Five recent StFX graduates are the recipients of $125,000 in scholarship funding and will complete an eight-month paid placement with the federal government in Ottawa, thanks to the recently launched McKenna Centre Leadership Fellows Program at St. Francis Xavier University.
Matthew Eliot of Kingston, ON; Elizabeth Wallace of Antigonish, NS; Mackenzie Sly of Ottawa, ON; Allyson Amodeo of Kingston, ON; and Alejandra Torres of Honduras; are the inaugural McKenna Fellows, each recipient of a $25,000 scholarship.
The program is open to recent StFX graduates interested in public policy, public service and leadership, and includes a one-year commitment to further education and training.
“With the McKenna Fellows Program, there are a lot of things to be excited about,” says program coordinator Larry Swatuk. “The most exciting thing is the fact we are creating a bridge into public service for youth who have passion and energy,” he says.
“They are ready, but they’re often not taken seriously, or don’t know a way in. We’re opening that pathway for them.”
Mr. Swatuk says StFX has such an emphasis on quality undergraduate education, that the university and the McKenna Centre for Leadership wanted to offer a bridging program for great students, to give them a leg up in the working world with a focus on public service.
Additionally, he says today’s youth are disengaged with politics, and that’s a problem.
“Young people are opting out of the system, they’re not opting in. We’re opening up that pathway so they can become part of the solution.
“Twenty-first century Canada needs these people to be able to thrive and survive, and that’s exciting.”
As part of the bridging program, Mr. Swatuk says they are working to provide the scholarship holders with two four-month paid government internships. He says the participants will go through interviews and a matching process, and the intent is for them to gain experience with government, including learning how they can work in government, and to have meaningful work as professionals.
Mr. Swatuk says the McKenna Fellows Program has connected with the StFX network on the Hill and has been working with, among others, StFX graduate and NSERC vice-president Alfred LeBlanc, who chairs an alumni caucus of StFX graduates working in a range of careers for and in government in Ottawa.
“This fellowship is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door to learn,” says Matthew Eliot, who graduated from StFX with a degree in math and aquatic resources, and who has always been interested in public policy. He says he is excited to see how government works from the inside and to see if this is a field he wants to work in.
“I’m excited about expanding my knowledge base. I’m excited to try something new, to get out of my comfort zone and gain confidence in new fields,” says Ms. Sly, who graduated with a BBA in international business and will complete her first internship with the Treasury Board Secretariat, Centre for Greening Government. She previously worked three student jobs with Transport Canada and was involved in the Deputy Minister University Champion Initiative associated with StFX. She says the fellowship particularly appealed as it allows her to keep working with government and maintain ties to StFX. “What I’m most excited about is to build a network and to have the support from StFX alumni,” she says.
Ms. Amodeo says while she has always been interested in effecting change, she was never one for politics, and wasn’t going to apply for the fellowship until her StFX history professor Dr. Rhonda Semple encouraged her, noting you don’t have to be an expert in politics to be involved and create change. Ms. Amodeo says she is excited for the opportunity, and seeing how everything she has learned as a history and English graduate can apply, and what doors this may open.
Ms. Wallace, who graduated from StFX with a human kinetics degree and is finishing a masters in global health, also didn’t see herself involved in policy or politics, but through her studies saw how tied the social determinants of health are to public policy and how policy really impacts health. “That kind of drew me to pursuing this opportunity,” she says. “I’m excited to be able to work and to put five years of university to work in some capacity.”
“Echoing a lot of what my fellow colleagues said, I never saw myself working in politics,” says Ms. Torres who graduated in May with an honours degree in English. “My research incorporated different fields such as critical race theory, ethics and production, and theoretical analyses of identity politics. Although I focused mainly on the media industry, my main interest lied on minority rights and cultural analysis. As a result, I became keenly interested in applying all of my research experience to an area that focuses on making tangible changes for society—governance,” she says.
