2020 Innovation Nation Conference Speakers
Dr. Robert Thirsk, Canadian Astronaut
Title of Robert Thirsk’s Talk: ‘3000 Orbits – Life Aboard the International Space Station’
Dr. Robert Thirsk received degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Medicine and Business Administration from the University of Calgary, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and McGill University. Bob has participated in two space missions as a member of the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut corps. He flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1996 with six crewmates as part of the Life and Microgravity Spacelab Mission. His second flight in 2009 was a six-month expedition with five international crewmates aboard the International Space Station. Bob is a strong promoter of an economy based upon exploration, innovation and lifelong learning.
Dr. Ishwar K. Puri
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and professor at McMaster University
Title: “The Pivot: Innovation in Engineering Education”.
Dr. Ishwar K. Puri is dean of the Faculty of Engineering and professor at McMaster University in Hamilton. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a licensed professional engineer (P.Eng) registered in Ontario. He is also founding academic director of the McMaster Computing Infrastructure Research Centre.
Ph.D., P.Eng., STSM, IBM Master Inventor
Watson Health Imaging
Specializing in medical imaging since 1992, Marwan has created, designed and developed dozens of ground breaking medical imaging products across all major medical imaging specialties that have had international impact throughout his 26 year career. At Merge Healthcare (now IBM) he developed hospital enterprise imaging systems for radiology, orthopedics, oncology, cardiology and eye care used today in thousands of hospitals on hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide. His clinical specialty products were awarded 10 Best in KLAS awards.
Marwan is currently leading commercial developments of medical imaging AI solutions for IBM Watson’s Health Imaging division. These AI developments include women’s breast imaging screening and liver cancer detection and staging. Throughout his career Marwan has continuously innovated and patented inventions for which he was awarded the prestigious “IBM Senior Technical Staff Member” (STSM) title in 2017 and “IBM Master Inventor” title in 2018.
Prior to IBM and Merge Healthcare Marwan achieved world renown and multiple international research awards as a founder of image guided orthopedic surgery. He created the first computer assisted knee ligament replacement surgery systems resulting in 2 spin- offs sold to large orthopedic manufacturers. Marwan has extensive international experience heading a research lab in Switzerland for 5 years where he expanded his work to imaging guided total hip and knee prosthetic replacement. He then joined Cedara Software developing many business-to-business products and technologies sold through dozens of international medical imaging and equipment OEM companies such as GE, Toshiba, Medtronic, Stryker etc. for image- guided surgery and enterprise imaging solutions.
Dr. Michael Gallagher is the President and CEO of Association of Spaceflight Professionals Inc., an organization developing early-stage human-in-the-loop space experiments and technologies. Michael currently practices family medicine and dive medicine at the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton, Alberta. He also provides medical care in rural emergency departments, hospitals and clinics in Alberta and Canada’s north. He completed a Canadian Space Agency-sponsored aerospace medicine elective at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in April 2010. His preliminary investigations into lower body negative pressure as a possible countermeasure for bone loss earned him a spot as a finalist for the Aerospace Medical Association’s Jeff Myers Young Investigator Award. In 2005, he received his Bachelor of Science Honours Degree with a Subject of Specialization in Life Sciences from Queen’s University. He believes profoundly in human spaceflight’s capacity to spur meaningful technological innovation and unify humanity in pursuit of a common goal.
Eric Choi is the senior business development manager for the space business unit of Magellan Aerospace. His career has encompassed both the aviation and space sectors, the latter including work on QEYSSat (Quantum Encryption and Science Satellite), the Meteorology payload on the Phoenix Mars Lander, the Canadarm2 on the International Space Station, the RADARSAT-1 Earth-observation satellite, and the MOPITT (Measurements of Pollution on the Troposphere) instrument on the Terra satellite. He holds a B.A.Sc in Engineering Science (Aerospace) and an M.A.Sc in Aerospace Engineering, both from the University of Toronto, and an MBA from York University. In 2009, he was one of the Top 40 finalists (out of 5,351 applicants) in the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut recruitment campaign. Besides his aerospace career, he is also an award-winning science fiction writer and editor.
Dr. Michael C. Kolios is a Professor in the Department of Physics at Ryerson University and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Science.
Photoacoustics: Using the colours of light to listen to the world
His work focuses on the use of ultrasound and optics in the biomedical sciences. He directs the Advanced Biomedical Ultrasound Imaging and Spectroscopy laboratory which houses state-of the-art ultrasound tools using frequencies ranging from 1 to 1000 MHz to study the interaction of ultrasound and light with biological materials for imaging and therapy. Dr. Kolios leads a group of projects that focus on optical and ultrasound methods used to characterize tissues and disease, as well as to develop theranostic agents that will assist in both therapeutic and diagnostic applications.
