A year in research

 2011 saw a number of exciting stories of research at the University of Prince Edward Island. Here’s a review of the year as it unfolded on the UPEI Research Blog.

We began the year with a story about Dr. Carla Di Giorgio, associate professor of education at UPEI, as she prepared to host the first Research on Tap of the season. Dr. Di Giorgio’s discussion was entitled, Should gifted students receive extra attention?

“There’s a common attitude that gifted children don’t need extra help in school,” said Dr. Carla Di Giorgio. “But gifted students get bored easily if their intelligence isn’t being stimulated. Gifted kids may even drop out or turn off of true learning if their needs aren’t met by school.”

Read the whole story here.

Dr. Mark Fast, Novartis Research Chair in Fish Health at UPEI’s Atlantic Veterinary College, delivered a talk at the UPEI Research Breakfast about how the aquaculture industry has lost one of its most powerful tools in the fight against sea lice. Watch his presentation, Trying to stop sea lice from partying like it’s 1999, here.

Dr. Khym Goslin, assistant professor of education, gave a talk at the same Research Breakfast entitled Taking kids off the assembly line. Watch it here.

In late January, we profiled the work of Dr. Pedro Quijon, associate professor of biology. Dr. Quijon is studying the invasive green crab as it slowly invades the waters around Prince Edward Island. Dr. Quijon discussed the important role that students play in his research.

“It’s a great opportunity for them and a rewarding experience for us as faculty,” he explained. “When I was a student, getting involved in research meant long summers away in the field. These students can do their research at any point on the Island, and still be able to sleep at home in their comfortable beds. It’s a real advantage.”

Read the whole story here.

Dr. Charles Adeyanju is an assistant professor of sociology whose research centres around the use of Tasers, or stun guns, by Canadian police, and how the media portrays that use. Read a profile of him, A stun gun incident becomes a stun gun problem, here.

In February, as the Island learned it would be a honeymoon destination for the Prince William and Kate Middleton, the UPEI Research Blog spoke with professor of history Dr. Ed MacDonald about the long history of royal visits to PEI. Read that conversation here.

Fresh water springs bubble up in location all over eastern PEI, and if you’rea biologist studying the unique ecosystems within those springs, the best time to find them is in the wintertime. This profile of masters student Kyle Knish explains why.

Jessy Livingston-Thomas is a PhD student at the Atlantic Veterinary College. She’s passionate about getting kids excited about studying science and is the UPEI leader of a group called Let’s Talk Science. Read about her work here.

In April, we welcomed Dr. Ian Gardner, UPEI’s new Canada Excellence Research Chair in Aquatic Epidemiology. Read about his arrival here.

Dr. Chris Lacroix, dean of science at UPEI, became the editor of the journal Botany. Read about this exciting new challenge for Dr. Lacroix here.

Dr. Rob Hurta is an associate professor of biology at UPEI. His research looks at the different compounds within berries to see if there are possible anti-cancer agents.

"This research certainly supports the concept of including cranberries in a cancer-prevention or cancer-protection diet," said Dr. Hurta. Read the whole profile, Eating berries to slow cancer, here.

Dr. Katherine Innes-Parker has edited a new translation of meditation passion prayers from the 13th century, originally intended for anchoresses, women who had dedicated their entire lives to living in tiny, austere cells within Catholic churches.

“A passion meditation prayer is one directed to Christ or Mary, and based on the Passion of Christ,” said Dr. Innes-Parker. “That refers to the events surrounding the sufferings and death of Christ. These prayers refer to a romantic, even erotic meditation based on the Song of Songs. They are deeply rooted in the image of Christ as the bridegroom of the soul.”

Read the whole story here.

Dr. William Whelan, UPEI’s Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Optics, has promising new research that shows that cancer cells give off a unique “sound” when reflecting high-frequency light. It’s research that could change the way we find and treat certain kinds of cancer. Read the story here.

At the spring edition of the Research Breakfast, Dr. Jo-Ann Macdonald, assistant professor of nursing, gave a talk on her research in educating teens about sexually transmitted infections. Watch Raising Youth Voices here.

A mysterious disease first detected in England is killing song birds in the Maritimes. Whitney Kelly-Clark, a masters level student at the AVC, is trying to find out why. Read the story, A mysterious song-bird killer, here.
Speaking of mysteries, undergraduate history student Curtis Doyle investigated a mysterious group of people called the Tafurs who history accuses of horrific things during the First Crusade. Read the story, A tale that grew more gruesome with time, here.

Dr. Peter McKenna, professor and chair of political studies, wrote a series of articles in the Charlottetown Guardian regarding his visit to the Canadian Arctic as part of a sovereignty exercise by the military. Read it here.

In the lead-up to this fall’s provincial election on PEI, we spoke with Dr. Don Desserud, UPEI’s new dean of arts, about what he calls the fallacy of fixed-date elections.

In late October, we shared with you an article originally posted at InnovationCanada.ca, which showcases stories of Canadian Innovation funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. Read Johne’s Happens, a profile on the research of Dr. Greg Keefe, here.

Also in October, we celebrated a licensing agreement between UPEI and Atlanta-based biomedical company Carmel Biosciences. Read about the collaboration between our own Dr. Tarek Saleh and Carmel’s Dr. Bobby Khan here.

Dr. Mary McNiven believes the only way to get more omega 3 fatty acids into our diets is by putting it into the food we’re already eating.

“We can hope that people eat two fatty fish meals per week to get their omega-3, as health professionals suggest, but the truth is, they’re not," she said. Dr. McNiven has discovered a sneaky way to get the valuable amino acids into beef. Read about it here.

Dr. Ye (George) Jia, assistant professor of economics, led the discussion at December’s Research on Tap. Read here about why he doesn’t believe government subsidy of innovation and entrepreneurs is a wise investment.

December, Dr. Fred Kibenge, professor of virology at AVC, was invited to testify before the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River. Results this fall from his lab which indicated the possible existence of ISA virus in BC salmon caused an explosion in the aquaculture world and in the media. Read about it here.