Two UVic scholars help debut new national college

Continuing Studies

- Valerie Shore

Two University of Victoria researchers—a psychologist who studies how we age mentally and a computer scientist who explores new ways to sort through large amounts of information—are charter members of a new national “college” for outstanding young scholars.

Stuart MacDonald and Margaret-Anne (Peggy) Storey have been elected by their peers into the Royal Society of Canada’s newly formed College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Members of the college are considered “the emerging generation of intellectual leadership in Canada.” To qualify, members must be within 15 years of receiving their PhDs or equivalent. The membership term is seven years.

MacDonald’s research focuses on cognition—thought, reason and memory—as we age, looking for early indicators for decline and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

He and his team are now able to detect the first signs of cognitive decline up to 10 years in advance of dementia diagnosis. Early detection offers hope of pushing back the onset of disease, by using interventions such as exercise, social interaction and regular cognitive activity. “Living an engaged lifestyle helps us maximize ‘healthspan’ and helps us avoid multiple diseases of aging, including vascular diseases which negatively influence cognitive function,” he says.

Being part of the first cohort in the new college is very gratifying, says MacDonald. “I’m particularly excited by the opportunity to liaise regularly with experts from across Canada, with the promise of influencing policy and facilitating successful aging for Canadians.”

As a world expert in software visualization and social technologies, Storey studies how technology can help people explore, understand and share complex information and knowledge. “We’re trying to understand the interplay of technology, human behaviour, cognitive ability and social structure,” she says. “This allows us to design new software tools for interacting with large, complex information resources.”

Storey’s research has led to software improvements in many areas, including software engineering, education, security analytics and biomedicine. “My most recent work looks at how social media is revolutionizing how we create and curate knowledge,” says Storey. “Our goal is to improve the software tools that encourage computer users to think and work together.”

Storey is thrilled to be one of the first members of the new college. “I look forward to contributing my understanding and breadth of knowledge to the proceedings,” she says. “The Royal Society plays an important role in promoting learning across many disciplines.”

The new college was created to recognize that 60 per cent of current university faculty members in Canada have been hired since the year 2000. The duties of college members include: participation on expert panels, mentoring of promising young scholars, and engagement in Royal Society regional programming.


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Keywords: research, scholars

People: Stuart MacDonald, Margaret-Anne (Peggy) Storey

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