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Jeff Vossen

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Senior Lab InstructorJeff Vossenjvossen@stfx.ca(902) 867-3328Human KineticsExercise Sciences Centre Rm 122

Anne Walsh

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Wilma Van Der Veen

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ProfessorWilma Van Der Veenwvanderv@stfx.caSociology

Jenny Wallace

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Jenny Wallacejwallace@stfx.ca902-867-5556Earth SciencesPSC 2016

Laurie Wadsworth

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_Laurie Wadsworthlwadswor@stfx.ca902-867-2190Human NutritionImmaculata 401

StFX researchers receive funding for projects to help inform best COVID-19 practices, support NS healthcare decision making and planning  

Department News - Wed, 2020-05-13 14:39
Pictured, l-r, are StFX faculty Dr. Karen Blair, Dr. James Hughes, and Dr. Katie Aubrecht

StFX faculty Dr. Katie Aubrecht, Dr. James Hughes and Dr. Karen Blair have each received funding to conduct research to inform the best COVID-19 practices and support healthcare decision making and planning that benefits Nova Scotia. 

The three researchers are recipients of nearly $130,000 in funding from the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition. Partners include the Nova Scotia Health Authority, Dalhousie University, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, IWK Health Centre, IWK Foundation, QEII Health Sciences Foundation, Dartmouth General Hospital and Research Nova Scotia. 

Dr. Aubrecht, a StFX sociology professor and Canada Research Chair Health Equity & Social Justice, has received $54,908 and will work to enhance supports for vulnerable older adults living with dementia and their caregivers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr. Hughes, a computer science faculty member, has received $42,000 and will lead a project to provide direction on deployment of COVID-19 tests and other interventions.

Dr. Blair, a psychology professor, is recipient of $32,559.99 and will co-lead a study with Dr. Kathryn Bell of Acadia University that looks at interpersonal relationships as a source of risk and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, including LGBTQ+ experiences.


Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies, says StFX researchers responded strongly to the Nova Scotia Covid-19 Health Research Coalition rapid response initiative. 

“We are delighted at the excellent success rate of our researchers in this highly competitive initiative, as well as how research efforts have been quickly adapted to this pressing health priority. It speaks to the exceptional quality of research at StFX,” he says. 

The projects include: 

Dr. Katie Aubrecht

Project: “Evidence to assess the impact of COVID-19 on community-based dementia care in Nova Scotia.”

This study will contribute to, clarify, and enhance the best evidence-in-the-moment about programs and supports for vulnerable older adults living with dementia and their caregivers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Amount: $54,908

Within the current context of social distancing and social isolation, Dr. Aubrecht says evidence about the resources, services and supports that make it possible for dementia care to continue at home in the community is lacking. “This project addresses the pressing need for information that can be used to assess the impact and health equity implications of COVID-19 on community supports for vulnerable older adults living with multiple chronic conditions, including dementia, and their family/friend caregivers in Nova Scotia.” 

The project (the work will be led by the Spatializing Care Lab at StFX) will contribute to the best evidence-in-the-moment about dementia-relevant supports and program service delivery by using surveys, interviews and focus groups to collect and summarize information about dementia-relevant formal health system and local grassroots resources, services and supports.

Drawing on interviews with diverse populations of people living with dementia and their family/friend caregivers, she says they will create a snapshot of service realities for socially and medically vulnerable populations. “The documentation of service realities will provide a crucial resource for current and future efforts to track, analyze, interpret and address issues of health (in)equity for older adults living with dementia and their caregivers in the province. Project results and outputs will highlight gaps in existing service provision and prioritize areas for action in accordance with resource availability within a dynamic and changing context.” 

She says this research was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Planning Grant in 2017 that laid the foundations for a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional international project team and partnership with the Alzheimer Society Nova Scotia and Alzheimer Society of Ireland. The idea emerged after a series of engagement sessions with people living with dementia and their caregivers in Nova Scotia, and continuing care decision makers and knowledge users. The key message from the sessions focused on the importance of community in caregiver resilience, but that not all communities have access to the same kinds of resources or experience them in the same ways.

