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Research forum to showcase important work being undertaken by M.Ed. and PhD students in StFX’s Faculty of Education

Fri, 2018-07-13 09:17
L-r, StFX education faculty and committee members Dr. Dan Robinson, Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, Dr. Joanne Tompkins, and Dr. David Young. Missing from the photo is committee member Dr. Anne Murray Orr.

StFX Master of Education and Inter-University Doctoral Program in Educational Studies graduate students will have the unique opportunity to present and share their research on Monday, July 23 when the StFX Faculty of Education hosts the Educational Research Forum (ERF), beginning at noon in the auditorium of the Schwartz School of Business. 

Delivering the keynote address at the ERF will be Dr. Margaret Kovach of the University of Saskatchewan, this year’s Summer Institute Scholar in Residence. In addition to the keynote, Dr. Kovach will also be visiting M.Ed. and PhD classes following the ERF. 

In the audience will be 120 educators, who are attending their first two courses in StFX’s Master of Education program, 14 new students enrolled in the Inter-University Doctoral Program in Educational Studies, as well as educational partners from around the province. 

“The Educational Research Forum provides a venue to showcase the important work being undertaken at StFX. It is a wonderful opportunity for current and former graduate students to share their research with a wider audience,” says Dr. David Young, Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Leadership.

Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, Chair of the Inter-University Doctoral Degree Program, adds, “It is a unique event in that it brings into focus research that is relevant to Nova Scotia teachers and learners in a variety of educational contexts as well as the quality of graduate research happening in both the M.Ed. and PhD programs.” 

Following opening remarks from Dr. Young, as well as Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Kovach will deliver her keynote address entitled, “What Makes Indigenous Methodologies Different? Some Thoughts on Principles, Practices, and Possibilities.” 

Dr. Kovach is the well-known author of Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts, and is a leader in numerous areas, some of which include Indigenous research (epistemology and methods), leadership and governance in First Nations education, and Indigenous lifelong and adult learning.

Following the keynote address, graduate students will share the results of their research in a conference style format. 

A reception in the Schwartz School will allow for informal discussions about the research presentations.

The ERF organizing committee, comprised of Dr. Dan Robinson, Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, Dr. Anne Murray-Orr, Dr. Joanne Tompkins, and Dr. David Young, wishes to thank for their support the Office of the Academic Vice-President and Provost, the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, Continuing and Distance Education, and the Office of the Dean of Education. 

Two gold awards for StFX Advancement at national CCAE conference

Thu, 2018-07-12 14:04
L-r, Iain Boyd accepting the CCAE gold award in the “Best Fundraising Initiative’ category for the Xaverian Scholarship and Bursary Fund Campaign, and Alexa Zarins, Mike MacKenzie and Jessica MacLellan accepting the ‘Best Use of Social Media’ category gold for the StFX Day of Giving Campaign.

The StFX Advancement team has struck gold—twice—for its outstanding work. 

StFX Advancement was recently recognized nationally, winning two Prix d'excellence Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) gold medal awards at the 2018 CCAE national conference held this year in Halifax, NS.

The Prix d'excellence is the annual awards program of the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education, recognizing top achievements in alumni affairs, public affairs, communications, marketing, development, advancement services, stewardship, student recruitment and overall institutional Advancement.

StFX took home two national first place awards, one in the ‘Best Use of Social Media’ category for its StFX Day of Giving Campaign, and the other in the “Best Fundraising Initiative’ category for the Xaverian Scholarship and Bursary Fund Campaign.

“I was very, very proud of the Advancement team, and of the university, that we were recognized for our work among our peers across the country,” says Murray Kyte, StFX Vice-President, Advancement. 

“First and foremost, it’s important to know that our work is recognized as being of high quality and relevant, which supports our team’s engagement and pride. It’s also important for the university to be recognized as a place where high quality work is happening, which supports the great work that is happening in all areas of the university,” he says. 

“Frank McKenna always says StFX punches above its weight, this is another instance where StFX knocks it out of the park, competing against large schools.” 

Mr. Kyte says a lot of people may not know what the Department of Advancement does. The department, he says, provides a broad variety of services to support the university’s vision. It primarily consists of three functions, alumni affairs; development, which is the fundraising apparatus; and all marketing and communications for the university.

Among the department’s work is producing marketing materials, digital platforms, public and media relations, the AlumniNews magazine, relationship building, major and planned gifts, fundraising campaigns, and the Annual Giving program, and playing a key role in planning and executing events such as Homecoming, Convocation and the X-Ring ceremony, as well as working with the StFX Alumni Association.   


On the leading edge–StFX psychology faculty and students celebrate success at national convention

Wed, 2018-07-11 14:56
Delegates at the pre-conference

Once again, StFX psychology faculty and students were well represented at the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) National Convention, which brings together almost 1,800 psychologists and psychology students. 

Of particular note, StFX psychology professor Dr. Karen Blair organized the largest ever LGBTQ psychology conference to take place in Canada as a pre-conference, and StFX psychology professor Dr. Margo Watt was honoured with the John C. Service Member of the Year Award from the Canadian Psychological Association, recognizing CPA members or fellows who have given exceptional service or made a distinguished contribution to the association during the year. 

The event was held this year in Montreal in late June. As host of the 2018 International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP), the CPA’s 79th annual meeting and convention was this year integrated in the ICAP 2018 program.

Dr. Blair organized the LGBTQ psychology conference as a pre-conference to ICAP. Some 115 delegates from over 20 countries participated in two full days of programming. Dr. Blair and Rhea Hoskin, an instructor at the StFX Student Success Centre and a PhD candidate at Queen's University, received a $25,000 SSHRC Connection Grant held at StFX to support the event and matching funds were provided by the International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet). Much of the funding went towards supporting travel bursaries for international delegates, including delegates coming from as far as Uganda, Chile, South Korea and New Zealand. 

Breanna O’Handley, StFX’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Advisor and a recent StFX graduate, and Ms. Hoskin each presented their research at the pre-conference, as did Dr. Blair’s master’s student, Kay Jenson, from Acadia University. The students had the opportunity to meet and speak with some of the top researchers in the field, including Dr. Sari van Anders, a newly appointed Canada 150 Chair at Queen’s University, who was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. 

psychology conference 2018.jpg L-r, Breanna O’Handley, Daragh McDermott (Anglia Ruskin University, UK), Dr. Karen Blair, Rhea Hoskin, and Kay Jenson (Acadia University) 

psychology conference 2018 1.jpg L-r, Dr. Margo Watt, Emma Truffyn and Alley Goodreau

Dr. Blair, the program chair, says participating in the conference was invaluable. “This coming winter 2019 semester, I’ll be teaching a 300 level psychology course on LGBTQ psychology (Psyc 386). It is the first time that the course, or anything similar to it, will be offered at StFX and the conference was a great opportunity to learn about the latest advances in the field, which I will be able to now incorporate into the course,” she says. 

“It was such a hit that we are now planning a second conference to take place in July 2020 in Prague.” Dr. Blair and Ms. Hoskin will also be editing a special issue Psychology and Sexuality based on the research presented at the 2018 pre-conference. 

In recognition of the challenges and risks that many LGBTQ researchers face in different parts of the world, conference delegates donated $660 to Rainbow Railroad to help support a fundraiser that StFX student Laura Sevigny started last fall after taking a course with Dr. Blair and learning about the Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian organization helping LGBTQ refugees seek asylum in Canada. 


A highlight from the conference included Dr. Margo Watt receiving the John C. Service Member of the Year Award, which was presented this year to members of the Task Force on Criminal Justice, of which Dr. Watt is a member.

Dr. Watt also delivered the section keynote for the Criminal Justice Psychology Section. Her talk was entitled, “Fitness to Stand Trial and Criminal Responsibility Assessments in Canada: Improving Access to Qualified Mental Health Professionals.”

