Enactus Saint Mary’s expand Square Roots Token Program before departure to Enactus World Cup

(Left to Right) King of Donair co-owner Nicholas Nahas; Basha Lebanese co-owner Chico Rashaydeh and his father, Khalas Rashaydeh; the Honourable Lena Metlege Diab; Saint Mary's University President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray; Ray's Lebanese Cuisine owner Hady Bahliss; and Enactus Saint Mary's co-presidents Meredith Drost and Valerie Caswell. 

(Left to Right) King of Donair co-owner Nicholas Nahas; Basha Lebanese co-owner Chico Rashaydeh and his father, Khalas Rashaydeh; the Honourable Lena Metlege Diab; Saint Mary's University President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray; Ray's Lebanese Cuisine owner Hady Bahliss; and Enactus Saint Mary's co-presidents Meredith Drost and Valerie Caswell. 

Enactus Saint Mary’s students are proving that business and social good can be one in the same. Enactus Saint Mary’s students created the Square Roots Token Program, which aims to help address food insecurity and reduce food waste in the province.

On Tuesday, September 19th, the newest restaurant to take part in their Square Roots Token Program was announced. King of Donair’s four locations on Quinpool Road, Lacewood Drive, Windmill Road and Sackville Drive, join pioneer restaurants Basha Lebanese on Inglis Street, Rys Mediterranean on Spring Garden Road, and Ray’s Lebanese Cuisine in Bayer’s Lake.

“I hate waste, especially when it comes to food which is why I was more than excited to join the Square Roots Token Program,” says Nicholas Nahas, co-owner of King of Donair. “I would love to see greater accessibility for the tokens and more businesses join so that food waste is not even a concern in the city. I believe in this the program and hope it succeeds not only as a business owner but as a graduate of Saint Mary's University.”

Two students holding the Square Roots Tokens.

Two students holding the Square Roots Tokens.

The program works by offering tokens for $5 which can be purchased and given to someone who is known or seen to be in need. The tokens are then redeemable by the recipient for a meal made from surplus food ingredients from partnering restaurants.

The announcement comes just ahead of the team’s departure for London, England, where they will pitch the Square Roots Token Program at the Enactus World Cup. The Enactus World Cup takes place from September 26-28, and will mark Enactus Saint Mary’s first time on the international stage.

“This is what we mean when we say Saint Mary’s students are citizens of the world,” says Saint Mary’s University President, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “It’s thinking how your day-to-day work and activities, even while you’re a student, can have a beneficial impact on others outside the university, community and indeed around the world.”

Enactus is the largest student leadership organization in the world, striving to solve environmental, social and economic issues through entrepreneurial action. With over 150 students involved on campus, Enactus Saint Mary’s is one of the chapters leading the charge on the national, and soon to be, international scale.

“Our Square Roots Token Program began in April 2017 and we are so excited about the amazing response and support that we have received from our partnering restaurants in Nova Scotia,” says Meredith Drost, Co-President of Enactus. “It is truly inspiring to see the passion to reduce food waste in our own community from our customers and partners. Our team is also thrilled to have the opportunity share our program with the world when we travel to the Enactus World Exposition next week in London, England. We would not be here today without the amazing support of Saint Mary's University, the Sobey School of Business and the Business Development Centre.”

The Honourable Lena Metlege Diab attended the event today on behalf of Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis to celebrate the program’s latest achievements.

"We all know that government alone does not have all the answers to the challenges we face. We have to look to the community and the private sector to find solutions. When this happens, we witness a powerful force for change,” says Ms. Metlege Diab.  "This new formula for success combines business acumen with social consciousness. It teaches us how human capital can be directed and best used. This will benefit our economy as a whole - and help us build a stronger Nova Scotia.”

As a show of support for the program, President Summerby-Murray said the University purchased 100 tokens to be delivered by the students to those in need. 

Saint Mary's Astrophysics student publishes star-gazing book for kids

John Read, a Saint Mary's Astrophysics student and author. 

John Read, a Saint Mary's Astrophysics student and author. 

John Read, a full-time Astrophysics student at Saint Mary’s, knows how to manage his time wisely. This summer he has published three (yes three) new books and republished another book. Along with his second novel (Callisto Deception) and 50 Targets for the Mid-Sized Telescope, he has written a children’s book: 50 Things to See with a Telescope – Kids.

Read, a self-described nerd, has long been interested in astronomy. He loved reading astronomy articles in National Geographic magazines as a child but it wasn’t until he got his first $14 telescope at Walgreens drugstore in his early 20s that it became a passion. He started photographing the sky, buying increasingly better sky-gazing equipment. He also joined a local astronomy club in California, and was awarded the Joe Disch award for volunteering at almost 50 star parties in a single year. 

