News Release – Vanstones inducted into KW Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

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Dr. Sherry Shannon-Vanstone and Dr. Scott Vanstone Inducted into Kitchener-Waterloo Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Sherry Shannon-Vanstone and Dr. Scott Vanstone in Innovation and Community Leadership

WATERLOO, ON | JUNE 13, 2024 — Profound Impact™ Corporation (“Profound Impact”), a technology company that has developed an AI-powered researcher-to-funding matching platform, is proud to announce the induction of its Founder and CEO, Dr. Sherry Shannon-Vanstone, along with her late husband, Dr. Scott Vanstone, into the Kitchener-Waterloo Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. This prestigious honour, awarded by the Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in partnership with JA South Western Ontario, recognizes the extraordinary contributions of the Vanstones to entrepreneurship, innovation, and the local community.

Sherry is a visionary leader in business and philanthropy, with a career spanning multiple successful ventures in Silicon Valley and Canada. With a MS in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee, she has held significant positions including Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Certicom Corp., Vice President Electronic Commerce at MasterCard International and CEO of Arcamatrix Corp. Her entrepreneurial spirit led to the founding of TrustPoint Innovation and Profound Impact Corporation. Sherry is also renowned for her mentorship and advocacy for women in STEM fields, playing a key role in initiatives such as the Emmy Noether Circle at Perimeter Institute and the Waterloo Region Chapter of Women in Communications and Technology (WCT-WR).

“Sherry was an amazing connector to the whole [tech] community, keeping our company connected to all the people that needed to believe in the technology we had,” said Phil Deck, former CEO of Certicom. “Sherry’s a cryptographer, so she knew the science but she also knew the personalities involved, and that was key. She was an essential part of Certicom right from the beginning. We built a software stack that could be embedded in other people’s software to do elliptic curve cryptography. It was extremely valuable. It was the most advanced cryptographic toolkit in the world. It’s actually the signing algorithm for Bitcoin today,” he adds. 

Scott was a prolific researcher and pioneer in Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC), with a profound impact on the field of cryptography during his tenure at the University of Waterloo. He supervised numerous Ph.D. candidates and co-founded Certicom, a leader in ECC technology, which was later acquired by Blackberry. His work with TrustPoint Innovation, acquired by the Robert Bosch Group, further cemented his legacy in cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT). Scott’s journey from Ph.D. student to renowned researcher and company co-founder can be traced back to his early recognition of ECC’s potential in 1985. His career, rooted in the academic lineage of distinguished individuals such as William Tutte and Ron Mullin, led to significant advancements in cryptography. Scott was not only an innovative researcher but also a mentor who inspired and guided future leaders in the field. His contributions continue to influence the development of cryptography and cybersecurity, showcasing a legacy of profound impact through connections and collaborations.

Scott’s daughter Andrea Mclean commented: “I am very proud of him for this special recognition for the Kitchener-Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, and I think he’s very deserving of that for all the hard work he put in over the years as being a math professor and Certicom and TrustPoint after that. Sherry’s always giving back to the community, supporting the University of Waterloo along with my dad, hosting International Women’s Day events, always wanting to connect people within the region.” 

“Being inducted into the Kitchener-Waterloo Entrepreneur Hall of Fame is a deeply meaningful recognition of our lifelong commitment to innovation and community,” said Dr. Shannon-Vanstone. “Scott’s vision and passion for cryptography and information security continues to inspire our work at Profound Impact, and I am honoured to continue our legacy of fostering technological advancement and supporting the next generation of innovators.”

The couple’s contributions have significantly impacted the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Sherry’s leadership in local mentorship programs has empowered over 200 women professionals through WCT-WR Mentoring Circles. Additionally, their philanthropic efforts have supported educational and healthcare initiatives, including the Emmy Noether Council at Perimeter Institute, the University of Waterloo Math Faculty, St. Jerome’s University, the University Health Network and the Milton Hospital capital campaign.

“I think the inevitability of Scott and Sherry co-founding TrustPoint was going to be a legacy for what they were going to create together,” said Dr. Deborah Rosati, Chair of Profound Impact Board and Investor. “Profound Impact was a passion project for Sherry originally. She just leaned in. It started with community impact and as it evolved it became more of we can really create this AI platform to connect researchers with funders.” 

Profound Impact’s AI-powered platform, Research Impact, exemplifies the ongoing innovation inspired by Scott and Sherry. The platform facilitates seamless connections between researchers and funding opportunities, streamlining the path to groundbreaking discoveries. “This recognition motivates us to continue driving technological progress and supporting academic and industry researchers globally,” said Sherry.

“To aspiring entrepreneurs in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, I encourage you to pursue your passions relentlessly and leverage the power of community and collaboration. Innovation thrives where diverse minds come together to solve complex problems,” she added.

Dr. Shannon-Vanstone extends her heartfelt gratitude to the mentors, colleagues, and community members who have supported her and Dr. Vanstone throughout their careers. Special thanks to the team at Profound Impact, whose dedication and expertise are vital to advancing their mission. 

Dr. Shannon-Vanstone accepts the Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame award at the JA South Western Ontario ceremony, celebrating her outstanding contributions to innovation and business leadership.

ABOUT PROFOUND IMPACT™ CORPORATION

Based in the Toronto-Waterloo technology corridor, Profound Impact’s AI-powered platform – Research Impact – helps academic and industry researchers find the perfect funding match. With over $2.5 Trillion in research funding opportunities, 100,000s industry partners and 25 Million researchers globally, finding the optimal grant for academic and industry innovators is often overwhelming and unnecessarily time-consuming. More than just a search engine, Research Impact offers automatic, targeted and timely matching. Profound Impact’s customers include top North American research institutions, universities and industry partners. CEO and Founder Sherry Shannon-Vanstone is a serial technology entrepreneur with an unparalleled track record. She has had five successful start-ups and exits in Silicon Valley and Canada, including two IPOs and acquisitions. To learn more, visit www.profoundimpact.com

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CEO Message

Message from the CEO

May was a month of celebration for the Profound Impact team, our partners and our communities.