Several of Dr. Watt’s students also presented their research during the convention. 

Emma Truffyn, a 2018 StFX graduate who is starting a graduate program in counselling psychology at Western University this fall, one of Canada’s top psychology graduate programs, presented her thesis research as a poster, “An Investigation of Anxiety in Dental Services.” 

Fourth year honours student Jessie Doyle presented a poster, “Anxiety, Sensitivity and Mindfulness As Mediators of Relations Between Attachment and Cluster B Personality Traits,” and Alley Goodreau presented a poster on research from Dr. Watt’s lab, “The Mental Health of University Student Athletes.”   

Dr. Blair also presented a section chair address during the main conference as chair of the CPA’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity section (When Everything is Your Topic: A Peek into a Program of Research Focused on LGBTQ2S+ Psychology) and Ms. Hoskin gave two more presentations during this part of the conference. 


New Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy announced for StFX

Tue, 2018-07-03 14:57
Dr. Peter Kikkert

St. Francis Xavier University, in collaboration with Irving Shipbuilding Inc, would like to announce its new Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy, Dr. Peter Kikkert for The Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at St. Francis Xavier University.

Dr. Kikkert will work to research Canada’s role in global marine security issues with a focus on the Arctic region, and will contribute to strengthening the marine industry in Canada.

“I am very excited to be a part of the Mulroney Institute of Government,” said Dr. Peter Kikkert, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy. “This Institution is set to become a leader in the field of public policy and governance and I’m pleased to be a part of this important work and share and expand my research in arctic and marine policy issues.”

His research work will be a strong complement to that of Dr. Lajeunesse, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Artic Marine Security at StFX, and they will form a great collaborative team. 

Dr. Kikkert’s research focuses on security, sovereignty, stewardship and international legal issues in the polar regions. His current and proposed work as Irving Shipbuilding Chair will focus on the development of the Polar Code, the evolution of Northern transportation systems and the enhancement of local search and rescue and emergency response capabilities in northern communities.

“We are delighted with the appointment of Dr. Peter Kikkert as Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy,” noted Dr. Richard Isnor, Interim Director of the Mulroney Institute of Government and Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies.  “His research work will be a strong complement to Dr. Adam Lajeunesse, the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security, who has already had a tremendous impact in advancing research efforts at the Mulroney Institute in his first year at StFX.  Dr. Kikkert and Dr. Lajeunesse are research collaborators and I expect they will continue to form a strong collaborative team linking with other researchers from across the country and internationally.  The strong support of Irving Shipbuilding Inc. for each of these Research Chairs have helped to establish a unique pillar of Arctic-oriented research at the Mulroney Institute of Government that will help inform policy in a range of sectors.”  

The Mulroney Institute of Government, which was announced in October, 2016, will be Canada’s leading centre for undergraduate teaching and research in the field of public policy and governance. A cornerstone of the project includes an endowment that is in excess of $20 million for academic chairs and student scholarships and bursaries. 

Irving Shipbuilding has provided $1 million in funding for two Irving Shipbuilding Chair positions as part of its Value Proposition commitments under the National Shipbuilding Strategy  – Canada’s 30-year plan to renew the fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. 

“Irving Shipbuilding is proud to welcome Dr. Kikkert to StFX as an Irving Shipbuilding research chair,” says Mr. Kevin McCoy, President of Irving Shipbuilding Inc. “We know the work undertaken by the two Irving Shipbuilding chairs will inspire students and increase the knowledge of Canada’s growing marine industry, supporting the mandate of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.”

In 2011, Irving Shipbuilding was selected by the Government of Canada to construct Canada’s future naval combatant fleet and committed to investing 0.5% of its contract revenues in creating a sustainable marine industry across Canada. This will amount to approximately $12.5M over the construction of Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, the first class of vessel under construction at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Human kinetics student Kelsey Ellis selected to present obesity research at Canadian conference

Tue, 2018-06-26 09:52
Kelsey Ellis

Kelsey Ellis, a third year StFX human kinetics honours student from Ottawa, ON, was selected as one of the few undergraduate students chosen to deliver research at the Canadian Obesity Meeting for Students and New Professionals. 

The multidisciplinary conference designed to highlight the latest advances in obesity research was held at Western University in London, ON from June 20-22, 2018.  

Ms. Ellis's proposal presentation focused on the design of sustainable physical activity programming for adults with intellectual disability living in community assisted living. Individuals with intellectual disability are at a higher risk for obesity related conditions due to a number of personal and environmental barriers many face for a healthy lifestyle, she says. 

Ms Ellis has been working closely on this project with her supervisor, human kinetics professor Dr. Amanda Casey whose research centres on interventions and reducing sedentary behaviour in group homes.  

“The conference allowed Ms. Ellis an opportunity to gain valuable insight from experts in the field and share knowledge to help her design interventions for vulnerable populations,” Dr. Casey says.

“She discussed her findings with graduate researchers, professors and other healthcare practitioners interested in preventative medicine and addressing chronic disease in marginalized populations.” 

Ms Ellis, who is also an All-Canadian X-Women soccer player, was one of eight students selected to receive a competitive travel award from the Canadian Obesity Network to attend the conference. She is the incoming president of StFX’s Canadian Obesity Network Chapter. At the conference she was able to meet with other chapters across Canada and discuss advances in obesity research and innovative ideas focusing on how to promote obesity management and prevention on and off campus and make a difference in the community. 

This summer Ms. Ellis is also a 2018 recipient of an RBC Foundation Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Award for a second project focusing on sustainable physical activity opportunities for children with autism spectrum disorders. These awards are worth up to $6,250 for a minimum of 12 weeks and a maximum of 16 weeks of paid research. 

StFX psychology professor receives SSHRC Insight grant to study how sharing and fairness develop in children across cultures

Mon, 2018-06-25 10:03
StFX psychology professor and SSHRC Insight Grant recipient Dr. Tara Callaghan (left) and student researcher, 2018 StFX psychology graduate Jessica Delorey

Collaboration. Concern for others. Equality and fairness. How does sharing and a sense of fairness develop in children across diverse cultures? That’s a question StFX psychology professor Dr. Tara Callaghan will tease apart in a new international research study. 

Dr. Callaghan is the successful recipient of a significant three-year SSHRC Insight Grant. The study, A longitudinal study of reciprocal sharing across diverse cultural context, will see her conduct research in two diverse cultural settings; one a traditional rural village in India and the other in Antigonish, a small town in Nova Scotia. Dr. Felix Warneken, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is a collaborator on the project. 

“The reason is to not only see what’s common across cultures, what we may be predisposed to as part of our human nature, but also to see how parents holding different, or even the same, beliefs may socialize or parent their children differently and how socialization goals also play a role in children’s development outcomes,” she says. “Our parents raise us to be successful in the culture we’re developing within. They’re passing on those beliefs whether they mean to or not,” she says. 

“We try to understand where basic psychological abilities and traits are coming from, and the cultural wash that goes over it,” says Dr. Callaghan, who has been conducting research across cultures on the development of positive social behaviors in children since 2002. This research will continue a long-time collaboration with Dr. Warneken and three other developmental researchers, Dr. Peter Blake (Boston University), Dr. Katie McAuliffe (Boston College), and Dr. John Corbit, who will be involved in study design, analysis and student supervision at StFX. 

“Whether we are looking at those basic psychological abilities and how they develop, or the cultural supports and how they impact development, it all leads back to that question, the origins of human nature,” Dr. Callaghan says. 

She says her research is broadly focused on understanding the development of positive social behaviour, altruism is included, collaboration is included, children’s sharing and helping. It’s an area in developmental psychology that’s really exploding right now, she says. And also one that is overlapping with other fields of study such as economic game theory, cultural anthropology and human evolutionary biology. 

