SMU doctoral student one of 10 winners in national policy challenge

Congratulations to Chris Walker, doctoral candidate in the International Development Studies Department at Saint Mary's University, who is one of 10 winners of a national foreign policy challenge. 

The Global Affairs Canada / SSHRC 2018 International Policy Ideas Challenge invites Canadian graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and researchers to propose solutions to emerging international policy challenges faced by Canada.

Chris proposed a policy brief that will analyze the foreign policy implications of using trilateral partnerships through South-South Cooperation (as opposed to the traditional bilateral Northern-to-Southern countries aid model) as a potential approach to international development. A unique example of a trilateral arrangement combined North American resources with Cuban personnel to overcome the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The competition winners have several months to develop their ideas into policy briefs, which will then be presented to Government of Canada officials in a special day-long symposium in Ottawa later this fall. 

Chris Walker is a Canadian Institutes for Health Research doctoral candidate. His research focused on international development policy, South-South cooperation, bilateral medical agreements, global health, medical education, health systems evaluation and policy, the political economy of health and development, as well as modes of health care capacitation for rural, poor and marginalized populations.

"Fake it until you make it" not a good plan for job interviews

Adapted with permission from the University of Calgary.

 Dr. Nicolas Roulin

Dr. Nicolas Roulin

Researchers study impression management in job interviews, suggest honesty is best policy when talking about yourself

Honesty is the best policy in a job interview, but not everyone is comfortable being truthful about their skills, psychology researchers have found in an extensive study published in Personnel Psychology

Dr. Nicolas Roulin, associate professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, and Dr. Joshua Bourdage, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts at University of Calgary, studied the behaviour of 1,470 North American job applicants during interviews — a field called ‘impression management.’

Much research has explored how people promote themselves in job interviews and try to ingratiate themselves with the organization that’s hiring. Bourdage and Roulin advanced this work by studying the differences between people who engage in honest versus deceptive practices during a job interview.

“Someone who is more extroverted will be more likely to engage in more of the honest tactics and less in the deceptive tactics. Someone who is more conscientious will also engage in more honest tactics,” says Roulin of the findings. “The people who are extroverted are more able to be honest, they have the ability to sell themselves and ingratiate themselves with the interviewer or the organization. Those who are less extroverted may be a bit shy and may not know to promote themselves.”

Further, applicants who use deceptive practices in a job interview — embellishing their qualifications or offering fake compliments about the organization — may be younger, have less work experience and fewer qualifications to talk about. They may also be less conscientious and therefore haven’t put in the time to prepare for the interview. 

“Faking in an interview tends to be someone making up for something,” says Bourdage. “It’s not that you go in and say ‘I’m going to fake my way through this interview,’ it’s an adaptive response to ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t have the experience, I am uncomfortable in this situation and this interview is very difficult.’”

The researchers suggest job applicants do their homework before an interview so they can speak truthfully about themselves and the organization. They found that people who took some training on how to nail an interview tended to use more honest impression management. 

“The key going into an interview is to really prepare so that you can speak honestly about the skills that you have and your high points — what are your strengths and how do they relate to the job?” says Bourdage. “And, find genuine ways that you fit with that organization as opposed to making up things that you think the organization would want to hear.” 

People who sell themselves in an honest way tend to receive a job offer whereas those who fake it are often “found out” in reference checks and other verification processes. The researchers also found that the interviewer can encourage more honesty from an applicant by having a longer interview and asking specific questions about past behaviour or job-related situations.

Government of Canada partners with Saint Mary’s to create new coastal habitat and combat climate change

Nova Scotia will soon be home to more coastal habitat and defences against flooding and erosion as the result of a $1.8 million partnership between the Government of Canada and Saint Mary’s University.

“This support from the federal government is crucial. We will use it to create new salt marsh habitat around the Bay of Fundy and beyond, addressing the impact of climate change on our region and tackling a global problem,” said Dr.  Danika van Proosdij, the project lead and a professor at Saint Mary’s University. “Using nature-based strategies and restructuring dyke systems, we will create new vibrant ecosystems for marine life to prosper and new marshes that can absorb rising sea levels and storm surges.”

