Research Week 2024 Abstracts

Research Week 2024 Abstracts

Dr. Art Babayants 

“Le Besoin d’être mal-armé”: The Joy of Multilingual Theatre 

Despite the growing presence of multilingual theatre in large Canadian multicultural cities, research on stage multilingualism in Canada remains at the nascent stage. Using the Practice as Research methodology, my artistic research looks at stage multilingualism that does not use translation. Specifically, it focuses on multilingual actors, multilingual dramaturgy, and multilingual audiences. The artistic practice at the centre of the study involved 25 professional and amateur performers, both mono- and multilingual, who were engaged in a six-week creation period of devising scenes in their dominant, non-dominant, and unfamiliar languages.  

Using Sara Ahmed’s queer phenomenology (2006), my study conceptualizes untranslated stage multilingualism as a queer object, which has the potential to cause re-orientation (or queering) of the subject, especially a monolingual subject. It also investigates how and why multilingual actors and audiences may choose to challenge dominant monolingual frameworks. Additionally, I suggest that multilingual dramaturgy is essentially a typer of “diversity work” (Ahmed 2014), which can confront the dominant monolingualism (English only or French only) of mainstream theatre.   


Dr. Tavis Smith 

Policy vs. Practice in Sport and Climate Change: The Perspectives of Key Actors in Global Sport and International Development 

In recent years, the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) movement has grown in both size and scale; it is now comprised of a diverse body of organizations, including private, public and nongovernmental, that all leverage the “power of sport” in various ways. Most recently, SDP has been directly connected to sustainable development, prioritizing environmental awareness, protection, and remediation strategies that can help stem the tide of climate change. A recent policy brief from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), for example, noted that sport can play a key role in raising awareness of and influencing behaviours towards climate action, making it a ‘low-cost’ and ‘high-impact solution’ to the climate crisis. Overall, however, and despite policies in place connecting sport to sustainable development, the environment and climate change are rarely acknowledged within SDP activity and even when they are, it is unclear how such policies are implemented. This raises the following question: how are the climate crisis and the relationships between sport and sustainable development understood and operationalized (or not) by key SDP stakeholders? To address the question, we draw on interviews with SDP policy-makers and practitioners living and working in the Global South to gauge the place of the environment and climate change in their everyday SDP policy-making, programming and practices. The data demonstrates that while SDP stakeholders recognize the urgency of the climate crisis, the need for action, and the policy agenda linking sport to sustainable development, significant barriers still prevent consistent climate action within SDP. 


Dr. Rachid Hedjam and Ameer Ahmed Khan 

Progressive Learning: a New Paradigm of Artificial Intelligence Learning 

The talk centres around a research project operating within the broader field of artificial intelligence (AI), with a specific focus on deep learning (DL). It explores various AI learning paradigms while emphasizing Progressive learning, one of our research interests at BU. The distinctive aspect of the research lies in its methodology, which seeks to imitate human intelligence in terms of autonomous learning. Our hypothesis is that humans begin learning with simple tasks, gradually progressing to more complex ones. This premise inspires a novel methodology aimed at narrowing the gap between artificial and human intelligence. The learning scenario mirrors human learning, where a nature-inspired search algorithm (Agent 1) assumes the role of an adult with higher knowledge, and a DL model (Agent 2) plays the part of a baby with initial knowledge. In this simulated environment, Agent 1 (adult) selects tasks featuring varying numbers of object categories and presents them to Agent 2 (baby). The baby then classifies objects in the given task into different categories. The adult assesses the baby’s performance and, based on the accuracy of object classification and recognition, generates more complex tasks with a higher number of object categories. These tasks are then reintroduced to the baby for the next stage of task learning until achieving a satisfactory level of performance. Hence, the primary objective is to automate this learning concept to develop autonomous Artificial Intelligence capable of exhibiting human-like behavior. 


Dr. Jessica Prioletta  

Sexuality Education in Kindergarten: A Critical Analysis of Quebec Teachers’ Views and Practices 

Sexuality education is still not widely implemented in early childhood education, and when it is, it is often done so in limited ways (Balter et al., 2021). However, according to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), access to comprehensive sexuality education is a child’s right. In 2018, le Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur introduced optional sexuality content at the kindergarten level. Given the recent availability of sexuality content for kindergarten students, this FRQSC-funded study sought to examine Quebec teachers’ perceptions on and practices for sexuality education in kindergarten. Drawing on a critical theoretical framework and on data collected through semi-structured interviews and classroom observations, this presentation outlines the findings of this study. Specifically, while sexuality education was viewed favorably by teachers and as important for young learners, I discuss how narrow views of young children limited the ways in which sexuality education was implemented in the kindergarten classroom. 


