Articles tagged with: graduate studies

  • Student researcher explores future of electric buses in Canada

    REPOSTED FROM THE BROCK NEWS
    FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2019 | by 

    It’s a simple, logical way to cut down on air and noise pollution.

    Electric buses don’t emit carbon or use fossil fuels, are low cost to maintain and, by the silent way they operate, reduce noise pollution compared to conventional buses.

    But replacing current buses with electricity-powered ones is easier said than done, says master’s student Tasnuva Afreen.

    Afreen recently wrapped up an eight-month internship with the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) to collect and interpret information related to transit authorities’ transition to electric buses.

    “Now we’re trying to connect the dots,” says Afreen, who is in Brock’s Sustainability Science and Society program. “We hope to bring out what Canadians think of electric buses and identify the main barriers to bringing electric buses to transit authorities’ fleets.”

    Afreen, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Christopher Fullertonand CUTRIC created the internship through the not-for-profit national research organization Mitacs.

    Mitacs partners with academics, private industry and governments to conduct research and training programs related to industrial and social innovation. The organization funds a number of research projects at Brock University.

    During her internship, Afreen organized consultations with industry representatives, transit authorities, government officials and academic researchers.

    She and her CUTRIC colleagues asked participants a series of questions about transit authorities’ experiences and challenges of experimenting with electric buses and the knowledge they need to acquire and integrate hydrogen fuel cell vehicles into their fleets.

    Afreen also asked transit riders to share their opinions on and experiences with electric buses.

    She then transcribed the consultation sessions and analyzed the comments. Afreen also gathered information on how to test electric buses in nine municipalities that expressed interest in becoming demonstration trial sites.

    Although she and Fullerton are still analyzing the data, Afreen says her preliminary results show that there’s much interest in putting electric buses on the road.

    But there are a number of barriers to overcome, she says.

    “Municipalities have to redesign their infrastructure to provide electric lines so that buses can recharge very quickly,” says Afreen. “Also, the upfront expense is huge — a lot of transit agencies don’t have the money in their pocket to go for this.”

    Fullerton, Afreen’s supervisor, says the research she conducted will lay the groundwork for CUTRIC’s efforts to encourage the adoption of electric buses across Canada.

    “While it has already demonstrated clear environmental, social and economic benefits in other parts of the world, electric bus technology is still relatively new and adopting it represents a major funding commitment,” says Fullerton.

    “Public transit agencies and other stakeholders, such as the various levels of government that provide subsidies for transit infrastructure, want to make sure that the technology is reliable and that their money is well spent,” he says, adding that Afreen’s work helps identify stakeholders’ concerns and information needs.

    Afreen will share her Mitacs-supported internship experience at Brock’s Shift Conference Tuesday, April 30 and the Launch Forum Wednesday, May 1. Mitacs Director Rebecca Bourque and Office of Research Services staff will be join Afreen at Launch in the 10 to 11:30 a.m. session in the Cairns Atrium to explore how faculty member and graduate student teams can navigate Mitacs internship opportunities.

    “Mitacs internships offer graduate students a valuable experience working with industry or community organizations,” says Industry Liaison and Partnership Officer Iva Bruhova. “It is a chance to apply their research skills and gain employment-ready skills.”

    In addition to the Mitacs session, the Launch event offers two other sessions on how faculty and staff can support graduate students through designing individual development plans.

    For more information, contact ibruhova@brocku.ca or kperry@brocku.ca

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  • Geography graduate student wins best paper award

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate our Master of Arts in Geography student, Aaron Nartey, on receiving a Faculty of Social Sciences Student Research Award for his proposed Major Research Paper project titled “Return Migration of Ghanaian Immigrants”.

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  • Student research recognized at 3MT final and Jack M. Miller award ceremony

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  • Film crew joins Crawford Lake research efforts

    When a group of researchers returned to Crawford Lake to continue the search for evidence of a possible new geological era, they came with a film crew to document the occasion.

    Toronto-based Mercury Films joined the team of scientists, led by Brock’s Department of Earth Sciences, shooting footage during last month’s trip to the Milton site to collect samples.

