Media releases

  • Brock expert helps wine producers navigate climate extremes

    EXPERT ADVISORY: 10 March 2023 – R0020

    While some may speculate rising temperatures could be a positive for Canada’s cool climate wine-growing regions, unpredictable weather patterns created by the shift can have drastic implications on wine production.

    However, researchers at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) are working to help Canadian producers build resiliency strategies into their operations.

    CCOVI researcher Jim Willwerth says viticulture is highly impacted by climate, as it affects both yields and taste of the wine due to the ‘terroir effect.’

    “Even though weather may be warming and our overall winter weather may not be as cold on average compared to historical data, volatility and extremes can significantly impact production,” he says. “Erratic weather can have major influences on grapevine dormancy and cold tolerance. Thus, when coupled with extreme cold temperatures, grapevines can be more susceptible to freeze injury.”

    Willwerth, whose research program focuses on grapevine cold hardiness physiology and understanding how to maximize cold hardiness in Vitis vinifera, is also an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Brock and trains students learning about oenology and viticulture at the University.

    He says there are a number of factors to consider as producers look to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the vineyard.

    “Grapevine material that is better adapted to the local climate will fare better, including appropriately matching cultivar, clone and rootstock to site conditions,” Willwerth says. “Greater resiliency to climate fluctuations and extremes through the use of quality plant material and applying plant growth regulators may prove to be a viable way to reduce losses in production due to weather and improve or maintain quality in a changing environment.”

    Willwerth will present his research findings as part of the 2023 CCOVI Lecture Series. The Brock and wider community are invited to join the lecture “Improving resiliency in grapevines to avoid freeze damage in a changing climate” on Wednesday, March 15 at 2 p.m. in Mackenzie Chown Complex H313 or online via livestream.

    Brock University Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Jim Willwerth, a researcher in the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, is available for media interviews on the topic.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock researchers find early emergence of procrastination in children

    MEDIA RELEASE: 6 March 2023 – R0019

    A new study out of Brock’s Developing Memory and Cognition Lab shows there may be more to those heartfelt requests from toddlers for “five more minutes” before heading to bed than researchers have previously understood.

    Brock student researchers Taissa Fuke (MA ’22), Ege Kamber and Melissa Alunni (BA ’21), alongside Associate Professor Caitlin Mahy in the Department of Psychology, co-authored “The Emergence of Procrastination in Early Childhood: Relations With Executive Control and Future-Oriented Cognition,” which was published in Developmental Psychology last week.

    The paper shows that not only does procrastination behaviour emerge as early as age three, but it also becomes more characteristic over time and appears to be linked with other future-thinking behaviours, such as delaying gratification.

    One of the key distinctions drawn by the researchers is the difference between task avoidance and procrastination, which boils down to two important factors: a personal need to do something and an intention to do it — eventually.

    “Task avoidance for adults may be as simple as staying away from a social event we don’t want to go to,” says Kamber, a Brock PhD student. “But in procrastination, we know we have to do this task, even if it’s undesirable, but we put it off.”

    Mahy says determining intention, especially in children as young as three, can be challenging, so the team was careful to have parents report on tasks children intended on doing or had to do themselves, such as getting out of bed in the morning.

    As a result, they detected an interesting pattern.

    “The three- and four-year-olds procrastinated in different areas than the five- and six-year-olds,” Mahy says. “The younger children were much more likely to procrastinate on tidying up messes and engaging in bedtime or mealtime routines, whereas the older children were more likely to procrastinate on doing homework or doing chores around the house.”

    Kamber, whose PhD research focuses on episodic future thinking, says the connection between procrastination and future-thinking behaviours, such as delaying gratification, has been of particular interest to him.

    Using the example of the marshmallow test, where children are given a marshmallow and assured that if they don’t eat it right away, they can have a second marshmallow in 10 minutes, he explains how delayed gratification and procrastination involve similar forms of impulse control.

    “You know you need to wait because the future outcome is better, but it’s also hard to wait, because it’s a marshmallow,” he says. “Delayed gratification is our ability is to inhibit our current impulses to focus on greater future outcomes, but with procrastination, we have to inhibit our impulse to not do the undesirable task in order to get it completed.”

    The connection between procrastination and future-thinking is important because it involves “having empathy for your future self,” Mahy says.

    “The thing about procrastination is that you get an instant reward of not vacuuming the carpet or not doing homework — you get to enjoy the current moment,” she says. “But the task that you will eventually have to do still hangs over your head and tends to create more anxiety over time — you’re effectively punishing your future self with the task and also the prolonged anxiety.”

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209

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    Categories: Media releases