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The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has just announced that Acadia Psychology Professors, Dr. Anne-Sophie Champod and Dr. Daniel Lametti, have been awarded $371,012 through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) toward a $927,533 project to construct and equip the Acadia University Centre for Neuroscience and Cognitive Health.

This critical CFI funding has been matched by Research Nova Scotia (RNS) funding support of $371,014 and will serve to meet a high priority health focus area of the province of Nova Scotia. The Centre will be an invaluable asset for the Department of Psychology and the Acadia community at large. The project will  involve major renovations in the lower level of Horton Hall to create an open and shared research space to facilitate interaction between students, faculty, and outside researchers, and to house new cutting-edge neuroscience equipment currently unavailable in the region (including functional neuroimaging, biological motion tracking, and non-invasive brain stimulation).

The new Centre will support innovative and high-impact research programs that will advance the knowledge of the neural mechanisms that underlie cognitive and motor functions in healthy individuals, how these mechanisms are altered with learning or by disease, and how they respond to various interventions.

The Acadia University Centre for Neuroscience and Cognitive Health will create an environment in which Drs Champod, Lametti, and their colleagues can collaborate on projects involving a range of healthy populations and patient groups with important implications for the understanding and treatment of various health conditions (e.g., for stroke recovery and speech therapy).  It will also significantly increase the breadth of training and opportunities they can offer students in the fields of cognitive and clinical neuroscience and will enable and inspire future discovery as well as faculty and student recruitment.

This prestigious funding is an important moment for Acadia University as it expands the institution’s research capacity. An elated Dean of Research & Graduate Studies, Dr. Anna Redden, notes that the centre is aligned with Acadia’s Strategic Research Plan, and “will help the school retain and recruit faculty and create a much-needed anchor facility in the Department of Psychology to impact the academic unit well into the future.” “Importantly,” Redden adds, the Centre “will provide tremendous momentum for a neuroscience research cluster at Acadia that collaborates with internal researchers and external organizations both at home and abroad to collectively address critical challenges in brain science.”

Through CFI, the Government of Canada is giving more than $96 million in funding to support 377 new research infrastructure projects at 55 institutions from coast to coast. This total includes more than $22 million under the CFI’s Infrastructure Operating Fund to assist institutions with the incremental operating and maintenance costs associated with the new infrastructure.

 

[Dr. Boyd and the Acadia University Singers]

When we think of historians, we often envision researchers sitting in an archive surrounded by old books and documents. While the written word is critical to historical analysis, Dr. Michelle Boyd has found another way to help students understand and experience the past - music.

An instructor in the Acadia School of Music, Boyd has always been fascinated by how humans interact with music and how that interaction has shaped our society. Interested in the history of Nova Scotia, she completed the first extended examination of the province’s 19th century music through a PhD dissertation (Toronto) on the socio-cultural context of music-making in pre-Confederation Nova Scotia. Within a transatlantic context, Boyd addressed the roles that music played as the region transitioned into a Canadian province.

As an accomplished pianist, Boyd understands how interaction with music can change its meaning, and like all historical scholarship, context is crucial. Like a military historian who walks old battlefields to experience the topography upon which long-dead soldiers fought, understanding the various ways that songs were preformed often changes its meaning and provides an appreciation of people’s emotional connection with the composition.

In 2015, Boyd became interested in the musical versions of John McCrae’s celebrated Great War poem “In Flanders Fields.” Researching for a class, she not only found that some 50 adaptations of the song existed but also that many differed from the version with which we are all familiar. By preforming these variations, McCrae’s poem took on new meaning. Boyd’s digital lecture (funded by a SIG Grant and a Harrison McCain Award) called The Larks Still Bravely Sing: Musical Settings of ‘In Flanders Fields’, which featured the Acadia choir singing as well as excerpts of performances by Paula Rockwell, was chosen for the Society for American Music's Digital Lectures Channel on youtube (one of the three lectures chosen for 2019).  With a second Harrison McCain grant and 25.55 funding, Dr. Boyd began preparations to take Acadia music students on a concert tour to the Great War battlefields of France and Belgium.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily suspended travel to Flanders, Dr. Boyd has used this delay to chart the Acadia University Singers’ transformation into a virtual choir. As social distancing has forced performers to re-imagine the ways that musicians collaborate, Boyd is using a special Acadia COVID-19 grant to understand if digital technologies can ease the isolation and sustain a choral community.

Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF)

The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) is a Tri-Agency program announced in May 2020 as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. The initial (Stage 1) focus of this fund is on the provision of wage/stipend support for eligible research personnel who were/are paid by non-governmental sources. It can cover up to 75% of salaries paid to research personnel or trainees through research projects funded by sources such as industry, foundations, etc.

To qualify for payment, salaries must have been associated with projects that have either lost industry, NGO or foundation funding or have been interrupted due to the impacts of research curtailment, between March 15 and August 29, 2020.  CRCEF can fund salaries for a maximum of 12 weeks per individual within the eligibility period.

This Emergency Fund was previously communicated to Acadia faculty and staff via email. In addition, researchers identified in Acadia’s research database as potentially eligible for CRCEF Stage 1 support have been contacted with a request to submit a wage support application.

To ensure that no one who might be eligible is excluded from applying, all researchers should review the eligibility criteria.

There are two conditions for eligibility of research personnel for CRCEF Stage 1 support:

  • they are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (either from reduced funding or a negative impact on research activities); and
  • their salary or portion of salary is paid by non-governmental sources (CRCEF will provide 75% of that portion and for a maximum of $847).

For more detailed information on the CRCEF program, please visit https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/crcef-fucrc/index-eng.aspx  

For more information on CRCEF at Acadia and how to apply, please contact Leigh Huestis at leigh.huestis@acadiau.ca.

While many Canadian scholarly associations have cancelled their summertime meetings due to COVID-19, others have decided to go forward with virtual conferences. From June 12-15, the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada (ASAC) is holding its 2020 virtual conference and Acadia faculty and students are well represented. The ASAC, which was founded in 1957, brings together all those interested in research, teaching and management practices to promote and improve higher education in commerce and business as well as provide a forum for scholarly research. The large four-day conference showcases papers from Canadian academics and their colleagues around the globe, and Acadia is well represented! (Conference Program)

Presentations from research conducted on the Acadia campus can be found throughout the impressive program. In the “Business History division,” Dr. Ryan MacNeil will present a paper coauthored with students Santana Ochoa Briggs (BA Honours in Politics, 2019), Alisha Christie (BCD Honours in ESST, 2020), and Connor Sheehan (BBA in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, 2019) titled “Entrepreneurship is 'Beyond' History: Sensegiving via poetic antenarratives.”

In the “Case Division,” Dr. Conor Vibert was invited to give a special presentation on “Creating and using business video cases for teaching,” which he has based on a decade of experience creating, using, and disseminating video cases. He will also comment on research conducted with colleagues to understand student experiences with this style of case. Dr. James Grant will present his teaching case on “The Derailment: A Role-Playing Case of On-and Off-Duty Conduct(or).” Later, he will present a case titled “A Convenient Indian: A Postcolonial Examination of the Resignation of Canada’s First Indigenous Dean of a Law School.”

In the “Finance Division,” Dr. Igor Semenenko will explore “Climate Risk Impact on Cross-Border Acquisitions,” and also “Housing Finance: Impact of Heavy Interest Income Tax.” While in the “Gender & Diversity in Organizations Division,” a busy Dr. Grant will present his research paper on “On- and Off-Duty Conduct(or): A Feminist Examination of the Dismissals of a Railway Worker,” and a paper co-authored with Acadia alumnus Leslie Lewis (BBA Honours in Employment Relations, 2009) titled, “Women’s Careers in Academia: The Effect of Discrimination and Gendered Roles.”

In the “Management Education division,” Dr. Ryan MacNeil, Dr. Danielle Mercer-Prowse, and Academic Librarian (Vaughn Library) Britanie Wentzell will present on “Evidence, experience, and (instructional) design science: The case of a small, small business course,” while in the “Production & Operations Management division,” Dr. Hassan Sarhadi and Zhen Liu (BBA Honours, 2019) will give a presentation titled, “Risk-based Oil Spill Response Planning for the South Coast of Newfoundland.”

