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Rankin School of Nursing professor Dr. Donna Halperin receives two grants for vaccine research

StFX News - Fri, 2019-06-14 09:14
Dr. Donna Halperin

StFX Rankin School of Nursing professor Dr. Donna Halperin is the successful recipient of two new Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN) grants that will help fund vaccine research. 

CIRN has recently funded two new studies with Dr.  Halperin, the co-principal investigator. The first project is funded for $300,481 over two years to research “Burden Ethnographic Modeling Evaluation Qaujilisaaqtuq (BEMEQ) RSV,” and she has been granted a further $150,010 to fund, “A multifaceted evaluation of provincial maternal Tdap immunization programs.”

Dr. Halperin says the multi-faceted evaluation of provincial maternal Tdap programs study is taking place in five provinces, which will inform the implementation of maternal Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) programs being rolled out across the country.

“The purpose of administering this vaccine is to protect newborn infants in Canada from severe outcomes of pertussis infection. Bordetella pertussis causes pertussis (Whooping Cough), a severe respiratory infection. Unimmunized infants, including those who are too young to have completed their primary infant immunization series, are at the greatest risk of hospitalization and death,” she says. “Immunization in pregnancy is safe and protects the infant until they are ready to receive the vaccine at two months of age.”

She says the focus of this study is to determine support and resources offered to health care providers for maternal Tdap programs and to identify gaps in learning needs according to provider type. 

Also, she says knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs and behaviors (KABB) of pregnant women will be determined regarding the maternal Tdap vaccine. Three interventions will be developed; a practice intervention tool for providers and an information intervention and social marketing strategy directed towards pregnant women for maternal immunization. These three interventions will be evaluated for acceptability.

In the “Burden Ethnographic Modeling Evaluation Qaujilisaaqtuq (BEMEQ) RSV” study she says there has been the recent accelerated clinical development of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine candidates for pregnant women and children that offers the promise of RSV prevention.

“RSV is the most common cause of severe lower respiratory tract infection in young children worldwide. Exceedingly high rates are observed in the Canadian Arctic,” she says.

This study, which is situated in Nunavik (northern third of the province of Quebec) and Nunavut, will help inform public health planning by collecting data on RSV morbidity and health care use, careful modelling and economic analysis of the potential benefits of vaccines and an understanding of the acceptability of proposed interventions in target populations. 

Dr. Halperin says there are three separate studies within the broader study, which brings together 28 investigators across Canada. 

The focus of her portion of the study will be to describe the key determinants of vaccine acceptance and refusal at the demand side (values, attitudes, beliefs) and the access side (logistical, healthcare system factors impacting access and vaccine services) amongst parents, healthcare providers, educators, and public health practitioners. Sharing circles and key informant interviews will be used to collect this information in Nunavut, she says.

CIRN is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), and is a national network of vaccine researchers who develop and test methodologies related to the evaluation of vaccines as they pertain to safety, immunogenicity and effectiveness, and program implementation and evaluation.

CIRN is a network of networks, comprising eight sub-networks, composed of over 100 investigators across 40 Canadian institutions, involving experts in vaccine-related evaluative research. 


Three StFX Rankin School of Nursing students gaining experience with summer employment at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology

StFX News - Thu, 2019-06-13 11:49
L-r, Layla Green, Antonia Di Castri and Laura Leppan

Three StFX Rankin School of Nursing students and recent graduates, Layla Green, Antonia Di Castri and Laura Leppan, are all employed and gaining valuable experience this summer working at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology (CCfV) in Halifax. 

The Canadian Center for Vaccinology was established to develop, implement and evaluate technologies and vaccines for infectious diseases that have a significant impact on Canadian and global health, and to train experts in these critical and evolving fields. It’s housed in the IWK Health Centre, and is a collaboration of the IWK, Dalhousie University, and the Nova Scotia Health Authority. 

The students are supervised by StFX nursing professor Dr. Donna Halperin, who holds a cross-appointment in pediatrics at Dalhousie University and is the associate director of the CCfV, responsible for the Programs, Policy and Implementation Group; and Dr. Scott Halperin, director at the CCfV and a professor of pediatrics, and microbiology & immunology at Dalhousie and adjunct professor at StFX.

Laura Leppan, of Halifax, NS, is entering her fourth year of the nursing program at StFX, in the honours stream. Her research at CCfV this summer is part of an ongoing clinical trial examining ways to protect very young infants from whooping cough (pertussis). 

“Specifically, I will be analyzing breast milk from women who were vaccinated during pregnancy to test for antibodies against whooping cough. If there are sufficient antibodies against whooping cough present in the breast milk, it could suggest that breastfeeding after maternal immunizations during pregnancy may offer additional protection to the newborn until they are old enough to receive their own vaccines,” she says 

She says becoming part of the CCfV team came from expressing interest in gaining research experience to her professor, now her honours co-supervisor, Dr. Donna Halperin, this past winter. 

“She was very keen to help me in this journey, and after discussing my interests in public health and maternal and newborn health, she consulted with Dr. Scott Halperin, also of CCfV, who suggested this project may be a great fit. I am so grateful for this incredible learning opportunity,” Ms. Leppan says. 

“So far, I have learned a vast amount about immunology, physiology behind vaccines, breast feeding, and preventable diseases, which have all further sparked my interest in these areas.”

Layla Green from Falmouth, NS, who just graduated from the honours nursing program in May 2019 is continuing the research she took part in as the subject of her undergraduate thesis at StFX, looking at the experiences and perspectives of community health experts in Nunavut with regard to maternal immunization in Inuit populations. 

“With this current position, having put in two years on this project already with my thesis, it has been great to continue on with this work past graduation and see where it goes,” says Ms. Green, who has also been added to the teams developing the protocols for two new recently funded projects. 

“I have had Dr. Donna Halperin as a prof since my first year at StFX and developed a very good working relationship with her over the course of my honours thesis project, where both she and Dr. Scott Halperin were my thesis advisors. She has definitely been a wonderful support and has opened up many doors for me in terms of research opportunities.” 

Ms. Green says the entire honours process at the Rankin School has left a strong impression on her and where she sees her career as a nurse going. “While I still thoroughly enjoy working at the bedside, having had the experience of doing research and learning to look at health care questions in a much different light has been truly eye-opening, and I hope to always keep one foot in the realm of research as I move forward in this profession.” 

Antonia Di Castri, of St. Albert, AB, graduated with a honours nursing degree from StFX in 2017 and is now a MSc candidate in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University. This summer, her primary focus is work on her master's thesis project, a mixed methods study of the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviours of pregnant Inuit women and Northern healthcare providers about maternal pertussis immunization. 

She is also writing manuscripts for projects she has worked on in previous years at the CCfV. Among them is her quantitative undergraduate honours thesis project, which explores public and healthcare provider perceptions of pharmacists as immunizers in Nova Scotia. 

“I am finding it to be a very exciting time in my work because I am finally able to see the results of these studies that I have been involved with since their nascence,” she says.

Ms. Di Castri says she was first offered a position at the CCfV during the summer between her third and fourth year of the StFX nursing program.

“Working at CCfV has been, and continues to be instrumental in my career path. I have honed a diverse research skill set that has proven to be very useful in my pursuit of graduate studies in epidemiology. I have had the opportunity to be a co-author on several academic articles and to present our research studies at national conferences. I am indebted to the investigators at the CCfV for their commensurate mentorship. Any future success that I might encounter is built upon the foundation laid by these outstanding people.”

Dr. Donna Halperin says this opportunity provides students with multidisciplinary exposure to a complete range of health disciplines, as CCfV brings together researchers from multiple institutions with biomedical, clinical, social sciences, and humanities backgrounds.

