Category Research spotlights

The Canada Foundation for Innovation funds a Neurophysiological data acquisition platform for Bishop’s University

Dr. Russell Butler

Dr. Russell Butler, Assistant professor at Bishop’s University’s Department of Computer Science received a Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) award of $72,492 to purchase an Electroencephalography (EEG) system with physiological recording and eye tracking to establish a high throughput neurophysiology platform at Bishop’s University specifically devoted to studying the link between EEG signals, human personality, and brain white matter pathways.

Dr. Butler applied for this grant with Dr. Rafael Tedesqui, of Bishop’s University’s Department of Sports Studies and Dr. Maxime Descoteaux, of the Université de Sherbrooke.  The team’s objective is to study the structural basis of EEG brain rhythms and their role in shaping personality, academic and athletic performance across individuals.

Electroencephalography (EEG) is the most widely used tool for non-invasive quantification of human brain activity. EEG records the brain’s electrical activity en-masse via surface electrodes on the scalp. EEG is commonly used to infer neurophysiological parameters such as peak frequency and power. However, despite its widespread usage, our understanding of what drives individual differences in EEG peak frequency and power is incomplete. The purpose of this research is to set up an in-house EEG recording facility at Bishop’s University for high throughput acquisition of EEG signals from a diverse student body of healthy undergraduates (ages 18-24). EEG recordings will be performed in a large sample. The team will then select from the large sample a sub-sample to maximize the variability in the dataset and perform diffusion MRI at the neighboring hospital, to obtain white matter metrics. Finally, they will correlate the white matter metrics with the EEG parameters and personality measures, to better understand what drives individual differences across a healthy population.

Hosting the equipment directly at Bishop’s University facilitates the experiments and allows for increased participant throughout, yielding higher statistical power and a more diverse set of experiments, in addition to providing a unique experience to our students. An advantage of the current platform is that it is intrinsically multidisciplinary, sitting at the crossroads of neurophysiology, performance, and personality research. The equipment will amplify the already collaborative nature of the research team and increase the appeal of Bishop’s for attracting the most talented highly qualified personnel.

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, announced more than $64 million to support 251 research infrastructure projects at 40 universities across the country. This contribution will help universities more competitively recruit and retain outstanding researchers by helping acquire the state-of-the-art labs, equipment, and facilities they need to make discoveries that will have an impact on Canadians.

Dr. Rowe ranked 14 among Canada’s Top Physics Scientists

Dr. Jason Rowe, Canada Research Chair in Exoplanets Astrophysics at Bishop’s University has been ranked #14 among Canada’s Top Physics Scientists by

This ranking is based on data collected from Microsoft Academic Graph on December 6th, 2021.

Dr. Rowe’s position in the ranking is based on his scientist D-index (Discipline H-index) which includes papers and citation values. used a ranking method based on a meticulous examination of 51,056 scientists’ profiles in the discipline of Physics.

Dr. Rowe has a D- index of 124, with 54,286 citations and 314 publications. Planets, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Planetary system, and Exoplanets are his primary areas of study. Dr. Rowe’s CRC research program’s objectives are to discover and characterize a large sample of exoplanets to understand the origins of diversity in the basic properties of planets, including mass, radius, density, and atmosphere. Dr. Rowe searches for extrasolar planets to learn if there may be other planets similar to earth. He leads an outstanding research team composed of top students from Bishop’s University and post-docs and has multiple collaborations and partnerships with top Physics scientists across the country and oversees.

Bishop’s University is proud of having Dr. Rowe as a member of our community and grateful for his commitment to our students, leading them to new horizons of excellence and success.

New Publication by Valerio Faraoni – Cosmic Analogies: How Natural Systems Emulate the Universe

Dr. Valerio Faraoni of the Department of Physics & Astronomy has authored a new monograph entitled Cosmic Analogies: How Natural Systems Emulate the Universe in August 2022.

It is known that we have a century of research in cosmology but far less in earth sciences, and hardly anyone has studied new analogies between natural systems and theoretically possible universes. With that in mind, Dr. Faraoni’s new book comes into being. It ties together disparate fields of science with a lively look at analogies between relativistic cosmology and various physical phenomena, including equilibrium beach profiles, glacial valleys, the shape of glaciers, heating/cooling models, freezing bodies of water, capillary fluids, Omori’s law of earthquake aftershocks, lava flows, and a few mathematical analogies to help better understand natural systems and solve problems.

