What's New in Research

What's New in Research


Brock psychologist wins international behavioral neuroscience award

July 21, 2014

A cat standing in front of a rat is not a pretty sight for that rat. So much so that the rat belts out a “this is not good” yelp in ultrasonic waves, easily heard by other rats but silent to the naked human ear.

Analyzing rat “vocalizations” and discovering their mechanisms was just one of the breakthroughs that have come from the 45-year research career of Brock University behavioural psychologist Stefan Brudzynski.

“The difficulty is that animals do not have language,” says Brudzynski. “Their calls do not have grammatical structure and words. Yet, rats interpret the sounds they emit.

“It’s not just any sound. They try to emit specific structured sounds because they have certain meanings behind them.”

For this research and other achievements, Brudzynski recently received the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS)’s Outstanding Achievement Award at the society’s 23rd annual meeting.

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Have World Cup fever? Goodman professor knows why

July 9, 2014

Soccer fans are known for reacting passionately to each goal. It’s not surprising then, that Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal between Brazil and Germany was the most tweeted event in sporting history. Photos and videos showed Brazilian fans reacting to the loss with anger and tears as soccer fans worldwide raced to analyze what went wrong.

Passionate soccer fans are the research focus of Goodman School of Business Prof. Peter Yannopoulos. Yannopoulos is currently researching the underlying motivations for attending soccer games. He’s exploring the way emotions and social identities impact attendance and how sports marketers can use this research to improve ticket and merchandise sales.

Yannopoulos, along with colleagues from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Open University of Greece, is looking to get to the heart of what motivates soccer fans to buy tickets and travel across the world to watch a game that could be watched in the comfort of their own home.

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NSERC announces research grants for the next five years

June 26, 2014

Metarhizium, a widespread soil-borne fungus that feasts upon more than 200 different kinds of insects, has long been known to be an insect pathogen, destroying soil-borne pests by robbing them of nitrogen.

But breakthrough research by biologist Michael Bidochka and his team two years ago found that the fungus is also able to transfer nitrogen from the insects that they kill to plants via their root systems, making the fungus a natural fertilizer as well as an insect repellant in agriculture.

“This discovery generates new knowledge that enables us to better understand the nitrogen cycle and soil ecosystems,” Bidochka said at the time. “We’re going to go on and do more complex things based on this research.”

He and his team will now do just that, thanks to a $165,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

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Brock launches UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability

June 25, 2015

Brock University has been awarded a UNESCO Chair that will help to build capacity in sustainability science research and its practical transfer to society.

The chair, which will operate under the theme “Community Sustainability: From Local to Global,” is one of more than 811 UNESCO Chairs worldwide and a network of 18 in Canada facilitated by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. The Brock chair is the only one in Canada located at an institution situated within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

The main focus of the chair is to strengthen initiatives in sustainable agriculture and community-based natural resource management in Canada, China and other countries such as Ecuador, in order to develop concrete actions and best practices transferable to various countries around the world.

The first person to fill this new role is biologist Liette Vasseur, a member of Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC).

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CCOVI director recognized for excellence in science, technology and innovation

June 18, 2014

Debbie Inglis, director of Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), has been recognized with the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce’s award for excellence in science, technology and innovation at its annual Women in Business luncheon.

The award celebrates the achievements of women whose business and community contributions have made a significant difference in Niagara. Inglis, who received the award at a June 13 luncheon, said she was honoured and surprised to be recognized. She said she accepted the award on behalf of her team at CCOVI, noting the collective effort required to have a positive impact through research on the region’s grape and wine industry.

“I’m very fortunate at Brock to be encouraged in my job to think outside the box, be creative and innovative, and work to break down barriers that prevent progress,” Inglis said at the presentation.

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Brock prof wins award for reading research

June 11, 2014

Applied developmental psychologist Jan Frijters has a powerful message for teens living with dyslexia, their parents and teachers: don’t give up the struggle to read.

In fact, the International Reading Association - the world’s foremost expert on literacy - is so impressed by the research behind this message that it has granted Frijters and his team its 2014 Albert J. Harris Award for their paper “Evaluating the Efficacy of Remediation for Struggling Readers in High School.”

“This award is an excellent validation of the need to move research-based interventions into the schools,” says Frijters. “It’s a validation not to write off some adolescents who many people think, ‘well, if they haven’t learned to read by now, there’s no hope for them’.”

Developmental psychologist Maureen Lovett, a colleague of Frijters, created a remedial reading program focusing on three areas — word identification strategies, knowledge of text structures, and reading comprehension strategies.

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Researchers receive internal grants

June 10, 2014

When you’re in the deep, dark hole of depression, it’s hard to claw your way out. You lack the energy and motivation to pursue enjoyable activities and connect with friends, but that’s exactly what you need to do to get better.

Recreation and Leisure Studies professor Colleen Hood is researching — and implementing — best practices in therapeutic recreation for people with psychiatric illness. She’s using her research to create a centre at the St. Catharines Hospital for in-patients, outpatients and day patients that will offer “a broad spectrum of interventions and programs.

“What we try to do is help people find those interests and passions in life that feed their soul, generate positive emotion, help them manage anxiety and help them feel connected to other people and the community in some way,” she says.

“This combats all the things that go with mental illness that are so terrible: isolation, stigmatization, passivity.”

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