“Supporting people living with dementia and their caregivers requires attention to diversity. In a public health emergency issues of differential access and experience can be intensified. The new knowledge generated from our current research will develop a baseline that can be used to assess the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery both during and post-pandemic, and support efforts to transition from emergency measures and adjust to the post-COVID-19 realities,” she says. 

“Our team of emerging and established researchers, students and trainees is heartened by recognition of the importance of better understanding and supporting dementia care at home and in the community, documenting promising approaches, and acknowledging and addressing systemic barriers to health equity for Nova Scotians in all of our diversity. We are excited to get to work and to learn from Nova Scotians about how best to strengthen dementia-relevant supports,” Dr. Aubrecht says. 

She says the project will identify evidence and provincial resources, services and supports for people living with dementia and their caregivers can access in Nova Scotia under the emergency constraints of COVID-19. “This information is crucial in supporting vulnerable Nova Scotians in sheltering in place and avoiding emergency hospitalizations and institutionalization during a time when the capacity of hospitals and long-term care facilities is already under threat. The project will highlight the centrality of the continuing care sector within the COVID-19 Response, with a focus on the challenges for, and contributions of, family/friend caregivers and community resource, service and support providers. This rapid research project will also support recognition of the structural determinants and health inequities that shape whether and how caregivers access and experience supports needed to provide care at home during times of crisis.” Dr. Aubrecht says those interested in learning more about the study, can contact her at caubrech@stfx.ca.

Dr. James Hughes

“Employing Hyperheurisitics to provide direction on deployment of COVID-19 tests and other interventions.” 

This study will employ a type of artificial intelligence called a hyperheuristic to provide direction on how to deploy COVID-19 tests, vaccines, or other interventions.” 

Amount: $42,000

Says Dr. Hughes on the project: “Effectively, given a constrained mitigation strategy, such as a limited number of COVID-19 vaccines available, how best can we apply these vaccines to a population of people to minimize spread? For example, in Antigonish, is it best to vaccinate individuals that come in contact with many people on a daily basis, like front line workers at the Superstore or Sobeys? Individuals that travel between communities like mail carriers? Or perhaps the best thing to do is apply the vaccines randomly throughout the population. We likely have a hunch on what's best to do, but unfortunately some of the most common ideas based on our intuition tend to be ineffective.” 

Dr. Hughes says they will be developing a system that uses very powerful types of artificial intelligence to help find strategies that minimize the spread of a given disease. It will consider things like the number of people in a community, the current number of people infected, and how many people an individual comes into contact with to help derive a set of easily understandable rules that can be followed by public health officials. 

As the project moves forward, Dr. Hughes says they aim to include additional information, such as the age of an individual, recovery time, and even if they have preexisting health conditions. 

“One of the large benefits of using this AI is that, not only will it provide us with ways for reducing the spread of the disease, but we will know that the ideas developed will be tested on well-known epidemic simulations. In the end, we will have strategies that are data-driven and evidence-based.” 

Dr. Hughes says the idea came from frequent collaborators of his who have experience working on computational epidemic modelling at the University of Guelph (Dr. Daniel Ashlock) and Brock University (Dr. Sheridan Houghten). “When SARS-CoV-2 came about, it was only natural for them to prioritize it. 

“We hope that the research outcomes will provide evidence-based vaccine/mitigation strategies that will provide insight and guide policy makers and other stakeholders' decisions on how best to maximize public health outcomes for Nova Scotians. It will also be possible to generate custom tailored strategies for a given community as there may be differences in what is best for an urban area like Halifax and what's best for a place like Antigonish.”

Dr. Hughes says that although computer science at StFX is already considered one of the top programs in Canada, it has been exciting to see how fast computer science has been growing at StFX lately. “With this funding, we now can support more research students on campus to not only improve the outcomes of our research, but also to provide unique training opportunities for young Canadian computer scientists with real-world outcomes; students today are looking for a university experience that can provide them not just with classroom experience, but real-world problem-solving experience – that's where computer science research at X comes in.”

Dr. Karen Blair

“The Ties that Bind: Interpersonal relationships as a source of risk and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This study will compare Nova Scotians’ wellbeing and coping during the COVID-19 pandemic with other jurisdictions, assess LGTBQ+ Nova Scotians’ wellbeing and coping during the pandemic relative to LGBTQ+ individuals in other jurisdictions, and examine Nova Scotians’ experiences with intimate partner violence during the pandemic in comparison to other jurisdictions.