I was honoured to be recognized, along with my late husband, Scott Vanstone, renowned mathematician, researcher and co-founder of Certicom Corporation, as a Laureate in the 2024 Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame for our founding of TrustPoint Innovation Technologies. The Entrepreneur Hall of Fame celebrates local business founders who have made a positive, lasting impact in the community and I’m delighted to join this group of innovative leaders.

Profound Impact Corporation was proud to sponsor the 2024 KW Oktoberfest Rogers Women of the Year Awards, an event that celebrated, recognized and paid tribute to the collective accomplishments and of 123 incredible women in the Waterloo Region. As sponsor of the STEM category, we’re pleased to congratulate award recipient Linda Li, an Environmental Engineer and Associate with Dillon Consulting. Linda has contributed to complex and multidisciplinary projects in the area of water, energy, and climate change.

I was pleased to be interviewed by Disruption Magazine Canada to share how Profound Impact leverages AI to provide the perfect match of funding opportunities with academic researchers and corporate partners. You can read about my career journey and the work we’re doing at Profound Impact in this Women in Tech article as well as a feature in the I Am Unbreakable magazine.

Guardian Women, a community built by Guardian Capital Advisors LP to focus on bringing women together to learn from one another, presented a Women Disrupting with Purpose event on May 29, where I participated in a fireside chat with Micha Choi, Client Portfolio Manager at Guardian. It was a pleasure to share stories of my experience as an entrepreneur and philanthropist at this exciting event.

The Profound Impact team was busy connecting with our academic partners in May. Sherryl Petricevic, our Director of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships, presented at CARA 2024 on Revolutionizing Grant Funding Using AI, sharing insights from current users of our Research Impact platform. CARA, the Canadian Association of Research Administrators, serves as the national voice for research administrators in Canada, uniting professionals from diverse roles in this ever-evolving field. We’re proud to have been a part of this informative event, featuring expert panelists and fostering innovation in research administration.

Jacqueline Watty, our Business Development Manager, hosted a round table discussion at the Polytechnics Canada Conference on May 15th. Topics included the challenges and opportunities faced by polytechnics and colleges when it comes to securing funding, working with industry partners and tackling a growing to-do list on a shrinking resource budget.

We’re pleased to introduce you to Joanne McKinley in this month’s Impact Story. Joanne, who is Director of Software Development at Google and Co-Site Lead of Google Waterloo, is an established industry leader, passionate advocate and mentor, recognized innovator, a role model for women in technology and an inspiration for young women considering careers in computer science.

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, you’ll meet Professor Anita Layton, the Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine, and Professor of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Pharmacy and Biology at the University of Waterloo. Anita has been recognized as an influential figure in applied mathematics research at the interface of mathematical computation and biomedical sciences, has inspired new experimental and clinical studies in the area of renal physiology and associated medical care and has highlighted the importance of gender differences in mathematical models for biological systems.

As we move into June, we look forward to participating in the Collision Conference in Toronto on June 17-20 and the NCURA AI Symposium in Alexandria, VA on June 24.  We look forward to seeing many of you at these events.

As always, thank you for your support and we hope that you enjoy this month’s edition of Profound Connections.

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone

Anita T. Layton

Anita T. Layton
Professor of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Pharmacy and Biology
Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine
University of Waterloo

As the daughter of a mathematics teacher, it was assumed that Anita Layton would follow in her father’s footsteps to study math. “All of my father’s colleagues said, ‘You will be a mathematician like your dad.’ I was rebellious and didn’t know what I liked – but I knew that I didn’t want to do math because everybody expected that I would!”

Anita’s journey from Hong Kong, where she spent her first 18 years, to Duke University in North Carolina, was prompted by her father’s lifelong desire to complete a PhD degree in the United States. “His family was poor, so he took a job instead of pursuing graduate studies,” she says. “I was told, from a very young age, that I would earn a PhD in the US. My father chose Duke and I chose physics and computer science as my majors – even though I had never taken a computer science course before college. I hadn’t thought about majoring in computer science until I realized I couldn’t do experiments – I’m really clumsy. With computer science, if something isn’t right, there is no fire and nobody has to know. You can just go back and fix it!”

While Anita was completing her undergraduate degree in North Carolina, her family moved to Richmond Hill, a suburb of Toronto. She decided to pursue her graduate studies at the University of Toronto, completing a PhD in computer science on numerical weather prediction in 2001. Her first postdoc was at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

Anita married Harold Layton, a mathematics professor at Duke University, in 2000, and wanted to return to North Carolina. She completed a second postdoc at Duke and then was hired as a tenure-track professor of mathematics there. “My husband was doing kidney research. I was tired of weather research after doing it for years and I wanted to work on anything but weather,” she says. She read one of her husband’s papers and noted that the kidney is about blood flow, which can be described with the same equations as the movement of the air in weather. “I thought – that’s cool.  Maybe I can try my hand at it as a mathematical modeler even though I don’t know much biology,” she added.

Anita was a trained numerical analyst who used computers to solve mathematical equations very quickly, looking at other people’s models and systems of mathematical equations and working to solve them better, faster and more accurately. This skill, along with the biology she learned, eventually allowed her to build her own models. “I learned a lot about biology during that time. I attended biology meetings to meet people and to build professional relationships and was ultimately recognized as belonging to the research community,” she said.