    Brock Professors Mike Pisaric and Francine McCarthy, Brock undergraduate student Brendan Llew-Willams and Carleton Professor Tim Patterson discussing the stratigraphy visible in sediments. (Photo courtesy of Conservation Halton)

    The team is studying the lake as a possible location to define a new geologic epoch called the Anthropocene. It is one of 10 sites being captured by Mercury Films.

    The production company’s most recent film,Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September and is part of a multimedia project that includes a major travelling museum exhibition of photographs, short films and augmented reality. It has been featured at the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada, and will be on display in Bologna, Italy, in April.

    In addition to the field work, Mercury Films will visit Brock to obtain footage of the laboratory analysis component of this research effort. As part of a project, contracted through the German government, they will highlight each site’s candidacy for type section — a location where evidence of a time period shift can be seen — and cover all the steps leading to the formal proposal of the Anthropocene epoch.

    In order to receive this ‘golden spike’ designation, a proposal must be submitted to the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) for evaluation. If the AWG approves of this proposal, it will then be evaluated by the International Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, chaired by Brock University Professor of Earth Sciences Martin Head.

    While the world is technically in the Holocene epoch, the group researching Crawford Lake, which also includes researchers from Carleton and McMaster universities as well as Conservation Halton, hopes their findings can convince fellow scientists around the globe to establish the start of the latest geological age.

    Researchers suggest the Anthropocene began around 1950. While it hasn’t been officially adopted as a geological epoch, Brock Professor of Earth Sciences Francine McCarthy and her team are attempting to build a case for Crawford Lake.

    Annually laminated freeze core recovered from the deep basin of Crawford Lake. (Photo courtesy of Conservation Halton)

    To get a better understanding of the history that exists within Crawford, annually laminated sediments called varves are recovered through freeze-coring — a process that involves dropping a dry ice and ethanol filled-metal sampler into the lake.

    “Over the next year or so, various types of analysis of the varves and the overlying water will be conducted, including radionuclide analysis to look for the ‘bomb spike’ and evidence of the Great Acceleration since the Second World War,” McCarthy said. “If a good radionuclide signature, including plutonium, is present in the sediments of Crawford Lake, the site will be a strong contender as the type section, with a ‘golden spike’ at around 1950.”

    Faculty of Math and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed commended team members for their efforts.

    “I would like to send my congratulations to the team for their work on this matter,” he said. “They should be both proud of their research and excited by the attention it is receiving.”

    There is still plenty of work to be done before the Anthropocene is recognized as a geological era. Progress reports from 10 candidate sites will be presented in April at the upcoming European Geophysical Union Meeting in Vienna. Additionally, supporters from each site will travel to Berlin in May to discuss the next steps that need to be taken to establish the Anthropocene epoch.

    Nick de Pencier of Mercury Films Inc. filming Brock Professor Mike Pisaric and graduate student Joe Viscek as they prepare to core Crawford Lake. (Photo courtesy of Conservation Halton)

    Story reposted from The Brock News.

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  • Social Sciences celebrates outstanding faculty and staff

    REPOSTED FROM THE BROCK NEWS
    February 01, 2019 | by 

    How people engage with their families, communities, governments and environments, as well as each other, helped inspire the exciting and diverse research recognized at the annual Celebration of Excellence in the Social Sciences.

    Held at Pond Inlet on Jan. 29, the event was an opportunity to recognize achievements on both sides of the education spectrum, celebrating both teachers and learners.

    “Although the Celebration of Excellence is focused on individual accomplishments, I want to acknowledge the collective effort that goes into supporting each of those individuals,” Ingrid Makus, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences (FOSS), told the crowd of students, staff, faculty members and supporters who gathered for the event.

    Makus was delighted to recognize the outstanding student research and writing happening within the Faculty and to formally announce two faculty honours.She thanked the many staff and faculty within FOSS, members of Brock’s service departments and the University’s senior administration for their support.

