For most of us, a trip to the park is as easy as deciding which one to go to, but for those with a physical disability, certain barriers can make it a challenge. Justin Turner knows this struggle personally and Wednesday the University of Lethbridge undergraduate student presented his honours thesis entitled “Assessing Inclusive Mobility in Parks” which highlights the need for accessible parks for everyone. Turner was diagnosed in 2012 with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune disease that left him with severely limited mobility for three months.
He said people with a physical disability are at a higher risk of depression and suicidal ideation, and access to public parks is important for anyone with a disability for the mental health and social benefits they provide. Turner estimates eight per cent of the Alberta population suffers from a mobility disability. Working with the City of Lethbridge Parks Department and consulting with Chris Schamber of Quad Design & Barrier Free Consulting, Turner analyzed a sampling of Lethbridge parks to gather data and compile a report on the barriers that exist in our city. Turner created a guide, based on a Parks Canada publication, to measure details such as picnic tables, benches, pathway and entry points, playgrounds and parking lots for accessibility. Through his research, Turner discovered newer parks are significantly more accessible than older ones, with better technology available and increased sensitivity to accessibility issues. In addition, only two out of 23 playgrounds studied, Nicholas Sheran and Henderson Lake park, were fully accessible, and he said they appeared to be the busiest parks.The city is also doing well at providing adequate pathway and entry points as well as appropriate benches, according to Turner’s findings.
Out of all his research, Geoff Ball says it is has been his simplest project that has shown the greatest return.
In 2011, Ball, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, created a deck of cards meant to help parents guide discussions with health professionals about their children’s weight management. Today, that work continues to pay dividends.
Ball’s ongoing research with the CONversation Cards has led to his team being given a best “Great Educational Material” (GEM) award by the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior for the 2013–14 paper of the year.
The cards were created for use in a pilot project in 2012 at the Pediatric Centre for Weight and Health, a weight management clinic at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in which Ball serves as director. They then became available for health professionals in 2013 through a partnership with the Canadian Obesity Network.
The cards contain printed statements reflecting common concerns—such as, “My kids hate fruits and vegetables” or, “It’s tough to stick with an activity program”—for parents trying to address their children’s weight management issues. The goal is to empower parents to help guide the conversation with health professionals.
The University of Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas tennis program made team and Canadian university tennis history Aug. 10 when it claimed its first national championship title. The national championship victory came thanks to a 9–2 win over McGill University Sunday afternoon at the 2014 Canadian University and College Tennis Championship in Montreal. In the process, the U of A becomes the first team from outside the province of Quebec to win the Canadian University and College Tennis Championship. It is the first national championship title in the history of Golden Bears and Pandas tennis. In the six years of the current championship format, which occurs at the same time at the Coupe Rogers/Rogers Cup, the U of A has recorded four medal performances, including three consecutive silver medals (in 2011, 2012 and 2013). Prior to that, the Evergreen and Gold tennis program competed in the NAIA and against predominantly American programs at championship tournaments held in various places in the United States.
Researchers at the Cumming School of Medicine have published one of the largest-ever studies on the rarest and most severe form of multiple sclerosis (MS).
The findings on primary progressive MS — which affects up to 20 per cent of people who have the disease — could affect future treatment, as well as the design of clinical trials investigating the illness, says Dr. Marcus Koch, the study’s lead author and a member of the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute and Department of Clinical Neurosciences.
The results of the study were released in the August online edition of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. The findings are significant because the evolution of symptoms that people with this form of the disease typically display has previously been difficult to investigate due to the fact that primary progressive MS involves a much smaller group of patients. Primary progressive MS affects 10 to 20 per cent of all MS patients, compared to 80 to 90 per cent who have the more common relapsing-remitting form of MS.
Experts identified a group of 500 patients with primary progressive MS in the database of the Calgary Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at the Foothills Medical Centre, allowing researchers to trace back the natural history of this condition in a large number of people for decades over a substantial area. People come to the clinic from Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, as well as from elsewhere in southern Alberta and southeastern B.C.
Summer camp creativity continues at Red Deer College, with young visual art students from across the province participating in SummerScapes. This unique visual art camp runs from August 10 to 16. Students will immerse themselves in creating art, telling their story through drawing, painting, sculpture & printmaking. These unique core workshops will be supplemented with additional art options every evening. Included in evening option classes will be bead making, jewelry making and photography.
