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The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has announced that chemistry professor, Dr. Nicoletta Faraone, has been awarded $251,030 through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) toward a $696,240 project to create a Tick Chemosensory System Station at Acadia University. This critical infrastructure funding has been matched by Research Nova Scotia ($251,030) to support innovative research into repellent products that protect Canadians from tick bites and tick-borne diseases.

Ticks vector the widest array of disease-causing organisms of all hematophagous arthropods and can transmit disease agents of importance to human and veterinary health. The spread of blacklegged ticks (I. scapularis), and high incidence of Lyme disease cases reported in the past 5 years, has dramatically raised public awareness. This is a particular problem in Atlantic Canada, as provinces such as Nova Scotia have the highest ratio of ticks to people in the country.

The Tick Chemosensory System Station supports Dr. Faraone’s goal of exposing the dynamics behind human/animal-tick interactions by linking the neurophysiological response elicited by chemical cues with the corresponding induced and observed behaviour in ticks. The equipment will also optimize and channel information about mechanisms of chemical cue perception in ticks into the development of innovative technologies and formulations to prevent tick bites and thus infections in humans and animals.

Dr Faraone’s award is part of a $64 million investment by Ottawa to support research infrastructure projects at 40 universities across the country. The JELF program helps universities such as Acadia recruit and retain outstanding researchers, and provides the state-of-the-art labs, equipment and facilities that are needed to educate students, train HQP, and make discoveries that will have an impact on Canadians.

Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne notes that the JELF Fund strengthens the country’s “leadership and competitive advantage,” and that is certainly true for Acadia. “The university is grateful for this program of equipment and infrastructure support,” notes Acadia’s Associate Vice-President of Research Dr. Anna Redden, “the JELF Fund has been critical for research innovation and training, and for Acadia’s research impact at regional, national and international levels.”

 

 

Professor Jonathon Fowles of Acadia’s School of Kinesiology has been honoured with the 2022 Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) Global Leadership Award. This prestigious award is given to a American College of Sports Medicine Member with a proven history of advancing the EIM initiative through their professional endeavors.

Dr. Fowles has “demonstrated tremendous leadership in transforming EIM Canada into one of the most prominent programs in the EIM Global Network, building a flourishing EIM On Campus program with 27 institutions,” notes Robyn M Stuhr, EIM’s vice-president, and “he has received numerous rounds of funding to support the development and evaluation of physical activity training programs for physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals and published multiple papers on those efforts.”

The vision of EIM is to make physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in clinical care, connecting health care with evidence-based physical activity resources for people everywhere of all abilities. The scientifically proven benefits of physical activity remain indisputable, and they can be as powerful as any pharmaceutical agent in preventing and treating a range of chronic diseases and medical conditions. Dr. Fowles was the Scientific Lead for a provincial Exercise is Medicine pilot in Nova Scotia, which has resulted in several initiatives to improve medical education, physical activity counseling,  and exercise programming and referral in the province.

Dr. Fowles, who is finishing his term as National Chair with EIM Canada after 6 years at the helm, will be formally recognized at the EIM World Congress in San Diego California in June 2022.

 

Acadia top three in Canada, first in Atlantic region for corporate research income

In the Top 50 Canadian Research University roundup, Acadia had impressive results

Acadia leads all primarily undergraduate universities from Atlantic Canada for corporate research income in fiscal year 2020.

According to financial data posted to the Canadian Association of University Business Officers website, Acadia attracted almost $1.8 million from industry and private sector partners.

Performance rankings  were released on Jan. 25 by Research Infosource as part of its yearly roundup of the Top 50 Research Universities in Canada.

Among primarily undergraduate universities in Canada, Acadia placed third for corporate research income as a percentage (27.5%) of overall research income, and has been in the top five in this category for the past three years. The University also moved up to fifth place in the corporate research income growth category, with an impressive 38.5 percent gain.

"We are proud to be Atlantic Canada's leading undergraduate university for corporate research income," says Dr. Anna Redden, Associate Vice-President, Research. "Our exceptional faculty and students work closely with our Office of Industry and Community Engagement to deliver impactful results within our region, throughout Canada, and around the world."

Acadia excels in applied research and celebrates strong collaborations with industry and community partners, government agencies, and other stakeholders, explains Redden. "Students at Acadia have unique, career-building opportunities to participate in a range of extraordinary research activities that make a difference."

Located in the Annapolis Valley's fertile agricultural region along the Bay of Fundy coastline, Acadia contributes to internationally recognized research, with a strong and growing commitment to regional economic development.

More than 60 percent of Acadia's research is applied in nature and focused on various sectors of regional importance, including agriculture & agri-food, health, environment, cleantech and data analytics.

Acadia's Office of Industry & Community Engagement (ICE) is leading the charge on the applied research front. ICE serves as Acadia's primary entry point for industry partners and national and regional economic development agencies seeking exciting and productive research collaborations.

"Consistent high-ranking in the corporate research category demonstrates our ongoing and growing commitment to applied research and partnerships with industry," says Dr. Dale Keefe, Provost and Vice-President, Academic.

"Acadia provides a transformative liberal arts education for our students," he says. "Our investment in specialized research infrastructure, laboratories, field stations, and research centres and institutes create meaningful opportunities for students while spurring economic development for our partner communities."

Research Infosource Inc. is one of the country's leading research and consulting firms and produces annual research rankings for universities, corporations, hospitals and colleges.

