Research Excellence:
A Year in Review

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Office of Research Services
Annual Report 2020/21

A message from Jonathan Newman, vice-president: research


in new external research funding in 2020/21

research centres and institutes

full-time faculty
increase in total external funding over 2019/20

increase in Tri-Agency funding over 2019/20

increase in other federal funding over 2019/20

increase in provincial/territorial funding over 2019/20
donor-sponsored chairs, professors and fellows

Canada Research Chairs



Environments and Sustainability

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Royal Society of Canada Fellow

Mark Terry (English and Film Studies) was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). Terry, a documentary filmmaker, pioneered the use of an innovative form of documentary film called the Geo-Doc, currently being used within the United Nations to bridge the gap between science and policy. Recognition by the RSC is the highest honour a scholar can achieve in the arts, sciences and social sciences.

Air pollution during lockdown

Hind Al-Abadleh (Chemistry and Biochemistry) completed a pilot air-quality monitoring project in partnership with the City of Kitchener and Hemmera Envirochem Inc. The team installed sensor systems close to Kitchener public schools to collect air pollution data that will be used to inform the city’s climate action plan. A grant from CFI’s Exceptional Opportunities Fund will enable further research. Al-Abadleh also published results showing a 20-per-cent drop in pollutant levels during the first COVID-19 lockdown in Ontario.

University Research Professor

Jennifer Baltzer (Biology) was named Laurier’s University Research Professor for 2020-21. The annual internal award recognizes excellence and leadership in research and provides time and funding for the winner to complete a major research endeavour. Baltzer is the Canada Research Chair in Forests and Global Change. Her recent work has focused on how the effects of climate warming, including permafrost thaw and unprecedented wildfires, are impacting Canada’s boreal forest and tundra.

headshot of Philip Marsh

30 years of Northern research

Trail Valley Creek Arctic Research Station, located between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, is Laurier’s northern-most research station. Last year marked its 30th anniversary.

Now the longest-running hydrologically focused Arctic research station in Canada, Trail Valley Creek has become a productive field site for Laurier’s Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science. Dedicated to understanding and predicting environmental changes near the treeline in the western Canadian Arctic, the research station is an interactive training ground for Laurier students and hosts international collaborators.

Since 1991, Philip Marsh has been the steward of the station, first in his role as a research scientist at Environment Canada and since 2013 as a professor in Laurier’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. His position as Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science was renewed for a second term in 2020.

“This chair renewal will allow the continuation of research at Trail Valley Creek,” says Marsh. “We are using the 30 years of data we’ve collected to test new predictive models for the water cycle in the region.”

headshot of Barry Colbert

Leading sustainable transitions

Under Barry Colbert’s (Policy) leadership, Laurier’s Co-Operators Centre for Business and Sustainability (CCBS) is run as an applied research centre, with an emphasis on the “applied.”

“Sustainability is a contact sport: you’ve got to get out into the community and try new ideas,” says Colbert, the centre’s director.

Colbert received a SSHRC Insight Grant to study the role of innovation intermediaries in leading sustainable transitions. He believes that the fundamental systemic changes required to build a sustainable future cannot be achieved through siloed, incremental approaches. Colbert proposes that the solution may lie with civil society organizations such as NGOs, service providers, advocacy groups and consultancies who can serve as intermediaries between business, government and academic actors.

He points to Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR), a social enterprise fostered by CCBS, as a prime example.

“When it came to building evolv1, a local net-positive energy office building and clean-tech incubator, SWR helped to convene the major players in town and build momentum behind the initiative,” says Colbert. “An innovation intermediary can be a catalyst, act as a mediator between ideologies and raise the ambition of all sectors collectively.”

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Applying supramolecular chemistry

Many environmentally friendly innovations, such as solar panels and the gels used to clean up oil spills, owe their efficacy to the study of supramolecular chemistry. That is, chemistry “beyond the molecule.” Louise Dawe (Chemistry and Biochemistry) is contributing to this important field through her research at Laurier.

“We study the structure of materials at the molecular level because this helps us to understand their physical properties,” says Dawe. “We want to understand how to build materials in their solid phase so that we can engage with those properties.”

For example, Dawe’s team is studying super-cooling properties. Unlike water, which has the same melting and freezing point, super-cooled organic molecules can have more than 100 degrees difference between liquid and solid states.

