Undergraduate Astrophysics student publishes a lead-author scientific paper

Saint Mary’s University Astrophysics student Sophia Waddell

Saint Mary’s University Astrophysics student Sophia Waddell

Publishing a lead-author scientific paper is always an exciting milestone for graduate students, one that comes after a lot of research, hard work and persistence to work through multiple edits with advisors and journal editors.  

Sophia Waddell has already achieved this goal after her third year of undergraduate studies, having published a paper with the Royal Astronomical Society. The Astrophysics student has also co-authored four other papers: one with a graduate student after her first year at Saint Mary’s, two with her supervisor Dr. Luigi Gallo, and another led by a postdoc.  

After coming up with the idea for the paper in her High Energy Astrophysics course, she wrote the paper and worked with Dr. Gallo on a series of revisions. She then submitted the paper to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society for an anonymous review, which resulted in just a few changes before the paper was accepted.  

“It’s very rare that an undergraduate student is able to publish a lead-author paper,” said Dr. Luigi Gallo, Professor of Astronomy at Saint Mary’s. “Sophia has an amazing work ethic that is driven by her passion for the subject matter.  She is constantly reading papers, working the data, asking questions, and often stumping me.”  

Waddell’s paper, titled Multi-epoch X-ray spectral analysis of the narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxy Mrk 478, explores X-ray data from a supermassive black hole (SMBH) called Mrk 478. “This black hole in particular is called an active galactic nucleus (AGN), which means that it is actively sucking in material, forming an accretion disk around the black hole,” explained Waddell.  

“The material located closest to the black hole gets so hot, that rather than radiating optical light (light our eyes can see), it emits high-energy X-rays. Using special space-based observatories, we can study the X-rays coming from active black holes, which can tell us about the structure and properties of the innermost regions.” 

In her paper Waddell used different models representing different physical structures of the inner region of this SMBH, and applied them to data collected with X-ray satellites. 

“Using the models, and a couple of other techniques, we were able to determine the structure and geometry of the inner region of this black hole, which can help tell us more about the evolution of galaxies and the Universe itself,” she said. 

“Sophia is currently following up on her results and is now looking at the rapid variability on time scales of a day, to see if those fast changes are consistent with the same model,” said Dr. Gallo. 

Black Holes

A black hole is a region of space that has experienced a gravitational collapse leaving behind a region from which nothing can escape, not even light. Supermassive black holes are the largest type of these astronomical objects, and are considered to be at least hundreds of thousands of times the mass of the sun. The concept of black holes was first considered in the 18th century, and the formation of supermassive black holes, first mentioned in the 1960s, is still a topic being researched by astronomers. The first photo of a supermassive black hole was only captured in the spring of 2019.   

Plans for the Future

Waddell has “loved all things math and science” since she was a small child, and with two parents who graduated from the Engineering program at Saint Mary’s, she had plenty of support at home for her STEM interests. After a unit in astrophysics in a high school physics class she was hooked and now plans to pursue an academic career as a physics and astrophysics professor. She’s currently applying to grad schools and would like to continue studying X-ray astronomy.  

“I think it’s incredible that we get to work with data taken by satellites in outer space, studying some of the most extreme objects in the Universe,” said Waddell. “I also love talking about my research and science in general, and I can’t wait to keep sharing my science with others!”

Congratulations to 2019 Alumni and One World Award winners

On Thursday, October 3, Saint Mary’s hosted the One World Alumni Awards Gala.

This annual event acknowledges outstanding alumni with special awards, and in the spirit of working with the community, supports 2 deserving charities and 2 student societies through the One World Awards.

Congratulations to the 2019 Alumni Award Recipients:

  • Distinguished Community Service: Karen Oldfield, QC BA'82

  • Paul Lynch Alumni Volunteer of the Year: Karen Ross BComm'77 & Joann Boulos-Callias BA'82 BEd'83 MEd'89

  • Young Alumni of the Year:
    Sylvia Gawad BSc'14 & Dr. Henry Annan BSc'14

  • Associate Alumni of the Year: Glen & Nancy Holmes

The 2019 Student Society Award, valued at $7500, went to World University Services Canada (WUSC) Saint Mary's, and the Nova Scotia Gambia Association was awarded $7500 as the winner of the 2019 Charity Award.