“Our team is trying to tease apart the factors that increase or decrease these positive social behaviors, the degree to which they are part of our biological predispositions as humans and how factors like cultural beliefs, parenting practice and children’s experience with other children can shift that around,” she says.  

In the SSHRC funded study, they’ll be looking at a number of psychological abilities that are believed to be foundations for reciprocity; where children understand that if they give something to someone now, that person may respond in kind in the future. The psychological foundations include things like future-oriented thinking and planning, taking the perspectives of other people, and especially their emotional perspective. The target age range is three to five years of age, she says, when there are major changes in social cognition that may pave the way for children to act in ways that are more prosocial, and to be more strategic in their prosocial behavior. The research also aims to determine whether children’s prosocial behavior is predicted by the socialization goals of their parents.

The SSHRC Insight Grant has also allowed her to hire student researchers to work in her lab, including 2018 StFX psychology graduate Jessica Delorey, and Antigonish native Annie Cudmore.

This summer, Dr. Callaghan will travel back to India (where she conducted preliminary research over the winter) to conduct the study with the assistance of Indian field researchers for a three-week period. The goal is to have the first, three-year-old, wave of the longitudinal study completed early in the fall. 


StFX Archives Now Searchable

Tue, 2018-06-19 12:15

Patrons are now able to search the collections of the St. F.X. University Archives online. You can find the link under" Search Our Collection" on the Archives website.

The collection is searchable by a central portal or search box.  The records are divided into corporate records (St. F.X. records), and personal papers, plus other classifications, etc.  Please continue to check back as records are added on a continual basis.

Mr. John Peacock announced as StFX Chancellor

Fri, 2018-06-15 10:57
John Peacock

St. Francis Xavier University is pleased to announce its 10th Chancellor, Mr. John Peacock, a StFX alumnus and highly respected Canadian corporate and philanthropic leader.

Mr. Peacock is the retired Executive Vice-President of Fednav Limited where he continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He is also on the Board of Teekay Offshore Partners, and although retired from his various community boards, he is very active in pursuing the philanthropic interests of The Peacock Family Foundation, which he established when he retired from Fednav.

Mr. Peacock and his wife Adrienne are StFX graduates from the Class of 1963. Both have remained strong supporters and actively involved at their alma mater. Mr. Peacock has given his time and talent, serving on the Coady International Institute Advisory Board and Mrs. Peacock serving on the StFX Board of Governors. They are Coady International Institute Honorary Patrons. Together, they established the Dr. John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Responsibility at StFX in recognition of Mr. Peacock’s former professor who greatly impacted his academic experience while he was a student.  

“StFX is a special place, and I am honoured and delighted to be able to take on the role of Chancellor,” says Mr. Peacock. “For both Adrienne and myself, our time at StFX was a wonderful experience. More than just a learning experience, our student days helped shape our lives for the better. It is indeed a privilege for me to be able to play my part in promoting that same excellent foundation for the next generations of students.”

Michael Boyd, Chair of the StFX Board of Governors, says the university is thrilled to welcome Mr. Peacock to the role. “John has enjoyed a distinguished career and brings much expertise as a recognized leader nationally and internationally. All the while he has maintained a deep commitment to StFX, understanding the important role the institution has played in developing students for the betterment of society,” Mr. Boyd says.

“We are extremely proud to welcome John as Chancellor,” says StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald. “A StFX champion through and through, and a gracious and humble man, he has always gone above to support StFX. He brings extensive experience in the corporate world, has been a wonderful philanthropist, and has a deep belief in the value of a StFX education. We are looking forward to his inspired leadership.”

Mr. Boyd also took the opportunity to recognize and thank Dr. Susan Crocker, StFX’s ninth Chancellor, for her service and tireless dedication. “Susan was the first female and the first lay person to hold this position and we are very grateful for her contributions in advancing the university,” he says.

Mr. Peacock has over 40 years accounting and senior business leadership experience. He retired in 2007 from Fednav Limited, a Canadian ocean-going, dry-bulk ship-owning and chartering group. Joining as Fednav’s Treasurer in 1979, he became Vice-President Finance in 1984 and joined the board of directors. In 1998, Mr. Peacock was appointed Executive Vice-President of Fednav and President and Chief Operating Officer of Fednav International Ltd., the group’s principal operating subsidiary. Prior to joining Fednav, Mr. Peacock was a partner with Clarkson Gordon (now Ernst & Young) in Montreal, Canada. He has served on many boards which has included being Chairman, Oceanex Inc; Chairman, McGill University Health Centre Foundation; Governor of the Foundation of Quebec University Athletics, Director, Montreal General Hospital Foundation and Trustee, McCord Museum.

He takes on the role of StFX Chancellor on September 1, 2018.  

StFX student success at annual ChemCon Conference

Wed, 2018-06-13 10:00
Top row, l-r, Katie Doran, Dr. Gerry Marangoni, Pablo Scrosati, Shannon MacLennan, Dr. Geniece Tapley. Bottom: Andrew Duffy and Bry Crabbe.

A group of StFX chemistry students had a very successful time in attending the 43rd annual ChemCon Conference at Saint Mary’s University from June 8-10, 2018. This Atlantic Canada regional conference is the annual local meeting of the Chemical Institute of Canada. 

StFX had five students attend, Katie Doran, Andrew Duffy and Bry Crabbe from the Hallett-Tapley Group, Pablo Scrosati from the Razul Group, and Shannon MacLennan from the Maragoni Group, as well as two faculty members, Dr. Geniece Tapley and Dr. Gerry Marangoni.  

Mr. Duffy and Mr. Crabbe presented award-winning oral presentations. Mr. Duffy received first place in the ‘Organic best oral presentation division’ in the Undergraduate Organic Division for his talk entitled “Palladium Nanoparticles Supported on Niobium Oxide Perovskites as Heterogeneous Photocatalysts in the Heck Reaction,” and Mr. Crabbe received best oral presentation in the Graduate Materials Division for his talk entitled, “Photocatalytic C-C Coupling Reactions using AuNP Functionalized Potassium Niobium Oxide Perovskites.”

As well, Ms. Doran and Mr. Scrosati presented extremely well received poster presentations. 

“The students gained valuable experience explaining their research at the conference to people from several disciplines of chemistry and discussing their research to other members of the regional chemistry community,” says Dr. Tapley.

“Both the oral and poster presentations were well received and myself and Dr. Marangoni received several compliments on the work presented by the X students. We are pretty proud of them here in the Chemistry Department.”

Dr. Kent MacDonald, President and Vice-Chancellor, St. Francis Xavier University appointed Chair of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents (CONSUP)

Tue, 2018-06-12 12:49
StFX President and Vice Chancellor, Dr. Kent MacDonald

(HALIFAX, N.S.) – Dr. Kent MacDonald, President and Vice-Chancellor, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, N.S., has been appointed Chair of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents (CONSUP).


Dr. MacDonald follows Prof. Dianne Taylor-Gearing, President, NSCAD University, Halifax, N.S., who completed her two-year term as CONSUP Chair, June 5, 2018.


CONSUP is an advocacy organization representing Nova Scotia’s ten universities across the province.


Dr. MacDonald said that CONSUP is more committed than ever to fulfilling the visionary goals of the One Nova Scotia Report which declared that “universities represent one of Nova Scotia’s greatest comparative advantages.”


He added that, “our universities are a key pillar of the One Nova Scotia Report and central to successful achievement of many of its stretch goals for the province.”  He noted that, “helping Nova Scotia meet the objectives of its population growth strategy through attraction and retention of students; enhancing experiential learning opportunities through student co-op and internship programs; promoting entrepreneurism; leading R&D and commercialization of university research and ensuring Nova Scotia’s university sector maintains its high quality, accessibility and sustainability, are all important objectives for CONSUP now and into the future.”


