Impact report stories

  • Canada Research Chairs program puts Brock on the map

    Brock University Professor of Psychology Karen Campbell has made breakthroughs in understanding how age affects memory. She’s shown that older adults have difficulty recalling things because they’re more easily distracted and connect more unrelated items in their minds than younger people.

    As a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging, Campbell has built an impressive laboratory, attracted major research funding, formed community partnerships and received an Early Career Award, among other accomplishments.

    “Being a CRC has benefited my career in a number of ways,” she says. “This position earns you a certain amount of respect, since people know it’s an honour to be nominated for a CRC position.”

    Campbell is one of 10 CRCs at Brock and among nearly 2,000 across the country.

    The Canadian government created the Canada Research Chairs program 22 years ago to put Canada on the world’s research and development map.

    The federal government’s three major research granting agencies — the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) — invest around $311 million each year in the Program.

    There are two levels of CRCs: the seven-year Tier 1, seasoned researchers deemed by their peers to be international leaders in their field; and the five-year Tier 2, emerging researchers judged by their peers to have potential to lead in their field. Both terms can be renewed once.

    Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Val Fajardo, who is a Tier 2 CRC in Tissue Plasticity and Remodelling, says the program enables him to pursue new and exciting research in aging, spaceflight, obesity and muscle disease.

    “It provides me with more time to devote to my research, mentorship, training and establishment of national and international collaborations as well as pursuing knowledge translation activities,” he says.

    The federal government uses a formula to determine the number of CRCs each degree-granting institution receives. Brock has 14 CRC allocations, 10 of which were active in mid-June with more to be filled.

    It’s up to the institution to decide the research areas and descriptions for the allocated CRCs as well as recruitment policies and procedures that meet national requirements.

    Associate Vice-President, Research Michelle McGinn says Brock is committed to supporting Indigenous research by creating a Tier 2 CRC in Indigenous Child and Youth Wellbeing, expected to be operational next year.

    The CRC program requires institutions to implement Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policies that address barriers faced by groups historically marginalized, including women, Indigenous peoples, members of visible minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ2+ persons. This includes ensuring individuals from these groups are nominated as CRCs.

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  • Brock launches Canada’s first accelerated concurrent Nursing program

    For more than two decades, Brock University has been educating future health-care workers through its renowned Nursing program.

    With demand soaring, Brock Nursing has taken two significant steps forward in 2022 — launching a first-of-its-kind concurrent Bachelor of Nursing/Master of Nursing (BN/MN) program, while also greatly expanding the capacity for its popular undergraduate program.

    “We have grown exponentially this year,” says Department of Nursing Chair Karyn Taplay. “Everyone connected to our program stepped up immensely to help make this year of transition a success; all are to be congratulated.”

    The concurrent BN/MN degree in Nursing is an innovative, course-based program designed to provide students with a high-quality alternative entry to practice that includes a hands-on and theoretical approach.

    The 20-month expedited program offers students both an undergraduate and graduate degree in Nursing. Graduates of the program are also eligible to write the NCLEX-RN registration exam.

    Shortly after that program held its first classes in early May, the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences also announced it was increasing undergraduate intake from 80 to 180 students starting this fall. The increase in enrolment led to the addition of 11 full- and part-time faculty and staff positions, as well as 23 part-time clinical instructors to help teach students.

    “The important contributions and leadership Brock Nursing students and graduates provide to the health of citizens in Niagara, the Province of Ontario and beyond, help to address systemic gaps and improve quality of care for patients,” says Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Dean Peter Tiidus. “More broadly, the growth of our Nursing program and the learning opportunities we provide enables our graduates to embark on career paths that respond to the changing health needs of Canadians.”

    To accommodate the rapid growth of Brock’s Nursing program, a third Nursing simulation lab was recently constructed.

    “Brock’s Nursing simulation labs are safe learning environments that allow students to learn to proficiently care for their patients,” Taplay says. “Practising in the lab prepares students to learn basic skills they will use with every patient on every shift.

    “They also become skilled in high stakes, low frequency events they may not encounter during their academic career.”

    While the official opening of the third Nursing lab will not take place until September, the space is already being used by that first cohort of BN/MN degree in Nursing students.

    “The expansion of Brock’s nationally recognized Nursing program responds to the growing need for health-care professionals,” said Interim University President Lynn Wells. “Brock is proud to support the health-care system in Niagara and beyond with our talented faculty educating future nurses in modern on-campus learning spaces.”