As an international student, Ms. Torres says she feels honoured to have an opportunity to learn more about policy making and governance in Canada. “I hope I can also contribute a different perspective to this field for I am an immigrant in this country. This program will allow me to contribute to the country where I have been fortunate enough to receive my undergraduate education. And I feel very fortunate to be able to continue to enhance my skill set and gain new skills with the federal government in Ottawa.”
Currently, the McKenna Fellows are participating in a two-week course on campus. During this portion of the training, Mr. Swatuk says the Fellows are completing three certificate-based courses centred on key government issues such as climate change and environment; gender and social equity; and Indigenous rights and treaty law. They will also participate in a one-day training session on ‘how government works;’ take part in leadership skills seminars, as well as in a field trip integrating all of the above. Additionally, they will visit two First Nations communities to talk about issues and concerns, and they will complete a day of hands-on environmental training around the Bras d’Or Lakes.
The McKenna Fellows will then complete the two internships between September-December 2019 and January-April 2020. The internships will include direct experience working in federal government, such as a policy analyst, or assistant to a senior manager in a government department or agency.
The program concludes with a two-day capstone exercise at StFX in April 2020 that will include a debriefing exercise involving a presentation to other program Fellows, members of the university, the wider community, NGOs, and the private sector.
Dr. Kevin Wamsley, StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost, is pleased to announce that Dr. Daniel Belliveau ’88 has been appointed the Dean of Science at StFX, effective January 1, 2020.
Dr. Belliveau comes to the university from his current position as Director, School of Health Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, at the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Belliveau has served in multiple leadership positions during his tenure at Western, including as Undergraduate Chair, School of Health Studies; Director, School of Health Studies; and President, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association. He is described by his colleagues as an innovator in the classroom, an unwavering voice of support for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and an engaging leader
A scholar of anatomy, Dr. Belliveau has focused recently on three-dimensional representations of anatomy and their enhancement of the learning environment and the influence of competition on learning. He is the successful recipient of numerous research grants, including from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; eCampus Ontario – Open Content Initiative; Western Teaching Fellow; Cancer Research Society; Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund; and Canada Foundation for Innovation. Additionally, he has been honoured as the 2019 recipient of the Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching, Western University’s most distinguished teaching honour; as well as a number of other awards including the 2018 Faculty of Health Sciences Teaching Award of Excellence for Faculty; the 2016 CAUT Distinguished Service Award; and the Faculty of Health Sciences Recognition of Excellence in Teaching. He has supervised dozens of undergraduate and graduate students.
Dr. Belliveau has authored and co-authored numerous papers, book chapters and proceedings, and has presented invited papers. Among administrative and professional activities, he served as an external reviewer and consultant for StFX’s Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in Health; as well as was a participant in Building Administrative Skills through Innovation, Collegiality and Strategy, a Western University program offered to emerging academic leaders.
He has given his time and expertise to extensive university committees, and in the community, including chairing the Emergency Department Patient & Family Advisory Council, and the school council at St. Paul’s Catholic Elementary School.
StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley is pleased to announce that Sandy Iverson has been appointed University Librarian, effective August 1, 2019.
Ms. Iverson has a unique and varied career encompassing librarianship and leadership experience in a range of academic and educational settings including specialized academic libraries, university and college experience, and adult literacy and education organizations. The common thread and theme throughout her career has been in supporting students and faculty in research and educational endeavors through a wide range of supportive services and specialized programs.
Most recently, she has led health information and knowledge programs at St. Michael’s Hospital, one of the primary teaching hospitals affiliated with the University of Toronto, by supporting students with their research and educational pursuits, and staff with research appointments and clinical work. Reporting to the VP of Education, Ms. Iverson managed library services, archives, patient & family education, and eLearning and educational technology.
Ms. Iverson is the recipient of numerous awards and is involved in producing many publications and presentations about libraries services and education. She is currently the Vice-President/President-Elect with the Canadian Health Libraries Association, as well as a founding member of their leadership institute working group. She is former President and Past-President, Toronto Health Libraries Association.
