Research for Thriving Communities

Office of Research Services

Annual Report 2018/19

Local impact, global impact

When I came to Ontario in 2004, Laurier had a reputation as a strong undergraduate teaching institution – but its research program, though of high quality, was small. Since then, I have watched Laurier research grow dramatically in scope, output and influence. As Laurier’s new vice-president of research, I am proud to be helping lead that continued growth.

Even as Laurier research has increased its global impact and prestige, much of it remains rooted in local communities and considers the needs of all community members, whether traditional knowledge holders in Canada’s North, women migrant workers from the global south, or urban office workers. The 2018/19 Office of Research Services Annual Report has a special focus on research carried out with partners ranging from grassroots community groups to major international organizations. These stories are examples of how community-engaged research can result in concrete, positive change.

As I learn more about the work of our faculty, students, postdoctoral fellows and research staff, I am ever more impressed by their vision and hard work. This report is a celebration of their accomplishments.

Jonathan Newman
Vice-President: Research

Research Highlights

$15.4 million in new external research funding

332 externally funded projects

10 Canada Research Chairs

14 donor-sponsored chairs, professors and fellows

552 full-time faculty

25 research centres and institutes

9% overall increase in external research funding over 2017/18

11% increase in Tri-Council funding over 2017/18

52% increase in provincial/territorial funding over 2017/18

86% success in NSERC Discovery competition

74% success in SSHRC Insight competition

100% in SSHRC Partnership Development competition

69% success in SSHRC Insight Development competition

Community-
Engaged Research

At Laurier, much of our research is deeply embedded in communities.

By partnering with university researchers, community groups can gain answers to the questions most relevant to them and help design research to ensure its fairness, accessibility and usability. By partnering with community groups, university researchers can gain genuine understanding of the people and issues they are researching and ensure their work has real-world impact.

Laurier has long excelled in community-based research in a range of disciplines. In 2018/19, a number of Laurier-led projects brought benefits to a diverse range of communities across Canada and around the world.

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The human side of green buildings

New buildings are often opened with fanfare about their sustainability features – but fail to fully live up to their green targets once occupied. Manuel Riemer (Psychology) and his partners have received more than $1.3 million in federal, provincial and regional funding to research the human factors related to that performance gap.

The five-year project is spearheaded by the Viessmann Centre for Engagement and Research in Sustainability and is based out of EvolvGreen, the sustainability-focused innovation hub within a net-positive office building. Multiple sensors track environmental indicators and behaviour, while mixed research methods are being used to provide insight into occupants’ experiences and the development of a culture of sustainability.

Helping prevent post-traumatic stress injuries

Police officers often respond to situations of violence, crisis and grief. As a result, 40 per cent of Canadian public safety personnel have experienced post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). Eliana Barrios Suarez and Ginette Lafrenière (Social Work) are leading a study that aims to reduce the risks of PTSI in police forces.

With funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and conducted with a community advisory committee, the study, “Serving and Surviving: Roads to Resilience in Policing,” investigates what makes some people more resilient than others. Partners include a number of Ontario police services and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

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Helping principals create inclusive schools

School principals play an important role in special education by helping arrange supports and resources for students and teachers, liaising with parents and professionals, and setting the tone for inclusive school environments. However, Steve Sider (Education) has found many principals feel they need more support and training regarding their role in special education.

With funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and in partnership with the Ontario Principals' Council, Sider led the development of “choose your own adventure” interactive case studies to help principals learn how to deal with complex situations and foster inclusive schools.

Community music for wellness

Music feeds the soul – and it’s increasingly recognized as good for the body and brain too. Lee Willingham (Music), director of the Laurier Centre for Music in the Community, is a pioneer of community music who helped start groundbreaking master- and bachelor-level community music programs at Laurier.

One of Willingham’s latest projects, with alumna Laurie Sadowski, is working with the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada’s Niagara Peninsula chapter to develop an arts-based engagement strategy for people living with MS and launch a pilot project focused on songwriting. He also led a SSHRC-funded conference on music and aging, held at Laurier in November 2018.

