• FMS grad to cook up storm on MasterChef Canada

    The Brock community may recognize a familiar face when tuning into the Season 5 premiere of MasterChef Canada next week.

    Alumnus Michael Griffiths (BSc ’16, BEd ’16) has used his culinary prowess to secure a spot as one of 21 finalists in the televised national cooking competition, which kicks off Tuesday, April 3 on CTV.

    While Griffiths’ focus was on Mathematics and Concurrent Education during his time at Brock, the 24-year-old Richmond Hill native has always had a passion for food. As a child, he was frequently found in the kitchen helping his mother prepare the family’s meals, and later on in his university years, he often impressed his roommates with his culinary skills.

    It was during his time on campus that Griffiths learned to balance the many interests — math and food among them — that contended for his time. “I was always very engaged. I played rugby, worked as a senior supervisor at the recreation services desk and worked with a number of mathematics and outreach programs,” he said. “Brock was the kickstarter for a lot of my different adventures.”

    With a wide variety of interests still on his plate, Griffiths decided to pursue his dream of being on MasterChef, all while simultaneously working to earn his Master of Mathematics at the University of Guelph.

    At first glance, there may seem to be little overlap between mathematics and culinary arts, but Griffiths said that is not the case. He believes his math background gives him an edge in the kitchen. “I know how to think critically. I know how to think logistically,” he said. “If I’m having a party for 50 people, I know how to work out what I need to do in order to put forward an amazing dish that everyone can enjoy.”



    He is thankful for the encouragement he has received from the Brock community, which has “hit home in such an incredible way.”

    “This is another example of the outstanding support the Brock community has always provided for me.”

    Griffiths hopes to inspire his fellow Badgers to continue to work hard and follow their passions, even if it takes them down an unconventional path. “Follow your heart and realize that what you’re working hard on may not be your end goal passion, but I guarantee there’s a connection to your future there,” he said.

    MasterChef Canada premieres Tuesday, April 3 at 9 p.m. on CTV.

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  • Earth Sciences prof and MSc student co-author journal identifying evidence of ancient earthquakes

    The history of New England’s most damaging earthquake is written in the mud beneath a Massachusetts pond. Researchers identified the first sedimentary evidence of the Cape Ann earthquake, which in 1755 shook the East Coast from Nova Scotia to South Carolina. The quake, estimated to have been at least magnitude 5.9, took no lives but damaged hundreds of buildings.

    Within a mud core retrieved from the bottom of Sluice Pond in Lynn, Mass., a light brown layer of sediment stands out amid darker layers of organic-rich sediment, the researchers report March 27 in Seismological Research Letters. The 2-centimeter-thick layer contains tiny fossils usually found near the shore, as well as types of pollen different from those found in the rest of the core. Using previous studies of the pond’s deposition rates, geologist Katrin Monecke of Wellesley College in Massachusetts and her colleagues determined the layer dates to between 1740 and 1810.

    Professor of Earth Sciences, Francine McCarthy and MSc student Justin Pentesco are co-authors on the journal article.

    Read the full release here

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  • Brock mosquito expert Fiona Hunter to conduct Zika research in Dominican Republic

    To medical entomologist Fiona Hunter, the Dominican Republic had always been a place of rest, with its warm breezes, snow-white beaches and turquoise waters. Two years ago however, the Brock University Professor of Biological Sciences saw another side to the popular holiday destination.

    Faced with the prospect of a Zika outbreak in the country, Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) and the Research Institute of Microbiology and Parasitology (IMPA-FC) invited Hunter to train a research group on how to recognize mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus.

    “At the time, Zika was just coming through,” says Hunter. “The country had just been battling with chikungunya and dengue, both mosquito-borne diseases. The team was getting a program up and running to do mosquito surveillance.”

    The week Hunter and Brock alumnus Alessio Gasparotto (BSc ’05), who manages the professor’s Entomogen consulting firm, spent travelling with the University’s researchers was an eye-opener. Hunter witnessed first-hand how homes in the Dominican Republic lacked window screens, air conditioning, mosquito repellent and other “First-World” ways of protecting against mosquito bites.

    That visit, along with subsequent activities, have culminated in a US$250,000 grant from the Dominican Republic government for a mosquito surveillance research project.

    Hunter and her (UASD) co-investigator, Modesto Cruz, applied for a three-year National Fund for Innovation and Development of Science and Technology grant for their project titled “Zika Virus: Factors Influencing Vector Competence in the Dominican Republic.”

    Starting in April, the two will work with additional researchers and students from the Dominican to conduct field research which involves identifying and collecting mosquitoes from sites all across the country.

    Once treated with a substance called a lysis buffer that inactivates any viruses they may be carrying, the dead mosquitoes will then be shipped to Brock University’s laboratories, where they will be tested for mosquito-borne viruses that cause diseases such as West Nile, dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

    “This will give us a greater understanding of geographic patterns of transmission and the mosquito species that are present there,” says Hunter.

