Joseph Ferenbok, PhD


Asimov once wrote that it is more fun to be a Jack-of-all-Trades than master of one. Currently, being master of one trade in health science involves an increasing volume of deep expertise that almost by necessity precludes students, investigators and scientists from being “Jacks” of multiple trades. Also, and increasingly so, innovation appears to be not the output not of masters of any one trade, but the synthesis of may domains, experts and teams. The didactic challenge then becomes, how to ‘teach’ a new generation of synthesizers (read translators) who are able to see the forest and understand (at some level) the trees. How do you teach the ability to apply science towards medical needs? How do you teach people to collaborate and innovate while working in interdisciplinary teams? How does facilitation different from apprenticeship-based mentorship? What are the most effective ways of supporting experiential learning while still maintaining rigor and program cohesion? The above are just some of the questions that interest me in my role as the Director of the Translational Research Program. My teaching interests centre on the translation and mobilization of knowledge across disciplinary contexts using design-thinking strategies among multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary teams. My teaching has spanned media design, legal issues in developing technologies, innovation and commercialization strategies and interdisciplinary collaboration for knowledge translation and mobilization. I have also been exploring a range of possibilities for training and applied research involving simulations, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and 3D interaction, scanning and printing. My goal is to help student develop their ideas and move knowledge from the classroom into real-world contexts. Before taking on the position of TRP Director, my research interests centred on information privacy and video surveillance and include involve the development of biometrics and facial recognition technology and their growing role in institutional identification practices. I was the Principal Investigator of the "Who is Watching You? And Why?" project, funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and my research group continues to investigate citizen's awareness and concerns about the changing nature of surveillance technologies, practices, and policies. My latest grant application “Consumer Confidential: Privacy, Consumer Tracking and Data Integration,” if successful will explore how the aggregation of biometrics and Big Data is changing the brick and mortar shopping experience.