Runners-up Enactus Saint Mary's and Easter Seals Nova Scotia were delighted when SMUSA matched their respective awards, bringing their total awards to $2000 each!

Learn more about these exceptional alumni, and watch the videos about the finalist charities and student societies at https://smu.ca/alumni/one-world-alumni-awards.html

Saint Mary’s Researcher named a Fellow of the American Physical Society

Dr. Rituparna Kanungo

Dr. Rituparna Kanungo

Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo has been named as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) for her outstanding research on rare isotopes.  

This honour goes to scientists who have made significant innovative contributions to the field of physics. No more than one half of one percent of the Society’s membership who have been nominated by their peers are elected as Fellows. Dr. Kanungo was nominated by the Division of Nuclear Physics. She is a professor in the Astronomy and Physics Department and an Affiliate Scientist of TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator centre in Vancouver.  

 “I am deeply honoured to be chosen to receive this prestigious recognition from the American Physical Society, which I would like to share with all my students, post docs and collaborators. I am immensely thankful to my peers for valuing my contributions, and I thank my supervisors, mentors and our funding agencies for their support,” said Dr. Kanungo.  

“This motivates me further to pursue and enable new discoveries with the rare isotopes in nature. It came as a truly rewarding moment with a burst of encouragement in a long and challenging journey to explore the unknown.”  

Dr. Kanungo’s nomination was for research which encompasses several projects in Canada and abroad. She has a large network of national and international collaborators, bringing together undergraduate, graduate students, post docs and collaborating scientists from around the world. 

 “Being elected as a Fellow of the APS is a testament to Dr. Kanungo’s work in the field of subatomic physics, allowing her to enhance her scientific research and further expand collaborations with other leaders in this field,” said Dr. Lori Francis, acting Dean of Science at Saint Mary’s University. “This honour is also an international recognition of Canadian expertise and an appreciation of the work being done at our university and across the country.”  

“We are very proud of Dr. Kanungo’s leadership in nuclear physics research, and this award is a wonderful endorsement of the impact Dr. Kanungo and her many Canadian and international collaborators have had on her field,” said Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President Academic and Research 

At Saint Mary's University. “Saint Mary’s has been pleased to support Dr. Kanungo’s work, and our students have had tremendous opportunities to work with her and her collaborators at major laboratories in Canada (TRIUMF National Laboratory) and around the world. On behalf of everyone at Saint Mary’s University, I offer congratulations to Dr. Kanungo for being named an American Physical Society Fellow.” 

The APS citation of her recognition

For seminal studies of weakly bound nuclei that have challenged our understanding of the nuclear many-body system, and for the development of innovative experimental techniques and approaches used in measurements with rare isotope beams. 

Research

Dr. Kanungo’s research focus is on nuclei, which are the core of all visible matter in our Universe. They embody the beauty and mystery of nature’s strongest force that binds two building blocks protons and neutrons into an enormous wide variety of complex many-body systems, forming the different elements and their isotopes. 

Only a small handful of the isotopes exist naturally on earth with most of them being stable or very long-lived. However, the access to explore the short-lived rare isotopes in nature, especially ones approaching the edges of the nuclear landscape, is revolutionizing nuclear science. 

Dr. Kanungo uses nuclear reactions to unveil the new features in rare isotopes. Her team, along with researchers around the world, are continuously working together to develop new experimental methods of harnessing the rare isotopes. 

“I look forward to contributing to a new era of exploration with the next generation rare isotope facilities coming online in this decade. Particularly, FRIB in the USA and ARIEL in Canada the new North American facilities, FAIR in Germany as well as the existing RIBF facility in Japan,” said Dr. Kanungo. 