She holds a Master’s of Library & Information Science, University of British Columbia; Master’s of Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto; BA, Library Science, Concordia University; and RP/DipTIRP, Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy, registered with the Ontario College of Psychotherapists.
Dr. Karen Blair, a StFX psychology professor, is on her way to Europe to learn more about the Holocaust as one of 25 educators from across Canada selected to participate in the Leaders of Change Program.
The program is a new scholarship initiative from the Canadian Society of Yad Vashem (CSYV) intended to provide education and training to leaders in the field of Holocaust education in Canada.
Dr. Karen Blair
Dr. Blair has been active in Holocaust education at StFX for several years and is currently working with StFX Continuing Education to develop a Maple League of Universities course to be offered in May 2020 to students at all four Maple League institutions: StFX, Acadia, Bishop’s and Mount Allison. The course will focus on “The Holocaust and Today,” to bring to light the relevance of studying the Holocaust and applying its universal lessons to an understanding of current events and human behavior, she says.
“One of the reasons that I am participating in this trip is to help learn about how best to teach about the Holocaust to young adults and how best to design immersion learning experiences related to the Holocaust,” Dr. Blair says.
The trip began in Toronto with a two-day seminar that included learning about how to teach about the Holocaust in the classroom, the history of antisemitism, and a meeting with three Holocaust survivors. The group now travels to Berlin, where they will learn about Jewish history and life before, during and after WWII.
From there, they continue to Poland, where they will stop in Warsaw, Zamość, Krakow and Auschwitz. Along the way, they’ll visit museums and memorials related to concentration and death camps, including Treblinka, Belzec, and Majdanek. While away, Dr. Blair will share parts of the experience through the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StFXShoahEd/
Dr. Blair has been active in Holocaust education at StFX. Each year, she teaches Psych 441 - Advanced Social Psychology, and since 2016 she’s been teaching this as the Social Psychology of the Holocaust.
“It’s been a very impactful course for students and allows them to apply their academic learning to a historical event that has many current day applications and relevances,” she says.
In 2017, she designed StFX’s first Holocaust Service Learning trip and led the first trip in February 2018, taking 10 students and another instructor to Germany and Poland for an immersive learning experience focused on the Holocaust. “Many of the students had previously taken Psych 441 or another Holocaust-related course and the trip really helped them to better understand the concepts that they had been learning about in the classroom,” she says. “Experiential learning related to the Holocaust is really quite different than reading about what happened through a book. Immersive learning engages all of the senses and helps students to really connect with the personal narratives of the Holocaust.” The second trip went last year with faculty lead Dr. Rhonda Semple and the third is planned for February 2020.
Dr. Blair says along with her Psych 240 Social Psychology students, she has been conducting a study for the past two years on Holocaust education and knowledge at StFX.
“By and large, StFX students have similar levels of knowledge concerning the Holocaust as other millennials in Canada, however, this level of knowledge is not great, not specific, and appears to be going down over time,” she says.
“One of the goals of the Leaders of Change program is to help address the paradigm shift in Holocaust education as we move into an era where students will no longer be able to hear firsthand from Holocaust survivors.”
Dr. Blair says the new Maple League course will be targeted at third year students, but open to those in second, third and fourth year. It will involve an online reading and discussion course followed by a two-week immersion study trip to Europe where participants will visit sites of relevance to the Holocaust, including Berlin, Wannsee, Krakow and Auschwitz.Holocaust immersion photo a.jpg
Dr. Karen Blair and StFX students on StFX’s first Holocaust Service Learning trip
Finally, students will complete a capstone project related to the Holocaust upon their return from Europe that is tailored to their own particular field of study or academic interests.
Students will need to apply to be accepted into the course. She says they expect the application deadline falling in early fall 2019.
Dr. Blair’s participation in the current trip is sponsored by the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem as well as additional funds from the Jules Leger Fund to support pedagogical training experiences for faculty members at StFX.
The research work led by Dr. Jacob Levman, Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics in StFX's Computer Science Department, is focused on developing tools that will address a key medical challenge—namely the early diagnosis of neurological disorders in children—using advanced computing techniques.