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  • Secondary school students choosing Brock at near-record levels

    Brock University has seen a significant increase in applications among Ontario high school students wanting to attend the University this fall.

    Nearing pre-pandemic levels of enrolment interest, Brock received an 11.2 per cent increase in applications from Ontario secondary school students in the first in a series of key application dates for the upcoming 2022-23 academic year.

    After a pandemic-related dip across the sector last year, post-secondary schools across the province saw an 8.4 per cent average increase in applications, according to data released by the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC). Brock outpaced that average by nearly three per cent, while also seeing an eight per cent increase in applicants who listed the University as their top choice of the universities they selected on the OUAC application forms.

    “This level of interest from Ontario high school students tells us that students have persevered in their studies through difficult pandemic conditions and are ready to continue their journey with Brock University as their home,” said Brock Interim President Lynn Wells.

    The University’s recruiting team continues to use creative ways to reach prospective students. With the pandemic causing the cancellation of major events such as the in-person Ontario Universities Fair in both 2020 and 2021, Brock turned to virtual tours, online open houses and a significant digital marketing campaign.

    “We’ve tried to meet the prospective students where they are,” said Matt Melnyk, Director, Student Recruitment and Acting Director, International Market Development. “We’re trying our best to meet their needs through creativity, responsiveness and being agile with how we engage with these potential students.”

    To learn more about what Brock has to offer prospective students, visit

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  • Community rallies to raise more than $42,000 in support of student success on Giving Tuesday

    On November 30, Brock University was among thousands of not-for-profit organizations celebrating Giving Tuesday, a day used to encourage communities to volunteer and donate to charitable causes that are near and dear to their heart.

    At Brock, that cause is student success.

    With students back on campus for the first time in two years, Brock University asked our community to make donations designated to our students; with focus on initiatives enhancing the student learning experience and making a meaningful difference in the lives of Brock students.

    And like always, the Brock and Niagara community answered. By rallying together and supporting a range of student-centric funds such as scholarships and bursaries, facilities and spaces, academic programs, student services, athletics, and research, our community raised over $42,000 for Brock students through this initiative.

    Together with faculty, staff and students, we were able to raise awareness and share the potential a day like Giving Tuesday has on the future of our institution and the value we place on supporting the urgent needs of students and the value of the student experience at Brock.

    By putting student success at the forefront of our minds, together with our community, Brock creates future-ready, resilient, and versatile Badgers ready to change the world. Students in the coming years will reap the benefits of both new and increased capacity for existing student supports, thanks to the funds raised in this year’s Giving Tuesday activities.

    “The overwhelming response to this year’s initiative is validation that the community is committed to seeing our students, and Brock, succeed,” said Sonia Dupte, Executive Director, Development & Campaigns.

    At Brock we are proud of what our students accomplish every single day. We also recognize the advancement of our students and institution are a direct result of the supportive community and culture of philanthropy that surrounds us. When we unite as a community, there is no limit to what we can make possible for our students.

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  • Brock joins important conversations during Bell Let’s Talk

    Brock Campus Store student staff members Hailey McCurk, a third-year Child and Youth Studies student, and Charlotte Giroux, a third-year Concurrent Education student, package an online order from the Campus Store in advance of Bell Let’s Talk Day. 

    Brock University joined organizations across Canada in recognizing Bell Let’s Talk Day on Wednesday, Jan. 26 with a week of workshops and initiatives focused on raising awareness about mental health and wellness.

    As a leader in campus mental health — ranking first among all comprehensive universities in Canada for mental health supports in the annual Maclean’s University Rankings for the fourth-consecutive year — Brock encouraged its students, staff and faculty to participate in the many planned activities dedicated to growing the community’s collective knowledge about mental health and demonstrating how to support students, colleagues and others with their mental health struggles.

    Interim President Lynn Wells reminded Brock University students and employees of the importance of caring for one’s mental health and well-being.

    “The past several years have been challenging for all of us,” she said. “Brock University takes the mental health and overall well-being of our community members very seriously.”

    The University hosted a wide range of events around Bell Let’s Talk Day ranging from sleep and mindfulness workshops to relationship building sessions and an important conversation around healthy body image.

    Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre also partnered with Brock Sports for a series of wellness workshops designed specifically for student-athletes. While the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) hosted a free mental health talk and virtual Q&A session with Canadian sprinter and six-time Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse.

    There was also a full social media campaign around mental health supports while Brock’s Alumni Relations distributed 400 cookies called Badger Grams with messages of support and encouragement from graduates for students living in residences.