Dr. MacDonald also commented that “our universities most important role is developing good citizens with creative thinking skills and problem-solving ability, attributes essential for a progressive, cohesive society.”


Nova Scotia’s universities are a key driver of the provincial economy and are the third largest export revenue sector behind tire manufacturing and seafood preparation and packaging.  The combined annual value of student (international and out of province) and research exports is $866 million annually.


Dr. MacDonald noted that Nova Scotia’s universities are also highly focused on inter-institutional collaborative initiatives to meet the objectives of the NS Accessibility Act (Bill 59); creating healthy campuses with a special emphasis on prevention of sexual violence and improving student mental health services and, fulfilling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations for post-secondary education.


For further information, contact:

CIndy MacKenzie

(902) 867 - 2401

Peter Halpin, Executive Director, CONSUP

(902) 425-4238/497-4419


StFX hosts national and regional physics and math conferences

Fri, 2018-06-08 16:23
Theory Canada 13 (TC13) participants at StFX

Academics from across Canada and from around the world were on the StFX campus this week to learn, share information and collaborate at two conferences related to physics and mathematics.

The Atlantic General Relativity Workshop and Conference (AGR 2018) took place June 6-7, followed on June 7-9 by the national conference on theoretical physics, Theory Canada 13 (TC13).

An audience of over 50 registered participants from Eastern Canada and internationally attended AGR 2018, organized by StFX mathematics professor Dr. Robert van den Hoogen. 

math conference 2018.jpg

Participants of the Atlantic General Relativity Workshop and Conference (AGR 2018)

TC 13, organized mainly by StFX physics professor and department chair, Dr. Peter Marzlin, brought about 75 participants from across Canada and abroad including India, Russia, the USA, Mexico, and western Europe to campus. 

“Theory Canada is the national conference on theoretical physics that brings together scientists working on Relativity, gravity, quantum physics, particle physics, and condensed matter theory,” Dr. Marzlin says. 

“We are the proud hosts of the 13th edition of the conference, which is sponsored by StFX, as well as the Perimeter Institute, the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, the Centre de Recherches Mathematiques, the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences, the Winnipeg Institute for Theoretical Physics, as well as two private companies (Lumiant and Solar Power Network).”

Dr. van den Hoogen says the AGR series of meetings has been a regular and annual feature of the Relativity and quantum gravity community in Atlantic Canada for over 25 years.

Prior to the conference, on June 5th, StFX hosted a one-day workshop for senior undergraduate and graduate students on “General Relativistic Effects in Cosmology.” Over 40 students and researchers from across the world converged on StFX and Antigonish to learn from local and international experts led by Dr. Chris Clarkson (Queen Mary College University of London) in a friendly and welcoming learning environment, he says.

Dr. Latham Boyle (Perimeter Institute) opened the AGR Conference on June 6th as the invited speaker and spoke on the topic of the “CPT symmetric universe." For the next two days, researchers from the Atlantic Provinces, Canada, the United States, Europe and Africa presented their research in all aspects of classical and quantum gravity.

This year’s workshop and conference was sponsored by StFX, the Perimeter Institute, and the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences (AARMS).

PhD student completing internship, ‘very important piece of the puzzle’ in StFX lab

Thu, 2018-06-07 10:05
PhD student Inês Leal (right) and Dr. Julius Ellrich

Inês Leal, a 3rd year PhD student from Portugal currently in the program of Oceanography at the Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski, is visiting StFX to study how pelagic food supply, barnacle larval condition, and barnacle settlement are related on our shores. 

“My project includes a latitudinal comparison of the ecophysiological mechanisms underlying recruitment of marine benthic invertebrates, which I have carried out in Greenland (polar region), Brazil (subtropical region) and Panama (tropical region) so far. Studying now in StFX makes up for the last and very important piece of the puzzle, a temperate region,” she says.

“I had the opportunity to do this internship in the lab of (StFX biology professor) Dr. Ricardo Scrosati as a follow up of the visit of my PhD co-supervisor Prof. Augusto Flores (CEBIMar/USP) to StFX last November. I am happy to strengthen this collaboration, and look forward to analyzing these results, as there is still a lot to find out on larval ecophysiology. Hopefully with this internship we will be able to fill in some gaps!”

“This is an important project because it will fill a gap on our understanding of how pelagic nearshore processes affect benthic processes on the shore. In fact, it is a hot topic in marine ecology these days,” Dr. Scrosati says.

Her thesis, he says, will eventually make comparisons of her Nova Scotia results with results for other coasts of the world she has recently investigated, such as those from Greenland, Panama, and Brazil, ultimately looking for commonalities.  

She recently started her field work in rocky intertidal habitats near Arisaig, NS, aided by Dr. Julius Ellrich, a post-doctoral fellow in the lab.

Dr. Scrosati says this is part of a larger project led by Rejéan Tremblay, from the University of Quebec, and Augusto Flores, from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. His lab has recently joined these efforts and prospects for biogeographically broad findings are exciting.

Ten-year study on cannabis use by youth reveals distressing results

Wed, 2018-06-06 15:47
Dr. Kara Thompson

St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) Psychology professor Dr. Kara Thompson has revealed troubling results from cannabis use by Canadian youth.

According to two new studies that followed patterns of marijuana use across a decade in Canadian youth, those who start using cannabis early and continue to use it often are more likely than their peers to have co-occurring problems, poor health outcomes, and less occupational and educational success in young adulthood.

A team of researchers, led by Dr. Kara Thompson, StFX, and Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater, University of Victoria, looked at data from the Victoria Healthy Youth Survey, which followed a cohort of 662 young people over 10 years. The youth, who were between the ages of 12 and 18 when the study began in 2003, were interviewed every two years about their substance use, mental health, accomplishments, and general wellbeing. The researchers observed how substance use patterns unfolded over time, and how these patterns were influenced by other factors in adolescence and young adulthood.

“We hear a lot of talk about risks for youth using cannabis, especially with legalization around the corner, but our understanding of patterns of cannabis use among Canadian youth over time and the consequences of use is actually quite limited,” says Leadbeater. “Our hope is that this work sheds light on how young Canadians use cannabis across adolescence and young adulthood, what predicts different patterns of use, and how these patterns contribute to mental health and well-being of young people.”

Two studies, published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science and Prevention Science, found five different patterns of cannabis use. Approximately 30 percent of the youth were classified as high-risk, meaning they started using cannabis frequently in early adolescence or increased in use across adolescents and were using more than once a week by young adulthood. These risky patterns of use were associated with the poorest health outcomes in young adulthood, including higher levels of substance use disorders, mental health and behavior problems, as well as lower levels of educational and employment outcomes.

“The young people who follow high-risk cannabis patterns are not only using cannabis. They often begin to use other substances (like alcohol) in adolescence, and they are experiencing other behavioral problems that may contribute to both negative outcomes and the initiation of cannabis,” says Thompson. “An effective public health approach to reducing cannabis for youth will need to acknowledge the contexts and co-occurring problems that accompany risky cannabis use in young people.”

Researchers say that findings from this study will provide results that government and other public health practitioners can use to inform current and future cannabis policies.

This project was one of a handful funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to look at how cannabis legalization would affect certain Canadian populations, including youth.

Study 1: Thompson, K., Merrin, G. J., Ames, M. E., & Leadbeater, B. (2018). Marijuana trajectories in Canadian youth: Associations with substance use and mental health. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement50(1), 17.


Study 2: Thompson, K., Leadbeater, B., Ames, M., & Merrin, G. J. (2018). Associations Between Marijuana Use Trajectories and Educational and Occupational Success in Young AdulthoodPrevention Science, 1-13.



StFX human nutrition students awarded Sir James Dunn Scholarships

Mon, 2018-06-04 10:30
L-r, 2017 scholarship recipient Karli Ochitwa and 2018 scholarship recipients Katlynn Serafinchon and Anna Neufeld

StFX human nutrition students were honoured with awards at the department‘s Integrated Dietetic Internship Program’s orientation session held recently.

