Trio of KITE trainees bound for AGE-Well national conference after earning travel awards

The award subsidizes travel expenses to the 2022 AGE-WELL Annual Conference

KITE trainees Niroshica Mohanathas, Faranak Dayyani, and Pratik Kumar Mishra have received the AGE-Well Travel Award.

The award subsidizes travel expenses to the 2022 AGE-WELL Annual Conference, which kicks off today in Regina.

The conference showcases a multi-disciplinary program of research and innovation from across the country and provides a forum for networking and collaboration among AGE-WELL partners, researchers, stakeholders, and members of the public.

The trio applied for the award through the AGE-WELL HQP affiliates program. They were selected based on the research they planned to present at the conference. Only 30 trainees received this award. 

“This award gives me a unique opportunity to present my research to world-renowned researchers, government organizations, stakeholders, and older adults,” said Mohanathas who is a member of the Multisensory Integration in Virtual Environments (MIVE) Laboratory and a PhD student in the University of Toronto’s (UofT) Department of Psychology.

“I believe receiving feedback from older adults directly will be instrumental in revising my project to address their needs.”

Mohanathasis supervised by Dr. Jennifer Campos, KITE’s Associate Director, Academic a Senior Scientist at the Institute and the Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Multisensory Integration and Aging. 

Mohanathas will present her award-winning study that uses KITE’s one-of-a-kind virtual reality simulator, StreetLab, to evaluate how well healthy older adults and older adults with age-related hearing loss, who wear hearing aids, can listen while balancing.

Dayyani will present the preliminary results of her interdisciplinary project which seeks to detect social isolation in older adults living in the community using multi-sensor data. 

Dayyani and her team at the Artificial Intelligence & Robotics in Rehab (AIRR) lab developed a novel cloud-based multi-modal sensor system, named MAISON, to detect social isolation among high-risk older adults, by collecting physiological and ambient data from participants such as heart rate, step count, sleep data and GPS. 

This information is then compared to biweekly questionnaires that were completed by participants.  The aim is to correlate different sensing modalities to understand the onset of social isolation in older adults.

“I can’t wait to talk about social isolation in older adults as this an issue that is often missed but I think is very important to address,” said Dayyani who is Master’s student at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering (BME)

“I would like to express my thanks to my supervisors Dr. Shehroz Khan and Dr. Charlene Chu, as well as the post doc, Dr. Ali Abedi, who continues to provide me with mentorship and guidance in this project.”

Mishra’s research investigates using deep learning approaches to detect agitation behaviours in long-term care home residents living with dementia. Agitation behaviours are acts of violence, throwing objects or other signs of aggression.

Although many long-term care facilities have video surveillance systems installed in common areas to help caregivers observe residents, however, due to staff shortages they are not always monitored, which makes ensuring residents’ safety more challenging, Mishra said. 

This is why as part of the Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab (IATSL), he helped develop a customized spatio-temporal convolutional autoencoder that learns the characteristics of the normal video scenes and identifies scenes with agitation behaviours as anomalies.

The goal of this program is to automatically detect and alert staff of agitation behaviours. This will allow caregivers to optimize their time and improve the quality of life for residents living with dementia. 

“It’s humbling to have my work recognized by leaders in the field I hope to enter,” said Mishra, who is a PhD student in UofT’s BME program and is being supervised by Drs. Alex Mihailidis and Khan.

Mishra is also the recipient of the AGE-WELL and Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (FASE) Graduate Award. The award is given to outstanding graduate students enrolled in FASE who wish to commence, pursue or sustain their research training in technology and aging.

The award is divided into three categories: Master’s, PhD, and Postdoctoral. Mishra received the award in the PhD category which comes with $15,000 in funding. 

“As an international student, the number of scholarships I’m eligible for is relatively lower than Canadian residents, so receiving these awards is very meaningful for me,” said Mishra. 

The 2022 AGE-WELL Annual Conference will be held Oct. 18 -20 in Regina.