More of Dr. Kanungo’s research can be found here.

APS Fellowships

The APS Fellowship Program was created since 1921 to recognize members who have made advances in physics through original research and publication or have made significant innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology. They may also have made significant contributions to the teaching of physics or service and participation in the activities of the Society.

Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers. Each year, no more than one half of one percent of the Society’s membership (excluding student members) is recognized by their peers for election to the status of Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Nomination Process 

The criterion for election is exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise; e.g., outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education.

Each nomination is evaluated by the Fellowship committee of the appropriate APS division, topical group or forum, or by the APS General Fellowship committee. After review by the full APS Fellowship Committee, the successful candidates are elected by APS Council.

Congratulation to Dr. Kanungo on behalf of the Saint Mary’s University community!

Dr. Christa Brosseau wins President’s Award for Excellence in Research

Saint Mary’s professor Dr. Christa Brosseau (left)

Saint Mary’s professor Dr. Christa Brosseau (left)

Dr. Christa Brosseau has won the Saint Mary’s University President’s Award for Excellence in Research for her outstanding work in the Chemistry department at Saint Mary’s.

Created in 1989 to honour outstanding research conducted by a full-time faculty member, the recipients of the Saint Mary’s University President’s Award for Excellence in Research must have a record of continued and exceptional contribution to research and scholarship, as well as national or international recognition as an authority in a major field of knowledge.

A world leader in her field, Dr. Christa Brosseau is an internationally recognized, highly productive, and influential scholar in the areas of electrochemistry, spectroscopy, and nanotechnology. By any metric of research success, be it number of publications, quality of publications, research grants obtained, awards received, high quality personnel trained, degree of innovation, potential for application, or knowledge transfer achieved, Dr. Brosseau exemplifies research excellence.

Dr. Christa Brosseau receiving the Saint Mary’s University President’s Award for Excellence in Research

Dr. Christa Brosseau receiving the Saint Mary’s University President’s Award for Excellence in Research

As a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Sustainable Chemistry and Materials, Dr. Brosseau has received more than $1.1-million in research funding in the previous five years from such sources as Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). She has trained nearly 40 students in her lab since 2009; these students have received more than 25 awards for their own research presentations and publications.

With an interdisciplinary Chemistry research program spanning the fields of spectroscopy, electrochemistry, nanoscience and biomedical studies, Dr. Brosseau’s innovations in the area of Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy allows for detection of biomolecules that revolutionize the way we can detect and diagnose diseases. Dr. Brosseau and her research group have developed fabric chips, or wearable sensor technology, that lead to many health applications. This technology has been applied to earlier detection of diseases such as tuberculosis and preeclampsia. This work can also be used to help understand how diseases are spread.

A tireless champion of science literacy, Dr. Brosseau speaks frequently at international conferences, meetings, and seminars, communicating her research findings and their potential applications to solve real world challenges to wide audiences. Her creative and innovative research appears in the top scientific journals, and her scientific work is often profiled in technology and industry-based outlets due to its high impact.

Dr. Brosseau partners her research passion with a high degree of commitment to teaching and service to Saint Mary’s University and to her professional community. She is the former Chairperson and current Vice-Chairperson of the Canadian Section of the Electrochemical society, Co-President of nanoAtlantic, and a board member of Techsploration. She won the Discovery Centre’s Emerging Professional Award in 2013 and the SMUSA faculty of Science teaching award in 2010. Saint Mary’s University is fortunate indeed that Dr. Christa Brosseau calls Saint Mary’s home.

Congratulations Dr. Brosseau!

Celebrating Mi’kmaq History Month

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October is Mi’kmaq History Month in Nova Scotia. Mi’kmaq History Month builds awareness of Mi’kmaq history and heritage, and celebrates Mi’kmaq culture.

Mikmaq History Month Poster 2019. Learn more about the meaning behind the poster    here.

Mikmaq History Month Poster 2019. Learn more about the meaning behind the poster here.