The Sir James Dunn Foundation of St. Andrews, NB generously provides awards each year to interns in the StFX Integrated Dietetic Internship program. The award recognizes students who demonstrate the potential for leadership and a keen interest in dietetics as it relates to healthy aging and the nutritional care of the elderly. 

2018 Sir James Dunn Scholarships were awarded to fourth-year student Katlynn Serafinchon of Spruce Grove, AB and third-year student Anna Neufeld of Mission, BC. Both interns are currently in their first internship practicum experiences.

2017 recipient, Karli Ochitwa of Weyburn, SK is continuing her internship experience this term in her second internship practicum.

This $6,500 scholarship is renewable for each of the three 14-week internship practicum courses.

StFX Names Inaugural Dr. John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility

Wed, 2018-05-30 18:25

StFX has announced the first Dr. John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility, a new faculty position that will strengthen teaching and research in this important field of study.

Dr. Brad Long has been appointed to the position following a national search. Dr. Long is an Associate Professor of Management in StFX’s Gerald Schwartz School of Business and the current chair of the school’s Department of Business Administration.  He specializes in the fields of business ethics and leadership.  

“It’s a tremendous honour to be the inaugural chair holder,” said Dr. Long. “I’m excited to be focusing on corporate social responsibility in a business context, and to build new learning opportunities that show this field is an integral, core aspect of business knowledge.”

Corporate social responsibility examines how businesses and institutions contribute to the well-being of their communities at large. As the Dr. John T. Sears Chair, Dr. Long will create new teaching and research opportunities that further understanding of corporate social responsibility and help cultivate the next generation of globally responsible managers.

“The purpose of business is to improve the human condition and strengthen community,” he said. “It’s inconsistent for a business to be wealthy but for its community and environment to be impoverished. A healthy economy and a healthy society are all interrelated. You can’t have one without the other.”


The new chair was named in honour of Dr. John T. Sears, the distinguished alumnus, professor, administrator, community leader and mentor. A 1952 graduate, Dr. Sears returned to StFX as a business professor before later serving terms as dean of arts, dean of science and two appointments as academic vice-president. In 2002, StFX awarded Dr. Sears an honorary degree.

The chair is made possible through a generous $3 million endowment from John and Adrienne Peacock, both members of the StFX Class of 1963. Mr. Peacock was a student of Dr. Sears.

“When I think of my learning experience at StFX, there is one clear standout professor who made a great impression on me. That was Johnny Sears,” said Mr. Peacock, explaining his family’s decision to name the chair in Dr. Sears’ honour.

“Johnny Sears served StFX well and was a tremendous supporter of the wider Antigonish community,” said Dr. Tim Hynes, Dean of the Gerald Schwartz School of Business. “It’s fitting this chair is named in his honour, and fitting that Dr. Long – with his expertise in leadership and business ethics – holds the position.”


The new chair position will strengthen links between the Schwartz School of Business and other sustainability-related fields at StFX, such as development studies, the Coady International Institute and StFX’s new Climate and Environment program. It will also allow for programs that foster experiential student learning, such as field trips, guest lectures and research partnerships.

Dr. Long begins his new position on July 1.

Nova Scotia high school students attend StFX-CMS Math Camp

Fri, 2018-05-25 10:37
2018 StFX-Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) Math Camp participants

Grade 10 and 11 students from high schools across Nova Scotia were on the StFX campus May 18-20 to enhance their skills and have fun with mathematics at the fifth annual StFX-Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) Math Camp. This was the biggest year yet for the camp, with 44 bright and enthusiastic students living on campus for the weekend.

Organized by StFX Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science faculty Dr. Joe Apaloo, Dr. Tara Taylor, Dr. Robert van den Hoogen and Dr. Ping Zhou, the goal of the camp is to provide students in Nova Scotia with opportunities for personal growth in the mathematical sciences within a supportive environment.

The camp consisted of lectures that included hands-on activities by StFX faculty with a diverse range of interests, along with fun filled activities such as math relay races, math trivia, problem solving, and games. Five StFX undergraduate students acted as camp leaders for the busy weekend guiding the students both during and between the various lectures and activities.  

Participation in the camp is by invitation only. School principals or designates nominate up to two students per school. Participants are then selected from the list of nominees and invited to come to StFX for the weekend. At the end of the weekend, one participant commented, “I learned a lot throughout this weekend about new concepts and add-ons to old concepts,” while another stated, “Everyone was great! The talks were all so interesting and did a fantastic job of introducing us to all sorts of branches in math.”

The camp has the support of the Canadian Mathematical Society, Science Odyssey, the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences, and StFX.

Fascinating summer of research ahead for StFX students, recipients of the RBC Foundation Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Award

Fri, 2018-05-25 09:34
L-r, Hannah Moore, Monica Ragan, Kelsey Ellis and Alyssa Mansfield. Missing are Amy Rowe, Alejandra Torres, and Jake Yeandle.

This summer, StFX undergraduate student Hannah Moore will work to understand why and how women end up incarcerated. Fellow student Alejandra Torres will study the social, political, and racial logic of representations of racial minorities in contemporary scripted narrative television. And Jake Yeandle will complete a three-and-a-half month internship in Manly, Australia researching the issues, policies, and actions needed to implement a marine park in Sydney.

They are just three of the fascinating research projects seven StFX undergraduate students will undertake this summer as 2018 recipients of the RBC Foundation Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Award program. The awards are worth up to $6,250 for a minimum of 12 weeks and a maximum of 16 weeks of paid research. 

Fellow recipients Amy Rowe will study the impact of language on GDP; Monica Ragan will spend the summer looking at the Margaree River and the impacts associated with the title of Canadian Heritage Rivers System; Kelsey Ellis will evaluate the feasibility and potential health benefits of a community-based physical activity program for children with autism spectrum disorder; and Alyssa Mansfield will conduct research on non-citizen voting rights, laws and restrictions focusing on Canada. 

The research is made possible through the RBC Foundation Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Award program, which gives StFX students the opportunity to be involved in the creation of new knowledge and the creative use of existing knowledge through original research carried out under the supervision of a faculty supervisor/mentor.  

Funding to support student researchers in summer research internships through the Mulroney Institute of Government comes from the RBC Foundation.


“It is genuinely such an honour and a privilege to have been awarded the RBC Foundation Research Award. I am extremely grateful and eager to research because this is such a promising opportunity for myself, but also others such as the Elizabeth Fry Society and women whom they work with,” says Ms. Moore of Fredericton, NB, a third year honours student doing a degree in women’s and gender studies with a subsidiary in political science. 

She will research the “root causes of women’s criminality in Canada” and be supervised by StFX women and gender studies professor Dr. Rachel Hurst and Emma Halpern, director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia.

“Both of these women will provide me with excellent supervision, guidance and mentorship. My research question; “Why and how do women end up incarcerated?” was at the request of the Elizabeth Fry Society,” she says. “They identified this area as one that was lacking in research.”

Through her research, she will provide them with answers in the form of a literature review. She will identify and include all literature produced in a Canadian context on why and how women become incarcerated. 

Upon completion of her research there will be a report distributed to Canadian organizations, and she says this research will ideally aide in bettering the lives of criminalized women in Canada, and minimizing this number. “The RBC Grant allows me to research something that I am extremely passionate about; women and the criminal justice system, while simultaneously preparing for my thesis. The research that I will be producing is extremely fulfilling because it will be acted upon, and aid the Elizabeth Fry Society in their future endeavours relating to funding and justice reform. 


Ms. Torres, a fourth year honours English student from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, supervised by Dr.Mathias Nilges, will study in detail the social, political, and racial logic of representations of racial minorities in contemporary scripted narrative television. 