He wrote his first book, 50 Things to See with a Small Telescope, upon discovering that many students who owned telescopes didn’t know how to use them. Self-published in 2013, it quickly became successful, often leading Amazon’s stargazing and astronomy best-seller lists. It has been translated into 10 languages.

“For me, it’s not enough to see the wonders of the universe with my own eyes: I have this unquenchable desire to share my experience with the world,” he wrote in a piece published this year in Popular Astronomy

About the book

Read says that his book was created in response to other astronomy books that either have too much detail for beginners, or too few pictures.

In 50 Things to See with a Telescope – Kids, each colourful page contains a telescope view feature, showing young stargazers how to view galaxies, nebulae and star clusters with a small telescope or binoculars.

Read says it would be appropriate for ages eight and up, and is a great way for kids and parents to understand the night sky and foster a love of astronomy.

 Quitting Your Day Job

Now in the second year of his BSc in Astrophysics at Saint Mary’s, Read, 34, has more life experience than most of his fellow students. He first graduated from Saint Mary’s in 2005 with a Bachelor of Commerce and started climbing the corporate ladder, taking on roles with increasing responsibility at a Fortune 500 company in California before retiring to pursue his passion.

He returned home to Nova Scotia with his wife and two toddlers, and he has some big post-graduation plans. He can envision working in academia, as well as working on large scale projects as a research scientist.

Saint Mary’s is home to one of the world’s few Twitter-controlled observatories, the Burke-Gaffney Observatory. Read envisions that similar technology could someday be leveraged, so that he can study from Halifax using shared equipment in the U.S. and around the world.


For anyone interested in astronomy, Read recommends joining the Halifax chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The group of over 200 amateur and professional astronomers hosts events such as Keji Dark Sky Weekends and the Nova East Star Party.


Irish Ambassador Jim Kelly visits Saint Mary's

Left to right - Dr. Pádraig Ó Siadhail, D’Arcy Magee Chairholder, Irish Studies; Bridget Brownlow, Conflict Resolution Advisor (Part-time Instructor Irish Studies / Political Science); Dr. Malcolm Butler Vice-President Academic and Research; Mr. Jim Kelly, Irish Ambassador to Canada; President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray.

Left to right - Dr. Pádraig Ó Siadhail, D’Arcy Magee Chairholder, Irish Studies; Bridget Brownlow, Conflict Resolution Advisor (Part-time Instructor Irish Studies / Political Science); Dr. Malcolm Butler Vice-President Academic and Research; Mr. Jim Kelly, Irish Ambassador to Canada; President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray.

Irish Ambassador Jim Kelly was on his first visit to Halifax this week and has met with many members of the local Irish community. Today he met with representatives of Saint Mary’s University. Among the topics for discussion was all the great work  being carried out in relation to Irish Studies at Saint Mary’s, including the long-standing peace education program in Northern Ireland.

Saint Mary’s Researchers Receive $1.3M in NSERC Grants

Saint Mary’s Researchers Receive $1.3M in NSERC Grants

Eight Saint Mary’s researchers will receive $1.3 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), as announced at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

This funding comes from NSERC’s Discovery Grants Program, which supports ongoing natural sciences and engineering research projects with long-term goals. In addition to promoting and maintaining a diversified base of high-quality research at Canadian universities, Discovery Grants help provide a stimulating environment for student research training.

Dr. Rituparna Kanungo

Subatomic physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo will receive $600,000 to help unravel the secrets of rare isotopes that have asymmetrical ratio of neutrons to protons. By using accelerated beams of these nuclei created through nuclear reactions in the laboratory, Dr. Kanungo’s research will add to our understanding of nature’s strongest force (nuclear force) and shed light on neutron-rich objects in the universe. It will also expand our knowledge of what drives exploding stars to create the majority of heavy elements—like Gold and Platinum—that we see around us.

Dr. Kanungo’s research challenges our century-old knowledge of nuclei, which form the core of all matter in the universe. It also contributes to a new and evolving view of the nucleus, which is at the forefront of nuclear physics research worldwide.

This grant adds to Dr. Kanungo’s ongoing research into rare isotopes at particle accelerator facilities GSI in Germany and National Superconducting Cyclotron Centre at Michigan State University. It also supports her work at RIKEN, Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution.  

Dr. Clarissa Sit

Chemical biologist Dr. Clarissa Sit will receive $165,000 to fuel her hunt for new antibacterial and antifungal molecules (natural products) in unusual places—like honey bee colonies—using cost-effective techniques. Together with her recent award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, this funding supports Dr. Sit’s commitment to tackle one of society’s most challenging public health problems: the development of drug-resistant pathogens like Clostridium difficile (C diff) and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) known popularly as “hospital superbugs.” By isolating and studying molecules from microbes that have naturally grown and competed for resources in their environment, Dr. Sit’s research will determine which natural products allow for certain microbes to dominate. The molecules Dr. Sit discovers through this process will serve as targets for other chemists to synthesize and hold tremendous promise for new drug development.