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Advocating for families of children with autism

Janet Mclaughlin was already a successful Health Studies researcher when something happened to expand her focus from migrant workers to children with autism and their families: her son was diagnosed with autism. With Margaret Schneider (Kinesiology and Physical Education), she formed the Laurier Autism Research Consortium (LARC) in 2019.

LARC’s first report, which drew on a survey of 700 Ontario families, found the pressures of insufficient autism services were putting families under severe stress – a finding much cited in the media. After gaining prominence for her research and public advocacy, McLaughlin was appointed to the Ontario government’s autism advisory panel, which released comprehensive recommendations to revamp autism services.

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Fostering multilingualism

John W. Schwieter (Languages and Literatures), an expert on language acquisition and multilingualism, is a professor of Spanish and linguistics. In partnership with municipal and regional governments, the Waterloo Region District School Board and other researchers, he is investigating several facets of multilingualism.

Schwieter’s work investigates topics including the dynamics of multilingualism in immersion and non-immersion settings; the links between bilingualism, cognition and well-being; and multilingualism and identity. In 2019, he received SSHRC funding to launch Bilingualism Matters @ Laurier, the first Canadian branch of Bilingualism Matters, an international network of research and service centres dedicated to bilingualism and language learning.

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Helping feed the North

Andrew Spring (Research Associate, Northern Canada Knowledge Networks) focuses much of his work on food security in the Northwest Territories, working closely with a number of communities on projects aimed at safeguarding and adapting traditional food systems and knowledge in the face of climate change.

In the tiny community of Kakisa, projects have included an online atlas, a community garden, composting and on-the-land camps to share knowledge and skills between elders and youth. With several communities, Spring is now working toward larger-scale northern agricultural projects and on helping implement culturally appropriate food and agriculture strategies.

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Bringing water research to the public

Since water is vital to all, Laurier researchers are sharing their water knowledge with a variety of communities. A number of outreach projects received external funding in 2018/19.

AquaSONG, led by Faculty of Science staff member Gena Braun, with Scott Smith (Chemistry and Biochemistry) as faculty advisor, offers hands-on water science experiences to high school students. The program secured operating funding until 2021 as well as additional funding to bring a hands-on activity to families as part of the inaugural Science Odyssey event on Laurier’s Waterloo campus.

Both scientists and Indigenous communities can benefit from sharing on-the-land experiences and engaging in two-way dialogue about the land and water. Jennifer Baltzer (Biology) and Andrew Spring (Geography and Environmental Studies) are leading or co-leading two such initiatives in the Northwest Territories: the youth-focused Northern Research Leadership camp and the community-focused Water Knowledge camps.

The Mama aki-mother earth camp, co-led by Laurier’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives and Faculty of Science, particularly Frédérique Guinel (Biology), also received funding to explore a range of science topics including water ecosystems with Indigenous youth in Ontario.

Toward a Sustainable Water Future

The way one river can run through a range of landscapes, so does water as a theme that unites Laurier researchers from a variety of disciplines. The Laurier Institute for Water Science includes experts on rivers, beaches, algae, permafrost, water vapour, fish, policy and more. Laurier water researchers collaborate on many national and international projects, including leading the Northern Water Futures project, which addresses the impacts of climate change and industrial expansion on shared water resources across the Northwest Territories.

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Building new wetlands

Kevin Stevens (Biology) likes to get his hands wet. One of his ongoing projects, with Biology colleague Mihai Costea, focuses on conserving at-risk wetland species including scarlet ammannia and Virginia mallow. Another project, with Robin Slawson (Biology), involves constructing entirely new wetlands.

