Research Matters blog: A look ahead

Greetings.

Patchen Barss here, Managing Editor of the Research Matters website and blog. We’ve been at this for a couple of years now, and I thought it might be time to say hello, and thank you for reading.

Even if you’ve been with us for a while, you might still be wondering, “What is Research Matters?” Fair question, given that there isn’t really anything else quite like it. Here’s the deal: Ontario is home to 21 publicly funded universities. Each of those universities has a Vice President of Research. For years, these VPs have met on a regular basis to trade ideas, discuss emerging fields of research and allow each individual institution to become part of a larger community of Ontario researchers.

This community in itself is unusual: universities compete – for funding, professors and students. But big and small universities alike are increasingly finding that their greatest gains come through collaboration rather than competition. Ontario happens to be ahead of the game on this front.

Research Matters emerged from that cooperative culture: it’s a public outreach campaign that serves not just a single community or city, but reaches out to all Ontarians. This might not seem so surprising – after all, the university system relies on Ontario taxes, and universities are therefore accountable to Ontarians. Nevertheless, no region in Canada, and possibly no region in the world, has ever achieved this kind of deep multi-institutional cooperation on a public outreach initiative.

Research Matters has entered its third year. It’s a multi-platform initiative, designed to give as many entry points as possible into Ontario university research. Today, I wanted to tell you specifically about the plans for the Research Matters blog over the coming year.

(At least) once each month, we’ll release a series of daily blog posts based on a certain theme. The themes we’ve chosen all relate to everyday life – to come up with ideas, we combed newspaper sections, bookstore departments and popular magazines. Starting tomorrow, we’re going to kick things of with the theme, “Your Health.” Of course, this being university research, you’ll get more than just fitness and diet tips – we’ll bring you some of the latest ideas, technologies and theories that are shaping how we understand personal health.

In September, the Research Matters blog goes Shopping. In October, we’re going to explore Spirituality and Personal Belief. We’ve got other sections planned on Business, Better Homes and Gardens, Style, Travel, Romance and more.

We hope you find the blog interesting, useful and fun. We hope you’ll stick around and see what we’ve got on offer this year. And if you want to send us a note and let us know what you think, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line at yourontarioresearch@cou.on.ca

Thanks again for reading.

Patchen Barss
Managing Editor

 

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Blog Posts

2016 Women’s Health Scholars

Alex Hughes | June 22, 2016

Ten outstanding Ontario university scholars are being recognized for potentially life-changing research for women in Ontario and across the globe, as they look to develop health care in the areas such as HIV-care, contraceptives, and breast cancer. The Council of Ontario Universities, with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care introduced the Ontario Women’s Health Scholars Awards in 2001 to ensure that Ontario attracts and retains pre-eminent women’s health scholars.  The awards aim to improve women’s health. The 2016 recipients include postdoctoral, doctoral and master’s students from six Ontario universities. They each will receive scholarships of $25,000 to $50,000, along with research grants of $1,000 to $5,000. This year’s recipients and their areas of research are: Alisa Grigorovich, University of Toronto – how to create effective policies that address the sexual harassment of female workers by clients in Ontario residential long-term facilities. Jocelyn Wessels, McMaster University – how female sex hormones found in contraceptives affect vaginal health and susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections. Lori Chambers, McMaster University – the challenges and benefits to African immigrant women who are living with HIV and choose to work in prevention, treatment and advocacy for others with HIV. Komal Shaikh, York University – assessing the effects of education-based therapy in treating and rehabilitating cancer survivors with cancer-related cognitive dysfunction. Amanda D. Timmers, Queen’s University – how sexual arousal patterns vary across genders and how these variations can inform the treatment of sexual dysfunction. Kelly Coons, Laurentian University – how to improve the ability of future health care professionals to counsel pregnant women on drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Sara King-Dowling, McMaster University – how the development of girls’ motor skills affects their overall health and activity levels over time. Denise Jaworsky, University of Toronto – how living in rural and Northern areas of Canada affects the ability of women living with HIV to access care. Justin Michael, Western University – developing tools to allow for a single-visit radiation treatment for women with breast cancer to make things easier for those living far from treatment facilities. Shira Yufe, York University – how to encourage breast cancer survivors to adopt healthy lifestyle and weight management habits. Each of the researchers has spent countless hours studying topics related to women’s health and improving the lives of women in Ontario.  Their research (full descriptions available here) will contribute to the way that Ontarians (and the global community) live, work and play.  Congratulations are in order to the award recipients! Stay Curious!

Closing the cancer gap ...

Pippa Wysong | June 17, 2016

First Nations women are up to 20 times more likely to develop cervical cancer compared to women in the general Canadian population, largely because very few First Nations women undergo Pap testing. But a project focusing on this population is coming up with new ways to improve screening and help get cancer rates down. read more »

Rewriting Ottawa’s history

Chris Cline | June 13, 2016

New evidence shows an extensive Indigenous burial ground from as early as 4,900 years ago at “Hull Landing,” the present site of the Canadian Museum of History, directly across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill. The find came to light last year thanks to the research of Carleton University journalism professor Randy Boswell and Canadian Museum of History curator, Jean-Luc Pilon. While Bytown antiquarian Edward Van Cortlandt first investigated the site in 1843, knowledge of the burial ground’s true location was lost for more than a century. That is, until Boswell's recent series of discoveries in 19th-century Ottawa newspaper archives. read more »
university classroom

Calling out racism in ...

Sharon Oosthoek | June 7, 2016

Growing up in Northern Ontario as a member of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, Sheila Cote-Meek is no stranger to the impact of Canada's colonial history. So when she set out to study colonized classrooms for her PhD dissertation — published as a book in 2014 — she had a good idea of the kind of stories she would hear from  university students and professors. Still, even she was taken aback: "I was shocked and saddened that in this day and age,  students still have to deal with racism in overt and covert ways," she recalls. read more »

Mapping Métis fur ...

Sharon Oosthoek | June 1, 2016

Most Canadians would identify Louis Riel as the country's best known Métis person. Manitoba's charismatic founder and leader of a Confederation-era resistance movement against the federal government, Riel sought to preserve his people's rights and culture in the west. But the Great Lakes region is home to another important Métis population whose history is less well-known. The University of Ottawa's Brenda Macdougall is shedding light on this group through an unusual historical analysis. read more »
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