The new project, Making Room for Wetlands: Implementation of Managed Realignment for Salt Marsh Restoration and Climate Change Adaptation in Nova Scotia, seeks to restore over 75 hectares of tidal wetland (i.e., salt marsh) habitat through the realignment and decommissioning of dyke infrastructure at multiple sites in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. The project will also help to build the Atlantic region’s scientific and technical capacity to manage future realignment and restoration projects.

“At Saint Mary's, community is at the heart of what we do, and that extends to our research,” said Saint Mary’s University president Robert Summerby-Murray. “Dr. van Proosdij’s project shows our commitment to using our knowledge and expertise to address challenges facing our region and the world. I want to thank the Government of Canada for supporting Atlantic Canadian researchers who are at the forefront of combating climate change.”

This project will be undertaken through a well-established partnership between Saint Mary’s University and CB Wetlands & Environmental Specialists (CBWES) Inc. using innovative and proven techniques with a comprehensive monitoring program.

Aspects of the project will also be conducted in consultation with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and in collaboration with Queen’s University Department of Civil Engineering, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Dalhousie University’s School of Planning and School of Resource and Environmental Studies.

This project was announced on Monday, June 25, 2018, as part of the Coastal Restoration announcement made by the Honourable Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board Canada, M.P. for Kings-Hants on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. It was announced that four organizations will receive together over $7 million over 5 years for projects to help restore coastal habitats in Nova Scotia and in the Arctic.


“I am proud to support these Coastal Restoration Fund projects that will restore and rehabilitate important coastal habitats in Nova Scotia and Nunavut. Our funding will encourage and build local community capacity to maintain and restore aquatic habitats.”

- The Honourable Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board Canada

From the announcement event

Saint Mary’s new Department of Criminology hosts ground-breaking national conference on harm-reduction in the justice system


More than 200 scholars, corrections workers, and social-justice experts from Canada and beyond came together for a fruitful exchange of ideas on harm reduction in the criminal-justice system at Saint Mary’s this past Thursday and Friday.

 Criminology graduate student Omotimilehin Idris presenting during the “Transnational Perspectives” session

Criminology graduate student Omotimilehin Idris presenting during the “Transnational Perspectives” session

For the past eight years, the National Conference on Critical Perspectives: Criminology and Social Justice has been held in Ottawa, and focused on scholarly participants. This year marks the first in which the conference will begin visiting communities across Canada, and also the first in which it substantially moves outside the university’s walls to holistically address issues around crime and justice.

Besides scholars, professionals and employees within the Canadian corrections system, social-justice experts, and non-profit workers came together to discuss new ideas around harm reduction.

“The classic idea of harm reduction is around drug use,” says Diane Crocker, chair of Saint Mary’s Department of Criminology. “And that’s being addressed here, but we’re also expanding the scope to look at how the criminal-justice system at large can harm people, or even how larger social structures cause harm, and exploring how that can be recognized.”

Represented at the conference were universities in Canada, New Zealand, and the UK; criminal-justice experts from the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, and the Halifax Regional Police; representatives from First Nations across Canada; and several levels of government.

Government representatives included Karen Hudson, QC, Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Nova Scotia; Denise Perret, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness; Tracey Taweel, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage; Lynn Hartwell, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services; and Karen Gatien, Associate Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Dr. Crocker hopes that the conference’s success will be replicated in coming years.

“We’ve set a high bar in terms of having an integrated conference of academics, community members, and criminal-justice professionals coming together to share ideas,” she says. “This has been an incredibly valuable two days.”

The conference was a joint effort between the newly formed Department of Criminology of Saint Mary’s University, and the Nova Scotia Criminal Justice Association.