In 1993, Mi’kmaw Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy and Premier John Savage declared October as the official month to recognize and celebrate Mi’kmaw culture and heritage.

October 1, Treaty Day, marks the beginning of Mi'kmaq History Month. There are a variety of events occurring this month on campus and all across Nova Scotia.

Here are some of the events taking place on campus:

  • A presentation from renowned artist Kent Monkman: Making Miss Chief on October 9 at 7 p.m.

  • A drum making workshop on October 16.

  • The Mi’kmaw Gala on October 19 at 5:30 p.m.


For more information on events taking place across campus, visit the SMU events calendar or contact Raymond Sewell, Saint Mary’s Indigenous Student Advisor.

A list of events occurring across Nova Scotia can be found on the Mi’kmaq History Month events calendar. More information on the month can be found here.

 

Oscar Wilde’s Prison Readings - Celebrating 50 years since the decriminalization of Homosexuality in Canada

Almost 120 years ago, Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for the crime of homosexuality. As little as 50 years ago, members of the LGBTQ+ community would have faced similar persecution, even in Canada.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1969.

These two events — the 50 year anniversary of decriminalization and the “round number” of 120 years since Oscar Wilde’s death — prompted Dr. Goran Stanivukovic, Chair of the Department of English Language and Literature, to approach Collections Librarian Sally Wood with an idea: to collect and display in the Patrick Power Library the books that Oscar Wilde requested while in prison.

From Dante and Dickens, to Tennyson and Wordsworth, to German Grammar, Wilde was a prolific reader and writer even during his two-year sentence. Librarian Sally Wood and Dr. Stanivukovic teamed up to plan the display last year, and have been tracking down the books ever since.

Dr. Stanivukovic launched the display on September 12 with opening remarks about Wilde, the significance of the collection, and the context within which Wilde was tried and convicted.

Anthropology Student Jared Blois performed excerpts from Wilde’s prison writings, reading aloud from De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

Saint Mary’s recognizes two outstanding Canadians with honorary degrees

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Fall Convocation

September 27-28

Saint Mary’s University will recognize the accomplishments of two outstanding Canadians with honorary degrees at this year’s fall convocation ceremony.

“Honorary degrees celebrate individuals whose accomplishments are an inspiration to our students and people who are exemplars for our entire community,” said Saint Mary’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “I am proud to bestow this honour to Gloria and John for their leadership, and the way in which they embody a key value of our institution, keeping community at the heart of all that we do.” 

The university is pleased to recognize the extraordinary achievements of:

  • Gloria Borden, a trailblazer and champion for the arts. One of 18 children raised in New Glasgow, from a young age Borden grew to cherish music, community, sports and boxing. All of these interests represent areas in which she would excel. Borden was the first Black hematology specialist in Canada and participated in research related to the field. Borden was also the first female boxing promoter in Canada and was inducted into the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame for her time as a student-athlete. In music, she has been involved in numerous productions and produced the acclaimed God’s Trombones and founded the Nova Scotia Mass Choir.

  • John A. Young, Q.C., a community builder and legal advocate. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Young’s interest in commerce and law led him to pursue post-secondary degrees in both those fields in Halifax and England. After a time spent working on Parliament Hill, he joined three other young lawyers starting a small law firm in Halifax. Young became an important part the firm’s growth from four lawyers to the fourth-largest firm in Atlantic Canada. Young has balanced the needs of a growing law firm with his commitment to community service and volunteerism throughout his career.

The honorary degree recipients will receive their degrees at convocation on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.

Honorary Degree: John A. Young, Q.C.

John A. Young, Q.C.
Community builder and legal advocate

John A. Young, Q.C.

John A. Young, Q.C.

Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, John Young’s interest in commerce and law would lead him to pursue post-secondary degrees in those fields in Halifax. He would later travel to England where he received a Master of Laws from the University of London. 