Putting wetlands in subdivisions can add beauty, economic value and recreational opportunities to suburbs. These wetlands can also help with water treatment, flood control, soil stabilization, groundwater recharging and carbon sequestration. In partnership with engineering firm Crozier and Associates, Stevens and his colleagues are working to monitor and optimize stormwater management pond functionality through targeted vegetation plantings.

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Recovering chemicals from wastewater

Sewage may be dirty but Scott Smith (Chemistry and Biochemistry) sees the potential in it. With funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), he is working with industrial partners to recover phosphorus and iron from wastewater.

Phosphorus is an important component of fertilizer and iron is often used in water treatment processes. If these chemicals were recovered from wastewater, not only could they be reused, wastewater plants would release cleaner water that would not contribute to harmful algae blooms. The processes Smith is developing are part of a larger vision to upgrade aging water treatment facilities.

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Decolonizing water stewardship

Alex Latta (Global Studies) has been investigating water politics and policy for years, particularly in relation to Indigenous rights. His current research activities are focused in the Northwest Territories.

Latta’s recent SSHRC-funded work on the Northwest Territories Water Stewardship Strategy has led to subsequent community-based research on fisheries, Indigenous Guardians programming and protected areas. His research has found that despite progressive developments, barriers still prevent Indigenous governments from exercising environmental management authority over their traditional territories. He is now working on a SSHRC-funded project with Miguel Sioui (Geography and Environmental Studies) to support Indigenous peoples in advancing best practices for their roles as stewards of land and water.

Moving Forward

The International Migration Research Centre (IMRC) is one of the 25 research centres headquartered at Laurier. In 2018, it celebrated 10 years of exceptional growth.

The IMRC researches issues related to migration, such as labour, borders, detention and settlement – work intertwined with advocating for migrants’ rights.

In 2018/19, IMRC-affiliated faculty and graduate students won an unprecedented number of grants and awards and hosted many influential guests, including Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, and Jean-Nicolas Beuze, the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canada.

As a leading research centre on migration in Canada, IMRC researchers can point to concrete ways their work has influenced policy and practice at all levels.

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Influencing Canada and the United Nations 

Jenna Hennebry (International Policy and Governance) works with the United Nations (UN) on issues related to gender and migration. As a representative of the IMRC, which was granted UN accreditation to participate in the process that led to the signing of the Global Compact for Migration in December 2018, Hennebry participated in the consultation and negotiations, addressing the UN General Assembly on labour rights and social protections for migrant workers.

Hennebry’s work contributed to Canada’s push to consider gender throughout the Compact, which ended up having more than 20 references to gender and a standalone guiding principle on gender responsiveness.

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Making communities more welcoming

Kim Rygiel (Political Science), associate director of the IMRC, investigates what makes some communities more open to newcomers than others. In 2018, she and her research partners published an international report focused on the role of the arts in fostering cultural pluralism.

Rygiel, winner of Laurier’s Faculty Award for Service Excellence and Community Engagement, puts her research into practice for her students and the local community. In her social advocacy classes in Laurier's Master of Applied Politics program, she uses Community Service-Learning (CSL) projects to give her students hands-on experience working with local immigrant-serving organizations. She has also brought the arts to IMRC conferences, inviting the public into what are normally academic spaces.

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Helping refugees

Abdelfettah Elkchirid (Social Work) works to improve refugees’ lives through research, social work practice and volunteering in the community. In 2018, he was presented with an Award of Distinction by World Refugee Day of Waterloo Region.

Elkchirid’s research focuses on cross-cultural and international social work practice and social work practice with survivors of trauma and torture. He developed and co-leads a men’s support group for Syrian refugees and is developing a guide for implementing such groups. He is a volunteer board member for Muslim Social Services of Kitchener-Waterloo and has worked with many other organizations including Reception House Waterloo Region.

World-Leading Researchers

Laurier is currently home to 10 Canada Research Chairs. Recipients of these prestigious awards are leaders or emerging leaders in their fields and national investment in their research is expected to lead to major advances. Dozens of other faculty members hold donor-funded or internal awards in recognition of their excellence in research.

