 established ARRC and Niagara College firmly in the area of agricultural remote sensing and visualization with the PrAgMatic project which aims to help farmers increase crop yields while reducing dependence on fertilizers and water, therefore reducing environmental impact. The PrAgMatic system currently encompasses a host of technologies, including GIS/GPS, databases, 2D and 3D visualization, digital soil mapping (DSM), image classification, sensor networks, LIDAR, and other remote sensing technologies.
In 2009, Niagara College received one of the first Community College Innovation (CCI) grants of $2.3 million for the development of the Land Use Technology Centre to further focus on the PrAgMatic project. This work attracted the attention of local and international partners, including Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), and IBM.
Maintaining a healthy respect for the fact that farming is a business, Duncan and his team of students and collaborators are examining questions like how to establish management zones in farm fields, how to recognize the onset conditions of killer frost events, and how to interpret and use remote sensed data in the context of a farm field.
As Research Project Manager of the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre, Kristine is responsible for the oversight and development of food and beverage applied research and fee-for-service activities involving industry.
The CFWI Innovation Centre is dedicated to assisting food and beverage industry partners with their research, innovation, and commercialization needs through collaborative applied projects involving NC’s students, expert faculty/staff, and outstanding infrastructure.
Kristine joined the division in 2013, working as the Industry Liaison Officer, with the responsibilities of managing contracts, promotional activities and communications with external partners. She has taught Marketing for Continuing Education and brings to her role more than 15 years’ of project management experience in various sectors, including consumer packaged goods and food innovation, as a consumer services program manager for Nestle Canada.
Kristine holds an undergraduate degree in Communications from Brock University, and is currently enrolled part-time in Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. In her spare time, she volunteers on the Board of Directors for Women’s Place of South Niagara.
As the Research Project Manager of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC), Amal Driouich oversees the R&D needs of Niagara’s SMEs (small- and medium-sized businesses), managing a wide range of applied research projects and bringing together faculty, staff, students, and industry partners.
No stranger to project management, Amal has a successful history in leading all phases of diverse technology, engineering, and applied research projects and has developed innovative advanced manufacturing solutions within industries in Ontario and Canada. Most recently, she served as Project Manager for Oakville-based Promation, an automation manufacturing company with nuclear, automotive, and industrial divisions. Prior to that, she was a Research Associate at Quebec’s Laval University in the department of Mechanical Engineering.
Amal holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering from Mohammadia School of Engineers in Morocco, her home country; and an MSc in Mechanical Engineering from Laval University. She is fluent in Arabic, French, and English. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Women in Nuclear Canada, Golden Horseshoe West chapter, and is chair-elect for the Toronto chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.
Niagara College’s WAMIC specializes in 3D technologies, engineering design and additive manufacturing, all to help SMEs with innovative prototype development or process improvement.
Kimberley Cathline is the Research Project Manager of the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC). In her role, she oversees projects in the areas of precision agriculture technology, environmental technology, horticultural practices, and greenhouse research.
Kimberley has 15 years’ experience in applied agriculture research – most recently at the Vineland Research & Innovation Centre – managing numerous horticulture research projects, and previously at the University of California, Davis, where she managed viticulture research in lab, field and greenhouse environments. Kimberley holds a BSc (Hon. with Distinction) in Plant Biology from the University of Guelph and an MSc in Biological Sciences, specializing in Plant Sciences, from Brock University.
Christine George is the research lead for the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre. She leads and supports the success of applied research projects mainly for the Greenhouse Technology Network, a Niagara College-led initiative that brings together research institutions and greenhouse and technology businesses to accelerate the development, commercialization and adoption of new technologies. Research projects focus on validating novel products and/or technology through testing within greenhouses.
Also a faculty member at NC since 2019, Christine is a partial load professor teaching Plant Science 2 in the School of Environment and Horticulture program. After receiving her Master’s degree in Soil Science (2013) from the University of Guelph, Christine worked as a R&D lab manager for Alpha Agri Products Inc. She has spent the last three years as a private soil health consultant in southern Ontario, dividing her time between contract work with research or grant-driven projects, and soil sampling and analysis.
Dr. Ana Cristina Vega Lugo is the Senior Food Scientist for the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre, part of the Research & Innovation Division at the College. Ana Cristina is responsible for managing the research/student team and resources required for all product and process innovation, food safety, analytical lab and label compliance services, and other technical service and applied research activities. A trained food engineer and scientist with a PhD degree in food science, Ana Cristina has 10 years’ experience in food science and commercialization, including in development, troubleshooting and applicable packaging science and technology. Her most recent position was with Hela Spice Canada as a senior product developer.