Saint Mary’s professor receives national award for her contributions to subatomic physics

 Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo

Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo

Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo’s outstanding research is being recognized with the 2018 CAP-TRIUMF Vogt Medal for Contributions to Subatomic Physics.

"I feel highly honoured receiving this prestigious recognition which I would like to share with my collaborators,” said Dr. Rituparna Kanungo. “Canada’s world-leading subatomic physics facilities attracted me here, thanks to the pioneering efforts by Erich Vogt. I feel fortunate with the support I received, and want to thank the physics community and Canada for valuing my contributions."

 Dr. Kanungo working with students. 

Dr. Kanungo working with students. 

Dr. Kanungo’s research aims to answer fundamental questions about existence. Where do we come from? What are we and most of visible matter in our Universe made of? To address those questions, Dr. Kanungo looks at not only what humans are made of but everything else that we can see around us. At the heart of which lies the nucleus. The nucleus is such a fundamental part of existence that it has driven Dr. Kanungo to look closer to examine the different types of nuclei present in matter and what makes them so varied. This has led her to look beyond nuclei found here naturally on earth and look toward the wider variety, the rarer isotopes occurring in the Universe.

Dr. Kanungo launched her research program in rare isotope science with experiments at the RIKEN facility in Japan where she developed techniques to investigate the structure of rare isotopes using neutron removal reactions. Her work has revealed new information on nuclear halos and associated shell changes. 

She has spearheaded a program in Canada using low energy nuclear reactions to view the inner workings of the rare isotopes. For this she developed at TRIUMF the IRIS facility to study nuclear reactions and is the project leader. With IRIS she has made impactful measurements revealing sensitive ways to constrain the strong nuclear force of nature and illuminated characteristics of halo nuclei. Dr. Kanungo has taken on leadership of the Canadian Rare Isotope Beam Facility with an Electron Beam Ion source (CANREB) for producing beams of heavy rare isotopes, focusing on current and future scientific programs at TRIUMF

 Dr. Kanungo working with students in a lab at Saint Mary's University

Dr. Kanungo working with students in a lab at Saint Mary's University

Dr. Kanungo has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of the physics of rare isotopes using direct reactions. She has led experiments involving large international collaborations in Canada, Germany, and Japan exploring the properties of rare isotopes. She is at the forefront of a rapidly evolving new field of direct reactions with radioactive ion beams. In addition, she has provided leadership and service to the international and Canadian communities, with a particular focus on current and future scientific programs at TRIUMF.

“This award is a result of a collaborative effort, from the assistance of undergraduate and graduate students to my incredibly experienced colleagues and researchers—everybody has played a role, and I tremendously value everything that they have done to support achieving our goals,” said Dr. Kanungo. "I would like to thank NSERC, Canada Foundation for Innovation and Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust for supporting our research."

First introduced in 2011, the Vogt Medal recognizes and encourages outstanding experimental or theoretical contributions to subatomic physics.

Dr. Kanungo will be presented with her medal at the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) Medallists' Recognition Banquet in Halifax on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

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


TRIUMF is Canada’s particle accelerator centre. The lab is a hub for discovery and innovation inspired by a half-century of ingenuity in answering nature's most challenging questions. From the hunt for the smallest particles in our universe to research that advances the next generation of batteries or develops isotopes to diagnose and treat disease, TRIUMF drives more than scientific discovery. Powered by its complement of top talent and advanced accelerator infrastructure, TRIUMF is pushing the frontiers in isotope science and innovation, as well as technologies to address fundamental and applied problems in particle and nuclear physics, and the materials and life sciences. In collaboration with 20 Canadian universities, TRIUMF's diverse community of nearly 600 multidisciplinary researchers, engineers, technicians, tradespeople, staff, and students create a unique incubator for Canadian excellence, as well as a portal to premier global collaborations. Our passion for understanding everything from the nature of the nucleus to the creation of the cosmos sparks imagination, inspiration, improved health, economic opportunity, and a better world for all.

For more information, visit  and @TRIUMFLab

Click here to read the CAP media release on the award.