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Rethinking extinctions

Audra Mitchell (Political Science) was newly appointed as the Canada Research Chair in Global Political Ecology (Tier 2). Her research rethinks assumptions about global patterns of plant and animal extinctions, reframing them as direct results of colonialism, extractive capitalism, environmental racism and other systemic issues.

In reframing extinctions and species endangerment as political as well as ecological, Mitchell is collaborating with Indigenous researchers, knowledge keepers and community leaders on the concurrent goals of dismantling structural violence and combatting plant and animal extinctions.

Understanding multilevel governmental systems

Jörg Broschek (Political Science) had his Canada Research Chair in Comparative Federalism and Multilevel Governance (Tier 2) renewed for another five years. His research compares federal systems and multilevel governance in Europe, North America and Australia with the objective of understanding how unilateralism or cooperation between different tiers of government can affect the effectiveness and legitimacy of politics and democracy.

One of Broschek’s major projects examines how federal states engage in and negotiate multinational trade agreements. By comparatively examining internal and external trade policy, he investigates the patterns and causes of trade policy changes and evaluates the effects of sub-federal involvement in trade policy governance.

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Mathematical modelling for the real world

Roderick Melnik (Mathematics) had his Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Modelling (Tier 1) renewed for another seven years. Melnik’s work supports the understanding of complex physical, biological and social systems and can be applied to multiple areas of science including biomedicine, nanotechnology, environmental technologies and finance.

A highly productive and renowned researcher, Melnik published more than 90 papers in peer-reviewed journals during his previous seven-year Canada Research Chair term. He serves on the editorial board of multiple international journals and reviews papers for more than 40 journals. He collaborates frequently with industry and government as well as with other academics.

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Connecting migration and food security

Jonathan Crush (International Policy and Governance) is an internationally renowned scholar on migration and food security, particularly in relation to Africa. He was named Laurier’s University Research Professor for 2018/19 in recognition of his continuous record of outstanding research achievement. He is widely published and highly cited and his work has informed policy at the highest levels.

Much of Crush’s research examines the nexus of migration, urbanization and food security in the global south. Also devoted to training the next generation of researchers, he secured funding through the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program to provide international opportunities for emerging scholars from Canada and the global south.

Exceptional Early-Career Researchers

For the second year, Laurier recognized faculty members of outstanding potential through its Laurier Early Career Researcher Awards.

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Combatting low-back pain

Diane Gregory (Health Sciences; Kinesiology and Physical Education) is working to eliminate or at least significantly reduce low-back pain. In her tissue lab, where she examines backs from the cellular level to the spine level, and in her in-vivo lab, where she researches the whole-body effects of movements, she has been making an impact through her research and her training of students.

Gregory’s major NSERC-funded project examines the form and function of the intervertebral disc and how it becomes damaged, both through physical stress and through age-related degeneration. She has previously received prestigious awards including an Ontario Early Researcher Award and a Polanyi Prize.

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Making exercise more efficient

Tom Hazell (Kinesiology and Physical Education) is researching how to optimize workouts so they suppress appetite, allowing people to lose weight. His major NSERC-funded project examines both exercise intensity and sex hormones, because exercise without dietary intervention is less effective in reducing body fat in women than in men.

Previously, Hazell found that high-intensity interval training induced fat loss in both men and women but was more effective in men. His current research aims to improve understanding of the specific mechanisms responsible for appetite regulation, including sex hormones and their variance during menstrual cycles, as well as exercise intensity.

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Health and well-being in racialized communities

Ciann Wilson (Psychology) is a community psychology researcher who focuses on the health and well-being of Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. Her research includes work on HIV-AIDS in Black and Indigenous communities in Canada, mixed Black-Indigenous community identity and the use of arts-based and digital media in community research.

With Canada Foundation for Innovation funding, she is establishing an arts and digital media research lab connected to the Laurier Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action (CCRLA), the research centre she co-directs. The state-of-the-art space will be equipped to facilitate art and digital-media research with communities.

