VIU Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity

2024 Research and Creative Activity Symposium

Date: Friday, April 26
Time: 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Building 210/R275

Join this celebration and showcase of scholarship, research, and creative activity at Vancouver Island University.

The day will begin with a panel presentation on transformative learning through research moderated by Dr. Nicole Vaugeois, Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies. Throughout the day VIU employees will share the projects that they are pursuing in 15-minute presentations and poster presentations.

This is a great way to learn about the many and varied projects underway and to identify potential collaborators who share your interests. The day is designed to allow individuals to join sessions of interest. Check out the program and join us for as much as you can.

Register for the Symposium


Time Event

8:30 am


Networking and refreshments

8:45 am

R 275

Welcome by VIU Elder Uncle Randy Fred

9:00 am

R 275

Plenary panel: Transformative Learning Through Research
With Aggie Weighill, Professor, Recreation & Tourism; Dan Baker, Professor, Fisheries and Aquaculture; Jamie Gorrell, Professor, Biology, Sylvie Lafreniere, Professor, Sociology, Andrew Loudon, Professor, Biology

Moderated by Dr. Nicole Vaugeois, Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies

VIU’s Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity plan prioritizes student research resulting in over 3000 experiences in 2023. According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, VIU scores higher than the BC average for creating High Impact Practices (HIP) such as research. For example, 50% of our first-year students reported engaging in one or more HIP experiences compared to 40% of BC’s first-year students, and 57% of our senior students reported that they engaged in two or more experiences. We know from the literature that when students engage in research, they receive numerous benefits such as deeper level and longer-lasting learning, independent and collaborative working skills, creative thinking, confidence, and an ability to translate learning into practical, real-life applications. For these reasons, we want VIU students to have access to research opportunities early and often. Learn from VIU faculty who have created ways to engage students in research in their classes, in capstone courses, in independent projects and as research assistants on their projects. You will leave with a better understanding of the benefits of research for student learning and ideas about how to create these opportunities in your program.

10:00 am


Refreshment break

10:20 am

R260, 270 & 275



Leigh Blaney

Presentation: The Research F-Word (Failure): The Temptation to Sanitize, and the Value of Sharing a Colossal Fail

This presentation is a follow-up to last year’s symposium presentation called Firefighter Edge: Game-based Resilience (GBL) Education for Firefighters, which was an overly optimistic presentation of preliminary outcomes of our research. This year we will tell the ‘real story’ of research into GBL for firefighters.

Building on previous research into the effectiveness of resilience education on the resilience scores of firefighters (higher resilience scores are correlated to better overall mental health), Firefighter Edge examined whether GBL as a teaching/learning method impacted resilience scores, and firefighter thinking and behaviour. It seemed that it did, and that’s what we presented last year. However, with a deeper dive into the qualitative and quantitative data, it became evident that there were significant ‘fails’ in the game and in the project. Research failures aren’t often discussed or capitalized upon; they are entirely missed, cautiously interpreted, or spun to minimize perception of ‘fail’. Braun and Sousa (2020) note that ‘prevailing research cultures…systemically stigmatize, ignore and waste research failures’ (p. 2). Today we will talk about our fails, what we learned, and where we go next in our health research.

Kyle Duncan

Presentation: Expanding Our Mass Spectrometry Imaging Toolbox to Study In-situ Tissue Metabolism

Nanospray desorption electrospray ionization (nano-DESI) is a powerful mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) modality that generates quantitative maps of small molecule metabolites in thin tissue sections under ambient conditions. Since nano-DESI was introduced in 2010, there have been significant advances to the sampling and ionization source design, achievable spatial resolution, and breadth of detectable metabolites. Recently, dopants such as silver ions and ammonium fluoride in the nano-DESI solvent have been employed to enhance the sensitivity and selectivity of targeted lipid and metabolite classes. Herein, we uncover the advantages of doping lithium ions into the nano-DESI solvent. Using lithium doped nano-DESI we describe a significant expansion of observable metabolites and reveal unique structurally diagnostic MS/MS product ions for metabolite isomers. Lithium cationization enables positive ionization of metabolites typically detected in negative ion mode. Using a model complex mixture, we observed many endogenous compounds as intense [M+Li]+ adducts including small organic acids, amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, monoacylglycerols, diacylglycerols, triacylglycerols, and phospholipids in a single mass spectra. Interestingly, we also found that prostaglandins (PG) displayed intense [M+Li]+ peaks. Further investigation of [prostaglandin+Li]+ ions with MS/MS revealed diagnostic ions for both PGE2 and PGD2, two of the most abundant species in biology. Therefore, adding lithium significantly expanded the range of metabolites detected in a single mass spectra and enabled MS/MS detection of isomers. Overall, the ion images generated with lithium doped nano-DESI demonstrated increased sensitivity for a broad range of metabolites, which resulted in more dynamic ion images throughout the tumor tissues analyzed.