Anita spent 16 years at Duke University, where she was the Robert R. & Katherine B. Penn Professor of Mathematics, and also held appointments in the department of biomedical engineering and the department of medicine. She was recruited to the University of Waterloo in 2018 as a Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine. Anita is currently Professor of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Pharmacy and Biology at the University of Waterloo and heads the Layton Group, a diverse and interdisciplinary team of researchers that use computational modeling tools to better understand aspects of health and disease. 

Layton Group undergraduate, graduate students and postdocs collaborate with physiologists, biomedical engineers, and clinicians to formulate detailed models of cellular and organ function. She explains, “My research had focused on the application of mathematics to biological systems to understand the impacts of diabetes and hypertension on kidney function as well as the effectiveness of novel therapeutic treatments. My research has since expanded to focus on drug simulation and how some drugs work better in men than in women.”

Anita’s work as an internationally acclaimed authority and leading researcher in mathematical medicine and biology has been recognized by a range of organizations, including the Canadian Mathematical Society with the Krieger–Nelson Prize in 2021, the Women’s Executive Network as a Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, by the Association for Women in Mathematics as a 2022 Fellow, by the Royal Society of Canada as a 2022 Fellow and 2023 John L. Synge Award winner and by the Federation of Chinese Canadian Professionals as 2023 winner of the Award of Merit.

In addition to her work as a renowned researcher, Anita is active in the research community. She is an Associate Editor of SIAM Review Book Section, an Associate Editor of SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems, a Section Editor (AI/Machine Learning) of Hypertension and an Associate Editor of Maple Transactions. She says, “I love research but for most of my career, I’ve also held substantial administrative positions. I was Chair of the Arts and Sciences Council for three years at Duke and served as the Associate Dean, Research and International, for the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. I like to improve things and took the Associate Dean to help promote my colleagues’ research.”

Equity, diversity and inclusion are also very important to Anita. She serves on, and chairs, the Research Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council at the University of Waterloo. She has also been active with the university’s Women in Math initiative, which encourages and advocates for women and gender minorities who are interested in studying mathematics and who seek careers in mathematics. She says, “There are many reasons women are discouraged from studying math. Through the Dean’s Distinguished Women in Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Lecture Series, we bring role models to speak to and with grad students. These excellent speakers, who also are renowned researchers and experienced mentors, are able to talk to and encourage those students.”

When asked what’s next in her career, Anita says, “I’m happy running my research program, but I want to do more to promote a supportive and rich environment for research and education in Canada. I’m especially interested in what I can contribute to science.”

Her advice to young people when considering what career to pursue is to “Follow your heart and your talent. Do something that keeps you happy and that you can do well.” For women in mathematics, Anita advises, “Keep your eyes open to find allies, both men and women, who can understand your concerns.”

Mathematics is the new microscope for Anita Layton and the members of her research group. Her work has inspired new experimental and clinical studies in renal physiology and related medical care, has constructed models to simulate new diabetes drugs, has highlighted the importance of sex differences in hypertension and has developed a new approach for diagnosing autism in children. And her passion for mentoring women and gender minorities and fostering diversity is a powerful demonstration of her commitment to the mathematics community at large.

Joanne McKinley

Joanne McKinley
Director of Software Development, Google
Co-Site Lead, Google Waterloo

As a high school student in the rural community of Petrolia, Ontario, Joanne McKinley enjoyed a wide range of subjects. “I was a generalist with many interests”, she says. “At age 13, I wanted to be a meteorologist.”

Inspired by her math teachers, the majority of whom were women and University of Waterloo graduates, and the Computer Science courses offered by her high school, Joanne applied to and was accepted to the BMath program at Waterloo. “The program was attractive because the curriculum was designed with an equal number of computer science, math and elective courses,” says Joanne. Her participation in the Cooperative Education program as an undergraduate student provided excellent software development experience in large and small companies.

Joanne graduated with a BMath degree in 2000. She followed that with graduate studies in the Computer Graphics Laboratory at the University of Waterloo to earn an MMath degree, focusing on computer graphics and user interface research. “User interface has become a theme in my career,” says Joanne. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to provide an excellent user experience when you’re building products.”

Joanne started her career at Reqwireless, a Waterloo-based start-up company that developed mobile phone software. Reqwireless was acquired by Google in July 2005 as part of the company’s strategy to expand their mobile offerings and to establish offices outside of their headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area. The acquisition was the seed for Google Waterloo, now the largest Google office in Canada.

Joanne co-founded the Google Waterloo office as one of the first developers of the mobile Gmail app and she has since led the delivery of mobile Gmail across multiple generations of mobile platforms, co-authoring over a dozen software patents. Currently, Joanne is Director of Software Development at Google and co-site lead of Google Waterloo where, along with co-lead Jennifer Smith, she helps manage 1,400 full-time staff.

A passionate advocate for championing and developing female leaders in technology, Joanne is a powerful model for work-life balance. When she had the first of her three children, Joanne wanted to spend more time with her family and asked to work part-time. Her proposal was accepted. “It was simply a matter of asking and then also proving that you can do it as well,” she says. She has earned multiple promotions, including becoming Google Canada’s first woman Director of Software Development, all while working 32-hour weeks. When asked how she can fit her work into 32 hours a week, Joanne notes, “I have found that it comes down to very careful prioritization and being aggressive about the basic principles of delegating to others and growing others’ skill sets so that things don’t grind to a halt if I’m not in the office.”

As a mentor to many Google employees, Joanne prioritizes working with women and with other underrepresented minorities as well as those seeking flexible work schedules. “I focus on mentoring women a little further along in their career. Senior women often don’t have role models and need mentoring. They can, in turn, help women at all different levels of their careers,” she adds.

