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Chancellor's Community reveals the power of education to transform and innovate

03 May 2024
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What do you get when you combine brilliant minds, emerging challenges, and great networking? The Chancellor’s Community at the University of Regina!

Community combined with innovation and the power of the academic journey to transform lives and impact society were at the heart of the celebratory atmosphere during the Chancellor’s Community dinner and engineering research showcase on April 17.

I am so proud of what our researchers and students are able to accomplish through their research and innovation that benefit society  Chancellor Pam Klein

Community connection

“When I started the Chancellor’s Community last year, my goal was to bring community to campus and campus to community,” said Pam Klein, Chancellor of the U of R. “Through events such as tonight’s dinner and research showcase, we are doing just that and demonstrating how our University and students are meeting the needs of local community and broader society.”

Collage of four photos showing people mixing and mingling at an event

Chancellor's Community members and guests enjoyed an opportunity to mix and mingle with students, researchers, and University leadership on April 17. The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science put on an enlightening research showcase and guided lab tours. Researchers, as well as grad and undergrad students demonstrated how their innovations are helping to address community needs. Photo courtesy Mika Abbott

A dream come true

The Chancellor’s Community was established by Klein to create a philanthropic network of leaders from business, academia, and the community who are dedicated to transforming the lives of talented U of R students through education – empowering the next generation of leaders.

“The Chancellor’s Community will make an incredible difference in the lives of well-deserving students during their academic journeys at the U of R,” said Klein. “Over the past several weeks, President Keshen and I have had the privilege of touring high schools to present - for the first time - 14 full-ride undergraduate student scholarships to exceptional students who are pursuing their academic dreams.”

Klein introduced several of the new Chancellor’s Community scholars to the Community at the April 17 event.

Four people stand smiling at camera in a hallway.
President Jeff Keshen and Chancellor Pam Klein welcomed two new Chancellor's Scholars into the Chancellor's Community. (L-R: Dr. Jeff Keshen, Anneka McLaren, Lanea Lafontaine, Chancellor Pam Klein.) Photo courtesy Mika Abbott

“I am incredibly grateful for the Chancellor’s Scholarship, because it means I won’t have to try to balance working almost full time while also taking a full course load,” said Anneka McLaren, who is from École Thom Collegiate High School and pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry through Campion College this fall. “When I heard that I received this scholarship, it felt like a huge recognition for all of the hard work I have put into my studies and community in the past few years.”

Two individuals in business attire standing side-by-side and smiling at camera.
Chancellor's Scholar recipients Anneka McLaren and Lanea Lafontaine. Photo courtesy Mika Abbott

Lanea Lafontaine, who is graduating from Flex Ed Online School, also received a Chancellor’s Scholarship and will be entering the Faculty of Nursing at the U of R this fall. She aspires to pursue higher education in the health field after becoming a registered nurse.

“My first reaction when I found out that I was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship was disbelief,” said Lafontaine. “I have been so busy with high school, extracurricular activities, and my volunteer duties, that this was an incredible surprise that completely caught me off guard. I’m so grateful to the Chancellor’s Community for this prestigious award, and for being a recipient of this scholarship.”

Undergraduate and graduate students alike welcomed the two new scholars and provided attendees with engaging demonstrations of their research projects on display and in the labs.

Interested in applying for a Chancellor's Scholarship or Fellowship? Learn more.

Power of education to transform and innovate

Members of the Chancellor’s Community, guests, students, and faculty from the U of R gathered to hear about groundbreaking research and witness firsthand innovations driving advancements in water safety and security, 3D print manufacturing, geothermal energy production, wheelchair automation, and more.

From waste to commercial application

Dr. Jinkai Xue, Associate Professor in Environmental Systems Engineering, is director of the U of R’s Cold-Region Water Resource Recovery Laboratory, which recently received $118,000 from the Federal Government to engineer sustainable – and commercially viable – solutions for hazardous waste products of water treatment.

: Collage of two photos. The first showing two people smiling sitting at table. The second with three people posing for camera at event.
Dr. Xue explained the circular economy concept – turning waste into commercial products – to interview host Marc Butikofer, Executive Director, University Advancement. Dr. Xue with his graduate students are researching water recovery and purification solutions in the Cold-Region Water Recovery Laboratory (CRWRRL) at the U of R. Photo courtesy Mika Abbott

“The conventional way of thinking about water management is linear and segmented,” explained Xue. “But water does not respect boundaries. Whether we are talking about wastewater or groundwater, it all eventually becomes a drinking water problem. We need to shift our way of thinking and embrace a holistic water management framework.”