    Professor Rebecca Raby from the Department of Child and Youth Studies was presented with the Distinguished Researcher award. Raby serves as the Director of Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI) and is affiliated with master’s programs in Social Justice and Equity Studies and Sociology.

    “It is an honour to receive this award,” Raby said. “It reflects the shared creativity, commitment and hard work of incredible faculty and student collaborators that I have been able to work with, as well as excellent mentorship, most notably from Jane Helleiner in Sociology and from all of the past and present members of the SJRI’s Faculty Steering Committee.”

    Nicole Goodman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, received the Untenured Researcher of the Year award.

    Goodman was humbled by the honour.

    “I’m very grateful for the opportunities and support provided to me by the Department of Political Science and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Brock, which has allowed my research to have a bigger impact in the communities it serves.”

    The two faculty awards were created to recognize FOSS members with consistent records of outstanding research achievements as reflected in the quality and quantity of refereed publications, grants awards and other research activities.

    The Distinguished Researcher award for tenured faculty considers accomplishments from the last five academic years. The Untenured Researcher of the Year award considers accomplishments within the previous academic year.

    Associate Dean Graduate and Research Dawn Zinga presented certificates to graduate students in the Faculty who exhibited exceptional research or writing skills in the past year.

    Alexandra Perna, a master’s student in Geography, was among the recipients of a Graduate Student Research Excellence award.

    Perna said the faculty and staff in Geography and Tourism were a big factor in her success.

    “As much as it’s my award, this is really a reflection of my whole department,” she said. She credited her “amazing” supervisor, Associate Professor Ebru Ustundag, with “making me feel that I can accomplish anything.”

    Perna is now thinking of pursuing a PhD, something she said she wouldn’t have considered without Ustundag’s encouragement.

    According to Perna, the most significant benefit of the award may be the feedback from the adjudication committee.

    “Getting feedback was so awesome,” she said. “It shows their dedication in reading all these proposals. They aren’t just skimming through them. They’re actually helping the students learn in a different way and become better.”

    Lisa Michelle Whittingham, who calls herself a community-based researcher, also received a Research Excellence award. The master’s student in Child and Youth Studies was grateful to have her work validated by the Faculty.

    “I feel this shows they have faith that my research can make positive impact on the community,” she said.

    During the event’s closing remarks, Tim Kenyon, Vice-President Research, marvelled at the breadth and depth of the research represented in FOSS.

    “What particularly impresses me is that your research and scholarship address a range of challenges we face as individuals, a society and a global community,” he said.

    I would like to congratulate those who were recognized today and extend my appreciation to all faculty, students and staff for creating such a dynamic community that makes a difference.

    The Celebration of Excellence program listing all award recipients is posted on the Faculty of Social Sciences website along with a PDF of the Powerpoint presentation that accompanied the event. Photos of the event are available on the BrockUFOSS Facebook page.

    Story reposted from The Brock News.

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  • Department celebrates successes of 2018 with inaugural newsletter

    In January 2019, the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies published its inaugural annual newsletter highlighting departmental successes in 2018. The newsletter is available to download on our Departmental Publications page.

    Newsletter cover page. Brock campus with students

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  • Congratulations to Senanu Kutor on the successful completion of his MA in Geography MRP

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to extend congratulations to Senanu Kutor and his committee for the successful defense of his Master of Arts in Geography Major Research Paper entitled ‘Wisdom and cross-cultural interaction: a geographical perspective’ on January 14, 2019.

    Senanu’s research was supervised by Dr. Dragos Simandan and committee member, Dr. Jeffrey Boggs.

    We wish Senanu all the best for his future endeavours!

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  • Congratulations to Sara Epp on her successful PhD defense

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is pleased to congratulate Brock alumna, Sara Epp (BA Geography ’08; MA Geography ’13), on the successful defense of her PhD on November 10, 2018. More information about Dr. Epp’s PhD research is available below.