After graduating from law school at Dalhousie University, Young would spend the next four years working as a political aid on Parliament Hill. It was there that he first heard about three young lawyers starting a law firm in Halifax. After his time in Ottawa, and after he had completed his Master of Laws, he returned to Halifax and remembered what he had heard about that ambitious new firm. Young would choose the new firm, BOYNECLARKE, over a larger firm, becoming their fourth lawyer in the mid-1970s.

Young would be an essential part of the firm’s growth, as they focused on the specialization that allowed them to develop skills that set them apart from larger firms. During this growing period, the firm would go on to win a case in the Supreme Court of Canada over a much larger firm. They were the upstart in some respects, the only new firm in that period when most Halifax firms had been around for a while. Young was an important part of the firm’s growth from four lawyers to the fourth-largest firm in Atlantic Canada today.

Young was most recently Counsel at BOYNECLARKE LLP, having served as the firm Chair from 2012-2018. He acts on behalf of a wide variety of businesses, government agencies, institutions and not-for-profit organizations and advises their senior management in the creation, operation and expansion of their activities.

He is currently serving as a Chair of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (NS), Chair of the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation, Director of the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo Society, and Trustee of St. Andrews United Church, Halifax. He recently completed a term as Director of the Nova Scotia Health Authority and has served on a wide variety of boards of Canadian corporations.

Young enjoys golf, politics and community service.

Honorary Degree: Gloria Borden

Gloria Borden
Trailblazer and champion for the arts

Gloria Borden

Gloria Borden

Gloria Borden grew up as one of 18 children in New Glasglow, Nova Scotia. From a young age, Borden grew to cherish music, community, sports and boxing. After years of success as a student-athlete, Borden would leave New Glasgow for Halifax. 

In 1958, she joined the staff at the Victoria General Hospital as an assistant lab technologist, a position she held while she raised two sons. She would become the first Black hematology specialist in Canada. During this time, she researched a series of tests related to lymphomas that could be used as indicators on patients in or out of remission. Under the direction of Dr. O.A. Hayne, she would go on to have an abstract article published in the New England Journal of Medicine 1987. 

With a successful career in healthcare, Borden also dedicated time to the sport she grew up loving, boxing. In 1970, she founded the Halifax Recreational Amateur Boxing Club. In 1971, Borden became the first female boxing promoter in Canada. She would go on to manage and help train 150 amateur boxers, four of which went on to participate in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. While she was a successful boxing promoter, it was Borden’s time as a student-athlete in New Glasgow that led to her induction into the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame. 

Borden also excelled as a music producer. In 1989, she produced the acclaimed God’s Trombones. She founded the internationally-known Nova Scotia Mass Choir in 1991. Borden produced the first international gospel festival in North America in 1992. She went on to be the founder and President of the Kangee Production Society and the Managing Director of the Jongleur Intensive Performing Arts Academy, the Jeri Brown Touring Youth Choir and the Jeri Brown Theatre Company. She was also a board member for the Charles Taylor Hall Society in 2010. 

Borden is currently looking forward to the next project she plans to produce: a play telling the story of Black Nova Scotia from 1783 to 2010.

 

 

Major NSERC funding awarded to Saint Mary’s researchers

Saint Mary’s is pleased to announce significant funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in the last year. 

A just-announced Strategic Partner Grant, designed to support networks to connect companies and government to work together to address challenges in research areas where Canada can be a world leader, will see Dr. Danika van Proosdij and Dr. Jeremy Lundholm continue their work on Nova Scotia dykeland restoration. Funding for this project and another Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks will total $11-million, with a detailed funding breakdown to follow.

As well, Saint Mary’s researchers will receive funding worth more than $1.2 million over five years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for eight Discovery Grants plus a Discovery Development Grant.

“I am really pleased to celebrate the success of our researchers here at Saint Mary's,” said Dr. Lori Francis, acting Dean of Science. “The funding awarded in the recent announcements is a significant recognition of the high quality and impactful research taking place across the faculties at Saint Mary’s. Not only does it allow our researchers to pursue innovative, ground-breaking research, it also provides remarkable research opportunities for our undergraduate and graduate students.”

