Category Research spotlights

The Bishop’s University Foundation Supports Three New Student Funding Opportunities for Research

Thanks to the Bishop’s University Foundation, Spring 2020 was rich in new internal merit-based funding competitions, both for undergraduate and graduate students. The Foundation, through those awards, creates opportunity for our students to make their Bishop’s experience the most meaningful it can be, and supports them along their journeys.

Two internal competitions this Spring focused on the growing graduate student community at BU. The Graduate Merit Awards, valued at $5000 each, aimed to support returning high-performing students wishing to pursue their graduate training at Bishop’s. The Graduate Students Committee awarded five scholarships to this year’s applicants. Congratulations to Farnaz Orooji (Computer Sciences), Javad Omidvar (Computer Sciences), Medhi Zoghinia (Computer Sciences), Simin Li (Computer Sciences) and Yan Jiang (Computer Sciences). The Graduate Entrance Scholarships also aimed to support high-performing students enrolled in a thesis-based graduate program at BU. The contribution of the Bishop’s University Foundation has allowed for the creation of this program to an amount of $10,000 per scholarship, with $7,500 from the institution and $2,500 from the thesis supervisor. The Graduate Students Committee wishes to congratulate both awardees, Samuel Gagnon-Hartman (Physics and Astronomy) and Yan Jiang (Computer Sciences). If you missed this competition, please note that another round just started, and will be ending on July 31, 2020, 16:00. See the Internal Funding Competitions web page for more information.

The Research Training Awards provided an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to undertake a 12-16 weeks paid summer research internship. Those grants were valued at $6,000 per internship, of which a $3,000 contribution from the supervisor was required. Through this program, students will gain hands-on research and training experience, while building their research skills, project management skills and knowledge. Another considerable impact of this program is to provide employment to students during the pandemic. The Senate Research Committee would like extend their congratulations to Annabelle Chamberland-Dostie (Psychology), Anne-Frédérique Naud (Politics and International Studies), Cécilia Alain (English), Evelyne Verrette (Politics and International Studies), Isaac McNeil (History and Global Studies), Isabelle Chouinard (Environment and Geography), Kassandra Johnson Desnoyers (Education) and Xinyang Wang (Computer Sciences) for their successful applications.

In addition to these awards, Bishop’s University’s dedication to providing a vibrant and diverse educational experience will be supported by a more diverse overall funding package available to our students in the coming years.

The Bishop’s University Foundation raises and manages funds to help advance the University’s goal: the education of individuals to develop their talents and realize their leadership potential.

Nomination of Miles Turnbull, VP Academic and Research, as Chair of the Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU)

Dr. Miles Turnbull

Bishop’s University is proud to announce the nomination of our VP Academic and Research, Dr. Miles Turnbull, as the next Chair of the Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU). Established in 2011, ACCRU brings together small- and medium-sized comprehensive universities from across Canada, spanning all ten provinces, which combined represents nearly half of all Canadian Universities. ACCRU strives to be the voice to discuss the challenges and issues that smaller universities face. To learn more about their objectives as a collaborative whole, visit their website.

Serving the Bishop’s community as VP Academic since 2014, Dr. Turnbull saw his mandate renewed in July 2019 when he became Vice-Principal Academic & Research. A well-known researcher in the field of second-language teaching and learning, Dr. Turnbull has a strong record of publication, including several books and refereed articles. Dr. Turnbull believes strongly in BU’s focus on students and teaching as the core of our mission, and in helping the university to continue developing our reputation for academic excellence and innovation.

“This role will provide me a way to learn from and to further develop relationships with other like-minded institutions across Canada. As Chair of ACCRU, I aim to increase this organization’s visibility in the Canadian landscape as a way of advocating for research and creative activity at small and mid-sized universities. Bishop’s joined ACCRU in 2017 and since, I have found its work and networking opportunities to be quite beneficial for Bishop’s.”

Dr. Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise Receive a Knowledge Synthesis: COVID-19 in Mental Health and Substance Use grant

Dr. Catherine Malboeuf-HurtubiseAs time passes and the population is experiencing the repercussions of the COVID-19, it is evident that the pandemic is a risk to our physical health, but also to our mental health. Indeed, news reports about loss of life, combined with social and physical distancing, can have negative impact on mental health for many people, which can lead to diverse coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse. To study the impacts of the virus on mental health, the Government of Canada launched the “COVID-19 and Mental Health Initiative”. This program includes competitions focusing on building and synthesizing the evidence base to address gaps in the mental health and substance use response to COVID-19, and the identification of relevant interventions.

