Inspired Research.
Real Impact.
A Year in Review

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Office of Research Services
Annual Research Report 2022–2023

A message of gratitude and reflection

Wilfrid Laurier University’s campuses are located on the Haldimand tract, the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples, but we conduct research on the lands and territories of many First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples from across Turtle Island. We recognize, honour and respect these Indigenous peoples as the traditional stewards of the lands and water on which we live, learn and conduct research.

Scholarship is critical to our advancement as a society and as human beings. So is reconciliation. We must move beyond “acknowledgement” to action. Scholarship can be a part of our reconciliation.

Whether that involves scholars partnering with an Indigenous community to address an issue of concern to them, braiding our knowledge systems and decolonizing knowledge, or helping the broader community to understand and better appreciate our collective responsibilities to create a just and peaceful society, all help enable us to live well together.

With gratitude,

Jonathan Newman
Vice-President: Research

Headshot of Jonathan Newman
in new external research funding in 2022/23

research centres and institutes

Canada Research Chairs


increase in Tri-Agency funding over 2021/22

donor-sponsored chairs, professors and fellows

Environments and Sustainability

Confronting a fiery future

Jennifer Baltzer (Biology) was awarded a Tier I position as the Canada Research Chair in Forests and Global Change. During her seven-year term, Baltzer will examine how the effects of climate change, including the intensification of wildfires, will impact forest ecosystems in Canada’s North. In summer 2022, she and her colleagues were the first-ever research team to collect field data on holdover fires, which continue to smoulder beneath the ground throughout the winter and reignite the following spring.

Building a sustainable workplace

Evolv1 is Canada’s first zero-carbon office building, generating more energy than it needs. But even with state-of-the-art technology, evolv1 cannot achieve its potential without the commitment of the employees who work there. In partnership with Sustainable Waterloo Region, Laurier researchers Manuel Riemer (Community Psychology) and Noam Miller (Psychology) have turned evolv1 into a living lab where they are creating and evaluating an employee culture of sustainability. Their inspired research is modelling a green workplace of the future.

Bridging Indigenous and Western knowledge

As an Indigenous geographer and environmental management scholar, Miguel Sioui (Geography and Environmental Studies) endeavours to be a “cultural translator between two worlds – Western and Indigenous – that have historically struggled to meaningfully communicate.” He recently contributed a section on Indigenous knowledge to the North American chapter of a United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and published a book entitled Indigenous Geographies in the Yucatan: Learning from the Responsibility-Based Maya Environmental Ethos.

headshot of Frances Stewart

Protecting northern wildlife

Frances Stewart (Biology) was named the Canada Research Chair in Northern Wildlife Biology. Her research quantifies the current distribution and abundance of wildlife across northern Canada to anticipate how species will respond to environmental changes and inform conservation efforts.

In early 2023, Stewart published projections of habitat and population changes for five boreal caribou monitoring areas within the Northwest Territories over 90 years, from 2011 through 2100. She used a novel ecological forecasting framework to combine data on forest composition and wildfire patterns with existing models for caribou population change and habitat selection to produce comprehensive, area-specific forecasts. Stewart’s projections suggest that boreal caribou habitat will shift north as the effects of climate change drive the conversion of coniferous to deciduous forests, which will have implications for northern Indigenous communities who rely on caribou for food, clothing and culture.

Stewart is also working with the Northwest Territories Biodiversity Monitoring Program, which installed more than 1,000 inconspicuous, armoured cameras and audio recorders in and around protected areas throughout the territory to record the sounds and images of nature. She and her students are analyzing vast amounts of images and audio files to document the occurrence of NWT wildlife, helping to inform data-driven decisions to protect biodiversity.

headshot of Dirk Wallschlager and Heidi Swanson

Inaugural research chair appointments

Two Laurier environmental scientists were recently appointed to inaugural research chair positions.

Heidi Swanson (Biology) was named the Jarislowsky Chair in Sustainable Water Futures, thanks to a transformational $2-million gift from the Jarislowsky Foundation. Based between Laurier’s Waterloo campus and Yellowknife, where Laurier maintains a research office and partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories, Swanson’s interdisciplinary research program focuses on the impacts of climate change and associated disturbances on aquatic ecosystem health.

