CSPS Digital Academy Events/Understanding Aging in Place: Improving Quality of Life Through Innovation - Speaker Biographies

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Date and time: January 12, 2022 | 12:30 pm to 3:15 pm (ET)

Event Program

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Speaker Biographies

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Amaya Arcelus (Master of Ceremonies)

Program Director, Aging in Place Challenge Program, National Research Council of Canada
Dr. Amaya Arcelus is the director of the NRC’s Aging in Place Challenge Program. The program aims to provide innovative solutions that empower older adults and caregivers to live safe, healthy, and socially-connected lives within their homes and communities of choice. Amaya's work in this field began during her PhD in electrical and computer engineering at Carleton University, where she earned the Senate Medal for her research into context-aware smart home monitoring. She spent 3 years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and the University Health Network, developing and leading a program on autonomous physiology and activity monitoring to support older adults living with heart failure. Prior to joining the NRC, Amaya worked for Defence Research and Development Canada, where she began as a scientist and ultimately served as manager of the Cyber Operations Science & Technology Program.

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Éric Baril

Vice-President, Transportation and Manufacturing Division, National Research Council Canada
Dr. Éric Baril is Vice-President (Acting) of the Transportation and Manufacturing Division.

He earned a B.Ing in material sciences and a PhD in Metallurgy from Polytechnique Montréal, specializing in microstructural characterization of materials and steel processing. Dr. Baril is a graduate of the Institute on Governance Executive Leadership Program.

He occupied a research associate position at the Centre for Characterization and Microscopy of Materials at Polytechnique Montréal and then joined the Noranda Technology Centre, as a senior scientist, working on Zinc Product and Application Development and Magnesium Products Development.

He joined the NRC's Industrial Materials Institute in 2004 as a research scientist. He later held the positions of Team Leader and eventually Program Leader of Vehicle Propulsion Technologies Program.

He has co-authored over 170 scientific publications and presentations at conferences. Dr. Baril has played a key role in the development of new magnesium alloy for automotive engine blocks and the titanium powder forming for medical device applications. These R&D outcomes are enabling the NRC to offer leading edge technologies to numerous clients and partners.

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André Picard

Author and Journalist, Health Columnist, The Globe and Mail
André Picard is the health columnist at The Globe and Mail and the author of six books, including the current bestseller “Neglected No More: The Urgent Need To Improve The Lives of Canada’s Elders.”

He has received much acclaim for his writing and dedication to improving health care, including the Michener Prize for Meritorious Public Service Journalism, the National Newspaper Award as Canada’s top newspaper columnist, and the Sandford Fleming Medal for Excellence in Science Communication.

André is a graduate of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, and has received honorary doctorates from seven universities, including the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto.

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Alexander Segall (PhD)

Professor Emeritus, Research Affiliate, Centre on Aging, Senior Scholar, Department of Sociology and Criminology, University of Manitoba
Dr. Segall received a Ph.D. in Health Sociology from the University of Toronto and joined the faculty at the University of Manitoba in 1971. Dr. Segall retired in 2008 and was appointed Professor Emeritus the following year in recognition of his distinguished career at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Segall is also currently a Senior Scholar in the Department of Sociology and a Research Affiliate at the Centre on Aging. He has been involved with the Centre on Aging at the University of Manitoba since it was established in 1981 and over the years served as the Associate Director and the Acting Director of the Centre.

Dr. Segall’s areas of specialization include: the social determinants of health; population health promotion; the management of chronic health problems; and healthy aging. Dr. Segall has written three books including; Health and Health Care in Canada (2000); and more recently Pursuing Health and Wellness: Healthy Societies, Healthy People (which was published in 2017 by Oxford University Press). He is currently working on a book entitled Missed and Dismissed Voices: The Challenge of Living with Hidden Health Problems (to be published by University of Toronto Press).

Dr. Segall has extensive research experience in the fields of health and aging. For example, he was the Principal Investigator on the Wellness Institute Services Evaluation Research (WISER) Program (1998-2006). Dr. Segall was also a Co-Investigator on a number of provincial and national studies such as: the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (1990-1992); Promoting Independence and Productivity in an Aging Society, National Network of Centres of Excellence (1990-1995); Building Age-Friendly Communities, Promoting Active Aging (2007-2012); and the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging (2009-2014).

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Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard (PhD, RN)

Professor & Research Chair in Population Aging, School of Nursing, CNFS-Université de Moncton
Dr. Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard is a registered nurse and full professor at the School of Nursing at the Université de Moncton where she holds a Research Chair in Population Aging from the Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS) and is Director of the Centre on Aging. Her program of research focuses on the multiple dimensions of aging in place as well as on issues related to the health of French speaking older adults living in Official Language Minority Communities (OLMC). She completed a PhD in Nursing from the University of Alberta, a Master of Nursing from the University of New Brunswick and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Université de Moncton. She is the current chairperson of the National Seniors Council and the immediate past president of the Canadian Association on Gerontology. She co-led the New Brunswick Council on Aging for the development of a provincial strategy on aging in 2017.