Amount: $32,559.99   

Dr. Blair and Dr. Kathryn Bell, Acadia University, will co-lead this study that explores how Nova Scotians are coping during physical distancing and stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. Both faculty members had been working on research (Dr. Blair, with Debby Herbenick of Indiana University, had launched the COVID-19 Interpersonal Coping Daily Diary Study), and this grant allows them to merge and expand their two existing studies to focus specifically on Nova Scotians, including the LGBTQ+ community. 

Dr. Blair says this study will address a gap in the knowledge about the risk and resiliency of Nova Scotians during a time of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders and will offer insights into appropriate mental health and policy solutions. “Nova Scotians like to focus on our strong social ties and tend to see those connections as a source of resilience in times of stress. Indeed, research repeatedly demonstrates that those with close personal connections thrive in terms of physical and mental health, compared to those with fewer or looser connections. Yet in these times of physical distancing due to COVID-19, might this source of resilience become a risk factor?” she says. “Will those who normally have close face-to-face connections with their friends, families, and neighbours struggle more when those close connections are disrupted? Will members of the LGBTQ+ community, who often turn to ‘chosen families’ for support, benefit from their existing online communities, or will they experience disproportionate disruptions, including the necessity of living with unsupportive families? Even worse, will relationships turn dark in these stressful times, with heightened risks of interpersonal and intimate partner violence?”

The researchers will launch a new diary study that leverages the infrastructure of two ongoing COVID-19 studies in order to identify sources of risk and resiliency within Nova Scotia, including both the broader population and Nova Scotia’s LGBTQ+ community. The study will focus on mental health outcomes, optimal coping strategies, social connection, and experiences of interpersonal violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. By building upon two existing studies, the researchers will be able to provide useful comparisons between Nova Scotians, including LGBTQ+ Nova Scotians, and other North American populations. 

Dr. Blair says project results will be shared with relevant stakeholders and are anticipated to inform Nova Scotia public health and allied professionals whose work during disease outbreaks directly impacts the well-being of individuals, couples, families and the LGBTQ+ community, providing evidence to guide optimal provincial responsiveness to the current outbreak, future COVID-19 waves and other disease outbreaks. 

“Our key outcomes will be three reports: 1) To provincial decision-makers, comparing Nova Scotians’ well-being and coping during the pandemic relative to others across Canada and the U.S.; 2) To LGBTQ+ organizations, assessing LGBTQ+ Nova Scotians’ experiences, relative to LGBTQ+ individuals in other parts of Canada and the U.S.; 3) To domestic violence organizations, focusing in more depth on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), with subsections comparing Nova Scotia to other jurisdictions, and LGBTQ+ participants to others,” Dr. Blair says. 

Initial reports will be shared with decision-makers in June-July, with follow-up reports in July-August. 

Other expected benefits of the research include individual respondents who may benefit in terms of better mental and physical health when they think through and write about their experiences during a stressful event; organizations from insights on how their constituents are being affected by the pandemic, to help prepare optimal support plans; and the province by learning how Nova Scotians are faring compared to other provinces, and where specific challenges and strengths lie. 

Participants will also be invited to Dr. Blair’s ongoing research on collective grief responses to mass shootings. Data between the studies will be linked, allowing researchers to control to some extent for mental health issues attributable to the recent tragic shooting, and to share data on its impact within the context of the pandemic.


Keeping You Informed: Message from StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, May 8

Department News - Fri, 2020-05-08 13:51

Dear Members of the StFX Community,

I’m writing to provide you with an update regarding StFX’s ongoing response to the operational realities created by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In my last communication to campus, I acknowledged the tremendous efforts by all StFX faculty and staff to support our students. It has been through our collective work that we have made it through the ‘emergency phase’ of our response to COVID-19, and that we are now able to shift our mindset to delivering the best educational experience possible in September.

Since the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak here in Nova Scotia, Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, have provided strong and stable guidance in the face of deeply challenging circumstances. StFX continues to work closely with the province, including working toward a reopening of our campus and resuming normal operations.

