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Updated: 22 min 46 sec ago

Researchers tackling allergies and climate change receive CFI funding

Tue, 2017-08-15 15:17

Understanding immune cells and their link to allergies, and mapping the impacts of climate change in Canada’s north are two Brock University research projects that received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan announced today (Aug. 15).

Researchers Adam MacNeil and Kevin Turner received a total of $311,821 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), which enables leading researchers to purchase equipment for their work.

MacNeil, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, studies how mast cells, which evolve from bone marrow stem cells, cause inflammation associated with allergies.

“We’re looking at the molecular and genetic changes that happen to bone marrow-derived stem cells to allow them to become mast cells,” explained MacNeil. “We’re interested in how those mast cells function, and whether or not we can find innovative strategies to target mast cells and block their ability to create allergic inflammation.”

With his JELF funding, MacNeil will purchase a cell sorting and analysis suite — a group of instruments that will allow him to suck out and isolate stem cells developing into mast cells for intense examination.

Turner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, researches how climate change impacts are transforming the landscape of a lake-rich area of the Yukon called Old Crow Flats. He is mapping how carbon moves through the complex lake and river system as permafrost thaws.

With his JELF funding, Turner will obtain drones and GPS systems that he will use to create three-dimensional maps twice each season over several years. These maps will be used with sampled sediment, vegetation and water to document rates of landscape changes and associated influences on the carbon balance, as well as river and lake environments.

“It is important for us to continue development of innovative and integrated approaches to monitor landscape changes and impacts across vast northern regions,” Turner said. “Findings will improve predictions of how these important landscapes will respond to future climate change.”

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund is used by the CFI to help Canadian institutions attract and retain top researchers, by providing the infrastructure they need to remain or become leaders in their field.

Brock’s Interim Vice-President Research Joffre Mercier said it is gratifying for the University to receive funding that is earmarked for the country’s most significant research projects.

“This will enable two of our researchers to make significant contributions to Canada’s health care and environmental conservation efforts,” he said. “We’re all very proud of the exceptional research performed at Brock, and I look forward to seeing the results.”

New course for fall term 2017 - Moors, New Christians and Renegades

Wed, 2017-07-26 11:38

 Fall term 2017

* MARS 3Q92
Moors, New Christians, and Renegades

(also offered as SPAN 3Q92 and HIST 3Q92)
Contesting identity categories resulting from exchanges and interactions of Christians and Muslims in the early modern Mediterranean world, through the study of historical and fictional primary sources.


Benjamin Kwao successfully defends his MA in Geography thesis

Tue, 2017-07-11 11:30


The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate Benjamin Kwao on the successful defence of his thesis “Sustainable Food Systems in Northern Ghana: Assessing the Influence of International Development” yesterday.

Benjamins’s Examining Committee included: Dr. David Butz (supervisor), Dr. Anthony Shaw (committee member), Dr. Chris Fullerton (committee member), and Dr. Mustafa Koc (external examiner from Ryerson University).

We wish Benjamin all the best for his future endeavours.

Two latest members of the Department of Economics

Mon, 2017-07-03 13:29

The Department of Economics would like to welcome Cornelius Christian and Andrew Dickens as Assistant Professors! Andrew's research interests are in Development Economics, Political Economy, Applied Microeconomics and Economic History while the interests of Cornelius are in Economic History, Development Economics and the Economics of Conflicts.



Getting their kicks: Goodman Business students help alumnus launch new FootGolf course

Tue, 2017-06-27 13:55

MEDIA RELEASE: 27 June 2017 - R00123

When Brock University alumnus Andrew Julie (MBA ’05) and his wife Jen took over the Brock Golf Course (no affiliation to the university) three years ago, they wondered how they might grow the business.

They found an answer just down Merrittville Highway, on the campus of his alma mater.

Andrew became a client of students at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business — specifically, of the Goodman Accounting Students’ Association — in the Goodman Consulting Competition, a six-week challenge where students hone their consulting skills while bringing value to an organization.

As a result of that fateful collaboration, this weekend Andrew and Jen will officially open a FootGolf course, joining a new recreational activity whose popularity is spreading across Canada.

FootGolf combines soccer and golf. Players basically use golf rules while kicking a soccer ball towards a hole — a big hole — on what otherwise looks like a golf course.

Andrew doesn’t hesitate to say the idea was a direct result of the Goodman competition. He provided a budget to work with, and students came up with creative but feasible possibilities for making the best use of what was then a 27-hole golf course.

“We were trying to figure out what to do with the third nine, and the idea to open a FootGolf course came out of a brainstorming session with one of the groups of students,” said Andrew.

“I looked at my wife, and a light bulb came on.”

Work soon began to convert nine holes of golf to nine holes of FootGolf. As a pure business growth strategy, the Julies hope that having the FootGalf facility alongside their 18-hole golf course “will help introduce people to golf even though they may not be golfers yet.”

Goodman Business student Mikayla Zolis, who was on the competition’s winning team, says the experience was a lesson on how to communicate effectively with a consulting client. The students had to conduct stringent analyses to support presentations on the proposal’s feasibility and expected return on investment.

