May 20, 2004  
Volume 98, Issue 01  

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News Briefs

Magical machine reduces pain in snails and people alike
Escargot anyone? After experimenting with land snails placed on heated metal surfaces, scientists at Lawson Health Research Institute have invented a handheld pain relief device.

“The device looks like a walkman, but instead of earphones it has coils of wire that generate a pulsed magnetic field,” said Frank Prato, imaging program leader at the Lawson Health Research Institute, adding the “earphones” are placed on the temples.

“We found that if we exposed [the snails] to pulsed magnetic fields, they stayed on the heated surface for twelve seconds, indicating a reduced sensitivity to pain,” he explained.

The device has been shown to reduce pain in patients suffering from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, the pain relief produced by the device does not have the adverse side-effects of other painkillers such as morphine, Prato noted.

“We anticipate it will be between six months to two years before we can sell the device with the claim that it reduces pain in specific populations,” he added.

—Sarvenaz Kermanshahi

Western prof to receive teaching award
Aristotle may have been a famed Greek philosopher and educator of Greek conquerors of the known world, but he never received even one teaching award from Alexander the Great, unlike a Western professor. Then again, that probably makes sense, considering the consensus is that Aristotle probably never met Alexander and never actually conquered any sizable portion of the known world.

Stephen Hicock, a Western earth sciences professor, will be receiving one of six University Faculty Association Teaching Awards. Selected from among 12,000 university teachers in Ontario, he will also be the only professor from Western being honoured.

Hicock credits the award to his style of teaching. “My attitude is that this university can’t exist without research, but it certainly can’t exist without students. So I put my teaching first,” he said.

According to Hicock, consideration of this award involved results from the teacher evaluations all Western students complete every term, a teaching dossier with his lectures and other teaching materials, as well as letters of support from his undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members.

“Letters from the students said I was enthusiastic, well-organized, as well as have an effect on their lives, such as career path,” he added.

He explained the basis of his student-centred teaching philosophy lies with the fact that students are the ones paying the tuition to attend university. “I make sure they get their money’s worth.”

Western student politico named prez of OUSA
Thousands revere and worship them, princes and kings from lands far, far away offer them lavish and expensive gifts, and rulers of nations seek their informed council and wisdom. This isn’t the offspring of a deity we are talking about; it’s student lobbyists, and one of Western’s student politicians will be leading them in Ontario.

Alison Forbes, University Student’s Council VP-education, has been named president of the Ontario Undergarduate Student Alliance by the organization’s steering committee.

“What I’d really like to focus on is to continue to work on partnerships with interested parties,” Forbes said of her primary goal in her new position, adding the various parties she hopes to work with are the Council of Ontario Universities, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and other student groups.

She noted the upcoming consultations with the provincial government over tuition and other post-secondary issues will also figure prominiently in her term. “That’s something we’re really excited for,” she said.

It is also hoped the consultations will further the congenial working partnership OUSA has with the provincial government, she explained. “We’ve got a good relationship with the government — we always get good reviews.”

Prior to her position within OUSA, Forbes has worked closely with the student lobby at both the federal and provincial level while sitting on the USC external committee. She also served one term as a student senator at Western and was last year’s USC government affairs commissioner.

—Marshall Bellamy



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