Articles – News

From World to Beyond: WE-Empower! Celebrates Western Professor Innovative Research

on March 7, 2023

By: Maria Varon, WORLDiscoveries

Every year on March 8, people worldwide celebrate International Women’s Day. This global day recognizes and celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. This year, as we #EmbraceEquity, WE-Empower! (a program for people who self-identify as women from faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students at Western University), is excited to celebrate Dr. Jayshri Sabarinathan. Dr. Sabarinathan is a WE-Empower! participant and who recently submitted a Report on Invention (ROI) to Western University’s Tech Transfer Office, WORLDiscoveries. 

Dr. Sabarinathan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and was previously the Associate Director of Training (2019-2022) at Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. She obtained her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research expertise is in developing novel nano-photonic sensors, integrated photonics, and miniature remote sensing instrumentation.

From the World to Beyond: 

Dr. Sabarinathan has worked in multi-spectral imaging for remote sensing applications for the last seven years. Inspired to build a customized multi-spectral camera for agriculture monitoring, she and her team developed custom multi-spectral imager instrumentation for unmanned aerial vehicle-based and mobile robot-based remote sensing. This has applications in precision agriculture and geological classification. This work led her to The Canada Space Agency, where Dr. Sabarinathan became involved with the Integrated Visions System Project led by Dr. Osinski (the PI and Science Lead at Western University). Dr. Sabarinathan and her team have demonstrated a compact dual-sensor multi-spectral imager for a lunar rover application capable of characterizing the lunar surface geology. 

 “What’s exciting about this multi-spectral imager is that we use a dual sensor with an extended spectral range from the visible and near-infrared to the short-wave infrared, thus allowing us to recognize more lunar mineral signatures,” explains Dr. Sabarinathan. “We also realized that this instrument can be used in many applications. This led us to apply for an ROI with WORLDiscoveries. We hope to commercialize and potentially use it for other applications such as mining and air quality monitoring.” 


Dr. Sabarinathan is a current participant in an inaugural program led by WORLDiscoveries. It creates opportunities for women to turn their innovations into business opportunities. Funded by the Strategic Priorities Fund, the WE-Empower! The program provides year-round mentorship for principal investigators, faculty, postdoctoral trainees, and graduate students who self-identify as women. The program works to support and train these researchers on the technology transfer process, research commercialization options, intellectual property (IP), and entrepreneurship. “The WE-Empower program educates women faculty on navigating the commercialization process while introducing them to available resources and networks at WORLDiscoveries and within the region.”

Dr. Sabarinathan is also a co-founder of LightSail, a start-up which develops integrated photonic solutions for the aerospace industry sector. “Being part of this start-up also led me to join the WE-Empower! program as it provides resources on how to take research to commercialization and learn the right way to do it,” she says. 

Staying Inspired 

Today, Dr. Sabarinathan is pioneering innovative ways to lead impactful research to publications and guiding her students with the skills to be successful in the space industry. “This industry is growing in Canada and worldwide,” Dr. Sabarinathan explains. “We want to see our research impact people and be used by other researchers.” When talking about her inspirations, Dr. Sabarinathan describes her drive as having a dream and staying focused on that dream. “It’s important (…) not to let challenges stop you from achieving your dream. Some of the best advice I have received is: It might take someone a certain amount of time to achieve a goal, and it might take someone else a shorter amount of time. It does not matter either way as long as the goal is achieved”  

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WORLDiscoveries Annual Vanguard Awards 2022

on October 10, 2022

Claire Crooks has been named the WORLDiscoveries Annual Vanguard Awards – Innovator of the Year.

Crooks is a clinical psychologist, professor at the Faculty of Education and Director of the Centre for School Mental Health, where she and her team develop, implement, and evaluate mental health promotion and violence prevention programs in a range of school and community settings.

Her research looks at the gaps between science, practice and policy related to the healthy development of children and youth.

Along with a team of fellow researchers, Crooks has developed the Fourth R, a curriculum that is based on the principal that relationship skills can and should be taught in much the same way as reading, writing and arithmetic.

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ecommWORLDiscoveries Annual Vanguard Awards 2022
Claire Crooks, is the Director of the Centre for School Mental Health and a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Western.

Healthy relationship program highlights WORLDiscoveries success

on September 19, 2022

The Fourth R is a comprehensive school-based program designed to include students, teachers, parents, and the community in addressing youth violence and bullying, unsafe sexual behaviour, and substance use.

Based on the idea that education needs to involve more than the traditional three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic – the Fourth R stands for relationships. The program emphasizes the importance of healthy relationships in stopping violence.

The Fourth R was developed at Western’s Centre for School Mental Health and London’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health by researchers David Wolfe, Claire Crooks, Ray Hughes, and Peter Jaffe. The curriculum and has been adopted by more than 5,000 schools in Canada and the U.S.

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From left to right: Fatma Hassan, Anastasia Codirenzi, Eaton Asher, Michelle Pryde, Durwesh Kadri, Oleksiy Zaika, Cody Jackson

New Medical Innovation Fellowship cohort begins their journey

on August 10, 2022

Western has recruited a group of skilled scientists, engineers and medical practitioners from around the world to be part of the eighth cohort of its Medical Innovation Fellowship (MIF) program.