Zolis said the experience develops skills that are invaluable as students prepare to leave the campus and enter the workforce.

“We had more creative liberties,” said Zolis. “We had to look at all the different challenges that an organization faces when it wants to grow.”

This is an example of experiential learning opportunities where Brock students get to take on learning partnerships with industries, not-for-profit organizations or small businesses. In this competition, students interact with a client to learn about their particular business and better understand its needs.

Brock FootGolf officially opens to the public at 7 a.m. this Saturday, July 1, although the media can get a sneak preview at noon on Thursday, June 29 when a Grade 8 class from St. Alexander Catholic Elementary School in Pelham gets to play the first round.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
• Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288

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Experts available to comment on ‘leaving no trace’ when exploring Canada’s national park sites

Tue, 2017-06-27 13:53

MEDIA RELEASE: 26 June 2017 - R00122

While Canadians are visiting national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas for free this summer, Brock experts want them to be mindful of their potential impact on these protected areas.

As part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, Parks Canada has opened its sites at no cost through use of a Discovery Pass. The gesture is expected to increase traffic at the national sites, and Brock experts are encouraging visitors to be mindful of leaving no environmental trace during their trip.
Garrett Hutson, Recreation and Leisure Studies Associate Professor, can speak to:

  • Leave No Trace principles to minimize recreational impacts to natural areas
  • Brock’s Outdoor Recreation programs and their commitment to teaching students to practise and learn outdoor leadership, while ensuring they leave a minimal impact on the environment

“Healthy parks help to create healthy people and communities, and can continue to do so for generations through actions of care,” says Hutson, who has done considerable research on the topics of outdoor recreation management, outdoor leadership and person-place relationships.
Canada’s National Parks are a great way to experience our environment. By using Leave No Trace practices, Hutson believes Canadians can be taught ways to minimize recreational impacts to natural areas.
Tim O'Connell, Recreation and Leisure Studies Professor, can speak to:

  • Brock BaseCamp, a distinct summer experience for incoming undergraduate students that introduces them to life as a university student through backpacking, canoeing and rock climbing
  • How Brock BaseCamp makes sure students are aware of the cultural and natural history of where they are travelling
  • How to leave as little an impact as possible on the environment by following Leave No Trace principles

“Many BaseCamp participants appreciate learning how to travel lightly through our provincial and national parks,” says O’Connell, a member of the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario. “In fact, many of them apply these principles to their everyday lives when they are back on campus or at home.”

Leave No Trace Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation while building awareness, appreciation and respect for the country’s wildlands.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
• Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288

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Global consultant Gary Comerford to Chair Brock’s Board of Trustees

Fri, 2017-06-23 09:28

MEDIA RELEASE: 23 June 2017 - R00121

International management and financial specialist Gary Comerford was confirmed as the Chair of Brock University’s Board of Trustees during the board’s annual meeting on June 22.

Comerford begins a two-year term in succession of John Suk, who had been Chair since 2014, seeing the University through a chapter characterized by campus growth and presidential change. Suk will now serve a one-year term as Immediate Past Chair before stepping down from the Board.

Comerford is a Niagara native who has worked around the world and now divides his time between Oakville and Niagara-on-the-Lake. In the 1970s he was a lecturer at Brock, and was elected to the Board in 2014. This past year he chaired the Advisory Committee on the President, which oversaw the recruitment and hiring of Gervan Fearon, who will take office as Brock’s next president on Aug. 1.

“As a Niagara native, I am honoured to be given this role,” said Comerford. “John and my other predecessors worked hard with the Brock community, getting the University to where it is today. There’s opportunity in front of us, and good people to work with. It’s an exciting time to be at Brock.”

Comerford has an honours BA in History and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario, as well as Institute of Corporate Directors certification from the Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto.

Currently the CEO of Comerford Management Consultants, his career has included appointments as Vice-President of Marketing for Canada Permanent Trust, and Senior Vice-President (International) for Sun Life of Canada. He served as Sun Life’s general manager for India, and is past president of the Canada India Business Council. He is also a past chair of the Shaw Festival Board.

The Board’s Governance/Nominating Committee also approved other nominations:

  • Trustee Kristine Freudenthaler was elected to a one-year term as Vice-Chair of the Board
  • Community members Mario De Divitiis, Beverley Morden and Robin Williams were re-elected for a three-year term
  • Faculty member and Chair of Senate David Whitehead was appointed as an ex-officio member for one year
  • Chris Phillips, President of the Brock University Alumni Association, was appointed as a new ex officio community member of the Board
  • Staff member Giulia Forsythe was appointed to a three-year term
  • Student member Faisal Hejazi was appointed as an ex-officio member as President of the Brock University Students’ Union
  • Shannon Kitchings was appointed as an ex-officio member as President of the Brock University Graduate Students’ Association
  • Trustees William Rickers and Elisabeth Zimmermann were elected to one-year terms as Board representatives to Senate

All new appointments take effect July 1. 