She says the opportunity also aligns members of the School of Nursing with a large, interdisciplinary research group comprising members from a broad range of health disciplines with an international reputation in vaccine research, and provides an impactful mechanism to expand StFX’s footprint in the health-related research realm. 

Ethics in Nursing: StFX Rankin School of Nursing hosts 2019 ARCASN Conference

StFX News - Wed, 2019-06-12 14:39
StFX's Rankin School of Nursing is hosting the 2019 ARCASN Conference

Nursing faculty and educators from schools of nursing across Atlantic Canada will converge on StFX this week as the Rankin School of Nursing hosts the 2019 Atlantic Region of Canadian Schools of Nursing’s (ARCASN) annual conference from June 13-15.

This year, the conference focuses on ethics within nursing and will bring educators together to share energies and insights as they network together for ethics and quality nursing education under a theme of “Fostering a moral climate of care and nursing research, practice and pedagogy.”

“This year’s ARCASN conference aims to explore several areas related to ethics in nursing, including highlighting ethics as a fundamental guide to nursing and health care,” says Rankin School nursing faculty Marion Alex, an ARCASN representative and the conference’s committee chair.  

Highlights from the event will include keynote addresses from Dr. Franco A. Carnevale, a nurse, psychologist and clinical ethicist from McGill University, who will lead an address and discussion focused around “Recognizing nurses as moral agents: New directions in nursing ethics;” as well as a keynote address from Kerry Prosper, Mi’Kmaq Elder from Paqtnkek First Nations and the Inaugural Knowledge Keeper at StFX, whose work is in traditional ceremonies and healing practices.

Other highlights will include a panel discussion lead by guest speakers Cynthia Baker, Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing; Christine Rieck Buckley, Canadian Nurses’ Foundation; and Dr. Claire Betker, scientific director for the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health; and a closing address about moral agency and ethics in professional nursing from nurses Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald, Speaking on Persons Against Non‐State Torture. They have recently returned from a global conference about women’s and human rights in Paris, where they continued advocating for recognition that forms of domestic violence manifest as torture.

A special part of the conference will be a dedication to the legacy of Sister Simone Roach and the Sisters of St. Martha, pioneers in nursing and health care in eastern Nova Scotia.

“In this conference about nursing ethics, here at St. Francis Xavier University’s School of Nursing, we stand upon the shoulders of a giant in nursing education and nursing ethics in Canada: Sister Marie Simone Roach. With admiration, gratitude, affection, and respect, we dedicate this conference to her memory and to her Sisters of Saint Martha,” Prof. Alex says. 

Among numerous accomplishments, Sister Simone led the four‐year integrated BScN program at StFX and served as its chairperson from 1970‐1979. As well, in the 1980s she responded to a request to direct a Code of Ethics Project for the Canadian Nurses Association. The code she authored was the first to be grounded in clearly articulated ethical values—fundamental values that remain as its cornerstone today. She received the Order of Canada for her work on Ethics and Caring Theory in 2010.  

StFX’s Dr. Agnes Calliste posthumously recognized by Canadian Sociology Association for outstanding contributions

StFX News - Wed, 2019-06-05 13:39

Dr. Agnes Calliste, a celebrated academic and a sociology professor who taught at StFX for over two decades where she pioneered courses on the sociology of race and gender, has been posthumously recognized for her outstanding contributions to Canadian sociology by the Canadian Sociology Association (CSA).

Dr. Calliste was the recipient of the CSA Outstanding Contribution Award presented this week in Vancouver at the association’s annual meeting.

Dr. Calliste taught at StFX from 1984 until her retirement in 2010.

“Over the course of this time Dr. Calliste distinguished herself as one the country's leading experts in the areas of anti-racism, gender and education, and Canada's immigration and race-base employment policies during the first half of the 20th Century,” StFX sociology professor Dr. David Lynes said in the nomination letter he wrote on behalf of the Sociology Department.

“Particularly influential was Dr. Calliste's research into the experience of African-Canadian sleeping car porters and their struggle for employment equity on Canada's national railroads. Equally significant were publications on anti-racism organizing and resistance by African-Canadian women nurses, black families in Canada, and the influence of the civil rights and black power movements in Canada. Important parts of this work were undertaken collaboratively with Dr. George Dei from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.”

Dr. Calliste's commitment to these issues, however, was certainly not limited to the printed page, he says.

“As important and impressive as Dr. Calliste's curriculum vitae is, what it does not capture quite as well is Dr. Calliste's many contributions to the quality life here at St. Francis Xavier University and to the local community over the course of her 26-year tenure,” he says.

“The many courses she developed and went on to teach, including a senior seminar on African Canadian Issues in Education, and two third year courses entitled The Black/African Diaspora in the Americas, and Race, Class, Gender, & Sexuality, contributed to the strength and distinctiveness of the sociology program and continues to do so to this day. But it was the generosity of her time outside of the classroom, that was so well appreciated and perhaps best remembered, especially by the many students whose health and welfare she continuously went out of her way to defend and promote.”

Not long after arriving at StFX, Dr. Calliste participated as a member of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, as well as starting up and serving as the first chair for the local chapter of the National Congress of Black Women. From these positions, together with many other local initiatives, Dr. Calliste continually worked to encourage local young people of African descent to pursue a university education and to become more politically involved, he said.

Additionally, the annual African Heritage Month lectures that Dr. Calliste initiated are now institutionalized at StFX as the annual Dr. Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture.

Dr. Calliste's interest in and support for student athletes certainly stands out, reinforcing and promoting, the importance of academics in the lives of these students, many of African descent, who arrived at university with a wide range of preparation and expectations surrounding their status as varsity athletes. StFX's most successful basketball coach, Steve Konchalski, had the following to say about what Dr. Calliste meant to so many of these students, "while recognizing the unique challenges of African Canadians students in particular and guiding them through them…I had one African-Canadian student-athlete who never had a black teacher throughout his whole education until he took a course from Agnes. She took many students under her wing, taking a personal interest in their lives in addition to giving them academic supports. She would often call me to discuss the academic progress or social well-being of one of my athletes and call them into her office to offer guidance.”  

Mr. Konchalski also remembered fondly Dr. Calliste's promotion of and participation in the university's Kwanzaa celebration as part of her role as StFX African Descent Student Affairs Coordinator, and concludes by observing that Dr. Calliste "did a tremendous amount to bring many ethnic groups on campus together in a celebration that showcased some of the unique talents of our students and helped bridge the gap with faculty/student relations as well."

“Dr. Calliste's distinguished career is eminently deserving of the Canadian Sociological Association's Outstanding Contribution Award as her unique contributions continue to inspire students, community members, and academics alike,” Dr. Lynes wrote.

StFX celebrates supporters and friends, honours outgoing President Dr. Kent MacDonald, at 45th annual President’s Club Gala

StFX News - Sat, 2019-06-01 22:34
Fr. Stan MacDonald, at podium, one of those recognized during the 45th annual President's Club Gala as a new 10-Year Xaverian Patron, leads a rousing, trademark 'Go X Go!' group cheer during the evening celebration.

Two words. Thank you. 

That was the simple, yet heartfelt message shared at the 45th annual President’s Club Gala, held June 1, 2019 at the Charles V. Keating Centre, both to supporters and friends of StFX and to StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald who finishes his term as StFX President and Vice-Chancellor in July.  

The President’s Club Gala annually celebrates and thanks supporters of StFX. During the evening, StFX recognizes President’s Club members who have reached new 10-year, 20-year, and lifetime milestones. 

This year, the evening also included a special tribute to Dr. MacDonald, who led StFX for the past five years. 

“Tonight, we express our deep gratitude to you, whose generosity makes it possible for StFX to remain one of Canada's finest universities,” Murray Kyte, Vice President, Advancement and the evening’s master of ceremonies, said in opening remarks as he thanked all those who so generously support StFX.

