AGE-WELL supports rising stars in AgeTech

Seventeen graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have been selected to receive AGE-WELL Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Awards in the 2023 competition. This is the ninth round of annual awards offered by AGE-WELL and represents a $285,000 investment. To date, this prestigious award program has supported over 140 trainees for a total investment of almost $2,000,000.

This year, recipients include five master’s students, eight doctoral candidates, and four postdoctoral fellows from eleven institutions across five Canadian provinces. Ten of these are co-funded with AGE-WELL partners: Care Anywhere, University of British Columbia; Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto; Faculty of Health, University of Waterloo; McMaster Institute for Research on Aging; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; and University of Calgary.

Cynthia Onyejekwe

In addition to salary funding, recipients will participate in AGE-WELL’s exclusive Early Professionals, Inspired Careers Program. Known as EPIC, the program encourages participants to consider the economic, social, environmental and ethical implications of their work and helps them develop the ideas, teamwork, and relationship-building skills that are the building blocks of a successful career. EPIC is made up of online course modules, workshops, webinars, mentorship opportunities, lab exchanges, and internships. To date, over 1300 students, postdoctoral fellows, and research professionals have participated in EPIC programming.

Cynthia Onyejekwe is a master’s student in biomedical physiology and kinesiology at Simon Fraser University. She is developing an evidence-based implementation strategy to increase the use of hip protectors among older adults living independently at home. Ultimately, her goal is to reduce the risk of hip fractures and increase quality of life. For Onyejekwe, “receiving the AGE-WELL Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Award for the 2023-2024 academic year is an honour and a major highlight in my research journey. This award serves as a beacon of support and a meaningful contribution to my career goal of making an impact in the field of technology and aging.”

Dr. Jessica Wong

This year, AGE-WELL awarded the Michael F. Harcourt Policy Fellowship to Dr. Jessica Wong, a postdoctoral fellow at Ontario Tech University and recent attendee of AGE-WELL’s 2023 Summer Institute. Dr. Wong holds degrees in medical radiation sciences and public health, holds a Doctor of Chiropractic and a PhD in epidemiology. A transdisciplinary researcher whose work focuses on unmet healthcare needs in older adults and musculoskeletal pain, Dr. Wong is excited to leverage AGE-WELL’s training and mentorship in knowledge mobilization, policy and governmental relations to increase her work’s real world impact.

The Karen Kobayashi Memorial Award in Technology and Aging was created in memory of Karen Kobayashi, professor in the Department of Sociology and Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies) of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Victoria. A long-time leader and investigator in AGE-WELL, Dr. Kobayashi served on our Research Management Committee, co-led the knowledge mobilization crosscutting activity, and was a network and training advisor in implementation. This year, the award was given to Aline Aboujaoudé, a doctoral candidate at the Université de Montréal.  Aboujaoudé stated that she was honoured to receive the award.

Aline Aboujaoudé

“The current challenges faced by the Canadian healthcare system in meeting the demand for home healthcare services highlight the necessity for innovative solutions that reshape delivery methods and help home care teams in addressing seniors’ complex needs. This award supports me in gaining a better understanding of how we could improve the healthcare system’s responsiveness to the evolving needs of the aging Canadian population. I am humbled by this recognition, which fuels my aspiration to innovate and ultimately create meaningful change for all older adults wishing to age in place.”

“Each year we are incredibly impressed by the applications we receive to our annual awards,” said Dr. Alex Mihailidis, AGE-WELL Scientific Director and CEO. “The dedication to improving quality of life for older adults and caregivers through practical, translational research shines through in this cohort and I’m confident that the future of AgeTech in Canada is in good hands.”

2023-2024 Recipients of the AGE-WELL Graduate and Postdoctoral Awards

Aline Aboujaoudé Université de Montréal
Karin Cinalioglu McGill University
Jeremy Cohen University of Waterloo
Dylan Dao University of Toronto
Christopher Dietzel Dalhousie University
Natalia Docteur University of Calgary
Fraser Douglas University of British Columbia
Sara Emami Simon Fraser University
Gelerah Hajian University of Toronto
Bryan Hong University of Toronto
Maureen O’Brien University of Calgary
Cynthia Onyejekwe Simon Fraser University
Sarah Sousa University of Waterloo
Sophini Subramaniam McMaster University
Nicholas Tamburri University of Victoria
Hannah Van Lankveld University of Toronto
Jessica Wong Ontario Tech University