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

• Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288 

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Ontario’s top winemaker award goes to a Brock alum named Shiraz

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:27

MEDIA RELEASE: 22 June 2017 - R00120

One of Brock’s first graduates of the Oenology and Viticulture program was recognized for his winemaking prowess at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards.

Shiraz Mottiar (BSc ’00) won the coveted 2017 Winemaker of the Year award at a ceremony held in May. The Ontario Wine Awards, considered by many as the Oscars of the winemaking industry, were founded 23 years ago by international wine consultant, judge and writer Tony Aspler, as a means to celebrate Ontario’s best VQA vintages.

In winning this year’s award, Mottiar — who is the lead winemaker at Malivoire in Beamsville — is in good company. He is the third graduate of the OEVI program in Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) to take home the award.

Rob Power (BSc ’00), a fellow member of Mottiar’s graduating class, was named as the 2008 Winemaker of the Year, while Thirty Bench Wine Makers’ Emma Garner (BSc ’04) secured the honour in 2015.

“We’re thrilled to see Shiraz receive this well-deserved recognition,” said CCOVI director Debbie Inglis. “CCOVI is committed to training highly qualified personnel for the grape and wine industry, and seeing Shiraz and two other alumni recognized for excellence is evidence that we’re not only meeting but excelling in that mandate.”

Mottiar has worked in the winemaking industry for nearly 20 years, starting as a cellar hand at Malivoire after graduating from Brock. Within a year, he was promoted to assistant winemaker. After spending a year overseas, he returned to Malivoire and took on the lead winemaking duties in 2005.

In his spare time, Mottiar also works in his personal vineyard on the Beamsville Bench. He attributes a large part of his success to the mix of theoretical classroom knowledge and experiential learning he had in local vineyards and cellars during his time at CCOVI.

“As I got a grasp of the routine and understanding of winemaking, I could apply some of the theory and experimental design learned at CCOVI within our own vineyards and lab to continue learning and always improving our methods and quality of wine,” he explained.

Mottiar has also continued to be a strong supporter of the institute since graduating. He recently served as the host and member of the judging panel for the 2017 Experts Tasting and will be working alongside CCOVI to develop this year’s School of Cool education program at the upcoming International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration.

The industry-focused workshops and seminars offered by CCOVI have also been of benefit, he said. Being a member of the Fizz Club (lead by CCOVI Oenologist Belinda Kemp), for example, has helped guide his sparkling winemaking.

“It couldn't have come at a better time for us because Fizz Club started just after we pressed our first grapes for sparkling,” he said. “Our growth in this field has been accelerated by having the Fizz Club around, to learn from Belinda Kemp and the international colleagues she invites, along with tasting and bouncing ideas off our peers in the club.”

While he loves the thrill of the “crush” (when the year’s harvest of grapes begins its transition into wine) it’s spending that time between the vines and tasting the fruits of his labour that he’s most passionate about.

“Some of the happiest moments are alone in the vineyard on the tractor — just getting the job done — or in the cellar, tasting from a tank or barrel,” he mused. “That gives you that awesome feeling of accomplishment.”

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

• Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288

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Brock, international researchers explore links between perfectionism and procrastination

Thu, 2017-06-22 10:01

MEDIA RELEASE: 21 June 2017 - R00119

Do perfectionists procrastinate? 

Well, yes and no, concludes a study by an international team that includes Brock University’s Danielle Molnar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies.

Perfectionism is the belief that perfection must be strived for at all costs. People high in this personality trait set excessively high performance standards for themselves, and consider achieving anything less as being unacceptable.

But whether or not a perfectionist habitually delays or postpones tasks depends on the type of perfectionist the person is.

“Perfectionism is not the same thing as conscientiousness,” Molnar says. “Perfectionism represents a compulsion to be absolutely perfect in all respects whereas conscientiousness represents healthy striving for excellence.”

There are two main types of perfectionism.

People with ‘perfectionistic strivings’ have a compulsion to set their own standards of perfection, says Molnar, and relentlessly push themselves to achieve those high goals, being self-critical in the process.

By comparison, people with ‘perfectionistic concerns’ still set very high standards and feel compelled to reach them, but also tend to be preoccupied with what others think of them, are more sensitive to external pressure and criticisms, and are motivated by a fear of failure rather than achieving success.

The new research indicates that the latter group — people higher in perfectionistic concerns — are more likely to procrastinate, and thus more likely to miss deadlines or in some cases even abandon their goals.

“They’re so afraid of making that one mistake or not being able to meet their lofty goals that they tend to focus on their negative feelings surrounding the task and engage in avoidance techniques rather than make meaningful progress towards their goals,” Molnar says.

People with perfectionistic strivings, on the other hand, are less likely to procrastinate and usually stick it out, she says.

“They’re more likely to follow through and engage in the goals in the first place, meet deadlines, these sorts of things. They have this belief that, ‘I can get there’ and so they keep pushing themselves and pushing themselves until they reach their destination.”

But Molnar warns against seeing perfectionistic strivings as an effective way to motivate people to become successful.

“Yes, perfectionistic strivings are associated with less procrastination, which may guide you to reach your goals, but they’re also associated with depression, anxiety and stress, so there can be a substantial cost.”