We are preparing for classes to restart in September 2020, on-campus and in-person.

However, we must also be prepared for the possibility that physical distancing, moratoriums on group gatherings, and other health and safety-related protocols may continue into the fall. The circumstances of the campus opening are dependent upon provincial health guidelines. These guidelines are based on health conditions in the province meeting particular criteria, as opposed to being based upon dates in the calendar. As such, we are in the process of reviewing all of our operations and determining how best to open our campus for our students, faculty, and staff, while ensuring the health and safety of everyone.

Because the current situation regarding the pandemic is fluid and uncertain, we are also taking the prudent step to begin contingency planning to account for the possibility of online and alternative-format course delivery.

Remote Teaching and Learning (Online) Preparedness Task Force

Through the leadership of our Academic Vice President, Dr. Tim Hynes, we have established a task force on Remote Teaching and Learning (Online) Preparedness. Chaired by Janice Landry, from the Department of Distance and Continuing Education, and Dr. Joanne Tompkins, from the Faculty of Education, this task force has a very strict mandate -- ‘to lead StFX efforts toward preparations for the 2020 fall term delivery of remote teaching and learning programming, should such distance education programming be necessary due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.’ This includes everything we believe necessary to produce and deliver academic courses of the highest quality online, from professional development requirements to assisting faculty and teaching staff with remote course delivery, to technology needs, to enhanced academic supports for students, and course and assignment design for optimal teaching and learning.

Of course, such a shift would represent a significant departure from StFX’s academic model, which is why investing the time in contingency planning for a smooth transition for faculty, staff, and students alike is a top priority. The task force members guiding these efforts include representatives from almost all areas of the university. On behalf of the university community, I express my gratitude for the important work they are undertaking in the weeks and months ahead.

Incoming and Returning Student Communications

We recognize that uncertainty can create anxiety and doubt about what the future holds. Therefore, it is more important than ever that our students, both new and continuing, and their families feel confident about their decisions to attend StFX. Consequently, we are focused on ensuring students and parents are receiving the information they require in an efficient and effective way. From improvements in the way we present information online, to creating student and parent panels enabling direct channels for dialogue, and a range of other activities, we are committed to listening, understanding, and responding, to keep these very important members of our community updated.

I will also be providing regular updates to the campus community as we receive information from the province on changing circumstances as they relate to our operations. 

I am very proud of the university’s response under these challenging circumstances and I am confident that we will continue to operate with the best interests of public health and our faculty, staff, and students at the forefront of our efforts.  I applaud our collective, innovative work which is designed to serve our new and returning students, in ways that preserve the meaningful interactions that are so important to all of us in the university community.

Thanks to you all for your exemplary work during this pandemic and, moreover, the care and compassion that you have so generously shared with others.

Stay well.

Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD

President and Vice-Chancellor

StFX University

Student-led Xaverian Pen Pal Project keeps StFX students, community connected during COVID-19

Department News - Thu, 2020-04-30 11:32
StFX student Alyssa Spridgeon

Now, more than ever, it is important for all of us to connect with others and our community, says StFX student Alyssa Spridgeon who has come up with a unique project to do just that.

The Xaverian Pen Pal Project aims to bring together StFX students with local students and senior citizens in Antigonish to promote positive inter-generational relationships between StFX students and community members, while helping alleviate some of the challenges surrounding physical distancing created by COVID-19, says Ms. Spridgeon, who is from Whitby, ON and is finishing up her first year at StFX, but the third year of her psychology degree. She transferred to StFX from a university in the U.S. She also currently plays for the X-Women soccer team. 

Ms. Spridgeon says the idea began percolating after her English 201 professor (and McKenna Centre for Leadership Director) Dr. Mathias Nilges suggested in their first online discussion following the cancellation of in-person classes that we shift our thinking away from “social distancing” and instead think of it as physical distancing with an opportunity for social solidarity. 

“So, the result was considering a way to continue to build relationships and facilitate community connections while students are back home and unable to connect in-person,” she says.