He has received numerous research and teaching awards, including the Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Applications of Ultrasound, the Ontario Premiers Research Excellence Award, and the Ryerson YSGS Outstanding Contribution to Graduate Education Award. International recognition includes: the Joseph H. Holmes Basic Science Pioneer Award (American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine) and the College of Fellows, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
CEO, McMaster Innovation Park
Ty is the CEO of McMaster Innovation Park- Canada’s Premier Research Park. Prior to joining the MIP team, Ty held various senior leadership positions within the digital media, aerospace, and venture capital industries, including CTO of Eagle Aerospace, President of Aethon Technologies (originally named 6Imaging LLC), CEO of PV Labs, COO of Trivaris Ltd, and Vice President at L3 Technologies – Wescam. Ty has spent his career at the intersection of technology and business design.
He has years of senior leadership experience, focused primarily on technology commercialization and investment within the aerospace & defense industry, and other high-tech sectors. This experience has given him a passion for, and deep understanding of, starting, managing, financing, and growing companies within emerging markets. A self-proclaimed geek, he leverages his ability to envision the potential of new ideas, along with his strong bias for pragmatism, to help inventors, researchers, entrepreneurs, and high-technology organizations, transform their innovative ideas into a profitable business reality.
As a Professional Engineer, former Adjunct Professor at OCAD University, past Chair of Mohawk College’s Board of Governors, and a former RCAF officer, Ty is well known within the GTHA for his business acumen and community leadership. In 2010, he was awarded “Engineer of the Year” from The Ontario Society for Professional Engineers. In 2011, as CEO of PV Labs, he led the company toward being named one of “Canada’s Top 200 Fastest Growing Companies” by Profit Magazine, and in 2012 they received an Academy Award under his leadership.
Layi Oshinowo P.Eng.
Program Director, Gateway Robotics, at MacDonald, Dettwiler, and Associates (MDA)
Layi has devoted a significant portion of his career working on projects to design, build, and operate robotic systems for space exploration. He is currently the Program Director, Gateway Robotics, at MacDonald, Dettwiler, and Associates (MDA) in Brampton, Ontario. As an engineer on the Mobile Servicing System project – working to build the Canadarm2 and Dextre for use on the International Space Station– Layi was involved in hardware testing at the Kennedy Space Center (and watching the occasional Shuttle launch and landing), training astronauts and mission controllers at the Canadian Space Agency, and real-time mission support for on-orbit operations. He has also worked on research and development projects developing prototypes for exploration rovers and on-orbit robotic servicing systems, as well as providing oversight of flight programs developed at MDA’s Brampton facility.
Layi has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (1994) and Master’s degree in Systems Design Engineering (1996), both from the University of Waterloo. He is a registered Professional Engineer.
Jennifer Buchli, NASA International Space Station, Deputy Chief Scientist
“Exploring New Frontiers: Science on the International Space Station”
Jennifer is the NASA ISS Program Deputy Chief Scientist . Her background is biotechnology. She has served as both Principal Investigator and Payload Developer for ISS flight investigations. Jennifer’s previous NASA experience includes focal lead for life sciences for the ISS Program Science Office, and life support and emergency instructor and flight control in the Flight Operations Directorate. Prior to joining NASA, Jennifer worked in stem cell transplantation research.
“Back to the Moon; Advances in Robotics for Lunar Exploration”
Faizan Rehmatullah is an Engineer in the Guidance, Navigation and Control department at MacDonald, Dettwiler, and Associates (MDA) in Brampton, Ontario. He has over 5 years of experience in the research and development of autonomous systems. Faizan is leading the Lunar Surface Mobility Program at MDA, developing rovers for the Canadian Space Agency to support manned and unmanned exploration missions to the Moon. These missions will enhance our understanding of the Moon and prepare us for future long duration missions to the Moon and Mars. Faizan is also developing the Mobility System for the Mars Sample Fetch rover for the European Space Agency. The Sample Fetch Rover is part of the Mars Sample Return mission where space agencies from around the world are collaborating to execute the first mission to return Martian samples back to the Earth.