Dr. Levman and members of his lab are focused on the development of computational techniques and software tools that can be used in a variety of health applications. His work, “Novel pattern recognition technologies in medical imaging applications,” received funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust to help purchase a series of high-end secure computer workstations and advanced software to help with machine learning analysis of MRI data for the lab, located in newly-renovated research space with the Physical Sciences Building.
L-r, Lab members Derek Berger, Shekhar Dewan, Acting Senior Director Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education Greg Ells, Dr. Jacob Levman, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education Duff Montgomery, Duncan Osmond, Marissa Campbell and Joshua Henderson
On June 25, 2019, the Levman lab welcomed Duff Montgomery, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, and Greg Ells, Acting Senior Director. The two were on campus for a morning session and lunch meeting with the StFX President’s Council, and to learn more about Dr. Levman’s project, which involves computational research to support a wide variety of medical imaging applications such as neurodevelopmental imaging.
Dr. Levman maintains an affiliation with Harvard Medical School to provide ongoing access to high-quality clinical imaging data and to facilitate collaborations with physicians and neuroscientists.
The goals of this research, he says, include the development of new detection and diagnostic technologies, which can improve the standard of patient care for Nova Scotians and Canadians. This research is also intended to help the scientific community better understand the underlying physiological conditions associated with the development of a variety of medical disorders. It is hoped that, by providing a better understanding of medical conditions, this research can contribute to educating physicians and inspiring clinician researchers to develop novel therapeutic interventions for a variety of disorders.
Dr. Levman currently has a number of StFX students involved in his research.
StFX has received some very good news. The university, through its Physics Department, has been voted as a new institutional member of the Belle II collaboration, a major particle physics experiment that includes over 100 institutions and close to 1,000 members worldwide.
The collaboration is based at the KEK (High Energy Accelerator Research Organization) in Japan. It carries out and continues research work that has previously resulted in a Nobel Prize.
StFX physics professor Dr. Hossain Ahmed was in Japan in late June to present StFX’s presentation to join Belle II. He says it is rare that a primarily undergraduate university is part of this type of collaboration. StFX is also now part of the Belle II Canada Project Grant, which receives funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
Dr. Ahmed, who was instrumental in StFX’s participation in the BABAR collaboration, a large, international particle physics experiment at Stanford University in California, says he is thrilled with the news.
He says this collaboration will bring opportunities for StFX students, researchers, and colleagues in the experimental particle physics area.
“To put this in perspective of what it means, it’s a brand new collaboration. It will collect data for five to 10 years and conduct data analysis for another five to 10 years. This means StFX will be able to work with other well-regarded universities, and to work on potentially Nobel Prize winning experiments,” says department chair Dr. Peter Marzlin.
StFX students can certainly benefit from being involved in this research, and StFX, he says, is fortunate to have the only elementary particle physicist in Atlantic Canada involved in such a collaboration in Dr. Ahmed.
Dr. Marzlin says as part of the presentation, Dr. Ahmed discussed what StFX can bring to the group. “We can prepare our undergraduate students in a fantastic way in our research, providing them with future graduate students who know exactly what they are doing.”
Dr. Ahmed says the Belle II collaboration continues the work of the BABAR collaboration and Belle project, which recorded data and studied matter and anti-matter symmetry in the universe.
BABAR produced more than 500 journal papers, including the precise measurements of differences between matter and antimatter, which have proved the theory of Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa, resulting in the awarding of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics.
More research though is needed as there is not currently enough evidence to explain symmetry in the Big Bang. Dr. Ahmed says the Belle II collaboration will have about 40 times more data than its predecessors and researchers are expecting to uncover more evidence and a deeper understanding. This next generation B-factory experiment will also be important for New Physics beyond the Standard Model scenario, he says, such as flavour violation, dark matter particles search etc.
