Category Archives: Research & Innovation

R&I project time like long job interview for current position

Danylo Kukanova
Danylo Kukanov works remotely most days, but every so often he checks into the office of his employ-er, Soil Optix, in Tavistock, Ont.

Danylo Kukanov graduated from the Computer Programmer program in 2021, earning the Dean’s Award from NC’s School of Media for his efforts.  While working with the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (now the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre), Danylo worked on projects for Soil Optix, a company that was so impressed with his student work, that they hired him after graduation. 

Tell us about where you work and your position/title:

I work for SoilOptix Inc. as software developer and junior data scientist.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

Currently I am responsible for developing scientific applications for soil analysis. In other words, I translate scientific language to computer language.

How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?

While working at R&I we worked on soil analysis tasks, statistics and web development. This experience later was used as a base for my future employment.

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?

While working for R&I I implemented soil analysis tasks using statistics and Python libraries. It opened the world of data science for me.

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

Since getting my BSc in Ukraine in System Engineering [from Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute], I wanted to further expand my knowledge in electronics and software. Niagara College looked like a good option to learn software development.

Most memorable experience at NC?

My most memorable experience at Niagara College was tutoring other students. I like learning and I was glad to share my experience with others. It was my first experience teaching.

Is there a particular mentor at either R&I or a faculty member who influenced you? 

There are a couple former members who boosted my skills and helped me gain a lot of experience. They are Sarah Lepp and Mike Duncan. I do appreciate their efforts.

What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?

Always look for new knowledge about your field of study, even if it is not covered by your curriculum. For instance, if you are working as a web developer, be sure you learn modern design patterns (like gang of four), SOLID principles etc. As far as I know they are not mentioned during your studies, but they are must-have knowledge for your future career.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

Primarily how to work in a team.

Proudest achievement since graduating?

Worked with Convolution Neural Networks during one of our work projects.

What are you passionate about at the moment?

I really want to dive deeper into data science.  During my work I realized how interesting this field of study can be.

Interests outside of work?

When I’m not working, I usually play the guitar and care for my little garden. In future I plan to start again playing with electronics and make my own microelectronic projects.

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?

The more you learn, the more bizarre the world looks.

NOW HIRING: Brewery Research Assistant with our CFWI Innovation Centre team

Brewery Research Assistant, Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre

Located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus of Niagara College, the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre team offers a full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes in the food and beverage sector. From new recipe development to shelf-life testing and nutritional labeling, the CFWI Innovation Centre pairs industry partners with faculty, recent graduates and students with the right expertise and equipment to meet industry needs.

The successful candidate will be currently enrolled in the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations program and will have the opportunity to assist with beverage analysis and product development with the CFWI Innovation Centre.

See the full Brewery Research Assistant job posting and apply today.
The deadline to apply is Wednesday, May 18th at 12pm.

To apply, please email your resume, cover letter, program of study, year or term in which you are currently enrolled, and school schedule (if available) to [email protected] and reference Brewery Research Assistant in the subject line. 

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

Position Available: Footcare Project Assistant with our Research & Innovation team

Footcare Project Assistant

The Footcare Project Assistant is a role that encompasses two roles (Research & Footcare Assessment Assistant) and is dependent on the work available with restrictions due to the pandemic. As a Research Assistant, the selected candidate will work remotely and meet regularly with the Research Project manager and other members of the research team through virtual software programs. As a Footcare Assessment Assistant, the selected candidate will enter homeless shelters and provide professional assessments to their clients.

We are looking for a motivated Footcare Project Assistant who is interested in supporting the pilot phase of the research project and is enthusiastically enrolled in one of the mentioned allied health programs at Niagara College and looking to assist vulnerable individuals with footcare assessments. Some duties and responsibilities include preparing creating research-informed resources, surveys and interview guides, preparing reports, footcare assessment tasks and participating meetings.

Click HERE to see the full Footcare Project Assistant job posting. To apply, please email your cover letter and resume to [email protected] and reference ‘Footcare Project Assistant’ in the subject line.

The deadline to apply is Friday, May 13, 2022 at 12pm. 

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

R&I In the News: April 2022

Our recent federal funding news was picked up by news outlets across Canada, thanks to our partnerships with institutions from Alberta to New Brunswick, and several in southern Ontario.

Local coverage:

Researcher’s sophisticated palate lends well to product development

Jaclyn Harriman’s to-do list is long.

The project lead and researcher with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre is working with new distilleries to create a full lineup of spirits and ready-to-drink beverages. She’s experimenting with mock-spirits, dealcoholized wine and plenty of interesting tinctures. Harriman is also helping clients to repurpose materials that might otherwise be discarded, with a keen eye on sustainability.

There are other new and established distilleries turning to Harriman to bring their ideas to life seeking foraged, wild and local ingredients. But her prowess in a research lab didn’t start in a classroom.

