Category Research spotlights

Dr. Christopher Stonebanks and the “Transformative Praxis: Malawi Team” Lead Rural Developments in Malawi

Dr. Christopher Stonebanks of the School of Education has returned from his seventh annual trip to the Chilanga region of Kasungu, Malawi, where he leads the “Transformative Praxis: Malawi” project. The project, which includes aspects of Education, Health, and Development, focuses on the assessment, creation and implementation of a curriculum that is a fusion of local Malawian culture, knowledge and resources with Quebec’s competency, constructivist-based education program. “Transformative Praxis: Malawi” aims to create a novel, collaborative, sustainable model of community development that can be transferred to a variety of situations. Canadian students from the U4 universities (Bishop’s, Mount Allison, St. Francis Xavier and Acadia) and McGill University have the possibility of undertaking a five-week research learning experience as part of a credited university module, and bring their expertise in Education, Health or Development to work with Malawian co-learners towards knowledge-transfer initiatives and community capacity building. This project is carried out in close collaboration with Dr. Fintan Sheerin of the Nursing and Midwifery School of Trinity College Dublin, and Malawian businesswoman Jenyala Paradise.

Dr. Stonebanks, Dr. Sheerin and their Malawian partners have set up a number of collaborative initiatives through the supervision of student research projects in education, health and well-being and community development, projects strongly rooted in the principle of knowledge transfer. Recently, the local women’s cooperative in Chilanga has built a chicken coop with the assistance of a Mount Allison student in Development Studies and a Bishop’s University Education student. This combined Health and Education initiative may lead to improved methods of local production of quality food and to the development of new or best practices in farming. Likewise, a team of Canadian and Irish students working under the supervision of Dr. Sheerin worked alongside Malawian collaborators to create a tripartite plan that will help address some of the most pressing health challenges faced by the local population in Malawi, namely diarrheal diseases, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and respiratory conditions. Outcomes of this research collaboration will include the setting up of a weekly doctor-led clinic, the provision of monthly “under-5” clinics within the community centre as well as the preparation of a community health volunteer program.

Dr. Stonebanks and Dr. Sheerin are members of Bishop’s University’s “Crossing Borders” research cluster, a group of researchers committed to studying the socially constructed categories and boundaries that mark differences among nationalities, ethno-linguistic communities, genders and social classes – particularly how these boundaries are constructed, challenged and transcended. As a result of their research collaborations, education links and partnerships are being created between Bishop’s University and Trinity College Dublin, as well as with the other U4 universities.

Rural Developments in Malawi

Claire Grogan Receives Chawton House Library Fellowship

Dr. Claire Grogan of the English Department has received a Chawton House Library Fellowship for August 2016 for a project entitled “Mary Wollstonecraft and her circle of associates, 1790-1792”. Chawton House is an independent research library and study centre focusing on women’s writing in English from 1600-1830. Located in the Elizabethan manor house that once belonged to one of Jane Austen’s brothers in the village of Chawton in Hampshire, the library’s main aim is to promote and facilitate study in the field of early women’s writing. The aim of the Chawton House Library Fellowship is to enable individuals to undertake significant research in the eighteenth century, particularly in fields that focus on women’s writing or lives during the period. The Fellowship is awarded in partnership with the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Southampton.

Chawton House Library

Dr. Lisa Mask Receives Insight Development Grant to Study Body Image in Mature Women

Dr. Lisa MaskDr. Lisa Mask has received an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in the amount of $60,071 for a project entitled “Looking out the window or looking in the mirror? The role of social and temporal comparisons in middle-aged women’s body image evaluations and attitudes towards aging.” Dr. Mask will investigate the role that social and temporal comparisons play in influencing women’s thoughts and feelings about their body and aging in midlife, and whether self-compassion may help to attenuate these effects. Indeed, the transition through middle adulthood may lead to women’s increased dissatisfaction with their bodies because of age-related changes, yet very little is known about the factors and processes that explain why these feelings of discontent occur. Dr. Mask’s research will draw upon social and temporal comparison theories and will examine how middle-aged women compare themselves to others (social comparison) as well as with their past and anticipated future selves (temporal comparison). These comparisons will have important implications for women’s self-evaluations of their appearance and of their physical condition as well as their attitudes toward aging and their self-improvement motivation.

Dr. Paul Gallina to Deliver Keynote Address at 7th International Social Rights Symposium

Dr. Paul GallinaDr. Paul Gallina, Professor in the Williams School of Business, has been invited to deliver the keynote address at the 7th International Social Rights in Symposium, to be held December 10-13 at Pamukkale University in Turkey. His lecture, entitled “Social protection and atypical work: The Canadian experience to date,” will open this event designed to discuss knowledge and experiences of social rights in a scientific context, share the results of the discussions with relevant NGOs and official organizations, thereby creating a scientific platform that provides an opportunity and an area to create an effective and functional social state. This 7th International Social Rights Symposium will specifically focus on national, international, theoretical, legal and operational dimensions of social protection and social security.