Molnar explains many of the roots of our perfectionistic tendencies stretch back to childhood.

Those strivings frequently originate from parents who have very high standards for their children, but mix those expectations with warmth and acceptance.

But, parents with highly demanding expectations who tie their child’s worth to performance and show greater affection when the child is successful can result in perfectionistic concerns.

“So you’re the best child in the world when you’re meeting standards but then, when you’re not, there’s a coldness and more of an aloofness or there could actually be punitive measures,” Molnar says.

She gives suggestions on how people can deal with both perfectionism and procrastination, including:

  • Reassess your goals: Is it realistic? Can we take it back a notch? Does it have to be perfect, or can it be great? Are these my goals or are they being set by others?
  • Recognize that re-adjusting goals does not mean that you’re lowering your standards
  • Separate your behaviour from your identity: I have perfectionistic tendencies, versus, I am a perfectionist
  • Give yourself permission to make mistakes and not be ‘perfect’ by cultivating self-compassion and self-acceptance to combat self-criticism
  • Schedule breaks during your task to allow for immediate relief from any negative feelings that may emerge while working on the task, but also allow for a distinct return to the task.

The international research team includes Molnar, Fuschia Sirois in the Department of Psychology at the University of Sheffield in England and Jameson Hirsch from the Department of Psychology at East Tennessee State University.

Their findings are detailed in their study, “A Meta-analytic and Conceptual Update on the Associations Between Procrastination and Multidimensional Perfectionism,” published this spring in the European Journal of Personality.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

• Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288

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Joint program lets Grade 12 students earn a Brock kinesiology credit

Mon, 2017-06-19 16:45

MEDIA RELEASE: 19 June 2017 - R00118

Brock University and Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) have launched a partnership to help better prepare students pursuing kinesiology as they make the leap from high school to university.

Beginning in September, students at Denis Morris Catholic High School in St. Catharines who enroll in Introduction to Kinesiology, a Grade 12 university preparation course, will be able to receive credit towards a first-year Brock Kinesiology course called Foundations of Movement Studies.

About 30 high school students will travel to Brock twice a week to participate in lectures and activity-based classes, all while interacting with faculty from the University’s Department of Kinesiology.

The Exercise Science course will cover a range of topics, including sport history, physical literacy, sport for development, movement sciences, developmental physical activity, sport policy, and social issues and sport.   

Brock and NCDSB officials, joined by Denis Morris students, gathered on Monday, June 19 in Brock’s Bob Davis Gymnasium to formally launch the partnership.

“This unique opportunity to obtain a high school credit while also obtaining a Brock University credit speaks loudly to our commitment to supporting our local community and students,” said Jamie Mandigo, Brock’s Vice-Provost, Enrolment Management and International, who will also be leading the program as a Kinesiology faculty member. “It also speaks to the NCDSB’s commitment to encouraging and preparing their students to be successful at their next step of learning at post-secondary institutions.”

Mandigo, who hopes this leads to further such collaborations, said the initiative is intended to help high school students feel comfortable on Brock’s campus, and show them that obtaining a university degree is possible.

Peter Tiidus, Brock’s Dean of Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, said the experience will “provide these students with a greater understanding and appreciation of the academic field of kinesiology, including its depth and breadth, that will serve them well in their future education and personal lives.”

“It will perhaps encourage some of them to pursue further post-secondary education in kinesiology, ideally at Brock University, where we look to be the university of choice, particularly for top students from the Niagara region.”

John Crocco, Niagara Catholic’s Director of Education, said the partnership will give high school students the opportunity to explore the Kinesiology program, while also experiencing a university classroom and becoming familiar with Brock’s campus.

“Our Denis Morris students are pioneers in this program,” he said. While relationships have existed between Niagara Catholic and Brock in the past, this is the first full dual-credit course being offered between the two parties.

Crocco said he would like to see the partnership expanded to include other schools within the board.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

• Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288 

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Brock, Niagara Catholic to launch dual-credit exercise science course

Mon, 2017-06-19 11:00
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MEDIA RELEASE: 15 June 2017 - R00117

Brock University is partnering with Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) to deliver a new dual-credit course intended to give high school students an early introduction to the world of kinesiology.

The course will see a group of 30 Grade 12 students travelling to Brock twice a week to learn about the science of body movements — all while receiving credit at both the high school and post-secondary level.

Jamie Mandigo, Brock’s Vice-Provost, Enrolment Management and International, said the University was pleased to work with the NCDSB on such a significant opportunity for students.

“Offering a course related to student wellness is particularly symbolic,” said Mandigo, “as it represents an area that both Brock and the NCDSB share expertise in, and are committed to supporting together.”

Some overlap already exists between Grade 12 exercise science classes and the introductory course offered at Brock, said Kinesiology Professor Brian Roy, but those classes are available at only a few high schools.

“Ideally we would like to see this exercise science course, which really sets students up well for what we offer in the Department of Kinesiology, offered at all high schools,” said Roy, while adding the first step is to begin developing partnerships with local school boards.