Dr. Zhengtao (Tao) Zhao is the Food Scientist – Beverage Specialist at the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre, part of the Research & Innovation Division at Niagara College. Tao is responsible for assisting in the start-up, management and operations of the CFWI Innovation Centre’s Beverage and Liquids R&D Pilot Processing Facility. Tao, who has a PhD degree in Food Science from the University of Guelph, has extensive experience in the field of food science/chemistry, product development, research food processing and quality control. He has worked as a product developer and research scientist at Gay Lea Foods and the University of Guelph; Parmalat Canada, and Shanghai Toong Yeuan Food Technology.
As Lab Technologist with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, Kelly Byer is responsible for managing the College’s four research labs – facilities which allow students to explore such areas of food science as microbiology, chemistry, sensory analysis and shelf-life testing.
The labs are equipped with leading-edge technology; all part of the extensive services, from new recipe development to regulatory assistance and nutritional labelling, which are offered to food and beverage industry partners in need of research, innovation and commercialization assistance.
Kelly has spent most of her career either in the field or in a lab coat, in biological control of weeds, first at the University of Guelph and then at Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada in Saskatchewan. In addition to extensive research activities at AAFC, she oversaw all aspects of lab management and found time to write, edit and review numerous scientific publications and research reports. She also brings previous experience in quality and food safety programs; compliance with regulatory programs and standards; and new product development.
She has an Honours Biology degree with a minor in Biochemistry from the University of Guelph and also has HACCP and SQF certifications.
In addition to her role at R&I, Kelly is a part-time professor of NC’s Applied Plant Pathology course in the School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies.
Stephanie Skotidas is the Research Lab Technician with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre. In addition to assisting the Lab Technologist on a variety of applied research projects and technical services for the CFWI Innovation Centre, Stephanie also works collaboratively with industry partners, faculty, students and graduates in existing and new food and beverage labs.
Stephanie has a background in chemistry, biology, analytical instrumentation, product development and food safety protocols. She brings to her role a decade of experience in her sector, including a position as R&D Food Technologist with Sensient Flavors Canada and as an Assistant Winemaker with Andrew Peller Ltd. She holds a Bachelor in Life Sciences from McMaster University and a diploma in Food and Drug Technology from Durham College.
Rachel Brown is the Research Grants and Contracts Officer for the Research & Innovation division at Niagara College. In this role she oversees all department budgets and financial reporting for the division, tracking all financial operations and reporting requirements related to internal and external funding portfolios. With in-depth knowledge of the comprehensive array of grant agency programs, Rachel collaborates with the research management team in coordinating all submissions, overseeing grant compliance and eligibility and liaises with funders and key stakeholders. She is a graduate of Niagara College’s Business Administration – Operations Management program.
Dave McKechnie is the Research Laboratory Technologist with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC). In his role, Dave is responsible for managing and maintaining the various technologies in the research labs, as well as providing mentorship training to the students, who receive real-world learning opportunities. As the main point of contact for all laboratory activities generated by WAMIC, he is also responsible for coordinating all technical services and providing support as needed to applied research activities.
Dave is no stranger to Niagara College. He graduated from the Welding Technician program in 2012 and from the Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 2019. He has also served at WAMIC in both his junior and senior co-op positions as a research assistant and has recently been assisting the Centre in the delivery of technical services and applied research project work as a senior research associate.
As Research Services Support Officer, Christine Raymond provides clerical, administrative, and research project-related support for the Research & Innovation division and its three Innovation Centres. She is also responsible for all aspects of support related to human resources activities for part-time staff within the division, including students and research graduates. Christine joined the Research & Innovation team in April 2013 as Human Resources & Events Officer. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario, she pursued a Human Resources Management (Post Graduate) Certificate from Fanshawe College. With a passion for education, Christine continued her academic pursuits and earned a Master of Science in Education from Medaille College, and has worked as an occasional teacher. Her employment portfolio includes extensive experience planning large-scale events and implementing human resources functions within a number of organizations. She is thrilled to work at a progressive post-secondary institution and is eager to participate in the division’s growth.
Paula Reile is the Project Manager overseeing the Business & Commercialization Solutions portfolio. In this role, she guides a team offering real-world solutions to small- and medium-sized enterprises in areas such as initial market research to full commercialization strategies, as well as a suite of business operations solutions. Paula is a graduate of two Niagara College programs: Sales & Marketing (2016) and Advanced Marketing Administration (2017); soon after, she started her own marketing company. She also has a number of years experience working with the Research & Innovation division at the College. Prior to her post as Project Manager, she spent seven months as a Research Lead with the Business & Commercialization Solutions team and before that, she was a Research Assistant, where she provided new and existing businesses with marketing solutions. Paula spent a decade in the insurance industry prior to pursuing marketing as a career.