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Dr. Samir Sinha (MD, DPhil)

Director of Geriatrics, Mount Sinai Hospital, University Health Network
Dr. Samir Sinha is a passionate and respected advocate for the needs of older adults. Dr. Sinha currently serves as the Director of Geriatrics of the Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto, the Peter and Shelagh Godsoe Chair in Geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital, and the Director of Health Policy Research at the National Institute on Ageing at Ryerson University. He is also a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Family and Community Medicine, and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

A Rhodes Scholar, after completing his undergraduate medical studies at the University of Western Ontario, he obtained a Masters in Medical History and a Doctorate in Sociology at the University of Oxford’s Institute of Ageing. He has pursued his postgraduate training in Internal Medicine at the University of Toronto and in Geriatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Sinha's breadth of international training and expertise in health policy and the delivery of services related to the care of the elderly have made him a highly regarded expert in the care of older adults. In 2012 he was appointed by the Government of Ontario to serve as the expert lead of Ontario's Seniors Strategy and he is now working on the development of a National Seniors Strategy. In 2014, Canada’s Maclean’s Magazine proclaimed him to be one of Canada’s 50 most influential people and its most compelling voice for the elderly. Dr. Sinha was recently appointed to serve as a member of the Government of Canada’s National Seniors Council, and is also leading the development of new National Long-Term Care Standards for Canada.

Beyond Canada, Dr. Sinha is a Fellow of the American Geriatrics Society and a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. Dr. Sinha has further consulted and advised hospitals and health authorities in Britain, China, Iceland, Singapore, St. Kitts and Nevis, Taiwan and the United States on the implementation and administration of unique, integrated and innovative models of geriatric care that reduce disease burden, improve access and capacity and ultimately promote health.

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Taki Sarantakis

President, Canada School of Public Service
Taki Sarantakis has been President of the Canada School of Public Service since July 2018, having previously served as Associate Secretary of the Treasury Board at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Mr. Sarantakis spent most of his career at Infrastructure Canada, including as Assistant Deputy Minister of Policy and Communications.

In 2011 Mr. Sarantakis was awarded Canada's Public Service Award of Excellence in Public Policy, and in 2013 he was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Prior to joining the federal government, Mr. Sarantakis was a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto. He holds a B.A. and an M.A. from York University in Toronto, as well as an Executive Certificate in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is a graduate of the Rotman School of Management's Institute of Corporate Directors Education Program, holding the ICD.D designation.

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Ron Beleno

Lived Experience Dementia Caregiver and Co-Chair with the Older Adult and Caregiver Advisory Committee, AGE-WELL
Ron was a proactive caregiver to his father who lived with Alzheimer's for 10+ years, where his dad aged and lived in place at home until his passing in January of 2018. Ron is known for utilizing technology, his local community, innovative strategies and other compassionate care team members to support his family's life to live well and as best as possible.

Ron advises and presents across Canada and internationally on various themes around dementia, innovation, healthcare, and related issues such as patient engagement, caregiver advocacy, aging and living well, with a variety of groups such as the Alzheimer's & Dementia Societies, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, innovators, and corporations.

One of Ron's numerous roles in the community is the co-chair with the Older Adult and Caregiver Advisory Committee with AGE-WELL, Canada's Technology and Aging Network where he received their 2020 Honorary Fellows Award.

He is a Coach with Health Care Excellence Canada (HEC) on numerous teams such as Re-Imagining Care for Older Adults, Paramedics Providing in Palliative Care, and the Virtual Care Together Collaborative

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Denis Laroche

Biomedical Engineer, Chief of Biomechatronics, National Research Council Canada
Denis Laroche is a Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada in Boucherville. He currently leads the bio-mechatronics team of the Medical Devices research center. He has expertise in biomechanics, material processing, computer science, numerical modeling, real-time surgical simulation and robotics. His main research activities are development of physics-based interactive models for realistic and effective virtual-reality simulation in surgical training, fine motor skills and rehabilitation.

Denis joined the National Research Council in 1991. He developed engineering software for the manufacturing that has been transferred to over 25 industrial clients worldwide. In 2002, Denis adapted his software algorithms to develop biomedical applications. He led a research team in the development of an interactive simulator for the training of neurosurgical tasks. The technology has been transferred to 17 clients, and then commercialized. Denis also developed surgical training solutions for cardiology, orthopedics and nephrology. He also developed a simulator for the training of drone pilots. He is currently developing an interactive platform for the development and evaluation of fine motor dexterity.

Denis published close to 70 papers, he gave over 30 presentations at universities and hospitals, and he gave over 60 presentations to industrial clients. He has been an external evaluator for an NSERC Industrial Chair. He received 3 Best Paper Awards at scientific conferences. He received 4 NRC outstanding awards. He presented his research at Découverte TV show and to MPs and senators at the Parliament Hill.

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Mark Hewko

Research Engineer, Biomechatronics, National Research Council Canada
Mark Hewko is research scientist with the Medical Device Research Centre of the National Research Council. He has 25 years of biomedical engineering expertise across medical imaging, spectroscopy and digital therapeutics. His current research focuses on health software using virtual reality for mental health and fine motor skills.