The new course will touch on many aspects of kinesiology, including the role of physical activity in society, ethical issues in physical activity in sport, anatomy, physiology, human performance, biomechanics and nutrition, among others.

“Welcoming students from secondary schools across Niagara to feel comfortable on a university campus is of particular importance for Brock given that applications from Niagara students to universities in Ontario have decreased 10 per cent since 2011,” Mandigo said.

“Exposing Niagara students to post-secondary education at an earlier age will help them realize that pursuing and obtaining a university degree is possible.

“This unique opportunity to obtain a high school credit while also obtaining a Brock University credit speaks loudly to our commitment to supporting our local community and students. It also speaks to the NCDSB’s commitment to encouraging and preparing their students to be successful at their next step of learning at post-secondary institutions.”

An official announcement ceremony to launch the Exercise Science Dual-Credit Course will take place Monday, June 19 at 9:30 a.m. in Brock’s Bob Davis Gymnasium.

Representatives from Brock University and the Niagara Catholic District School Board will be in attendance to celebrate the partnership.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

• Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288

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‘People can feel the buzz’: Brock encouraged by enrolment stats

Wed, 2017-06-14 11:34

MEDIA RELEASE: 14 June 2017 - R00116

Even as Ontario high schools produce fewer graduates these days, Brock University’s numbers appear to be defying the gravity. 

In a year when Brock officials have stepped up efforts to engage potential students, and when spring Open House drew record crowds, Brock’s confirmed applications for 2017-18 are tracking ahead of where they were at this time last year.

Data compiled by the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC) shows that Brock’s confirmed application numbers for undergrad and graduate students combined were up 5.2 per cent from a year ago. That’s more than double the average 2.4-per cent growth rate for all 20 Ontario universities.

In the benchmark “101” category — students entering first-year university directly from Ontario high schools — Brock currently has one of the top four growth rates in Ontario, up 8.6 per cent over last year, compared to the provincial average of 1.1 per cent.

“There’s a momentum,” said Jamie Mandigo, Vice-Provost of Enrolment Management and International. “People can feel the buzz.”

Brock’s own analytics also turned up other positive indicators:

  • confirmations for international students have surged 29 per cent;
  • applicants with an academic average of 90 or higher are up nearly 20 per cent; and
  • applicants from across Ontario who made Brock their university of first choice went up more than 13 per cent.

Brock’s enrolment last year reached 18,704, and Mandigo says that no university will know their numbers for this year until classes start in the fall. But he says the latest figures are more evidence that Brock is in major transition.

“There’s a real sense of renewal,” said Mandigo. “We have a new president coming in, we keep building world-class facilities, and our faculty and staff are actively providing experiential learning opportunities for students throughout the community.”

In less than a decade, Brock has constructed more than $200-million worth of cutting-edge teaching and research facilities, thanks to generous private and government investments. Major new assets include the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex ($120 million) and Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts ($45 million).

In terms of teaching, Brock is in Ontario’s top 5 universities for professors who have won 3M National Teaching Fellowships, considered Canada’s most prestigious prize for teaching excellence at the university level.

Brock graduates also do well on the career front. The Ontario government’s latest figures show that, two years out from graduation, Brock grads had a 95 per cent employment rate, which is higher than the provincial average.

Mandigo said it is significant that the latest data shows positive signs across a range of categories. While enrolments remain healthy for Brock’s two largest Faculties — Social Sciences and Applied Health Sciences — the University’s other Faculties delivering undergraduate programs (i.e., Math and Science, Humanities and Goodman School of Business) have also seen increased confirmations in excess of 15 per cent compared to last year.

“Students have many options in where to go to school, but our hard work and reputation is getting noticed,” said Mandigo. “Look at the growing number of first-choice selections for Brock. People know they get a great student experience when they come here.

“We are becoming a go-to place, and the numbers show it.”

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288

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Brock research links taste buds to alcohol consumption

Wed, 2017-06-14 09:24

MEDIA RELEASE: 13 June 2017 - R00115

Ever wondered why you favour one type of wine over another — or why you even like to drink wine in the first place? 

It turns out the taste buds in our tongues play a key role in guiding our alcohol preferences and consumption habits.

A study by researchers from Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) has found that people with very sensitive palates generally consume fewer alcoholic beverages than their less-sensitive counterparts, or even abstain altogether.

Participants who disliked the taste of metallic and umami (savoury or meaty) substances often consumed less dry, white wine, as well.

The study, Orosensory responsiveness and alcohol behaviour, was undertaken by master’s student Margaret Thibodeau, CCOVI researcher Gary Pickering and Brock graduate Martha Bajec (PhD ’11), and published in the journal of Physiology and Behavior. 

“It suggests that there’s something going on that needs further investigation,” said Pickering, “but essentially, the more sensitive your palate is, the more likely you will drink less or avoid alcohol altogether.”

Participants first consumed sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami, metallic and astringent solutions mixed with water to determine their various taste sensitivities. Those results were then compared with self-reported data on how many drinks each participant would usually have in a month, and what type of drinks they would typically choose to indulge in.

