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Brock expert says Fruit Snack Challenge makes parents researchers

Thu, 2020-05-21 13:29

MEDIA RELEASE: 21 May 2020 – R0092

As parents around the world find new activities to keep their children busy at home, a popular online challenge has caught the attention of a Brock University expert.

Associate Professor of Psychology Caitlin Mahy says the rise of the Fruit Snack Challenge on social media, which sees parents secretly filming their children as they are left alone with snacks under the instructions not to eat them, is bringing longstanding psychological research practices into the homes of people around the world.

“By filming the challenge, parents are doing something with kids that developmental psychologists have been studying for more than four decades,” she says. “It’s really neat that parents are playing the role that a developmental scientist usually plays, albeit observing many fewer children.”

Though the viral videos are done in fun, Mahy says the experiment they are emulating has been used for scholarly psychological research that has produced telling statistics.

“The Fruit Snack Challenge is almost exactly the same as Walter Mischel’s infamous marshmallow test where children were told they could have one marshmallow immediately or wait 15 minutes and get two marshmallows,” she says. “This task was used to measure children’s delay of gratification, and in his work he showed that children who waited longer (who could resist temptation) experienced many positive, long-term outcomes including higher incomes, higher rates of educational achievement, and were even less likely to be incarcerated.”

With these findings in mind, as well as her own research into the way different wording or whether a child takes their own or an adult’s perspective can influence the results, Mahy says there’s no need for parents to panic if their child does not pass the at-home test.

“I would encourage parents not to worry too much if their child ‘fails’ the task, as this ability develops significantly between three and six years of age and many children develop these self-regulatory abilities as they mature,” she says.

Though parents won’t be able to effectively gauge their child’s future income or likelihood of incarceration from the short experiments, Mahy says there are some key takeaways.

“Every child is different,” she says. “Researchers study individual differences in the lab, but these videos show us that some children wait, others don’t, and those who do wait use a variety of strategies to help them.”

It’s also clear that parents love to watch their children respond in novel situations.

“I hope this encourages parents to participate in child development studies in the future when they have the exact same opportunity to see how children respond to various tests in the lab,” she says.

As she scrolls through the videos, Mahy thinks her own children could be the next participants in the informal challenge.

“It would be fun,” she says. “I am pretty sure my almost four-year-old would pass with flying colours, but my 16-month-old, who doesn’t yet have the pre-requisite self-control or language abilities, would probably just gobble up the fruit snacks right away.”

Associate Professor of Psychology Caitlin Mahy is available for interviews.


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Fear not parents: Kids can learn lots while at home

Wed, 2020-05-20 20:56

MEDIA RELEASE: 21 May 2020 – R0091

As parents adjust to the announcement that in-school classes will not resume in Ontario for the rest of the school year, a Brock University expert says several key steps can be taken to keep kids learning until the end of June and throughout the summer.

Associate Professor of Educational Studies Debra Harwood says it’s necessary for parents to start with what kids need most.

“I think what’s important is remembering the basics of what children need, such as the sense of belonging within family, safety, and mental health and well-being,” she says.

With these key parameters at the forefront of any learning objective, Harwood believes the best outcomes can come through four simple steps:

  • Provide structure and consistency to the day. Knowing what to predict and providing a daily routine can help children learn more effectively.
  • Take lots of time for talking. Social interactions facilitate attachment and a sense of self as well as foundational language learning skills.
  • Set up project time. You can think of projects that can be undertaken throughout a day, or the entire week.
  • Make time for play. Ample time for play, both unstructured and supported by parents, fosters creativity, problem-solving and autonomy.

As outdoor temperatures climb, Harwood says the spring and summer seasons provide an ideal time to take some lessons outside.

“The outdoors provides a wonderful prospect for endless learning and play for children, and it also offers holistic developmental benefits and much needed opportunities for mental wellness,” she says. “Beyond the physical benefits of the outdoors, it also promotes language development, problem-solving skills, children’s ability to assess risks, increased concentration, improved self-esteem, and overall well-being.