Joanne is passionate about encouraging young girls to consider computer science and similar disciplines as career options and is an active participant in the Waterloo Women’s Impact Network (WINN), which promotes women and underrepresented genders in math. She has served as a volunteer with the Technovation Girls Waterloo competition, a program designed to equip young girls and women with the confidence, skills, and network to pursue a career in tech. 

The University of Waterloo Faculty of Mathematics recognized Joanne’s exceptional contributions and leadership in software development, as well as her work as an advocate and role model for women in technology with the J.W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation in 2020.

Music was important to Joanne’s family and when her ten-year-old daughter started playing the flute, Joanne decided to start taking lessons from the same teacher. Although she didn’t know anything about woodwind instruments, she is now a member of a flute choir and performs in community concerts. And she sees the connection between music and her work. “Software development is like music – it needs the focus of sitting down at the keyboard to work on the hard part of the code or to practice the song,” she says.

Joanne has worked as part of the Google Workspace team for most of her tenure at Google and notes that it is a very welcoming place for women – the Vice President and General Manager is a woman as are an unusually large proportion of directors. “Our VP/GM has established a culture that cares deeply about the products and user experience and each other. I have a support network of women in offices around the world – sisters with similar work experiences that have been a very important part of my development as a director,” says Joanne. 

An established industry leader, passionate advocate and mentor, and recognized innovator, Joanne McKinley is truly a role model for women in technology and an inspiration for young women considering careers in computer science.

Do you have an impact story to share? Let us know at connections@profoundimpact.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming newsletter!

CEO Message

Welcome to the May edition of Profound Connections. 

In this issue’s Impact Story, you’ll meet Dr. Ronda Frueauff, a 2023 Impactful Action Award nominee whose 40-year career in education focussed on advancing the use of technology in schools, designing creative classroom environments to engage students in experiential learning, mentoring and coaching. Ronda’s love of learning continues in retirement as she conducts research on laughter and how it affects brain growth.

In our Researcher Spotlight, we profile Dr. Kelly Lyons from the University of Toronto. In addition to being recognized for her outstanding research, Kelly is known for her leadership as head of IBM’s Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) Toronto. At CAS Toronto, Kelly was responsible for applied collaborative research projects with universities across Canada as well as CASCON, Canada’s premier international general computer science conference.

Profound Impact is pleased to announce our strategic partnership with AI Partnerships (AIP) Corporation. Research Impact, our AI-driven platform, uses proprietary and patented AI-powered algorithms to match industry and academic researchers to grant funding in an automatic, targeted and timely manner. We’re excited to partner with AIP and look forward to providing opportunities for AIP’s affiliate network to engage with our platform and add their AI-based research projects to Research Impact’s database.

On May 1, Sherryl Petricevic, Profound Impact’s Director of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships, moderated the panel Unlock Innovation Dollars Through Academia, presented by Innovation Factory. Representatives from BDO Canada, McMaster University, Sheridan College and Mohawk College showcased real-world examples of successful projects and industry/academic partnerships and how companies can successfully access this source of innovation. Sherryl will also participate as a panelist in a discussion on Research Intelligence Solutions at the Canadian Conference on Research Administration, presented by CARA, in Calgary on May 12 – 15.  

The 2024 Oktoberfest Kitchener-Waterloo Women of the Year event will take place on May 23 and we are honoured to sponsor the STEM award for outstanding advancement to the field of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math. Profound Impact team member, Martha Breithaupt is nominated in that category and will also be a keynote speaker at the event. And the innovative Mentoring Circles program offered by the Waterloo Region Chapter of Women in Communications and Technology, an organization I am proud to have co-founded with Sherryl Petricevic, is nominated in the Group Achievement category.

Check out the recently released Lead Like a Woman podcast to hear my views on the importance of being risk-aware rather than risk-averse and how culture, inclusivity, and diversity shape leadership and success in start-ups.

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that my late husband, Dr. Scott Vanstone, renowned mathematician, researcher and co-founder of Certicom Corporation, and I will be recognized by the 2024 Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame laureates at a gala ceremony in Kitchen for co-founding TrustPoint Innovation. 

Thank you for your support and we hope that you enjoy this month’s edition of Profound Connections!

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone

Ronda Frueauff

Dr. Ronda Frueauff

Dr. Ronda Frueauff’s outstanding career in education at all teaching and administration levels, elementary through college, would not have happened if she had pursued her original dream of studying journalism at Eastern Kentucky University. But after completing high school, she lacked the financial resources to attend university and instead studied to be a cosmetologist.

“I worked in a salon for 6 years and loved that job,” says Ronda. The owner of the salon and a fellow cosmetologist, both of whom had earned university degrees, encouraged her to start taking university classes. Ronda enrolled as a part-time student at Miami University in Ohio, focusing on courses in education, business, law and art while working full-time. “I declared my major in Elementary Education and Special Education,” says Ronda. “The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed into law in 1975 and I knew that teachers with expertise in special education would be in demand.”

Ronda’s first job in education was in Cincinnati, where she worked as a teacher for 6 years before shifting to Director of Curriculum. She earned her Master’s degree in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders from Xavier University in Cincinnati in 1983 and a second Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Akron in 1988.

Armed with impressive qualifications to work in designing and administering optimal learning environments for all students and a desire to live in a warm climate, Ronda moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she accepted a position as an Assistant Superintendent and Director for Curriculum and Instruction, beginning her 30-year career in education in Arizona.

