• CCOVI Lecture Series kicks off with tribute to industry icon Karl Kaiser

    Brock University’s annual Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) Lecture Series will be returning in January with a tribute to the late wine industry mogul Karl Kaiser.

    The CCOVI Lecture Series will begin on Monday, Jan. 15 with long-time winemaker David Sheppard giving a special presentation of Kaiser’s popular talk, “Pinot Noir: The Savage Yet Seductive Grape.”

    Sheppard is a 35-year industry veteran and winemaker at Flat Rock Cellars in Jordan Station. He also worked under the tutelage of Kaiser at Inniskillin in Niagara-on-the-Lake for 21 years, largely with a focus on the production of Pinot Noir.

    Kaiser’s lecture on the Canadian-winter-friendly red wine grape was first given at the 2008 CCOVI Lecture Series.


    Sheppard will be presenting the lecture on Monday, Jan. 15 at 2 p.m. in Mackenzie Chown Room H313 at Brock The lecture is free and open to the public, and it will also be livestreamed and can be viewed at

    The CCOVI Lecture Series will continue to run Monday afternoons until March 26 at the same time and location. More information about the series and the complete list of speakers will be announced in the early 2018 and can be found on the lecture series website.

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  • Fifth-year Neuroscience student Monster Pitch finalist

    The rewards are starting to add up for Ethan Foy. The fifth-year neuroscience student from Oakville, is working on his business idea called LifePoints. The mobile application rewards users for time spent at a fitness facility with points they can later cash in at local businesses. The application is now live on the App Store for iPhones, with a version soon to follow for Android users.

    Foy will be presenting LifePoints on the stage at the upcoming Monster Pitch competition Monday, Jan. 8 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    It’s a moment he’s had his eye on for more than a year.

    LifePoints had been percolating in Foy’s mind since before last year’s Monster Pitch and his goal was to one day join the finalists on the stage to share his vision with the judges. Having previously worked as a student ambassador with BioLinc, Brock’s business incubator run by the Goodman School of Business, he was familiar with the resources that would benefit him when it came time to launch his own business.

    Foy began to work on his idea for LifePoints and it paid off at the end of last year’s event, when BioLinc announced that he was one of two recipients of the Deborah E. Rosati Entrepreneurship Award, which provided him with mentorship and funding over the summer while he worked full time on his business.

    Foy is passionate about the idea of having customers receive monetary rewards, and has designed his mobile application as an experience-driven reward platform, breaking away from the conventional loyalty model companies use to reward customers for their purchases through accumulated points and product discounts.

    “I fell in love with the idea of being able to provide a monetary reward for every other aspect of life, outside of work life,” said Foy.

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  • As cider booms, Brock’s CCOVI continues to be a key industry partner

    Grocery stores across the province are vying to be one of 95 new retailers authorized to sell cider to Ontario consumers next year. With Ontario’s thirst for cider far from quenched, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) continues to be at the forefront of advancing the booming industry.

    CCOVI is the only institution in Canada to offer a certification in cider production through the Cider Institute of North America, and it also provides analytical testing services to help cider makers deliver the best product possible.

    CCOVI’s Continuing Education Manager Barb Tatarnic says that pairing the foundational educational program with testing services brings a holistic approach to the learning process.

    “CCOVI has been able to branch out into an industry that is important here in Niagara and all across Canada,” Tatarnic says. “By delivering the foundational learning elements and then providing the opportunity to test the finished product, we are ensuring cider makers are delivering the quality of product their communities are looking for.”



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  • CCOVI’s Fizz Club goes national as it toasts five years at Brock

    As wine consumers begin pondering which bottle of bubbly to serve this holiday season, 40 winemakers from across Canada gathered at Brock University to swap secrets for making the best sparkling wine.

    The fifth anniversary of the annual Fizz Club, organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), took place Thursday, Dec. 7 in Inniskillin Hall.

    Restricted to sparkling winemakers only, the sold-out event allowed those in the industry to discuss triumphs and challenges and to learn about new research projects taking place at CCOVI and around the world.

    The theme this year was From Field to Fizz, which took a vine-to-glass approach for the first time by including research and discussions on both viticulture practices and winemaking, including CCOVI research on leaf removal, clones and soil type trials and their impact on sparkling wine quality.