“Tonight, we celebrate your generosity, your support, and your commitment to StFX. And, we take this opportunity to pay special tribute to those of you who have reached milestones.”

StFX is so grateful for the support it receives from President Club members, he said. These donations have considerable impact on the lives of students and make StFX, and in turn society, even stronger.

He also thanked Dr. MacDonald for his leadership, and in particular his efforts and commitment to make StFX accessible to all students regardless of their financial background including initiating the Xaverian Fund.  

President Gala 2019.jpg

StFX Director of Development Wendy Langley, who led the recognition of new patrons during the ceremony, spoke of how truly blessed StFX is to enjoy the friendship and support of so many. 

“Thank you again to all of our members of the President’s Club,” she said as she noted the tremendous impact President’s Club members have had on the university—since its inception members have donated over $184 million to StFX. 

“Thank you for all that you do for StFX!” 


The night also celebrated Dr. MacDonald and the legacy he will leave following his five year tenure.  

“It is of course bittersweet that we are using this evening to laud Kent’s accomplishments,” StFX Board of Governors Chair Mike Boyd said as he paid tribute to Dr. MacDonald, who he described as the type of leader who encourages others to step into roles that might seem daunting or beyond their existing scope and then supports and guides them.

“But most importantly, he creates space for them to become something more than they thought they could be.

 “And so, while we lament his departure, we also recognize that his legacy lies in the people who remain.” 

Mr. Boyd thanked Dr. MacDonald, his wife Mary Ellen and his family and wished them well on behalf of the Board of Governors. “StFX is a better place because of your hard work and leadership,” he said. 

A number of video greetings from students, alumni, faculty, staff and Board of Governors members were played throughout the evening, each commenting on the impact Dr. MacDonald made during his tenure.  

President Gala 2019 Kent MacDonald.jpg

Dr. Kent MacDonald

Dr. MacDonald, who received a standing ovation both before and after delivering his remarks, spoke of the many accomplishments from the past year, and about highlights on the horizon. He updated on enrollment and new academic programs, the national Special Olympics held at StFX this year, award-winning students, accomplishments of faculty and staff, the upcoming 50th anniversary of women athletics and the upcoming opening of Mulroney Hall and the Mulroney Institute of Government.    

He also had his own thanks to share. 

In particular he thanked donors and supporters for all they do for the university, and encouraged them to continue to give time, talent or treasure to give back to StFX, a place “we all love,” he said. 

“To all of you, I say thank you.”

Dr. MacDonald also thanked and recognized Bishop Brian Dunn and members of the clergy, the Sisters of St. Martha, the Congregation of Notre Dame, alumni leaders, faculty, staff, and students, members of the Board of Governors, and the university’s leadership team, and his family for all the support and commitment.  

“What a joy and a blessing it has been to be able to serve this community.”

During the evening, Mr. Kyte also thanked Bishop Brian Dunn, Vicar of the Founder and a StFX Board of Governors member, who will also depart from Antigonish as he was recently named by His Holiness, Pope Francis, as Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth. “We wish you the very best in this new role,” he said. 

President Gala 2 2019.jpg President Gala 4 2019.jpg

Other special highlights during the evening included a musical performance by 2019 StFX graduate Shane Arsenault, a number of pieces of art from the StFX’s permanent collection on display, and a rousing, trademark “Go X Go!” group cheer led by Fr. Stan MacDonald, himself recognized during the evening as a new 10-Year Xaverian Patron.  

President’s Club members reaching milestones in 2018-19 included:

New Lifetime Xaverian Patrons (recognizing $100,000 and above in lifetime giving): 

Barrick Gold Corporation 

Michael and Beth Brien 

Thomas J. and Gail Hayes 

The late Leo D. Kirwan 

Lauder Foundation 

Burton MacDonald 

The Molson Foundation 

Kenneth J. Moscone 

Guy R. Savard 

Francis and Mary Shea 

Timothy Upton and Beryle Girard 

R. Howard Webster Foundation 

The Windsor Foundation


New 20-Year Xaverian Patrons (recognizing 20 consecutive years of President’s Club membership):

Michael A. and Anne Campbell

Marc and Clare Champoux

Carol Cochrane

Ian Doyle

Penny Fuller and Bill Marshall

Joan E. Gillis

Chris Keating

Roderick W. Landry

Colin P. and Irene MacDonald

Linden MacIntyre

Louise MacLellan

Alistair and Anita MacLeod

John C. McCurnin

Fran and Joe McGann

Shelly and Ed J. McHugh

Sheilagh A. Ross

New 10-Year Xaverian Patrons (recognizing 10 consecutive years of President’s Club membership): 

Richard and Jeanne Brown

Anne Emery and Joe A. Cameron

Thomas and Lois Chadwick

Peter I. Chisholm

Lt Col Brian W. Donovan

David and Sandra Gibeault

Bob Hale

Shelagh Howard

Robert and Beth Hynes

Stuart Knight

Angie Kolen

Carmen B. Lowe

Allan S. MacDonald

Rev. Stanley V. MacDonald

Mike and Mary MacKinnon

Helen D. MacPherson

Francis X. Shea

Nova Scotia nursing faculty visit the Nurse of the Mediterranean

StFX News - Fri, 2019-05-31 13:54
StFX Rankin School of Nursing faculty Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine at the workshop held at the University of Malta

An intensive weeklong workshop was organized on the island of Malta, historically referred to as the Nurse of the Mediterranean. The research workshop—a collaborative effort between nursing faculty from the University of Malta and nursing faculty from Cape Breton University, Dalhousie University and St. Francis Xavier University—was designed for graduate nursing students at the University of Malta seeking to submit a dissertation in partial fulfilment of their Master of Nursing.

Participating faculty included Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine from the StFX Rankin School of Nursing, Dr. Vicky Sultana and Dr. Josiane Scerri from the University of Malta, Dr. Odette Griscti and Dr. Audrey Walsh, from Cape Breton University, and Dr. Megan Aston and Dr. Audrey Steenbeek from Dalhousie University. Various other faculties from the Department of Nursing, University of Malta, also participated in sessions and round table discussions. 

The workshop was held at the historic university campus in Valletta, the capital city of Malta. It consisted of a four day interactive dialogue between faculty and students around research designs, methodologies and student projects. By the end of the workshop, each student was able to develop a research proposal in preparation for their Master of Nursing degree.

Dr. Sheppard-LeMoine says this international nursing collaboration was a rewarding way to share nursing research talent and build further opportunities. “We were welcomed by our colleagues at the University of Malta and their graduate students and look forward to what comes next,” she says. 

Overall, all of the participating faculty and the graduate students found the workshop valuable and beneficial, the organizers say. It is planned to hold similar workshops between the three universities and the University of Malta in the future. 

MP Sean Fraser celebrates Government of Canada investment in discovery research at StFX

StFX News - Thu, 2019-05-30 16:54
During a visit to StFX, clockwise around the table: Dr. Jane McMillan (Anthropology), StFX student Cheyla Rogers, Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden (Education), Jennifer Fraser (X-Chem Outreach), Minister of Science and Sport Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Dr. Truis Smith-Palmer (Chemistry), and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser

Sean Fraser, Member of Parliament for Central Nova and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, on behalf of the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, highlighted $341,000 in new support for discovery research at StFX. The funding is part of an investment of over $588 million through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Discovery Grants Program announced by Minister Duncan on May 21. 

The funding, part of $4 billion for research committed in Budget 2018, will also support graduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships for students in the natural sciences and engineering. This funding will go to more than 4,850 researchers and students across the country, and includes support for nearly 500 early career researchers.