Patrick O’Brien, a 2019 StFX physics graduate who will start his fully-funded master’s studies at the University of Alberta in the fall, says his work with the BABAR project as a StFX student has been beneficial.
“It’s certainly helped me already,” he says. “I’ve found a good supervisor, it’s sparked my interest even more, gave him a set of skills that will help me in my master’s and PhD, and maybe even opportunity for future work and collaboration.”
Likewise, current StFX physics student Noah Tessema of Ottawa, ON is looking forward to becoming involved in this research and the opportunities it may bring. “I’m very excited,” he says.
Dr. Ahmed says he is very grateful for the support and collaboration inherent in the StFX physics department. “It’s just like a family,” he says noting how Dr. Marzlin and faculty colleagues helped in any way they could to prepare for this collaboration.
Welcome changes are coming to the StFX Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science. In the 2018-19 academic year, the Computer Science group, and the Mathematics and Statistics group requested that two new departments be created from the existing Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Department
As of July 1, 2019, the current department will reform into two separate departments—the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and the Department of Computer Science, offering students two distinct educational pathways.
The new, separate departments will also provide students with a distinct academic home, fostering academic engagement and pride.
The Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science was unique in StFX’s Faculty of Science in that it housed two related, but different fields of study. The two fields co-existed within a single department, but offered separate honours, advanced majors, majors and minors, along with a research-based MSc program in computer science.
It’s expected that the two programs will benefit from enhanced visibility both within and outside the university as separate departments.
To the campus community,
It is my pleasure to announce Dr. Kevin Wamsley as Interim President of StFX University, effective August 1, 2019. The recommendation was submitted by the Human Resources Committee of the Board, and unanimously supported by the StFX Board of Governors earlier today.
Kevin began his term as Academic Vice-President and Provost at StFX in 2015. His leadership and unwavering commitment to our academic mission has supported our Faculty members and greatly contributed to the exceptional learning experience we offer to our students. His time serving as an ex-officio member of StFX’s Board of Governors, a member of the Executive and President’s Council, leading the academic portfolio, and his more than 30 years of post-secondary experience have provided him with an in-depth understanding of the complexities and opportunities related to running a world-class institution such as ours.
Most recently, Kevin accepted a request to renew his term as Academic Vice President and Provost, serving the campus community for another six years, effective August 1, 2020, what he considers to be a most important honour. He has agreed to accept the role of interim President until a permanent appointment is announced, after which he will return to the role of Academic Vice President and Provost. There will be more on the status of our search for the President in the months ahead.
An award-winning teacher and celebrated researcher, Kevin holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Master of Arts from Western University, and a PhD from the University of Alberta. He and his wife, Carol, live in Bayfield and are very happy to be members of the Antigonish community.
Please join me in congratulating Kevin.
Mike Boyd ’85
Chair, StFX Board of Governors
StFX human nutrition retired faculty member Dr. Laurie Wadsworth, part-time faculty Fran Haley and 2018 graduate Heather-Ann Burrell certainly have reason to celebrate—they all received major awards at the Dietitians of Canada conference held in Ottawa from June 6-8, 2019.
The trio were among the individuals celebrated at an awards ceremony on June 6. The awards celebrate individuals who have inspired, empowered and lent their passion to promote and elevate the dietetics profession.
Ryley-Jeffs Memorial Lecture
Dr. Wadsworth delivered the prestigious Ryley-Jeffs Memorial Lecture. Dr. Wadsworth’s career has focused on nutrition and health policy development in public health and academia. She investigates mass media messages to understand the roles of food in society and studies the historical roots of dietetics. She has worked collaboratively to effect change in public policy for improved nutrient profiles in the national food supply as a member of the Trans Fat Task Force and with Heart and Stroke Canada. Dr. Wadsworth also mentors dietetic students in policy development and research to build capacity for a strong future profession. She is a Fellow of Dietitians of Canada and served as Chair of the DC Board of Directors. “Dr. Wadsworth has certainly made a dynamic impact on individual dietitians and the profession and is very deserving of the prestigious Ryley-Jeffs Memorial Lecture Award for 2019,” says a release from Dietitians of Canada.