    CCOVI senior oenologist Belinda Kemp, who has been organizing the event since its inception in 2013, said she is excited by how much the event has grown. “When we started this, there were fewer than 40 wineries making sparkling in the province and most of the winemakers who attended Fizz Club were based in Niagara,” she said. “Five years later, the event continues to sell out and we have winemakers coming from all across Canada, which is fantastic.”

    The growth in popularity of Fizz Club is reflective of the massive growth in the sparkling wine industry. As Kemp pointed out, the number of wineries with a sparkling wine program in Ontario has ballooned to 90 and is constantly increasing. This year’s Fizz Club drew in attendees from across Ontario as well as B.C. and Nova Scotia.

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  • Support strong for women in STEM

    Thanks to the generous financial support of the Department of Computer Science, six female Brock Computer Science students were able to attend the ACM Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing Conference (CAN-CWIC) last month in Montreal.

    For Lindsey Tulloch, one of the attendees, the conference was much more than a networking event; it was an opportunity to band together and show support for some in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based programs. As she looked around the packed room filled with more than 500 women, she felt a sense of inspiration and hope for the future.

    “It was inspiring to be around so many women that are interested in the same things I am,” Tulloch said. “There’s only a handful of us (women in Computer Science) at Brock, which could lead one to mistakenly believe that women just aren’t that into tech, math or ‘nerdy’ stuff, but we totally are.”

    With significantly less women than men choosing to enrol in university STEM programs, building a strong network is critical. While working in a field dominated by men can be challenging, Tulloch has found support as well as role models and mentors at Brock.

    With the backing of her department and opportunities to attend events for women, created by women, the future for women in STEM looks bright for Tulloch and many others.

    “Women are doing a lot of interesting things in tech, both in the industry and in academics,” she said.


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  • President honours outstanding staff and faculty

    Stephen Renda didn’t expect to hear his name called at the President’s Holiday Celebration.

    “When the President said the recipient designs and builds equipment, I knew it was someone from Tech Services,” he said. “I thought it was another guy in our shop.”

    Renda is a machinist who designs and builds teaching and research equipment for Brock’s Faculty of Mathematics and Science. He also services lab equipment like sterilizers, bench top centrifuges, vacuum pumps and liquid nitrogen stations.

    He was one of four people honoured with the President’s Distinguished Staff Service Awards.

    His nominator, Steve Crumb, boasted in the nomination application that Renda is one of the department’s most valued assets. “Whatever he designs, you know that great thought went into it and it is truly a work of art. He is the person I tell students to see,” Crumb wrote.

    “It’s not lost on me that I’m ‘the guy,’” Renda said. “I like being helpful. I don’t do it for bragging rights or any other reason. That’s why I’m here. At the end of the day, it’s gratifying to know that these people come to me to help them.”

    Renda was one of 35 faculty and staff who were honoured at the annual holiday event, which saw a record attendance of nearly 350 people.

    Quarter Century Club

    Several faculty and staff were recognized for their long-standing commitment to Brock University. This year, 22 employees were inducted into the Quarter Century Club, joining 215 others who have worked for Brock for 25 years, including:

    • Fiona Hunter, Biological Sciences
    • Brian Ross, Computer Science

    35 years of long-standing service

    Eight people were recognized for 35 years of service, including:

    • Dave McCarthy, Computer Science
    • Jan Vrbik, Mathematics

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  • Brock integrating computer programming into mathematics education

    As Chantal Buteau, Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics notes, “Few post-secondary mathematics programs address the 21st century need by adapting the curricula to combine mathematics and computer programming.”

    Brock is the exception.

    Educators at Brock University are working outside the traditional ‘paper and pencil’ box and teaching their students how to tap into the power of computers to model, simulate, visualize and choose the best alternatives in calculations.

    “It’s using computer programming as an instrument to engage in mathematics investigations,” says Buteau. “It’s taking a scientific, experimental approach to mathematics: asking questions, conjecturing, testing math problems or applications with programming and seeing the outcomes through computer simulations, then further tweaking the problem or model to continue the math work.”

    Buteau teaches in the sequence of Brock’s Mathematics Integrated with Computers and Applications (MICA) undergraduate courses. Created in 2000 under the leadership of fellow mathematician, Bill Ralph, this sequence of MICA courses is the only one of its kind in Canada.

    “It’s really outstanding that Bill Ralph and the Department of Mathematics had that vision ahead of their time,” she says, adding it’s only recently that integration of coding in school curricula around the world has started to increase.