“While mainstream commentary and academic dialogue have long embraced the logic of diversity in order to combat old notions of racial distinction and exclusion, I wish to show that TV content is severely lagging behind this movement,” she says. 

“With the help of the research funding and the mentoring project, I will be able to dedicate the summer of 2018 to a detailed analysis of this phenomenon, and I hope to show that TV’s refusal to embrace multiculturalism’s beliefs must be confronted. We cannot simply keep changing channels.

“I am extremely grateful to have an opportunity to work on a project that is very close to my heart. My aim in this project, which in part arises from my own experience of these issues as a Latina woman, is to facilitate a better understanding of the ways in which mass culture may participate in both negative and positive ways in shaping the imagination of race and identity that translates into the very real social and political fabric of daily North American life.”

Fourth year economics student Amy Rowe of Aurora, ON, supervised by Dr. Zeynep Ozkok, will study the impact of language on GDP. 

“Using econometric techniques I will determine if countries with official languages that are linguistically similar to English have higher levels of GDP per capita. This can be explained by the fact that English is regarded as the lingua Franca, or language of business. So multinational corporations are now mandating English. Moreover, an increasing amount of academic resources masters programs worldwide are now being instructed in English,” she says. 

“I’m incredibly grateful to have this opportunity funded by RBC. To be able to apply the skills and knowledge that you’ve learned in the classroom to a research topic that you’ve chosen in is an awesome experience. It gives students a chance research experience, which is a crucial skill for many masters programs.”

For Monica Ragan, a fifth year anthropology and aquatic resources student supervised by Dr. L. Jane McMillan, the summer will be spent looking at the Margaree River and the impacts associated with the title of Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) may have on conservation, rights, and recreation. 


The research consists of gathering and comparing the perspectives different communities of river users on the impact CHRS designation has had on the Margaree River. This research examines the evolution of salmon use and actors associated with the Margaree River from three time periods. First, Mi’kmaq use of the river and salmon from time immemorial to 1986. Second, from 1986-1998, when the proposal and designation of the Margaree River as a CHRS site. Third, is from 1999-present to analyze the impact this designation has had on the various actors. From the past and present data gathered, she will make projections to the future relationship between the actors and the river. 

“The focus of this study is to understand how the watershed is regulated, to gather stories from those who access the resources and detail how the activities and resources are managed. It asks how and why the regulations have changed over time and seeks to discover if the regulations reflect the interests the various communities using the river, or if the interests of one community dominate how the resource is managed,” she says.

“This research opportunity means a lot to me. I am applying all the skills I have learned thus far in my educational career to make my own, unique project, and to work with and learn from my community. I would not be able to conduct this research or even quality of research without the RBC Foundation Research Award.”


Jake Yeandle of Oshawa, ON, a fourth year aquatic resources and public policy and social research student supervised by Dr. Doug Brown, says he is fortunate to have the opportunity to begin his research with a three-and-a-half month internship in Manly, Australia working for the Manly Environmental Centre and Northern Beaches Council. 

“There I will be researching the issues, policies, and actions needed to implement a marine park in Sydney, which would include the Northern Beaches coastline from Cabbage Tree Bay, Manly north to Barrenjoey and including the existing aquatic reserve in Sydney Harbour. This exciting opportunity falls directly in line with my degree pattern, incorporating public policy, social research, and aquatic resources. 

“Not only does it fit with my degree, but it also aligns with the priorities of the RBC Foundation and Mulroney Institute of Government by making use of global affairs, environmental policy, Indigenous affairs, and social policy and governance,” he says.

His independent majors research project will merge his focus of Australia’s marine park to compare the process for establishing these aquatic reserves in Canada and Australia. Reviewing relevant jurisdictions and legislation from both firsthand research in Australia, as well as, a selection of particular case studies from Canada will allow for parallels to be drawn between the two processes to highlight differences, strengths, and shortcomings of each separate country. 

His intent is to conduct research into each separate policy network to see what influence different actors have in separate contexts. 


“Environmental sustainability has been at the forefront of my educational interests for as long as I can remember and this opportunity, with the help of the Mulroney Institute of Government and the RBC foundation, could be one of the pivotal moments of my career, hopefully shaping my view of the world and providing me with numerous opportunities to learn and grow as a student and adult. I find myself very lucky to be able to have the opportunity to work alongside the Northern Beaches Council, Doug Brown, the Mulroney Institute of Government, and the RBC Foundation, to research this policy field and the comparisons between my home country and such a marine-rich place like Australia. Examining this project and the regulations of these processes, as well as their history, will enlighten me with knowledge that I will be able to transfer to the St. Francis Xavier community through Student Research Day, my major’s presentation, and conversation with the amazing community that St. Francis Xavier University has to offer. I am very excited to share this project with everyone.”

Fourth year human kinetics student Kelsey Ellis of Ottawa, ON, supervised by Dr. Amanda Casey, will be evaluating the feasibility and potential health benefits of a community-based physical activity program for children with autism spectrum disorder. 

“There is a high incidence of unintentional drowning especially in children under 14. However, there remains a lack of sustainable swim programs for children with autism despite evidence that aquatics skills are very important. Therefore a long-term goal of this research is to encourage accessibility, sustainability and repeatability of the current program across Nova Scotia,” she says. 


“I am very grateful to be among the recipients of the RBC Foundation Research Award. Through this award, StFX has provided me with the opportunity to pursue my academic interests by allowing me to devote my time and energy to my research. This award allows me to put into practice the knowledge that I have gained over the past three years while developing my research skills and gaining hands-on experience with vulnerable populations.”

Second year political science student Alyssa Mansfield of Antigonish, supervised by Dr. Nathan Allen, will conduct research on non-citizen voting rights, laws and restrictions focusing on Canada. 

“I will be focusing on how international norms surrounding overseas voting are translated and understood in the Canadian context and how this is applied to policy making. 

“This is an amazing opportunity that will allow me to expand my skills and add to my education. The grant allows me to expand my learning beyond the classroom and will expose me to learn how to understand law and policy that will help me in the future. I plan to peruse a career in law and this will allow me to gain background and skills that will help in the future.” 

Summer of research, opportunity, for six StFX UCR Student Award recipients

Thu, 2018-05-24 13:25
L-r, Connor McCabe, Claire Edington, Olivia Pushie, Maria Holley, Savannah MacDonald and Sean Freeborne.

Six StFX students will have the opportunity to push the boundaries of their knowledge, to conduct hands-on research under the supervision of a StFX faculty member, and make original research contributions this summer as recipients of StFX Student Research Awards and University Council for Research (UCR) Awards.

Each award is valued at $4,500. The 2018 UCR recipients are Connor McCabe, Claire Edington, Olivia Pushie, Maria Holley, Savannah MacDonald and Sean Freeborne.

“I feel very fortunate to have been chosen for this award, as it will give me the opportunity to grow as a student researcher. I think the UCR Student Awards provide students at StFX with the invaluable experience of engaging in research, making original contributions to their discipline and fostering relationships with professors and academic mentors,” says Claire Danielle Edington of Peterborough, ON, a fourth year honours human nutrition student supervised by Dr. Marcia English. 

This summer, she will work under the guidance of Dr. English and engage in research focusing on optimizing lactic acid fermentation in three Nova Scotian bean varieties, soldier beans, yellow peas, and Jacob's cattle beans. 

“Pulses (beans, lentils, and chickpeas) are part of the legume family and are of particular interest for this research since they provide consumers with healthy and environmentally sustainable dietary choices,” she says. “Research shows that diets rich in pulses have the potential to lower the risk of developing chronic diseases, however, the presence of off-flavour compounds is a limiting factor influencing pulse consumption among Canadians. The overall aim of this research is to evaluate the potential of fermentation strategies to limit off-flavor compounds in Nova Scotian bean protein isolates, in hopes of improving their aroma profile.” 

