The Research Nova Scotia Podcast brings research to you. Listen along as we speak with talented researchers from across Nova Scotia and learn how their work is impacting our communities and beyond.
Research Nova Scotia is an independent, not-for-profit corporation with the mandate to support, organize and co-ordinate the funding of research in Nova Scotia. RNS was established to enhance research capacity, as well as align research funding, with provincial priorities and promotes a mission-oriented research ecosystem to help solve Nova Scotia’s biggest challenges.
Cape Breton Island, now recognized for its natural landscapes and golf resorts, was once the industrial Heartland of Atlantic Canada. By 2000, its coal and steel industries shut down resulting in a host of social and economic difficulties for the region.
Listen as Dr. Lachlan MacKinnon, Assistant Professor of History and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Post-Industrial Communities at Cape Breton University, explains why preserving the history of Cape Breton's economic decline could help create a better future for postindustrial communities in Nova Scotia, Canada and beyond.
Coastal communities are increasingly having to better understand the marine environment, including balancing prosperous fisheries and endangered aquatic species. It's estimated that more than 90% of large oceanic fish have disappeared since the 1950s due to over exploitation, habitat destruction, and a changing climate.
Listen as Dr. Sara Iverson, Scientific Director of the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) headquartered at Dalhousie University, explains how the Nova Scotia based network has become the world's aquatic animal tracking network, deploying state-of-the-art ocean monitoring equipment around the world to inform conservation initiatives, including the protection of the North Atlantic Right Whale.
More than 50,000 Canadians suffer a stroke each year. Of those who survive, more than half will require ongoing assistance with daily activities due to cognitive deficits.
Listen as Dr. Anne Sophie Champod, an assistant professor of psychology at Acadia University, explains how her research team is working to develop more effective cognitive rehabilitation interventions, including a game called Peg-the-Mole, to improve recovery, independence, and quality of life for stroke patients.
Throughout the pandemic, front-line healthcare workers and public health officials have been taxed with making difficult decisions about where to expend their finite resources, like beds, test-kits, and eventually, vaccines. Dr. James Hughes is an assistant professor in St. Francis Xavier University’s department of computer science. Listen as he explains how his research team is using artificial intelligence help public health officials answer the question “Who should we vaccinate first?”
Since the on-set of the pandemic, researchers around the world in diverse fields of study have pivoted their work to support the fight against COVID19. Dr. Amina Stoddart, an assistant professor in Dalhousie University’s department of civil and resource engineering and researcher at the Centre for Water Resources Studies, is no different. Listen as she explains how her research team is using their expertise in water treatment to design an ingenious method to detect the COVID-19 virus. This research supports front-line healthcare workers and may be a critical piece in controlling the spread of the virus.
As the Director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology and Primary Investigator of the Canadian Immunization Research Network, Dr. Scott Halperin is at the forefront of efforts to provide Canada with the national capacity to undertake vaccine and infectious disease research. In this episode of the Research Nova Scotia podcast, you'll hear how Scott and his team of over 130 investigators at 50 institutions are working on important COVID-19 research urgently needed by Canadians.
Aquaculture is growing rapidly and within the next decade, over half of the world’s seafood will be farmed. A major challenge in the industry is making sure that fish are provided with adequate nutrition to yield a healthy nutritional source for humans while ensuring minimal negative impacts on the environment.
Dr. Stefanie Colombo is an assistant professor at Dalhousie University’s Agricultural Campus and the Canada Research Chair in Aquaculture Nutrition. Listen as she explains how her research team is working to discover novel solutions in nutrition to improve aquaculture and contribute toward healthier, environmentally sustainable, and economically viable farmed seafood.
N95 respirator masks are critical in the fight against COVID-19. Amid the pandemic, as borders began to close and global exports began to drop, Canadian healthcare workers were scrambling to secure an adequate supply of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to help keep them safe. In response, a team of Nova Scotian chemists got to work on a homegrown solution.
