An end to infection?
November 19, 2013
For medical microbiologist and What Matters Now London participant Ana Sanchez, the day will come when parasite infections will be found only in the history books.
Right now, some 900 million people live with roundworm infections worldwide. But a concerted global movement is underway to tackle roundworm infections and other tropical neglected diseases (TND) affecting mainly the “poorest of the poor.”
“Perhaps in a future not too far away, TNDs will be controlled or eradicated, and every time someone would be diagnosed with any of these infections, they will be on the evening news,” says Sanchez, a Community Health Sciences associate professor who studies parasitic diseases that target vulnerable populations in developing countries.
Sanchez will be sharing her insights and details of her research in a panel discussion to be presented Nov. 26 by Research Matters, an Ontario-wide campaign that connects university researchers to the broader public.
Co-ordinated by the Council of Ontario Universities, the basic premise of Research Matters is that the research that occurs at Brock and the other 20 publicly funded member universities makes a real difference in the lives of real people, here and around the world.
“There has never been a time in history when university research has been so crucial to so many pressing issues,” says the campaign’s website. “Ontario university researchers do the work that makes it possible for government, business, and community leaders to make smart, informed decisions about a huge range of issues.”
Yet, aside from the occasional headline, most people are unaware of the activities of university researchers, who “work behind the scenes, steadily progressing toward ambitious new ideas… that improve public policies and private practice, advance technology, foster a healthier, happier, more prosperous society, build communities, and generally make life more interesting.”
Each year, the campaign presents five events throughout Ontario where researchers share their work with the public. Sanchez will be speaking at the London Children’s Museum in London, Ont. Nov. 26, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Also, the Research Matters website contains stories and social media posts detailing innovative, on-the-edge research being conducted across the province in a wide range of areas.
Supporting and publicizing the Research Matters campaign at Brock University are two student ambassadors, Julia Polyck-O’Neill and Jory Korobanik.
“Universities generate the majority of research that shapes the way we live our lives,” says Polyck-O’Neill, an interdisciplinary humanities PhD student who sits on the Research and Scholarship Policy Committee.
“I’m passionate about research mainly because it promotes growth and innovation on a wide range of scales, from local to global.”
Polyck-O’Neill encourages researchers – particularly students – to plug into the bigger picture.
“Even as students, we can sometimes overlook the idea that the choices we make in our research can have an impact on our everyday surroundings,” she says.
“There is so much left to discover, and so many relevant questions our work can address that can improve our quality of life and that of others. This is why research is exciting for everyone.”
Korobanik echoes Polyck-O’Neill.
“It’s important for graduate students to break down the silos so that we’re aware of each others’ work,” says Korobanik, physics PhD student and president of the Graduate Students Association. “By raising awareness and sharing with one another, we can broaden our horizons.
“Letting undergraduates know about the good research being done here and at other universities across the province will hopefully inspire them.”
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Noreen Fagan | December 18, 2014Here’s a fun fact – Canadians eat more sushi than the Japanese. At least that’s what Mark Cleveland says, and he should know. Cleveland is a professor of marketing at Western University. His research focuses on the integration of cultures on a global scale and the effects of cosmopolitanism, which according to Cleveland is, “the cultural openness and the ability to successfully navigate between different cultural groups.” In other words, people who want to understand and experience other cultures do so by fully immersing themselves in that culture. “You want to live the life of cultural authenticity, by trying to understand the culture through that culture’s eyes,” he says. Cleveland’s interest in cultural openness started when he was a Master’s and then a Ph.D. student at Concordia University in Montreal. He started researching how new immigrants, primarily ethic minorities, adapted to Canadian culture by finding ways to combine their traditional identities, culture and values into mainstream society. “I have always believed that just because you learn another culture does not mean you give up the original culture. You can be bicultural or multicultural and the two can reinforce each other,” says Cleveland. “Not only are minorities affected by cultural exchange but the majority are as well.” Canada’s multiculturalism prompted Cleveland to extend his research into globalization, with a focus on how global cultures affect majority populations around the world. In the last decade Cleveland has conducted research in 15 to 20 countries exploring cultural exchange and cosmopolitanism. He says a person no longer has to travel abroad – although it helps – to become cosmopolitan. A person can experience different cultures in the comfort of their own home or neighbourhood, simply by watching TV, surfing the Internet, playing videos on You Tube or buying and consuming different products. “When we buy products, and types of brands and the reasons for buying them, they are like extensions of ourselves,” he says. So how do the sushi–eating Canadians fit into all of this? Cleveland believes if a person wants to experience cultural authenticity they will gear their shopping towards achieving that aim. In other words, a person is not going to go for the North American version of sushi (think Californian Roll), when they can get the real thing – think Unagi. He says there is probably a general global trend towards cultural openness as people become more educated and have more exposure to other cultures but he warns, there is another side. “A lot of people are really opposed to what is happening with Globalization and they see their culture as under threat,” says Cleveland adding that the threat is heightened when people feel insecure. If people are feeling secure in their surroundings (financially, emotionally and physically), the more open they are to cultural exchange and the more cosmopolitan they become. Being cosmopolitan however, does not mean buying local is a thing of the past; in fact what makes cosmopolitans stand out is that they strive for cultural authenticity. “The more cosmopolitan you are means you are not only interested in preserving differences but also interested in the environment, like getting the best locally,” says Cleveland. In terms of cosmopolitanism Cleveland thinks Canadians are more accepting of other cultures. “We are a new country, most of us go back two or three generations and have one or two grandparents born somewhere else. We have a more fluid identity,” he says, adding that as large cities go, Toronto is well integrated. “We are not just living in these areas dominated by our own ethic group, there are more opportunities to mix, and I think that allows us to become more open-minded.”