Dr. Faraoni’s new book is available on this website.

Cosmic Analogies: How Natural Systems Emulate the Universe

Dr. Elisa Gagnon Obtains a FRQSC Research Support for New Academics Grant

Dr. Elisa Gagnon

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be described as a branch of computer science that examines the processes of human intelligence with the goal of synthetizing intelligence and establishing ideal thinking and behavior. We are routinely interacting with AI-based systems. When you look for information on Google, follow a recommendation for a new show on Netflix or even ask Siri what the weather forecast is for the next day, you are doing so thanks to AI.

Nowadays, companies are operating in increasingly complex environments, and must continuously take actions to improve their business processes and decision-making. One way to do so is to incorporate Artificial Intelligence to improve the effectiveness of operations through automation (replacing human decision-making and actions with technology) and augmentation (supporting and improving human decision-making and actions with technology). Although the development of genuinely artificial intelligent machines has yet to happen, the consensus is that the potential uses of AI could go beyond impacting the nature of work and will likely change economic mechanisms and business models.

However, there is uncertainty for businesses on how to manage AI and its imperfections. When developing the algorithm for AI, developers can make errors or unconsciously introduce prejudices, or the data used to train the algorithm can be biased, which could result in the algorithm being skewed. If those situations arise in an artificial intelligence system that is so complicated that a human cannot understand how the AI arrived at this conclusion (called Black box AI), errors may go unnoticed.

Dr. Elisa Gagnon, Associate Professor at the Williams School of Business, was awarded a FRQSC Research Support for New Academics for the project Rethinking How Humans and Machines Make Sense Together. With this project, Dr. Gagnon aims to enhance our understanding of explainable AI. Explainable AI is the opposite of black box AI; as such, it is transparent, and humans can understand how the AI arrived at its conclusion. With explainable AI, humans and machines can work together to augment and enhance each other’s capabilities, explains Dr. Gagnon. This study addresses a specific emerging challenge in the practice of AI. It aims to examine where we should draw the line between rejecting and embracing black box AI. This research project should facilitate the development of guidelines and the move to the design, development, and practices of explainable AI.

The Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) support and promote excellence in research, and the training of the next generation of researchers. In June, the results of their 2022-2023 competitions were made available to the research community. The aim of the Research Support for New Academics program is to help support a new generation of university academics by assisting early-career faculty to establish themselves as independent researchers, become competitive nationally and internationally, and train the next generation of students.

The Office of Research and Graduate Studies continues to grow, thanks to the RESEARCH SUPPORT FUND

The Research Support Fund (RSF) 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. One major objective of the RSF is to support the costs for management and administration of the institution’s research enterprise, which includes a portion of the costs associated with salary expenses for staff members who provide administrative support to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies (ORGS).

Thanks to the RSF, the ORGS recently hired Blazena Sokol in the new Administrative Assistant Research & Graduate Studies position. Blazena holds a legal administrative assistant certificate and has been working in an office environment for over twenty years, working for Stanley T. Couple PLC, Campbell Strata Management and Highland Foundry Ltd. In her role as Administrative Assistant Research & Graduate Studies, Blazena will provide general administrative, operational, coordination and technical support for the conduct of research programs and the ORGS. 

If you have any question for the ORGS, do not hesitate to contact us!


New Publication by Osire Glacier – Freedom for Morocco: A Family Tale

Dr. Osire Glacier of the Department of Religion, Society and Culture has authored a new monograph entitled Freedom for Morocco: A Family Tale.

Freedom for Morocco: A Family Tale is a historical and autobiographical book. By weaving together two intertwined narratives, a personal account invites readers into the home of one Moroccan family. A collective narrative reveals the shared struggles of Moroccan citizens for democracy.  By alternating between micro- and macro-histories, this book presents fragments that have long been erased from the history of contemporary Morocco.  Thus, it offers a corrective re-examination of concepts and key events conveyed by official historical sources from 1921 to the present day, notably Morocco’s anti-colonial uprisings, the emergence of neocolonialism under the guise of formal independence, the institutionalization of predatory capitalism, the establishment of a democratic façade, the Islamization politics of the governing elite and the emergence of Islamism.

