Young Innovators

Student researchers at the U of S are harnessing creativity and drive to make discoveries and uncover new knowledge in areas that matter to Canadians.

This series highlights examples of student research at the U of S. It is written by U of S students under the mentorship and supervision of University Research Profile and Impact. This initiative is a partnership with University Research Profile and Impact, College of Graduate Studies and Research, and The StarPhoenix.

The Young Innovators initiative was previously known as “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Please click here for these earlier stories.

2017 Young Innovators Series

2016 Young Innovators Series

2015 Young Innovators Series

2014 Young Innovators Series

  • Exercise program helps children with arthritis - by Federica Giannelli
    A University of Saskatchewan graduate student has developed a strength training program that holds promise to improve quality of life for children with arthritis.
  • Student probes toxicity of new fire retardants - by Federica Giannelli
    University of Saskatchewan toxicology student David Saunders has analyzed dust from 20 daycares in the Saskatoon area to learn whether flame retardant chemicals in foam furniture and children’s toys pose a health hazard.
  • Student tracks bed bug DNA - by Federica Giannelli
    Bed bugs are back, and University of Saskatchewan biology student James Armstrong wants to be sure we’re ready to combat the pesky critters.
  • New "smart material" holds promise to help clean up pollutants - by Federica Giannelli
    A University of Saskatchewan chemistry student has developed a new “smart material” with potential to significantly improve ways of combatting toxic waterborne contaminants that threaten our health and environment.
  • Education key to 'green' future - by Federica Giannelli
    University of Saskatchewan student Jennifer McRuer is using a prestigious scholarship to identify best practices for how environmental sustainability is taught and practiced in Canada’s schools and universities.
  • Better solar cells for more green energy - by Federica Giannelli
    Growing up on a farm near St. Louis, SK, Philip Boutin channeled the power of the sun to electrify cattle fences using solar panels he and his father installed.
  • Study looks at asthma prevention - by Federica Giannelli
    Growing up in rural Nigeria, Oluwafemi Oluwole experienced first-hand the challenges of agricultural pesticide exposure on lung health.
  • Study clues to aging bone loss - by Federica Giannelli
    In Canada, bone fractures due to osteoporosis affect one in three women and one in five men over their lifetimes, costing the health care system more than $2.3 billion a year.
  • Student tracks pesticides in wetlands - by Federica Giannelli
    PhD student Anson Main has spent months driving across Saskatchewan collecting water samples from more than 300 wetlands.
  • U of S software aids Ebola research - by Federica Giannelli
    When Brett Trost enrolled in computer science back in 2009, he never imagined his University of Saskatchewan PhD research would help international experts study the deadly Ebola virus.
  • Student studies predator “alarm” in fish and frogs - by Federica Giannelli
    Newly hatched baby turtles on Florida’s coast have been known to rush away from the ocean, rather than toward it as they normally would do.
  • Student scouts wild horses - by Federica Giannelli
    As a horse lover, Sarah Medill has found the perfect PhD research job.

2013 Young Innovators Series

  • Balancing Indigenous rights and Arctic energy projects - by Federica Giannelli
    Whether the issue is of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in British Columbia or shale gas extraction in New Brunswick, First Nations are asserting a more active role in resource development projects affecting their communities.
  • Student mapping language areas of the human brain - by Thomas Onion
    One. Won. Those two words might sound the same, but you probably used entirely different parts of your brain to read them. University of Saskatchewan neuroscience student Layla Gould is investigating uncharted regions of the brain, mapping out which areas are used for reading and picture processing—information which is already helping brain surgeons in Saskatoon.
  • Brazilian student shines light on nanomaterials - by Federica Giannelli
    As a child growing up in Brazil, Verônica de Carvalho Teixeira received an astronomy book from her grandmother and it was love at first sight with science.
  • Engineering research could help save energy worldwide - by Thomas Onion
    Up to 20 per cent of all energy in the developed world is consumed by a single source—heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
  • Student engineers cartilage tissues to combat osteoarthritis - by Thomas Onion
    In a biomedical engineering lab at the University of Saskatchewan, a 3D printer drips a mixture of living cells and biodegradable plastic into a grid design about the size of a shirt button.
  • Protecting high-tech devices from cosmic rays - by Thomas Onion
    If the “dog ate my homework” excuse won’t work anymore, kids today might try out “a cosmic ray bombarded my computer with subatomic particles and I lost everything!”
  • Student aims to unlock secrets of dark matter - by Ryan Boivin
    On a chalky blackboard at the University of Saskatchewan, graduate student Fred Sage is working to understand “dark matter”, the invisible substance that makes up more than a quarter of the mass in our universe and mysteriously holds galaxies together.
  • Finding ancient minerals for high-tech uses - by Thomas Onion
    As demand for high-tech devices and green technologies rises, countries around the world are scavenging for sources of rare earth elements—the expensive metals required in everything from iPods to hybrid cars.
  • Rated 65+ -- Student designs videogames for seniors - by Thomas Onion
    With interest in playing videogames growing amongst senior citizens, researchers around the world are looking into how playing these games can benefit the health and well-being of older adults.
  • Student studies duckling survival in cropland - by Thomas Onion
    University of Saskatchewan biology student David Johns has spent two summers scouring southern Saskatchewan for northern pintail ducks, a species whose numbers have declined due to land use changes.
  • Student uses synchrotron to study world’s thinnest material - by Thomas Onion
    With $105,000 in federal research funding, University of Saskatchewan physics student Adrian Hunt is using the Canadian Light Source synchrotron to study a new material currently creating excitement in the scientific world.
  • Using new methods to detect food adulteration - by Ryan Boivin
    When buying food products or beverages, how confident can we be that the content labels match what’s inside the container?
  • Searching for plague among prairie dogs - by Sarah Champagne
    Crouched in the dust beside a prairie dog burrow in southwestern Saskatchewan’s Grasslands National Park, I’m trying to capture fleas that may carry the bacteria that causes plague — yes, the same disease that caused the devastating “Black Death” in medieval Europe.
  • New tools help battle canola disease - by Thomas Onion
    A single-celled parasite is spreading across the Prairies, turning healthy roots into stumpy, disorganized clumps and threatening Canada’s $15-billion canola industry.

2012 Young Innovators Series

  • Student wants to bring forest back to Flin Flon - by Lisa Buchanan
    Decades after fire and tree-cutting devastated the forest in Flin Flon, Man., researchers are trying to solve the mystery of why the forest has not grown back.
  • Student Takes Math to Heart - by Thomas Onion
    As a child growing up in Iran, math problems really got Saeed Torabi’s heart pumping. As a PhD student, he is using his love of math to help build a computer simulation of a beating heart.
  • Student aims for better assessment of uranium toxicity in sediment - by Lisa Buchanan
    University of Saskatchewan researchers are trying to improve the way regulators and mine operators assess the risk of metal contamination from effluent discharged in uranium mining.
  • Researcher hunts for hepatitis C cure - by Tara Donovan
    A deadly virus with no symptoms until its end stages, the liver disease hepatitis C could threaten the health of the largest population in North America - baby boomers.
  • Finding cure for HIV a balancing act - by Tara Donovan
    University of Saskatchewan researchers are studying a family of proteins produced in our own cells that can shut down HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Student studies diseases of wild urban rats - by Jamie Rothenburger
    Wild urban rats carry bacteria and viruses that can pose a significant health risk to people, yet very little is known about them in Canada.
  • Student ambassadors promote science - by Lisa Buchanan
    Exploring the particle physics of popcorn and the forces and geometry in hockey are just two ways student “science ambassadors” from the University of Saskatchewan are making science fun and relevant for young people in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
  • Synchrotron shines light on prostate cancer - by Robyn Thrasher
    University of Saskatchewan researchers are pioneering the use of synchrotron technology to study prostate cancer in humans and dogs.
  • Genes key to rust resistance in wheat - by Lisa Buchanan
    Saskatchewan plant scientists are working to stay one step ahead of a fungal disease — stripe rust — that they fear may be moving into the province and starting to reduce wheat crop yields.
  • History of province's early sex trade uncovered - by Lisa Buchanan
    In 1910, an all-male jury in Saskatoon caused an uproar when the jurors acquitted notorious brothel madam Babe Belanger of attempting to bribe a police officer.