Whether lessons are taking place at the kitchen table, in the toy room or around the backyard, Harwood says it’s important for parents to recognize that learning is not exclusive to school or school-based activities.

“In general, we need a better appreciation for the fact that learning is happening everywhere especially within families – in every conversation, exchange, meal preparation, routine, backyard game children are learning,” she says. “Focus on practical life skills and having fun”

For examples of what parents have been up to, Harwood invites interested parents to visit the Brock Early Childhood Education Pinterest page for a list of at-home play and learning ideas.


Debra Harwood, an expert in Early Childhood Education, is available for interviews.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Reminder: Brock pops the cork on Cuvée online Friday

Wed, 2020-05-20 20:54

MEDIA RELEASE: 20 May 2020 – R0090

Get ready to experience Ontario VQA wine in a novel way as Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) virtually delivers the best that the Cuvée Grand Tasting has to offer.

The Cuvée 2020 Online Experience will launch at noon Friday, May 22, offering an immersive opportunity to explore Ontario VQA wine, craft beers and ciders alongside partnering culinary partners for delicious take-away food options.

This online format brings the story of the winemakers’ favourite wines to life and is free with no tickets required. The site will remain accessible until the next Cuvée, giving guests the ability to enjoy it whenever — and as often — as they like.

“The Cuvée Grand Tasting is a much-anticipated part of both our guests’ and industry partners’ calendars every year, and we worked hard to ensure we could still celebrate and support the local industries in a fun way during these challenging times,” says Cuvée Manager Barb Tatarnic.

The online experience came after the decision was made to cancel the 32nd annual Cuvée Grand Tasting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It brings the Grand Tasting and Après Cuvée structure right into guests’ homes, connecting them to the excitement of Cuvée through unique video content created just for the experience.

Participating winemakers will virtually pour and reveal the wines they selected as their favourites for Cuvée 2020 in these unique videos, giving guests a glimpse at the best of the best in VQA wine.

Similar to the Cuvée Grand Tasting event, all 48 participating wineries are divided into six wine stations in the online experience. Guests can easily shop more than 100 VQA wines available in the experience to taste in the comfort of their own home. Links are provided to make it easy to order their favourites online, for curbside pickup at the winery (many of which are also offering free shipping options) or through the LCBO (online or in-store).

“Introducing the wines through the Cuvée Online Experience gives people the chance to familiarize themselves with the wines and hone in on the ones they want to try themselves first before committing to a purchase,” Tatarnic explains. “Once they’ve made the decision, it’s as easy as clicking a link to bring that wine home and follow along with the winemaker’s tasting notes whenever they wish.”

Guests can also browse the line-up of amazing participating Cuvée chefs and explore some unique food pairing options through take-away options, with the event’s headline band, Jonesy, providing the soundtrack to the evening.

“Cuvée brings the top wine and cider makers, brewmasters and chefs in the province together under one roof, and while we wish we were all celebrating in-person, the online experience allows guests to celebrate in their own way from home,” says Tatarnic. “We hope the experience will provide opportunities to craft amazing virtual tastings and online get-togethers with friends and family, where guests can pick great wines to try, order takeout dishes and share their passion for great wine and food whenever the Cuvée mood strikes them.”

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

* Sarah Ackles, Marketing and Communications Officer, Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University, 647-746-4453

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-347-1970

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Brock University to hold Virtual Spring Convocation

Tue, 2020-05-19 15:21

MEDIA RELEASE: 19 May 2020 – R0089

Convocation is a monumental occasion in the life of any post-secondary student, and Brock University won’t let the Class of 2020 go uncelebrated.

With large gatherings banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, post-secondary institutions around the world have been coming up with creative ways to mark the occasion.

In-person ceremonies are on hold, so Brock University’s 107th Convocation, originally scheduled for the second week of June, will move online. A future in-person celebration is also planned when it’s safe to do so.