“I had read about different age groups that were especially affected by social distancing, particularly senior citizens who could no longer receive visits from family and friends. I also have a younger brother and considered how the loss of seeing friends and the structure of school would be affecting younger students.”

She says all of this, combined with her own feelings of isolation and missing StFX, brought about the idea of a pen pal project to connect students and community members.


“I’ve been to several universities and have seen many communities and Antigonish has a community that is incredibly special. Truly, in the last school year, StFX and Antigonish have become a second home to me and I love the tight-knit community that exists there. As a student-athlete, I’ve been especially lucky to see the role that the local community plays in supporting our athletics programs and I’m very grateful for the connection that StFX has with the community through many partnerships,” she says. 

“I know that many StFX students feel similarly and I wanted to create an opportunity to facilitate more relationships between students and community members. I also know that social distancing can result in feelings of isolation and loneliness, so while this project will build new relationships, I am hoping that it will also help to alleviate those feelings and help individuals to feel a bit more joyful and connected.”

Ms. Spridgeon says she is hoping to continue the project throughout the year and hopes that pen pals will continue to connect with each other even after this is over. 

“I have had a lot of positive feedback so far and hope that this not only alleviates the challenges of social distancing but helps to strengthen the relationships that StFX students have with the community. Particularly with StFX students who have been matched with younger students in Antigonish, this is a really great opportunity to be a role model too!”

Ms. Spridgeon says she has been extremely lucky to receive support from StFX’s McKenna Centre for Leadership on this project. “I am so excited to take advantage of the expertise that those at the McKenna Centre have on a number of levels when it comes to successful leadership. Dr. Nilges has provided a great deal of support and advice on the best ways to execute the project and the centre has already helped me to connect with community organizations and leaders who can help to grow the project. Additionally, the funding that the McKenna Centre has graciously provided will allow for improvements in several areas and will also help with continuing to grow the project throughout the school year.” 

Interested students are encouraged to sign up at the Xaverian Pen Pal Project.


Speechless: StFX’s Anne Simpson releases new book

Department News - Tue, 2020-04-28 10:38
Anne Simpson

A’isha Nasir is a Nigerian teenager who has been charged with adultery. Sophie MacNeil is an ambitious, though inexperienced, Canadian journalist living in Nigeria. Speechless, the new novel by StFX’s Anne Simpson, and released this week, is the story of how their lives become intertwined in a fast-paced tale of justice, witness, and courage.

“Who should tell a story? What happens when one speaks on behalf of another? At once compelling and lyrical, Speechless presents a nuanced cast of characters trying to navigate the power of their words, their responsibility for them, and how they affect others in matters of life and death,” reads a description of the book, which Ms. Simpson, an adjunct professor in the English Department at StFX, says has been 10 years in the making. 

“It has been a long period of writing, revising, researching, and revising some more. I wanted to write a novel about challenges that women face, but I don’t know if I was consciously thinking about it in this way when I started. A novel grows out of questions that you hold and gradually – very gradually – you figure out the story,” she says. “You might have the characters, but you don’t know what they’ll be like in one situation or another. After making a lot of mistakes, you begin to figure it out. I work in isolation, as writers do, and so I didn’t know if I was on the right path. Occasionally, editors read it. I used their comments to make it a richer, more developed narrative. I got rid of a lot. I added a lot. You have to be willing to change a novel in radical ways. It’s just a tremendous amount of work, and you have no idea if the work is worth all the effort. Ultimately, this is a novel that I’m very glad I wrote. I believe in the story; I believe in the characters.

Speechless is coming out in the midst of a pandemic, but even in times of tumult, we still need the imagination to make sense of complex situations. Fiction helps us understand the world. It allows us to stand back and see things whole.” 

Speechless is Ms. Simpson’s third novel, following Falling (McClelland & Stewart, 2008) and Canterbury Beach (Penguin, 2001). She has published five books of poetry, of which Strange Attractor (McClelland & Stewart, 2019) is the most recent. She has been a recipient of the Griffin Poetry Prize, and her fiction has been longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Students recognized for their outstanding work, art promise with Angus F. Macgillivray Art Bursary

Department News - Mon, 2020-04-27 16:34
Pictured, l-r, are 2020 Angus F. Macgillivary Art Bursary recipients Kennth Matheson, Jordyn Conn and Wankunda Bwalya

Three StFX students, Wankunda Bwalya, Jordyn Conn and Kenneth Matheson, have been recognized for outstanding talent and promise in the fine arts and have been named the 2020 recipients of StFX’s Angus F. Macgillivray Art Bursary.