Swanson was also appointed to the Balsillie School of International Affairs, providing unique opportunities for the Jarislowsky Chair to shape policy solutions to sustainability challenges.

Dirk Wallschläger (Chemistry and Biochemistry) is the Laurier Distinguished Research Chair in Aquatic Sciences. His research focuses on selenium, an environmental contaminant that poses challenges to freshwater systems and aquatic wildlife across North America. Wallschläger’s goals include developing advanced methods for analyzing selenium and its individual compounds, completing the understanding of selenium’s environmental chemistry and toxicology, and improving its industrial water treatment processes.

“Ultimately, I’m hoping that we will lay the scientific foundation for the development of science-based environmental regulations for selenium to ensure a sustainable balance between the interests of stakeholders and appropriate protection of the environment,” he says.

Headshot of Patricia Ferreira

Studying fish to learn about digestion

Throughout evolution, animals such as goldfish and platypus naturally lost their stomachs. They can still digest food in their intestines, but scientists don’t know how digestion changes when there is no stomach acid to help in the process.

On season three, episode three of Laurier’s Research Chat podcast, Patrícia Ferreira, who is completing her PhD in Biological and Chemical Sciences, shared that she is working with Jonathan Mark Wilson (Biology) to understand how important the stomach is in digestion and the absorption of nutrients. The stomach is commonly thought of as a sac-like structure, but its function transcends that of mere storage.

The stomach holds food so that digestive enzymes can begin to break it down for nutritional absorption by the intestine, while also stopping pathogens from entering and infecting the intestine. These enzymes are activated by stomach acid, which is produced through a proton pump.

Ferreira and Wilson used gene editing to create fish without gastric proton pumps that are therefore unable to produce acid and begin to digest food in their stomachs. They are studying these fish to uncover what special adaptations exist in their bodies that allow them to grow and meet their body energy requirements without a stomach.

Psychological And Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being

Protecting the safety of Ontario paramedics

Paramedics have a physically demanding job, but they should not be injured during physical demands testing. To ensure their safety, Renée MacPhee (Health Sciences, Kinesiology and Physical Education) collaborated with active-duty paramedics to develop the Ottawa Paramedic Physical Abilities Test (OPPAT), an evidence-informed test for new hires and paramedics returning from leave. OPPAT testing is conducted at Laurier and in Ottawa for up to 1,400 paramedics each year from 52 services across Ontario.

Hilary M. Weston Scholarship winners

In 2022, Social Work PhD candidate Maryam Motia became the sixth Laurier post-graduate student to be recognized with a Hilary M. Weston Scholarship in the past six years. The scholarship is awarded by the Ontario government for outstanding contributions to mental health research. Motia is using scrapbooking to help first-generation immigrant women share their experiences of migration. The previous year, Tin Vo (PhD ’22) was recognized for his research about the inclusion of intersectional identities in 2SLGBTQQIA+ leisure spaces.

Lived experiences of child welfare

Victoria Woghiren, a Master of Social Work Student, was a Final Five winner in the 2022 SSHRC Storytellers Challenge. SSHRC asked postsecondary students to show Canadians, in up to three minutes or 300 words, the impacts of their research. Woghiren submitted a video about the Placement Project, which explores the perspectives of youth in out-of-home care. She plans to share their experiences with policymakers in order to improve child welfare systems.

Headshot of Melody Morton Ninomiya

Mobilizing Indigenous knowledge

Melody Morton Ninomiya (Health Sciences) was named the Canada Research Chair in Community-Driven Knowledge Mobilization and Pathways to Wellness. “Knowledge mobilization” refers to activities and efforts made to share research findings.

“If research is intended to make a difference, then knowledge mobilization is critical,” says Morton Ninomiya. “It is often the reason non-academic communities and organizations are motivated to be part of research in the first place: for the tangible benefits that come from the findings.”

Morton Ninomiya’s research is largely focused on health and wellness in Indigenous communities throughout Canada. Her collaborations have contributed to local priorities such as strategic wellness plans, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder prevention, and culturally relevant health and wellness services for Dehcho First Nations in the Northwest Territories. Morton Ninomiya has been studying and establishing conventions for knowledge mobilization in Indigenous contexts and has trialed accessible approaches such as community feasts, online viewing parties, art exhibitions and land-based gatherings.