    In the two years since her visit, Hunter and her Canadian and Dominican colleagues have worked hard to pave the way for the successful grant.

    Shortly after her return, Hunter, along with then-Interim Vice-President, Research Joffre Mercier and Faculty of Math and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed, funded the purchase of a dry ice maker that UASD researchers could use to attract mosquitoes to the mosquito traps as well as preserve and ship biological specimens in dry ice.

    Hunter also took some older dissecting microscopes from her teaching labs to the Dominican researchers.

    “Those tiny little investments have blossomed into this new grant,” she says.

    She met with many senior officials in the government and at the University and, with Cruz, crafted a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between Brock University and UASD. The Dominican Republic government urged the duo to apply for the Innovation and Development grant.

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  • New format for Brock’s employee Wellness Day

    Wellness Day will look a little different this year.

    A favourite initiative among Brock employees, the 19th annual Wellness Day is set to take place June 14 and will feature two half-day sessions in the community.

    The full-day event allows Brock faculty and staff to register for a variety of workshops, from flower arrangement and beer tasting to financial health and Zumba. In past years, guest speakers and instructors have come to campus to share their talents and expertise, but this year, Brock is coming to them.

    Although the 2018 calendar of workshops has yet to be finalized, employees can expect to find themselves in more of an experiential learning environment.

    “If an employee signs up for a ball hockey class, they’ll play at the St. Catharines Ball Hockey Club,” says Kathryn Walker, Manager, Health Management and Wellness. “If they register for an art class, they’ll take it at a local art studio.”

    Walker says the new format will also benefit Brock’s community partners.

    “Employees will visit venues they may have never seen or heard of before. It’s an opportunity for local organizations to showcase their programs and facilities,” she says.

    New this year is a complimentary hot breakfast on campus that will kick off the event. Following breakfast, employees are invited to attend an opening plenary that will feature a guest speaker, bike raffle and the Health, Safety and Wellness Champion Award presentation. The popular penny sale, which raised more than $6,500 last year for student scholarships, will also be back.

    Once the opening plenary is complete, employees will take a courtesy shuttle to their first half-day session. A return trip will bring them back to campus for lunch break (employees must provide their own lunch). After lunch, another shuttle will take faculty and staff to their second chosen half-day session, returning them in time for the normal end of day. There will be no closing remarks this year.

    The new format was introduced to aid Human Resources staff, who dedicate time each year to managing Wellness Day, with the launch of Project Mosaic, which takes place only two weeks later.

    As a result, employees will be asked to register for Wellness Day online as they have in the past and will need to print out their own itinerary. In-person check in will not be available.

    Read the full story here

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  • Faculty student-athletes make Academic All-Canadians list

    Being a good student takes dedication and hard work, and being a good athlete is equally difficult. But to be successful in both athletics and academics, one must be a master of time management.

    Nearly 70 Brock University student-athletes were named to the 2016-17 Academic All-Canadians list for finishing the year with an average of 80 per cent or higher. On Monday, March 19, they were honoured at a Brock Sports award banquet at Pond Inlet.

    The 2016-17 Academic All-Canadian recipients from the Faculty of Math and Science include:

    Julian Filice, Men’s Swimming

    Marcelo Muniz Correa, Men’s Volleyball

    Samuel Jagas, Men’s Wrestling

    Alexandra Symonds, Women’s Basketball

    Renee Helmer, Women’s Volleyball

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  • STEAM trend gaining traction at Brock

    While science and art may seem worlds apart, one enthusiast of the two fields has found a new place to combine them — at Brock University.

    Brock Science Mentorship Program participant Lauren Kelly is passionate about science and discovery, but also has a love for art. Finding a university program that allows her to combine these interests has been a top priority for the 17-year-old Chippawa native as her high school graduation draws near. Her time in Brock’s mentorship program helped Kelly to find her future path — a double major in Physics and Visual Arts at the University.

    The unique combination is an example of a growing trend known as STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

    Brock’s long-running Science Mentorship Program is designed for students who are highly interested in science, demonstrate significant scientific curiosity and are capable of working independently. Along with on-campus orientations and workshops, participants are paired with mentors who conduct research in a subject area of interest to the student. The partnership offers the unique opportunity to pursue a real-life scientific investigation in a university environment.

    Knowledge of her artistic background led Kelly to be paired with Physics Professor Edward Sternin, who helped her to work on a project that incorporated creative elements. She designed a new web page for the Physics department to visually highlight professors’ research.


    The experience gave Kelly the opportunity to learn more about video editing and coding. The result is a more dynamic, realistic and approachable view on graduate student life that seamlessly combines both scientific and artistic elements.

    On a more personal level, the experience led to Kelly’s decision to come to Brock.

    “Before, university seemed very foreign, but now a lot of my old fears and uncertainties have vanished,” she said. “I am familiar and comfortable with the university setting. I have also been introduced to many great opportunities and have learned about the facilities and resources here at Brock.”