The program takes place over 10.5 months where fellows will learn about topics relevant to business and technology commercialization, prior to being immersed in clinics, where they identify market needs. They then develop and prototype solutions by working with researchers, clinicians, and technology transfer offices to generate new intellectual property. Graduates of the program have become leaders in industry, research and health care and have started their own companies.

Starting this August, the fellows will complete a boot camp that lays the groundwork for the rest of the fellowship meeting with academic researchers, clinicians, industry representatives, and venture capitalists that provide training on innovation, prototyping, intellectual property, regulatory affairs, and business strategy.

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Hisham Hafez is Senior Director, RNG Projects at Greenfield Global and an Adjunct Professor at Western.

Taking green graduate research to industry

on July 28, 2022

Alumnus applies innovations developed in lab to exclusively licensed venture

Western alumnus Hisham Hafez, PhD’10, MBA’19, is taking his innovative bio-fuel process from the lab to market as the Senior Director, Renewable Natural Gas Projects at Greenfield Global, a producer of high purity alcohols, solvents, biofuels, and bio-processing materials.

Hafez was a doctoral student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department when he was approached by a Greenfield executive during a poster presentation, interested in his research involving converting waste biomass into biological hydrogen and methane using a novel process he developed and patented throughout the course of his program.

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Western Medical Innovation Fellows take first place in MSK Innovation Competition

on July 14, 2022

The Western Innovation Fellows (MIF) have won a cash prize of $25,000 by landing the top position in the 2022 MSK Innovation Competition.

First launched in the spring of 2019, the MSK competition aims to cultivate innovative ideas that can be pitched to investors and promote an entrepreneurial spirit. The stage of development is not restricted for entrants and anyone on the commercialization path is welcome to participate. The competition is open to all London-based entrepreneurial musculoskeletal experts. The initiative is hosted by the Bone and Joint Institute and the Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship at Western.

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New program, WE-Empower, to encourage women entrepreneurs

on June 30, 2022

A new program, funded by the Strategic Priorities Fund, seeks to provide a year-round mentorship program for women and underrepresented principal investigators, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students and training in technology transfer, research commercialization, intellectual property, and entrepreneurship.

The program was a result of an equity, diversity, and inclusion assessment that identified a gap in the number of disclosures of innovation with lead female principal investigators.

Piloted by WORLDiscoveries, the business development arm of a research partnership between Western, Robarts Research Institute and Lawson, the WE-Empower program, joins other programming like the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship and Graduate Student Innovation Scholars to help promote the commercialization of research innovations coming from our partner institutions.

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Western Medical Innovation Fellows finish program and start up new company

on June 15, 2022

The group of six fellows for the 2021/22 cohort have completed their 10.5-month journey through the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship (MIF) program and have participated in a boot camp, clinical immersions and developed a new invention. Fellows Oleksiy Zaika and Sydney Robinson will be taking their innovation to market by starting Vessl Prosthetics.

Their solution adjusts independently to change how amputees interact with their prostheses – enhancing comfort by avoiding common problems related to socket fit. Vessl’s invention is a simple, intuitive, and easy to use socket system that passively adjusts to changes in limb volume.

By allowing users and clinicians to accelerate the path to compatible prosthetic solutions, Vessl aims to save clinical costs and empower amputees to regain their health and well-being. Their technology intervenes at the most critical time, ensuring that amputees have the chance to recover and embrace their prosthetics as a way to live a fulfilled life.

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Mini-MIF program delivers big opportunity

on May 25, 2022

The Mini-Medical Innovation Fellowship (MIF) is a program organized by WORLDiscoveries to introduce the biodesign process approach to medical innovation. It is open to Western’s medical health professional and engineering students, as well as practicing clinicians based in London, who are interested in medical innovation.

A shorter spin-off of the full Western Medical Innovation Fellowship, the aim of the Mini-MIF program is to train entrepreneurial participants to use a design thinking-based approach to address clinical problems.

Entering its second annual cohort, the program recruited four clinicians from Children’s Hospital – London Health Sciences Centre, as well as 16 students from Western University working towards a professional medical health or engineering degree. Each clinician was paired up with two medical health professional students and two engineering students.

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Hear here, Desired Sensation Level software team wins Governor General Innovation Award

on May 3, 2022

Led by Dr. Susan Scollie, a team of researchers at National Centre for Audiology at Western University are receiving a Governor General’s Innovation Award for developing the world’s first pediatric hearing aid prescription software.

For nearly 20 years, Desired Sensation Level (DSL) software has helped clinicians around the world provide infants and children with the gift of hearing.

It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

The DSL software has helped clinicians provide infants and children with access to sound by assessing, treating, and properly fitting and tuning hearing aids to patient’s specific needs. This results in improved hearing outcomes – while boosting long-term educational and social potential for patients born with permanent childhood hearing loss.

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ecommHear here, Desired Sensation Level software team wins Governor General Innovation Award