Next-Generation Researchers

Laurier students demonstrate they’re tomorrow’s research leaders.

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Addressing gender-based violence in LGBTQ communities

Ellis Furman, a community psychology doctoral student who was awarded a prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in 2019, has long known members of LGBTQ communities are as likely to be victims of gender-based violence as people who are straight and cisgender – if not more likely. However, they noticed many of the resources available to victims of violence, ranging from information to shelters, are geared toward people who are straight and identify with the gender assigned at birth. Under the supervision of Ciann Wilson, Furman is examining this issue and community-informed ways to change it.

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Studying climate change in Canada’s North

Tim Ensom and Geoffrey Kershaw, both geography doctoral students, won prestigious W. Garfield Weston Awards for Northern Research in 2018.

Ensom, whose supervisors are Laurier’s Philip Marsh and Steve Kokelj of the Northwest Territories Geological Survey, studies small streams in the western Canadian Arctic. He is working to understand how temperature patterns and winter flow are changing in these streams in response to climate change.

Kershaw, whose supervisor is William Quinton, studies the hydrology of a mountain area in the western Northwest Territories. He has found that different patterns of sun, shade, altitude and terrain make mountainous regions especially vulnerable to climate change and permafrost thaw.

First doctoral grads

In 2018, Katie Psutka and Brianne Redquest became the first Laurier students to graduate with PhDs in Biological and Chemical Sciences and Kinesiology respectively.

Psutka, who held NSERC funding and was supervised by Ken Maly, researched liquid crystals – specifically, organic ones that could hold a charge at room temperature. Future researchers could apply her findings to improve devices such as solar cells and LEDs.

Redquest, who was supervised by Pam Bryden and Paula Fletcher, researched the non-social effects of autism, including motor deficits, sleep problems and other health challenges. She also co-organized a physical activity program for children with disabilities.

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Research Excellence

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World-leading international marketing research

Nicole Coviello (Marketing) has been recognized multiple times for her influence as a scholar of international marketing. In 2018, four of her papers appeared in a list of the top 25 most influential international marketing articles published between 1995 and 2015 – two of them in the top five. She was the only scholar to have more than two papers on the list.

As research director of the Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises, Coviello coordinates numerous projects to build insights for high-growth tech firms. This research involves participants in the Lazaridis Institute’s flagship ScaleUp Program as well as technology companies across Canada and beyond.

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Understanding fish digestion

Jonathan Mark Wilson (Biology) is an expert on fish physiology. In 2019, he was awarded an NSERC DiscoveryGrant with an Accelerator Supplement for research into understanding the significance of stomach acidification in fishes.

Curiously, a quarter of fish species have “lost” their stomachs and the ability to secrete acid, which is paradoxical given the advantages of stomachs for digestion. Wilson’s research on fishes with and without stomachs will lead to a better understanding of the stomach’s role in digestion. His work will improve our understanding of gene loss in evolution and lead to improvements in feed formulations for farmed fish

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The roots of the radical right

Darren Mulloy (History) has long been interested in radical groups both of the left and right. In his book, Enemies of the State: The Radical Right in America from FDR to Trump, he makes the case that ideas from fringe elements of the right have moved into the mainstream of the Republican Party.

The book, which traces the origins of the radical right from the 1930s to today, examines how big money funded extreme right-wing groups and made them influential. Choice magazine, which is affiliated with the American Library Association, named Mulloy’s book an outstanding academic title of 2018.

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Optimizing peer support and promoting well-being

Peer support is based on the idea that people who have lived through experiences such as mental health challenges and addictions are uniquely positioned to help others recover. While peer support has existed informally throughout history, it is increasingly being formalized and studied. Simon Coulombe (Psychology) is emerging as a leader in this relatively new area of research.