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  • TD support improves well-being and advances Brock programming for seniors in Niagara

    As a long-time supporter of Brock University and the Niagara region, TD Bank Group (TD) responded to the increased need of both physical and sociological support for seniors in our community. Through a multi-year grant, TD has invested in Brock’s SeniorFit program, offered by the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being.

    The SeniorFit program, designed for Niagara residents 55 and older, works to enhance the quality of life across the lifespan by promoting and supporting a healthy lifestyle. The program focuses on exercise for seniors and those with other chronic conditions to improve strength, mobility and independence, while also enhancing confidence and self-esteem.

    Manning the program and working directly with seniors are Brock students from Kinesiology, Health Sciences, Therapeutic Recreation, Nursing and Gerontology programs. In addition to promoting physical and mental well-being for seniors, while providing Brock students a unique experiential learning opportunity, SeniorFit also supports intergenerational interactions that benefit both the senior and the student.

    As expected as we emerged from the pandemic, the unique SeniorFit program has increased in popularity, with more seniors needing or wanting assistance, programming and social interaction. The grant from TD will help the Brock-Niagara Centre both assess and expand the program to better serve seniors in the region.

    Primarily, a full needs assessment will be completed to identify other potential areas for growth, while a research project will be conducted to evaluate the positive impacts the Centre’s programs are having on its members.

    “TD’s generous funding provides a secure foundation for what has become an important resource to the community,” said Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Dean, Peter Tiidus.

    Additionally, the grant allows the Centre to expand its SeniorFit program across the region using satellite locations. By bringing programming where the people are, we remove barriers to accessibility for seniors and thus expand awareness and opportunity for seniors to work to reduce the occurrences and severity of chronic conditions and illnesses.

    With expanded locations comes expanded program offerings and staff. More student-staff mean more one-on-one experiences for SeniorFit members, ensuring an individualized program is created based on each member’s needs.

    “This donation from TD is allowing us to do things we always wanted to do, but weren’t able to do without this funding,” shared SeniorFit Director Kim Gammage.

    Thanks to TD’s support, the expanded locations and offerings, and the assessment and research that will take place, Brock anticipates SeniorFit to continue to grow quite quickly, furthering its benefits for students and seniors of Niagara.

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  • Brock alumnus & retired professor invests in the future of engineering at Brock

    Yousef Haj-Ahmad (BSc ’80, MSc ’82) has been investing in the future of Brock University’s students and programming since 1989.

    After completing both an undergraduate and Master’s degree from Brock, Haj-Ahmad joined Brock faculty as a Professor of Biological Sciences at Brock in 1989, where he taught students for 24 years before retirement. During his time at Brock, Haj-Ahmad also founded Norgen Biotek Corp in 1998, a slow but steadily growing company advancing the field of biotechnology research and testing, which he continued to run after retirement from the University.

    After retirement, Haj-Ahmad’s dedication to Brock and its students remained; Haj-Ahmad established a scholarship to provide financial support for students studying Biotechnology and Biological Sciences at Brock. Additionally, Norgen Biotek Corp continuously welcomes Brock co-op students and graduates, often giving them their first chance at industry through the lab.

    “When nobody believed in me, Brock believed in me,” said Haj-Ahmad. “Now, I believe in the new graduates, we’ll happily take them in at Norgen Biotek Corp, and we’ll teach them.” Now, through a $5-million gift from The Yousef Haj-Ahmad Family Foundation, Haj-Ahmad will have another gamechanging impact on Brock students, the Niagara community and beyond. The transformational gift has established the Yousef Haj-Ahmad Department of Engineering at Brock University.

    With three of Haj-Ahmad’s children also holding degrees from Brock, the family of alumni’s decision to make a visionary gift to the University is the result of the family’s lifelong collective connection to Brock, and their belief that their alma mater can play a major role in an emerging sector.

    The new Integrated Engineering Department will offer Brock students unique, made-in-Niagara interdisciplinary programming, blurring the lines between traditional engineering disciplines. The Department will continue to expand its offerings, with a Bachelor of Engineering on the horizon for 2024 and Master’s and Doctoral programs to be launched shortly after.

    “Brock University has been home since I moved to Canada in the mid-1970s” said Haj-Ahmad. He’s now making ‘home’ a place of excellence and possibility for teachers, researchers and students. In more ways than one, Haj-Ahmad is shaping the leaders of tomorrow and has continuously invested in Brock in support of job creation, business development, community development and social inclusion across the Niagara region and beyond.

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