It started when she spent nine years as an adult travelling abroad to help with grape harvests.

“I love the connection to plant medicine and the complexity of the craft; it draws on your creativity and curiosity to create something unique.”

All roads eventually led back to Niagara College where Harriman enrolled as a mature student in the Winery and Viticulture Technician program. It was as a student on a field trip to Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery in Beamsville, Ontario that her career path became even clearer.

Harriman was so taken with the still – its shape, the copper, the complexity – that she hand-delivered her resume the next day. She was hired as a distiller and botanist soon after graduating in 2016, tasked with growing the botanicals that make Dillon’s spirits industry benchmarks today.

“That will always be a playful area for me,” Harriman notes about working in a distillery. “I love to meet other distillers and talk about what they’re doing. I love the connection to plant medicine and the complexity of the craft; it draws on your creativity and curiosity to create something unique.”

Naturally, she’s particularly fond of a job that lets her do all of that, such as the one she does at Research & Innovation.

“I feel so lucky,” Harriman said. “It’s funny in life how your skills build on one another. I just got to build and build and build.”

Jaclyn Harriman, researcher with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre, uses a lab distillation apparatus to extract volatile aromas and flavour compounds from macerated botanicals, for an emerging micro-distillery currently working with NC to develop a gin.

That includes helping to develop some high-profile non-alcoholic spirits, which are capturing greater market share. With booze or without, the process for creating a winning beverage is similar. It’s coming up with ideas, developing then tasting prototypes with her research team, which includes students whom Harriman loves to mentor, creating product applications and ensuring everything aligns with client goals.

“I love the team,” she says. “It’s a collaboration. We all have different skills and we deliver really great products. It’s really, really exciting.”

Still, Harriman hasn’t forgotten how it all started with a plane ticket and some wanderlust.

When she’s not in a lab, she finds inspiration close to home on the Bruce Trail, where she ventures for a standing weekly date with Mother Nature. Anything farther afield might involve a trip in her Honda Odyssey, which she converted into a camper. Add that, and a campfire at Superior Provincial Park, especially, and “I couldn’t be happier.”

But when the world allows, there are planes to catch, most recently to Colombia. There, she based her itinerary on coffee, drinking flights of java and doing cuppings to taste for characteristics such as cleanness, sweetness, acidity and mouthfeel.

“It’s really living in the moment,” Harriman says about engaging in such sensory experiences. “You have to focus on the experience and evaluate.”

Paying attention to her palate, particularly when pairing food and beverage, pays off for her clients. Being able to pick up on traits others might not be as tuned into helps with the product development she does.

And while memories of her travels live on in her trained taste buds, they also exist in Harriman’s garden, which is a growing homage to the places she has been. Take the lemon tree, currently struggling indoors during the cooler weather, that’s her reminder of Portugal, or the Japanese maple that harkens back to another trip.

The red currant, huckleberry, haskap and raspberries provide muses for another of Harriman’s hobbies: making vinegar. This year, she plans to expand her plot, which is as nearly as big as her house, to include edible flowers to decorate her culinary creations.

It might all make her to-do list a little longer, but Harriman doesn’t mind. If anything, it makes her all the more suited to life at Research & Innovation.

“I’m a huge food and beverage connoisseur. I love pairings. That’s another thing that still drives my work at Research & Innovation,” she said. “You have to understand flavours before knowing what you can deliver.”

Niagara College receives a $4.43M boost for applied research

NSERC funding supports cannabis, craft beer and advanced manufacturing sectors

Niagara College researchers welcome the news of a $4.43-million investment from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

On April 5, NSERC’s College and Community Innovation (CCI) program announced three new Applied Research and Technology Partnership (ARTP) funding grants for NC. Funds included an ARTP grant to support a NC project in sustainable cannabis and hemp production research, as well as two multi-institutional ARTP grants for NC-led projects: to support craft breweries in Canada, and to expand the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI).

“We are thankful for NSERC’s significant investment in research and innovation at Niagara College, and for their outstanding support of NC-led applied research projects with our valued institutional partners – including SONAMI – that will benefit SMEs in vital and emerging sectors across Ontario and Canada,” said Marc Nantel, Vice President of Research and External Relations at Niagara College. “Innovation is a key priority at NC, and these projects will not only advance the applied research needs of industry, but will expand opportunities for students as they work with SMEs to provide innovative solutions.”

Supporting sustainable cannabis and hemp production research

The newly announced funds earmark $641,800 (over a two-year period) for research and development at NC to address challenges and continue advancement in the cannabis industry. This will provide research support in cultivation, as well as business and marketing, and will provide new applied research experiences for students within the College’s schools of Environment and Horticulture, and Business and Management.

“The ARTP funding for sustainable cannabis and hemp production will be instrumental in allowing our Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC) and Business and Commercialization Services (BCS) teams to fully operationalize and support industry needs through the increased ability to execute more research projects,” said Kimberley Cathline, Research Program Manager of the College’s AETIC.