Savannah MacDonald of New Glasgow, NS, is entering the second year of the B.Ed. program. Working with supervisor Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, she will study the relationship between secondary students, poverty and literacy skill development in rural Nova Scotia high schools.

“I'm so excited,” she says. “This research is extremely valuable in terms of understanding student success - what it is, what it looks like, and how teachers can help. I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn more about this important subject with Dr. Mitton-Kükner, and I look forward to sharing what I discover.”

For Olivia Pushie of Antigonish, NS, entering her fourth year of an honours earth science degree with a major in aquatic resources, she will work with supervisor Dr. Alan Anderson, on research centered around examining pegmatitic rocks important for critical metals typically used in lithium ion batteries, electronics, cellphones, etc.

“The research I plan on conducting will help us to understand the origin and processes involved in the formation of ore mineralization so that we can devise better models for future exploration. Being awarded the UCR Student Award opens so many doors for me academically. Not only will I be able to conduct and contribute valuable research to the field of earth sciences, but I will also be able to further my own knowledge in something I am very passionate about, mineral/resource exploration,” she says. 

Connor McCabe, a second year engineering student from Greenwood, NS, supervised by Dr. Dave Risk, will be using a computational fluid dynamics software to more accurately measure winds from a transport truck.” I will also be collecting real-world data from trucks travelling at highway speeds. The goal of this research is to see how this information can be used to optimize the efficiency of the transportation industry to reduce operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions,” he says. 

“Having an opportunity like this as an undergraduate student is very rewarding. Being offered the potential to push the bounds of knowledge in my field of study makes the time spent studying all the more worth it. Doing research as an undergraduate also means gaining experience relevant to my program, providing me with new skills that are sure to be of great benefit throughout my career.”

Sean Freeborne, a fourth year honours earth science (geoscience) student from Baddeck, Cape Breton, NS, will conduct research exploring tectonic and genetic links between Southern Iberia (Spain) and Nova Scotia (Canada) over the summer. Field work for his research was conducted in Spain in February and this summer he will conduct work in Nova Scotia, as well as travelling to the University of New Brunswick to do detrital zircon geochronology work. “Having an opportunity such as this allows me to grow in my field of study,” he says. “This opportunity will provide me with essential experience in field geology, which is sought after in new graduates. I also hope to gain better critical thinking and research skills in my summer work at StFX, made possible by the UCR research grant.” 

Maria Holley of New Glasgow, NS, who is going into her fourth year of honours psychology with a two-year special concentration in forensic psychology, supervised by Dr. Kara Thompson, says this opportunity allows her to work in an area that is directly related to her studies and allows her to gain valuable experience that will benefit her in future endeavors. 

“This hands-on experience with research provides me with the opportunity to learn skills that I could not have acquired in a classroom setting or other situations. I am extremely grateful to have been given such an amazing opportunity,” she says.

“Dr. Thompson and I will be researching the simultaneous co-use of alcohol and marijuana and the effect that this co-use has on mental health, specifically in regard to depression and anxiety, among adolescents and young adults.”

NSERC USRA awards provide amazing opportunity to participate in summer research, say 14 StFX student recipients

Thu, 2018-05-24 11:11
Front row, l-r, Grace Tompkins, Renée McDonald, Heather-Ann Burrell, Mary Besaw, and Allison Hancock. Back row: Patrick O’Brien, Courtney MacDonald, Sachin Mohandas, Kyle Lasseter, Kerolos Youssef, and Pablo Scrosati. Missing are Kathleen Doiran, Liam Farrell and Emma Manning.

The opportunity is amazing, say 14 StFX students who will gain both research experience and summer employment as recipients of this year’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA). 

The NSERC USRA award is valued at $4,500 each, and will allow students to work on a variety of research projects that range from an ongoing bog restoration to extending our known Standard Model of particle physics into new physics. 

Recipients include Grace Tompkins, Renée McDonald, Heather-Ann Burrell, Mary Besaw, Allison Hancock, Patrick O’Brien, Courtney MacDonald, Sachin Mohandas, Kyle Lasseter, Kerolos Youssef, Pablo Scrosati, Kathleen Doiran, Liam Farrell and Emma Manning.

“I am very grateful to my professors and the NSERC organization for providing me with this amazing opportunity to research at the forefront of a field that I hope to pursue graduate studies in. This will undoubtedly be an invaluable experience that I hope to apply to my future career and academic endeavours,” says Sachin Mohandas of Antigonish, NS, who is supervised by Dr. Robert van den Hoogen.

“I am going into my fourth year of physics here at StFX, and this summer I will be using dynamical systems theory to analyze a system of differential equations governing the evolution of our universe, with the aim of determining whether an alternative theory of gravity can possibly provide an explanation for the mysterious Dark Energy currently observed in the expanding cosmos,” he says. 

“Additionally, I will be learning and utilizing new mathematical techniques to calculate and analyze a set of field equations describing our universe within another alternative theory of gravity: teleparallel gravity.”

Renée McDonald of Surrey, BC, who just completed the third year of an environmental science degree, says she is grateful to be involved in compelling research and to have had unique learning opportunities at StFX. 

“Working alongside successful researchers, building technical and practical skills is an incredible experience that has fueled my curiosity and interest to continue research in this field,” says Ms. MacDonald, who is supervised by Dr. Dave Risk.

“My research will involve using a compact, multi-gas analyzer package to measure gas migration from abandoned wells. Methane released from subsurface infrastructure faults of abandoned wells can travel into the surrounding soil which will be measured to determine the magnitude and spatial extent to which soil gas content is altered by gas migration.”

Fourth year honours BSc mathematics (statistics concentration) student Grace Tompkins of Valley, NS, supervised by Dr. Derrick Lee, will conduct research on the effects of pre-pregnancy exposures on breast cancer. “I’m so grateful to be able to gain research experience before hopefully heading on to do graduate studies,” she says. “I was fortunate to find a supervisor who was willing to take me on as a research student, with research that aligned with my interests while being in my field of study. It’s going to be a really rewarding experience, and I’m happy to be able to stay in Antigonish this summer.”

Fourth year honours physics student Patrick O'Brien of Fort McMurray, AB, who is supervised by Dr. Peter Poole and Dr. Hossain Ahmed, will spend the summer doing data analysis from the BaBar experiment run at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. 

“The goal is to look for charged lepton flavour violation, which would extend our known Standard Model of particle physics into new physics. Our universe consists of only a handful of particles that we know about, which are described in the Standard Model, and we're trying to potentially improve that model by looking for violations of it. This project will introduce me, and help prepare me for the field that I would like to pursue in grad school and beyond. I am very thankful towards my supervisors, along with the university and NSERC for this opportunity.”


Third year honours biology student Emma Manning of Saint John, NB, supervised by Dr. David Garbary, will be working on Brier Island running germination experiments with the rare Mountain Avens, Geum peckii to measure the conditions under which it grows and thrives. G. peckii only occurs in two locations across the world, Brier Island and Mount Washington in the U.S. and her project is part of an ongoing bog restoration project to preserve the habitat of the Avens on Brier. 

“It is an immense honour to have received this funding, which will allow me to greatly develop my knowledge and research skills by being able to apply them in the field. I am extremely grateful to be a part of this project, working with people truly passionate about the preservation of our local biodiversity.”

“This is an amazing opportunity for me to put the education I have received at StFX to relevant use and to learn more about the subject I love along the way. I am very thankful,” says Kyle Lasseter of Middleton, NS, who just completed his third year in a BSc advanced major in biology degree. He is supervised by Dr. Cory Bishop. He is using molecular and microbiological methods to investigate the physical and biochemical characteristics of some bacterial strains isolated from the fluid of salamander egg capsules. 