Bishop’s University will be actively participating in this Initiative thanks to Dr. Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise of the Department of Psychology.  Dr. Malboeuf-Hurtubise, together with Dr. Chantal Camden from the École de réadaptation de la Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé de l’Université de Sherbrooke and researcher at the Centre de recherche du CHUS, will be leading a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary team from Bishop’s University, Université de Sherbrooke, McGill University, Université de Montréal and Université de Trois-Rivières. The Knowledge Synthesis: COVID-19 in Mental Health and Substance Use grant, awarded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), will enable knowledge syntheses and knowledge mobilization plans to support health services related to mental health, and to offer accessible evidence to decision makers at different level, in a rapid timeframe.

They will be reviewing the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children aged 5-12 years old, with a particular emphasis on handicapped or chronically ill children, with the goal of finding promising avenues of intervention. Recent surveys indicate that children are also suffering from the lack of social interaction and changes in their routine caused by the pandemic. School-age children, especially those with handicaps or chronic illnesses, can suffer from anxiety and other mental health problems. This research will help supporting all Canadian parents and children through the pandemic and its repercussions.

Congratulations to Dr. Malboeuf-Hurtubise and this very talented team of researchers!

To help maintain your mental health during the pandemic, setting routines and picking up hobbies can be of great help. As for Dr. Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise, she focused on painting (and family and research, of course)! If you want to see her “Quarantine” art series, visit her Twitter account @Mindful_Cat

Postdoctoral Fellow in Physics Joins the Editorial Board of a High Impact Journal

Dr. Andrea GiustiDr. Andrea Giusti, postdoctoral fellow of the Department of Physics and Astronomy under the supervision of Dr. Valerio Faraoni, is joining the Editorial Board of Fractional Calculus and Applied Analysis (FCAA) as an Assistant Editor. FCAA is a specialized international journal for theory and applications of Calculus and is a well-respected journal in the field. Dr. Giusti, who defended his PhD only one and a half years ago, is also on the Editorial Board of the European Physical Journal Plus.

With his expertise in mathematical modelling, relativity and gravitational waves, Dr. Giusti’s fellowship at Bishop’s University will allow him to collaborate with the STellar Astrophysics and Relativity Interdisciplinary Group (STAR II) to research gravitational wave physics and astronomy. This Team was recently awarded one of seven Bishop’s Interdisciplinary Team Grants for their collaborative and interdisciplinary research.

Dr. Andrea Giusti is also teaching a graduate course (Advanced General Relativity, Theoretical Topics) pro bono, has helped co-supervise a graduate student, and has been an internal examiner for an MSc defense, contributing to Bishop’s students training.

Congratulations Dr. Giusti, Bishop’s is proud to have such an engaged scholar within our community!

Dr. Lorne Nelson and Dr. Russell Butler Receive the 2020 Discovery Grant

Dr. Nelson and Dr. Butler have both received funding from the Discovery Grants Program from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). This program, awarded for five years, supports ongoing research programs with long-term goals in addition to recognizing creativity and innovation.

Dr. Lorne Nelson has been a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy since 1988. His research focuses on interacting binary star systems, stellar evolution, exoplanets, dwarf stars and supernovae. With the financial help of the NSERC Discovery Grant, Dr. Nelson will contribute to the creation of a unified picture for the formation, evolution, and final states of various types of compact stars in binaries. “Binary stars are extremely numerous and consist of two stars that orbit each other. A significant fraction of those have been in such close proximity to each other that one star has partially cannibalized its companion. Some of these stars can eventually evolve to become truly exotic binaries such as ones that orbit each other every 7 minutes! It is these binary stars that will be the primary observational targets of the next generation of gravitational wave telescopes, which itself is a whole new field of astronomy. Like many areas of science, astrophysics is flourishing!” says Dr. Nelson. Another objective of his team will be to discover and analyze stars and exoplanets using data from the Kepler, K2, and the recently launched TESS missions.

Dr. Russell Butler, of the Department of Computer Science, is an assistant professor at Bishop’s University since July 2019. His research focuses on bioinformatics, image processing, biometrics and machine learning. In addition to his NSERC Discovery Grant, Dr. Russell Butler also obtained the Discovery Launch Supplement for Early Career Researchers. This supplement is awarded to early career researchers and provides timely resources as they establish their research program. With the financial help of the NSERC Discovery Grant and the NSERC Discovery Launch Supplement, Dr. Butler will investigate the extent to which smartwatch-derived heartrate variability can predict cerebral and cardiac variability across a healthy population, demonstrating the feasibility of using smartwatches to predict more expensive measures such as magnetic resonance imaging, and eventually, give early warning signs of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular incidents.

