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Joining the fight against COVID-19

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the businesses and researchers who have shifted focus from their normal operations to help combat the virus.

Over the past weeks, several our member institutions have stepped up and demonstrated that they have the capacity to make a significant impact, on both a local and global scale, in the fight against COVID-19. From critical vaccine research, to community health and wellness outreach, here are a few examples of how our institutions are contributing.


Bill Whelan and Andrew Trivett are the UPEI researchers behind the start-up Fieldetect, which aimed to provide farmers with a tool to quickly test crops and animals for diseases. When the pandemic arose, the researchers saw a new need for their technology and pivoted their operations.

The company received a $355,000 federal grant to continue with this work. Get updated on this project by clicking here.


James Watmough, a mathematics professor at the UNB, is part of an international task force that is using mathematical models to predict how the virus will spread. This research is helping folks understand where and when the virus will spread to and what populations are the most vulnerable.

So far, this research has helped inform outbreak trajectories and transmission risks. Click here to read more on this project.


A team of researchers at the UdeM is working on a detection software for COVID-19 using artificial intelligence.The research Group, called Perception, Robotics and Machine Intelligence (PRIME), operates under the supervision of Professor Moulay Akhloufi at the UdeM. His team has developed and deployed a learning model using deep neural networks for the detection of COVID- 19 online from x-ray images of the lungs. Read more about this project here.


Psychology researchers at SMU in Halifax is examining the way that employers, businesses and other organizes have responded and adapted to the pandemic.
Dr. Kevin Kelloway, along with a team of researchers at Mount Allison University, Cape Breton University and the University of Ottawa are conducting a two-year study to capture data on how people have adjusted to this new reality. Click here to read more about Dr. Kelloway’s research.


3D Printing company, PolyUnity, which was born out of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, has been tapped by Eastern Health to use its printers to make components for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline health care workers and pumps for bottles of hand sanitizer that the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation is producing for hospitals.
The university’s Med school has provided majority of the 3D printers that PolyUnity is using, and the company also collaborating with Memorial’s tech services to produce the components for the shields and bottle pumps.

Click here to read more about the support PolyUnity is providing.


Dal’s COVID-19 aid began back in early January when researchers sent much needed medical supplies to Wuhan, the Chinese city that was at the centre of the initial outbreak.

Today, Dal research teams are continuing the fight through multiple avenues. Alyson Kelvin, a virologist and assistant professor with Dalhousie’s department of microbiology and immunology, is part of the Canadian team working to find a vaccine. Alyson, who did vaccine research during the SARS outbreak, was seconded to the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization’s International Vaccine Centre in Saskatoon in mid-February to test different vaccines.

Meanwhile, Professor David Kelvin, who is also Alyson’s father and works in the same department at Dal, is creating a portable testing kit that would measure the severity of the illness in those who have tested positive. You can click here to read about David and Alyson Kelvin’s work.

And an “engineering task force” from Dal is working with the NS Health Authority to utilize the 3D printers that would otherwise be sitting unused in their facilities. Dal engineers have been prototyping better headbands for face shields to protect health care workers. Read more about that initiative here.


Instructors at CNA are responding to the growing concern around our mental and physical health during this time. Lori Deeley, an instructor with CNA’s Art & Design Essentials program, has developed a series of four “Stress and Mindful Wellness” community education courses, which are available to the general public through the college’s online distributed learning platform, and are free of charge. Read more about these courses here.

These are only a handful of the amazing initiatives our network’s researchers have undertaken. Stay tuned to our news blog while we share more of this excellent work with our community.