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Di Jiang

President’s Science Advisor and Secretary to the President’s Research Excellence Advisory Committee, National Research Council Canada
Di Jiang was appointed as the President's Science Advisor and Secretary to the President's Research Excellence Advisory Committee in October 2020, a dual role dedicated to providing recommendations and advice to the president on matters related to research excellence and to representing the views of the NRC's research communities.

Di Jiang joined the NRC's Life Sciences Division in 2008. In her current position as Team Lead, Connected Health, at the Medical Devices Research Centre, she leads research and development efforts in virtual care, including continuous remote monitoring of patients using medical sensors and contactless detection of biosignals with commercial devices.

During her career, Ms. Jiang has worked as a consultant for numerous organizations. She has collaborated on multiple research projects on real‑time simulations for medical applications and remote interactive care augmented by artificial intelligence.

Di Jiang holds a Master's Degree and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Université de Montréal, obtained in 2003 and 2008, respectively. She also has a B.A. in Economics.

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David Rivest-Hénault

Ph.D, Project Leader, Connected Health, Medical Devices Research Centre, National Research Council Canada
Dr. David Rivest-Hénault joined the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in 2015 as a researcher in computational geometry, signal processing, image processing, and machine learning. He is also a skilled and versatile programmer. David created his first contactless heart rate estimation software at the end of 2018 and got hooked on contactless sensing since then. His current research focus is on image-based contactless biosensing and non-invasive remote patient monitoring and management. He is leading the Pandemic Response Challenge Program's Contactless Diagnostics project since 2020.

Dr. David Rivest-Hénault received his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering, and his Bachelor’s degree in automation engineering from University of Quebec’s École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) in 2012 and 2005, respectively. During his graduate studies, Dr. Rivest-Hénault worked as a visiting researcher at Siemens Corporate Research, Princeton, and as software expert in an industrial computer vision startup. From 2012 to 2015, Dr. David Rivest-Hénault served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CSIRO, the Australian e-Health Research Centre, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, where he was one of the leading researchers to the definition and practical demonstration of a MR-based planning and adaptive prostate cancer radiation therapy workflow.

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Manuela Kunz

Research Officer, Computer Vision and Graphics Team, Digital Technologies, National Research Council Canada
Manuela Kunz is a Senior Research Officer with the Digital Technologies Research Centre at the National Research Council Canada where she is doing research in the area of Computer Vision and Graphics. Before joining the NRC, she worked at Queen’s University in the Department of Surgery and the School of Computing. Dr. Kunz earned her MSc. in Computing Science at the University of Hildesheim, Germany and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Berne in Switzerland.

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Pengcheng Xi

Senior Research Officer, Computer Vision and Graphics team, Digital Technologies, National Research Council Canada
Pengcheng Xi received a M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Ottawa, Canada, in 2007, and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, in 2020. He is currently a Senior Research Scientist with Digital Technologies Research Centre at National Research Council Canada (NRC). His research interests are in applied machine learning and deep learning, with applications to computer vision, computer graphics, image processing and signal analysis. Pengcheng has published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal papers, book chapters and conference papers. He serves as a program committee member for top conferences and as a reviewer for major journals. He has supervised more than ten student employees at the NRC. Since 2020, Pengcheng has been an Adjunct Professor with the Department of Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

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Melanie Segado

Research Scientist, National Research Council Canada
Melanie completed her PhD in Neuroscience at McGill University with Drs Robert Zatorre and Virginia Penhune, and has been a Research Officer at the National Research Council Canada since 2019. Prior to joining the NRC, she co-founded NeuroTechX and acted as Science Director until 2018. Her research with the Cognitive Health Technologies team at the NRC is the intersection of neuroscience and engineering, with a focus on innovation in brain-machine interfaces, virtual reality, & robotics for cognitive healthcare applications.

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Joel David Martin

Chief Digital Research Officer, National Research Council of Canada
Dr. Joel Martin is the Chief Digital Research Officer of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), overseeing the Digital Technologies Research Centre. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science, Machine Learning, from the Georgia Institute of Technology and completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Martin has received awards for exceptional leadership and for innovative approaches to technology transfer. He has published dozens of peer-reviewed research articles and taught Computer Science courses at both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. Since joining the NRC in 1994, he has been a researcher and served in multiple leadership roles in the Digital Technologies Research Centre, including Director General, Senior Director, Director of Research and Development, Program Lead of the Multimedia Analytic Tools for Security program, Team Leader, and project lead.

His strategic leadership has resulted in an increase in the impact of digital technology research at the NRC and beyond, including advances and applications in data science and analytics, quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, machine translation, computer vision and graphics, cybersecurity, human-computer interfaces, natural language processing, medical and bioinformatics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). For example, under his leadership, the Research Centre has been successful in introducing digital technologies to detect disease outbreaks, some of which are now used worldwide, and digital technologies that promote Indigenous languages in Canada.

In addition, Dr. Martin has established research and development programs drawing interest and collaboration from universities and other government departments. These initiatives include the NRC's Data Analytics Centre, the Multimedia Analytic Tools for Security program, and the AI for Design Challenge program. They have increased both scientific output and impact of the NRC's Digital Technologies Research Centre to Canada and Canadians.