“This property can be applied to components in devices that need to be stable in the liquid phase down to very low temperatures, such as lubricants,” says Dawe. “When lubricants fail, it’s often because they are not functioning as an ideal liquid. If we have something that could possibly be stable as a liquid well below its melting point, then there are a lot of potential industrial applications for that.”

Psychological and Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being

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Maintaining well-being in the face of adversity

Bree Akesson (Social Work) was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Global Adversity and Well-Being. Her research focuses on extreme adversity, such as poverty, war and climate change, and how it impacts individual, family and community well-being. Akesson’s ongoing work includes studies on refugee families in Lebanon and Ontario, and the practice of extreme domicide, the intentional destruction of homes as a result of political violence.

Triggering immunity to fight coronaviruses

Stephanie DeWitte-Orr (Health Sciences and Biology) is leading a team of virologists conducting pre-clinical testing on two antiviral drugs that could be used to prevent respiratory virus infection. Initial results for the first drug showed that a single dose can prevent two strains of human coronaviruses from replicating in human lung cells for up to seven days post-infection. DeWitte-Orr also discovered a new cell line to use as a model for studying coronavirus replication.

Music for mental health

Elizabeth Mitchell (Music Therapy) conducts research on the interdisciplinary connections between the fields of music therapy, community music and music education. In 2020, she co-authored a paper which interrogated common conceptions of music therapy and music education, and proposed that the points of intersection between these fields are far broader than is typically assumed. Mitchell is a registered psychotherapist and certified music therapist.

Headshot of Judy Eaton

Why we judge forgiveness

When victims forgive severe offences, they are often harshly judged by other people. Judy Eaton (Psychology) wants to understand why.

With SSHRC Insight Grant funding, Eaton will examine how and why uninvolved third parties judge victims, especially when victims respond to injustice in unexpected ways. Her research will also determine whether there are moderating conditions that might sway attitudes in a more consistently positive way.

Most of Eaton’s previous research has focused on forgiveness in interpersonal conflicts, but in the context of crime, her work takes on added significance. Third parties can include judges, juries and the media who are in a position to influence the administration of justice.

Added scrutiny from the general public, such as vitriolic comments on news articles, can also be detrimental to victims.

“Victims may want to forgive and move on but feel pressure not to, putting them in a situation where they must balance their own healing processes with the expectations of others,” says Eaton.

Headshot of Amar Ghelani

Treating young people with cannabis-induced psychosis

Amar Ghelani, who is pursuing a PhD in Social Work, was awarded the Hilary M. Weston Scholarship by the Government of Ontario. The scholarship will support Ghelani’s research about the effects of cannabis consumption on young people with mental illness, including better treatment options for youth experiencing cannabis-induced psychotic episodes.

“There is substantial evidence that cannabis can trigger or exacerbate symptoms of psychosis or schizophrenia in young people who are genetically predisposed to these illnesses, have a history of trauma or frequently use high-dose cannabis,” says Ghelani.

Throughout his career as a social worker, which has included work in shelters, addiction treatment facilities and prisons, Ghelani has regularly counselled young people struggling with cannabis-induced psychosis or schizophrenia, yet who continue to actively use the drug. After observing that the health-care system is not adequately treating these individuals, Ghelani was inspired to study the factors that motivate regular cannabis use in order to find more effective strategies.

“We need to make it clear how our services can help them and be more open to harm-reduction options,” he says.

Headshot of Mark Eys 

Sports team dynamics

Mark Eys (Kinesiology and Physical Education, Psychology) published two books in 2020.

In collaboration with his former doctoral students Alex Benson and Blair Evans, Eys co-authored the fifth edition of Group Dynamics in Sport. The trio updated the book with the field’s latest theories and practices, intending it to serve as an introduction for upper-year undergraduate and graduate students.

“My work looks at how athletes understand what’s expected of them, how they can contribute to the team and how satisfied they are in their roles,” says Eys. “When those role perceptions are positive, people tend to want to stay in a group. Cohesive teams have a greater chance of being successful.”

Eys also turned his lens toward younger athletes, co-authoring The Power of Groups in Youth Sport with Mark Bruner and Luc Martin. He says the youth context is significantly different due to factors such as parental involvement, developing identities and bullying.

“If young athletes can feel like their role is important, they are more likely to stick with their team and, in the long term, stick with sports,” says Eys.