At Laurier, Morton Ninomiya leads the Interdisciplinary and Indigenous Pathways to Wellness Research Group, which partners on applied health research projects requested by communities, organizations and governments. She prioritizes hiring Indigenous graduate students as research assistants so they can be co-mentored by Indigenous scholars, knowledge keepers and Elders.

Headshot of Kelly Robb

Better health from the ground up

While working as a certified pedorthist, Kelly Robb (PhD ’21) began questioning accepted best practices for foot care and found existing pedorthic research largely irrelevant to clinical treatment. She decided to seek answers herself and completed her PhD in Kinesiology at Laurier.

Robb’s research explores how the addition of texture to foot orthoses can improve their efficacy. Texture can change neurological signals entering the spinal cord and subsequently modify muscle activity.

During her PhD studies, Robb mastered the technique of intramuscular fine-wire electromyography, which involves the insertion of needles into the lower leg and small muscles of the foot to record muscle activity while participants walk.

Thanks to a $180,000 Mitacs Accelerate Grant, Robb is continuing her research at Laurier in a postdoctoral fellowship alongside Stephen Perry (Kinesiology and Physical Education). They are collaborating with Kintec Group, a footware and custom orthotics company, to learn more about the benefits of textured foot orthoses.

“I’ve worked hard to push the boundaries between maintaining academia’s high level of scientific rigor and translating data into clinically meaningful results,” says Robb. “I am honored to receive this award and excited to grow our understanding of how textured foot orthoses can improve patient care in the foot orthotic industry.”

Headshot of Jennifer Holm, James Popham and David Soave 

Early Career Researcher Awards

Laurier honoured Jennifer Holm (Education), James Popham (Criminology) and David Soave (Mathematics) with Early Career Researcher Awards in recognition of their exceptional contributions to research and student training.

Holm’s research is focused on improving the delivery of mathematics education by arming current and future teachers with a better understanding of math concepts. She recently developed an online course to help Bachelor of Education students increase their math competencies.

Popham is primarily focused on research that supports his local community and studying cybercrime. He worked with the County of Brant and the City of Brantford on individual surveys about community safety and well-being and is currently leading two research projects about online piracy in the age of streaming services.

Soave’s research program develops and uses cutting-edge statistical methodology to tackle problems in biology, medicine and public health. He uses large databases to further understand the causes of diseases and estimate patient risk and prognosis, and currently works as a research associate with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

Governance and Policy

Responding to global displacement

International migration is a key focus for many Laurier researchers, examining the policies and human rights associated with displacement. Bree Akesson (Social Work) has travelled to refugee camps all over the world to speak to families who are forced to flee their homes due to conflict. Robert McLeman (Geography and Environmental Studies) focuses on the human dimensions of environmental change, including climate migration. Through their inspired research, they are motivating urgent global responses.

Women as War Criminals

In her book Women as War Criminals: Gender, Agency, and Justice, Izabela Steflja (Political Science) argues that women are just as capable of committing war crimes as men, yet often go unnoticed because their very existence challenges our assumptions about war and women. Steflja explores the gendered dynamics of law and how biases prevent justice systems from assigning women blame following conflicts. Women as War Criminals is co-authored by Jessica T. Darden.

Fostering immigrant entrepreneurship

Nelson Graham, a PhD in Global Governance candidate, is studying the opportunities and barriers that immigrant entrepreneurs face in small to medium-sized Canadian cities. In his initial case study of St. John’s, Nfld., he discovered that universities play a critical role in supporting and integrating international students through offerings such as business incubators and language education. Graham’s research will determine how postsecondary institutions can best facilitate immigrant entrepreneurship.

headshot of Tatyana Feiner

Advocating for biodiversity at COP15

In December 2022, Master of Environmental Studies student Tatyana Feiner (BA ’22) had the opportunity to travel to Montreal for COP15, a gathering of parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. More than 10,000 delegates from 196 countries gathered to negotiate and finalize a “Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework” to ensure a liveable planet for future generations, setting targets for resource management, habitat conservation and other critical environmental indicators related to biodiversity.

Feiner spent five days at COP15, attending open events, presentations and committee meetings to learn all she could about how the conference functions. She also advocated for the protection of biodiverse areas.