Ronda received her Doctorate of Education in 1998 from Arizona State University with her dissertation on Organizational Health and the Influences that Enable and Constrain the Development of Healthy Schools. Much of her 40-year career in Ohio and Arizona focused on her thesis work, her personal research and her experience, both in the classroom and as a superintendent. “In 2010, I produced a concept paper on a model for experiential learning based on my years of experience in many school systems,” notes Ronda. “In order to engage students, you have to have an environment that is inviting and engaging. In order for students to learn, each must be the author of their own learning. Everything is part of learning – from the time a child gets off the school bus to the time they leave the school building.”

The concept of a student-centered, project-based STEM middle school outlined in her paper was brought to life in August 2012 when Colonel Smith Middle School (CSMS) opened for students on the Fort Huachuca (FH) Army Base in southern Arizona. Ronda pulled together a non-traditional architectural firm, a creative and talented construction manager and an extremely diverse design team to build this pioneering school. CSMS was the first net-zero school in Arizona, using an electronic dashboard and iPad to monitor all energy sources (solar panels, wind turbines and natural gas) and the water harvesting tanks.

Ronda has led the construction of several schools in addition to CSMS, including a dual language, multi-age primary school with two special centres for creative projects in science and technology; two project-based elementary schools; and six Kindergarten to 12 grade centralized campus schools. And her use of design techniques to engage and enrich educational environments has been implemented in military-impacted schools across the U.S. and around the world through her partnership with the U. S. Department of Defense and the Military Impacted Schools Association.

Ronda’s passion for her work and her academic and career success are a natural result of her love of learning. “I always loved school and spent a lot of time in the library, reading biographies to learn about how successful people had made use of the options available to them. My parents were very focused on education and my mother, in particular, wanted her daughters to have options open to them and not be dependent on a husband for a good life.”

Ronda has continued to serve the education community since her retirement as Superintendent for the Ft. Huachuca Accommodation School District in Arizona in 2013. She served as Executive Director of Arizona ACSD, the premier professional focused on mentoring and coaching teachers and school administrators from 2018 – 2020.
From 2015 to 2018, Ronda worked with the Arizona Science Center as the project manager for the Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN), which connected STEM Resources in rural Arizona by establishing local projects and experiences, and STEM professional development for community leaders to stimulate dialogue, interest, and engagement of children, families, and organizations in the STEM disciplines, their real-world applications, associated career opportunities, and impact on the local economies.

From 2012 – 2020, Ronda worked with the Center for School Reform, which collaborated with the Gates Foundation to assist schools in implementing school reform efforts such as creative scheduling for professional development time and high school reform. She also facilitated a 3-year Active Research Study of Instruction in Mathematics with Math Educators for all levels P-20 at Cochise Community College in Arizona.

Ronda’s current focus is on research on laughter, its impact on five different regions of the brain and how it causes dramatic brain cell growth. “I’ve always studied psychology as part of my undergraduate and graduate work and I’m especially interested in cognition, brain theory and brain development. My plan is to write a book on the subject, using everyday stories from my experience and those of my colleagues and mentees to illustrate the research,” she adds.

Ronda Frueauff has devoted decades to advancing the use of technology in schools, creative work in curricular areas, with a focus on STEM, designing creative learning environments, facilitating governance and operations efficiency, consulting, mentoring and coaching. And her long career in education hasn’t diminished her love of learning. “Always be a continuous learner,” she advises. “Take the risk of learning something you don’t know.”

Do you have an impact story to share? Let us know at connections@profoundimpact.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming newsletter!

Kelly Lyons

Dr. Kelly Lyons
Professor, Faculty of Information, Cross-Appointed the the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto
Interim Director, Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society

Kelly Lyons has always loved solving tricky puzzles and enjoyed math and science in high school. “Physics was my favourite,” she says.  But when Mr. Lowe, her physics teacher asked her what she wanted to do when she graduated, she told him she hadn’t decided. He had a suggestion: “You should try Computer Science. My daughter is a computer scientist. She loves math and she loves physics and now she makes a ton of money and travels all over the world.”

Kelly was born and raised in Fort Frances, Ontario, an isolated town of 8,000 people located between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. “I went across the border to International Falls, Minnesota, to movies, dances and even for my piano lessons.” While many of her friends got jobs after high school, Kelly wanted to go to University. “I loved everything about school. I loved studying.  Weirdly, I even loved exams.” She took Mr. Lowe’s advice and traveled east to Queen’s University to study computer science.

After completing her undergraduate degree, she applied for, and was awarded, an NSERC postgraduate scholarship to attend graduate school. “At the time, many of my university classmates were applying for jobs, so I submitted my resume to Bell Northern Research, Nortel and IBM, all of whom were interviewing on campus.”

The manager from IBM was very enthusiastic during the interview. “I’ve already decided that I’m going to hire you,” announced the interviewer from IBM. “I just haven’t decided yet which team I’m going to put you on.”

Kelly deferred her NSERC scholarship for two years to take the job at IBM, where she worked on the testing team for Fortran compilers. “When I arrived at IBM, I told my manager that I would only be in the position for two years before returning to Queen’s for graduate school. He told me that he was going to pretend he didn’t hear that because if he did, I wouldn’t be offered the opportunities I deserved. And I might change my mind about grad school.”

At the end of those two years, newly married and ready to move back to Kingston for graduate school, Kelly let her manager know that she was leaving and asked for advice on how to resign. He suggested, and she agreed, to take a leave of absence instead so that she could, if she wished, return to IBM after completing her graduate work.

After earning her master’s degree, she applied to and was accepted into the PhD program at Queen’s. “When I told my manager that now I was definitely quitting, he said something I’ve never forgotten: ‘Never say never. The world could change. You could change. IBM could change.’  So, instead of quitting, I took an extended leave of absence.”