The Discovery Grants Program, NSERC’s largest program, supports ongoing natural sciences and engineering research projects with long-term goals. In addition to promoting and maintaining a diversified base of high-quality research at Canadian universities, Discovery Grants help provide a stimulating environment for student research training.

Selection is based on peer review recommendations, and these grants are designed to support ongoing research programs with long-term goals. Thanks to their long term, typically five years, Discovery Grants give researchers the flexibility to explore the most promising avenues of research as they emerge.

“Saint Mary’s University is proud that our professors are seeing this level of success in securing competitive federal science research funding,” said Dr. Adam Sarty, Associate Vice-President, Research and Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. “For a university with a relatively small number of faculty members, being awarded 10 new NSERC research grants in one year – with professors from eight different departments, representing all three of our Faculties – is a true demonstration of the strength and breadth of the research enterprise at Saint Mary’s. 

These research grants will benefit many undergraduate and graduate students that become involved with these professors, allowing them to serve our local communities or create new fundamental understandings, or both,” said Dr. Sarty.

Congratulations to all, this research work in the Faulty of Science, and across the entire university, is exciting and inspiring.

 Details about the exciting work our faculty members are doing is found below. 

 Co-leads Jeremy Lundholm (Biology) and Danika van Proosdij (Geography and Environmental Studies)

NSERC Strategic Partnership Network Grant

Title: NSERC ResNet: A network for monitoring, modeling, and managing Canada’s ecosystem services for sustainability and resilience

 A Canadian future of shared health, prosperity, and resilience will depend on our ability to manage ecosystems and all the services they provide for human well-being now and in the future. Working landscapes — land actively used for production of resources such as food, fish, and forest products — are of particular importance for their contributions to Canada’s wellbeing.

 NSERC ResNet will launch investigations (co-designed with local communities) into the provision, impact and management of multiple ecosystems services in six landscapes across Canada. Saint Mary’s University will play a key role in the Bay of Fundy Agricultural Dykeland Restoration landscape, with Drs. Danika van Proosdij and Jeremy Lundholm as co-leads along with Dr. Kate Sherren at Dalhousie.

 The proposed research builds on long-term collaborations with industry and government partners, including a successful history of idea development, innovation and HQP training. Dr. van Proosdij’s group, through a Coastal Restoration Fund grant (DFO), has established four managed realignment sites in Bay of Fundy dykelands that will provide a physical, living platform upon which to conduct applied research.

 Dr. Tony Charles (Environmental Science / Management)

Title: Sustainability of Fisheries, Coasts and Oceans - Integrated Systems Approaches

 The NSERC grant awarded to Dr. Tony Charles will enable the development of the tools and knowledge base needed to meet one of the most challenging problems facing Canada and the world today: achieving sustainability of fisheries, oceans and coasts. Dr. Charles’ research will highlight the importance of healthy ocean ecosystems and healthy coastal communities and the value of conserving biodiversity and taking action on climate change. His research has four main aspects: (1) developing new fishery management approaches, including ecosystem-based and community-based methods; (2) helping to resolve conflicts between fisheries and conservation; (3) improving climate change adaptation in fisheries and coastal communities, and (4) supporting coastal communities in planning their future.

Erin Adlakha (Geology)

Title: Linking high spatial resolution accessory mineral chemistry and geochronology to large-scale ore-forming hydrothermal processes in the crust.

Dr. Adlakha’s research examines the composition and timing of minerals in ore deposits to understand how they formed over a hundred million (sometimes even over a billion) years ago. Some minerals in ore deposits are not necessarily of economic interest but provide a wealth of information in their mineral chemistry. The composition of a mineral can help fingerprint the type of fluids from which it formed, and also give clues as to the conditions during ore deposit formation. An understanding of how ore deposits form bolsters mineral exploration models for the exploration and mining industry.