“My thesis looks into climate and biodiversity policy in a Canadian context, so for me attending COP15 was kind of like the greatest university course I could ever take in the span of five days,” says Feiner. “The opportunity to attend COP15 as a student from Laurier makes me feel like I am making a difference for the community. It makes me feel like I am contributing in a positive way.

“I have a better understanding of how national and international policy comes together to use in my research.”

headshot of Muthoni Nganga

Addressing inequities through economics

Though focused on a diverse range of topics, from gender gaps in education to agriculture in Kenya, Muthoni Nganga’s (Economics) research is connected by a central motivation: to explain and address inequities.

“I am interested in using numbers to explain what is happening, contribute to academic literature and, hopefully, to guide policy,” says Nganga.

Born and raised in Kenya, much of Nganga’s research is focused on improving quality of life in her community of origin. In collaboration with research colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, she launched a pilot study that will test new interventions aimed at increasing the adoption of agricultural technology by Kenyan female farmers.

Another research focus for Nganga is gender gaps in education. For her PhD thesis, she compared academic achievement between public and private school students in Kenya, including the performance gaps between male and female students in mathematics.

“Education is human capital, and human capital is as important as any other investment when it comes to contributing to economic growth,” says Nganga.

In partnership with her colleagues at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Nganga hopes to measure the effects of peers on long-term educational outcomes of immigrant and non-immigrant Canadians.

Headshot of Ardavan Eizadirad and Steve Sider

New approaches to education

Ardavan Eizadirad and Steve Sider, colleagues in the Faculty of Education, co-authored the book Counternarratives of Pain and Suffering as Critical Pedagogy: Disrupting Oppression in Educational Contexts. With their co-editor Andrew Campbell, they argue that the language of pain and suffering is universal, and therefore has potential as critical pedagogy for transformative and therapeutic teaching and learning.

“On one level, this book is about centering marginalized voices sharing their experiences of pain and oppression,” says Eizadirad. “On another level, it is about how stories are told with intentionality to learn, unlearn and disrupt normalizing practices that enact harm in education, particularly on equity-deserving groups.”

Both educators were recently honoured by their peers for their research.

Eizadirad received the Outstanding Publication in Canadian Curriculum Studies Award from the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies for a book chapter he authored, “Neutrality Always Benefits the Oppressor: The Need to Rupture the Normalized Structure of Teacher Education Programs to Diversify the Workforce.”

The Canadian Association for Educational Psychology awarded Sider the Exceptionality Education International Book of the Year for his book Leadership for Inclusive Schools: Cases from Principals for Supporting Students with Special Education Needs.

Indigeneity, Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Celebrating Black musical heritage

In May 2022, the Laurier Centre for Music in the Community hosted the inaugural Mel Brown Music Festival and Symposium. The three-day event celebrated Black musical heritage in Waterloo Region through the legacy of blues musician Mel Brown. Organizers Carlos Morgan (MA ’21), a Juno Award-winning musician and alum of Laurier’s Master of Arts in Community Music program, and Lee Willingham (Community Music) curated a mix of concerts, academic panels and music education for local Black youth.


The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report in June 2019, which included 231 Calls for Justice. In response to Call for Justice 1.1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commissioned a national action plan. Percy Lezard (Indigenous Studies) was selected to lead its development and co-authored the 2SLGBTQQIA+ Sub-Working Group’s MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+ National Action Plan: Final Report.

Uplifting 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities

Driven by passion and personal experiences, researchers in Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work are addressing issues that affect 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities. Maryam Khan is dedicated to improving access to health social services for sexually and gender-diverse Muslims and helping to repair relationships with their families. Cameron McKenzie leads community-based research on health equity and advocates to embed 2SLGBTQQIA+ issues within social work curricula. Michael Woodford focuses his research on microaggressions and making university campuses more inclusive.

group photo of Women in Science staff

10 years of WinS

In February 2022, the Laurier Centre for Women in Science celebrated 10 years of research, advocacy and mentorship. A one-of-a-kind research centre, it facilitates scholarship by women scientists and about women scientists to develop and implement evidence-based strategies.