Fran Haley was presented with the DC Emeritus award. The Board of Directors bestows this permanent designation to retired members of DC in appreciation of unique and outstanding contributions to the advancement of the dietetic profession in Canada during the nominees' career.
National Morgan Medal
Recent StFX graduate Heather-Ann Burell received the Regional Morgan Medal (Ontario) for research completed for her honours thesis at StFX. At the 2019 conference she was awarded the National Morgan Medal for excellence in research.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
THANK YOU, DR. MACDONALD
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.
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
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
Penny Fuller and Bill Marshall
Joan E. Gillis
Roderick W. Landry
Colin P. and Irene MacDonald
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
Robert and Beth Hynes
Carmen B. Lowe
Allan S. MacDonald
Rev. Stanley V. MacDonald
Mike and Mary MacKinnon
Helen D. MacPherson
Francis X. Shea
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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
StFX welcomed the Minister of Science and Sport, the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, to campus on May 24, 2019, as the university reaffirmed its commitment to achieving increased equity, diversity and inclusion in research by signing the Dimensions Charter, a federal initiative that invites universities across Canada to take part in a post-secondary transformation to increase equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and help drive deeper cultural change within the research ecosystem.
In a ceremonial signing Minister Duncan and StFX Vice-President VP Finance and Administration Andrew Beckett, on behalf of StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, jointly signed the charter before a crowd of people gathered in the lobby of J. Bruce Brown Hall.
“By choosing to endorse this charter, StFX has committed to adopting eight principles throughout our practices and culture to achieve greater equity, diversity and inclusion,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate VP, Research and Graduate Studies, and the event’s host.
Dr. Isnor says the federal government recently launched the Dimensions Program, a new initiative related to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for the post-secondary sector. The Dimensions initiative challenges universities across Canada to address the obstacles faced by, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities. The Dimensions Program and Charter reflects a made-in-Canada initiative inspired by the UK Athena SWAN (Scientific Women's Academic Network), an internationally recognized initiative that celebrates higher education institutions that have implemented practices to advance EDI in the sciences.
All Canadian institutions have been invited to endorse the Dimensions Charter. To date, 26 universities, including StFX, have signed.
Presentation of StFX initiatives to engage youth in science and increase diversity and inclusion in research. Clockwise around the table: Dr. Jane McMillan, Cheyla Rogers, Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden, Jennifer Fraser, Minister of Science and Sport Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Dr. Truis Smith-Palmer, and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser.
Dr. Isnor says during her visit to StFX, Minister Duncan, who led the Dimensions initiative and is a key federal champion for supporting women in science, engaging youth in science, and diversity and inclusion in research, received a briefing on the Atlantic Indigenous Mentorship Network from Dr. L. Jane McMillan (Anthropology); on X-Chem Outreach from Dr. Truis Smith-Palmer (Chemistry) and Jennifer Fraser (X-Chem Outreach Director); and Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities from Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden (Education). The Minister also learned about two new research projects being led by second year undergraduate student Cheyla Rogers, under the supervision of Dr. McMillan. Finally, Minister Duncan also met with psychology professor Dr. Lindsay Berrigan and human kinetics professor Dr. Melanie Lam, learning about their research within the Applied Neuro-Cognitive Research (ANChoR) Laboratory.
DIMENSION CHARTER PRINCIPLES
By choosing to endorse this charter, institutions commit to adopting these principles throughout their practices and culture:
1. The post-secondary research community has the greatest potential to thrive when members experience equitable, inclusive and unbiased systems and practices.
2. To advance institutional equity, diversity and inclusion, specific, measurable and sustainable actions are needed to counter systemic barriers, explicit and unconscious biases, and inequities. This includes addressing obstacles faced by, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority or racialized groups, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities.
3. Institutions require qualitative and quantitative data to measure, monitor, understand and publicly report on challenges and progress made. The analysis of the data should inform a comprehensive, in-depth, intersectional understanding of the contexts, manifestations and experiences that result from inequities, underrepresentation and exclusion among all post-secondary community members.