Book Cover of "Freedom for Morocco: A Family Tale"

Dr. Glacier new book is available on this website.

Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz is Appointed Canada Research Chair in Digital Indigeneities

On June 10, 2022, 1:00 p.m., Bishop’s University will officially announce the appointment of Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz, Assistant Professor of the Department of Sociology, as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Digital Indigeneities. To begin the event, The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau and The Honourable Geneviève Hébert will say a few words. Then, Dr. Llanes-Ortiz will hold a Storytelling Panel discussion with a few guests, during which they will exchange stories on how they envision and understand the role digital media currently play or should play in the protection and reclamation of Indigenous ways of knowing. This activity will take place in the Bishop’s Library Learning Commons Agora, and is open to the public.

Dr. Genner Llanes-OrtizIndigenous peoples employ multiple technologies to preserve and promote their history, languages, and knowledge. This revitalization movement sometimes take the form of digital media activism, where Indigenous peoples (re)adapt cultural practices, and use digital media and tools, for cultural and linguistic revitalization, and political mobilization. The diverse ways in which Indigenous peoples use and transform these digital technologies is what we call Digital Indigeneities.

As Canada Research Chairholder, Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz proposes to collaboratively investigate Digital Indigeneities in the Americas, namely, how Indigenous peoples in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala develop and use digital technologies to reclaim, protect and stimulate their cultural and language heritage. This initiative will be the first to bridge Indigenous researchers and activist networks from Latin America with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada to analyze and showcase the ways Indigenous peoples are using technological advancements to sustain and cultivate their identities, knowledge, life ways, languages, and traditions. Digital media adaptation and its possibilities to support Indigenous cultural and language revitalization are currently discussed by Indigenous scholars in North America, but relevant examples and academic contributions from Indigenous Latin America are still missing in these discussions, explains Dr. Llanes-Ortiz. Conversations between North America and Latin America have been limited by their different colonial languages (English vs French, Spanish vs Portuguese), as well as by how differently Indigenous peoples express and protect their knowledge and identities. As an Indigenous Maya researcher and now holder of a Canada Research Chair, I hope to facilitate these important conversations and build bridges across these different contexts.

Dr. Llanes-Ortiz’s participatory research program will thus explore four interrelated areas of Digital Indigeneities, which all focus on the reclamation of Indigenous languages and knowledges. Dr. Llanes-Ortiz and his team will work collaboratively with Indigenous partners to follow research protocols that support Indigenous ownership and control of data and information. In this way, they will create a repository of Indigenous language digital activism, which describes a wide range of initiatives (e.g., films, podcast, blogs, applications, etc.) that aim to prevent Indigenous language displacement and loss. They will also support the digitization of Indigenous cultural archives and collections in Canada to increase their accessibility. This research program will also work on the creation of interactive digital maps of interest for First Nations in Canada and Indigenous peoples in Mexico and Guatemala, using for example audiovisual recordings and photographs, local knowledge and practice or environmental information. Finally, they will engage with Indigenous activists to discuss and analyze the impact that their activities have on Indigenous debates.

In collaboration with different Indigenous partners in Canada and in the Maya region (Mexico and Guatemala), Dr. Llanes-Ortiz’s Canada Research Chair research program will contribute to redressing the pernicious legacies of settler colonialisms in the Americas. The digital tools, methods, and platforms that his team will investigate and build up with Indigenous partners also have the potential to be used as pedagogic aids to develop culturally relevant education for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and youth.

Sociology Department Team Awarded a SSHRC Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative Grant for the Unearthing Justices Partnership Project

Dr. Vicki Chartrand Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz Dr. Alex Miltsov

Bishop’s University is proud to announce that Dr. Vicki Chartrand, Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz and Dr. Alex Miltsov of the Sociology Department received a Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative grant for the Unearthing Justices Partnership (UJP): Digital Mapping of Indigenous Grassroots Resources and Supports for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit+ (MMIWG2S+) People project. This research project will be done in collaboration with Indigenous Knowledge Keepers Gladys Radek (Tears4Justice) and Viola Thomas (Protect Our Indigenous Sisters Society), along with many Indigenous partners involved in addressing MMIW2S+ people. The goal of UJP is to partner with Indigenous-based collectivities to collaboratively organize and mobilize Indigenous-led and Indigenous-based resources and supports to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit + People.