The $750 annual bursaries, named in honour of the late Angus F. Macgillivray, an exceptional artist, teacher and StFX fine arts department faculty member, recognize outstanding studio production and encourage artists showing promise in the visual arts. To be considered, applicants submit a sketchbook and six finished artworks. Judges look for a mastery of skill in a variety of art mediums as well as a giving a sense of cohesive artistic vision.

“My reaction to receiving this award was pure excitement. I was so thrilled to open the email from (Art Department chair) Leigh (Gillam) with the news. I remember being in first year and hearing about this bursary and just thinking to myself, ‘wow it would be so neat to receive that award one day,’ and here we are. It still feels very surreal,” says Ms. Conn, of Seguin Township, ON, who is entering her fifth year at StFX this fall and completing a women’s and gender studies major with a studio art minor. 

She has taken a number of art courses over the years, including drawing, materials and methods, introduction to colour, art history, stained glass, and introduction to painting. 

“Receiving this award is a great honour. I have loved art my whole life and it is such a good feeling to be recognized by other local artists,” she says. 

“Growing up, my grandparents, who just so happened to be my next door neighbours, had a craft room in their house with any art supply you could ever need. Being encouraged to create whatever I wanted from a young age definitely just inspired my love for art. I continue to create art because I genuinely enjoy it. Now, most of my art becomes gifts for friends and family. The appreciation and joy they have when they receive my art is what keeps me going and inspired.” 


“My art knowledge and art making skills have improved significantly as a result of studying at StFX and I am thrilled that my progress is acknowledged by this award,” says Ken Matheson, who retired and moved to Georgeville, NS three years ago. Although this is his first year at StFX, he had some transfer credits, so has completed his second year of an honours BA in philosophy and art. He says after he graduates from StFX, he intends to pursue a MFA degree. 

“My first reaction was to excitedly tell my husband, and he broadcasted the news to our family and friends. My second reaction was to thank my art professors for being great teachers, for what they taught me and for their help and guidance this year,” he says. 

“My husband and I are both interested in art. We’ve been collecting for more than 30 years. Our collection comprises paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs from twentieth century modernists and contemporary artists. About 10 years ago, I was inspired to start making art. I took some drawing and painting classes at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Studio and at the Toronto School of Art and I’ve been a hobbyist painter since then. When I decided to get a degree from StFX, I included studio art and art history because I wanted to improve my art making practice.”

This year, he took introduction to drawing, introduction to painting, materials and methods, introduction to colour theory, and art history.


Wankunda Bwalya says he has always had an interest in art. 

“I believe it’s because I find it easier to express myself through it. Not only do I believe it is a way to reach out to people without saying any literal words, but to help others understand things through art. Therefore, most of my art works have a meaning and a story to tell,” says Mr. Bwalya, who is from a small town called Kasama, located in the northern part of Zambia. He just completed his third year at StFX in the Schwartz School of Business with a major in entrepreneurship. So far, he has taken Art 101 and Art 102.

“It means a lot for me to receive this award, because coming from a country that does not really acknowledge things like this, it really gives me more confidence in myself and in what I am doing. It also means a lot because I finally got acknowledgement from my father for winning this award. I was really excited and honoured when I was told that I was one of this year’s recipients for this award. I am really grateful and appreciative for being selected.”

The four Maple League Universities sign historic agreement that encourages inter-institutional student mobility

Department News - Mon, 2020-04-27 13:31

The Maple League of Universities is pleased to announce that the four universities in the consortium – Acadia, Mount Allison, St. Francis Xavier, and Bishop’s – have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that encourages students to take courses, with a focus on online learning and virtual learning communities, from across the four institutions without the often burdensome administrative processes associated with transfer credits from other universities. 