Alan Gilchrist

Presentation: Water Stress on Vancouver Island

Water is essential for life on Earth and humans rely on water circulating through the environment in a water cycle to supply their needs. Water stress is becoming increasingly common around the world either because human water use is increasing, due to population growth and development, or natural supply is diminishing due to factors such as climate change. Water stress is evident on Vancouver Island by increasing levels of drought and restrictions placed on human water use during the summer.

The research presented here is a culmination of many years of work, building a numerical model to explain the current balance of water in Vancouver Island watersheds and how it will likely evolve due to anthropogenic-driven global climate change. The model projects that as temperatures warm and precipitation becomes more seasonal (wetter in winter), snowpack will decrease in winter, more irrigation will be required for agriculture in summer, and rivers will have extended periods of low flows in summer. The amount of global climate change depends upon the trajectory of future greenhouse gas emissions, which drive different levels of anthropogenic warming. The projected changes will generally increase and extend summer water stress linked to the degree of warming, which will require careful management as the population continues to rise in Island communities.

Liz Hammond-Kaarremaa

Presentation: A Two-eyed Approach to Researching The Coast Salish Woolly Dog

Coast Salish Oral History has always spoken of the Woolly Dog, carefully bred and raised for its wool, yet visitors and settlers questioned the origins of the dog, questioned the use of dog wool in blankets, and created narratives surrounding the disappearance of the breed. This research project helped dispel some of the colonial thinking that created those false narratives.

Brianna Heese

Presentation: Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring of Florfenicol on BC Tenacibaculum Isolates

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that “antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a One Health issue that affects food safety and the health of humans, animals, plants and the environment.” AMR monitoring programs are commonly implemented in terrestrial animal agriculture production. Resulting AMR data can then be utilized to better manage and monitor the emergence of resistant bacterial strains and subsequently help sustain healthy ecosystems. Florfenicol (FFC) is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial used only in veterinary medicine to treat disease in both terrestrial and aquatic animals. In Coho and Atlantic salmon production systems, FFC is used to treat bacterial diseases including tenacibaculosis caused by the Gram negative, ubiquitous marine bacteria Tenacibaculum maritimum (T.mar). Using microdilution minimum inhibitory concentration assays to evaluate antimicrobial susceptibility and resistance to FFC, we are collecting T.mar isolates from BC-raised salmonids and studying potential FFC susceptibility and resistance trends over time. Results currently suggest minimal to no antimicrobial resistance identified or developed among the collected isolates. Results of this research will advance our understanding of Tenacibaculum spp. diversity, florfenicol susceptibility, and treatment efficacy in British Columbia. This work is important for monitoring and improving ecosystem health and critical for identifying novel ways to improve fish survival and welfare by reducing the occurrence and severity of T.mar – related disease outbreaks.

Melissa Huggan

Presentation: Damaging Graphs

Pursuit-evasion game theorists study adversarial situations on networks (also called graphs). Typically, these situations are modelled as two-player games on graphs, where one player is a threat and the other is a pursuer who is trying to capture the threat.

This talk will give a brief introduction of pursuit-evasion game theory. We will highlight recent research where the threat is damaging the graph and the goal of the pursuer is to minimize the damage. This is joint work with Margaret-Ellen Messinger and Amanda Porter.

Richard J. Lane

Presentation: AI Cognitive Advantage: Human-Machine Collaboration for AI-Empowered Research and Development

While opponents of AI’s tend to fear fully automated intelligence, the current AI cognitive advantage is being delivered through augmented intelligence, where human-machine/AI collaboration (HMC) involves partnership and guided decision-making. HMC is currently exponentially accelerating R&D cycles, demonstrated in this presentation with our current MeTA DH Lab machine learning application being co-created through AI prompt engineering and the intersection of thought and demand-led research streams. Academic researchers are categorized as high exposure, high complementarity (the IMF's categorizing approach to HMC), in which intellectual work is most at risk from innovations in AI, and yet, they may also gain the most positive benefits of AI partnership, productivity and cognitive edge, including the ability to develop in highly competitive and unpredictable directions, giving intellectual strategic advantages over adversaries and competitors. In other words, the current technological revolution is taking place at a time of global adversarial actions and events, including traditional warfare, cyberwarfare, digital misinformation campaigns in electoral cycles, and a whole host of associated challenges and problems, such as AI hallucination, alongside malicious techniques of AI poisoning, Evasion and Extraction and Inference Attacks (to use the Centre for Emerging Technology and Security’s categories). We will examine the tension between ethical leadership and policy, such as that articulated by the Bletchley Declaration emerging from the AI Safety Summit (UK, 2023), with the pros and cons of unfettered and innovative exponential AI development. Also, “white box” versus “black box” understanding of AI processes will be contextualized in relation to the big data challenges encountered in the MeTA DH Lab’s recent machine learning and data analysis projects. We will explain these terms by demonstrating how we are using HMC to “design cognitive tools into workflows” (Carter, Cognitive Advantage, 2021), and vice versa: turning workflows into fully coded cognitive tools.