Dr. Christa Brosseau, a professor of chemistry at Saint Mary’s University and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Chemistry & Materials, hopes to develop PPE out of Nova Scotian softwood lumber. Listen as she explains how her research team is striving to meet the needs of front-line healthcare workers and support the struggling Nova Scotian pulp and paper industry, while developing an ecologically conscious product.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August, not just to encourage breastfeeding, but to raise awareness of the different cultural and socio-economic challenges to breastfeeding that caregivers face world-wide. Nova Scotia has its own challenges. Our province has among the lowest breastfeeding rates in Canada, with less than one quarter of infants receiving Health Canada’s recommended 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. We wanted to explore what local researchers are doing to contribute to our collective understanding of breastfeeding practices and culture here.
To take part in this conversation, we’re speaking with Dr. Kyly Whitfield, Assistant Professor of Applied Human Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University and lead researcher of the Milk and Micronutrient Assessment Lab, also known as the MAMA Lab. Kyly's passion for maternal and infant care began in grad school where her doctoral research focused on a life-saving solution to address maternal thiamin deficiency and infantile beriberi in rural Cambodia. Since then, her research has expanded into a cross-cultural analysis of breastfeeding in Nova Scotia and Cambodia that goes beyond "breast is best" to focus on the supports required to achieve optimal health in both mama and baby.
More than a quarter of Nova Scotian children are starting school with a developmental vulnerability. Due to a growing understanding that the early years of a child’s life set the foundation for lifelong learning, health and wellbeing, Nova Scotia has seen an increase in supports for early childhood education and research.
On May 21, 2020, Stephanie Reid, Director of Marketing and Communications at Research Nova Scotia, had a virtual conversation with Dr. Jessie-Lee McIsaac. Dr. McIsaac is the Tier II Canada Research Chair in Early Childhood: Diversity and Transitions and leader of the Early Childhood Collaborative Research Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University. Her team of researchers are actively engaging policy makers, early childhood educators, and families across the province to enhance child wellbeing.
Listen as Dr. McIsaac discusses how research, policy and practice are coming together to provide Nova Scotians with supports like the pre-primary program, to improve our understanding of early childhood nutrition, and to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the extraordinary nature of this pandemic, the significant health risks, and the considerable economic consequences already being felt around the world, we need to be nimble and act decisively to support urgent frontline research. Now more than ever, it’s important we unite around a common mission.
On March 17, 2020, Stefan Leslie, CEO of Research Nova Scotia, visited Dr. David Kelvin at his Dalhousie University lab in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dr. Kelvin is an infectious disease expert with an international research program that carries out studies around the world. His team of researchers is currently focused on COVID-19. Specifically, the goal of Dr. Kelvin’s research is to help healthcare professionals better determine which patients have the highest chances of developing a severe illness through the identification of biomarkers. If successful, this research would help give high-risk patients priority for hospitalizations and/or admission to intensive care units. Dr. Kelvin’s primary focus is developing a point-of-care device that in a very short period of time can designate which patients should go to hospital which in turn will help alleviate strain on our healthcare systems. The work will be conducted through the Canadian COVID-19 Research Network, which also includes researchers from China, Vietnam, Spain, Italy, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique and the United States.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Dr. Kelvin talks about how research is leading the fight against COVID-19, what it’s like to be at the forefront of a medical crisis, how his team is searching for a better way to treat patients and is contributing to the quest for a vaccine, and how you can help.
Research Nova Scotia Contribution
To further contribute to the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia’s efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak, Research Nova Scotia (RNS) will be contributing $600,000 in rapid response match funding from its Research Opportunities Fund to Dr. David Kelvin of Dalhousie University. Dr. Kelvin, along with his international network of research colleagues, are looking for a way to quickly identify the severity of the virus in those who test positive for COVID-19. RNS is joining the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s COVID-19 funding initiative, which has committed $1 million to the project, and the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) which made a recent gift of $250,000 to support the project.
“As we all know, this outbreak continues to evolve daily and Dr. Kelvin’s research could have a direct impact on patient outcomes, Leslie says. “Although these funds will have a positive impact on current research capacity, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure this world-class research can continue to thrive. “We’re hoping this support from Research Nova Scotia will encourage other people, provinces, and countries to also contribute to this urgent research".
To contribute to this research, please visit https://dmrf.ca/about/our-stories/conquering-coronavirus/.
Thank you to Dr. David Kelvin, Dalhousie University, and the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation for making this episode possible. To learn more about Research Nova Scotia visit www.researchns.ca.
This episode was produced by Podstarter.