Mary Besaw of Antigonish NS, a fourth year honours earth science student taking a double major in aquatic resources, says she is extremely honoured to be awarded this research grant. 

“This will allow my supervisor and I to engage in additional assessments among many other things. I am very grateful for the additional support I will be receiving to research and learn about what truly interests me and will further my professional career.”

Working with Dr. Alan Anderson, her research this summer will characterize the source(s) of critical metal bearing rocks (Lithium-Cesium-Tantalum pegmatites), metals which make lithium ion batteries, cell phones, and other electronics a possibility.  “This research will help us understand the origins and geological processes involved in the formation of these reservoirs, as to devise better models for future generations while define the difference in lithium-enriched and barren pegmatite systems, in turn resulting in a more efficient and effective lithium market within Canadian soil,” she says. 

Liam Farrell of Trenton, NS, a fourth year honours physics student taking a minor in mathematics will work with Dr. Karl-Peter Marzlin to research the relation between Anti-particles and Rindler space. This is a theoretical physics project that involves quantum field theory. “Having this opportunity to do original research means the world to me because it allows me to do what I love and make a living from it. On top of that it looks great when applying for graduate schools to already have research under your belt, and best of all it is a really fun time,” he says. 


This summer, Heather-Ann Burrell of Pickering, ON, a recent first class honours human nutrition graduate, will be working to develop and characterize edible films from various seaweed samples. Edible films are a type of packaging technology that can extend the shelf-life of food while offering a biodegradable alternative to synthetic petroleum-based packaging. Once the edible films have been prepared, she plans to assess their mechanical properties and use mathematical modelling to predict the shelf life of food products that the films are applied to.

“Gaining valuable research experience as an undergraduate student is a truly special opportunity. I have been given the chance to apply concepts learned in the classroom to a real-life work experience. My time as a student researcher at StFX will undoubtedly play an integral role to navigating my future career as a nutrition professional. I am very fortunate to be supervised and mentored by my professor, Dr. Marcia English, and I thank both NSERC and StFX for this opportunity.”

Fourth year honours chemistry student Pablo Scrosati, supervised by Dr. Shah Razul, is hoping to uncover some of the more complex molecular interactions that aid in food preservation using novel cryoprotectants. “Having this opportunity allows me to venture into the world of research and gain experience I hope to use later on in my life. It allows me to explore a topic I am interested in, and learn about the techniques used to explore complex problems,” he says. 

Ally Hancock of Toronto, ON, going into her second year of a business degree and supervised by Dr. Stephen Finbow, will focus her research on sport analytics, particularly hockey. “This opportunity is like no other. I feel very fortunate to be supported by the university and NSERC for they are encouraging my pursuit to study a field that I am very passionate about.”

Kerolos Youssef, who comes to Antigonish by way of Montreal and Egypt, just finished his first year in biology. With supervisor Dr. Russell Wyeth, he will be studying the lymnaea nervous system by using In Situ Hybridization and qPCR, to better understand the cell and genes that are expressed in the animal. “For me, it's a big opportunity because I always wanted to do research since I was young, but I always thought I had to wait until I graduated from university. But thanks to StFX and the NSERC USRA award, I now have the opportunity to do research,” he says. “So I am very excited to start doing something I wanted for a long time.”


“My research is based upon the idea of collective behavior,” says Courtney MacDonald of Antigonish, NS, who is going into her second year of a math degree, supervised by Dr. Ryan Lukeman. “I am investigating the differences among five species of Rainbow fish. I will examine what factors are similar across species, how patterns of behaviour depend on group speed, collective order, and other parameters. These ideas will help provide a framework to understand universal interactions across species and features of a given collective behaviour.

“Getting the opportunity to do research as a first year student is an unforgettable opportunity. I am grateful to be working alongside students and professors who will help me gain experience and knowledge in the field of mathematics. I am honoured to be one of the recipients of the NSERC USRA award.” 

StFX undergraduate honours research featured at international conference

Thu, 2018-05-24 09:28
L-r, Laura Davidson, Molly Rutherford and Elizabeth Wallace

Three 2018 StFX human kinetics and biology graduates, Laura Davidson, Elizabeth Wallace, and Molly Rutherford, presented their undergraduate honours research recently at an international conference in San Diego, California, consisting mainly of graduate students, postdocs and senior scientists.

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting comprised of over 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing six sponsoring societies and multiple guest societies. General fields of study include anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology, nutrition, pharmacology, and physiology.

StFX faculty Dr. Daniel Kane and Dr. Matthew Palmer were in attendance at the conference. “The students’ excitement was contagious,” says Dr. Kane. “We were able to put faces to the names of researchers whose work had formed the foundation of their StFX honours research. Observing students interact meaningfully with leaders in the field was a delight. All presenting StFX students rose to the challenge of effectively communicating their research to a diverse group of scientists on an international stage.”  

Laura Davidson, a biology graduate from Halifax, NS, presented her StFX undergraduate research entitled, “H1/H2 Histamine Receptor Blockade Lowers Substrate-Dependent Mitochondrial H2O2 Emission in Deep Gastrocnemius Muscle Following a Bout of Prolonged Exercise” in both poster and oral presentation sessions at the annual conference.

“Presenting my honours thesis research at Experimental Biology was an amazing experience and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to do so,” says Ms. Davidson, who plans to pursue a career in medicine. 

“I appreciated the opportunity to present my research in the form of an oral presentation and a poster, as this allowed me to strengthen my communication and presentation skills, as well as receive valuable feedback from various members of the scientific community. Additionally, I gained a wealth of knowledge through engaging with fellow students and experienced researchers in the field of physiology, during the poster sessions at this conference. I would like to thank my thesis supervisor, Dr. Dan Kane, for making this wonderful experience possible,” she says.

“My time at StFX greatly impacted me; I gained a wealth of knowledge, both in and outside the classroom, I met many amazing and inspiring individuals and I was given some incredible opportunities, including this one.”

Elizabeth Wallace, a human kinetics graduate from Antigonish, NS, also presented her StFX undergraduate research, entitled “Effects of H1/H2 Histamine Receptor Blockade on Mitochondrial Function in Rodent Brain Following Prolonged Exercise.”

“Presenting at an international conference was really incredible. Being able to meet some of the experts in our field and discuss our research with them was something that I never imagined being able to do at an undergraduate level,” says Ms. Wallace, who will start an MSc in global health in Hamilton, ON in the fall. 

“You learn so much in having conversations with those who have been doing research for their entire career. Being immersed in an environment where there is so much scientific discovery being shared is inspiring and exciting, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have had that experience. Without the support of our advisor, Dr. Kane, other professors, and StFX, this would not have been possible,” she says.

“I think the biggest impact that StFX has had on me is in how close I have become with my classmates and professors, and having that continuous support network to learn in.” 

Ms. Wallace and Ms. Davidson’s undergraduate honours work was supervised by human kinetics faculty member Dr. Daniel Kane, with special thanks to co-authors Dr. Karen Brebner and Mackenzie Bell for their efforts and contribution to this project.

Molly Rutherford, a human kinetics graduate from Kingston, ON, also presented her research entitled, “Effects of Caffeine and Menstrual Phase on Performance of Female Athletes During Heat Stress.” 

“Being fortunate enough to attend an international conference like Experimental Biology as an undergraduate student only exemplifies the opportunities that come along with attending St. Francis Xavier University,” says Ms. Rutherford. 

“Having the chance to present to and interact with academics of varying disciplines encouraged me to continue pursuing research going forward. Seeing the quality of research was inspiring and made all the hard work put into my thesis feel worth it! Without the support of our faculty members we would not have been able to achieve our goal of attending EB, I cannot thank everyone who was involved enough.”

Ms. Rutherford’s honours research was supervised by StFX human kinetics faculty member Dr. Matthew Palmer.