Theatre Arts alumna one of the many students, alumni and faculty who are part of the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival
Every year, MacEwan University celebrates the plethora of students, alumni, staff and faculty members who volunteer in, work for, or perform in the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. Theatre Arts grad Mackenzie Reurink is one of the many who can be found among the cast and crew lists of a variety of shows; so many that it’s often difficult to keep track of which (and in some cases, how many) shows each person is a part of.
Juliet Guichon, PhD, and Dr. Eric Wasylenko were both honoured by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) this week for their contributions to improving the health and welfare of Canadians.
Guichon, an assistant professor of law and ethics at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, will receive the 2014 CMA Medal of Honour in recognition of her commitment to citizen engagement.
Guichon is a frequent contributor to public debate on health and ethics issues. She was invited by the Standing Committees on Health of both the House of Commons and the Senate to testify on public hearings on Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act.
She founded two child health advocacy groups that convinced 12 Canadian school boards to reverse their decisions to ban in-school administration of the HPV vaccine.
Dr. Wasylenko, a clinical lecturer and alumnus from the University of Calgary’s medical school, will receive the 2014 Dr. William Marsden Award in Medical Ethics. This award recognizes CMA members who have demonstrated exemplary leadership, commitment and dedication to the cause of advancing and promoting excellence in the field of medical ethics in Canada.
Wasylenko is a pioneering palliative care physician in residential hospice and home-based palliative care. He led the creation of one of Canada’s first rural, community-owned, free-standing, residential hospice homes.
He is a volunteer adviser to other groups who are hoping to establish community and hospice services
Medicine Hat College (MHC) Continuing Studies is partnering with SAAMIS Aboriginal Employment and Training Association to deliver a twenty week pre-trades program starting October 6, 2014. The course is available to Aboriginal Peoples, including First Nations and Metis at no cost. To qualify individuals must be unemployed, underemployed or have their employment threatened. The program, which is in its second year, provides an introduction to the various trades offered at the college including carpentry, electrical, pipefitting and welding. It is designed to give students hands-on experience in the labs and is available to individuals who have not yet received their GED. They learn a lot from this program beyond the trades, math and sciences or GED training.
Faculty of Arts alumna Erica Wiebe claimed a career-best wrestling victory at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games on July 29, thanks in part to a fierce competitive energy channelled during years of study at the University of Calgary.
Wiebe, a former Dino athlete and six-time national champion, took her opponents to the mat to win four matches in a row and claim gold in the women’s 75-kilogram division in Glasgow, Scotland, where athletes from 71 countries vied for top spot on the podium across 17 different sports.
Receiving her gold medal and watching the Canadian flag rise as the national anthem played was “an iconic moment,” she said — one made possible by a confident mindset that the 25-year-old partly credits to her university experience.
Wiebe first earned a degree in kinesiology before pursuing an after-degree in sociology, where she tackled an honours thesis that focused on female athletes in sport, specifically in wrestling
As society explores energy sources such as biofuels, a researcher at the University of Alberta is seeking answers to questions about the processes to develop them, to ensure we’re not creating one problem by solving another. Mahdi Vaezi, a PhD student in the Faculty of Engineering, is doing groundbreaking research to determine whether it’s effective to use pipelines to transport agricultural waste used in biofuels, such as straw and corn stover, from farms to bio-based energy facilities. Vaezi’s is the only lab in the world conducting this kind of research on biomass slurries. Biomass—material derived from food and non-food organisms and a potential “green” energy source—has traditionally been transported by truck, at great expense. When done at a large scale, transporting biomass materials by slurry pipeline could help make the cost of biorefineries competitive.
Birth rates often fall as nations become more developed, but the opposite is happening in Samoa – and a University of Lethbridge graduate student may know the reason why.Third year evolution and behaviour PhD student Deanna Forrester (MSc ’11) is investigating why this developing island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and New Zealand is experiencing a steady to slightly increasing rise in its fertility rates. Starting in June 2014, Forrester is on a four-month study visit to Upolu, Samoa’s most populous island, interviewing mothers and observing families to test an idea based on her observations from a previous visit: that the helpful behaviour of Samoan children make it easier to have larger families.
The shop class at Calmar Secondary School has changed dramatically in the 17 years Darren Roth has been teaching at the school. When Roth started there as an Industrial Arts teacher, the Grade 7 to 12 students at the school 50 kilometres southwest of Edmonton mainly used the shop for woodworking.