Research Nova Scotia (RNS) has announced that two Acadia Professors, Dr. Melanie Coombs of Biology and Dr. Daniel Blustein of Psychology have each been awarded a prestigious New Health Investigator Grant. Valued at $100,000 over two years, New Health Investigator Grants support early-career researchers who are engaged in innovative work that aligns with the province’s health research priorities. The funding, provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, will help these and 13 other exceptional scholars, across six Nova Scotia universities and healthcare centers, expand their research productivity and obtain long-term external funding.

Acadia’s Dr. Melanie Coombs is a leading researcher on colorectal cancer. As an estimated 1000 Nova Scotians are diagnosed with the disease each year, improved screening, diagnosis, and treatment are critical. While cancer treatment varies significantly between cancer types, patients typically receive a combination of surgery, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, and/or receptor targeted therapies. As chemotherapy fails to kill slow-growing or dormant cancer cells, and resistance to current anti-cancer drugs is common, there is a critical need for novel therapeutic agents with the ability to selectively kill cancer cells, irrespective of their growth rates and capacity for chemoresistance. Dr. Coombs’ lab explores the way that Mastoparen (an anti-cancer peptide found in wasp venom) derivatives kill cancer cells. As Mastoparan destroys cancer cells without harming normal cells, Dr. Coombs is hopeful that these anti-cancer peptides can be used in treatment to limit the debilitating side-effects associated with traditional chemotherapy.

In Acadia’s Department of Psychology, Dr. Daniel Blustein, in partnership with the Valley Regional Hospital, is working on new rehabilitation therapies for patients who have suffered strokes and related disabilities. New therapies are required because most of the effective stroke rehabilitation therapies are time-intensive and expensive to implement. Further, existing therapies are often only available to a sub-set of patients without severe stroke effects. Dr. Blustein seeks to develop a low-cost virtual reality neurorehabilitation treatment that can be completed in the comfort of a patient’s home. Impaired movements can be artificially improved in the virtual environment to make the treatment less frustrating, more individualized, and accessible to patients with more severe disability. Dr. Blustein’s work will also assess how different psychological aspects associated with the virtual reality experience may be manipulated to make the therapy more engaging and effective. The portable and low-cost aspects of the resulting treatment will increase access to post-stroke therapy for home-bound patients, long-term care residents, rural patients, and those that cannot afford ongoing physiotherapy consultations.

Acadia is fortunate to have two exceptional, early career researchers engaged in work that is of critical importance to the long-term health of Nova Scotians. The New Health Investigator Grants awarded by Research NS will advance innovation in health and wellness research in the province, further build capacity for health research at Acadia, and offer excellent opportunities for training of the next generation of health professionals.

Dr. Chelsea Gardner, an archaeologist and Associate Professor of Ancient History in Acadia’s Department of History & Classics, is the co-host and producer of the popular podcast “Peopling the Past”. The podcast is one part of a larger project of the same name, which aims to lift up the voices of “Real People in the Ancient World and the Real People who Study Them.” She conceived of the idea for the project and accompanying podcast in the first year of the global pandemic, as isolated colleagues and scholars across the globe were unable to travel for research or fieldwork. Taking to social media, she asked if other academics would be interested in using short podcasts, which she planned to develop for her Acadia class on Greek Art and Archaeology, in their own courses. Her friends and former graduate school classmates from the University of British Columbia joined her in forming Peopling the Past, which now produces podcasts, videos, and blogs, and soon interested parties from across the globe were accessing the material.

Social history at its finest, Peopling the Past is tailored toward high school students, undergraduates, and anyone else seeking information about the ancient world or hoping to stay up to date with recent scholarship. Each episode features experts who describe their research on diverse topics like footwear at the Roman military fort of Vindolanda in Britain, or how waste from olive oil processing was used as a sustainable fuel source across the ancient Mediterranean.

The project has received considerable attention. Profiled in the Winter 2021 Bulletin of The Canadian Institute in Greece, Peopling the Past has received awards from the Society for Classic Studies’ “Ancient Worlds Modern Communities Initiative,” an honorable mention from the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute’s Emerging Open Scholarship Awards, and a grant from the National Geographic Society.

In 2020-2021, the podcast won the Women’s Classical Caucus Public Scholarship Award, which was a special recognition for Gardner. “I’ve been a member of the WCC for several years now and it truly is an incredible organization that works so hard to promote underrepresented groups and strives for equity in the fields of Classics and Mediterranean studies,” she explained, “to be recognized by this group in any way is wonderful and to receive the award was very special because the core of the Peopling the Past mission is to break down barriers between academia and the public by creating free, accessible, fun, appealing content that is available to everyone. Our project goals also align nicely with the WCC community, since we aim to highlight aspects of human history that are often omitted from more traditional popular media and curricula, and which are vital for fostering inclusive scholarship, teaching, and learning."

Overwhelmed by the interest in the podcast, Gardner plans to keep growing the content. While there are many challenges, including “funding, time, and access to resources,” she is pleased by the support that she has received both from her own department and the university.  She not only has two Acadia RAs, Lauren Millett (History) and Cassy Palmer (Music), who worked on sound engineering and content editing for the most recent podcast season, but she was recently awarded a SSHRC Institutional Exchange Grant, which will help ensure there is ample content for their third season, which will focus on Women in the Ancient Mediterranean.

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