Thanks to the new ARTP funding, NC will be able to operationalize its dedicated cannabis space and begin assisting companies with cultivation-related challenges. It will support research in sustainable cannabis production, cannabis variety and growth trials, integrated pest management, and business and commercialization solutions. Cathline noted that the ARTP grant will allow NC to invest in these strategic areas while deepening AETIC and BCS’s role in contributing to the innovation ecosystem to support the sector.

By providing access to expert faculty, students, equipment and facilities, the College’s AETIC and BCS teams are ideally positioned to lead applied research projects that assist cannabis producers with meeting growth and competitiveness challenges.

In 2018, NC made headlines around the world when it launched the first Commercial Cannabis Production program in Canada. Over the last three years, the College has also been helping industry partners and associations address challenges and continue advancement in cannabis through course-based research projects.

In March 2021, the College expanded its on-campus cannabis education capabilities to include a Health-Canada-approved CannaResearch Bunker, funded through NSERC’s applied Research Tools and Instruments Grants program. This dedicated research space provides specialized equipment to grow crops, complete trials and conduct research in partnership with industry. It offers a controlled, sterile, and isolated growing space to perform safe, secure, and dependable research projects.

NC also has an Industrial Hemp licence, which is significant for research and academic endeavours, providing hands-on learning and research opportunities that enable students to advance Canada’s hemp and cannabis industries. Students learn to grow cannabis/hemp in a controlled environment, in a greenhouse and outdoors.

Improving Canadian craft beer competitiveness

An ARTP grant for $1,789,330 million (over a two-year period) has been awarded to NC to lead a project to support the Canadian craft brewing industry by improving quality assurance and control measures in small- and medium-sized breweries. Its goal is to create a Craft Brewer Quality program, which will be piloted across the country to train brewers and students.

The project will be led by Niagara College (through its Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre) – home to Canada’s first Teaching Brewery and renowned Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program –-and will involve Durham College, Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick’s CCNB-INNOV (New Brunswick), and Olds College (Alberta).

“We are absolutely thrilled for the support from NSERC. It really shows that the federal government is committed to supporting the craft beer industry in its ongoing growth and development,” said Lyndon Ashton, Centre Manager, CFWI Innovation Centre. “Since the 1980s, the craft brewing industry has grown to 24% of all beer made in Canada. Of key importance now for the growing industry is developing a systematic way to increase quality assurance and consistency in the products sold to the public.”

Ashton noted that the funds will be used to collaboratively develop a framework of industry standards and guidelines with college and industry experts. They will be operationalized into customized written quality programs and the concepts will be proven in partnership with 16 breweries across New Brunswick, Ontario, and Alberta. Analytical testing at key points during the project will gauge the effectiveness of the standards.

At every step, students will be trained alongside industry partners, exemplifying work-integrated learning and capacity building for the businesses. Ultimately, the intellectual property will be assigned to industry association partners for potential adoption upon project completion.

Expanding SONAMI into four strategic sectors

SONAMI – a Niagara College-led network of nine postsecondary institutions designed to support SMEs in the manufacturing sector across Southern Ontario – will receive $2-million in funding (over a two-year period) to expand into four strategic sectors for targeted growth. The areas of expansion include transportation (auto parts and aerospace manufacturing supply chains); energy systems (energy storage, renewable energy production); food processing; and medical devices (to support access to medical device research and expertise for SMEs). The funds will support eligible SONAMI academic members including NC, Centennial, Conestoga, Fanshawe, Lambton, Mohawk, Sheridan and George Brown.

“SONAMI is a prime example of how, when industry and applied research come together to innovate and grow, it can drive the development of national and regional economies and communities,” said SONAMI Network Manager Kithio Mwanzia. “In transportation, energy systems, medical devices, and food processing, given that they are fiercely competitive but highly rewarding global industries, innovation is a necessity.”

Mwanzia noted that the new ARTP grant will help SMEs in these industry areas leverage the growing SONAMI network to master multiple practices to commercialize products and processes that will catalyze their growth and success.

“These industry areas attract talent and investment from around the world,” said Mwanzia. “Industry leading companies in each of these industry areas choose Canada as the place in which to design and manufacture new products and from which to sell them to the world.”

Through the ARTP grant, SONAMI will conduct at least 42 applied research projects with industry partners in the four targeted sectors. These 42 projects will be assessed through a triple lens of sustainability, growth, and profitability, to best support the economic recovery for SMEs.

NC will be contributing to at least four of the projects and will have access to financial support for new equipment investments.

In addition to supporting applied research and SMEs, SONAMI projects support student success. Students gain access to industry experience, hands-on learning and exposure to working with industry partners – potential employers.

 


NC’s award-winning Research & Innovation division administers research funding support from various regional, provincial and federal agencies. Students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers and assist industry partners with leaping forward in the marketplace.

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.