StFX is receiving $341,000 for researchers and students working in areas including earth sciences, chemistry, human kinetics and computer science. Dr. Melanie Lam in the Department of Human Kinetics has received $127,500 over five years for an exploration of the behavioural, electrophysiological, and neural mechanisms underlying joint action; Dr. Jacob Levman, Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics within the Department of Computer Science has received $127,500 over five years to develop methods for reliable machine learning with applications in medical imaging. Dr. David Risk, Earth Sciences Department, received $51,000 for a one-year project to study thermogenic methane distribution, sources, drivers in the MacKenzie Delta region. StFX graduate student Dreenan Shea (chemistry) received a Canada Graduate Scholarship worth $17,500 over one year to support her research on nanoparticle materials for the photodegradation of pollutants and biomass waste. Sean Freeborn, a new StFX graduate student in earth sciences, has received a Canada Graduate Scholarship worth $17,500 over one year to support his research on magmatism and the evolution of mountain-building. This investment is part of Canada’s Science Vision and the Government of Canada’s commitment of more than $10 billion to science, which includes the largest-ever increase in funding for fundamental research.

“NSERC Discovery Grants, as well as NSERC scholarships and fellowships provide a critical underpinning for diverse university research and student researcher training across all science and engineering disciplines. This NSERC funding ensures that our faculty members and students are able to stay at the forefront of Canadian research efforts in the natural and physical sciences,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies.

“As a proud StFX alum, it is exciting to see this meaningful investment in the research community on campus. These research grants are helping the faculty at StFX discover the solutions to our world’s greatest problems, and at the same time, putting people to work in our community,” Mr. Fraser said. 

Minister Duncan says the funding announced demonstrates the government’s strong and enduring commitment to science and researchers. “Our government has worked hard to bring science and research back to their rightful place, and this historic investment in the discoveries of tomorrow is just one example of how we are achieving this goal.” 

This research is, in part, made possible by the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

StFX education professor wins best paper of the year award from internationally respected journal

StFX News - Thu, 2019-05-30 14:02
Dr. Dan Robinson

Dr. Dan Robinson, chair of StFX’s Department of Teacher Education, and an associate professor of physical education and sport pedagogy, has received a major international honour for his research work looking into what physical education teachers know about physical literary. 

A paper he co-authored with Lynn Randall, of the University of New Brunswick, and Joe Barrett, Brock University, has won the 2018 Metzler-Freedman Exemplary Paper Award for the best paper published in 2018 in the Journal of Teaching in Physical Education (JTPE)—one of the best journals in their field. 

The award, named in honour of JTPE co-founding editors, Michael Metzler and Mark Freedman, recognizes excellence in sport pedagogy scholarship. It was presented at the annual SHAPE America National Convention & Expo held in Tampa, FL.

Dr. Robinson says he and his colleagues were thrilled with the prestigious recognition for their work, particularly as they didn’t even know they were nominated.

“Receiving a call letting us know that we had won the Metzler-Freedman Exemplary Paper Award was such a highlight for me and my peers. We know the sorts of people who have won this award before and it is certainly reaffirming to be in that company,” says Dr. Robinson, who notes he and his colleagues were ecstatic about a year before when they were able to publish their article, “Physical literacy (mis)understandings: What do leading physical education teachers know about physical literacy?” within the well-respected journal. 

Dr. Robinson says physical literacy is a concept and term that has been increasing in both popularity and usage, particularly over the last decade. “This is especially true within physical education, sport, and recreation disciplines,” he says. 

“Though the physical literacy construct has much to offer these disciplines, we have seen so many disparate messages about physical literacy that, for many, it has become difficult to fully understand what one of physical literacy’s initial pioneers, Margaret Whitehead, really meant and envisioned.” 

He says their research article highlights results from a recent study in which they aimed to understand what some of the nation’s leading physical education teachers knew about the physical literacy construct. 

“Basically, we found that many were unable to articulate conceptions of physical literacy that are in-line with contemporary perspectives. Why this is important is that without a full understanding of the concept, particularly of Margaret Whitehead’s foundations in embodiment and monism, physical education teachers risk oversimplifying something that has great potential. 

This research is, in part, made possible by the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

“Perhaps most simply, these oversimplifications and misunderstandings results in physical education teachers doing “more of the same”—offering old wine in new bottles—rather than genuinely reconsidering the work that they might do.”

StFX’s ExACT technology awarded U.S. patent

StFX News - Tue, 2019-05-28 11:09
Actively monitoring surrounding gases in real time

Members of StFX’s FluxLab are celebrating an important milestone—in the form of a U.S. patent awarded for a gas sensor technology invented at StFX.

The patent has been issued to StFX for its vehicle-based Emissions Attribution via Computational Techniques (“ExACT”) gas leak detection technology, and to its inventors StFX earth sciences professor and university project lead Dr. Dave Risk, Dr. Bjorn Brooks and Dr. Martin Lavoie for the “Gas Emission Detection System and Method.”

“The patent recognizes our lab created a unique and valuable system,” says Chelsie Hall, the lab’s research project manager, who notes the patent process is lengthy and takes years to complete. The patented technology, which detects and maps the emissions of ground-sourced greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, was developed in 2014 and system improvements have been ongoing.

exact 2019.jpg

Research truck set up with ExACT

ExACT uses a gas sensor mounted to a vehicle which collects near-ground geochemical readings that are uploaded to a cloud-based database for real-time analysis. This survey method can cover a large area at a very fine scale, providing operators with detailed information to detect unintentional emissions before they become a regulatory issue. The ability to identify emissions in an efficient and cost-effective manner allows producers to minimize the economic cost of lost commodities and to maximize environmental protection.

In 2017, StFX signed a license agreement with Altus Group for the exclusive worldwide commercialization usage rights of ExACT, and Altus’ Geomatics division offers ExACT as a service for oil and gas providers and government regulators.


"Receiving the patent is an important commercial stepping stone, and it also symbolizes FluxLab’s hard work and commitment to developing an emissions measurement system that is fine-tuned to industry needs,” says Jennifer Baillie, a technical researcher in StFX’s FluxLab since 2014, who is also employed with Altus as their GHG Emissions Monitoring Coordinator.

“National methane emission regulations will be implemented in 2020, and we are witnessing industry push technology developers to generate novel solutions that can detect emissions efficiently and safely. Having a deployable, patented technology lets us to offer our alternative monitoring solution to oil and gas producers immediately—allowing them to reach emissions reduction targets and reduce their emissions monitoring costs.”

FluxLab members are continuing to advance ExACT technology. Lab member and MSc student, Jack Johnson, says, “Fugitive methane emissions, or leaks, coming from upstream oil and gas infrastructure are difficult to measure. Successfully measuring these invisible leaks, which come from a variety of sources, can sometimes be like trying to find a fire with a thermometer; frustrating, time-consuming and costly. The computational advantages that ExACT brings to the table will make this process much more efficient.

“While traditional measurement techniques will always have a place in the oil and gas industry, tools like ExACT will allow emissions measurement systems to keep up with evolving regulatory requirements,” he says.

Receiving this patent has solidified ExACT technology as a top competitor in the race to develop feasible emissions measurement systems for the Canadian oil and gas industry.

This research is, in part, made possible by the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

Exploration and innovation: 11 StFX graduate students receive Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarships

Continuing Education Events - Mon, 2017-09-11 11:41
L-r, Alex Young, Bry Crabbe, Greg Hadley, Andrew Flower, Nadia Tarakki, Lori Paslawski, Meredith Karcz and Zihao Jiang. Missing are Abu Baker, James Williams and Hina Shehzadi.

Eleven StFX graduate students—10 master’s students and one PhD student—are 2017 recipients of the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship, awarded to research graduates at Nova Scotia universities to help advance the economic and social well-being of Nova Scotians by investing in graduate thesis-based research in several priority sectors.