Collage of four photos showing people touring a research lab with graduate students and members of the community, as well as beakers, vials, and other research equipment.
In the lab and in real-world application, Dr. Xue and his graduate students are working on projects to minimize the production of wastewater, increase efficiency in water and wastewater management, and retain the water we use in our society in order to avoid putting pollutants into tailing ponds or landfills. Guests toured the Cold-Region Water Recovery Laboratory where graduate students presented the research projects they are working to provide solutions to current challenges faced by local municipal and industrial partners, such as the City of Regina, Regina International Airport, and Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Corporation. Photo courtesy Mika Abbott

As part of the evening's program, Xue presented one of his newest innovations – ceramsite made from water treatment residual (sludge waste) – which can remove pollutants such as phosphorus from wastewater and lakes, and turn it into nutrient-rich mulch for gardeners to put in their vegetable plots or use for landscaping and in larger agricultural settings. This creates an economic opportunity from what was previously considered waste. 

Close-up photo of a variety of succulents in a glass container and small jars of organic material and candles on table.
Succulents potted in Dr. Xue’s ceramsite were on display, along with vials of the various stages the product goes through – from sludge to commercial product. Photo courtesy Mika Abbott

Prairie applications for geothermal energy

“The sky’s the limit for different applications of geothermal energy,” said Dr. Na Jia, Program Chair and Associate Professor in Energy and Process Systems Engineering at the U of R. She and Dr. Marziyeh Kamali, who is a researcher with the Petroleum Technology Research Centre, are working on a project with the City of Regina to research and study different scenarios to obtain optimum results for extracting geothermal energy for heating the City’s proposed new aquatic centre.

Photo collage of two photos showing conversation with three individuals.
Drs. Jia and Kamali sat down for a conversation with Marc Butikofer, Executive Director of University Advancement to discuss their research project on extracting geothermal energy for commercial heating and the benefits of this sustainable technology on the Canadian Prairies. Photo courtesy Mika Abbott

“Our project is an important, real-world, commercial-scale demonstration and use of geothermal energy that will help pave the way for future geothermal projects on the Prairies,” said Kamali.

Other beneficial uses of geothermal energy include heating sidewalks during the winter to melt snow and reduce ice, and to power greenhouses in southern Saskatchewan over winter to help with securing fresh products, so that consumers can enjoy fresh fruit and produce year-round.

Printing solutions

In the 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Research Lab, Dr. Mohammad Khondoker and graduate student Rawan Elsersawy described the numerous benefits of the advances they are making in developing new components for 3D printers.

Collage of four photos of people touring a 3D printing research lab, the products printed, and printers.
Engineering grad students at the U of R are developing new printing technologies to improve the production of highly flexible 3D printed materials made of different types of plastics and metal. Researchers showcased current work in which they are developing new flexible foam that can be used in everything from mattress pads to lining military helmets, as well as body conforming casts to help people with broken bones to heal. Photo courtesy Mika Abbott

Their advances will help them to innovate increasingly flexible yet resilient pieces that could be used in the production of body casts, foam for military helmets, and mattresses that conform to individual sleep needs.

Capstone projects driving innovation

U of R fourth-year Engineering students presented their final-year “capstone” projects for guests, as part of the student research showcase. Emily Schwab, Mitchell Brough, and Bailey Armstrong, who are finishing their degrees in Electronic Systems Engineering, showcased their wheelchair project. Their power wheelchair is part of a larger project to create a fully autonomous wheelchair that will improve the quality of life for a wide range of users.

Two smiling individuals stand by automated wheelchair at event.

Emily Schwab, Mitchell Brough, and Bailey Armstrong showcased their wheelchair project to participants of the Chancellor's Community. Photo courtesy Mika Abbott

“I am so proud of what our researchers and students are able to accomplish through their research and innovation that benefit society,” said Chancellor Klein. “Our new students have a strong, welcoming community that they are joining this fall.  It’s a dream come true for community members and scholars alike, and a big step forward for the University.”

Banner Photo: Chancellor’s Community night of engineering innovation on April 17 with members, researchers, students, and guests. Alt text: Collage of four photos showing lab equipment and people smiling. Photo Credit: Mika Abbott

About the University of Regina

2024 marks our 50th anniversary as an independent University (although our roots as Regina College date back more than a century!). As we celebrate our past, we work towards a future that is as limitless as the prairie horizon. We support the health and well-being of our 16,700 students and provide them with hands-on learning opportunities to develop career-ready graduates. Our research enterprise has grown to include 21 research centres and 12 Canada Research Chairs and brings in more than $51.2 million in funding annually. Our campuses are on Treaties 4 and 6 - the territories of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda peoples, and the homeland of the Michif/Métis nation. We seek to grow our relationships with Indigenous communities to build a more inclusive future.

Let’s go far, together.

Learn More

Find out more about the Chancellor's Community and the impact it is having on U of R students, future leaders, and society. Learn more or join today!

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