Given many of us avoid traditionally aversive tastes like bitterness or sourness, Thibodeau predicted people who were very sensitive to these tastes in particular would likely drink less alcohol. What was surprising, she said, was that people who were in the mid-range of sensitivity to all tastes tended to be the highest alcohol consumers.

“What we actually saw was a bell curve,” she explained. “Products seemed to be optimized for people with intermediate responsiveness, so you needed, for example, a little bit of bitterness to add complexity, but not too much for it to be unpleasant.”

Understanding how our individual tastes drive our alcohol use is of great value to alcoholic beverage manufacturers and marketers, as well as to the health-care community.

On the one hand, this data can help producers better understand their customers and market their products more effectively. On the other, it can also help develop a more holistic understanding of the causes of alcoholism and other alcohol-use disorders.

“The idea here is that it’s possible that people who avoid alcohol do so because they are particularly sensitive to these aversive sensations — sourness, bitterness, and so on — and these might therefore be predictors for decreased risk of developing alcoholism or other alcohol-use disorders,” Pickering explained. “It’s also an interesting story for the alcohol producers, who are interested in how to optimize the ingredients in different alcoholic products and the way they are marketed to consumers to optimize market share.”

Thibodeau said there is a lot of room to expand on this research, too.

Since the participants in this study consumed all of the tasting solutions in water, the obvious next step would be to measure people’s taste sensitivities when they are drinking samples of actual alcoholic beverages. Brock MSc candidate Stephanie Small-Kelly is set to conduct follow-up research that will focus on that exact topic.

“She will be measuring people’s sensitivities as they taste actual samples of beer and cider, which vary in the concentration of bitter and sour compounds,” Pickering explained. “That way, we can see how taste sensitivity to components of alcoholic beverages, such as ethanol and hops, influences people’s perception and liking of these products.”

This type of situational study could also help explain the way people’s tastes change over time and how consumers vary their consumption based on their individual palates.

“We can look at whether you choose to drink vodka with a mixer as opposed to straight if you’re sensitive to bitterness, for example,” Thibodeau said. “There’s also the suggestion that from the time you start drinking to the present, you will become more adapted to the taste of ethanol and start to enjoy the aversive sensitivities in alcohol as complexity instead of a negative. We could also study that in more detail.”

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288

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Brock partners with Niagara College, Niagara Workforce Planning Board to research pathways to economic growth

Wed, 2017-06-14 09:09

MEDIA RELEASE: 12 June 2017 - R00114

Brock University, Niagara College’s School of Business and the Niagara Workforce Planning Board have formed a partnership that will see the three institutions collaborate on economic, business and labour research. 

The parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on June 12 stating a desire to combine their strengths to gain a fresh understanding of Niagara’s makeup and challenges, and identify new approaches for stimulating healthy growth in area communities.

“The partnership is based on the shared values of responsiveness to the needs of the local community, a commitment to collaboration that celebrates and leverages the diverse perspectives and strengths of stakeholders, and pursuit of world-class research excellence,” says the MOU.

Areas of cooperation include:

  • Preparing research reports and/or policy briefs on group-decided projects
  • Co-ordinating research activities that may include other community organizations
  • Supporting the partners’ projects by sharing expertise and contacts
  • Organizing joint forums with community partners in Niagara
  • Obtaining funding from various sources for “policy-relevant” research 

Charles Conteh, Director of Brock’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO), says the three-way partnership will enable researchers to get a “panoramic view” of how the economy, business and labour interact with one another as Niagara region moves forward with regional development.

“Let’s co-ordinate our strength and together begin to ask larger questions about the economic vitality of Niagara and job creation: What are the gaps? What are the challenges? Bottlenecks? Constraints? How can we overcome them?” he says.

Research generated from the five-year partnership is meant to align resources to best support people, programs and services.

“Brock University is deeply committed to working with the community by building partnerships in reciprocity and mutual respect,” says Interim Vice-President Research Joffre Mercier. “Our community stakeholders’ input informs and directs our research, and our research will help inform decisions that will enhance the economic and social health of Niagara. The Niagara Community Observatory plays a key role in directing and driving these efforts, and we are grateful to them for their hard work.”

Niagara College and the Niagara Workforce Planning Board are equally enthusiastic about the potential benefits of this agreement.

“Niagara College is pleased to have a role in this important partnership with Brock University and the Niagara Workforce Planning Board,” says Vivian Kinnaird, Niagara College’s Dean of Business, Hospitality and Environment. “This partnership will allow us to work together on research that will be beneficial for the Niagara region.”

This type of collaboration between post-secondary education and labour market experts is “key to identifying labour market research priorities for our community, and it leverages our individual roles and strengths in support of economic development in Niagara,” says Niagara College President Dan Patterson. “The MOU we’ve signed today reflects our shared goals of aligning the skills and knowledge of our workforce with the current and future needs of Niagara’s business and industry.”

The Niagara Workforce Planning Board is thrilled to be partnering with Niagara College and Brock’s NCO, said Chief Executive Officer Mario De Divitiis.

