Strategic Plan and Research Priorities

Strategic Plan and Research Priorities

Research and research creation are fundamental components of Bishop University’s mandate as a post-secondary institution in the Quebec and the Canadian landscape and beyond. Bishop’s University has adopted a Strategic Research Plan in order to develop and promote its research profile. While the University is committed to strengthening all areas of research and creativity, it recognizes that institutions built on a smaller scale must develop and support specific areas of excellence if they wish to have an impact on the national and international research stage.

Although the Strategic Research Plan (SRP) 2017-2022 maintained the four strategic areas (clusters) of research at Bishop’s University that were established in the early 2000, the current plan aims to revise and update the cluster model, with the goal of identifying two or more additional research priority areas. To achieve this, the Senate Research Committee launched the Interdisciplinary Teams’ project competition in 2019-2020. The resulting seven Interdisciplinary Teams replaced the previous cluster model presented in the SRP 2017-2022, and although some Teams were formed from the previous clusters, the interdisciplinary model helped reflect the high-impact innovative research being done at our institution.

Research Clusters

Research Clusters

The Strategic Research Plan (SRP) 2017-2022 confirmed the following four strategic areas (clusters) of research;

Stellar Astrophysics and Relativity (STAR) Research Cluster

This cluster specialized in the study of gravitational fields applied to cosmology and the study of compact objects in various astronomical contexts, with a focus on topics relating to high-energy astrophysics and binary stellar systems. This field has been a traditional strength at Bishop’s, being home to Tier I and Tier II Canada Research Chairs (CRC) as well as emerging and senior professors that were well funded with world class research infrastructure.

Multi-Scale Climate and Environmental Change (MUSCLE) Research Cluster

This cluster studied the mechanisms driving climate and environmental changes at small, intermediate and large scales, and also addressed questions related to climate change impacts on land, water, biodiversity and society, as well as vulnerability assessment, mitigation and adaptation measures. The cluster included professors from Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. A cutting-edge laboratory was built and equipped at a cost of approximately $800,000 with the help of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Government of Quebec and other partners.

Psychological and Well-being Research Cluster

This cluster took a multidisciplinary approach to the study of psychological health and well-being of individuals and communities, rallying a team from the Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Business. It aimed to offer the means to ensure that individuals, and the communities in which they live, are healthy, sustainable and vibrant through research and dissemination of findings. Research foci included chronic illness and pain management, well-being in the workplace, use of health services, and promoting well-being. This cluster was committed to working in collaboration with the Eastern Townships community, while being active at the national and international level. The Psychological Health and Well-being Lab, a research space made available thanks to contributions by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Government of Quebec and other partners, still regularly welcomes research participants who come to complete surveys, to participate in interviews and focus groups, and to provide psychophysiological data.

Social and Cultural Identities (Crossing Borders) Research Cluster

This cluster studied 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 (with relevance to our immediate community where possible). The research axes were indigeneity and race, gender, transformative praxis, and transnational identities. The group included several researchers in Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education.

Interdisciplinary Research Teams

Interdisciplinary Research Teams

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.

STellar Astrophysics and Relativity (STAR II) Interdisciplinary Group

Recognized for consistent success and excellence, 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 also includes a Canada Research Chair nominee in Multi-Messenger Astrophysics, Dr. John Ruan. STAR II also plans to grow their collaborations, both locally and internationally.

Indigeneity and Race Research Axis

Building on the successes of the former Indigeneity axis of the Crossing Borders cluster, the Indigeneity and Race Research Axis (IRRA), 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. 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), IRRA 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.

Plurilingual Pedagogies Team

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.

Agro-Biodiversity Team

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.

Applied Radical Optimism for Climate Change Hope in Education (AppROCCHE) Team

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. 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.

Heart-Rate Variability and Academic Performance Team

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.

Rescuing the Archive Team

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.