 Jiju Poovvancheri (Mathematics & Computing Science)

Title: Towards Seamless Interaction and Navigation in Virtual Worlds using Multiple 3D Sensors

Dr. Poovvancheri’s research is positioned to support the ongoing efforts of graphics and gaming industry to utilize digitized world in virtual/augmented reality applications. As part of the proposed research, a fully automatic computational framework that creates highly detailed and semantically rich digital models of physical world at scale will be developed. Tremendous possibilities 3D sensing technology (Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and RGB-D cameras) combined with deep neural networks for the digitization problem will be leveraged and further investigated. Digital models thus created are key to various applications such as VR games or tours (Google Earth VR) and 3D maps for navigation. Together with the digitization effort, interaction of humans with virtual (digital) objects and navigation of humans in the virtual spaces-two core enablers of VR applications, are also investigated under this project.

 Tim Frasier (Biology and Forensic Science)

Title: Understanding the strength and demographic consequences of inbreeding depression in the wild, and the subsequent implications for conservation

The overall goal of this work is to improve our understanding of the strength and consequences of inbreeding depression in the wild. Specifically, Dr. Frasier will combine genomic data with long-term field research to quantify the impacts of inbreeding on individual health, reproductive success, and survival in the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis); and then assess how these individual effects combine to shape population growth rates and recovery potential. This work will have impacts at two different scales. At a narrow scale it will identify the degree to which inbreeding is shaping patterns of individual fitness, and how these individual effects combine to limit the recovery potential of this endangered species. At a broader scale, this work will provide much needed information on the strength and consequences of inbreeding depression in the wild, the subsequent effects on recovery potential and population viability, and the implications for conservation.

 Erin Cameron (Environmental Science)

Title: Soil invertebrates under global change

Dr. Cameron will investigate how global change affects soil invertebrates and how impacts vary across spatial and temporal scales, particularly in northern ecosystems. She uses earthworms as a model group to study these effects because they act as ecosystem engineers with the potential for large impacts on other organisms and because many species have invaded new regions. Dr. Cameron was also awarded from NSERC a “Northern Research Supplement” in addition to her Discovery Grant.

Mitja Mastnak (Mathematics & Computing Science)

Title: Hopf algebras, combinatorics, and operator theory

Symmetry is one of the most important concepts in mathematics and physics. For example: a wheel is useful precisely due to its symmetry with respect to rotation. Hopf algebras are algebraic structures that can be used to encode and study symmetry. Dr. Mastnak’s research focuses on Hopf algebras in order to classify them, construct new interesting examples, and apply them to problems in other branches of mathematics.

 Robert Thacker (Astronomy and Physics)

Title: Toward more robust numerical and observational comparisons

 The funding for the project will cover research into the accuracy of simulations of the formation of galaxies. “We have been doing this simulation work and comparing to observations of real galaxies for nearly three decades, but as both simulations and observations of galaxies get better, the comparisons have actually become more difficult,” said Dr. Thacker. “In essence we've hit the end of the beginning of this research, now we have to start answering some really tough questions about how accurate the simulations reproduce dynamical behaviours like chaotic evolution.”

 Karen Harper (Biology)

Title: Understanding boundary structure and function in heterogeneous landscapes

Discovery Development Grant

Natural boundaries between adjacent ecosystems are important features of landscapes that might harbour greater diversity. However, fragmentation from human activity results in negative effects of the creation of artificial edges. The recent proliferation of studies on vegetation at edges suggests that the time is right for a comprehensive global review of edge studies. Natural and man-made boundaries need to be considered in the context of heterogeneous landscapes. My long-term aim is to develop a model of stand and landscape-level effects on edge influence and dynamics, and to assess the landscape context of boundary structure and function. Dr. Harper’s proposed research will advance knowledge by providing a more detailed analysis of vegetation structure on a broader scale that has the potential to reveal interesting and important patterns of structural diversity on Canadian and global landscapes.