A key milestone for WinS was the selection of its founder, Shohini Ghose (Physics, Computer Science), as the Ontario Chair for Women in Science and Engineering by NSERC in 2020. The centre’s current research priorities include the first-ever survey of physicists across Canada to assess their demographics and experiences, and an analysis of prominent academic journals to investigate gender bias in publication processes. WinS leaders are regularly invited to speak at international conferences and have welcomed colleagues from across the globe to Laurier.

In 2019, WinS helped craft Canada’s Dimensions Charter on EDI and was selected by the federal minister of science to host its official launch event at Laurier. The university is one of 17 Canadian institutions participating in the federal Dimensions Pilot Program, which seeks to foster transformative change within the research ecosystem by addressing systemic barriers and inequities.

WinS is also fostering an online community through its WinSights webpage, a collection of resources for inclusive science.

Headshot of Lianne C. Leddy

Confronting Cold War colonialism

Lianne C. Leddy (History) documented a legacy of colonialism and community resistance in her book Serpent River Resurgence: Confronting Uranium Mining at Elliot Lake. In the 1950s, uranium became a valuable commodity as an essential element of the nuclear arms race playing out during the Cold War. Uranium mining began in northern Ontario and the settler town of Elliot Lake emerged.

At nearby Serpent River First Nation, a sulphuric acid plant was built directly on the reserve. A secondary industry in support of uranium mining, it arrived with promises of prosperity for the community. Instead, the short-lived acid plant brought air and water pollution and killed most of the area’s trees. More than half a century later, the social and environmental impacts remain.

Leddy is a member of Serpent River First Nation and first learned of this history at her late grandmother’s kitchen table. Drawing on extensive archival sources and oral histories, Leddy’s book examines the environmental and political power relationships that continue to affect her homeland.

Serpent River Resurgence was recently honoured with three awards from the Canadian Historical Association: the Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize, the Indigenous History Book Prize and the Clio Prize for Ontario.

Headshot of Mariam Pirbhai

Tackling Islamophobia through representation

In Mariam Pirbhai’s (English and Film Studies) first novel, Isolated Incident, she tackles a timely and deeply personal theme: Islamophobia.

“Witnessing horrific attacks on the Muslim community in Canada – specifically, the mosque shooting in Quebec in January 2017 – really affected me, and the Trump era further exacerbated anti-Muslim and anti-immigration sentiments,” says Pirbhai, who identifies as Pakistani-Canadian. “All of this was happening in the world around me while I was working on this novel about Pakistani-Canadians, and I couldn’t help but write about this escalation of violence and how it impacts those families.”

Isolated Incident is told from the perspective of three second-generation Canadian Muslims in their twenties, each of whom is responding to the intensifying culture of Islamophobia around them and the violent attack of a local mosque.

“Through my research, I have found some serious gaps in the way that Canadian Muslims are represented in Canadian literature,” says Pirbhai. “I think it’s important to explore what it is to be Muslim in the West. Art has a significant impact on representation. Each story we tell is an opportunity to widen the lens and perhaps have a more meaningful conversation.”

Business, Technology and Innovation

VR training for police officers

Based on years of research, Jennifer Lavoie (Criminology, Psychology) developed a scenario-based training program for police officers designed to improve their de-escalation and communication skills when interacting with people experiencing mental health crises. To make the program scalable provincially, she is collaborating with industry partners, academics and people with lived experience of mental illness to build an interactive, virtual-reality version which can be completed using only a headset.

Supply chain solutions

Global supply chain backlogs have dominated news headlines over the past couple of years, creating havoc for businesses and consumers alike. Researchers at Laurier’s Centre for Supply Chain Management are contributing to solutions, facilitating studies and discussion between scholars, practitioners and decisionmakers. CN Fellow in Supply Chain Management Michael Haughton (Operations and Decision Sciences) focuses his research on freight transportation and logistics. He weighed in on some of the factors influencing supply chain interruptions.

Mission on the Moon

As Canada prepares to launch a robotic lunar rover in the next five years, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is investing in research and educational initiatives related to space science and technology. With funding from CSA, Laurier’s Faculty of Education and InkSmith are partnering to design and develop Mission on the Moon: An Educational Program for Canadian Youth, which will provide inquiry-based coding and robotics activities for students in Grades 6 through 9.