Luis Meneses

Presentation: Cultural Coding Recapture: Solutions for Online Project Preservation in the Digital Humanities

A large portion of the research in the digital humanities is published as a companion website, which is usually referred to as an online project. As online research outputs, these projects are at risk of degrading and disappearing if they don’t receive updates in their content and infrastructure. This is not a problem that involves just two states, but one that gradually occurs. Thus, the degradation of online projects is a complex problem, often understated and misunderstood.

While recommendations are in place for creating stable and long-lasting resources (for example, UVic’s Endings Project), they can be difficult and problematic to implement for projects that have been running for some years. For example, the Online Picasso Project consists of a complex system of interrelated databases which include information collected from thousands of records detailing artworks and texts pertaining to academic commentaries, events, people, dates, and places related to Pablo Picasso. This case study focusses on parsing and exporting the records describing artworks, biographical records, and academic references.

This study has three conclusions. First, generating flat files to preserve the scholarly output from an existing project is possible, and that the programming intensive tasks can be assisted with computer-aided software engineering. Second, generating outputs in multiple formats (HTML, XML, etc.) can help future-proof the scholarly output of an online project. Finally, the methodology can be applied to other online projects without institutional support that are also at risk of disappearing, for example, research on minorities and underrepresented groups. Therefore, this study aims to provide insights and preservation strategies that could be applied to other similar complex projects in the digital humanities that combine visual and textual materials, preventing their degradation and decay.

Joseph Nowlan

Presentation: Predictors of Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha W.) Smoltification in British Columbia (Canada) Aquaculture

Smoltification and designations of smolt-status is a crucial transition and practice in salmon aquaculture respectively. However, most information on these topics is based on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss W.), while less information is available for Pacific salmon. With Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha W.) being a valuable aquaculture species in British Columbia (Canada), developing novel techniques such as reverse-transcriptase qPCR (RT-qPCR) assays may assist designations of smolt-status in production and conservation fish. Novel techniques to clarify Chinook salmon smolt status could improve survival and growth when transferred to marine waters. Two production groups (spring and fall) of Chinook salmon were collected monthly from freshwater to saltwater entry. Fish were evaluated using classical techniques (i.e., condition factor, ATPase activity, parr marks, silvering, and black fin margins) and three developed RT-qPCR assays (NKA α1a, NKA α1b, and NKCC). The inclusion of RT-qPCR assays along with other techniques explained significant variation between collections in freshwater and saltwater for both production groups. The application of RT-qPCR also led to the interpretation of desmoltification within the fall production group based on the reduced expression of target genes prior to saltwater transfer and increased mortality post-saltwater transfer. A decrease in ATPase activity for both production groups contradict what is classically seen as salmon enter saltwater, indicating that genetic applications may also help alleviate anomalous enzymatic results. In conjunction with previous techniques, developed assays may further clarify smolt status and improve fish welfare.

Sally Vinden

Presentation: TVET - Fit for the Future: An Exploration of British Columbia’s TVET Instructors’ Perceptions that Shape their Curriculum Choices

My research lives where curriculum and pedagogy collide within Trades, Vocational, Education and Training (TVET) classrooms in British Columbia (BC). Despite the heavily standardized skilled trades curriculum aligned with the Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS), TVET instructors navigate the space daily between the prescribed curriculum and the lived curriculum in their teaching and learning environments. Using Q Methodology, I investigated TVET instructors’ perceptions, values, and beliefs that shape their pedagogical decisions. This study revealed four distinct perspectives clustered into a four-factor solution. Two significant findings were gleaned. Firstly, tensions arise from the theoretical foundation of competency-based education and training (CBET) conflicting with the curricular beliefs of three participant groups. Secondly, the differing perspectives within one group are theoretically at odds with those of other groups, leading to inconsistencies and divisions within this education system. These findings provide a framework to support and guide 1) TVET hiring practices and 2) the design of TVET-specific Teaching and Learning opportunities. By understanding the nuanced decisions made by instructors between the prescribed curriculum and the lived curriculum, institutions can intentionally develop future-ready teams and better support instructors to deliver effective, future-centred education.