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.”
From manuscript to search ...
Guest blog by Chris Nighman | October 23, 2014Long before the advent of the Internet, and well before Gutenberg invented moveable type, medieval intellectuals devised information technologies to take advantage of a growing mass of Big Data repositories known as “manuscripts.” read more »
If you’re happy ...
Cathy Majtenyi | October 22, 2014Brock University recently launched a series of monthly podcasts covering a wide range of themes. As part of our own package of “Belief” related blog posts, Research Matters is pleased to present this exclusive interview with Brock Associate Professor of Psychology, Michael Busseri. Busseri will join two other colleagues to explore this topic in Brock’s January 2015 podcast, “What gives us a sense of wellbeing?” read more »
Lucid dreaming depends on ...
Trent University Staff | October 21, 2014New research by Trent University Oshawa Anthropology professor Roger Lohmann and graduate student Shayne Dahl indicates that cultural learning shapes the kind of awareness and control people can experience while dreaming. “Scouring the ethnographic record on dreaming for hints of lucidity under Professor Lohmann’s guidance, I found something surprising: that lucid dreaming is widely thought to have serious consequences,” said Dahl, who completed his M.A. thesis, “Knowing Means Connecting with the Source of Life: Knowledge and Ethics among Blackfoot Traditionalists” at Trent in 2012. (He is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto.) “As one of my Blackfoot informants put it, ‘You could die in your dream.’” Lohmann and Dahl’s findings were published in the 2014 collection, Lucid Dreaming: New Perspectives on Consciousness in Sleep. Lucid dreaming – waking consciousness arising during a dream – has been a hot topic of scientific research in recent years. According to Lohmann and Dahl, the common assumption that dreams are products of isolated imaginations has distorted our understanding of lucidity’s variation in form, function, and real-world outcomes. Pop culture portrayals in films such as Avatar and Inception present fantasies where lucid dreaming enables marvelous real-world powers. Many traditional and religious cultural worldviews take the relationship between waking and dream worlds as reality rather than fantasy. Lohmann’s fieldwork in Papua New Guinea among the Asabano people explored how they used dreaming as evidence for and contact with supernatural beings. “Asabano converts often told me that seeing dreams of Jesus or Heaven convinced them that what the missionary told them was true,” said Lohmann. “It struck me that they had to believe their dreams were more than figments of their own imaginations to reach that conclusion, and that I, for example, would not be convinced by the same experience because of my different cultural background.” Similarly, Dahl’s fieldwork in Alberta included encounters with Aboriginal medicine men who practiced lucid dreaming. “Shayne’s field experiences and his search of ethnographic literature brought home to us that lucid dreaming has profound potential for people who think it’s more than just a fantasy. We found that descriptions of lucid dreams are radically different in form, function, and outcome depending on the cultural assumptions of the dreamer,” said Lohmann. Their research revealed evidence that in some cultures, lucid dreaming is unknown, while in others it is a commonly taught skill. In some, lucidity is tacit rather than acknowledged, but people nevertheless believe that they actively undertake goals in their dreams. Lohmann and Dahl found that this implicitly lucid “volitional dreaming” commonly appears in ethnographic accounts of dreaming. In cultures where “generative” theory holds sway, dreaming of something is understood to cause it to happen in the waking world. This leads people to experience lucid dreams as opportunities to create or do magic. By contrast, people who believe dreams are what one sees during “soul travel” use lucid dreams as an opportunity to spiritually visit real places. “Even when we consciously disbelieve our dreams,” Dahl said, “They still affect us at a deeper, emotional level that we can’t easily control with reason.” “All of this shows that cultural dream theories are multiple, that people invoke them in complex ways, and that they are at the very core of what lucid dreaming is and what it makes possible,” said Lohmann. This story was originally published by Trent University on, July 15, 2014. Is has been edited for style, brevity and clarity and appears here with permission.
In money we trust
U of T Staff (With introduction by Patchen Barss) | October 20, 2014A few years ago, late, late at night, I was tooling around the streets of Ottawa in the back seat of a Jeep being driven by former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge. American economist and Nobel Laureate George Akerlof was riding shotgun. read more »