Having concluded that the long-term and ongoing murders and disappearances of Indigenous women, girls, and Two Spirit (MMIWG2S+) people is genocide, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019) made 231 Calls to Justice in relation to culture, health, security, and criminal justice to address the ongoing colonial dispossession and systemic, racialized, and gendered violence against MMIWG2S+ people. While the violence against MMIWG2S+ people is well documented, there has been less consideration of how Indigenous families and communities have actively navigated the terrain where justice continues to be absent, elusive, or invasive, if not violent. To address this challenge and heed the Calls to Justice, the UJP partnership seeks to digitally map, showcase, and share Indigenous-led and Indigenous-based models and resources of support for the MMIWG2S+ people through the development of a national website and other digital media platforms.

This research partnership seeks to: 1) to center and build on Indigenous families and communities’ existing capacities, strengths, and self-determination to address the murders, disappearances, and violence; 2) to make visible the important work that already exists in Indigenous communities for public education, policy and program innovations, and potential funding; 3) to facilitate connections and networks and the sharing of resources between Indigenous groups and individuals involved in the MMIWG2S+ people work; and 4) to analyze and establish a digital based infrastructure and other media of resources and supports to address violence against MMIWG2S+ people.

The goal of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative is to support community-based and community-led research partnerships with postsecondary institutions that are grounded in the lived experience of underrepresented or disadvantaged groups and that analyze the causes and persistence of systemic racism and discrimination. Leadership by people from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups in research projects about race, gender and diversity is important to help ensure the research is grounded in the complexities of the lived experiences and histories of diverse groups and individuals, and to inform more rigorous and relevant policy and program design. On May 9th 2022, the results of the 2021 competition were made available to the research community. With the high rate of applications, this success rate of this competition was under 30%, and we are more than impressed that the application by Dr. Vicki Chartrand, Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz and Dr. Alex Miltsov ranked in the top of the second sextile. Congratulations on this exciting result!

To learn about Indigenous initiatives for MMIWG2S+, support and grow community resources and creative justices, consult the Unearthing Justices Resource Collection.

Creative Activities at BU: Dr. Andrew MacDonald releases new album

Dr. Andrew MacDonald, who retired last year after 34 years in the Department of Music at Bishop’s University, is known for his contributions to contemporary Canadian classical, jazz, and electronic music, as an educator, composer, and performer. In December 2021, he was appointed to the Order of Canada for his extraordinary contributions to the Canadian nation. Moreover, his compositions have won many prestigious prizes, including the Best Classical Composition JUNO Award in 1995.

In March 2022, Centrediscs and Naxos released his 20th album, Music of the City and the Stars, in which he performs the electric archtop guitar alongside the Quatuor Saguenay, composed of violinists Marie Bégin and Nathalie Camus, violist Luc Beauchemin, and cellist David Ellis. While the album is currently available on digital platforms, the physical copy will be released at the launch concert in Bandeen Hall at 8 p.m. on June 9th, 2022. Free tickets can be reserved at the Centennial Theatre box office and donations for humanitarian relief in Ukraine will be accepted at the door.

Music of the City and the Stars CD Cover

Music of the City and the Stars features two new compositions by Dr. MacDonald. The opening work, Lyra, is a musical examination of the constellation Lyra set in seven movements. The piece opens with Hermes’ invention of the lyre as his gift to Apollo, and follows it through the magical hands of Orpheus as he encounters the Argonauts, Eurydice, Hades, and finally the Bacchants. The work closes with Zeus placing the lyre in the heavens in memory of the great musical wizard. Exotic string writing and electronic effects applied to the guitar create an eerie and timeless atmosphere. The album’s companion work, Restless City, features both concerto-like exchanges and intimate expressive passages. Set in three substantial movements, this jazz-inspired composition pays homage to bebop legends Charlie Parker, Tadd Dameron and Thelonious Monk.

This work was made possible in part thanks to a Bishop’s Research and Creative Activity grant, which are funds awarded for clearly-defined research projects or creative activities likely to result in peer-reviewed dissemination.  Although the electric guitar and the string quartet are well represented in their respective repertoire fields, there is only a handful of compositions where they are heard together as one ensemble, explains Dr. MacDonald. One of the artistic questions I wished to investigate was how to successfully combine acoustic and electronic sonorities in a meaningful way. These two disparate sound worlds come together when the string quartet engages in extended bowing and pitch manipulation techniques while the guitar takes on electronic extensions of its sonority.

