NSERC award recipients with Ralph Goodale, the former Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor; Thomas Chase, Provost and Vice-President (Academic); and Enikö Megyeri-Lawless, director, Engineering and Life Sciences Division, NSERC. (Photo by Rae Graham)

1University of Regina researchers are dedicated to improving the lives of people in Saskatchewan, Canada, and beyond. Their work is often bold and courageous. In May, the federal government highlighted $4,404,750 it provided to 32 of the University’s science and engineering researchers to support 33 research projects through the Canadian government’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Ralph Goodale, former Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on behalf of the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, former Minister of Science and Sport, announced this substantial funding at the University to a large crowd that included many of the NSERC award recipients.

“Research and innovation drive progress in our society. Today, I am proud to announce a significant investment in the University of Regina’s researchers to make discoveries that have the potential to solve today’s challenges, from resource extraction to water filtration. Our government is pleased to support this world-class research coming out of the University of Regina,” said Goodale.

The funding supports science and engineering researchers in many different areas, including engineering, natural sciences, psychology, geology, mathematics, and computer science. The award recipients include both faculty and students.

One of the funded researchers who spoke at the event was biologist Britt Hall, an associate professor in the Faculty of Science. Her NSERC Discovery Grant will help support her research, which looks at contaminants in the environment resulting from human impacts. She examines the environmental factors regulating mercury cycling in Prairie wetlands.

“I am so pleased to receive federal funding supporting my scholarship on understanding the impact of climate change on neurotoxic mercury in our valuable Prairie wetlands. This NSERC Discovery Grant will also provide resources that will allow me to train our next generation of scientists, increasing our capacity for research that contributes to protecting these critical wildlife habitats,” said Hall.

“Our government is pleased to support this world-class research coming out of the University of Regina."

Doctoral student Nicole Lerminiaux, recipient of the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Scholarship, is conducting research centred on understanding and fighting antibiotic resistance, which the World Health Organization calls one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.  

“NSERC support allows me to fully concentrate on my studies. As a result of being able to focus solely on my research, I’ve been able to contribute to multiple projects in bioinformatics, DNA sequencing, environmental sampling, and microscopy, as well as conduct research abroad,” says Lerminiaux.

2 A unique partnership between the University of Regina, the Government of Saskatchewan, and Statistics Canada has resulted in the opening of the Regina Research Data Centre (RRDC). 

The RRDC, located in a secure facility at the University of Regina, allows approved researchers to access confidential data sources on issues such as population, household services, and health.

“This partnership with Statistics Canada and the University of Regina represents the first time a provincial government has entered into an agreement like this,” said Correction and Policy Minister Christine Tell. “We’re proud to be part of this innovative project, and look forward to seeing how the research done through the data centre can help better inform future government policies and programs, such as the provincial Centre of Responsibility and local Hub tables.”

Having access to the data at the RRDC will enable researchers and analysts to identify common factors, gaps, and overlaps in service.

Researchers must visit Research Data Centres in person in order to access data. Prior to the opening of the RRDC, the closest Research Data Centre was housed in Saskatoon. A University of Regina researcher who previously had to make that trip is excited by the research possibilities that are now feasible thanks to the new Regina-based centre.

Economics professor Herminder Guliana speaking with reporters at the Regina Research Data Centre opening.

“The RRDC is a valuable resource for researchers in Regina as we now have access to national-level microdata in our city,” said Harminder Guliani, an associate professor of economics. “This rich data source truly opens up the possibilities for faculty and graduate student research, while having these data sets at my fingertips also means I can incorporate experiential learning into the classroom, enhancing educational opportunities for me and my students.”

Research Data Centres follow strict privacy guidelines and adhere to the Statistics Canada Act. All researchers accessing the RRDC require security screening. All data is de-identified to remove personal details. There is also a full-time Statistics Canada employee at each site to screen the information being accessed to ensure compliance with confidentiality policies and procedures.

“The RRDC is a valuable resource for researchers in Regina as we now have access to national-level microdata in our city.”

3This summer, University researchers received Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grants (IG) and Insight Development Grants (IDG) worth a total of $688,755.

Rebecca Genoe from the Faculty of Kinesiology received an IG to research innovation in retirement transitions among baby boomers. This longitudinal exploration will study the effect of new leisure activities on baby boomers' quality of life.

IG recipients Jeanne Shami from the English department and Anne James from Luther College will focus their research on early modern manuscript sermons and sermon notes with the goal of building a community of shared scholarly interest with access to a comprehensive database.

Luther College assistant professor Kaila Bruer received an IDG to research the process of questioning children in Canadian courtrooms. These findings will aid Bruer in developing an educational program for attorneys on how to question child witnesses.

Christine Massing from the Faculty of Education received an IDG to study cultural teaching and care practices of immigrant early childhood educators and newcomer families in partnership with the Regina Open Door Child Care Centre.

Associate professor of geography and environmental studies and recipient of an IDG Vanessa Mathews will delve into the sociocultural and economic effects of craft beer on small-town Ontario.

Funke Oba and Amanda Gebhard from the Faculty of Social Work received an IDG to investigate schooling experiences of black youth in Saskatoon in an effort to promote equitable educational outcomes.

Education’s Gale Russell received an IDG to research the kinds of knowledge and ways of knowing being valued and used in mathematics classrooms by students and teachers.

Justin Feeney from the Faculty of Business Administration will use his IDG to study ways to increase gender diversity and rates of enrolment recommendations among Canadian Forces applicants.

4The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 34 asks for different levels of government to “undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).”

Six individuals standing against the Universit of Regina media wall.
Members from the Regina-based team who attended the federal funding announcement for Michelle Stewart’s FASD-focused research project.

In September, Public Safety Canada’s Indigenous Community Corrections Initiative (ICCI) funded a three-year research project to respond to the over-representation of Indigenous individuals with FASD in the justice system.

Goodale announced $978,272 for the University’s Michelle Stewart to implement the program, called Navigator-Advocates: Integrated Supports for Justice-Involved Indigenous Youth and Adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

“Our Government is working to help reverse Indigenous over-representation in Canada's criminal justice system by supporting culturally relevant interventions by community-based organizations,” said Goodale. “This partnership with the University of Regina will increase FASD-affected Indigenous offenders’ level of engagement and understanding of the system and of their disability, helping reduce their contact with the criminal justice system and make our communities safer.”

Funding will flow through the University to support frontline workers and peer mentors in Regina, Saskatchewan, and Whitehorse, Yukon. Stewart, project lead and associate professor in the Faculty of Arts, will oversee and evaluate the program. She will work with Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the FASD Network of Saskatchewan, the community partners who will deliver the evidence-based programs at local levels.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 34th call to action was an invitation to rethink how justice is done in Canada."

Stewart said the goal of the project is to demonstrate that person-centred and proactive supports can help achieve better justice outcomes for Indigenous individuals with FASD who are in the justice system. She adds that the program builds on the strengths of existing relationships between frontline programs, justice programs, and agencies.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 34th call to action was an invitation to rethink how justice is done in Canada. This funding allows the University of Regina – and our partners at Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the FASD Network of Saskatchewan – the opportunity to do just that,” said Stewart.

Stewart explains that frontline workers and mentors with trauma- and FASD-informed training will advocate for Indigenous offenders in Saskatchewan and the Yukon, helping to better meet the needs of justice-involved individuals and bring about real-world change in the lives of Indigenous people with FASD.

“This low-barrier approach is but one of many responses needed if we are going to change the justice system and address ongoing inherent structural inequalities,” said Stewart, who is the director of the University’s Community Research Unit and a researcher with the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit.