What makes a Leadership Award winner?

The dictionary defines something “excellent” as “a talent or quality which is unusually good and so surpasses ordinary standards.” While there are many good achievements out there, harder is the task to discern the good from the excellent. That’s why every year, ORION asks its community to help identify and spotlight the excellent among you in the Leadership Awards.

To help get you thinking about who those outstanding people in your community might be, allow us to introduce some of ORION’s luminaries who made a difference in Ontario’s research, education and innovation sector (individuals qualify if their project relied on ORION’s connectivity at one of our connected institutions).

No Small Fry: Kindergarten to Grade 12

The K-12 category highlights an individual who has made a significant contribution or led noteworthy and productive collaborations for students in kindergarten to grade 12.

  • In 2012, Marshall Zhang of Bayview High School (Toronto District School Board) was only 18 (the youngest person to receive an ORION Leadership Award, to date) when awarded first place at the 2011 Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge, a national science competition in which students across the country develop research projects with the help of mentors. Marshall discovered a new combination of drugs that could be used to treat cystic fibrosis. Utilizing the SCINET High Performance Computing Platform, he conducted trials to test if the compounds could help repair defective proteins that cause cystic fibrosis. Learn more about his project.
  • In 2013, Jack McMaster, Director of Education for the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board led a significant boost in making technology accessible in the classrooms, literally putting personal computers in the hands of each student from grades 4 to 12, and an iPad to share among every four students in kindergarten to grade 3. Read more about how he did it.

Rising Stars: Higher Education

The Higher Education category focuses on positive impacts to Ontario’s colleges, universities, and training facilities. 

  • In 2012, John Helliker’s interest in strengthening ties between industry and academia led to the establishment of Sheridan’s Screen Industries Research and Training Centre (SIRT) at Pinewood Toronto Studios, an innovation centre recognized for its unique blending of applied research, knowledge dissemination and professional development serving the film, television, and gaming sectors. SIRT serves as a key convergence centre for industry partners, college and university researchers, and government stakeholders within the screen-based creative cluster in Ontario. Altogether, SIRT is building the Province’s competitive advantage. John also spoke at ORION’s 2015 THINK Conference.
  • In 2014,  Virginia Roy, Director of Services with the Ontario Colleges Library Service, modernized college libraries across Ontario, digitally transforming services and encouraging a more collaborative approach for how they are delivered. Virginia’s efforts have helped over 200 people working in college libraries by simplifying their work flow with ORION’s O3 collaboration tool. These online resources are now accessible from anywhere, at any time, on any device.

Creating the Possibilities: Innovation

From digital infrastructure to disrupting the norm with unconventional yet ingenious collaboration, the Innovation category features individuals who have pushed the envelope for Ontario’s knowledge economy.

  • In 2014, Dr. Narinder Paul, a medical imaging expert and a professor with the Toronto General Hospital and the University of Toronto, harnessed new technology, the ORION and CANARIE networks to take Ontario-based research and expertise global by creating a virtual classroom, reaching communities around the world. His work with the Advanced Imaging and Education Centre (AIEC) at Toronto General Hospital, part of the University Health Network, is helping to generate new imaging technologies that will provide rapid, low-dose diagnostic imaging for improved clinical patient care. Read his story in our 2014 annual report.
  • In 2015, Dr. Allison Crawford from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health led the Centre’s Northern Psychiatric Outreach Program. This program uses televideo and online resources to increase the capacity to provide health care access to under-served populations in remote, rural communities across Northeast and Northwest Ontario as well as Nunavut. Her model generates more collaborative partnerships, and brings continuing professional development to colleagues working in remote areas.

Now it’s Your Turn

Do any of these individuals remind you of someone you know who has made a difference this year? Nominate him or her for this year’s Leadership Awards!