IBM launched CAS, the Centre for Advanced Studies, in Toronto as Kelly was approaching the completion of her PhD. When an IBM representative visited the Queen’s campus to talk about CAS, she met him for lunch and learned more about the centre. “This sounded like a great place,” says Kelly. “I then met with Jacob Slonim, the head of CAS Toronto, who was enthusiastic about having me join.”

Kelly’s first role at IBM was as a software developer. Nineteen years later, in 2004, she was appointed as the Head of CAS Toronto, where she was responsible for approximately 60 applied collaborative research projects with universities, approximately 100 visiting university researchers, and CASCON, Canada’s premier international general computer science conference which hosted over 1,500 attendees annually.  

Kelly loved her work at CAS, where, in addition to heading the Centre, she co-supervised students and wrote research papers with them in her role as Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Dalhousie University and York University. “One of my proudest moments as the Head of CAS Toronto was when the CAS Toronto partnerships won the NSERC Synergy Award for Innovation in the Leo Derikx category for ‘an established innovative model of long-standing university-industry partnership in pre-competitive R&D that has improved the general well-being of an industry.’ Another proud moment was in 2005 when CAS Toronto celebrated incredible people and their inspiring stories via the Computing Pioneers of Canada.”

Kelly’s tenure at IBM was meant to be short-term. “I always knew I wanted to be a professor”, she says. The next logical career move at IBM would have been much more administratively heavy than her role heading CAS, leaving very little time to conduct research or work with students. It was time to pursue her dream of being a professor.

“I have been very lucky to work with outstanding researchers and leaders from across Canada while at CAS,” notes Kelly. She consulted with some of those researchers and was encouraged to apply for an open position within the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. She joined the faculty as Associate Professor in 2007 and is currently a Professor there with a cross-appointment to the Department of Computer Science.

Kelly’s experience in industry and as an active researcher has led her to work in a range of leadership roles at the University of Toronto.  From 2015 to 2020, she was Associate Dean, Academic in the Faculty of Information, and from 2020 to 2021, she served as the Dean’s Advisor on Pandemic Planning and Response. She served as Acting Vice Dean, Research and Program Innovation, in the School of Graduate Studies from January to June 2023.

In January, 2024, Kelly was appointed Interim Director of the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society (SRI) at the University of Toronto after serving both as a faculty affiliate and one of the institute’s three associate directors. SRI’s focus on multi-disciplinary research on how technology, systems and society interact is a good fit for Kelly’s research on service science, knowledge mobilization, data science, social media, collaborative work and software engineering. “What defines a service system is value co-creation. It takes at least two entities to come together to co-create a service – it can’t be created without a client in mind. I conduct research on how social media can play the role of technological intermediary between and among service systems,” says Kelly.

Kelly has served the computer science community through her role on the Board of Directors of CS-Can|Info-Can from 2020 – 2023 and as a Member‐at‐Large of the ACM Council from 2008 to 2012. She has supported, advocated, and celebrated women in computing as a member of the Executive Council of ACMW and by her contribution to the book Rendering History: The Women of ACM-W. Kelly was one of nine influential women who expressed their views on representation within the technical and AI communities for a recent article in Forbes magazine. In the article by Hessie Jones, titled A Call For A Systemic Dismantling: These Women Refuse To Be Hidden Figures In The Development Of AI, she is quoted as saying, “I have been fortunate to be part of a strong network of very smart, technical women in industry and academia. We may be smaller in proportion within the technical community, but we are large in our voices, our contributions, and our support for one another. The need for initiatives increasing diversity in tech—and especially in the world of artificial intelligence—is vital. We must ensure that the people working on AI systems reflect the concerns, experiences, and identities of the populations affected by these systems. Advocating for women in the AI sector requires a strong, united voice.”

As she begins to plan for the next phase of her career, including plans for retirement, Kelly is focusing an increasing amount of her time on mentoring. “My plan is to retire from teaching and administration and to continue research as a Professor Emerita,” says Kelly. “I decided that I need a way to decide which of the opportunities presented to me to pursue. I am choosing those in which I can collaborate with and support women and others at the margins in Computer Science.” 

Kelly’s career has included management and collaborative research roles at IBM, internationally-recognized research on developing technology with a human-centric approach, administrative leadership at the University of Toronto and service to the computer science community. And her success in her dream job as professor is best expressed by one of her students: “Kelly is a really good professor. She is compassionate and kind. She lights up the classroom with her passion about the subject matter.”

Profound Impact and AI Partnerships Announce Strategic Partnership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PROFOUND IMPACT AND AI PARTNERSHIPS ANNOUNCE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP TO ADVANCE THE CANADIAN AI ECOSYSTEM

Strategic partnership aims to bring new sources of grants and industry partnerships to AI research projects.

TORONTO, ON | April 25, 2024 — Profound Impact™ Corporation (“Profound Impact”), a technology company that has developed an AI-powered researcher-to-funding matching platform, and AI Partnerships Corporation (“AIP”), an affiliate network of Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions providers and researchers, announce their strategic partnership aimed at efficiently and effectively matching available grant funding with AI-focused companies and researchers looking for non-dilutive project funding.

“Our robust AI-driven platform, Research Impact, uses proprietary and patented AI-powered algorithms to match industry and academic researchers to grant funding in an automatic, targeted and timely manner,” said Sherry Shannon-Vanstone, President & CEO of Profound Impact. “We are excited to partner with AIP as this provides an opportunity for AIP’s affiliate network to add their AI-based research projects to Research Impact’s database and engage with the platform.

“At AIP, we have over 80 Canadian companies in our Affiliate Network and approximately  130 worldwide Affiliates, all engaged in providing SaaS-based AI services or products,” said Dr. Tom Corr, cofounder and CEO of AI Partnerships Corporation. “Our strategic partnership with Profound Impact will allow our Affiliate Network to discover additional funding, as well as the possibility of finding a research partner for their projects.”