Dr. Linda Morra 

Jane Rule and The Body Politic: Imagining the Futures of LGBTIQ+ Communities 

In the 1970s, in support of the Toronto-based queer liberation magazine, The Body Politic (1971-1987), lesbian novelist and activist Jane Rule (1931-2007) began to write under a column provocatively titled, “So’s Your Grandmother.” One contribution to the column, titled “Why I Write for the Body Politic,” followed the historic raid of the magazine’s offices by the Metropolitan and Provincial police in 1977. In this article, she made plain her troubling and troubled avowals of inclusion, representation, and participation in the magazine’s activism; this perspective seemed to hold to a monolithic understanding of sexual liberation that others believed effected the erasure of more particular (and often lesbian) concerns, and to a sense of belonging that, as it involved struggling to access frameworks of national belonging, was also arguably predicated on a singular notion of sexuality and race. Rule anticipated and embraced the plurality of the LGBTIQ+ community, while negotiating her literary career and protecting her commitments to the gay and lesbian, feminist, and writing communities as they self-identified at the time. This talk will address how Rule carefully navigated her place in the cultural, socio-political, and literary imaginary of which she believed she was a part—even when and if she was not seen in reciprocal terms; her imagined sense of community anticipated, even if problematically, the reaches and valences of an emergent LGBTIQ+ community.  


Dr. Vicki Chartrand, Trevor Coulombe (Master’s Student) & Josiane Tremblay-Ross (Master’s Student) 

Picturing Sustainable Cities: A Comparative Photovoice Study in Montreal 

In 2021, Statistics Canada reported that 73.7% of Canadians resided in large urban centers, a trend showing continued growth, particularly in Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) with populations over 100,000. Simultaneously, climate change has proven to be one of, if not the most, significant, threats to urban populations worldwide. As a result of both factors, environmental issues, such as equitable access to green spaces, noise pollution, heat island effects, and poor water and air quality, continue to proliferate. Montreal is at the forefront of tackling these urban sustainability challenges, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and expand green spaces. However, there is a notable lack of comprehensive understanding about how eco-policies affect the everyday lives of citizens, and even less clarity exists on the local-level perspectives and experiences of individuals in cities adapting to ecological and climate challenges. This research project aims to fill this gap by exploring community perceptions of Montreal’s green initiatives under the Sustainable Montreal Plan 2016-2020 and the City of Montreal’s Vision 2030. Using Photovoice methodology, a participatory approach that combines photography with narrative, this research will compare two neighbourhoods in Montreal. Over two months, participants will be introduced to Photovoice, equipped with cameras to capture images of environmental resources or hazards impacting their lives, and then discuss their photo narratives. The resulting photo narratives will visually and textually represent how its citizens experience Montreal’s sustainability efforts. This approach encourages critical dialogue between policymakers and citizens and will promote ecological participation. 

“There has been an outpouring of initiatives regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (MMIWG2S+) by their loved ones and families, all at the grassroots level. Through these initiatives’ strong focus on connections and relationality, we can see that they answer a need for solutions to the ongoing colonial violence that go beyond the general expectations asked of the Canadian government. In fact, this points to a clear problem in leaving the Canadian government to be in charge of addressing colonial violence. Based in community engaged scholarship and from the standpoint of a White scholar inspired by Indigenous methodology, my research will build on Dr. Vicki Chartrand’s publicly available 500+ Indigenous Grassroots Resource Collection in collaboration with the Unearthing Justices Partnership, focusing on three types of MMIWG2S+ initiatives, namely walks, marches, and the creation of monuments. I will explore in depth the relationality involved in these initiatives through the analysis of documents such as news articles and Facebook pages. Through this exploration, I will look at the multitude of ways these initiatives contribute to building and caring for the connections between people, as well as between people and land, and how this approach to relationality fulfills needs that are required in addressing the core of colonial violence.” 