    Understanding the Multifunctionality of Small-scale Family Farms and the Impacts of Land Use Policies on this Farm Structure

    This research analyzes the resilience of Old Order Mennonite farmers that have migrated to northern Ontario for agricultural endeavours. Over the past fifteen years, Anabaptist farmers, including Old Order Mennonites, have moved to northern Ontario as raising land prices and limited land availability in southern Ontario has restricted their ability to purchase new land. Northern Ontario, with an abundance of productive, less expensive land, has proven to be an opportune location for many farmers. These farmers have increased access to local food, broadened the productive spectrum of crops and improved food security for many communities. Their economic and social impacts on northern communities has been significant, as has their impact on the broader farm community. While the Old Order Mennonite community has grown in northern Ontario, the factors of their resilience are unknown. This dissertation examined three Old Order Mennonite communities in northern Ontario, utilizing key informant interviews with community members, municipal representatives, provincial staff and non-Mennonite farmers in order to understand the agricultural resilience of Old Order Mennonites. The results demonstrated that agricultural diversification, as well as a strong sense of community and cultural convictions were important factors within their resilience. This research also found that transformation and decline, often viewed separately from resilience, did not weaken the communities but contributed to their resilience.

    Download the full paper here.

    Examination Committee:

    • Wayne Caldwell, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Advisor
    • Chris Fullerton, Geography and Tourism Studies, Brock University, Advisory Committee Member
    • John Smithers, Geography, University of Guelph, Graduate Faculty
    • Ryan Gibson, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Graduate Faculty
    • Al Lauzon, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Exam Chair

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  • Geography student studies why some people live on the road

    STORY FROM THE TORONTO STAR | DEC 6, 2018

    Graduate student in the driver's seat of a van she bought for research

    Brock University graduate student Stephanie Murray studied movible communities in a van she bought on Kijiji. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    When Stephanie Murray, a Geography master’s student at Brock University, set out on a two-month long journey across North America to study nomads and vanlife culture, she didn’t expect to find herself learning to surf, contributing to a documentary film, or being surrounded by a pack of angry stray dogs. But she quickly learned that life on the road is full of unexpected twists and turns.

    An avid traveller, Murray stumbled onto vanlife culture. She was fascinated by the people she met, and quickly realized that although nomads living in vans had been around for years, no one had studied them yet.

    “I knew there was a gap in academia that I could fill,” Murray says. “But if I wanted to truly study this culture, I needed to be able to live and move like they did.”

    “Lola” in the field during her two-month research journey across North America. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Using funding from Brock and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant, she purchased a used van on Kijiji. Naming it Lola, she converted the vehicle into 66 square feet of living space. Then, over the summer of 2017, she drove to the west coast of the United States to attend “van gatherings,” events where people who live and travel in their vans get together to socialize and support one another. It’s a diverse group, says Murray. “One of the couples I spoke to worked remotely in IT, another couple ran a blog, and one of the other vanlifers was making money from a book he’d written. They’re a pretty talented bunch.”

    She was out to discover their motivation for giving up conventional lives and instead choosing a highly mobile lifestyle. “Our society is oriented towards people who stay in one place, and van nomads help to call that way of thinking into question.”

    “I have encountered so much kindness on the road,” Murray added. “People have welcomed me into their homes and helped me with my van, with no expectation of anything in return. And while the vanlifers I interviewed took up this lifestyle for a variety of reasons, they were united by a desire to choose their own path, rather than the one that’s handed down to them.”

    Murray was thankful that she received the full backing of the University during her time on the road.

    “Brock supported me fully from day one. And that support meant that I was able to do this research in the way it needed to be done — in person, on the road. I lived and moved alongside the people I was studying, and never once did I have to make any compromises that would have hurt the quality of my research. The University made sure I had the resources to do it right.”

    Master's student in the field during trip across north america. Standing in the foggy mountains.

    Research doesn’t have to happen in the lab. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Murray’s faculty supervisor and the Graduate Program Director of Geography at Brock,  Dr. David Butz, believed her research was novel and important, given today’s mobile society. Becoming a van nomad herself was pivotal.