Yaw Asante, PhD, aside from being an accomplished academic — he is a specialist scholar of African literature and postcolonial theory and practice — is also a passionate champion for his students. As Mount Royal establishes itself as a premiere undergraduate university, professors such as Asante are helping to further the school’s reputation of excellence by preparing students for post-graduation life, be it grad school or the start of their careers, with tangible experience. Asante is dedicated to exposing his English students to as many degree-related experiences as possible. Last year alone, Asante helped facilitate trips to three different conferences for six of his honour English students. The conferences included: Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies in St. Lucia; Human Rights, Literature Arts and Social Sciences International Conference, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan; and the 40th African Literature Association Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The South African conference had special significance because it marked the 20th anniversary of the official demise of Apartheid. He and fellow Mount Royal English associate professor and post-colonial scholar Kelly Hewson, PhD, took students to this landmark event, where they participated fully by presenting papers inspired by the conference topic.
Tucked away in an album somewhere are photos of Leah Flaherty as a child attempting to eat insects. These days, Leah is still trapping the tiny creatures, but for research purposes only, of course.
Leah, a faculty member in MacEwan University’s Department of Biological Sciences, says she was always interested in biology. Between her masters and doctorate, she worked with mountain pine beetles (her research is in forest entomology, or the study of insects and arthropods), and this summer she’s using her knowledge for two new projects.
Both projects are collaborations focusing on the ecology of forest insects – forest tent caterpillars and bark- and wood-boring beetles.
Two high-school students are giving engineering a test drive, conducting biomedical research at the University of Alberta that could one day help surgeons determine how to treat patients suffering traumatic injuries. Dana Andrishak and Natalia Rudolf are wrapping up six weeks of research in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, as participants in the WISEST (Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology) summer internship program. Working with mechanical engineering professor Kajsa Duke, Andrishak and Rudolf were charged with building accurate computer models of pelvises from CT scans of 14 patients, then determining a point at which surgeons would no longer be able to treat pelvic fractures (specifically, dual pubic rami fractures) with minimally invasive techniques. That is, they had to identify the level of severity at which treating the fractures would become more complicated. Armed with this information, surgeons would be able to examine scans or X-rays of patients and know, before entering the operating room, what type of surgery would be required. For the high-school students, both of whom are entering Grade 12 this fall, it was a chance to enter uncharted territory.
Isabel Porto is spending August afternoons drawing on the windows in the +15 skywalk that connects the Taylor Family Digital Library to the MacKimmie Library Tower. Her work in progress, Perceptual Drawing, is part of the MFA Graduating Exhibition that runs until Sept. 30 at Nickle Galleries.
Porto’s window drawings are a translation of how she perceives the world. Every day different things catch her attention and they become and represent states of her awareness. “My plan is to move on to another window every day and not go back to what I’ve drawn before.”
Porto developed an interest in the idea of perception early on in her MFA studies. During her research, she realized that perceiving is an active experience. “When I started studying philosophers like Alva Noë, I became fascinated with the idea that our vision is discontinued and fragmented,” explains Porto. “For example, if you look at an object, you will see it in focus, but everything else around it will be blurry. Our vision is attention-dependent, but on a daily basis we don’t see these minimal gaps.”
Porto is using dark impermanent markers on the windows. Her choice for sketch style line art reinforces the idea of a spontaneous and dynamic drawing, emphasizing the ephemeral nature of perception.
When Rachel Crooks, a W21C summer student and biological sciences undergrad at the University of Calgary was diagnosed in 2011 with myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune neuromuscular disease, she turned to social media.
Crooks’ social media use introduced her to other patients online who used the platform to advocate and educate about their conditions and experiences within the health system. It also exposed Crooks to Medicine X, a Stanford-run conference that explores the future of medicine and health care through emerging technologies.
Crooks was accepted as one of 35 ePatient scholars for the 2014 conference Sept. 5-7 in Palo Alto, Calif. ePatient scholars are sorted into three tracks: speakers, creative problem-solvers and engagement. Crooks was assigned to the engagement track, where she will be using multiple social media tools to broadcast her patient voice and conference experiences at Stanford. In addition, Crooks is also participating in a panel discussion on the patient’s ownership of their illness and how the patient perspective needs to be acknowledged in order to conduct clinical conversation.
A new research study showing that stress in pregnant rats can shorten the length of pregnancy in subsequent generations could provide clues to the causes of preterm birth in humans.A multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Lethbridge, along with a University of Alberta medical researcher, studied successive generations of stressed rat mothers. Not only did the stressed animals have shorter pregnancies, they gained less weight during pregnancy and had higher blood glucose levels. Their offspring were smaller and had delays in behavioural development. The effects were amplified over succeeding generations
The University of Alberta has been busy this summer deepening its engagement with China through a unique study-abroad program at Peking University and a high-profile international workshop held in Harbin, focused on building dual PhD programs between Canada and China. Educating international innovators and entrepreneurs A first-ever session of the U of A’s new Joint Summer Program on Innovation and Entrepreneurship took 13 Chinese students from the university’s faculties of arts, business, engineering and science to Beijing, where they paired with fellow students from Peking for three weeks of dynamic interactive learning July 7 to 25. Together, the students took in presentations by accomplished Chinese scholars and industry leaders, visited various business and industry sites and a state lab, and took on a research challenge issued by the Chinese computer company Lenovo to explore mobile video communication technology. The company was so impressed with the resulting work, it invited students from both universities to consider applying for internships, said Cen Huang, executive director of international relations and recruitment, and assistant vice-president of University of Alberta International
Asteroid Bennu is scheduled for 78 potential impacts with Earth between 2175–2199. Scientists don’t know when, where or even if the asteroid will hit our planet, but a University of Calgary professor is trying to find out. U of C geoscience professor Alan Hildebrand is part of a NASA-funded mission to study Bennu dubbed Operation OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security Regolith Explorer). NASA will send a spacecraft to study the asteroid and bring back material samples. Canada provided a laser system that will create a 3D map of Bennu, which will help determine the size of the asteroid and aid the craft’s landing. Canada’s mapping system equals about four per cent of the mission’s cost. Canada will get an equal percentage of the asteroid sample which will be studied at the U of C. Hildebrand said that while scientists don’t think Bennu is big enough to destroy all standing crops, size isn’t its only destructive factor.
Eight years ago when Cyrus Panjvani began teaching Asian philosophy, he couldn’t find a book that would work in his courses.
So he decided to write a book that would fill the gap – one that was focused on clarity and that would provide a more in-depth explanation behind the principles and ideas of Buddhism. He approached a publisher and even though it was his first book, they were willing to get behind it before he even set ink to paper.
Cyrus spent the next seven summers researching and writing Buddhism: A Philosophical Approach. Part of his research included two trips to Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea, and the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India that were funded by MacEwan University research grants.
Although most of Cyrus’s classes are lectures, his teaching involves a lot of student interaction. Over the past few years, Cyrus used drafts of the book in his classes to see how students received ideas and explanations.
It’s too early for journal reviews, but the book, which was released in January 2014, already seems to have found its place. Anecdotal response has been very positive and at least two classes at other universities used the book in the winter 2014 semester.
Faculty of Arts students are making a diverse mark in the area of health and wellness research this summer, from tackling the problem of insomnia in pregnant women to examining dietary diversity among the indigenous Makushi people of Guyana.
Psychology student Zahra Clayborne and Archaeology’s Natasha Hoehn are two recipients of the prestigious Markin Undergraduate Student Research Program in Health and Wellness. Established in 2002, the Markin USRP provides funding for undergraduates as they are introduced to all aspects of the research process.
Interested in the fields of preventive medicine and public health, Clayborne has been drawn to research the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-I) in pregnant women. CBT-I is the gold standard intervention for insomnia recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It refers to a series of proven behavioural prescriptions and stress reduction techniques.
A team of engineering students at the University of Alberta is taking its submersible robot to an international competition to face off against teams from around the world. More than 30 teams are gathering in San Diego, Calif., this week for the annual RoboSub Competition. The Faculty of Engineering’s Autonomous Robotic Vehicle Project (ARVP) team will put its battery-powered submarine, which is a little more than a metre long, through a demanding underwater obstacle course. They’ll also be scored on a technical paper and a presentation about their vehicle’s design. The submarine needs to perform a series of tasks without being controlled or assisted by the team. Subs are required to submerge themselves in a large pool, and follow a coloured path along the pool floor. Their first challenge is to strike a buoy. In some cases, the buoy flashes green or red, and if a sub bumps into it while the green light is on, it earns extra points.
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