The awards encourage exploration, discovery and innovation.  

At StFX, the students are involved in research projects that range from exploring educational avenues to slow out-migration in the province to the impacts of rockweed harvest.

Recipients include master’s students Andrew Flower, Hina Shehzadi, James Williams, Nadia Tarakki, Zihao Jiang, Bry Crabbe, Abu Baker, Meredith Karcz, Lori Paslawski, Alex Young and PhD student Greg Hadley.

All say the scholarship is invaluable.  

“Being awarded funding through the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship in the area of social innovation has allowed me to create a robust research plan of a truly provincial scope,” says Greg Hadley of Antigonish, NS, who is completing his PhD (educational studies) under the supervision of education professor Dr. David Young.

His research examines the potential for entrepreneurship education in Nova Scotia public schools to serve as a mechanism to slow out-migration and enhance economic development.


“I am particularly interested in rural areas, as population decline and economic stagnation has threatened the stability of many, once vibrant, communities. As a former public school teacher in rural Nova Scotia, I have seen what population decline has done and am keen to explore what educational avenues might help to slow this troubling phenomenon,” he says. “The funding will allow me to engage with stakeholders, academics and policymakers and, I predict, will open many other doors that may have remained closed by economic forces. This funding offers me a great deal of research flexibility and has been truly transformative for my work.” 

Meredith Karcz of Burlington ON, who is completing a MSc in biology under the supervision of Dr. David Garbary, says the scholarship both helps her afford to study and conduct a project she cares about.

She is looking at the impacts of rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) harvesting in Nova Scotia on the other algal species and invertebrates that inhabit the rockweed canopies on rocky shores across the province.

“Rockweed harvesting is a growing multi-million dollar industry,” she says. “The seaweed is used primarily in agricultural applications and fertilizers. Research has primarily taken a species focused approach up until this point, but to properly ensure that current harvest methods are sustainable, the impact on the entire community needs to be assessed.”


Hina Shehzadi of Lyari Karachi, Pakistan is completing a M.Ed. under the supervision of education professor Dr. Joanne Tompkins. She is working on qualitative research, a comparative analysis of two curricula relating to the understanding of university students regarding sexual and reproductive health rights of women in Nova Scotia and Karachi.

Hina for article.jpg
Hina Shehzadi

“This scholarship is a life-changing opportunity for me because coming from an under-developing country, Pakistan, where as a young woman it was a major challenge for me to continue my higher education, this scholarship is not only supporting me to achieve my dream for becoming a university professor, but my community as well as I am the only woman travelling abroad for study and setting examples for other girls in my community to work hard and explore the opportunities in the world. I am so grateful to receive this Nova Scotia graduate grant.”

MSc biology student Alex Young of Berwick, NS, working with biology professor Dr. Russell Wyeth, is examining the nervous system of a snail species (Lymnaea stagnalis), identifying genes and cell types responsible for producing different neurotransmitters inside of its sensory organs (lips, tentacles) to get an idea of how the snail processes sensory information.

“Once we understand the genes and cells present in its nervous system, those genes can be interfered with to block their action and give us an idea of their function. The goal of my research is to get a better understanding of how the snails' genetics and nervous system are responsible for controlling its behaviour at the molecular level,” he says. “Ultimately, my research can lead to large scale sensory manipulation of snails with chemicals to prevent them from entering gardens or precious crop fields in countries where they are currently a major pest and a vector for several diseases.

“Receiving a Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship supplement means that I will be able to complete my master’s solely on external funding. One great thing about that is it saves internal funds to dedicate towards my research, hopefully increasing the quality of my projects.”


“The Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship is an honour for me and it is also a confirmation of my hard work,” says Zihao Jiang, of Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, a first-year master’s student working with computer science professor Dr. Laurence T. Yang on research focused mainly on big data and matrix computation.

“Receiving the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship is a great honour for me,” agrees master’s of science student Nadia Tarakki of Bangladesh, who is working with earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk.

“This scholarship inspired me to create an effective tracer suite using isotopes to detect seepage and various emission sources. The results can be applied to mitigate health impacts in Nova Scotia, through use in issues such as emissions into residential basements and groundwater supplies,” she says.

She is working on soil gas monitoring at the Carbon Capture and Storage project at Aquistore, Estevan, Saskatchewan. This involves monitoring of soil gas concentrations of CO2, O2, N2 and CH4 and isotopic value analysis of stable isotope, d13C of CO2 and radiocarbon isotope, D14C of CO2 in addition to soil CO2 surface flux from pre-existing wells. The objective of the research is to monitor the containment of her research site and develop an isotopic tracer suite that can differentiate between biogenic and thermogenic surface gas sources.

“As a second-year recipient of the NSGS, this funding provides the financial support that allows us researchers to be more able to focus on our academics and research without having financial burdens in the background,” says Bry Crabbe of Woodstock, NB, completing a master’s of science in chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Geniece Hallett-Tapley and Dr. BJ MacLean.

He says through the use of niobium based perovskite semiconductor materials, they are studying the light induced reactions involving carbon-carbon coupling using this more energy efficient and more ‘green’ reaction process in the absence of heat and harsh organic materials.

“Receiving the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship will allow me to use scientific instruments that study the chemistry of hundreds of rock samples and create thin sections to study the samples at a microscopic level. Each of these methods, supported by the NSGS, are essential to the development of a new structural geologic model and ultimately, the completion of my master’s research,” says Andrew Flower of Calgary, AB, taking a master’s in earth science (geology) under the supervision of Dr. Mike Melchin.

“My study of graptolites and carbon isotopes will help create a model of mineral deposition that could potentially be used to help ore exploration in shale hosted mineral resources in Nova Scotia.”

The research is based on geological findings in the Selwyn Mountain range, located in the Howards Pass district, Northwest Territories. 

Mi’kmaq flag permanently installed on StFX campus

Continuing Education Events - Thu, 2017-09-07 15:18
Pictured are Tamara Cremo, Paqtnkek Chief PJ Prosper, StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, and Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul

With the sound of drum beats and the scent of sage still in the air, a standing-room only crowd watched as the Mi'kmaq flag was proudly unfurled on Sept. 7 to fly permanently on the StFX campus.

A packed crowd filled Dennis Hall for the historic ceremony, moved inside due to inclement weather. The flag will fly permanently outside the President’s office at Morrison Hall.

“It is an honour to be here for the raising of the flag,” Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy said in remarks as he thanked everyone for coming to share in this moment of togetherness, an important ceremony that brought together members of the Mi’kmaq nation and the StFX community.

The ceremony was also highlighted by several announcements of major initiatives designed to enhance student learning.

“I’m really honoured to be here, it is a long time coming. This is a start of reconciliation,” Grand Captain Andrew Denny said as he thanked StFX for raising the Grand Council flag on a permanent basis. It solidifies and cements the fact that Mi’kmaq are welcome here, he said.

Chief PJ Prosper of Paqtnkek First Nation, who is also a member of the StFX Board of Governors, said the ceremony symbolizes the commitment between the two, and the interest in sharing the rich stories and cultural traditions of the Mi’kmaq people who have been here for generations upon generations.

Chief Prosper also acknowledged the leadership of StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, who he said reached out to the Mi’kmaq nation soon after his installation in office.  

“It’s certainly a distinct honour for me to be part of this historic event,” Chief Prosper said.  

“This is an important day for us,” Dr. MacDonald said as he talked about the journey StFX is on, and that "we still have a lot to learn."

Dr. MacDonald thanked all those who have carried the flag in this regard, particularly members of the StFX education faculty, and thanked everyone “for having patience with us.