At the core of the inter-institutional collaboration is a shared commitment to an extraordinary undergraduate education. In the past two years, the Maple League has shared academic programming on a small scale in order to identify challenges and dismantle structural barriers that might impede inter-institutional student exchanges for both in-person and online course offerings. Under a new MOU signed on April 20, 2020, by the four university presidents, a number of logistical barriers have been resolved for students. 

1. Students can transfer their grade and course code to their home institution

2. Students do not need a Letter of Permission (LOP) to take a shared course

3. Students do not need to pay additional fees or costs related to course registration 

4. Students will not need to pay extra tuition for the fall and winter terms

Dr. Peter Ricketts, Chair of the Maple League of Universities and President of Acadia University, has championed quality undergraduate education on a national level in collaboration with the other presidents, Jean-Paul Boudreau (Mount Allison), Michael Goldbloom (Bishop’s), and Kevin Wamsley (St. Francis Xavier).

“We are excited to see how this MOU can help us with capacity building and resource sharing across our four institutions. This agreement provides our students with increased access to diverse courses and programs, mentors and research supervisors, and the expertise of exceptional faculty across the four universities. Enhanced access to academic diversity, paired with relationship-rich, in-person student experiences, provides our students with an extraordinary experience while also helping them stand out to future employers,” he says.  

Shawna Garrett, Registrar at Mount Allison University, has worked closely with the other three registrars to operationalize this inter-institutional collaboration: “In the face of turmoil and tragedy, I am heartened by the Maple League's collective response to our current COVID-19 related post-secondary educational challenges. The jointly created online spring and summer course calendar and the way our registrars have worked together to find compassionate solutions for students are excellent examples of the main Maple League guiding principle, ‘what can we do together that we cannot do on our own?’ These collective initiatives exemplify how we are better together.”

Georges-Philippe Gadoury-Sansfaçon, a second-year undergraduate student at Bishop’s University, believes that the Maple League is a key lever in fostering resilience and creating social change for students and society more generally.

“We know that interdisciplinarity and personal growth play a key role in fostering not only resilience but also perspective, critical thinking and creative problem-solving. These are the abilities that allow us to aim for the truth instead of polarization, and our four institutions have been committed to delivering this kind of education for ~175 years. This MOU creates smooth pathways for students across the four universities to ‘build their own adventure’ in their undergraduate careers and shape a 21st century education that takes us into the next millennium.”

While this MOU has been under development for the past 18 months, the COVID-19 crisis accelerated the need for this type of agreement. Dr. Jessica Riddell, Executive Director of the Maple League of Universities, points out that “we have already laid the groundwork for harnessing technology to create relationship-rich environments where Maple League students can connect in meaningful ways with faculty and peers to enhance engagement and learning consistent with the in-person student experiences we all value. Our collaborations enable us to create unique ways of engaging and interacting with students in remote teaching and learning environments that complement the in-person, immersive, and high-quality learning environments for which we are known.” 

We Stand Together

Department News - Fri, 2020-04-24 09:12
Flags within StFX’s Alumni Plaza fly at half-staff

At 11:00 AM ADT, the Xaverian community will observe a two-minute pause in honour of all affected by the tragic events. This is a personal moment for you to reflect in your own way.

A special thank you to Carolyn Hamilton-Kuby ’00 ’05 for submitting this beautiful poem. 

Please take care of yourself, and one another. 

We Stand Together

We stand together, in pause, and mourn for StFX family;

And for all of those affected in Nova Scotia’s community.

We stand together in honour of 22 most precious souls;

Your legacies of life will remain, through fonder stories told.

We stand together united for their families and friends;

Know that you are not alone and, in time, hearts will mend.    

We stand together in gratitude of the heroes – here, and gone;

Who helped -- and tried to help – please know your efforts truly shone.

We stand together knowing ‘Whatsoever Things are True’;

The Truth is:  Love and Faith live on -- God Bless All Twenty-Two.

StFX Marine Ecology Lab paper reveals upwelling spike after arrival of Dorian to the Atlantic Coast

Department News - Wed, 2020-04-22 14:23

Last September, Hurricane Dorian hit the Nova Scotia coast, in a rare occurrence of a tropical cyclone reaching Canada. At the time of Dorian's arrival, StFX biology professor Dr. Ricardo Scrosati and his Marine Ecology Lab had sensors periodically recording temperature in different points along the Atlantic coast.  