    Buteau is heading a research team, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), to study how MICA students learn to use computer coding for their mathematical investigations.

    The issue is not just academic. She notes that a number of mathematicians are already taking this approach and that “it seems natural to expose our students with this cutting-edge way of doing mathematics.”

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  • CCOVI research aims to make better red wine through improved harvesting methods

    With winter weather arriving later each year, wineries in the region are benefitting from giving late-maturing grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon increased ripening time on the vine. The challenge, however, is that hanging grapes later into the growing season can often bring them toe-to-toe with frost.

    Although the grapes themselves can survive a light frost, researchers at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) have discovered that frozen leaves and petioles, often referred to as MOG (materials other than grapes), can impact the final wine quality.

    “As more wineries in the region opt to hang their late-maturing varieties into the late fall, you then contend with the addition of those frozen leaves and petioles in with the fruit,” CCOVI’s Andrew Reynolds explained. “When mixed with the fruit, the MOG increases the concentrations of compounds most likely responsible for an unfavourable floral or green aroma, decreased colour intensity and a bitter taste in Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines.”

    Reynolds and his team began studying the impact of frozen MOG after local winemakers asked them to investigate the origin of undesirable floral characteristics appearing in red wines they’d harvested after a frost in 2015. Emily Aubie (OEVC ’13), a winemaker with a PhD in chemistry, was invited back to Brock as a post-doctoral fellow to help tackle the problem.

    After preliminary research, they discovered that wines containing the highest concentration of frozen leaves and petioles (the stem that joins the leaf to the cane) also had the highest concentration of a variety of odor-active terpene compounds.

    Armed with these findings, the team is now expanding its research to strengthen the results and examine different methods for combating the problem, both in the vineyard and the winery.

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  • John Menzies’ book about glacial past sheds light on the planet’s future

    Past glacial environments and the critical insight they provide into the planet’s future are at the centre of John Menzies’ latest book.

    The professor of Earth Sciences and Geography has completely revamped Past Glacial Environments, a book he initially released in 1996. While it shares the same name as the original edition, the latest publication has undergone a complete rewrite and has been updated to include a large collection of colourful photographs, diagrams and tables.

    Among its 858 pages are chapters on dating methods, paleosols, ice models, GIS imagery, stratigraphy, marine sediments and more. It includes contributions from geological experts from around the world, including Canada, the Netherlands, Iceland, France, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the U.K, the U.S., Germany and Norway.

    The book aims to “to cover the most relevant glacial sedimentary environments and techniques to provide the current generation of geoscience, sedimentology, environmental science, glaciology and ice modelling students with an up-to-date overview and prepare them in the best possible way for the study of past glacial environments.”

    Menzies hopes the book “highlights the fundamental issue pertaining to glacial environments and how they reflect climate change and global warming.”

    “One of the first indicators of global warming is sea level rise and glacier and ice sheet melting,” he says. “A huge symptom of climate change is fluctuating glacial conditions, as evidenced by Antarctic ice shelves breaking up and valley glaciers in the Rockies retreating. What happens underneath the ice is very relevant to these events — more so than many people understand.”

    Past Glacial Environments — published by Elsevier, one of the world’s major providers of scientific technical and medical information — was released Dec. 5 and is available on Amazon.

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  • University research saving Ontario vineyards one grape bud at a time

    With erratic temperatures and extreme weather events on the rise, researchers at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) are working to make vineyards across the region more resilient to climate change.

    After experiencing an unusually mild October, southern Ontario was blasted with a mass of frigid air that caused a record-breaking cold snap in early November — putting grapevines at risk for early frost injury.

    When the mercury plummeted, CCOVI researchers were already out in the vineyards collecting bud hardiness data for the VineAlert program. By also collecting data on grape bud survival rates after cold weather events, the Institute is able to give growers direction on how to manage any damage vines may have sustained.

    “Thankfully, we had some data available and it didn’t get cold enough to damage the vines based on our preliminary bud survival data,” said Jim Willwerth, CCOVI’s senior viticulturist, “but the extreme variances in temperature are especially problematic when the grapevines are early in their cold acclimation process.”

    Now in its ninth year, the VineAlert program tracks a grape bud’s ability to survive cold temperatures over the dormant season, from October to April, across Ontario’s key grape producing regions.



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