Dr. Juan Francisco Núñez 

Collaborative Work in Value Chains: Lessons Learned From a Vehicle Manufacturing Triad 

Collaborative work between dissimilar organizations is a phenomenon of great relevance for Supply Chain Management studies. The abilities and resources that firms possess and exchange to support interorganizational work have, for several years, aroused the interest of academics and practitioners. There are recurring questions surrounding inter-firm collaboration: Does collaboration pay off? Are there winners and losers? Can collaboration result in superior performance? Drawing on relational dynamics’ theory, we present evidence of inter-firm collaboration collected in a value chain: an Original Equipment Manufacturer, a Third-Party Logistics service provider, and First-Tier suppliers. The objective is to shed light on the ways collaboration contributes to the performance of the studied manufacturing triad. Results suggest that inter-firm collaboration translates into operational and relational performance. Operational performance stems as simplified processes and transactions, accuracy of financial projections, cost containment, and economies of scale. Relational performance conveys into knowledge sharing, knowledge enhancement, complexity reduction, and value appropriation. 


Dr. Russell Butler 

Unlocking Neuroanatomy: Insights from Long-Term Consumer-Grade Wearables Monitoring 

Consumer-grade wearables have the potential to revolutionize modern medicine by providing continuous and long-term biometrics at the population scale. In particular, features of the photoplethysmography (PPG) and accelerometer signals have been linked to a wide range of diseases and disorders, showing promise for detection of early warning signs of cerebral and cardiovascular disorder. However, we still lack a basic understanding of how long-term PPG recording features are linked to anatomical and functional variability across a healthy population. To address this, we acquired long-term (1 month) PPG recording as well as functional and structural MRI in a sample (n=52) of healthy young adults. We find that individuals with higher heartrate variability (HRV) have both increased gray matter volume and thickness across the brain. Individuals with a faster heartrate, however, had reduced gray matter volume and thickness. We also defined a ‘sleep quality index’ based on the accelerometer recordings at night, finding reduced gray matter volume and thickness in individuals with poor sleep quality. Finally, overall ‘activity levels’ derived from the smartwatch accelerometer were associated with reduced gray matter volume across most of the brain. To our knowledge this is the first study showing that it is possible to infer features of an individual’s neuroanatomy based solely on signals acquired from consumer-grade wearables, and important step towards individualized medicine based on continuous monitoring of an individual’s heartrate and activity patterns over time. 


Dr. Sarah McGinnis 

Educational Accountability: A Case Study of the Creation, Implementation and Cancellation of the Math Proficiency Test in Ontario, Canada 

This thesis examines the evolution of the Math Proficiency Test (MPT), a large-scale teacher certification test in Ontario Canada that was initiated in 2019 and was cancelled due to a court challenge in 2021. Designed as a large-scale computer-based evaluation for prospective teachers, the MPT focused on mathematical content knowledge and pedagogy. The study uses a mixed methods research design to explore the creation, implementation, and cancellation of the MPT. Because of the complexity surrounding the MPT a case study method is used to look at the test within a bounded timeframe. Using a case study model, complex relationships between seven educational accountabilities (bureaucratic/ administrative, legal, market, moral, performance, political, and professional) are analyzed. Through document analysis, surveys, and interviews, the multiple views from connected stakeholders are examined. These include teacher candidates, professors at Faculties of Education, politicians, and others. This study brings a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted issues of implementing a large-scale teacher certification exam. The findings also address the inherent conflicts and overlaps in educational accountabilities. Ultimately, this research contributes to a deeper understanding of the complexity of educational accountability. 


Dr. Courtney Plante 

Letters from Equestria: Fan Communities and Resilience 

“Anime, Star Wars, My Little Pony… Are these trivial hobbies for those with too much idle time, or are they a framework for community-building, social support, and resilience? Let Dr. Courtney Plante, a social psychologist and a fan himself, walk you through the sometimes weird, but endlessly fascinating world of psychological research on fan communities.” 


Dr. Hamsa Gururaj 

Applying a Person-Oriented Approach to Study Workplace Aggression: Implications for Emotional Well-being 

To date, most studies on workplace aggression have focused on the frequency with little or no attention directed toward the severity of these behaviours (Aquino & Tau, 2009; Hershcovis, 2011). Considering both the frequency and severity of aggression and using a person-oriented approach with a broad sample of 200 employees across several sectors, we identified four victim subgroups sharing similar configurations of frequency and severity of aggression: high-high (high levels of frequency and severity; 15%), moderate-moderate (moderate levels of frequency and severity; 15%), high-low (high frequency but low severity; 26.5%), and low-low (lowest levels of frequency and severity; 43%). Further, we examined the relationship between victim groups, social demographics, and victim disposition. The results showed that women, young, and lower-tenured employees are at risk of belonging to the high-high victim group. In addition, employees with high negative affect and psychopathy traits are at risk of belonging to the high-high victim group. Drawing upon learned helplessness theory, we examined whether victim groups differed concerning internalizing problems. Results suggest that high-high group victims experienced the highest anxiety, loss of confidence, and social dysfunction, whereas low-low group members experienced the lowest levels. 