 Hai Wang (Finance, Information Systems and Management Science)

Title: Predictive Business Analytics for Incomplete Data

Dr. Wang’s NSERC grant is to design new predictive business analytics technologies which are capable of making well-defined predictions about the future based on historical data for better business decision making. His research has been supported by NSERC since 2005. 

Student team promote entrepreneurial thinking across faculties

Meet the new ENbassador team.  Back row, l-r: Aaron Graham, Commerce; Jake Chambers, Science; Emaaz Amjid, Science; Guillermo Villerreal De Lara, Arts. In front, l-r: Solana Purdy, Commerce; Amina Khan, Arts; Sambridhi Trikhatri, Commerce.

Meet the new ENbassador team. Back row, l-r: Aaron Graham, Commerce; Jake Chambers, Science; Emaaz Amjid, Science; Guillermo Villerreal De Lara, Arts. In front, l-r: Solana Purdy, Commerce; Amina Khan, Arts; Sambridhi Trikhatri, Commerce.

Last week, the Saint Mary's University Entrepreneurship Centre welcomed a brand new team of Student Entrepreneurship Ambassadors to their ENbassador Program.

These undergraduate students come from all academic faculties. The goal of the ENbassador program is to ignite an entrepreneurial mindset in all students at Saint Mary's and help them to develop skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and resilience.

The team of students ENbassadors will work alongside the SMUEC to help plan, promote, and execute entrepreneurship events on campus throughout the year. These students are excited to share their passion for entrepreneurship and help other students understand the value that entrepreneurial thinking can have, not only for those eager to one day start their own business, but also for those who wish to work for an organization beyond graduation.

The ENbassador Program is a CASE (Community and Student Engagement) funded initiative that uses a multidisciplinary approach to create an entrepreneurial mindset.


Introducing Saint Mary's new International Masters in Teaching English (IMTE) program

Students taking the new International Master of Teaching English (IMTE) program participated in a recent orientation led by Dr. Michael Legutke (back), visiting scholar and several instructors from the Faculty of Education.

Students taking the new International Master of Teaching English (IMTE) program participated in a recent orientation led by Dr. Michael Legutke (back), visiting scholar and several instructors from the Faculty of Education.

With English continuing to expand as the world’s lingua franca, the demand for teachers of English continues to grow.  The British Council forecasts that by the year 2020, over two billion people will be speaking or learning English.  Global research in English language teaching has shown that the majority of future English language teachers in non-English-speaking countries will be non-native speakers of English. 

In response to this global challenge, especially with respect to preparing non-native English speakers as teachers of English as an additional language, Saint Mary’s Faculty of Education created its new International Masters in Teaching English program (IMTE).  Launched in September 2019, the Faculty welcomed its first cohort at a recent program orientation event, which included a workshop by internationally renowned professor of English language education, Dr. Michael Legutke, from one of our partner institutions in Germany, the University of Giessen.

The new IMTE program prepares graduates for international careers in teaching English as an additional language.  Saint Mary’s University enjoys a partnership with Cambridge University, having been selected as a Cambridge English Language Assessment Authorized Centre.  This partnership enables the Faculty of Education to offer IMTE students opportunities to progress along the Cambridge Teacher Framework, leading to internationally recognized certificates from Cambridge Assessment English as part of the IMTE program.

The Faculty of Education was delighted to receive a large number of applications from outstanding applicants for its first year.  There are currently 14 international students enrolled in the four-semester 16-month program coming from many countries, including Iran, Japan, China, Mexico and India.  Course professors include both Saint Mary’s faculty and visiting professors from partner universities abroad.

Introduction of the new IMTE program is another step forward in the Faculty of Education’s long history of international education and intercultural engagement at the graduate level.  During the past twenty-five years, the Faculty of Education has been offering graduate courses with an international focus in three thematic areas:  teaching English as a second/other language (TESOL), peace education, and education and development.  The IMTE program builds on these strengths and takes the English language education focus to a new level.