“This initiative ensures streamlined and effective collaboration between some of the foremost public research institutions in the region, and that opens up so much possibility for Niagara.”

About the partners

Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory is a public-policy think-tank working in partnership with the Niagara community to foster, produce and disseminate research on current and emerging issues. It produces a range of policy briefs on topics of interest and concern to Niagara region.

Currently celebrating its 50th year as a College of Applied Arts and Technology, Niagara College is a leader in applied education and a key contributor to the economies of Niagara and Ontario.  Through its School of Business, Niagara College offers a broad range of comprehensive business and business administration programs at the Diploma, Graduate Certificate and Bachelor’s Degree level.

The Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB) is one of 26 regional planning boards in Ontario making up the Local Boards Network, partly funded through Employment Ontario. NWPB performs authoritative research identifying and assessing current employment and economic trends and growing workforce opportunities to foster economic growth, develop talent across the labour market, and strengthen partnership and collaboration within our growing community.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews with Charles Conteh and Joffre Mercier:

* Cathy Majtenyi, Research Communications/Media Relations Specialist, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5789 or 905-321-0566

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Congratulations to Dr. Kihel

Fri, 2017-06-09 15:42

June 9th, 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Omar Kihel, who was the recipient of the Faculty of Mathematics and Science Award for Excellence in Teaching at today at Convocation. For more details, please see this article about the Convocation ceremony this morning in the Brock News.

Congratuations Dr. Kihel!

Language makes us unique: Brock honorary doctorate recipient

Fri, 2017-06-09 13:01

MEDIA RELEASE: 9 June 2017 - R00113

In Iroquoian tradition, last names are meant to be unique and meaningful, and both hold true for David Kanatawakhon.

“As it turns out, I’m the only Kanatawakhon in the world,” he told a packed crowd during his address at Brock University’s final Spring Convocation ceremony. “If you Google Kanatawakhon, you get me, whether you want to or not.”

There’s a good reason for that.

Kanatawakhon, who received an honorary doctorate from Brock Friday, June 9, has made it his life’s work to keep the Mohawk language alive. His multiple dictionaries and textbooks on the language have become the foundational tools for those learning indigenous languages.

He set out to teach Mohawk “so we can get our language back,” he said.

“We went through a cultural bump and people abandoned the language. That’s most unfortunate.”

Kanatawakhon’s last name means ‘shaking the town,’ and that’s what he has done over his many years of teaching students from elementary school to university.

“I’ve tried to shake up our communities and get our language going again,” he said. “Language is one of those things that make us unique and special. We’re at a time now that we have so much technology that we’re going to be able to bring it back.”

Kanatawakhon said he has been driven by his passion for keeping his language alive, and he encouraged the graduating students to find what drives them.

“I encourage people to develop a passion for what you’re doing,” he said. “You’re graduating and you’ve got all these skills that you can now focus on something. Use that to help yourself get through life.”

Friday’s Convocation concluded a week of celebrations with more than 3,550 students graduating in nine ceremonies.

Among the graduates in the final ceremony Friday was 93-year-old Robin Guard, who shattered the record as Brock University’s oldest-ever grad. Guard’s story has garnered plenty of attention this week with stories on CTV National News and in the St. Catharines Standard as well as radio interviews as far away as Montreal.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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Canadian business leader receives honorary doctorate from Brock

Fri, 2017-06-09 13:01

MEDIA RELEASE: 8 June 2017 - R00112

Much has changed since Maureen Sabia graduated from law school in the late 1960s. And yet, much has stayed the same.

“In some ways I feel sorry for these graduates today,” the Chairman of the Board for Canadian Tire Corporation said Thursday afternoon before receiving an honorary degree from Brock University. “They’re just starting out, and all of the challenges and pitfalls ahead of them — I remember those vividly.”

But graduates today also have the benefit of a world of opportunity, Sabia said.

“At the same time I’m excited for them, because the opportunities that are available today are opportunities we only dreamed of when I graduated.”

Sabia grew up in St. Catharines and is the daughter of high-profile social activist Laura Sabia, who received her own honorary degree from Brock in 1979. By that point, Maureen Sabia was working in Toronto, but returned to the campus to watch her mother’s Convocation ceremony.

It was Sabia’s mother who taught her daughter that women could do anything men could do.

A Canadian business leader, Sabia has served on committees and boards of directors for numerous corporations across multiple sectors. She has also served on the boards or advisory councils at Brock University, University of Guelph, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University and other post-secondary institutions.

For more than 30 years, Sabia has been on Canadian Tire’s board, and she’s established herself as someone whose life is focused entirely on her business career.

In her Convocation address, she encouraged the graduates to believe in the mantra “yes, I can.”

“It is up to all of you to use your talents and your learning to the very best of your abilities,” Sabia said. “Don’t waste them.”

She told the students about the difficult journey through sometimes unchartered territory, and said she believes political correctness has been taken too far.

“We need to celebrate our unity as Canadians and not focus so much on the differences that silo us,” she said.

