Happy Holidays from the Office of Research Development

From everyone at UPEI’s Office of Research Development, have a great holiday season. And while you sip eggnog and cut another chunk off the cheese ball, why not read some of these highlights from the ORD Blog…

In July, we told you about Dr. Steven Casper, UPEI’s 2009 Fulbright Chair in Biomedical Sciences. Casper mapped the social networks within PEI’s emerging bioscience cluster, and compared it to other clusters around the world. Read a bit about his research in this post, and watch his entire lecture here.

In August, the ORD Blog wrote about the research of Dr. Greg Keefe at AVC. Keefe is the director of Maritime Quality Milk, and one of UPEI’s two Innovation PEI Industry Research Chairs. Keefe’s lab has developed a low-cost, easy-to-use kit for dairy farmers to help them decide whether to treat infections with antibiotics. Read more here, and here.

Also in August, we told you about the work of Dr. Michael van den Heuvel, Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity, and Dr. Natacha Hogan, assistant professor of Biology, in northern Alberta. They’re studying fish living in artificial lakes created to remediate waste from major oil sands projects. Read about their research here.

When Hogan isn’t working on her fish project in Alberta, she’s studying frogs on PEI. Her lab recently acquired a stock of Nigerian frogs. Read about how she’s using this exotic species to understand an Island problem. She also worked this summer with Dr. Maria Forzan, a wildlife pathologist with the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, Atlantic Region (CCWHC), to find evidence of a frog-killing fungus on the Island. Read about that work here.

Green frogGreen frog

In September, we brought you the story of Dr. Kat e Tilleczek, Canada Research Chair in Child/Youth Cultures and Transitions. She’s finishing a three-year study for the Ontario Ministry of Education about the often difficult jump students experience between elementary and high school. Read about her research in this post.

Dr. Ed MacDonald, acting Chair of the Department of History, told us a bit about the history of tourism on the Island in this post. MacDonald will lead the discussion in the January edition of Research on Tap. See you at Mavor’s on Tuesday, January 12, at 7 p.m. Come back for more details as we get closer to the day.

1960s tourism promotion1960s tourism promotion

In October, we learned more about Dr. Russell Kerr’s research. Kerr is Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products and Innovation PEI Industry Research Chair. His lab has developed a technique to extract and produce a compound useful in cosemeceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Read about his work, with and without scuba gear, here.

We learned more of Dr. Laurie McDuffee’s research in October, too. McDuffee is an equine surgeon, associate professor, and researcher at the Atlantic Veterinary College. Her most recent work is on the regeneration of bone tissue in horses. Read more here.

Bone sccan, note simulated fractureBone sccan, note simulated fracture

Dr. Fiona Walton told us in November about a research symposium in Iqaluit, Nunavut. It was a chance for the 21 graduates of the first ever master’s-level program offered in Nunavut to share their knowledge. Read more here.

Maggie Kuniliusie: Master of EducationMaggie Kuniliusie: Master of Education

Also in November, we told you about Dr. Crawford Revie’s research. He’s Canada Research Chair in Population Health: Epi-informatics. Revie has been compiling massive amounts of data about the health of salmon in aquaculture settings around the world, and is mining it for evidence and trends of emerging disease. Read more here.

These are just some of the highlights from the past six months of the ORD Blog. Come back in the New Year and we’ll have a fresh batch prepared.

UPEI researchers in the news, part seven

This week: biodegradable plastics, a wealth of tourism data, and a surprising number of older women in women’s shelters.

Flip open the November/December edition of Atlantic Business Monthly and you’ll find a feature called “Research that Rocks.” One of the researchers highlighted is Dr. Michael Shaver, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at UPEI. Shaver is working on a new polymer that will replace conventional, oil-based plastics. His is plant-based, and completely biodegradable. It also has immediate uses in medical applications for time-released drug delivery.

“It’s an entirely natural compound,” says Shaver in the article. “There are no bad sides to its use.”

Read more in the November/December issue of Atlantic Business Monthly, or online.

The Charlottetown Guardian wrote this week about the wealth of information UPEI’s Tourism Research Centre is providing the tourism industry. Since 2006, the Centre has released the findings exit surveys of visitors to PEI. Director Dr. Sean Hennessey says the data has disproved several myths, one of which being that a full fifth of visitors to PEI are from the United States. The reality is that less than a tenth come from south of the border..

“I think one of the most important findings is the mix of the visitors we actually get,” says Hennessey in the article. “And if you don’t realize that 65 per cent of your market is coming from your two closest neighbours, you’re going to spend money in a lot of ways.”

Read the full article here.

CBC Radio in Charlottetown profiled the research of UPEI Master of Applied Health Services Research student Kristal LeBlanc on older women in women’s shelters. Leblanc noted that most campaigns aimed at women in abusive relationships target younger women, but she found a full third of women in shelters in Atlantic Canada are middle-aged or older. She also found that many of the women find the shelter environment to be stressful.

"They don't have children in their homes anymore," she said. "For them to be in a crisis situation, and they come to a shelter where there might be a lot of children running around, it can be quite stressful for them."

Read the full article here. Leblanc’s research supervisor is Dr. Lori Weeks, Associate Professor of Family and Nutritional Sciences.

Photo: Dr. Sean Hennessey in the Guardian.

Ideas that flow: Research on Tap

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A theologian walks into a bar…

…and leads a public discussion with more than 70 people about faith, God, and the new atheism. Dr. Joe Velaidum, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and Director of the Centre for Christianity and Culture, was this theologian, but the evening was no joke. It was the launch of Research on Tap: a series of public discussions with UPEI researchers.

Velaidum spoke for about 15 minutes, laying out what he sees as the main flaws in the new atheism (explained more fully in this post). He then yielded the floor to the crowd, who questioned and challenged him for the next 35 minutes (highlights included some pointed questions from a certain Assistant Professor of Chemistry about Velaidum’s assertion that science requires faith, and a spirited side-debate about the origin of the term “fundamental Christian”) before breaking up into smaller debates over drinks.

Join us every month of the winter for more Research on Tap.

Dr. VelaidumDr. Velaidum

Tuesday, January 12, 7 pm: “Package Deals: Exploring the History of Tourism on PEI,” with Dr. Ed MacDonald, Acting Chair of the Department of History, UPEI

Tuesday, February 9, 7pm: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a discussion about relationships, trust, and revenge with Dr. Stacey L. MacKinnon, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, UPEI

March and April: speakers TBA (All events at Mavor’s)