Dr. Jade Savage 

Beyond Surveillance Data: Exploring the Full Potential of the eTick Platform. 

Since the launch of its public interface in the province of Québec in 2017, the eTick web platform has expanded its coverage across Canada and accumulated about fifty thousand georeferenced tick records (and associated images) in its public database. As with most monitoring programs, the scientific value of the eTick surveillance data set increases over time and it has now reached enough maturity to be integrated in various regional and national research initiatives studying the rapidly evolving distribution of ticks in Canada. eTick, however, has more to offer than just a large set of data points updated in real-time. The ever-growing image database can be used for training and developing new identification tools. The platform can also be used to communicate with users and recruit targeted specimens and/or study participants, and, along with the social media branch of the project, to create and disseminate new material for education and prevention. In this presentation we will showcase selected research, training, and service initiatives linked to eTick and explore opportunities for new applications and collaborations. 


Joanne Pattison-Meek 

High School Students’ Perceptions of Student Teachers and the Teaching Practicum 

The teaching practicum is a significant component of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs in preparing student teachers for classroom teaching (Kitchen & Petrarca, 2016). Field experiences presumably offer sound pedagogical learning, so much so that Darling-Hammond and Baratz-Snowden (2005) refer to them as “the most pervasive pedagogy in teacher education” (p. 42). Despite the prevalence of the teaching practicum in ITE programs across the globe, the ways classroom students experience practicum is not a common focus of scholarship. Given that classroom students are implicated in the teaching practicum by virtue of their presence in a student teacher’s classroom, they presumably experience practice teaching in ways that differ from the student teacher, the mentor teacher, and the university/faculty supervisor (Pattison-Meek, 2024). This research talk will share the results of a qualitative study drawing on student group interviews in the province of Quebec. High school students (n=57) were asked to share their perceptions and understandings of the teaching practicum as members of recent courses that had hosted a student teacher. Student participants reported feeling both sympathy and empathy toward their student teachers. Thematically, sympathy describes participants expressed understanding that it is likely challenging for student teachers to fill the role of an experienced teacher. Empathy is a theme that describes students’ feelings of connection to student teachers, based on their perception that they, like them, are also students – and therefore support student teachers’ success because they see themselves reflected as fellow learners. Classroom students also shared that they could play a role in the development of student teachers’ professional learning. 


Dr. Julia Ros Cuellar 

Building Policy Coherence for Food Systems Transformation: the Case of Quebec 

Food systems are relevant in international sustainability discussions due to their dual nature: they are fundamental for survival, and at the same time, one of the major drivers of climate change, land-use change, and biodiversity loss. Therefore, their transformation is imperative (Springmann et al., 2018). This “requires novel approaches for envisaging and realizing radically progressive yet attainable futures” (Valencia et al., 2022) which help to balance out dystopian narratives, and facilitate dialogue and participatory research. An integral transformation of food systems needs to engage with changing the institutional landscape, the sets of norms values, and relations between public, private, and organized society stakeholders, thereby contributing to more coherent arrangements and policies supporting systemic transformation (Häbel & Hakala, 2021). A coherent institutional landscape should engage with a collectively constructed normative baseline, so the policies respond to sustainability challenges, including the ones faced by the stakeholders from the farm to the fork. Hence, we present a research project that aims to identify: 1) challenges presented by the institutional landscape for sustainability transformations in food systems through policy coherence analysis and 2) leverage points for sustainability transitions using participatory scenario-building tools. We propose a novel analytical framework by integrating Geels’ Multilevel Perspective model (MLP, 2011) with participatory scenario building (namely, three horizons framework) and policy coherence for sustainable development (PCSD). MLP allows understanding of the system dynamics of food systems; Three Horizons helps us to build participatory scenarios identifying leverage points and normative sustainable futures and PCSD identifies constraints that farmers face due to a misalignment of policies with sustainable transformation and the. We apply this analytical framework in a case study in Quebec, notable in Canada for its organic food consumption, extensive organic land management, and policies promoting sustainable food systems research and education (Bardati, forthcoming). We seek to contribute to a deeper understanding of systems transformation and pinpoint crucial policy opportunities for food systems transformation 