2011 Young Innovators Series

  • Discovery may aid oilsands cleanup - by Lisa Buchanan
    A novel filtration material developed at the University of Saskatchewan as part of a PHD thesis may offer a green solution to contaminated oilsands process water.
  • Research improves cold-hardy wheat - by Victoria Martinez
    With global demand for wheat exceeding 20 billion bushels a year, producers need more high-yielding crops that can survive in the extreme climate of the Canadian Prairies.
  • Student, ranchers protect prairie songbirds - by Victoria Martinez
    Grassland songbirds — from Sprague’s pipit to the chestnut-collared longspur — rely on native prairie to survive, yet many songbirds and much of that habitat is disappearing.
  • Student protects animal, human health from parasites - by Robyn Thrasher
    Janna Schurer is working with northern Aboriginal communities to help people protect themselves from parasite infection from wildlife and dogs.
  • Student unleashes electrical power of microbes - by Victoria Martinez
    Jonathan Godwin, a University of Saskatchewan master’s student, is improving a new “green” energy source — creating electrical fuel cells from everyday microbes.
  • Synchrotron used to improve cancer treatment - by Victoria Martinez
    Masoomeh Poorghorban is designing a new nano-sized way to carry a cancer drug right to the diseased cells, a strategy that promises to lessen serious side effects.
  • Student examines views of disability - by Stephen Prestley
    Adam Pottle, a PhD English student at the University of Saskatchewan, was born with impaired hearing in both ears. To engage in class discussions, he has learned to read lips.
  • Research project on psychopaths finds there is hope for treatment - by Ishmael Daro
    Lindsay Sewall has spent the last three years studying a feared and misunderstood segment of the population: Psychopaths.
  • Student unlocks secrets of mercury - by Stephen Prestley
    More than one billion people around the world depend upon fish for protein in their diet. But the threat of mercury poisoning, especially in children, has raised concerns about the safety of eating fish.
  • Researcher vying to save polluted lake - by Victoria Martinez
    In a way, Lake Diefenbaker is Jeff Sereda’s lake. The University of Saskatchewan post-doctoral researcher got married there, worked there for years and now his research centres on the lake’s health.
  • First Successful Embryo Transfer in Wood Bison - by Robyn Thrasher
    University of Saskatchewanveterinary scientists and colleagues acrossCanadahave recently carried out the world’s first successful embryo transfer in wood bison.
  • Battling Chronic Wasting Disease in Elk and Deer - by Tara Donovan
    Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been responsible for the severe decline ofSaskatchewan’s game farm industry. Millions have been spent on programs to screen herds and compensate farmers.
  • “Green” sunscreen research at the U of S - by Victoria Martinez
    Since plants need sunlight to survive and can’t go hide in the shade, they need to make their own sun protection.
  • Tackling Obesity with Computer Apps - by Stephen Prestley
    Imagine an app for your smart phone or Facebook page that helps you make healthy decisions about what to eat at a restaurant so that you can control your weight, manage your diabetes, or build muscle.

2010 Young Innovators Series

  • Probing Materials with X-Ray Vision - by Lisa Johnson
    For Michael Gaultois, the bright lights of his native Alberta couldn’t compete with the Canadian Light Source synchrotron and its promise to help him reveal the secrets of advanced materials.
  • U of S Student Tracks Changing Path to Adulthood - by Lisa Johnson
    With the increasing need for more education to land jobs, young people today wait longer than ever to marry and become parents.
  • U of S Medical Student Drawn to Research - by Lisa Johnson
    When Neil Kalra was in grade nine, he was already doing innovative medical research.
  • U of S Student Homing in on Untold History - by Lisa Johnson
    University of Saskatchewan student Omeasoo Butt is tracing the history of housing in two indigenous communities, showing that homes speak volumes about the way people think, express their values, and live their lives.
  • U of S Psychology Graduate Advances Epilepsy Research - by Lisa Johnson
    University of Saskatchewan psychology graduate Neil Fournier has been awarded a post-doctoral fellowship for brain research that could open up new possibilities for the treatment of epilepsy.
  • U of S Student Uncovers History of Trade Blankets - by Lisa Johnson
    University of Saskatchewan PhD student Katya MacDonald has been awarded a prestigious national scholarship to research the history of one of Canada’s most iconic symbols—the trade blanket.
  • U of S Student Wins GG Award for Food Research - by Lisa Johnson
    This summer Ricky Lam was flown to Ottawa to meet celebrity chefs and receive honors from Governor General Michaëlle Jean for his innovative research and “immense potential” to contribute to the food industry.
  • U of S Student Exploring Fertility in Space - by Lisa Johnson
    Growing up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan, Heather Allaway had a somewhat unusual career aspiration — she wanted to become an astronaut.