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  • Writer's pictureLenora Thomas

35 Years of Innovation: 1997 ASTech Winners

This post is in partnership with Technology Alberta and the ASTech Awards, celebrating the impact of 35 years of innovation in Alberta, tying our past to our present.


In 1997, Alberta's science and innovation landscape experienced a surge of interest and investment in renewable energy, alongside a commitment to developing technologies that mitigate the environmental footprint of extraction methods. Concurrently, significant strides were made in scientific research aimed at enhancing crop yields and sustainability. The provincial government played a pivotal role by offering funding incentives, with a strong focus on fostering impactful collaborations between industry leaders and academic institutions.


1997’s ASTech Winners included:



Dr. Murray R. Gray from the University of Alberta received the Innovation in Oil Sands Research award in 1997. His pioneering research has revolutionized the field, offering profound insights into bitumen processing and laying the groundwork for the development of predictive models that have reshaped industry practices. In addition to his groundbreaking research, Dr. Gray authored a seminal book titled "Upgrading Oilsands Bitumen and Heavy Oil," delving deeply into the molecular intricacies and economic dynamics that underpin the oil sands industry. This comprehensive work underscores the pivotal role of molecular understanding in shaping technological advancements and industry strategies.


Dr. Gray's impact extends beyond academia; he has held pivotal leadership positions such as Director of the Institute for Oil Sands Innovation and Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Presently, he continues to shape the landscape of oil sands research as the Senior Technical Advisor to the Bitumen Partial Upgrading Program at Alberta Innovates, exemplifying his enduring commitment to advancing innovation in the energy sector.


Dr. Maurice Moloney, a distinguished molecular plant biologist hailing from the University of Calgary, earned the Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology award for his groundbreaking work in agriculture. His pioneering concept of molecular farming revolutionized the field, particularly in the biotechnological enhancement of plant seeds like canola, enabling the production of a diverse range of proteins, including vital medical therapeutics, enzymes, and various biological products. This breakthrough opened unprecedented avenues for utilizing plants as biological factories.


Throughout his tenure as a Professor and NSERC Industrial Chair of Plant Biotechnology at the University of Calgary, Dr. Moloney's contributions were prolific. He founded SemBioSys, authored over 70 research papers, and initiated the filing of 15 patent families, among other accomplishments. Presently, he serves as a co-founder and advisor at Core Biogenesis, channeling his expertise toward addressing critical challenges jeopardizing global food security.


Dr. Timothy R. Mosman, a renowned Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Alberta, was honored with the ASTech Award for Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Science, recognizing his contributions to immunology. Dr. Mosman's groundbreaking research led to the identification of two distinct subsets of Helper T lymphocytes, pivotal players in the immune response against various infections and cancers. His discoveries have fundamentally enhanced our understanding of disease immunology, charting new pathways for therapeutic interventions targeting autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease and Rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to his research accolades, Dr. Mosman served with distinction as Chair of the Department of Immunology at the University of Alberta, where his leadership fostered innovation and collaboration in the field. In 1998, he was recruited to the University of Rochester, where he continued his illustrious career as a Professor of Immunology and Microbiology, and assumed the role of Director of the David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology. 


Moreover, in 1997, the ASTech Awards made history by recognizing SMART Technologies as their first-ever two-time winner for Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology. SMART Technologies emerged as pioneers in the realm of digital learning tools, revolutionizing education and business sectors alike with their innovative solutions.


Overall in 1997, there were 10 ASTech Award Winners, which you can dig into deeper on the ASTech Website.


Our thanks to Dr. Lisa Carter for her time in helping craft this blog!

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