Dr. Tshidi Thaane 

Mindfulness-Based South African Indigenous Dance as Adjunct Therapy for Anxiety: A Pilot Study  

An increasing number of university students are experiencing anxiety, while resources to help them remain scarce. One of the approaches to ameliorate mental health challenges and to enhance wellbeing, which has not been adequately explored in this population, is dance/movement therapy (DMT). DMT is based on the empirically supported assertion that body and mind are inseparable and in constant reciprocal interaction. DMT employs specific methods and exercises, but it seems that simply learning dance and moving with others in harmony can have positive effects on cardiovascular, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. Thus, we decided to evaluate the effects of learning Indigenous South African Dance (Indlamu), alone or in combination with mindfulness exercises, on anxiety and life satisfaction. We opted to combine dance with mindfulness because of the relatively well-documented benefits of mindfulness on anxiety. We hypothesize that adding mindfulness to dance intervention will have augmented benefits on the alleviation of anxiety compared to dance alone and that both active conditions (dance and dance plus mindfulness) will be superior to the control group on the waitlist. 


Dr. Fabian Clarvijo 

Association of Visuo-Motor and Performance Indicators in Baseball Batters 

Visuo-motor skills (VMS) are critical to successfully execute interceptive motor skills such as baseball batting. Identifying VMS contribution to the execution of baseball skills at the high-performance level provides relevant information to support talent selection and development. However, the association between VMS and batting performance in baseball players remain unclear because of limited evidence and contradictory results. Specifically, some studies have revealed that VMS predict better batting performance in game statistics. Conversely, other set of results revealed that performance in batting task is not affected within certain values of induced visual impairment. Therefore, the aim of this project is to explore the association between a full spectrum of visuo-motor variables and a set of performance indicators of baseball batting. Forty-five highly trained male baseball players aged 17.25 years old on average (SD = 1.0), and 11.15 years of baseball practice on average (SD = 2.4), underwent a thorough battery of generic optometric and visuo-motor tests under standardized conditions. Twenty-two variables of VMS were selected and associated to performance indicators such as game statistics, coaches’ rankings, players’ position, years of practice and age.  Results revealed significant associations in only 27 (8.77 %) of the 308 comparisons between VMS and batting performance variables. In conclusion, this study reinforces the limited relation between VMS evaluated by generic tests and batting performance.  


Dr. Weixiang Yu 

Watching Massive Black Holes Devour with the Most Sensitive Eye on Earth 

For every massive galaxy in our Universe, there is a massive black hole residing at its centre. Instead of remaining dormant, some of these massive black holes can devour matter up to ten times the mass of our Sun each year. The upcoming Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), to be conducted at the Rubin Observatory in Chile, will allow us to observe tens of millions of hungry massive black holes consuming matter over a period of 10 years. Using data from LSST, I will investigate how the appetite of these black holes’ changes with their mass and environment, and examine what insights these correlations can provide into the fundamental laws of physics under extreme gravitational conditions. 


Benjamin Tabah (Master’s Student) 

Death Drama 

Can a theatre production exploring the panhuman themes of death and dying promote understanding, dialogue, and a more open attitude towards end of life? This is a question that I am exploring in a multi-disciplinary individualized masters in humanities using the methodology of artistic practice as research, which involves using the creation of art as a method of generating new knowledge and insights. This presentation will include a staged reading of an excerpt of an early draft of a new play and a short description of the master’s program being pursued.  

Don’t miss the play’s reading by: Dr. Gregory Brophy, Jenn Cianca, Jamie Crooks, Mary Harvey and Benjamin Tabah 


Daniela Villegas Martinez MSc (Class of 2019) 

Beyond the Incubator: My NICU Research Experience 

Thanks to Research Week in 2016, I gained knowledge on how to embark on my journey in the research field. Eight years later, I find myself working at one of Canada’s most prominent pediatric hospitals. Graduating in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Science in Biochemistry, followed by a Master’s degree in Medical Physiology, laid a strong foundation for my current role in conducting research at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, specifically in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). In my presentation, I will elucidate the processes involved in NICU research, including the various types of projects we undertake, our target population, and the significance of our research endeavors in this critical area. Additionally, I would like to share with students interested in research how to gain valuable experience in the field and emphasize the importance of acquiring this experience prior to graduation.