Oct. 31, 2016

UCalgary makes a clean sweep at ASTech Awards

Four researchers take home Alberta’s highest recognition for innovation
University of Calgary recipients of ASTech Awards, from left: Ian Gates, Ryan Lewinson, Warren Piers, and Mayank Goyal. Photos courtesy ASTech Foundation

ASTech Award recipients, from left: Ian Gates, Ryan Lewinson, Warren Piers, and Mayank Goyal.

ASTech Foundation

UCalgary researchers cleaned up at the Alberta Science and Technology Leadership (ASTech) Awards Friday night, winning across categories and bringing home a total of four awards.  A fifth award was also given posthumously to Dr. Cy Frank, one of the university’s and Canada’s most respected clinician scientists, who died last year. The special award recognized Frank’s nearly 40 years as an orthopedic surgeon, scientific researcher, teacher, entrepreneur, mentor and health administrator.

“These awards celebrate curiosity and reward innovation,” says John Reynolds, associate vice-president (research). “We are thrilled to see our researchers receive ASTech Awards. They are a high honour in science and technology in the province and an important recognition of the work our researchers are doing at UCalgary.”

The ASTech Foundation has showcased Alberta innovators in science and technology since 1989, giving out more than 300 awards celebrating world-class creativity, industry growth and global advances.

Ian Gates wins Innovation in Oil Sands Research award

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for our efforts,” says Ian Gates, whose 36 patents and ground-breaking techniques have increased the efficiency of Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) in the oil and gas industry. “It feels great to have won this award,” says the professor and head of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering.

The award, sponsored by Syncrude, also recognizes Gates’ outstanding teaching, helping students rapidly adapt to changes in the energy industry. “I am truly thankful to the ASTech Foundation and Syncrude as well as the support we get from our research sponsors and the University of Calgary.” 

Dr. Mayank Goyal wins Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology award

“It was nice to be surrounded by all these super bright people and winning was like the cherry on top of the cake,” says Dr. Mayank Goyal, whose work has improved how stroke patients are treated around the world. 

He invented the multiphase CT angiogram which produces fast, reliable images of the brain during a stroke, allowing doctors to vastly improve treatment. The mCTA produces images in five or six minutes instead of having to wait 25 to 30. Goyal’s Brisk Recanalization Ischemic Stroke Kit streamlines medical procedures.

“As we take the science forward we need partnerships,” he says. “These days everything has to be done by team work and collectively. ASTech is getting people getting together with similar mindsets to find solutions.”

Ryan Lewinson wins Leaders of Tomorrow award

“It's a tremendous honour and privilege to be selected for the ASTech Leaders of Tomorrow Award,” says Ryan Lewinson, an entrepreneur, PhD in biomedical engineering from the Schulich School of Engineering, medical student in the Cumming School of Medicine, and a Killam Laureate.

“Alberta is home to outstanding researchers and innovators and the University of Calgary has been instrumental in supporting their visions for a better Alberta,” he says. “I'm confident that I would not have been able to do this work any place other than the University of Calgary.” 

Lewinson studies the biomechanics of walking and running to understand knee osteoarthritis and other diseases of the knee. He discovered a rapid and simple method for predicting the type of footwear a person needs to reduce loading in the knee, help people recover from knee injuries and delay the need for surgery.

Warren Piers wins Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Science award

“It’s nice to be recognized, it feels good,” says Warren Piers Canada Research Chair and chemistry professor in the Faculty of Science. He was recognized for his work in organometallic chemistry and many discoveries that have improved the production of industrial chemicals.

“The nominees were all very impressive,” he says. “There are a lot of good things going on in Alberta and it was cool to see all the young people at the event with a wide range of interesting projects.”

Piers is a synthetic chemist, building molecules that are key to catalytic reactions necessary to improve industrial processes and for inventing new ones, while widely influencing the field with more than 10,000 citations on his papers.

Memorial tribute for Dr. Cy Frank

Dr. Cy Frank received a posthumous memorial tribute for his “unparalleled work as an orthopaedic surgeon, champion of patient care and a true leader in Alberta innovation.” Frank was a UCalgary faculty member for more than 30 years, joining the Cumming School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery in 1984, going on to serve as division chief in Orthopaedics from 1997 to 2007 and as McCaig Professor in Joint Injury and Arthritis Research.