We hope to see you at Bandeen on June 9th!

Research Week 2022: Winners of the Student Competitions

At Bishop’s University, one way to showcase research is through the annual Research Week. Among other activities, from March 28 to April 1, the Office of Research and Graduates studies organized a showcase for our research activities, including a Research Poster and a Research Snapshot competition to highlight our talented student researchers. For both competitions, undergraduate and graduate students had to present a research project for which they made an active and significant contribution.

While posters were up all week in Centennial Lobby, the official public presentation of posters on March 31st was an opportunity for students participating in the Research Posters competition to practice presenting their research project in a conference or a meeting. Two prizes were awarded by the jury, and submissions were evaluated based on the content and layout of the posters.

In the category Undergraduate Students – Natural Sciences, the winner was Victoria Benny of the Department of Biological Sciences for the project Scent discrimination of antibiotic-treated and intact male ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) by conspecifics. Thanks to an Undergraduate Research Assistantship – Plan Réussite award, Victoria was a research assistant of Dr. Marylène Boulet of the Department of Biological Sciences during the Winter 2022 semester. Victoria examined the effect of antibiotic treatment on the scent of healthy ring-tailed lemurs, highly social primates that communicate via scent secretion, by measuring the response their odorant generates in other lemurs. Such research allowed them to better understand scent perception in primates, which includes humans.

In the category Undergraduate Students – Social Sciences, Education and Business, the winner was Kyra Simons of the Department of Psychology for the project Gender differences in climate worry and parental role. Under the supervision of Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise, Kyra examined gender differences in climate change worry and perceived parental role in Quebec parents. Intriguing considerations regarding future research were prompted through parent’s responses.

After the official public presentation of the posters, the Bishop’s community was invited to attend the Research Snapshots competition, during which participants had only three minutes to present their research project in a language accessible for the general public. Three prizes were awarded by the jury, and submissions were evaluated based on participants’ presentation and scientific communication skills, as well as the structure and content of their presentation.

In the category Undergraduate Students – Natural Sciences, the winner was Virginia Rufina Marquez-Pacheco of the Department of Physics & Astronomy for the project Understanding Accretion in Quasars. Quasars are extremely bright supermassive black holes in centers of galaxies that consume hot gas from their environment. Recently, some quasars were observed to dim very suddenly. Since the summer of 2021, under the supervision of Dr. John Ruan of the Department of Physics & Astronomy, Virginia has been working on understanding this newly found behavior using Ultraviolet and X-ray images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

In the category Undergraduate Students – Social Sciences, Education and Business, the winner was Audrey Richard of the Department of Psychology for the project Are you still watching? The antecedents and outcomes of binge-watching. Under the supervision of Dr. Courtney Plante of the Department of Psychology, Audrey examined the potential affective outcomes of binge-watching in terms of well-being whilst taking into consideration the viewer’s motivations to binge-watch and the differing phenomenology of the activity. Her findings highlight the importance to adopt a nuanced approach to understanding binge-watching, and the potential of an extended immersion into fictious universes in providing support to individuals.

In the category Graduate Students, the winner was Samuel Gagnon-Hartman of the Department of Physics & Astronomy for the project How fast is the Universe expanding, Really? Supervised by Dr. John Ruan of the Department of Physics & Astronomy and thanks to a Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s (CGS M), Samuel is enabling a measurement of the expansion rate of the Universe using gravitational waves. This method suffers from biases which Samuel is working to correct using advanced methods in statistics and machine learning.

Research is a fundamental part of Bishop’s University’s mandate. Our student and faculty researchers contribute, and must continue to contribute to the generation of new knowledge, to mobilizing this knowledge to relevant community partners and research users and, in doing so, contribute to innovation and economic development of the region, province and country. Congratulations to our winners, and to all the participants. Thank you for showcasing the amazing research taking place at Bishop’s. You can read more about Research Week in the April edition of The Campus.

From left to right, Victoria Benny and Kyra Simons won the Research Poster competition.
Richard Marquez Pacheco Gagnon Hartman
From left to right, Audrey Richard, Virginia Rufina Marquez-Pacheco and Samuel Gagnon-Hartman won the Research Snapshot competition.