Together with wind data retrieved from Environment Canada, Dr. Scrosati says their data revealed a massive peak in coastal upwelling just hours after Dorian hit the coast.

The lab just published a paper about these findings, entitled “Upwelling spike and marked SST drop after the arrival of cyclone Dorian to the Atlantic Canadian coast,” which is available for free from a link provided by the publisher, Elsevier.

“The magnitude of this spike is only comparable to values normally seen only on heavy-upwelling shores of the world, such as California, Peru, and NW and SW Africa,” Dr. Scrosati says.  

“As a result of the upwelling, which is a process that brings deep waters to the surface, a pronounced cooling of our coast took place. Usually upwelling is also associated to an upsurge of inorganic nutrients from deep waters, which would be quite interesting to investigate if it helped coastal productivity.”


Statistics Canada Survey: Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on postsecondary students

Department News - Tue, 2020-04-21 09:29

Statistics Canada has launched a survey to understand the Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on postsecondary students. The survey is now live and can be accessed here.

The survey is open until May 1, 2020. 

The purpose of the survey is to provide early insight into the educational, employment and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on postsecondary students. Students will be asked about concerns regarding their academic future, and the financial strain of paying for tuition, rent and other expenses as a result of the pandemic.

A copy of the questionnaire in html is available here.  

This survey is delivered online only, and uses a crowdsourcing methodology.

All students are encouraged to take part. The data they provide will be helpful for making future plans.

Students can provide their perspective on the current crisis, by letting Statistics Canada know how their studies, financial situation and other aspects of their life have been affected by the pandemic.  

Please take five minutes to participate in this crowdsourcing data collection, and feel free to forward this to other postsecondary students—the more people who participate, the better the data.

Results from this survey will be used by governments and other organizations to evaluate the need for services and assistance programs to support postsecondary students during and after the pandemic.

Participating is easy and secure. 

To find out more and to complete our short questionnaire, visit www.statcan.gc.ca/COVID-students.

This survey is conducted under the authority of the Statistics Act, which ensures that the information you provide will be kept confidential, and used only for statistical and research purposes. 

For general enquiries and technical assistance, contact Statistics Canada Monday to Friday (except holidays), from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Eastern Time) at 1-877-949-9492 (TTY: 1-800-363-7629) or email: infostats@canada.ca


Message from StFX President: Tragedy within the province

Department News - Sun, 2020-04-19 19:29

To the StFX Community, 

The news of the terrible events that occurred over the last 24 hours within our province continues to unfold. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all affected by this tragedy. On behalf of the StFX community, our deepest condolences to those whose loved ones have been killed or injured due to this senseless act.

I appreciate that this creates stress and anxiety for everyone across our province and I want to remind the Xaverian community of the resources we have at our disposal to help. I’ve listed them below for your reference and encourage you to use them if needed. 


Kevin B. Wamsley 

President and Vice-Chancellor

StFX University


StFX Employee and Family Assistance Program

EFAP is available 24/7 and can provide you with immediate and confidential help for any work, health or life concern. Access your EFAP: 

By phone: 1-800-387-4765

By website: workhealthlife.com

Download the MyEAP app in your app store

Resources for Students

Healthy Minds NS

Good2TalkNS: 1-833-292-3698

Crisis Text Line: text “GOOD2TALKNS” to 686868

NS Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-888-429-8167

To arrange a phone meeting with a StFX Health and Counselling Centre staff member, email idrouin@stfx.ca.

David Young

Department News - Wed, 2020-04-15 14:03
Chair, Curriculum & LeadershipDavid Youngdyoung@stfx.ca(902) 867-2215EducationXavier Hall 202

Henry Young

Department News - Wed, 2020-04-15 14:03
CHP OperatorHenry Younghyoung@stfx.caFacilities Management

Laurence T. Yang

Department News - Wed, 2020-04-15 14:03
Laurence T. Yanglyang@stfx.ca902-867-5546Computer ScienceAnnex 11B

Ruth Young

Department News - Wed, 2020-04-15 14:03
Part TimeRuth Youngryoung@stfx.ca902-870-5562Art


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