Headshot of Stephanie DeWitte-Orr

World-first discovery

Virologist Stephanie DeWitte-Orr (Biology, Health Sciences) made a world-first discovery with the potential to change the way we treat a wide variety of ailments, from cancer to lower back pain to viruses, including coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2.

DeWitte-Orr reported the first evidence that a nucleic acid produced by viruses – long double-stranded ribonucleic acid (dsRNA) – can be used to target and shut down the spread of illness in healthy and cancerous cells. Previously, this strategy was only known to be effective for invertebrates – animals without backbones – and plants.

“This means that we not only have a completely new way of treating viruses, but also that we can target any human protein and stop it from being made using long dsRNA,” said DeWitte-Orr. “This is a new strategy for both antiviral and gene therapeutics, and it is superior to similar RNA strategies that have been developed to date.”

Together with industry partners and Laurier colleague Diane Gregory (Health Sciences, Kinesiology and Physical Education), DeWitte-Orr is planning pre-clinical trials to explore its potential to treat cancerous tumours and lower back pain.

DeWitte-Orr was named Laurier’s University Research Professor for 2022-23 in recognition of her excellence and leadership in research.

Headshot of Ke Cao

Strengthening corporate sustainability

Sustainability certifications, typically awarded after a business is voluntarily evaluated by an independent third party, have become an increasingly common way for businesses to demonstrate their green credentials. However, these assessments have not generated the anticipated large-scale changes for social and environmental good.

Ke Cao (Policy) plans to analyze why sustainability certifications haven’t been more impactful in the corporate sector. In a world with many significant issues stemming from climate change and environmental degradation, Cao considers the cooperation of businesses to be of paramount importance in combating these challenges instead of increasing their impact.

With the support of a SSHRC Insight Grant, Cao will analyze the global use of sustainability certifications in the palm oil sector, along with Certified B Corporations and Benefit Corporations. By identifying barriers to their efficacy, his goal is to provide innovative, feasible policy and practice reforms.

“Lawful, but sometimes irresponsible, business practices are a big part of our global environmental challenges and we cannot solve these problems without meaningful participation by the business community,” says Cao. “With a wide-ranging social sciences and humanities lens, I work to advance our theoretical understanding of how organizations work so that we can know better how to address difficult societal issues.”

Headshot of Leslie Berger and Carolyn MacTavish

Incentivizing Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge sharing between employees is critical for an organization’s success, yet some workers choose to retain knowledge from others to create a competitive advantage and a sense of power. This can result in lost productivity, unnecessary employee errors and inefficiencies when best practices are not shared.

Leslie Berger and Carolyn MacTavish (Accounting) published a study on this topic in the Journal of Management Accounting titled “I Know Something You Don’t Know,” for which they won the Best Paper Award. They examined how organizations can influence the extent to which employees share knowledge with each other.

MacTavish and Berger found that when employees are paid individual performance incentives and receive feedback that ranks their performance against their peers, they are less likely to share accurate knowledge with their colleagues. The researchers hope these insights can inform how managers reward their employees.

“While many organizations use both performance-based incentives and relative performance information to motivate their employees, firms may not be aware of the hidden cost of these motivations,” say MacTavish and Berger. “Our research highlights that the use of these controls may be limiting knowledge sharing within the firm.”

Society, Culture and Community

Bilingualism and the brain

John Schwieter (Spanish and Linguistics, Psychology) shared his expertise with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the CNN chief medical correspondent’s podcast, Chasing Life. Schwieter was interviewed about topics related to language learning and bilingualism, including which areas of the brain are responsible for language acquisition and processing, and tips for adults who are struggling to learn a second language. His research focuses on how the co-existence of multiple languages in one brain affects cognitive functions.

Playing classical music in drag

Ari Cohen Mann is the oboe instructor in Laurier’s Faculty of Music. They have performed worldwide, including at Carnegie Hall, and serve as a mentor for the National Academy Orchestra of Canada. Together with their friend, clarinet player Marc Blouin, Cohen Mann produced a popular online video called “Getting in Drag and Playing Classical Music.” As the title suggests, the two musicians performed a duet by Marion Bauer.