Andrew MacDonald’s Music Performed in British Columbia and Ontario

Dr. Andrew MacDonald’s opera, Mary’s Wedding is being revived for a tour of schools in British Columbia. Set in Western Canada in the aftermath of World War I, Mary’s Wedding was commissioned by Pacific Opera Victoria and had its world premiere in November 2011. In time for Remembrance Day and ongoing commemorations of the WWI centenary, Pacific Opera Victoria is staging a re-imagined version of the opera in regional secondary schools in early November, 2015, and in a special public performance on November 10. Performances will run from November 2-13, 2015.

Dr. MacDonald’s latest composition, The Orchid Garden, created for saxophone and orchestra, will also be premiered by Jeremy Brown and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alain Trudel, on November 16 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

Spotlight on Student Research: Student Research Awards, an Invaluable Contribution to the Undergraduate Academic Experience

Granting agencies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) offer undergraduate students the opportunity to gain research experience during the summer semester by working as research assistants for faculty members. Several Bishop’s University students benefit from this invaluable opportunity every year.

This past year, four undergraduate Physics students, recipients of an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) spent the 2015 summer semester working for Drs. Nelson and Faraoni, undertaking tasks ranging from running simulations of interacting binary systems on a supercomputer to studying the theory of general relativity and its potential applications to black holes. In Environmental Studies and Geography, a USRA holder documented occurrences of poor air quality by examining air pollution data gathered by the ministère de l’Environnement du Québec, whereas a student from the Sports Studies Department examined motor skill acquisition and the interference that occurs when two motors skills are practiced in alternation. Finally, in the Department of Mathematics, a student computed several examples of bound quiver algebras to locate modules of finite projective dimension in the Auslander Reiten quiver of their algebras.

Kristin-Marie Neville presented her research alongside her supervisor Dr. Maxime Trempe
Photo: Kristin-Marie Neville, now a graduate student at the University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics, presented her research alongside her supervisor, Dr. Maxime Trempe, at SCAPPS in 2014.

Students from the Social Sciences and Humanities also benefit from these opportunities thanks to the FRQSC’s Undergraduate Introduction to Research Award (Bourse d’initiation à la recherche au premier cycle). Thomas Minguy (Department of Philosophy) spent the summer doing a thorough literature review of philosophical texts pertaining to the notion of private property in a liberal and capitalist system, on fundamental human rights, and on the fraught relationship that sometimes exists between the two. Ryan Lundell-Creagh (Department of Psychology) won the same award which allowed him to take part in research on emotional contagion among Facebook users. When asked to discuss his experience as a research assistant, Lundell-Creagh is both enthusiastic and grateful:

Conducting research at Bishop’s University has been one of the most enriching parts of my university experience. It has allowed me to gain new knowledge and insights to supplement what I’ve learned in the classroom. Research has become an integral part of my growth as an academic, and has truly changed me for the better. I have been working as a research assistant for almost three years now, and love every minute of it. There’s something extremely thrilling about being able to discover new relationships between things and contributing to the growth of the scientific community in a meaningful way. Having this opportunity has shown me that a career in research is something which I wish to pursue in the future, and has allowed me to build the tools necessary to be able to achieve this goal. I am grateful for the opportunity that the university and the professors have given me, and would strongly recommend it to anyone!

Research Support Fund: The Synergy of Astronomy and Physics at Bishop’s University

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 granting agencies in the three most recent years for which data are available. Here is an example of the research that the RSF helps make possible.

Dr. Lorne Nelson, professor of Astrophysics at Bishop’s University, makes no effort in hiding his enthusiasm when describing the several research projects that he is simultaneously leading. They range from an exploration of the behaviour of close interacting binaries to an examination of the light curves of different binary systems captured by the recently reconstituted Kepler Telescope (K2). Three undergraduate students working under his supervision thanks to NSERC’s Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA), along with two Master’s students and a team of research professionals are given the opportunity to take part in cutting edge research in the field of astrophysics and to work with high-performance computers, specifically Compute Canada’s supercluster computers housed at the Université de Sherbrooke.

Dr. Nelson, who works in collaboration with Dr. Saul Rappaport at MIT, uses observations gleaned from the Kepler Telescope in a number of projects. In one, he follows the evolution of a peculiar Algol-like system, a close interacting binary in which two stars interact gravitationally with one another, causing one star to be cannibalized by the other. One of Dr. Nelson’s aims is to use the so-called Algol Paradox to explain the properties of several binaries that he is investigating. The apparent paradox arises because the bigger, more massive star in the binary appears to be younger and thus less evolved than its companion star. Although the more massive star should logically evolve more quickly and thus achieve the status of “giant” first, this is not what is actually observed. The solution to the paradox is that the more massive but younger-looking star has actually pulled off matter from the other star which was originally the bigger of the two. What eventually results is a binary consisting of a white dwarf (the remnant of the originally bigger star) and a massive star (originally the smaller of the two). Numerical simulations currently being run reveal that these systems can undergo a second phase of mass transfer (a reversal) and, depending on the properties of the original binary, can produce binaries containing two white dwarf stars.