4. When equity, diversity and inclusion considerations and practices are integral to research participation, to the research itself, and to research training and learning environments, research excellence, innovation and creativity are heightened across all disciplines, fields of study and stages of career development.
5. To contribute to reconciliation, research with, by or impacting Indigenous Peoples must align with the research policies and best practices identified through ongoing engagement with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples and their organizations.
6. Advancing equity, diversity and inclusion is a shared responsibility that requires dedicated resources and strong leadership at all levels. Senior leadership demonstrates commitment through public endorsement, by ensuring the work involved is resourced and distributed fairly, and by embedding changes in institutional governance and accountability structures.
7. Issues of institutional and individual safety, trust, belonging, privacy and power differentials must be recognized and pro-actively addressed; this will be most successful when those impacted are directly engaged in defining the actions.
8. Achieving the overall objective of the Dimensions program—to foster increased research excellence, innovation and creativity within the post-secondary sector across all disciplines through increased equity, diversity and inclusion—involves institutional collaboration, transparency, and the sharing of challenges, successes and promising practices.
Dr. Laura Estill, a StFX English professor and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities, has won the Barbara Palmer Award for the best new essay in early drama archival research.
The award, presented annually by the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society (MRDS), recognizes an essay published within 18 months of the deadline and “judged by the committee to be of outstanding quality” on the topic of early drama archival research. It is open to journal articles and book chapters in collections.
The Palmer Award was officially announced during the annual MRDS business meeting in May 2019, at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.
“I was thrilled to learn that I had received this award. Archival research on early modern drama is an important and burgeoning area of research with a lot of brilliant scholars doing fascinating work, which makes it even more of an honour to be recognized with the Barbara Palmer Award,” Dr. Estill says.
The article, “The Urge to Organize Early Modern Miscellanies: Reading Cotgrave’s The English Treasury of Wit and Language” appears in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (PBSA) vol. 112, no. 1 (2018): 27-73, which is published by the University of Chicago Press Journals.
Dr. Estill says her first book, Dramatic Extracts in Seventeenth-Century English Manuscripts: Watching, Reading, Changing Plays, is about seventeenth-century readers and playgoers who copied parts from plays into manuscripts, which tells us what they took, literally and figuratively, from drama.
“I wrote one chapter on ‘dramatic miscellanies,’ a new kind of manuscript that I identified as a mid-seventeenth-century phenomenon: notebooks where people would copy parts from plays specifically, unlike other handwritten documents, where they might copy parts from plays alongside materials like poetry, recipes, and accounts,” she says.
“There is a print equivalent of these handwritten documents, John Cotgrave’s English Treasury of Wit and Language (London, 1655), where he printed selections from plays, but didn’t give his sources. As I was undertaking my research on Cotgrave’s book, I became fascinated by the marginalia (handwritten notes) that readers had included in the volume. A couple of industrious readers traced the sources of thousands of extracts to hundreds of plays; other readers added their own selections from plays; yet other readers underlined the parts they found most memorable; and some readers left no marks at all. In this article, I argue that when we read Cotgrave’s book today, our urge is to determine the source texts: modern scholars are not interested in the quotations for their wisdom or wit; rather, we care about Cotgrave’s sources (including Shakespeare) and how he used them.”
In order to prove this argument about the history of reading plays and selections from drama, she had to see every known copy of the English Treasury. She visited many in person, including, for instance, copies at the British Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Dulwich College Library. In other cases, she contacted librarians and archivists who consulted copies or took pictures for her.
Dr. Estill compared all the marginalia (handwritten notes) in all known copies of this rare book, which took years of research, multiple archive trips, and the support “of wonderful scholars, librarians, and archivists” in the United Kingdom and across North America.
“This is, to date, one of the longest journal articles I have written, and one of which I am most proud. I am honoured to have this journal article recognized by the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society’s Barbara Palmer Award.”