    “This research strategy — and life choice — gives her research an unusually strong experiential and autobiographical component, which is rare in ‘mobilities’ research, and which adds to the distinctiveness and potential significance of her research,” says Butz. “We also felt Stephanie’s unusual research project, while logistically complicated, was worth supporting. We were confident about her capabilities based on her history with the University. At Brock, we encourage applications from good students and we’re willing to put funding behind that — and provide them with mentoring to apply for external funding.  Brock can offer lots of personalized attention to students.”

    Research doesn’t have to happen in a lab. There are interesting and exciting things going on around us everywhere, and at Brock University, unique postgraduate research projects in the community are encouraged.

    For her part, Murray is grateful for the support she received from Brock. “This research changed the course of my life, and it showed me that it’s possible to turn your passion into a ground-breaking research project,” she said. “If you have a clear vision of what you want to discover, Brock can help you on that pursuit.”

    Interested in studying in the Master of Arts in Geography program at Brock? Apply by February 15 to start next September.


    Story reposted from The Toronto Star

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  • Master of Arts in Geography student helps to curate exhibit on Niagara’s historical theatres

    The history of entertainment in Niagara is now in the spotlight at Brock University thanks to the hard work of two local high school students.

    The work of Beamsville District Secondary School students Emma McDonald (daughter of History Professor Andrew McDonald) and Keerthana Srikanth is on display in the University’s Archives and Special Collections.

    The opportunity to create an exhibit about historical theatres in Niagara came about after the pair of 15-year-old students devoted hours of their spare time volunteering at the Town of Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre.

    Now Playing exhibit

    Beamsville District Secondary School students Keerthana Srikanth and Emma McDonald were joined for the installation of their exhibit Now Playing: Evolution of Entertainment by Brock’s Head of Archives and Special Collections David Sharron and Town of Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre curator and Brock Master of Geography student Lisa Marie Mercier.

    Having seen the girls’ passion for history, the museum’s curator, Brock Master of Geography student Lisa Marie Mercier, invited the duo to curate an exhibit of their own, Now Playing: Evolution of Entertainment.

    “The exhibit connected the girls to history in a way that would not otherwise be possible,” she said. “It allowed them to engage with historic material on a very personal level.”

    After deciding to focus their exhibit on entertainment, the Grade 10 students met with David Sharron, Brock’s Head of Archives and Special Collections, to examine some of the University’s collection and narrow their focus.

    “Once they chose their topics, we provided access to information and materials that would show well in an exhibit,” he said of the photographs, maps and programs on display. “They filtered through everything and did all the research and selections.”

    The two young curators were appreciative of the expansive resources on offer in the archives.

    “It was really interesting and overwhelming,” said McDonald. “There were lots of cool things to choose from.”

    Having a wealth of resources from the museum and Brock’s archives made the task of choosing the most appropriate items to display at Lincoln Town Hall and the University a little tougher.

    “We needed to figure out what we wanted to focus on,” said Srikanth. “We narrowed it down to the Beam Theatre, the Prudhommes Garden Centre Theatre and the Shaw Festival, and then spent four months getting our materials together.”

    Upon finishing the display’s assembly at Brock on Friday, Nov. 16, McDonald summed up the pair’s feelings about seeing the final product on show.

    “We are really excited,” she said. “Seeing our work in such a large establishment is insane.”

    For Sharron, the display is a welcome addition to the Archives and Special Collections display cases.

    “I saw pictures of what they did at the Lincoln town hall and it looks fantastic,” he said. “The fact that they can do another project here shows the wealth of information they put together. They are two impressive young women.”

    Sharron said the project aligns with Brock’s ongoing commitment to engage with the community while also encouraging young people like McDonald and Srikanth to consider the University in a few years.

    “I think it’s a great opportunity to reach out to the community, share our collections with young people and get them interested in what we do here,” he said. “We hope that when they are considering an institution for post-secondary studies, they will think of us.”

    Now Playing: Evolution of Entertainment can be viewed in the Archives and Special Collections display cases on the 10th floor of the James A. Gibson Library until the end of March 2019.

    Story from The Brock News.

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