In a parallel research project, Dr. Nelson is investigating the properties of unusual binaries identified by Kepler (some of which host exoplanets) by obtaining their spectra. Using observations taken at the Observatoire du Mont Megantic, Dr. Nelson constructs what he calls a “cosmic barcode,” that is, the fingerprint of all elements in a given star. By studying the light curves of different binary systems obtained with K2 and trying to figure out how they correlate with the spectra, Dr. Nelson and his team are aiming to unlock the secrets of many of the exotic binaries that have been found by the Kepler Telescope.

Dr. Nelson held a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Astrophysics at Bishop’s University for seven years; he is a Director of the Canadian Astronomical Society and a Board Member of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy. The Research Support Fund supports access to the laboratories, computers and equipment that allow Dr. Nelson and his team to conduct their research.

Research Support Fund: Studying Flies to Learn More about the Effects of Climate Change on Biodiversity

Dr. Jade Savage, professor of Biology at Bishop’s University, is one of the world’s leading experts in the taxonomy of house flies and their relatives (family Muscidae), a dominant group of insects in the Arctic. Monitoring how populations and species assemblages change over time could shed some light on the impacts that climate change is having on biodiversity, particularly in northern regions where it is more pronounced.

This is what Sarah Loboda, a Ph.D. candidate co-supervised by Dr. Savage and colleagues at McGill University and Aarhus University in Denmark, is trying to establish. Her doctoral research consists of investigating changes in the species assemblages of muscid flies as well as in the morphology and genetic composition of selected species over a period of 20 years in Zackenberg (northern Greenland). This research is a unique opportunity to learn more about the response of arctic biodiversity to rapid climatic changes and relies on a unique data set resulting from 20 years of standardized sampling in Zackenberg (BioBasis Program, Aarhus University).

This research project was developed by Dr. Savage, who sought the collaboration of colleagues in other institutions in order to see it to fruition. Sarah Loboda is trained by Dr. Savage to identify species and interpret her results based on the respective ecological requirements of all species involved, whereas questions regarding the ecological implications of her discoveries are developed in collaboration with her other co-supervisors.

Since Dr. Savage’s arrival at Bishop’s, the university’s insect specimen collection has increased by over 100,000 species and includes reference material from the local fauna as well as specimens from arctic, alpine and agricultural habitats. This active reference collection, which is constantly being developed, is housed in cabinets that can ensure the integrity and preservation of its specimens.

Dr. Jade Savage is currently funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada and by Agriculture and AgriFood Canada’s Agri-Innovation Program. She is also collaborating with colleagues at the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding to create a complete reference library of DNA barcodes for Canadian Muscidae species (approximately 450 species). The Research Support Fund supports access to the laboratories, computers and equipment that allow Dr. Savage and her team to conduct their research.

Jade Savage conducting research at Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Copyright Jade Savage.
Jade Savage conducting research at Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Copyright Jade Savage.

Connecting Through Climate Change: MUSCLE Cluster Conference at Bishop’s on February 19, 2016

The Multi-Scale Climate and Environmental Change research cluster will be hosting, on February 19, 2016, a day-long conference in which researchers from Bishop’s University, McGill University and the Université de Sherbrooke will gather to discuss diverse issues such as the development of monitoring methods and spatial models in the management of natural ecosystems to the consequences of warmer environmental conditions in the Arctic. The keynote address, entitled “Climate changes: local initiatives in a dynamic region,” will be delivered by Ms. Jacinthe Caron, Director of the Conseil régional de l’environnement de l’Estrie.

The complete program for this event is available online. The event is free and all are welcome.

Connecting through Climate Change: MUSCLE Research Conference 2016

Canada as Model of Immigrant Control and Integration Policies for Scandinavian Countries

Dr. Trygve UglandThe Scandinavian countries have often been portrayed as models for the development of policies for other states. References to Scandinavian politics have also informed the political and academic discourse in Canada to a great extent and for an extensive period of time. However, in the area of immigration and integration policies, Denmark, Norway and Sweden have themselves been searching for inspiration and for new policy solutions abroad. Canada is internationally recognized in the areas of both immigration control and immigrant integration. Dr. Trygve Ugland of the Department of Politics and International Studies was invited by Canal Savoir to discuss the role that the Canadian immigration and integration policy model has played in the Scandinavian reform debate and process in the period from 2000 to 2015. This talk was given in the context of a round-table entitled S’inspirer du modèle scandinave and was based on Dr. Ugland’s research funded through his SSHRC Insight Development Grant. The full round-table, including Dr. Ugland’s presentation, can be viewed online on Canal Savoir’s webpage.