With funding from Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Coulombe is studying the impacts of peer support programs on occupational recovery for people with mental health and addictions challenges in the workplace. Separately, he also received funding for a project to study the experiences of LGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees in Waterloo Region.

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Understanding how pedestrians avoid collisions

Though adults may walk through a crowded or cluttered environment without apparent difficultly, navigating safely through static and moving objects is a complex skill. Michael Cinelli (Kinesiology and Physical Education) received an NSERC Discovery Grant to research how people avoid colliding with other people and the factors that affect those avoidance behaviours.

Cinelli’s work could be applied to health care, for example to initiatives helping people walk safely as they age, and to developing robots that can safely navigate unfamiliar environments. It could also be used to improve crowd simulation models used in industries such as film, security and architecture.

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African refugee youth and postsecondary education

Compared to other immigrant groups in Canada, African refugee youth are less likely to enter postsecondary education. Stacey Wilson-Forsberg (Human Rights and Human Diversity) is working to find out why.

With colleagues including Laurier co-investigators Edward Shizha and Oliver Masakure, Wilson-Forsberg received a SSHRC Insight Grant to research the experiences of students with African refugee backgrounds and the supports provided by high school guidance counsellors in six provinces. The project aims to identify whether Canadian high schools are up to the task of helping these students make informed decisions about postsecondary education. Ultimately, the project aims to help schools better meet students’ needs.

Mentorship

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A day in the life of a proud graduate student supervisor

Thursday, January 24, 2019. This was not going to be just another day at the office. One of my MSc students, James Telford, was defending. The day was long coming. James didn’t exactly speed through his program. To his credit, however, he took full advantage of many opportunities to have excellent experiences, some of them life-changing, especially in his field location – the Marian River Watershed in the Northwest Territories.

At about 12:30 p.m., I checked in on James in the lab, just to see how he was doing (and to provide a bit of a pep talk as I often do before the big event). Shortly before 2 p.m., I arrived at the seminar room in our department where the defence was being held. There was James, working away at editing his Conclusions slide moments before the defence was to begin. Our students are all different – but isn’t that, in part, what makes our jobs so interesting and rewarding?

The defence did not disappoint. James, from day one, “owned” his project. He gave a terrific presentation. I smiled often during the question period – proud of his accomplishments and his ability to go toe-to-toe with his committee members. All of those years of mentoring had clearly paid off.

That evening, my wife Sheryl and I hosted a celebration potluck dinner at our place. By tradition in our research group, the last rite of passage for the defending student is to provide commentary to a cake decorated in their honour. In James’ case, the cake was designed to reflect the meandering journey (a.k.a. the “Marian River”) he had embarked on. After James successfully completed his impromptu narrative, he exclaimed, “This is my life!” Sheryl and I knew then that we had hit the mark.

Brent Wolfe, PhD

Professor, Associate Dean, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and Assistant Cake Decorator

New Faces of Laurier

Laurier is constantly being invigorated with the fresh ideas and energy not only of its students, but of its faculty.

Meet some of Laurier’s newest faculty members who are making an impact through their research.

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Understanding video evidence in police-involved shootings

With the ubiquity of smartphones and surveillance cameras, video evidence is increasingly available when police are involved in shootings. Trial outcomes, however, have differed greatly. Patrick Watson (Criminology) received a SSHRC Insight Grant to examine the role of videos in eight North American police shooting cases that resulted in convictions, acquittals and hung juries.

In addition to examining court transcripts, Watson and his team will conduct interviews with lawyers and expert witnesses involved in the eight cases. The findings will lead to a better understanding of how to interpret both video evidence and the testimony of use-of-force experts. The ultimate result will be fairer trials.

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The Gahu Project

Music isn’t just joyful – it can bring people together and inspire cultural understanding. That’s the premise behind a high school initiative being researched by Deanna Yerichuk (Music) that explores racial justice through Gahu, a Ghanaian social tradition that combines singing, drumming and dancing.