The partnership also provides the opportunity for the development and facilitation of interactions and collaboration with industry and academic institutions who are already working with or interested in AI. 

Through the partnership, both organizations will continue to promote the Canadian AI technology ecosystem, increasing their own presence in the robust AI marketplace and concurrently supporting the growth of Canadian AI companies. Additionally, with AIP’s worldwide reach, this partnership will provide the opportunity for an increased impact on the AI ecosystems in the US and globally.

ABOUT PROFOUND IMPACT™ CORPORATION 

Based in the Toronto-Waterloo technology corridor, Profound Impact’s AI-powered platform – Research Impact – helps academic and industry researchers find the perfect funding match. With over $300 Billion in research funding opportunities, 100,000s industry partners and 25 Million researchers globally, finding the optimal grant for academic and industry innovators is often overwhelming and unnecessarily time-consuming. More than just a search engine, Research Impact offers automatic, targeted and timely matching. Profound Impact’s customers include top North American research institutions, universities and industry partners. CEO and Founder Sherry Shannon-Vanstone is a serial technology entrepreneur with an unparalleled track record. She has had five successful start-ups and exits in Silicon Valley and Canada, including two IPOs and acquisitions. To learn more, visit www.profoundimpact.com

For Profound Impact media inquiries, please contact:

Alex Hebert

Durrell Communications

alexh@durrellcomm.com

media@profoundimpact.com

Connect with Profound Impact: 

Facebook: @aprofoundimpact

Instagram: @aprofoundimpact 

LinkedIn: Profound Impact Corporation

Twitter: @aprofoundimpact

YouTube: @profoundimpactcorporation

ABOUT AI PARTNERSHIPS CORPORATION 

AI Partnerships Corp. matches small to medium businesses or enterprises with an Affiliate Network of 130+ companies experienced in delivering Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning-powered solutions to solve various business needs. Whether it is a specific task that needs to be automated to increase revenue or a robust set of processes that reduce costs. Together, AIP and its Affiliates develop  winning strategies for enterprise customers in the Finance, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Retail, Sales and Marketing, Data Science, and other sectors. Learn more at www.aipartnershipscorp.com.

For AI Partnership Corp. media inquiries, please contact:

AIP Marketing

info@aipartnershipscorp.com

Connect with AIP:

LinkedIn: AI Partnerships Corp.

YouTube:@AIPartnershipsCorp

Twitter: @AIPartnerships

CEO Message

March was a busy month for showcasing Profound Impact, our focus on AI, and how our Research Impact platform uses AI and machine learning to disrupt the research funding industry.

I am pleased to have joined the Advisory Board of AI Partnerships Corporation, whose mission is to make AI more accessible and affordable to businesses of all sizes in order to further the mass adoption of enterprise AI. I look forward to working as a member of the Advisory Board to leverage the technology and expertise of the organization’s Affiliate Network of more than 120 AI solutions providers.

On March 21, I joined the Ivey Alumni Network at the sold-out AI Open House themed Insights from the Leading Edge of AI Adoption in Canada. This successful event, hosted by Deloitte and curated by and for Ivey Alumni, provided insight into the world of AI while helping demystify it. It was an honour to participate as a panelist, alongside others shaping Canada’s AI landscape, to share my insights on how we need to adopt a spirit of inclusion and lifelong learning related to how people affect AI.

To hear my thoughts on the need for companies to consider AI’s potential in automating their processes and the significance of staying informed about AI developments, check out Business Challenges Female Entrepreneurs Face In The Modern Economy, the newest episode of The Business of Intuition podcast I recorded with host Dean Newlund last month. You’ll also learn about Profound Impact’s mission of using AI technology to connect great people to do great things by matching researchers and corporations with relevant grants and funding options.

Looking forward to April, a report on why I joined forces with Deborah Rosati, Profound Impact board chair and founder and CEO of Women Get On Board, and Lara Zink, VP of Client Service and Development at Delaney Capital Management to create Women Funding Women (WFW) is featured in the April issue of the I Am Unbreakable magazine. Click on the link to learn about my entrepreneurial journey and how the WFW network is working to address the persistent funding gap faced by women entrepreneurs in North America.

In this month’s Impact Story, you’ll meet Jennifer Lee, Vice-Chair at Deloitte Canada. A bold, inspiring leader, Jennifer creates global transformation for her clients at Deloitte through her extensive expertise in a wide range of areas. You’ll also learn about her incredible passion for driving local and global impact through her international volunteerism and board work.

You’ll also meet Tomasz Bednarz, Director of Strategic Researcher Engagement at NVIDIA, and the subject of this month’s Researcher Spotlight. Tomasz’s rich background as a researcher, lab director and active volunteer in the computer graphics community provides him with the technical and managerial skills to lead a team that is discovering the new research superstars and helping those researchers to take their innovations to the next level by using NVIDIA-developed technology, tools and hardware.

Profound Impact’s mission is to revolutionize the way researchers work by simplifying grant applications and fostering industry collaborations. For a limited time, we are offering a free evaluation of Research Impact to individual researchers, colleges and universities. Sign up for an evaluation or join us for a Research Impact Demo Day, where we demonstrate the matchmaking features of Research Impact.

Finally, are you curious about this month’s solar eclipse on April 8? I have had the honour of being affiliated with Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics for many years and am pleased to share an article on the eclipse from their monthly newsletter.

Thank you for your support and we hope that you enjoy this month’s edition of Profound Connections!