“I look forward to the future, not just a symbol, an important symbol, but how do we start to imbed this in the learning. The good news is we already have people doing this,” he said.  

StFX Aboriginal Student Advisor Terena Francis made several announcements during the ceremony including the news of a partnership with StFX, through the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Fund, to help establish an Elders-in-Residence program.

She also noted the appointment of Dorene Bernard as 2017 Coady Chair in Social Justice. Ms. Bernard performed a traditional smudging ceremony to start the ceremony.

Her third announcement again brought applause as she shared the news of the establishment of the five-year, $300,000 John Jerome Paul Chair for Equity in Mathematics Education. This research chair is created through the Deveau Fund and will be held by StFX education professor Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden.

Dr. Lunney Borden’s work will focus on teaching and math achievement for First Nations and African Nova Scotia students.

Mr. Paul, director of program services with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, who the chair is named after, said he has always been determined to see that Mi’kmaq youth gain skills in math and science to give them opportunity in the world. He said it is special to have Dr. Lunney Borden, who taught in Mi’kmaq communities for 15 years, be part of this project. He also noted he is humbled to be asked to have his name associated with this math equity chair as he knows the StFX education faculty will work diligently to support it.

Mr. Paul spoke of a partnership developed with StFX about 20 years ago to support the development of Mi’kmaq teachers for their communities. “We had great hopes when we started, but we had no idea, 20 years in, we would be standing here looking at such a great set of accomplishments,” he said to much applause.  

The flag raising ceremony ended with drumming and the singing of the Mi’kmaq Honour Song. 

Best in their field – StFX faculty members Dr. Brendan Murphy and Dr. William Sweet elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada

Continuing Education Events - Thu, 2017-09-07 09:02
L-r, Dr. William Sweet and Dr. Brendan Murphy

Two StFX faculty members have been elected by their peers as new Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC), national recognition as the best in their field.

Philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet and earth sciences professor Dr. Brendan Murphy are among 89 new Fellows to be inducted into the Royal Society of Canada this fall for outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievements.

“This is a very formal acknowledgement of the exceptional work and contributions that Dr. Murphy and Dr. Sweet have made to their respective disciplines over many years. This award is well deserved and I applaud Dr. Sweet and Dr. Murphy on this recognition and on their distinguished careers,” says StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald.

“This is a significant accomplishment and it speaks to the quality and value of our faculty at StFX. It is exceptional that StFX has had two nominees elected in the same year for this distinguished award,” says Dr. MacDonald.

The two StFX faculty members are among four new Fellows elected from Atlantic institutions.  

“I can't think of two more deserving candidates,” says StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley. "This tremendous honour signifies the outstanding scholarly achievements of these very gifted professors. They are leading experts in their respective fields, and their bodies of work are internationally renowned. This is a truly wonderful accomplishment.”

Dr. Murphy, who has taught at StFX since 1982, is best known for his contributions to understanding the supercontinent cycle, one of the most significant developments in earth sciences since the discovery of plate tectonics. He has led a wide range of study over his career in an effort to improve understanding of mountain building processes and the long-term history of global environmental change.

Dr. Sweet, who joined the StFX faculty in 1990, is an internationally recognized scholar of the idealist movement in 19th- and early 20th-century Britain. His careful, historically-grounded and innovative scholarship on this movement has led to a re-evaluation of the work of some of its key figures and of its bearing on contemporary political philosophy as a whole. His research has also led to new insights into the impact of idealism in East Asia, India, and southern Africa, and the promotion of intercultural philosophy. The recipient of numerous awards and honours, Dr. Sweet has been invited to present his work across the globe.

The formal awards ceremony will take place in Winnipeg, MB in November.

“It’s a little humbling,” Dr. Sweet says of the award, and also gratifying that colleagues recognize the value of your work. It’s a sentiment echoed by Dr. Murphy, who is quick to talk too of equally deserving colleagues.

Both thanked those involved in nominating them, particularly Dr. Richard Isnor and John Blackwell, their respective departments for the support over the years, and credited family support as invaluable.

Dr. Sweet and Dr. Murphy say they have been fortunate throughout their careers to work with excellent people.

“Some people you have a mental chemistry with,” Dr. Murphy says. “That’s the beauty of sabbaticals, to make connections. I’m still working with people from each of my sabbaticals over the years. You meet people you can work with, that help keep the mental juices flowing.”

While technology allows faculty to stay connected in a way they never dreamed possible 30 years ago, they say, nothing beats face-to-face interactions with people.

“To make and maintain these international collaborations, you need to see the people, and you need time with them,” Dr. Sweet says. “This provides opportunity and international exposure.”

Passion and dedication and putting in the time and work are also key, they say.

Dr. Brendan Murphy

Dr. Brendan Murphy has led a stellar academic career in StFX’s Department of Earth Sciences where he has excelled as a researcher and professor for over 34 years. He teaches courses primarily in structural geology, tectonics and the evolution of the Earth. He has served as Chair of the department for nine years and has supervised more than 80 student thesis projects since joining StFX in 1982. He has held adjunct professor status at six other universities around the world. Dr. Murphy’s main research interests are the geological processes that form mountains and how they relate to the changing positions of continents through geological time, otherwise known as plate tectonics. He is best known among his peers for contributions to understanding the supercontinent cycle, recognized as one of the most significant scientific developments in earth sciences since the discovery of plate tectonics. He is recognized as one Canada’s premier tectonists, as well as a leading expert on the Appalachian orogen of eastern North America and its European counterpart, the Variscan orogen. His research has involved field studies and scientific collaborations around the world. An outstanding teacher and mentor, Dr. Murphy has supervised over 50 undergraduate student theses, 19 masters theses, and nine PhD dissertations through adjunct professorships and collaborations at other universities. He has also supervised three post-doctoral fellows and been a research collaborator and mentor to numerous young colleagues at StFX and around the world. He was the first faculty member to introduce an earth sciences course aimed at non-majors at StFX. He has served as an expert reviewer for the University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development Program (funded by the Canadian International Development Agency) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) Solid Earth Sciences Committee. He is a current editor of Geology, the world’s premier journal in the Geosciences, and is past editor of Geoscience Canada and of the Geological Society of America Bulletin. His research has been continually supported by NSERC since 1984. Dr. Murphy has published over 290 scientific articles in academic journals, book chapters, monographs, or geological field guidebooks, and has authored or coauthored more than 200 conference presentations. He has received numerous awards for outstanding research, including the prestigious Killam Research Fellowship in Canada. In fact, in 2010 he was the sole recipient of a Killam Fellowship who works at a small, primarily undergraduate university in Canada. In 2014, he was awarded the StFX University Research Award. He was recently awarded a Hadyn Williams Fellowship at Curtin University in Australia. He was recognized with the Dave Elliott Award: Best Paper in the Canadian Tectonics Group for the Geological Association of Canada in 2015. He was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2012 and received the Geological Society of America Distinguished Service Award in 2011. In 2014, Dr. Murphy was named winner of the J. Willis Ambrose Medal from the Geological Association of Canada. Dr. Murphy has served as president of the Atlantic Geoscience Society and chair of the Science Atlantic Geoscience Committee. He has been selected as scientific leader for several UNESCO International Geoscience Program projects and is a frequent science columnist and media commentator. His outreach activities have led to two awards for his contributions to public education, including the StFX Outreach Award.