In partnership with the Waterloo Region District School Board, Yerichuk received a SSHRC grant to engage in arts-based participatory research with racialized students who documented the workshops, performances and discussions of the Gahu Project. The aim is to create academic scholarship, curriculum materials and policy recommendations that identify the challenges and possibilities for music and racial justice to create more inclusive high school climates.

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Exiting homelessness

When people have experienced homelessness, their challenges don’t necessarily end when they gain a roof above their heads. Erin Dej (Criminology) is researching the process of exiting homelessness for one of the fastest-growing but least-studied groups of unhoused people: young women.

According to Dej’s preliminary research, young women exiting homelessness often encounter loneliness and social and economic marginalization, which can affect their well-being and ability to maintain housing. With the input of young women who have recently experienced homelessness, Dej’s SSHRC-funded research will identify necessary structural and systemic shifts, as well as effective social inclusion programs and policies to help young women remain stably housed.

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Understanding trans people’s experiences

Laurier researchers have already made significant contributions to understanding the experiences of trans people in Ontario and Waterloo Region – namely that they suffer disproportionately from violence, victimization and discrimination. Todd Coleman (Health Sciences) is working on bringing more nuance and detail to the picture.

Coleman’s SSHRC-funded project, in partnership with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, is a qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with trans people and service providers. It aims to document and understand the harms trans people suffer in Waterloo Region as well as how they develop resiliency. It also aims to identify solutions to reduce trans discrimination and its effects.

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Bringing Indigenous knowledge to the fore

Indigenous communities are experts on their land. Miguel Sioui (Geography and Environmental Studies) is helping bridge the gap between Indigenous knowledge and the knowledge of western-trained scientists.

Sioui, an expert on Indigenous knowledge and environmental management, has worked with communities from Mexico to the Northwest Territories to understand their land and water management strategies. He also examines effective ways for Indigenous communities and western scientists to collaborate. With multiple community and academic partners, he is currently working on projects focusing on permafrost in the Northwest Territories, water monitoring in northern Ontario and resource co-management in northern Quebec.

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The positive sides of spinout companies

Employers tend not to like it when their employees leave to start their own companies that may compete with them. But Sepideh Yeganegi (Policy) says employee spinout companies outperform other startups and can have positive effects not only on the economy as a whole but – under the right circumstances – even their parent companies.

Yeganegi’s SSHRC-funded research explores the factors that help parent companies benefit from their spinouts instead of being hurt by them. She hypothesizes that parent firm hostility toward spinouts creates a lose-lose situation, while policies that encourage spinouts attract talent, capital and wealth to a region.

View from an alumnus

Applying research skills to building healthy organizations.

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When I entered my MSc, I didn’t have any intention of doing a PhD. Within the first couple of months, however, I was hooked on research. I’ve always enjoyed asking the big questions – why, how, and when – and my master’s was the first time I’d really been able to dig deeply into those questions. Pair that with an incredible supervisor in Associate Professor Laurie Barclay, and it seemed like everything aligned perfectly for me to stay at Laurier for a PhD.

Today, I am the director of research at Plasticity Labs and the HERO Generation. Plasticity Labs is a data-driven consulting company that helps organizations build happy, healthy and high-performing cultures. The HERO Generation is focused on education, operating at the ground level in schools to help develop happy and healthy students through a social-emotional learning framework.

In my work, I use what I learned at Laurier daily. Data is a core element of our consulting work, and being able to guarantee the reliability and validity in our data is a central consideration to our business. Every day, I use my skills by designing research projects and surveys, analyzing and visualizing the data to create stories, and communicating that data to leadership and executive teams across the country. Without my time at Laurier, I can safely say that I wouldn’t have the necessary skills to confidently execute on every step of that process.

Even now, I touch base regularly with my supervisor Laurie – I credit her massively for where I am now. I also try to attend my graduate program’s annual hot dog roast. I still consider myself a part of that family.

Dave Whiteside holds an MSc (’09) and PhD (’15) in Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Management.