Research on sustainability, decolonization and child safety will be featured the upcoming annual public Faculty of Social Sciences (FOSS) Research Colloquium.
This year’s virtual event takes place Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. and will include presentations from both recipients of the 2021 FOSS Early Career Researcher of the Year Award, as well as three winners of the FOSS Student Research Award.
- “Water resilience for a rapidly changing world” — Associate Professor Julia Baird, Geography and Tourism Studies and Environmental Sustainability Research Centre
- “Empathy and Equity for the World’s Oceans” — Assistant Professor Jessica Blythe, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre
- “A Holistic Approach to Mapping Priority Sites for Low-Impact Development” — Jillian Booth (BSc ’20), Sustainability Science and Society
- “Tracing the Colonial Dimensions of ‘Special Education’: History, Disability and Settler Colonialism” — Alec Moore (BA ’20), Child and Youth Studies
- “Evaluating Video Prompting to Teach Prospective Parents and Caregivers Correct Installation of Child Passenger Safety Restraints” — Niruba Rasuratnam, Applied Disability Studies
Baird, Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water and Water Resilience, says being recognized with the Early Career Researcher Award jointly with her colleague Jessica Blythe was a thrill.
“It is an honour, and I think it helps raise the profile of the research being done by my lab and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) more broadly, especially with both Jessica and I receiving this award in the same year,” says Baird. “I am so appreciative to the Faculty of Social Sciences for this award.”
Blythe agrees, saying she felt both incredibly honoured by the recognition and pleased to be named alongside Baird.
“It is especially exciting to know that the kind of applied, interdisciplinary and solution-oriented research we do as sustainability scientists is being recognized by the Faculty,” says Blythe. “While this award recognizes individuals, the work we do isn’t possible without an incredible team of people, including faculty and staff at ESRC, collaborators, students, and partners to name a few.”
Baird is also grateful to have worked with several partners as part of her work, which she purposely designs to have real-world impact.
“I am fortunate to have worked with excellent, sustainability-oriented partners and collaborators in my research as a faculty member, including the Niagara Parks Commission, WWF-Canada, and the Town of Lincoln, along with many amazing academics and students,” says Baird. “Nothing I do happens in isolation and I’m so grateful to those who have mentored me and collaborated with me to reach this point.”
Both Blythe and Baird say they look forward to sharing their work and engaging in conversation at the upcoming event. Baird is also looking forward to celebrating graduate student research at the Colloquium, including that of Master of Sustainability student Booth, whom Baird supervises.
“My research is focused on using Nature-Based Solutions such as Low-Impact Development (LID) to build more resilient socio-ecological communities,” says Booth. “Findings will be applied to the Prudhommes Landing development located in the Town of Lincoln, but the lessons learned from this case study can be shared with other leading jurisdictions and governments looking for innovative ways to encourage sustainable development.”
Booth used her FOSS Student Award funding to commute to the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, where she was able to use the laboratory and equipment to collect and analyze soil samples collected at Prudhommes Landing throughout the summer.
Moore, an MA student in Child and Youth Studies, will present on his research into the connection between conceptualizations of disability and the forces of settler colonialism in Canada, outlining his project to analyze the Ontario First Nations Special Education Review Report.
“Being able to contribute to a critical and emerging body of literature that discusses disability and settler colonialism is extremely rewarding, as there is a significant need for more critical work in this area,” says Moore. “It is also very rewarding to play a very small part in continuing the ongoing effort of Decolonization, particularly in regards to Disability Studies.”
Moore used the funding from his FOSS Student Research Award to scale back on work hours and purchase research materials. He says he is excited to take part in the event next week, and credits his supervisor, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director Hannah Dyer, as well as committee members Assistant Professor Chelsea Jones and Professor Richard Mitchell, with helping him get to the point of being ready to share his research plan.
Rasuratnam of the MA in Applied Disability Studies also emphasizes the role her supervisor, Associate Professor Kimberly Zonneveld, has played not only in this research but in her academic path overall. After graduating with a degree in Life Science from McMaster, Rasuratnam completed a post-graduate certificate in Autism and Behavioural Sciences at Seneca College, which then led her to the graduate programs in Brock’s Department of Applied Disability Studies. She started out in a coursework stream but was inspired to undertake research by Zonneveld.
At the upcoming event, Rasuratnam will present some of this work for the first time to an audience outside of the Zonneveld lab.
“My research entails creating a video-prompting model to help prospective and current caregivers correctly install a car seat and harness an infant,” she says. “There’s still such a high prevalence of death and injuries that occur from motor vehicle collisions that, if caregivers learn how to correctly install car seats, this risk could be reduced by 70 to 80 per cent.”
Rasuratnam used the funding from her FOSS Student Award to complete the Child Passenger Safety Technician certification to develop her video prompting procedure. She says there are currently only six applied studies on the topic of training, so the research could have far-reaching impacts if the techniques of applied behaviour analysis are shown to improve outcomes in the area of car-seat installation.
Dawn Zinga, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences, says the event is an opportunity to showcase top faculty researchers while also highlighting the exciting research of graduate students.
“The Faculty has wonderful diversity in the research that is undertaken across the various departments and programs,” says Zinga. “This event illustrates that breadth and depth.”
The FOSS Research Colloquium is open to the public and intended for a general audience. Please register to receive a link to the Lifesize livestream.
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