Three Minute Thesis winner

Esther Li, a developmental psychology PhD student, won Laurier’s 2023 Three Minute Thesis competition with her presentation, “First-language loss and maintenance in youth and adolescents with immigrant backgrounds.” Li’s research found that the loss of first-language proficiencies has negative consequences for humans, including a loss of cultural and ethnic identity. She went on to represent Laurier at the provincial Three Minute Thesis competition held at Queen’s University.

Headshot of Magnus Mfoafo-M’Carthy and Kira Omelchenko

International research fellowships

Two Laurier professors, Magnus Mfoafo-M’Carthy (Social Work) and Kira Omelchenko (Music), were recently awarded prestigious international fellowships.

Mfoafo-M’Carthy travelled to Accra, Ghana to mentor doctoral students at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, helping them develop and refine their research skills. His trip was funded by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, which enables African institutions to host an African-born scholar to work on projects involving research collaboration, graduate student mentorship and curriculum co-development.

Born and raised in Ghana, Mfoafo-M’Carthy has cultivated research partnerships there to address issues of inclusive education and disability, as well as stigma surrounding mental illness.

Omelchenko, the conductor of the Laurier Symphony Orchestra, was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award, a competitive fellowship funded by the U.S. Department of State that provides unique opportunities for scholars to teach and conduct research abroad. She will spend five months in New Zealand conducting, teaching and mentoring students, collaborating with local composers and doing research in the National Library of New Zealand.

During her time abroad, Omelchenko will be a visiting scholar and artist-in-residence at The New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī at Victoria University.

colourful books displayed on a shelf

Best Books list

Four Laurier authors were included on The Hill Times’ list of the 100 Best Books in 2022. The national political news organization recognized faculty members Stacey Hannem (Criminology), Timothy Leduc (Social Work) and Jasmin Zine (Sociology and Muslim Studies), along with Norma Jacobs, who serves as an Elder in Laurier’s PhD in Social Work program, for their writing achievements.

Hannem’s book, Defining Sexual Misconduct: Power, Media, and #MeToo, investigates shifts in media coverage of sexual violence and details significant changes in public discourse about sexual harm. She and co-author Christopher J. Schneider also examine the contemporary dynamics of public accusations and their relationship to more formal criminal justice processes.

Edited by Leduc, Ǫ da gaho dḛ:s: Reflecting on our Journeys highlights Indigenous values and contains Haudenosaunee cultural teachings by Jacobs, whose Cayuga name is Gae Ho Hwako. The book is structured to mirror a conversation circle.

Based on in-depth interviews with more than 130 young people, youth workers and community leaders, Zine’s book Under Siege: Islamophobia and the 9/11 Generation, unpacks the dynamics of Islamophobia as a system of oppression and examines its impact on Canadian Muslim youth.

Headshot of Domonique Shantz

ACERS winners

Laurier’s annual Academic, Creative and Engaged Research Showcase (ACERS), held in Brantford, provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to present their work to their peers and community.

Domonique Shantz, a first-year student in the Human Rights and Human Diversity program, won the Early Year Researcher Award for her poster presentation “Honour Killings in Jordan: Observing the Phenomenon Through a Human Rights Lens.” After spending time in Amman, Jordan, Shantz was inspired to investigate whether or not honour killings should be considered a human rights violation. These murders are typically committed by male family members against female family members who are perceived to have brought dishonour upon the family.

Through her research, Shantz concluded that the term “honour” is being used to validate human rights violations and Jordan should be held accountable to enforce the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Additional 2023 ACERS winners included:

First place poster: Mandy O’Brecht, “Experiences with Transgender Youth Within Shelter Systems”

First place podcast: Jeremy Vyn, “The Road not Taken: Canada’s Response to Harvard College v. Canada (Commissioner of Patents)”

First place video: Clayton Harding, “Multi-Sensory Stylus for Accessible Digital Interactions”

View from an Alumna

While completing her Master of Science in Kinesiology at Laurier, Abigail Broad (MSc ’20) studied how physical activity breaks impact primary school children. She found that short periods of movement are beneficial for increasing their overall physical activity levels and on-task behaviour in the classroom. Broad partnered with Laurier’s Sun Life Financial Centre for Physically Active Communities to turn her research findings into a series of short videos called Fitness Frenzy.