As Canada celebrates its 150 years, it is a good time to reflect on the discoveries, innovations, and research that Canada has cause to be proud of.
In so many fields, Canadians have left their mark on the world and changed the face of science. We have only to look at a few examples to see the degree to which this is true.
Frederick Banting and Charles Best changed the life of diabetics the world over with their 1922 discovery of insulin.
Canada’s Sherlock Homes, Frances McGill, helped originate the field of forensic pathology through her study of crime scenes.
More recently, Canadian researchers James Till and Earnest McCulloch helped map out the future of science and medicine with their discovery of stem cells.
These are but a few examples, and ones that illustrate that as a nation, Canada has done a lot for science over the past 150 years.
As a leader of a Canadian university dedicated to the promotion of scientific excellence, I think we should be excited to see what’s in store for the next 150 years.
On my own campus, I continue to watch progress unfold in our labs and classrooms almost daily.
Whether it is the creation of new methods to test and get life-saving drugs to market faster, huge advancements in advanced manufacturing, or our work in computers that has seen our pioneering work in compiling lead to breakthroughs in quantum computing.
We are watching the future of vehicles unfold with the rapid advancements in autonomous vehicles. Health care is changing as we learn how to 3D print new hips for people and help them recover from surgery by embedding artificial intelligence into their physiotherapy plans.
We’ve also watched Canadians, policy makers and insurance regulators respond to new information that many Canadians are unaware that their homes are in flood plains. This is a result of identifying areas that are expected to experience increasing risk as climate change progresses.
As the world continues to advance, experience challenges, and reach for new heights, it is research and science that will continue to lead the way. Canada and Canadian scientists are an integral part of those efforts.
Whether at a university, organization, high school, or in a living room, Canadian scientists will continue to innovate and society must do all we can to help facilitate their process.
We must ensure that our children are exposed to the wonders of science early. We must eliminate any boundaries that prevent women from fully participating in scientific discovery.
We must encourage partnerships between universities and industry so those with questions can be intimately linked with those who are dedicated to finding answers.
We must do all we can to ensure that those with curiosity have the time, resources and abilities to innovate and discover.
As Canada’s most innovative university, Waterloo continues to support those researching current problems and educating those who will solve the problems we do not yet know about.
I invite you, as you look back at the last 150 years of Canadian discovery with pride, to look at the next 150 with optimism.
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Waterloo