Governance and Policy

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The Death of Asylum

Alison Mountz (Geography and Environmental Studies), the Canada Research Chair in Global Migration, published a book titled The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago. Based on years of research in offshore detention facilities, Mountz documents how countries in the Global North are increasingly using remote detention centres to detain migrants who are travelling to seek asylum. The Death of Asylum won the American Association of Geographers Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography.

Economics of crime

Antonella Mancino (Economics) studies the economics of crime, labour economics and education. A growing number of prisoner re-entry programs have been developed to improve the labour market outcomes of individuals with criminal records and ease their transitions back into the community. With funding from a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, Mancino aims to quantify the effects of participating in prison-based programming on both short- and long-term employment and whether or not former prisoners return to crime.

Ethnic diversity on corporate boards

While completing her PhD in Financial Economics, Olga Kanj studied how ethnic diversity of board members impacted risk management and performance for Canadian insurance companies. She found that boards with greater ethnic diversity implement less risky strategies and yield higher returns on revenue and investments. Kanj argues that diversity disclosure requirements are a positive step toward stronger corporate governance and longevity.

The influence of shareholders

Daniel Waeger (Policy) was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Corporate Governance. His research is focused on the often-conflicting interactions between a company’s board of directors and its shareholder activists, and how both parties try to influence the broader shareholder base to support their respective positions.

“In recent years, shareholders have earned new powers to influence issues such as executive compensation,” says Waeger. “Yet most shareholders generally vote in line with a company’s board of directors, and so much remains to be done for shareholders to use their powers effectively and become a truly independent voice in corporate governance.

"Good corporate governance is seen to have economic value, so lack of participation by shareholders should be concerning to the general public. Virtually every adult in Canada is a shareholder in publicly listed firms, at the very least through government funds or pension plans.”

Waeger is analyzing how the strategic communication of boards and shareholders affect voting outcomes at annual meetings. He expects the research will have implications for policymakers.

Headshot of Daniel Waeger

Laurier Early Career Researcher Awards

Laurier honoured Erin Dej, Maritt Kirst and Lindie Liang with Early Career Researcher Awards in recognition of their exceptional contributions to research and student training.

Dej (Criminology) focuses on systemic inequity. Her research examines how people who are homeless are excluded from the world around them through criminalization and dehumanizing social interactions with others.

“The human right to housing was made into law in Canada in 2019, but housing on its own isn’t enough for some people who are homeless,” says Dej. “We also need to make sure that people who have experienced homelessness are meaningfully involved in the community and that they feel accepted and welcome in their own neighbourhood and city.”

Kirst (Community Psychology) is focused on developing solutions to the issues of homelessness, mental illness, and inequitable access to health-care and social services.

“I am leading a research demonstration project in which we are evaluating the effectiveness of a ‘Housing First’ program for youth ages 16 to 24 who are experiencing homelessness and co-occurring mental health and substance use problems,” says Kirst. “It seeks to determine whether first providing housing along with integrated mental health and addiction services is more effective than providing traditional services for this population.”

Liang (Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management) focuses on three overlapping areas: leadership, workplace aggression and emotions. She applies motivational theories to understand when and why employees behave in certain ways.

“My research addresses how mindfulness can benefit organizations by curbing the dysfunctional workplace behaviour of leaders,” says Liang. “I have also examined why having an abusive boss is associated with employee health problems and why victims of abusive supervision retaliate against their supervisors.”

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Indigeneity, Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

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NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering

Shohini Ghose (Physics and Computer Science) was awarded the NSERC Ontario Chair for Women in Science and Engineering. An accomplished quantum physicist whose current research focuses on quantum information science, Ghose is the founder of the Laurier Centre for Women in Science. The five-year chair appointment will provide Ghose with significant research funding and a network of collaborators across Canada as she works to develop and implement a communication and networking strategy to enhance opportunities for women in science and engineering.

Senior leadership toward Indigenization

Darren Thomas was appointed the inaugural associate vice-president of Indigenous Initiatives. As the most senior Indigenous leader at Laurier, Thomas will provide strategic advice, support and expertise to academic and administrative units across the institution to achieve goals related to Indigeneity, including creating an environment of cultural safety for Indigenous faculty, staff, students and visitors. He will also further engage and strengthen partnerships with Indigenous communities and spearhead the development of an institution-wide Indigenization strategy.