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  • Brock earns five semifinal spots in Canada-wide student research competition

    Five Brock University student research videos have made it to the semifinals of a national competition that showcases science research being done in universities across Canada.

    The Science, Action! competition features student-produced, 60-second videos on research projects funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), one of Brock’s major research funders.

    After University students from all over the country submitted videos in January, NSERC chose 75 entries, including seven from Brock, which the agency posted on its website. NSERC then announced the Top 25 list of semifinalists, which includes five Brock videos:



    The students’ ability to convey key messages behind their research to the general public impressed Marty Mako, Acting Manager at Niagara Region Public Health. The organization is a key knowledge mobilization partner for a variety of Brock-based research projects.

    Mako said students took the challenge of explaining their work in simple terms and ran with it, creating “well done” videos that were enjoyable and informative to watch.

    The knowledge mobilization process is typically informed and shaped by those who would use the research, said Jayne Morrish, Knowledge Mobilization Officer with Brock’s Centre for Lifespan Development Research.


    Next month, a panel of judges will select the Top 15 from the 25 videos. The first-place winner will receive $3,500; second place, $3,000; and third place, $2,750. The remaining dozen will receive $2,500.

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  • Brock research team collaborates with Canadian silicone company

    Chemistry instructor Paul Zelisko and CSL Silicones Inc. are working together to improve a chemical method involved in the production of the company’s proprietary silicone polymers used to manufacture products that insulate high-voltage insulators.

    Zelisko’s research team at Brock includes a postdoc and four undergraduate and graduate students.

    “We are truly pleased and privileged to have two senior PhD level researchers and the laboratory manager from the partnering company who are coaching, mentoring and engaging students in this project,” he says.

    The Brock team is using specialized equipment and testing methods found within Brock labs, including matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry, viscometry, a durometer, contact angle micrometer and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

    Zelisko began working with CSL Silicones nearly four years ago on a project funded by an Engage Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and VIP I grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

    Successes from that first project laid the groundwork for the current research, which began in the fall and was funded in part by Ontario Centres of Excellence, along with CSL as its industry partner.

    “It’s an exciting partnership,” says Zelisko. “They’re a wholly-owned Canadian company committed to scientific and applied research, working collaboratively with academia to improve their products, while satisfying their global client’s application needs.”

    The partnership is expected to create two Brock University student co-op positions in manufacturing and scientific research.

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  • Enhanced support available for international students during exam season

    Brock International Services is extending its programming to support international students linguistically and academically prior to and during final exams.

    In an effort to maximize student success, workshops, individual appointments, study groups and drop-in services will be available throughout March and April.

    Free workshops will be held focusing on a variety of relevant skills for final exams, including academic writing, research and citation, group work, delivering presentations, speaking, planning and preparing assignments and exams, and critical thinking and reading.

    Registration is required, as space is limited and can be done online through the Brock International website.

    International students also have access to drop-in service Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Scotiabank Atrium of the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex.

    Drop-in sessions average about 20 minutes in length and are run by qualified academic tutors that offer one-on-one academic language support in a variety of subjects such as grammar, writing and critical thinking.

    Individual, specialized appointments are also available for students that need additional support, with support specialists Vander Tavares ( and Tolkin Yunusov (

    The International Centre will have quiet study spaces available for all Brock students during exam season, which begins April 12. Both Tavares and Yunusov will be available to host exam study group sessions upon request.

    More information on upcoming workshops is available on the Brock International website.

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  • Cuvée 2018 toasts 30 years of excellence in Ontario wine

    With the Cuvée Grand Tasting celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, organizers have pulled out all the stops to highlight the best VQA wine and food Ontario has to offer.

    Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the Cuvée Grand Tasting is the largest celebration of Ontario VQA wine and food of its kind. This year’s event takes place Friday, March 23 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, with the Cuvée en Route passport program once again extending the wine celebration all weekend long at participating wineries.

    Cuvée is the most prestigious and largest celebration of Ontario wine, with more than 750 people attending last year’s gala. Proceeds from the weekend support grape and wine scholarships for Brock’s oenology and viticulture students as well as industry-driven research initiatives at CCOVI.

    Cuvée manager Barb Tatarnic said the Grand Tasting allows guests to enjoy wines from 48 of Ontario’s top winemakers, and culinary delights from celebrated local chefs. Exclusive tastings will be available from up-and-coming wineries and restaurants, as well as the favourites guests have come to know and love.

    “We always strive to bring a mix of new and unique wine and culinary partners to Cuvée, as well as highlight the event’s long-standing partners,” Tatarnic said. “This year will be a true testament to that commitment, as we ring in 30 years of winemaking excellence with our best event yet.”

    Each of the 48 wineries will present two of their winemakers’ favourite wines at the Grand Tasting, offering a rare chance to learn about each selection directly from the winemaker who created it.

    Full story here

    Tickets that include both the Friday night Grand Tasting and the weekend-long en Route passport are available online at for $200 per person. Tickets for the en Route passport only are $30.

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