In the meantime, the University’s 2020 Virtual Convocation will launch on Friday, June 19.

Rather than just a one-day celebration, Virtual Convocation will be a web-based portal where each of the University’s more than 3,000 graduands will get a tailored experience based on their Faculty, and whether they’re an undergraduate or graduate student.

The Virtual Convocation experience will include video messages from University President Gervan Fearon, Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo and other special guests, as well as videos submitted by graduating Brock students.

“We know that Convocation will look very different this year, but we recognize that this is one of the biggest moments in a student’s life,” said Brock University Registrar and Associate Vice-President, Enrolment Services, Geraldine Jones. “We may not be able to come together in person, but we are still excited to celebrate and recognize their achievements. We want to make this something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

After going live on the morning of Friday, June 19, the Virtual Convocation portal will remain online for students and their families to access the site at their own convenience.

Fearon said the University is committed to inviting 2020 graduates back to campus for an in-person celebration at a future date, and the online event in June is not meant to replace that.

“This Virtual Convocation is an important occasion to officially mark the conferring of their degrees and completion of their academic success and many years of hard work at Brock University,” said Fearon. “When it is safe and appropriate to do so, we will be inviting these graduating students back to the University campus for the opportunity to celebrate in-person their accomplishments with their peers, faculty and staff as well as family members. We are very proud of the graduating students’ accomplishments and they should be too as part of the Virtual Convocation as well as in the future.”

Also part of the Virtual Convocation portal is a social media ‘celebration toolkit,’ where grads can download graphics such as social media cover photos and animated confetti. Brock gives a small bag of confetti to all of its incoming students, and many wait to open the bag until Convocation Day.

Shortly after Virtual Convocation launches, all graduating students will be mailed a package that includes their degree parchment, a Convocation program, an alumni pin and other information from the Brock University Alumni Association, information on how to purchase a degree frame from the Brock Campus Store, Surgite magazine and a bag of Class of 2020 confetti.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Brock expert says CHL settlement leaves room for further action on behalf of players  

Tue, 2020-05-19 15:20

MEDIA RELEASE: 19 May 2020 – R0088


With the announcement of a settlement in a six-year legal battle between the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and its players, a Brock expert says there remains a need to protect the well-being of major junior players across the country by ensuring they are paid minimum wage.


The settlement will require the CHL to pay $30 million to former players by October 2020, which Brock University Assistant Professor of Labour Studies Simon Black says is a partial victory.


“The settlement is better than nothing,” says Black. “Due to the CHL’s effective lobbying campaign, provincial governments have exempted players from coverage under employment standards legislation, the basic minimum protections and rights afforded workers under the law.”


Black, who has written opinion pieces and scholarly articles on the case for years, says the next step is to protect the rights of current junior hockey players.


“The CHL’s business model is premised on the exploitation of young athletes’ labour,” he says.  “In their quest to avoid paying their players the minimum wage, the league has successfully fought off unionization and lobbied provincial and state governments to exempt major junior hockey players from basic labour protections and rights. And they have done so while hiding behind the myth that CHL players are ‘amateur student-athletes,’ not employees of their club.”


Black says further action on behalf of the leagues’ players must be taken by the labour movement as a whole.


“The labour movement, including players’ unions like the NHLPA, must step in to protect these young athletes by pressing provincial governments to reverse these exemptions,” he says. “While this settlement does bring some justice to former players, current players will continue to be the only workers at the arena — from the coaches on down to the hot dog sellers — that are not paid at least the minimum wage.”


Assistant Professor of Labour Studies Simon Black, an expert in athletic labour, workers’ rights and activism in high-performance sport, is available for interviews.


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:


* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970


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Sport organizations need to be part of resumption plan: Brock expert

Fri, 2020-05-15 10:45

MEDIA RELEASE: 15 May 2020 – R0087

At first Madelyn Law was excited to hear that gymnastics was listed as one of the sports that could resume in Ontario starting Tuesday, May 19.

As a gymnast herself and the mother of two athletic kids, it seemed like good news, until she thought about it a bit more.

“I want nothing more than a sport like gymnastics to get up and running as soon as possible,” says Law, Associate Professor of Health Sciences at Brock University, who has spent her career engaged in public health research. “It would be great to see our children being physically active and getting back in the game, but I believe the guidance about what this looks like and deeming specific sports to be OK at this time is misguided.”

Law says gymnastics is a good example of a sport that needs more consideration.

“You have a club of kids who have not been training properly for two months. They’ll need assistance from their coaches in a hands-on way — beside them, and helping them flip over. That can’t happen safely from six feet away,” she says.

There’s also the concern over how to keep equipment disinfected when you have multiple gymnasts all using the same apparatus or jumping into a sponge pit.

“Just because this is an individual sport, does not mean that they can physically distance from their peers or coaches,” Law says.

She says it’s misguided to think that holding practices for a team sport like soccer is less safe for public health reasons than gymnastics.

“If players brought their own soccer ball and were given their own space to train, the coaches could still help them with drills while allowing the players to see their friends and feel like they have some sort of normalcy,” she says. “There would need to be changes and not all skills could be done, but it’s better than nothing.”

She says more consideration needs to be taken around each sport, and adds that sport organizations themselves should play a significant role in the decisions around resumption of activity timelines.

“We don’t need individuals who may not know the intricacies of specific-sport participation telling sport organizations that they can open or not,” Law says. “They need to work more closely with sport organizations to say, ‘You can open if you meet the specific public health guidelines.’”

Madelyn Law, Associate Professor of Health Sciences at Brock University, is available for phone and video interviews with the media.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Early research results show impacts of pandemic on children and youth

Thu, 2020-05-14 13:43

MEDIA RELEASE: 14 May 2020 – R0086

Two girls passing notes to each other through their shared backyard fence. A boy breathing a sigh of relief for not having to face unpleasant classmates at school.

These are some of the stories being captured in Brock University research on the experiences of children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When she started her study at the end of March, Professor of Child and Youth Studies Rebecca Raby was concerned — and curious — about how young people are coping with the pandemic.

“Clearly, there are children who are in a lot of distress out there,” she said. “But I suspect we’re also going to hear stories about really cool, compelling things that kids have started to initiate at home with parents, siblings, on their own or online.”

She and her six-member student team have been conducting bi-weekly, online interviews with 25 children and youth from ages eight to 16 from a wide range of backgrounds and living arrangements. In between the structured, formalized interviews are informal check-ins via text or other messaging.

The research team is compiling some interesting stories.

One of the six children Brock PhD student Laurel Donison has been surveying is an eight-year-old girl whose friend, also eight, lives next door. Not having access to social media or a smartphone, the two were playing in their respective yards when they figured out a way to communicate despite the tall fence that separated them.

“The girl showed me during our video call the hole she made in the fence between her yard and the yard beside her so that she and the other girl were able to pass each other notes, draw each other pictures and talk through the fence this way,” says Donison.

Raby says that although it’s difficult to generalize the diverse experiences of children and youth while sheltering at home, some broad trends are starting to emerge.

These include activities such as building, cooking, baking, writing, making art, videos and fake fingernails, sewing, gardening and playing instruments.

“What I found most surprising is the significance of the arts in helping the young people to cope,” says Raby.

Also notable to Raby was the number of children and youth who have reported having difficulties with online learning, specifically when they need to ask questions about things they don’t understand. Children with learning disabilities, English as a second language or for those whose parents are working during the day and are thus unable to answer questions find it especially challenging.

Not so unexpected is that children and youth are missing face-to-face interaction with friends and peers.

“Clearly, a really important component to their lives is hanging out with friends,” says Raby. “Many have expressed sadness about not being able to hang out together.”