Kithio Mwanzia is the Network Manager for the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), a Niagara College-led network of seven academic institutions that pool its resources to provide innovation and technology to smaller manufacturers. In his role, Kithio is responsible for the overall recruitment and outreach activities of the network, as well as the recruitment of three new academic institutions to the network during the next five years.
Kithio has spent a number of years in Niagara working on governance issues with the Thorold Chamber of Commerce and later the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC). He was also interim CEO at GNCC for a few months before taking the role of President & CEO of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce. He holds a Bachelor and a Master of Arts in Political Science from Brock University, and he has earned his Certificate in Public Governance from the Institute on Governance.
Sarah Dimick is the Project Manager for the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), a Niagara College-led consortium of seven academic institutions supporting manufacturers’ research and development needs through applied research projects. In her role, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the network, including the management of a range of projects and related activities.
Sarah has extensive experience in innovation, information services and public policy areas. She spent 10 years at the Conference Board of Canada, an Ottawa-based think tank, as a researcher in their Technology and Innovation group. Most recently, she served as the Director of Research at an innovative data-analytics start-up rel8ed.to Analytics. She holds a Bachelor’s degree (Law and Political Science) and a Master’s degree in Legal Studies, both from Carleton University in Ottawa and has earned her designation as Project Management Professional.
Rita Sterne, PhD, is the Project Manager for the Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), a Niagara College-led consortium of three institutions supporting the research and development needs of the greenhouse industry through applied research projects. In her role, Rita is responsible for managing a range of projects and related activities to grow the GTN, through outreach to business and liaison with partner institutions.
Rita brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in both the business community and the academic and research areas of the greenhouse industry. She holds a PhD in Management, as well as an MBA in Hospitality and Tourism, both from the University of Guelph. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Guelph’s School of Engineering in a project on “Value Creation Using Robots in the Ontario Vegetable Greenhouse Industry.”
In her role as Finance Assistant, Janice Rowe is a Project Assistant for the Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), a Niagara College-led consortium of three institutions supporting the research and development needs of the greenhouse industry through applied research projects.
Janice joined Research & Innovation in December 2016 as Project Assistant for the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation (SONAMI). She has worked as a fundraising professional in the non-profit sector for health and education charities and brings experience working with funders, grants, and reporting to her role at Niagara College. Janice holds a (Hon.) Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa and a Business Administration diploma from Mount Royal College.
Elizabeth Best is the Business Development Coordinator of the Research & Innovation Division. She comes to Niagara College with experience in strategic planning, program content and development, financial management, and communications outreach and has run large-scale events and conferences for major players in the Niagara region. In her role at the College, Elizabeth provides support to management in all relations, communications and promotional activities with external partners. She is also responsible for supporting the recruitment of applied research projects across college programs, for the purposes of developing course-based research projects. Elizabeth is a graduate of Niagara College’s Convention and Meeting Management Program and a Certified Meeting Manager. She looks forward to building relationships with Niagara business leaders and creating innovative partnerships within Niagara Research & Innovation for students, faculty and industry partners.
For Tanya Hvilivitzky, joining the Research & Innovation team represents a homecoming of sorts. Tanya is an award-winning graduate of the Niagara College journalism program, which she credits for instilling a love of story-telling and whetting her innate curiosity. It launched a career that has included stints as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, communications director and researcher. In her role as Dissemination & Outreach Officer, Tanya taps into her inquisitive nature to help share the compelling stories about the people, the applied research projects and the diverse collaborations with industry partners.
In her role as the Web and Graphic Design Officer for the Research & Innovation division, Stephanie Farr supports the team on a variety of marketing and promotional projects, involving print and digital graphic design, updating and maintaining the R&I website, and developing new microsites for the division’s diverse outreach activities. Stephanie is a graduate of Niagara College’s New Media Web Design program, where she learned video editing, the design of promotional materials, 3D animation and marketing skills.
She has since been self-employed designing websites on her own for small- and medium-sized businesses in Niagara, and as part of the Armstrong Strategy Group’s stable of contracted service providers.
Kevin Poulin joined the Research & Innovation Division in August 2004. Kevin is a graduate of Niagara College’s Computer Programming and Network System Operations. He has more than 14 years of experience in the Information Technology field. He is responsible for maintaining all Research & Innovation’s information technology systems. Kevin also assists Research & Innovation staff, faculty and students with the technology aspects of their various projects to help them meet their goals. He maintains 3D render farms, sensor networks, servers, and is quick to adapt and implement any new technology required.