Sabia said she wants Canada to go from being known as the “kindest, gentlest country in the world,” to being one where “great leadership, ambition, hard work, innovation, growth and individual responsibility” make Canada prosperous.

“That is good for all who make Canada home,” she said.

Goodman School of Business Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching

Earlier in the day, Goodman School of Business Accounting Professor Samir Trabelsi gave the morning Convocation address after being awarded the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Trabelsi, an international expert in corporate governance, said for graduates to succeed in a world increasingly filled with pressure, they need to “be a leader rather than a pathfinder, cultivate agility, and celebrate cultural diversity.”

“I’m sure each of you have different dreams, but none of you should give up your dreams and aspirations that will drive you to a higher level of achievement,” he said. “You should hold onto your goals, even if you stumble here or there.”

Convocation wraps up Friday with the final ceremony at 10 a.m. Graduands from both the faculties of Math and Science and Humanities will be conferred, while indigenous language pioneer David Kanatawakhon-Maracle will receive an honorary doctorate and give the Convocation address.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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Grandpa and grandson are so close, they graduated together at Brock convocation

Fri, 2017-06-09 12:52

MEDIA RELEASE - 7 June 2017 - R00111

When he was eight years old, Jonah Mondloch walked into the library at Brock University with his grandfather Charles Burke to help him find some research books.

This week — a decade and a half later — Jonah again walked through the University with his grandfather, but this time they had both just become Brock graduates.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jonah, 22, and Charles, 78, graduated together in the Spring Convocation ceremony for the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. Jonah completed his degree in Kinesiology in five years. His grandfather had been taking classes part time, one credit at a time for 15 years, but doubled up his course load this year so he could finish his degree in time to graduate with Jonah.

“I was just taking courses for fun,” said Charles, “but as we got closer and closer, it became clear that we could graduate together.”

There were many friends and family members in the Convocation crowd, but none closer than Brock Psychology Professor Cathy Mondloch — Jonah’s mother and Charles’ daughter —who was on stage and beamed as she placed the graduation hoods over her loved ones’ heads.

“I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time,” said Mondloch, who started teaching at Brock in 2004, not long after her dad enrolled in classes. “To see both of them on stage, and to be up there with them and part of that, is really unique.”

Mondloch described Jonah and Charles as good friends who share a love of baseball, golf and other sports.

The pair actually took three classes together over the years — including one in Jonah’s first year, when he was too embarrassed to sit next to his grandfather.

“He sat on the left side and I sat on the right,” Charles said with a laugh.

“I had friends from high school in that class, so we all sat together,” said Jonah, whose Brock experience has included being on the varsity Badgers curling team.

That embarrassment, however, was quickly replaced by collaboration and friendly competition. In one shared class they did a joint presentation together, and they often compared grades against each other.

“I remember going to his house for dinner one day. I walked in and he was wearing a cardboard sign around his neck with a big 89 on it, because he had beaten me on an assignment or an exam,” Jonah said, admitting his grandfather beat his final mark in two out of the three classes they took together.

“There’s a good chance I may not have got a degree if Jonah wasn’t here,” said Charles, a retired accountant who still serves as Director of Finance for the United Way of St. Catharines. “I was just doing it for fun. I think when Jonah came here, there was an incentive to go to school.”

The grandson said graduating together is something precious that he will never forget.

“It makes it very unique,” said Jonah, whose middle name is Charles after his grandfather. “So many people graduate university these days, so being able to graduate with my grandpa will make it a more memorable experience.”

Meantime, Prof. Mondloch also had occasion to teach her father in two courses over the years, and says he was a good student.

“The whole thing has been an interesting journey,” said the proud mother/daughter. “It has been a lot of fun.”

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Rodman Hall Curator wins St. Catharines Arts Award!

Wed, 2017-06-07 15:03

Marcie Bronson, Curator at Rodman Hall Art Centre/Brock University, took home the Making A Difference Award at the St. Catharines Arts Awards ceremony held at the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre. Sponsored by the St. Catharines Downtown Association, the Making a Difference Award “celebrates a St. Catharines arts entrepreneur, arts administrator, arts organization, arts animator or volunteer in the arts whose leadership and innovation have significantly contributed to the growth and development of arts and culture in St. Catharines.”

From the St. Catharines Arts Awards website:
“Marcie has played a central role in the transformation of Rodman Hall Art Centre into the nationally recognized institution of excellence that residents of St. Catharines now enjoy. Her curatorial accomplishments -- both exhibitions and publications -- are outlined in her curriculum vitae, but what cannot be captured on paper is the esteem with which she is regarded in the arts community and beyond. She has steadfastly promoted local artists throughout her curatorial career - half of her exhibitions have been by local artists. She has fought tirelessly for the future of Rodman Hall with her nuanced understanding of how it affects community on many levels and her commitment is evident not only through Rodman Hall but also at Brock University with students and faculty. The excitement expressed by students when Bronson attends and shares her appreciation of their work is important to their growth as young artists. She is a remarkable mentor and highly respected by students and staff alike.”

Rodman Hall was also nominated for an Arts in Education Award.

Congratulations Marcie and thank you for all your hard work and dedication!