Dr. Lorne Nelson
Dr. Lorne Nelson
Dr. Russell Butler
Dr. Russell Butler

Congratulations to both researchers for their successful NSERC Discovery Grant, and in contributing to bringing Bishop’s research reputation to new heights!

Catherine Lavallée-Welch Presents a Webinar for the Special Libraries Association

Catherine Lavallée-WelchWorking in academia for 20 years, Catherine Lavallée-Welch is the University Librarian at BU Library Learning Commons since fall 2018. She also sits on the Board of Directors of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) as President-elect, as well as on the board of directors of the Corporation of Professional Librarians of Quebec.

In the beginning of May, Catherine presented a webinar entitled “Advocacy for the library in higher education” for the Asian Community of the SLA. More than 850 people attended the webinar, mostly from India and other Asian countries, along with attendees from North America and Europe.

During her webinar, she discussed how the promotion and the advocacy in favor of the modern university library must be engaged, factual and systematic to ensure it receives the resources necessary for its success. On the subject of advocacy, Catherine says “Advocacy is everyone’s business at the library. It comprises of a lot of storytelling in fact. I recommend always having an elevator story ready. It’s not the time to be shy or downplay what you do, but to share what exciting thing you’re working on and how your work adds value to the organization. You have permission to brag a little!”. Accordingly, the techniques and methods she suggested during her webinar where rooted in her experiences from her work as an academic library head both in the US and in Canada.

Catherine Lavallée-Welch, who encourages collaboration between librarians and external colleagues, recently received an Interdisciplinary Research Team Grants for archival rescue with collaborators Dr. David Webster of the Department of History and Dr. Claire Grogan of the Department of English. Building on the example of the “Archival Rescue Project” at Carleton University, and the principles underlying the British Library’s Endangered Archives program, they will identify local and international collections in danger of being lost. This work will also involve locating, processing, digitizing and preserving rare published materials, with the goal of making them more broadly available.

The library offers a series of services to assist faculty and students in their research endeavours: collections of materials, both in print and in digital format; research assistance services with librarians; an institutional repository for scientific publications and soon, a local installation of Dataverse, a research data repository.

Bishop’s new interdisciplinary Research Team Grants – Encouraging Innovative Research!

Research and research creation are fundamental in Bishop University’s mandate as a post-secondary institution in the Quebec and Canadian landscape and beyond. Bishop’s Interdisciplinary Research Team Grants aim to facilitate the emergence and development of new Teams and allow the consolidation of existing Teams who conduct cutting-edge collaborative and interdisciplinary research. In 2020, the Senate Research Committee awarded funding to seven teams comprised of like-minded BU researchers and, in some instances, collaborators beyond Bishop’s.

Consolidating and Supporting Ongoing Expertise Around our Canada Research Chairs

Recognized for consistent success and excellence, the STellar Astrophysics and Relativity Interdisciplinary Group (STAR II) integrates researchers of the Department of Physics and Astronomy (Dr. Valerio Faraoni, Dr. Lorne Nelson, Canada Research Chair Dr. Jason Rowe, Dr. Fayçal Hammad, visiting scholar Dr. Kelsey Hoffman) alongside researchers from the Department of Mathematics (Dr. Trevor Jones, Dr. Brad Willms). Members of STAR II will collaborate closely with Prof. Jonas Goliasch, Dr. Patrick Labelle, Dr. Sylvain Turcotte, and postdoctoral fellows Dr. Andrea Giusti and James Sikora of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Members, collaborators, and their graduate students will combine their expertise to tackle some of the fundamental questions in both physics and astronomy. This Team will also be supported by the arrival of a new Canada Research Chair nominee in Multi-Messenger Astrophysics, Dr. John Ruan. STAR II also plans to grow their collaborations, both locally and internationally.

Building on the successes of the former Indigeneity axis, the Indigeneity Research Team, composed of Dr. Mary Ellen Donnan (Sociology), Dr. Jean Manore (History), Dr. Dawn Wiseman (Education), Dr. Vicki Chartrand (Sociology), Dr. Linda Morra (English), Dr. Jerald Sabin (Politics and International Studies), Dr. Avril Aitken (Education) and Dr. Lisa Taylor (Education), will be addressing questions relative to self-identification, recognition and/or marginalization of groups occupying, having occupied or willing to occupy a specific territory, to explore concepts of race and indigeneity. The Indigeneity Research Team will also welcome a Canada Research Chair in the near future. This Team’s objectives align perfectly with Bishop’s ongoing efforts relating to reconciliation with indigenous communities in Canada. It is thus fitting for our University to establish a dedicated interdisciplinary Research Team in Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation.

