Three Trent researchers have been awarded roughly $960,000 in federal grants for research into how young children learn math, how same-sex couples experience stress due to threats of violence, and how major climate changes following the last Ice Age set the stage for modern civilization.
Through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grants program, Dr. Lisa Janz, adjunct graduate faculty in Anthropology, received $399,521 over five years for research into how major climate changes following the last Ice Age influenced human adaptation in ways that completely shifted human-environmental relationships; Dr. Catherine Bruce, dean of Education, received $290,736 over four years, for her research into mathematics (particularly fractions) learning for children aged four to seven; and Dr. Karen L. Blair, a Psychology professor, received $269,396 over four years for research focusing on the social determinants of mental, physical and relational health within LGBTQ2S+ populations.
“I am delighted to share in recognizing and congratulating three esteemed researchers at Trent University who were successful in their applications to the highly competitive SSHRC Insight Grants program,” said Dr. Neil Emery, vice president Research and Innovation. “The nearly $1M in SSHRC funding confirmed to advance research inquiry by Dr. Cathy Bruce, Dr. Karen Blair, and, the Office of Research & Innovation’s own research facilitator Dr. Lisa Janz, represents scholarly research in Education, Psychology and Anthropology respectively; their projects underline the impressive diversity of Trent's research endeavours.”
More information on funded Trent research projects:
- Professor Janz’s research investigates how ancient grasslands were fragmented by mass extinctions, wetland expansion and forestation following the last Ice Age. Prof. Janz’s research team includes archaeologists from the U.K., U.S.A., Canada, Mongolia and China who specialize in genetics, geology, zooarchaeology, palaeobotany, stable isotopes, and materials analysis. The group will investigate an 8,000-year-old settlement in Mongolia, where for several hundred years local groups were intensively exploiting, and possibly managing, wild cattle as a way to support one of the only known sedentary communities in Mongolia that pre-dates historic times.
- Professor Bruce’s research will focus on children from ages four to seven, as this stage of learning has a tremendous impact on student understanding in the long term. The study will examine children’s intuitive ideas about fractions, build on these ideas by designing, field-testing and implementing a fractions learning trajectory of playful visual-spatial learning opportunities, and assess the effects of these tasks on children’s understanding of rational numbers. The study builds on Prof. Bruce’s previous SSHRC-funded research, which revealed the important role of spatial reasoning in mathematics learning for young children.
- Professor Blair’s research acknowledges that despite advances in LGBTQ2S+ civil rights, many same-sex couples still feel that they do not yet have the luxury of engaging in “careless, thoughtless, tiny acts of affection” within their relationships. Instead, every experience of shared affection in public for a same-sex couple remains “calculated, deliberate, and monitored.” Within and beyond Canada’s borders, same-sex public displays of affection often serve as a catalyst for experiences of violence and even just the awareness of the potential for violence can contribute to LGBTQ2S+ individuals feeling reluctant to ‘out’ themselves by sharing affection in public. Prof. Blair’s research uses cutting-edge digital technology to help identify the extent to which momentary experiences of affection are associated with relational closeness and stress. The research will lay the groundwork for future studies that will explore interventions aimed at ensuring those in same-sex relationships are able to benefit equally from relational affection.
The funding is part of a broader SSHRC announcement of $91 million to more than 1,253 researchers from 60 different Canadian institutions, following the 2019-20 Insight Grants competition, which supports excellence in the social sciences and humanities. Funded researchers across Canada will address a wide range of topics including social media and wellbeing; how climate risks affects banks’ financial losses, liquidity and decisions related to loans; and transitional housing and permanent housing for homeless people.
About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
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