Dr. MacNeil, who serves on the ASAC Divisional Council, notes that this is a substantive national-level showing of scholarly work by Acadia’s faculty and students. The School of Business is particularly proud that two of the papers were based on Acadia BBA honours theses: Leslie Lewis’ thesis on gender and discrimination in academic careers and Zhen Liu’s thesis on oil spill response planning for Newfoundland. Most of the student papers at the ASAC are normally PhD-level work, MacNeil notes, and so it is remarkable achievement by both Leslie and Zhen.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has disrupted societies across the globe. Facing a historic health crisis, Acadia’s faculty recognized the pressing need for research into the transmission and prevention of the virus as well as its impact on the wider community. One of the strategic directions of the University has been active and passionate community engagement, and the diversity of faculty research into COVID-19 reflects this ongoing commitment. The faculty response to Acadia’s recent competitive Call for Proposals spanned departments across all 4 Faculties and has fostered collaborations and research clusters that bring together diverse research expertise and perspectives. Following are summaries of the funded  projects:

The Enemy Within?  Understanding Predictors of Intimate Partner Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the Psychology Department, Kathryn Bell and Diane Holmberg are working to understand the effect of social distancing practices on intimate partner violence (IPV) rates in both Canada and the United States. How do pandemics affect psychological functioning and how do deviations to this functioning impact the risk of IPV? Not only will this research help us understand how psychological and relational factors contribute to IPV risk during periods of isolation but will help public health and allied professionals mitigate the effects of social isolation on couples.

Assessing the Strength and Challenges of the Localized Food System in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

Food security has also been an ongoing concern during this crisis. Edith Callaghan of the Manning School of Business and Liesel Carlsson from Nutrition and Dietetics are collaborating on a project that explores the challenges of the localized Food System; specifically, investigating how the local small/medium food producers and distribution networks throughout the Annapolis Valley have pivoted to meet local food needs. They want to identify systems that work well, and those that show fragility and need to be re-designed, so that we are prepared to meet a similar situation in the future.

Understanding Workers’ Experiences During COVID-19: A Case Study of Three Groups of Workers

Sociologists Claudine Bonner, Jesse Carlson, Rebecca Casey, Lesley Frank, Elisabeth Rondinelli and Sarah Rudrum have teamed up with Education’s Jennifer Tinkham and Politics’ Rachel Brickner to examine how working conditions have changed during the pandemic for food service workers, long-term care workers, and teachers. It is critical that we understand how the physical and mental health of these three groups of workers have been impacted by COVID-19 and identify polices that have worked and those that need improvement.

Practicum in a Pandemic: A Study of Alternative Teaching Approaches

In the Education Department, Janet Dyment and Jennifer Tinkham are examining the experiences of pre-service teachers who were forced to shift gears to support ‘at home learning’ in Nova Scotia. What are the implications of this shift and how do pre-service teachers meet the needs of K-12 students and families during a time of great societal upheaval?

Isolated Bodies, United Voices: The Pedagogical, Musicianship, and Community-Building Prospects of Virtual Choirs in the age of COVID-19

Over at the School of Music, Dr Michelle Boyd is focused on the pedagogical, musicianship, and community-building prospects of virtual choirs in the age of COVID-19. Unable to sing together in person due to social distancing, choirs around the globe have begun making virtual videos as a means of continuing to perform and connect with one another. Boyd will chart the Acadia University Singers’ foray into the virtual realm and examine the musical and pedagogical implications of singing in a virtual choir and the efficacy of this performative methodology.

God’s Rhetoric: The rhetoric of preaching on Sunday 29 March 2020.

Finally, co-funded with the Acadia Divinity College, Stuart Blythe is investigating the theological questions for faith communities during the pandemic, with a focus on the rhetoric of preaching in five Baptist congregations across Atlantic Canada on Sunday, 29th March 2020. Besides social and economic concerns, the pandemic has raised theological questions for people seeking reassurance and answers to the meaning of life. This rhetorical analysis will explore the ways that preachers faced the pandemic with positive social and religious messages.

These exciting research projects demonstrate some of the ways in which Acadia is responding to and learning from the COVID-19 crisis.

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