Artash Nath, 13 years
Arushi Nath, 10 years
We are passionate about space, robotics, artificial intelligence, and participating in hackathons (29 so far!). Our first hackathon was the 2014 NASA SpaceApps Challenge Toronto at the Ontario Science Centre where we built an autonomous Mars rover which could guide itself and transmit environmental data wirelessly. It was an amazing experience: trying to solve a space challenge in 40 hours and then actually winning the Peoples’ Choice Award and emerging among top 5 winners of the NASA SpaceApps Global.
We believe age is not a barrier in learning new things. We learned to hack our curiousity and set our own learning path. We tried to put our ideas about space gadgets, rockets, rovers and robots into practice by actually building them, testing them and participating in competitions to challenge us even more. And we ended up winning the 2018 and 2017 NASA SpaceApps, the 2017 Canadian SpaceApps Challenge and many other awards including the Science Odyssey Grand Prize 2018, Emerald Code Grand Prize 2018, and the Imaging the Skies Award 2019 and the Jesse Ketchum Award 2018 by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Our favourite award was an invitation by the Canadian Space Agency for an exclusive visit to their headquarters to present our Canadian SpaceApps winning project “Yes I Can” (which uses data from RadarSat-2 satellite of Canada to make the Canada150 logo) and to meet the new astronauts.
We believe that the best way to learn new things is to teach others! In 2014, we co-founded the www.HotPopRobot.com with our family to share our passion of science and space with others. Every year, we carry out 10-15 science outreach events for other kids, families, schools, and libraries. Our projects have been displayed at Maker Festival Toronto, MakerExpo Kitchener, Maker Festival Delhi, DigiFest, International Space Development Conference (USA), Toronto International Film Festival, Science Rendezvous, and the Ontario Science Centre. Our projects have been featured on the cover page of Toronto Metro Newspaper, The Star, TVO Kids, CBC, and Global News.
We are currently working on applying artificial intelligence on space projects. In 2019, Artash’s project on using Machine Learning to Predict Risk Index of Asteroid Collision won the Honourable Mention Award at the 2019 NASA Planetary Defense Conference in Washington DC. While Arushi’s project on using Artificial Intelligence to Detect Facial Emotions of Astronauts was the finalist in 2019 Little Inventors Challenge created by the NSERC and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the project was displayed at the Canada Wide Science Fair in New Brunswick.
Social Media Handles:
Jacob Moon, Musician
Every artist starts out with heroes. But not every artist gets asked by their heroes to join them, as artists, on their stage. It’s a compliment that Jacob Moon keeps getting from the musicians who have inspired him since he started as a singer-songwriter out in Hamilton, Ontario. Artists like Rush, Marillion and Gordon Lightfoot have taken a shine to Moon’s renditions of their songs and have lavished him praise and a spotlight that has gained him international attention. It is these inventive covers that draws the fans in, but it’s Moon’s original material and his compelling live show that make them pull up a chair.
Ron Sexsmith has said: “Jacob Moon is an exceedingly gifted and watchable performer….seems completely at home on stage” and Danny Miranda (bassist for Queen) concurs “Tremendous command of the instrument…amazing voice. I can honestly say that I am overwhelmed by his music”.
Jacob Moon is known for his giftedness as a singer, songwriter of award-winning pop and folk songs. He is also a master of the art of ‘live looping’, a performance style where he records what he’s playing in real time and layers sound on sound to make one guitar sound like an orchestra.
While Antoine Cantin is currently a 4th year environmental science student at the University of Ottawa, he is globally best known for his accomplishments in Rubik’s Cube solving.
In fact, in 2014 he broke his first World Record in the field, solving a cube one-handed in an average time of 12.56 seconds. On this occasion, Antoine gave his first presentation at the innovation-nation conference, over five years ago. Since then, he improved his world record in 2015, and in 2018 also expanded his repertoire to achieve a world record breaking result of 21.17 seconds for solving the Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. Overall, the cube has brought him to 16 countries across 5 continents in which he has competed in 82 officially sanctioned competitions and collected around 400 podium finishes.
Although he is still relatively active in the community and competes when possible, Antoine’s focus during the last few years has been on other areas. At school, he likes delving into and understanding the technical side of things, as well as their applications and effects on people. Enjoying learning and discovery in and out of the classroom, he spent last fall on an academic exchange in China and has been self-learning Mandarin Chinese ever since, with the goal to return next year and take university courses taught in Chinese. He also likes to explore job opportunities a bit outside his field, having recently worked a bit out of his field of study as Junior Project Engineer at ECCC, Junior Software Developer in the Space Divison of ADGA Consultants as well as a Research Assistant in the uOttawa Environmental Engineering lab. Finally, also working as a Residence Advisor at the University of Ottawa, he strives to try and be the coolest RA around!