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone

Tomasz Bednarz

Tomasz Bednarz
Director of Strategic Researcher Engagement
NVIDIA
Photography by Quentin Jones.

Tomasz Bednarz is passionate about connecting dots – whether between scientific concepts, across academic disciplines or to develop collaborations that bring people together to conduct ground-breaking research. “My team at NVIDIA actively engages with top researchers and premier research institutions that do compelling, computationally intense work to solve some of the world’s most challenging scientific problems,” says Tomasz. 

Tomasz grew up in Bukowno, near Krakow in Poland, where he was enthusiastic about low-level mathematics and how computers worked. “My family wasn’t rich but did everything to support me in my education. It was very hard for them to get my first computer, a wonderful 8-bit Commodore C64. Very quickly, I started to be very interested in demos, graphics and how they were produced.” Tomasz became fascinated by the monthly Commodore 64 magazine C64+4 and the pages of hexadecimal numbers it contained and was wowed when he realized that he could enter those numbers into his computer to produce music or visuals.

When he was in his mid-teens, Tomasz’s parents replaced the Commodore 64 with an IBM PC XT 12MHz – which came without fancy software or graphics. “Then, I wanted to learn from the bottom up how the processor worked and how to use Assembly x86 to program it. I was very lucky to get a reference book on Assembly x86 from the local high school and thought the best way I could learn would be to write computer viruses.” He developed three viruses that spread across the globe, but all were harmless by design. “After 6 months, I really wanted to find something other than writing viruses to drive my further learning,” he says.

Tomasz (AKA Warlock of Amnesty / Absence) counts himself lucky to have been living in Europe at that time, where Demoscene, an international underground computer subculture focused on producing demos that are the product of extreme programming and self-expression, was being developed and used by coders and musicians. “Demoscene is now accepted by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in several countries. At the time, in the early 1990’s, we were pushing the limits of creativity, using very, very slow computers to make inspiring visualizations synchronized with tracked music.  All from scratch, with no books or internet to consult. By experimenting, I learned how to use lots of coding tricks to express myself visually – it was my very first school of life in aesthetics. I also learned how to build a Virtual Reality engine from scratch.” A few examples of Tomasz’s Demoscene award-winning coding works are Revolt from 1995, Voodka from 1996, Nie! from 1998, Syndrom-X from 1998 and his ACM SIGGRAPH blog post on Demoscene.

At the time, Demoscene participants used floppy disks to record code to exchange with fellow users across Europe. “At one point, I got into trouble with the post office when I started receiving 20 fat envelopes every day, each containing floppy disks. They wondered what I was up to!”

Tomasz studied physics in university, at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, because he wanted to do something different than just basic computer science, and outside of his comfort zone. He had co-founded a software engineering company and was completing his Master’s degree when he received a call from his academic supervisor who was visiting Kyushu University in Japan, encouraging him to apply for entry to the PhD program there. “The only thing I knew about Japan was what I had learned about samurai from movies. But I decided to go outside of my comfort zone, completed the application, and was accepted,” Tomasz says.

Part of the application process was writing a proposal on what would be his PhD topic – magnetic hydrodynamics and using magnetic fields to play with gravity. “I knew almost nothing about this new topic but was very curious. I submitted the proposal and was accepted to the program with a scholarship. The call from my professor came in May and I was in Japan by September of that year,” he adds.

Tomasz believes that experimentation is an essential part of innovation. “Experiment to find your passion – it can transform your life,” he says. His academic and professional career paths reflect this view. He took a chance on moving to a country he knew little about to complete a PhD he hadn’t intended to pursue and followed up with an MBA in order to learn about leadership, strategy and how to manage people and organizations. Tomasz’s professional path has included working on the Nintendo NDS platform to develop low-level graphics code for a car racer game, leading a Visual/Hybrid Analytics Team at CSIRO’s Data61, and setting up and serving as Director and Head of Visualization at the Expanded Perception and Interaction Centre (EPICentre), a pioneering high-performance visualisation facility that boasted the highest resolution VR system in the world at ~120 Million pixels in 3D.

Tomasz has for many years served the international computer graphics community through his active participation as a volunteer with ACM SIGGRAPH, a global non-profit organization serving the evolution of computer graphics and interactive techniques. ACM SIGGRAPH, among other professional activities, produces two annual conferences that are world’s largest, most influential annual meetings and exhibitions in computer graphics and interactive techniques. Tomasz was ACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 Conference Chair when the conference was held for the very first time in Brisbane, Australia and attracted 5,120 participants from around the world.  He currently serves as a SIGGRAPH Asia Conference Advisory Group (SACAG) Chair, contributing to the future of SIGGRAPH Asia conferences and connecting the global research community, and is a voting director of the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee. Over the last ten years, his volunteer roles within the organization have included Computer Animation Festival Jury member, Courses Chair, Virtual Augmented and Mixed Reality Jury, Frontiers Chair, reviewer, and conference panelist and presenter.

“I am very passionate about the role I’m in now. I love working at NVIDIA which is known to drive the graphics industry, AI, and many innovative research and applications,” says Tomasz.  His role in building a team of researcher DevRels from a range of disciplines to work with top researchers around the world connects all the dots of his academic career and team-building experience. “Our team has deep conversations about science with researchers to learn about what they’re working on and about long-term trends.  We want research labs to be successful and we can contribute to their success by mentoring graduate students and post-docs and helping researchers to take their research to the next level by using NVIDIA-developed technology, tools, and hardware,” he adds.

“My academic focus and my career have been all about connecting dots that were not previously connected,” says Tomasz. His work at NVIDIA, working with people from around the world with expertise in a range of disciplines, is helping to discover the new research superstars, the innovations they are building, and is developing a network of networks that will truly drive innovation to the next level.