Dr. Sunny Man Chu Lau of the School of Education, together with Dr. Sarah Théberge and Caroline Dault of the Département d’études françaises et québécoises, in the Plurilingual Pedagogies Team, will explore the use of plurilingual strategies to facilitate Chinese transnational students’ learning of French as an additional language. This Team aligns with the focus of a new Canada Research Chair in Plurilingual Education. Members of this Team also have strong collaborations with the Université de Sherbrooke and the Cégep de Sherbrooke, through multiple multi-institutional projects, taking part in Bishop’s goal of increasing research connections among its researchers and colleagues in other institutions.

Beyond Canada Research Chairs: Endorsing New Interdisciplinary Collaborations

Also building on multi-institutional research connections, Dr. Patrick Bergeron, Dr. Jade Savage and Dr. Michael Richardson of the Department of Biological Sciences, together with Dr. Darren Bardati of the Department of Environmental Studies and Geography, will join forces with biology researchers Dr. Dany Garant and Dr. Denis Réale, respectively of the Université de Sherbooke and Université du Québec à Montréal, to study how agricultural practices influence environmental quality by comparing bio-indicator species development between conventional/industrial and organic farms. The Agro-Biodiversity Team will be collaborating with Dr. Jérémie Petitclerc, retired research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, who is a board member of an organization preserving the health one of the lakes included in the Teams study area. This will be great staple of how community partnership can ensure knowledge transfer to the local community and engage partners in the continuation of the project.

Climate change, education, and psychological health are the interdisciplinary concepts that Dr. Dawn Wiseman and Dr. Mitchell McLarnon-Silk, of the School of Education, together with Dr. Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise, of the Department of Psychology, will address. Educators engaging with students about climate change can influence their students’ perceptions on the subject, for better or worst. The Applied Radical Optimism for Climate Change Hope in Education (AppROCCHE) Team will examine barriers, such as anxiety, grief and paralysis, to teaching and learning about/within the context of climate change and develop innovative means of supporting educators and young people in living out the experience of climate change with hope.

A highly multi-disciplinary team, the Heart-Rate Variability and Academic Performance Team is composed of Dr. Russell Butler (Computer Science), Dr. Rafael Tedesqui (Sports Studies), Dr. Adrianna Mendrek and Dr. Suzanne Hood (Psychology), and Dr. Estelle Chamoux (Biology). Their objectives are to determine how students’ heart rate variability during lectures, exams, and as a function of circadian cycle and personality characteristics can predict their academic success. The research program proposed by this Team has exciting potential for interdisciplinary academic programming and potential practical implications for student success and retention.

Moving towards a process of inclusive digital history, Dr. David Webster of the Department of History and Dr. Claire Grogan of the Department of English, with the help of Catherine Lavallée-Welch, University Librarian, will be working on digitization and archival creation in the Rescuing the Archive Team. The results will increase availability of digitized material on local and international histories, and enhanced understanding of best practices in digital archive creation. It is exciting for Bishop’s to support an interdisciplinary research team as one way to contribute to the University’s strategic objective to reimagine and revitalize the humanities.

Congratulations to all those BU researchers for their successful Interdisciplinary Research Team grant, which will help them to continue their contributions to the generation of new knowledge, to mobilizing this knowledge to relevant community partners and users of the research and, in doing so, contribute to Bishop’s academic reputation as well as the innovation and economic development of the region, province and country.

Dr. Sarah-Myriam Martin-Brûlé Leads One of Three Axes of the Network for Strategic Analysis

Dr. Sarah-Myriam Martin-BrûléThe new Network for Strategic Analysis, as part of the Department of National Defense’s Mobilizing Insights in Defense and Security (MINDS) program, has just been granted $750,000.

The Network’s principal mission is to mobilize research expertise to inform three main strategic challenges for Canada: (1) the evolving role of great powers in an uncertain world order; (2) multilateral security cooperation and the role of international organizations, and; (3) the future of defense capacity-building activities with global partners. Mobilizing this knowledge will allow to inform public debate and train the next generation of security and defense experts.

Co-directed by Justin Massie from UQAM and Stéfanie von Hlatky from Queen’s University, the Network for Strategic Analysis brings together 36 Canadian researchers. The Network includes 18 Canadian universities and a cluster of partners and experts committed to research excellence and policy relevance. Dr. Sarah-Myriam Martin-Brûlé of the Department of Politics and International Studies will be leading the second axis with her expertise on peace operations and security issues related to fragile states.