Remote learning in racialized communities

Ardavan Eizadirad (Education) received a Partnership Engage Grant in SSHRC’s COVID-19 Special Initiative competition to address the widening achievement gap faced by students in racialized and under-resourced communities as a result of COVID-19. Together with the Youth Association for Academics, Athletics and Character Education, a not-for-profit community organization that engages Toronto children and youth in culturally relevant extracurricular programming, Eizadirad is studying how to support the remote-learning needs of students in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood.

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Honoured for EDI efforts

Ciann L. Wilson (Community Psychology) was awarded the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ (OCUFA) 2020-21 Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction. The award celebrates OCUFA members whose work has contributed meaningfully to the advancement of university faculty and staff who belong to historically marginalized groups.

Wilson is a co-director of the Laurier Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action, and has dedicated herself to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) efforts at Laurier and in the community at large. She serves on a university committee working to implement the federal government’s Dimensions EDI Charter and was recently appointed to the Region of Waterloo’s Anti-Racism Working Group.

Wilson’s current research is focused on the histories and well-being of mixed Indigenous-Black communities in Canada, as well as evidence-based sexual health interventions for young Black women. She is co-leading the first national strategy to develop an ethics protocol for research, data collection and evaluation involving Black communities and co-editing a book that highlights the urgent need for such protocols in the age of big data, artificial intelligence and surveillance.

Headshot of Kathleen Clarke

Accessibility for students with disabilities

Kathleen Clarke (Education) is partnering with the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) to examine the virtual-learning experiences of graduate students with disabilities. She was awarded a Partnership Engage Grant in SSHRC’s COVID-19 Special Initiative competition to fund her efforts.

In response to concerns about the negative impacts of remote learning on accessibility and the ability to provide appropriate learning accommodations, Clarke’s research team aims to identify potential barriers to accommodation and champion innovative best practices that have emerged throughout the pandemic.

“There is a growing awareness of the complexity of providing accommodations at the graduate level, which often must be tailored to academic requirements that are more self-directed,” says Clarke. “It is therefore important to obtain a greater understanding of the unique academic experiences of graduate students with disabilities prior to, during and after the pandemic.”

NEADS is a charitable organization that supports education and employment needs for disabled postsecondary students across Canada. Its representatives have disabilities themselves and can therefore provide intellectual leadership based on their lived experiences.

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Recognizing Indigenous histories

What makes a site or person nationally significant? Whose history is worth preserving?

Cody Groat, a PhD candidate in History, is tackling those complex questions in his analysis of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) and its integration of Indigenous history and culture into the official national narrative.

“My research looks at how Indigenous perceptions of significant sites and events have been understood or, more commonly, ignored by this federal body over the past 100 years,” says Groat.

HSMBC, which is composed of representatives from each province and territory and two government historians, has the authority to designate a site, event or person of national historic significance.

In addition to visiting designated sites such as Serpent Mounds Park to hear the perspectives of Indigenous stewards, Groat has spent the past four years reading all recorded minutes from HSMBC meetings dating back to 1919. He is also consulting the personal papers of past board members and interviewing current ones.

“I am looking at how these systems need to be adapted to better recognize Indigenous ways of knowing,” says Groat.

Business, Technology and Innovation

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Emergency relief during COVID-19 pandemic

Tammy Schirle (Economics) has been a key resource to journalists and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic as they try to understand its unprecedented effects on the labour market. She was also consulted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for her advice on emergency relief strategies. Over the course of the pandemic, Schirle has been examining monthly employment reports to determine which groups are most affected and how government programs can better support emerging needs.

Predicting risk factors for cancer

David Soave (Mathematics) has been collaborating with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research analyzing patient data to identify novel factors that contribute to disease. Using genomic information, he is developing statistical models to predict cancer risk in healthy individuals and to understand how cancer progresses. Establishing risk models can lead to improved screening and treatment for patients. Soave’s current focus is on breast and prostate cancers, following healthy individuals over time and correlating outcomes with their genetic profiles.

Consumer attitudes toward AI

In an age when people have become accustomed to yelling "Hey Siri!" there is much to learn about how companies can best use artificial intelligence (AI) to engage with their customers. Claudia Iglesias, a PhD candidate in Management, is investigating how interacting with AI using voice versus text shapes consumer attitudes. She is focusing on the challenge of asking consumers to share personal information. 

Headshots of student researchers

COVID-19 fake news detector

Four Laurier students developed an analytical model to predict the accuracy of COVID-19-related news, which could potentially be used to help combat the spread of harmful misinformation.

They conducted their research as part of a case study competition hosted by the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute and the Statistical Society of Canada in which student researchers were invited to use publicly available COVID-19 data to develop an analytical tool or model that could be useful to decision-makers. The team, made up of Mohsen Bahremani, Daniel Berezovski and Irene Zhang, master’s students in Mathematics, and Rini Perencsik, a second-year undergraduate student in Data Science, placed second out of twenty teams in the competition.

“I believe that students learn better if they can apply their knowledge in the real world,” says Xu (Sunny) Wang (Mathematics), their mentor. “These kinds of hands-on research projects allow students to practice what they have learned and train themselves to be team players, because data science is a collaborative endeavour.”

Headshot of Christina Han

An interactive map of Brantford’s history

During the late 19th century, Brantford became an industrial hub and was home to immigrants from all walks of life. As industries shifted and factories closed in the mid-20th century, many immigrant families migrated to larger cities like Toronto and Hamilton.

Christina Han (History) is directing her research efforts toward unearthing and preserving Brantford’s diverse immigrant history. She received a SSHRC Insight Development Grant to analyze, compare and present the spatial histories of Brantford’s Armenian, Italian and Chinese communities between 1900 and 1920. Han will create a deep map, a digital, interactive representation of the city, to bring archival data and personal narratives to life.

“I think it’s really important to tell these stories and translate historical knowledge into creative and accessible formats,” says Han. She hopes the deep map she produces will further engage Brantford residents in local history through its embedded video clips, images and stories.

Headshot of Zhuoyi Zhao

Data-driven accounting

As part of a research internship funded by Mitacs, Zhuoyi Zhao, who is completing her PhD in Accounting, investigated the integration of data analytics into accounting information ecosystems. She learned how to use a popular data-analytics software called Weka, which helps users conduct functions such as predictive modelling and cluster analysis.

“Generally speaking, these new data-analytics tools have many benefits for auditors and accountants,” says Zhao. “For example, cluster analysis is particularly useful for identifying fraud cases. On the other hand, there can be challenges integrating data analytics with human decision-making.”

Zhao says that the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada now requires accounting professionals to have data-analysis skills, reinforcing the importance of building knowledge within the field.

“This is a new area of both education and research,” she says. “We need to know how these technological changes are influencing our profession and then update accounting and auditing standards to regulate people’s behaviour.”

Society, Culture and Community

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Giller Prize winner

Souvankham Thammavongsa (English) won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her short story collection, How to Pronounce Knife. The book focuses on characters who are struggling to make a living, many of whom are immigrants. Thammavongsa was also appointed the inaugural Laurier Stedman Fellow for a period of three years. The fellowship will allow the university to bring Canadian artists of international calibre to Brantford and area, boosting arts and culture in the region.

Orchestral scholarship

Kira Omelchenko (Music) is the conductor of the Laurier Symphony Orchestra. She has conducted professional orchestras and operas across the globe in countries such as Russia, Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy and the United States. That experience informs her research and creative scholarship, which includes honing the art of gestural communication and collaborating with local Indigenous composers and musicians on new compositions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Omelchenko produced, designed and directed a virtual performance series for the Laurier Symphony Orchestra.

Research in Ghana

Robert Ame (Human Rights and Criminology) has largely focused his research on systemic issues in his home country of Ghana. In recent years, he has examined a diverse range of subjects including the Ghana National Reconciliation Commission and how to develop a sustainable Ghanian juvenile justice system. Ame is currently completing a SSHRC-funded study which examines the impact of International Service Learning programs on host communities in the Global South. He is using Laurier’s student mobility partnership with Ghanian organizations as a case study.

Headshot of Jane Newland

Applying French philosophy to children’s stories

Jane Newland’s (French) research has always straddled two areas: children’s literature and the work of Gilles Deleuze, a contemporary French philosopher. In 2020, she fused both passions in a new book, Deleuze in Children’s Literature.

Newland, chair of the Department of Languages and Literatures, explored how Deleuzian concepts can enhance and invigorate our readings of children’s texts. She focused on authors who fascinated Deleuze such as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Lewis Carroll.

While some scholars view Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as a story of disempowerment, Newland argues that reading it through a Deleuzian lens allows us to see Alice asserting herself and to rethink our perceptions of childhood.

“When Alice is in Wonderland, she experiences a suspended, dream-like time,” says Newland. “She grows up, she grows down, and we sort of do that too on our own trajectories. We have moments when we progress, we regress, and so on. I think it’s fascinating what Deleuze can tell us about time: that we don’t have to accept a unidirectional progression toward a rigid, predefined adulthood.”

Headshots of Gohar Ashoughian and Sara Matthews

Analyzing Canada’s Cold War history

In 2014, Sara Matthews (Global Studies) took a trip to The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, a four-story underground structure that was previously the site of Canada’s emergency government during the 1960s. She discovered that its collection of Canadian Cold War materials – including film strips, declassified government documents, audio recordings and educational pamphlets – was vast, unpreserved and unexamined.

“It has an amazing collection, but it is a small, non-profit museum that lacks the resources to professionally maintain and mobilize its materials,” says Matthews.

Together with Gohar Ashoughian, Laurier’s university librarian, Matthews secured a Partnership Engage Grant from SSHRC to develop a digital strategy for the Diefenbunker, including plans to make Cold War civil defence materials accessible through a digital museum project. Ashoughian intends to repurpose the model for future digital humanities research at Laurier.

The research team is currently building the first phase of the digital museum project, which will launch with an exhibition of civil defence propaganda posters from the 1950s featuring illustrated characters Bea Alerte and Justin Case.

“The themes of securitization and individual preparedness are still timely as we face new ‘threats’ like climate change and a global pandemic,” says Matthews.

Headshot of Kelly Gallagher-Mackay

Impact of school closures on students

Kelly Gallagher-Mackay (Law and Society) was selected by the provincial government’s Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table to lead the development of a scientific brief on the educational impacts of COVID-19. In March 2021, Gallagher-MacKay and a team of Ontario researchers synthesized international evidence showing school disruptions have a significant and highly inequitable impact on students, parents and society.

“Globally, there is a growing body of evidence that COVID-19 school closures cause students to lose ground academically,” says Gallagher-Mackay.

Research suggests that, on average, youth are two or three months behind where they would be at this time due to the impacts of COVID-19.

“The loss of structure and supports is bad for students’ physical and mental health, especially those with disabilities,” says Gallagher-Mackay. “We also highlighted the long-term economic effects associated with large disruptions to schooling.”

Lost learning and skills for this cohort of students could lead to a reduction in national GDP of $1.6 trillion dollars – the equivalent of one year’s GDP today – and reduced lifetime earnings.

View from an Alumna

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Nicole Burns (BA '16, MA '20)


In Memoriam

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Honouring Glen Carruthers

Glen Carruthers transformed Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Music during his 10 years as dean, implementing programs and initiatives that put the institution at the forefront of music education in Canada. Through all of the changes, he always put students first.

Carruthers worked to make music education accessible to more students through the establishment of Laurier’s Bachelor of Music in Community Music and Master of Arts in Community Music. He expanded opportunities for students through partnerships with Conestoga College and Randolph College for the Performing Arts, as well as within Laurier through collaboration with the Faculty of Education.

Carruthers also worked to bring music to the community by negotiating the transfer of the Beckett School of Music, which provides music lessons to children and adults, to Laurier. He helped establish Laurier as the summer home of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

To better meet students’ needs, Carruthers reimagined the Faculty of Music’s space on Laurier’s Waterloo campus and helped launch the Making Space for Music campaign to turn the vision into reality. The result of those efforts – a renovation of the university’s Faculty of Music building – is tentatively scheduled to begin the summer of 2022.

Carruthers was a productive musicology scholar, publishing more than 100 articles and speaking at countless international conferences over the course of his career. His master’s thesis, “The Career and Compositions of S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté,” was the first comprehensive study of the composer’s life and works and remains a standard reference work to this day. Most recently, Carruthers contributed an article entitled “The Borders are Open: Community Music in Higher Education” to the book Community Music at the Boundaries, edited by his Laurier colleague, Lee Willingham.

Carruthers passed away on Dec. 24, 2020 at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer. He left a lasting legacy at Laurier and within the Canadian music community.

Headshot of Glen Caruthers