Dr. William Sweet

Dr. William Sweet is one of the foremost Canadian academics on the history of 19th- and early 20th-century British philosophy, and one of the world’s leading scholars of British idealism. He has also contributed significantly to the philosophy of culture, intercultural philosophy, discussions of dignity and human rights, and the philosophy of religion. For over 25 years, he has produced influential articles and books on key figures of the idealist movement in Britain, and been a leading exponent in the reassessment of their work, particularly so far as it bears on issues of liberty, equality, and human rights in the contemporary world. Dr. Sweet’s work has challenged many of the received views of the idealist movement, but has also put into question the widely-held views that the idealists were close disciples of the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, and that they were an aberrant phase in 19th century British intellectual life. He is the foremost expert in the world on the British idealist, Bernard Bosanquet, and the leading commentator on his philosophy as a whole. Dr. Sweet has also contributed to the scholarship on political thought by organizing international conferences and collections of scholarly essays. These have stimulated many, particularly junior scholars, to write on idealism, expanding and deepening the study of this field. Dr. Sweet has also extended the scholarly understanding of British idealism by looking at its reception in the then British Empire, and beyond. In the Biographical Dictionary of British Idealism, for which he was general editor and authored some 50 entries, Dr. Sweet details the influence of idealism in philosophy in South Africa, India, East Asia, France, and the United States, as well as Canada. This work is continued in Dr. Sweet’s recent articles on idealism’s influence on major philosophers from Southern Africa and India. Dr. Sweet’s ground-breaking work on the reception of British idealism in Asia has led him to explore related themes. This has led to invitations to address scholars in South Africa, India, and China, and to the translation of some of Dr. Sweet’s work into Chinese. It has also led to frequent invitations to speak at major universities in China, India, and South Africa. Moreover, his ongoing work with the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie and with associated scholars has helped to bring the work of philosophers in developing countries to international notice. In parallel with his research into British idealism, he has made major contributions to historical studies in ethics and political philosophy. Particularly significant are his many publications and translations of the work of the 20th-century French philosopher, Jacques Maritain. Dr. Sweet’s work has been recognized by his election to the presidency of a number of learned societies, such as the Canadian Philosophical Association, and to the executive committees of international organizations, such as the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie, the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, and the Istituto Internazionale Jacques Maritain (of which he is Presidente d'onore). He was recently selected as ‘Visiting Professor (Overseas)’ by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research. He is also a recipient of both the StFX President’s Research Award and the University Outreach Award. Dr. Sweet’s scholarship and the international reception of his work have led to his recognition as one of the leading scholars in the history of philosophy in Canada today.

Rebecca Mesay: student leader @ X

Continuing Education Events - Wed, 2017-09-06 12:48

I’m Rebecca Mesay. This is my StFX story.

Emily Gale: student leader @ X

Continuing Education Events - Wed, 2017-09-06 12:19

I’m Emily Gale. This is my StFX story.

Christine Kingan: students of StFX co-op

Continuing Education Events - Wed, 2017-09-06 10:46

I’m Christine Kingan. This is my StFX story.

As a third year BBA Marketing Co-op student, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting with Mr. Frank McKenna in his downtown Toronto office. Mr. McKenna, the Deputy Chair of TD and a StFX alumnus highly regarded in the Xaverian famly, took time out of his demanding schedule to meet with me, a fellow Xaverian. He opened my eyes to the true value of co-op and what it has to offer, while revealing to me the experiences that I wouldn't otherwise have.

BBA ’17 (Co-Op)
Christine Kingan

Go out there and get your boots dirty: Roméo Dallaire delivers passionate address at StFX’s XTalks Life

Continuing Education Events - Tue, 2017-09-05 23:53
Lieutenant-General, the Hon. Roméo Dallaire

Lieutenant-General, the Hon. Roméo Dallaire—international human rights advocate and founder and chair of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative—has hope for the future. And much of that hope is in today’s youth.

“The youth of this nation, what they can master, what they can realize, and our support in letting them go…to have their boots soiled in a developing nation, to light a pilot light of passion for humanity, that for me is what should exist,” General Dallaire said to a standing ovation in a passionate keynote that drew hundreds of StFX students and greater Antigonish community members to the Keating Centre on Sept 5.

On the very first day of classes on campus, General Dallaire joined with several student speakers to provide an extraordinary night of learning.

The XTalks evening, with a theme of ‘Life,’ was co-hosted by StFX’s Students’ Union, the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership and the Xaverian Weekly

As McKenna Centre executive director Mary Coyle noted the night’s speakers are here to “share information, inspire, motivate and help guide us.”


“Go out there and get your boots dirty and bring that story back, come back with the sacred flame of passion that will never leave you,” General Dallaire encouraged university students in the audience.

“You have what we never had, the ability to influence the world,” he said as he talked about how today’s youth are already global citizens, a generation without borders, and masters of technology.

As we enter a complex and ambiguous era, you have now in your hands the power to influence, to be activists like never before, he said.  

“The world is there waiting for you to engage…why not do it, why not be an activist?

“You are the ones who have the power to change,” he said as he also noted “you have the responsibility.”

General Dallaire said as we enter university, we sometimes don’t realize we’re entering a leadership strata, and with it, we have the responsibility to see the nation continue to pursue its values and thrive into the future.


“That is a part of being a graduate of a fine institution like this. That will be a role that is given to you,” he said, “to help your own, but to go well beyond your borders, to help the plight of humanity.

In speaking about the future, it is important too to get a sense of the past to help better understand the future, he said.

General Dallaire spoke about the reasons he founded the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative and his goal to end the use and recruitment of child soldiers around the world. Recruiting children as weapons of war creates a vicious cycle, where children know of nothing else. It creates generational war, providing an ability not to win wars, but to sustain them, he said.

He also spoke about massive abuses of human rights he’s witnessed, to see neighbors turn against neighbors, humanity against humanity, and the dangers that come when humans are seen as things.

He spoke of how crucial it is to be involved in human rights so we never lose sight that all human beings are human beings,

“I believe there is a will out there to see humanity thrive, we’re faced with lots of frictions, but there is a depth of wanting this to go beyond survival, we want to thrive.”

Canadians, he said, have this sense of fair human endeavors. “Those are assets the world is looking for.”

Ms. Coyle and Sean Hopkins, VP activities and events, StFX Students’ Union, co-hosted the evening along with Xaverian Weekly co-editors Iain Kempt and Clare Keenan.

The event featured three dynamic X Talks speaker, all StFX students, Nia MacFarlane and Monica Miller of Shinerama; Cameron Sehl, entrepreneur and MacBain Riley Global Engagement Award winner; and Rebecca Mesay, Students' Union leader, Xaverian Leaders graduate and facilitator and McKenna Haiti Youth Leader.

The evening concluded with gifts and a donation from the organizers on behalf of all to the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, as well as a presentation from Tareq Hadhad of Peace by Chocolates to General Dallaire.

The McKenna Centre presents: An Evening With President Bill Clinton

Continuing Education Events - Tue, 2017-09-05 09:10

On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, StFX's Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership will present what promises to be the leadership event of the year in downtown Toronto. Join us as the Honourable Frank McKenna hosts an evening discussion on leadership with one of the most influential leaders in the world, President Bill Clinton. 

The Frank McKenna Centre For Leadership presents 

An Evening with President Bill Clinton
The Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Ontario
Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017        
Reception 5:30 p.m.  |  Dinner 6:30 p.m.

Table Information:
  • $5,000 per table/10 seats per table
  • Due to high demand, individual seats are not available


To order a table

Online: to place an order online click here
Phone: please call (902) 867-2359  Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. AST
Email: please contact ckelly@stfx.ca


Sponsorship Opportunities:

There are three sponsorship levels available. To become a sponsor or for more information, please call (902) 867-2359  Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. AST, or email ckelly@stfx.ca.