Dr. Martin-Brûlé’s research focuses on peace operations and security issues related to fragile states. She is committed to advancing knowledge and having an impact on the professional, local and global communities. She is currently working, among others, on how gender is a key factor in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping intelligence and how it impacts the implementation of the UN mandates.

Congratulations to all members of the Network for Strategic Analysis for this grant.

Dr. Sarah Théberge and Dr. Sunny Man Chu Lau Receive a 2020 PRESE Grant

The possibility of pursuing post-secondary studies in French, leading to qualifying training and quality jobs, represents a major challenge for the vast majority of people completing francization programs offered by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration. For many of them, their competence is not sufficient to successfully enter post-secondary education, whether it is a college certificate, technical training or university training. There is thus a need to re-examine the offer, the curriculum and the organization method of the francization programs.

Within the frame of their multi-institutional research team, Dr. Théberge, of the Département d’études françaises et Québécoise, and Dr. Lau, of the Department of Education, will join forces with collaborators from Université de Sherbrooke and Cégep de Sherbrooke to increase post-secondary studies accessibility to allophone adults in francization by developing a unique training offer, complementary to francization. This training will focus on the development of specific academic reading and writing skills, which are little explored in existing francization courses, but necessary for successful post-secondary studies. Together with developing the curriculum, this training will also improve teaching approaches.

Their project will increase allophone student retention and will improve their success in school, which in turn will have a positive impact on the economic development of the region.

This project is made possible by a grant from the Estrie Higher Education Hub (Pôle regional en enseignement supérieur de l’Estrie – PRESE). This hub supports cooperation between the five college and university institutions in the Sherbrooke area.

Welcoming a new consulting veterinarian on the Animal Care Committee Thanks to the RESEARCH SUPPORT FUND

The Research Support Fund of the Government of Canada is a program that provides funds to cover a portion of the costs associated with managing the research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Research Support Fund grants are based on the funding received by researchers from the three federal agencies in the three most recent years for which data are available. The Bishop’s University Animal Care Committee mandate and its related activities are supported by the Research Support Fund.

Animal-based science can be practiced by wildlife, health and clinician researchers, to name a few. The Animal Care Committee is responsible for the ethical assessment of research and teaching protocols involving animal use at Bishop’s University and aims to safeguard the animals’ welfare. This committee includes members from BU, a representative from the community and a veterinarian. This provides a diversity of expertise and insight.

As of December 2019, the Animal Care Committee is pleased to welcome Dr. Eric Martineau as their new advisory veterinarian. Since 1996, he is based at the Clinique Vétérinaire Coaticook, where he specializes in treating cattle. His expertise will be an asset in the development of BU’s new program in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. Dr. Martineau took a moment to answer our questions.

Dr. Eric Martineau

Why did you accept to work with BU Animal Care Committee?

Dr. Martineau: As a practicing veterinarian, I am very interested in research. Even as a student at McGill and Université de Montréal, I have always been involved in research projects. Currently, I am involved in research with the Sherbrooke Research and Development Center and have been a member of their Animal Care Committee for Dairy and Swine since 2003. I am interested in participating in BU’s Animal Care Committee for what is to be built in the near future, that is, the role of the animals as a part of the sustainable agriculture model that is currently being developed.  I think this sustainable model is a key to feed people in the future and in respectful harmony with the animals.

Could you explain what is your role within the Animal Care Committee?

Dr. Martineau: Working with the 3 R’s (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement), I am a guardian on behalf of animal well-being.  My knowledge can help the people around the table to make sound decisions on research protocols involving animals, particularly when it comes to pain and stress management.

In your opinion, why is animal-based science important?

Dr. Martineau: Animals are part of our food chain.  We have domesticated them for many centuries and need to live in harmony with them in order to produce food in a sustainable way.  It’s very difficult to recreate models involving animals without using them to start with.  Following the 3 R’s is the most helpful mechanism for developing sustainable models of well managed animal-based science experiments for tomorrow.

Bishop’s University is pleased to welcome Dr. Eric Martineau and thanks the Animal Care Committee for their commitment to animal welfare. Their evaluating work play a crucial role in research and teaching in our University. Animal-based science has helped in the development of treatments for a wide array of human diseases, in the comprehension of our natural world, and brought a better quality of life for many animals.

For more information on Faculty practicing animal-based science at BU:

Dr. Michael Richardson:

Dr. Patrick Bergeron: