Campus Life

Early career researchers at the University of Lethbridge secure SSHRC awards

A dozen University of Lethbridge researchers have been awarded more than $600,000 in new funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for diverse projects, including agricultural supply chain management and repatriating Métis music.

These Insight Development Grants, announced earlier this year, are designed to support emerging scholars and research in its early stages, with up to $75,000 available over one or two years.

From the Dhillon School of Business, Drs. Duckjung Shin, Adriane MacDonald, Jocelyn Wiltshire (Calgary campus) and Alireza Tajbakhsh have secured more than $187,000 in funding for their projects.

Shin’s research looks at human resource management as a social system within an organization. He examines the interference between work and life domains, the diminishing power of unions under modern human resource practices, widening status differences within an organization and its societal consequences.

MacDonald’s research will examine the potential of sense-making tools to improve communication and problem-solving in multi-stakeholder partnerships, an approach espoused in the United Nations’ global sustainable development agenda. Engaging multiple stakeholder perspectives in complex problem solving can create new problems and ultimately prevent groups from reaching their goals. MacDonald’s study will focus on how sense-making tools, such as boundary objects, metaphor and storytelling, can help individuals in these partnerships overcome the inherent difficulties of collaborating at knowledge boundaries.

Wiltshire’s research looks at the dark side of leaders’ influence behaviour in the workplace, known as dark political skill. To what extent do manipulative and deceptive leaders contribute to a political workplace climate and impact employee behaviours and well-being? Along with Drs. Kelly Williams-Whitt and Mahfooz Ansari, Wiltshire will conduct a series of surveys and interviews. Their findings will speak to effective managerial and organizational practices that may mitigate or neutralize these harmful consequences.

Tajbakhsh will examine the existing literature on agricultural supply chain management in both crop and livestock sectors in Canada. The agriculture sector is at the nexus of world hunger and climate change. Tajbakhsh’s research will look at successful sustainable practices adopted in Canada and what corporate and government sustainability regulations have influenced agricultural networks in Canada.

Five researchers in the Faculty of Fine Arts — Dr. Dana Cooley (New Media), Dr. Bryn Hughes (Music), Jackson Two Bears (Art), Dr. Amandine Pras (Music) and Dr. Devon Smither (Art) — have secured awards worth nearly $280,000.

Cooley’s project, To Hear a Shadow, is an interactive installation that translates a participant’s EEG (brain activity) data through a Rube Goldbergesque chain of digital and early scientific measuring devices that spin and flutter, turning the signals into light, sound, and movement. Behind a partial wall, a second participant tunes in to the audio transmissions through a specially equipped headset. Proximity sensors respond to the second participant’s movements which affect the colour and intensity of light in the room. The perceptual feedback loop constructed by Shadow draws our attention to the interconnectedness we have with each other and our environment.

Hughes plans to delve into the factors that allow people to activate different musical languages. He wants to determine what musical features contribute most to syntactic violations and why some musical gestures sound wrong in one kind of music but not in another.

Two Bears’ research will explore the ways in which the creative use of digital technologies can support the innovation, transmission and transformation of Indigenous creative and cultural practices, while providing a site for critical dialogue and reflection. Two Bears plans to create an immersive 360-degree video and audio art installation and a multimedia app that will feature mobile media artworks.

Pras' research focuses on the democratization of the 21st century recording studio and the production techniques and creative processes that define it. Her multidisciplinary project includes three complementary case studies — an ethnography on street recording studios in Bamako, Mali, a longitudinal survey in the international Audio Recording Engineer Practicum of the Banff Centre and an experiment that will examine the learning process of a young Malian studio practitioner when attending the Banff Practicum for one semester.

Smither is conducting a study that looks at the marginalization of women artists and artistic realism during the first three decades of the 20th century. Specifically, she will focus on Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and the women artists she collected and supported from 1905 to 1930. The works formed part of the founding collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, which opened in 1931.

The other recipients include Drs. Monique Giroux, Canada Research Chair and a professor in Indigenous Studies; Kara Granzow, a professor of sociology; and Julie Young, a professor of geography and Canada Research Chair.

Giroux’s research centres on the repatriation of Métis music. It includes three key elements: understanding what constitutes musical repatriation, creating an inventory of Métis musical belongings housed in archives and private collections, and determining the priorities of Métis communities for the repatriation of these musical belongings. Through consultations with Métis advisory boards, she will create a strategy for musical repatriation, including the possibility of establishing programs to support musical revival and resurgence.

Granzow and Dr. Amber Dean, co-investigator and professor at McMaster University, seek to understand and contribute to preventing sexualized colonial violence through exploring the enduring relationships between an economy based on resource extraction and the ongoing high rates of sexualized violence against Indigenous women in Alberta.

Young’s research examines the impacts of Canadian refugee deterrence policies. Phase one analyzes how the Canadian government conceptualizes and operationalizes deterrence via the Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement, the Mexican visa policy, the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program and the recent information campaign in U.S. cities. Phase two involves fieldwork in Windsor-Detroit and Leamington to assess the local consequences of these policies.