Read more about Dr. Sit’s recent and ongoing research

Dr. Paul Muir

Mathematician Dr. Paul Muir will receive $130,000 to help develop efficient, error-controlled software for three classes of differential equations (BVODEs, 1D PDEs, and 2D PDEs) that arise in computational models in a wide variety of application domains. These software tools are key to the accurate and efficient solution of these computational models, which are now widely recognized as the third major pillar—along with theory and experiment—in contemporary investigations of scientific phenomenon.

Dr. Laura Weir

Evolutionary biologist Dr. Laura Weir will receive $120,000 to investigate the influence of ecological conditions on mechanisms of sexual selection and evolution of sexually-selected traits. Through field research on salmonid fishes in Eastern Canada and lab work involving small, freshwater fish from the genus Oryzias, Dr. Weir’s research will provide a new perspective on the consequence of variation in sexual selection within and among animal populations.

Dr. Nader Azad

Management Science professor Dr. Nader Azad will receive $100,000 to develop mathematical models along with approaches to analyze the effect of disruptions to supply chains. The Global Procurement Study has shown that 80% of companies are vulnerable to a major disruption in supply, due to the interdependence and global complexity of today’s supply chains. Dr. Azad’s research will provide a methodology to manage disruptions and improve decision-making.

Dr. Genlou Sun

Biologist Dr. Genlou Sun will receive $26,000 to examine whether some plants evolved additional sets of chromosomes in order to thrive in changing environmental conditions. Using the wild barley (Hordeum bulbous) plant species as a case study, Dr. Sun will use innovative molecular and experimental approaches to reveal the role additional sets of chromosones play in the formation of new and distinct species.

Dr. Stavros Konstantinidis

Computer scientist Dr. Stavros Konstantinidis will receive $20,000 for his research related to the mathematical constraints of machine languages, which allow computers to perform computations and communications reliably and efficiently. By addressing several algorithmic questions related to the sets of words that make up machine languages, Dr. Konstantinidis aims to reduce improper readings of these words and support stable processing.

 Dr. Linda Campbell

Environmental scientist Dr. Linda Campbell will receive $20,000 to investigate freshwater contamination from the roughly three million tonnes of untreated tailings, a modern legacy of century-old abandoned gold mines in Nova Scotia. Her research will establish experiments to quantify and characterize how specific freshwater fish and insect species may accumulate heavy metals from goldmine tailing sediments. She will also explore the viability of a new, inexpensive selenium-additive method to reduce mercury and arsenic toxicity in aquatic ecosystems. 

Thomas Steele receives Canada Graduate Scholarship

In addition, PhD in Applied Science candidate Tom Steele was awarded a Canada Graduate Scholarship to investigate the factors that influence chronic disease development within lady beetles. Specifically, Steele will explore the role of defense chemicals on pathogen development and the impact of stress factors like temperature and crowding on beetles’ development of chronic Microsporidiosis, a group of spore-forming parasites. This project complements Steele’s larger research focus on the effects of Microsporidiosis on beneficial lady beetles used for biological control programs, which use natural enemies to control pest populations.


Exceptional Canadians recognized with honorary degrees

The accomplishments of two exceptional Canadians will be recognized at the end of September with honorary degrees at Saint Mary’s University’s fall 2017 convocation ceremony.
Saint Mary’s is pleased to recognize the extraordinary achievements of:

  • Commander (Retired) Heather J. Armstrong, BComm’83, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran and Saint Mary’s alumna who has dedicated her life to serving Canadians; and
  • Dr. Ian McKay, a well-known historian, researcher, professor and author who has helped shape the public’s understanding of Canadian history. 

“These degrees represent the highest honour that we can bestow,” said Saint Mary’s University President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “Both Commander Armstrong and Dr. McKay are commendable leaders. Their accomplishments exemplify what it means to be engaged global citizens, and are deserving of recognition and acclaim.” 

A Saint Mary’s alumna, Commander Armstrong began her career in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1978, serving in both the regular and reserve components of the Personnel Administration and Logistics branches.  Commander Armstrong followed those years of military service in Halifax, Shearwater, Cold Lake and Ottawa, with another 10 years in senior civilian leadership positions with the Department of National Defence in Ottawa. Commander Armstrong graduated from Saint Mary’s with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1983.

Dr. McKay began his career as a historian after completing his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1975. His time spent in Halifax inspired him to base his honours essay on the area, entitled The Working Class of Metropolitan Halifax, 1850-1889. He would later return to Halifax to complete his PhD, Work and Community in the Cumberland Coalfields, 1848-1927.  As an author, Dr. McKay has won numerous awards for his works, including the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize, the pre-eminent prize awarded by the Canadian Historical Association for best book each year in Canadian history.