The PRESENTED BY Sponsorship Level ($50,000):  benefits include

• Recognition in all promotional material including reception, media kit, dedicated web site
• Recognition on-screen throughout the dinner
• Recognition in the event program speaking remarks
• Two complimentary tables of 10 seats per table (value $10,000) in a prominent location
• An exclusive opportunity for FOUR guests to meet personally with President Clinton, including a photo


The IN ASSOCIATION WITH Sponsorship Level ($25,000):  benefits include

• Recognition in promotional material including reception, media kit, dedicated web site
• Recognition on-screen throughout the dinner
• One complimentary table of 10 seats per table (value $5,000) in a prime location
• An exclusive opportunity for TWO guests to meet personally with President Clinton, including a photo


The SUPPORTED BY Sponsorship Level ($15,000):  benefits include

• Mention in promotional material including reception, media kit, dedicated web site
• Mention on-screen throughout the dinner
• One complimentary table of 10 seats per table (value $5,000) in a prime location
• An exclusive opportunity for ONE guests to meet personally with President Clinton, including a photo



About StFX's Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership

The Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership is a beacon for those interested in leadership development. Building on StFX University's traditions of leadership development and service to community, the centre provides meaningful and effective leadership programming, offering students opportunities to learn through in-class and hands-on experiences, including learning directly from some of the world's most influential leaders. 

The McKenna Centre for Leadership is focused on teaching students not only how to lead, but how to help others strenghten leadership qualities. For more information, click here.



The start of something special – StFX welcomes Class of 2021

Continuing Education Events - Sat, 2017-09-02 16:10
O-Crew welcomes members of the Class of 2021

It’s 7:30 a.m. and already it feels like the start of something special.

“Are you excited?” an upper-class student greets two first year students as they make their way into StFX’s Keating Centre for Welcome Day 2017, a day designed to introduce students to StFX, make them feel at home and provide the information they need for their time at university.

Inside the Keating Centre, StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald personally greets the incoming class as students and their families move through registration and into a Student Services Showcase that includes information booths from departments across campus, food stations, and the StFX photo booth.

As the nearly 1,000 members of the StFX Class of 2021 and their families arrive onto campus for the first time, the exuberant, pink shirt clad student ambassadors of the O-Crew are there to meet them, singing, dancing, and helping ease first year jitters.

Wel-come home! Wel-come home!’ they cheer.

“Oh, my gosh, is that frosh,” the dancing, colourful students chant as members of the first-year class arrive to check into residence. “What room are you, let’s get you settled.”

Along with moving into residence, Welcome Day includes Parent Orientation sessions, a formal President’s Welcome and faculty and staff on hand to chat and answer questions.


In his welcoming remarks, Dr. MacDonald encouraged students to be academically focused and socially engaged.

“Think about your time here at StFX and what you’re about to embark on,” he said as he delivered two key messages to students, parents and family.

Dr. MacDonald says he looks for two things in students that come to StFX. The first is that they’re academically focused—“that you think of yourself as a university student, someone who is going to embrace all aspects from an intellectual point of view”—and to think more deeply about what it is they want to learn at an institution like StFX.  

“The second part is to be socially engaged in life,” he said as he advised students to be engaged in community, to join a society, get involved in student life, perhaps join Service Learning or Shinerama or O-Crew.

“This is a place that believes young people can make a difference in the world.

“I welcome you to this very, very special place, StFX and I welcome you to the Xaverian community.”


“We will give you the tools to make a difference in the world,” StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley told students as he remarked that part of the essence of StFX is its outstanding faculty and staff and unique community.

He also reassured parents that StFX cares about their sons and daughters. “We want to ensure they have the best university experience possible.

“Classes start soon. We are ready for you,” he said.

Students’ Union president Annie Sirois also encouraged students to become involved, to take the opportunity they have at StFX to get out of their comfort zone, to be ambitious, to seize opportunities and give opportunities to others.

It’s not always going to be easy,

“You’re going to have tough nights and tough mornings, but that doesn’t mean you won’t grow,” she told students.

StFX Head of Student Services and Vice-President of Finance and Administration Andrew Beckett spoke about the StFX student experience, and about the Xaverian Commitment – a commitment students make to themselves in the pursuit of excellence.

It’s a commitment to hold yourself responsible for your personal growth, but do it yourself doesn’t mean do it alone, he said. “There are tremendous supports here to help you,” he noted. “We have tremendous, passionate, dedicated faculty and staff. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We want you to be successful.

“You made a great choice to be here. Embrace this opportunity and make it your own. Welcome to StFX.”

Students’ Union executive member, vice-president academic, Patrick Panet-Raymond hosted the formal ceremony.   


Welcome Day has been great, says Zach Murray of St. John’s, NL, a first-year music student.

“It’s been cool. It’s way more extravagant than I thought, the whole set-up, with all the returning students welcoming you. It feels very much like you’re welcome. There’s no pressure. It’s very cool,” he says.

It’s a sentiment echoed by his mom, Ann Murray. “It’s been awesome,” she says, offering a parent perspective. “Everyone is so happy and friendly and it’s not confusing at all.”

First year social justice colloquium student Calisha Smith of Richmond Hill, ON says she came to StFX for the small class sizes and the campus feel. She says it’s a little intimidating to start university, but the day has been good and she appreciates the warm welcome. “I like that there’s people everywhere talking. It’s so friendly.”

“It’s very welcoming and organized,” her mom Kelly Smith agrees. “There are so many people here to help. It’s not really as daunting as I thought it would be.”

That help is something that Bailey Randall, an aquatic resources and sociology student from Antigonish, NS, likes. “It’s great to have people here to guide you,” she says. “It’s different here than high school and it’s nice to have the amount of people here to help.”

“People are very welcoming. If you look lost, they just ask if they can help you,” adds Kendra Vigneault of Antigonish, NS, who starts a business degree. 

Commercial field testing of StFX’s innovative gas sensor technology underway

Continuing Education Events - Fri, 2017-09-01 13:18
L-r, Jennifer Baillie and Tara Hanlon

The commercial testing of StFX’s innovative gas sensor technology is now well underway in the oil and gas fields of western Canada.

Faculty and students of StFX earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk’s Flux Lab and Altus Geomatics (a Canadian Altus Group company) have combined forces to field test for commercial use their vehicle-based Emissions Attribution via Computational Techniques (“ExACT”) gas leak detection technology.

In January 2017, Altus Geomatics and StFX signed a collaboration agreement for the exclusive commercialization and usage rights of the technology. The next step in commercialization is to refine ExACT for use in a real world, marketable context. Until now, the technique has been used primarily for research.

Now, with the financial support of Altus and funding from Springboard Atlantic and the Idea to Innovation (“I2I”) program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), this commercial testing is underway. 

The ExACT sensor is mounted on a vehicle and collects near-ground geochemical readings that are uploaded to a cloud-based database and allows for real-time analysis. It is capable of covering a large region at a very fine scale, which provides operators with the detailed data and analytics they require to detect leaks before they become a regulatory issue.

The ability to identify emissions in an efficient and cost-effective manner allows producers to minimize the economic cost of lost commodities and maximize environmental protection, says StFX Manager of Industry Liaison Andrew Kendall.

He says this phase of the ExACT research will leverage the oil and gas industry expertise of Altus to fine-tune the vehicle mounted gas technology into equipment ready to use by their field operators to rapidly identify small gas leaks from oil and gas wells, pipelines and refineries quickly, and provide this information to the oil and gas companies so that those leaks can be eliminated or controlled.

“This is an excellent example of technology transfer,” he says. “The unique scientific expertise of Dr. Risk and his student researchers combined with the business focus and industry knowledge of Altus will ultimately result in the elimination or at least significant reduction in gas releases form the oil and gas industry.”

Dr. Risk agrees. “This partnership with Altus is demonstrating that what these StFX Flux Lab students are learning in the research lab has direct, positive applications for industry. The oil and gas industry is serious about reducing its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and they are now looking towards these students for solutions.” 


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