An overwhelming majority also miss being at school, although one 13-year-old boy reported feeling relieved that he didn’t have to face his peers, who he felt ignored him.

Raby says most children and youth seem to know “a lot about what is going on,” mostly through news reports and school lessons, likely adding to the worries they widely expressed about their parents and grandparents getting sick and stress over people not physical distancing.

Other common patterns among the child and youth research participants include:

  • An appreciation for how schoolwork and other tasks provide structure to the day and, at the same time, enjoying the ability to schedule their own time and order of tasks.
  • Challenges with self-motivation, especially if schoolwork isn’t interesting or if there are too many distractions online and in their surrounding environment.
  • Girls seem more likely to be doing chores than boys, especially in terms of taking care of younger siblings or helping them with homework.
  • Frequent connection with friends and other activity online; a relaxing of family rules about online time and overall less regulation of online activities.

The research team’s interviews will proceed for another few months and then the team will more deeply analyze the data collected from the interviews.

Professor of Child and Youth Studies Rebecca Raby is available for phone and video interviews on the research.


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Goodman Group launches free business webinar series

Wed, 2020-05-13 08:51

MEDIA RELEASE: 13 May 2020 – R0085

Augmented reality in marketing, the ethics of exploiting loopholes and managing through the unimaginable are topics that will be discussed as part of a free live webinar series for the Niagara business community kicking off today, Wednesday, May 13.

Launched by Brock University’s Goodman School of Business, the Business Breathers series will take place online Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and will feature 30 minutes of live industry and faculty expert-led discussions, followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer period.

Goodman Group, the Goodman School’s community-focused learning and development services provider, created the initiative to support its clients and community partners.

“In this era of uncertainly, Business Breathers are an opportunity for entrepreneurs, leaders and others to take a break, catch their breath and take part in insightful discussion on timely topics that are relevant to their business and everyday lives,” said Abdul Rahimi, Director of Goodman Group.

Although the webinars are intended for the local business community, everyone is welcome to participate. Interested participants are asked to register online. A confirmation email will provide a link to access the webinar on the Lifesize video conferencing platform at the date and time it is planned.


Wednesday, May 13

Brave new worlds: How augmented reality transforms marketing
Led by Professor of Marketing, International Business and Strategy Joachim Scholz

“Augmented reality (AR) is a relatively new channel for marketers, but there is a growing sense of urgency,” said Scholz. “More consumers are expecting AR experiences, so in my opinion, time is almost up to experiment with this technology. We’re leaving the phase where it’s okay to just play around.”

It’s often confused with virtual reality (VR), and although there are similarities between the two, Scholz says AR has more practical uses and benefits for businesses and consumers.

“AR augments the user’s physical environment with a digital component,” he said. “You might use your phone to see what a sofa looks like in your living room, or how a garment fits your body, but everything else you see is in real life. In VR, everything is a virtual environment and all you see is the digital surroundings. VR is used more in gaming and entertainment.”

AR has also been used to enhance the packaging of products. For example, wine bottles have been designed with labels that are responsive to phone apps. The label comes to life to share a brand story, or other unique digital experience. 


Wednesday, May 20

The ethics of exploiting loopholes

Led by Professor of Organizational Behaviour, Human Resources Management, Ethics and Entrepreneurship Paul Dunn

Dunn says that as governments act quickly to introduce new programs in response to the COVID-19 crisis, omissions and ambiguity in the regulations creates loopholes for people and businesses to exploit.

“A lot of this legislation is being created to help the needy — people who have been laid off or small businesses struggling to survive — but those who don’t need the support are applying, even though they know they’re not actually eligible. By looking for loopholes, some may be adhering to the letter of the law, while simultaneously violating its spirit,” he said.

“Even though an action is not specifically mentioned as prohibited, it does not mean it is ethically acceptable. We must all take the moral high ground and act, not out of pursuing personal benefit, but rather for the common good.”


Wednesday, May 27

Managing through the unimaginable: Leadership and business sustainability in times of COVID-19

Led by Goodman School of Business Dean Andrew Gaudes

“It’s unimaginable to think the world would go into hibernation because of global disease,” Gaudes said. “In times like this, our foundational assumptions can be completely shaken. Without a strong foundation, we must focus on our core purpose.”

Gaudes offered the example of the University continuing to provide professional and personal fulfilment for students despite the limitations to offer face-to-face classes.

“If the University’s core purpose was to teach students in a physical classroom, we’d have to permanently shut our doors,” he said. “Instead, we are using the resources and supports available to us, and within our control, to continue with our mission.”


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Participants needed for study on COVID-19 and outdoor recreation

Tue, 2020-05-12 10:00

MEDIA RELEASE: 12 May 2020 – R0084

A team of Brock University researchers want to know how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted outdoor recreation participation patterns before, during and after the start of physical distancing strategies and the closure of outdoor recreation areas in Canada.

Recreation and Leisure Studies Professor Tim O’Connell says this is an opportunity for people to reflect on their outdoor recreation practices and its importance in their lives.

“The study is also exploring how the closure of outdoor recreation areas have impacted individuals’ perceptions of their mental, physical and overall health,” says O’Connell, the study’s principal investigator. “This study is both timely and time-sensitive as all levels of government are reviewing timelines for opening outdoor recreation activities.”

Findings from this study will be shared with government agencies, land managers and private service providers in the hopes of informing future decisions about the opening (or not opening) of public outdoor recreation areas.

Currently, there are vast differences in the timelines for opening recreation spaces in the various regions across Canada. For example, Saskatchewan began limited individual activities for which physical distancing can be maintained on Monday, May 4 and Ontario has started reopening Provincial parks and conservation areas. There are also ongoing discussions with municipalities across cottage country regarding the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend.

The team, which includes co-investigators Recreation and Leisure Studies Associate Professor Garrett Hutson and Adjunct Professor Ryan Howard, hopes the study will provide the added benefit of participants learning more about outdoor recreation opportunities by considering the scope and range of activities available in Canada.

“Outdoor recreation in Canada is often understood as activities that occur in, and are reliant on, the natural environment,” explains O’Connell. “We are very fortunate as Canadians to have a wide range of geographical green and blue spaces, and social contexts for recreation and leisure activities.”

As policy makers began to implement safe physical distancing recommendations in mid-March, outdoor recreation was initially seen by many as an acceptable way of engaging in leisure activities with family and friends. Following media reports of overcrowding in public parks and outdoor recreation areas, these resources were closed to ensure public safety.

“We know that research suggests people are very protective of and emotionally attached to the places in which they engage in outdoor recreation activities,” O’Connell says. “We hope, with reflection, this study will nurture advocacy for natural environments which are used for outdoor recreation purposes to be protected.”

Those interested in participating must be 18 years of age or older and currently live in Canada.

The online survey, which takes 15 to 20 minutes, must be completed by Friday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m.

Recreation and Leisure Studies Professor Tim O’Connell is available for media interviews about the study.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Virtual memberships available as students help Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being expand offerings

Mon, 2020-05-11 13:44

MEDIA RELEASE: 11 May 2020 – R0083

The Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being continues to adapt under the COVID-19 pandemic challenges to help older adults and others stay active throughout the quarantine.

When the pandemic first started impacting Niagara, the Brock University-operated Centre closed its doors, but began offering online tools and daily home workouts to keep members engaged and active. As it became clear that local businesses would need to stay closed for a significant period of time, the Centre enhanced its remote operations.

The Centre has now begun to offer online fitness classes hosted by the Centre’s staff and Brock graduate and undergraduate students who have previously worked or completed courses in the Centre.

“Initially, only existing members of the Centre were eligible to join; however, with appropriate documentation, online membership is now open to community members,” said Debbie O’Leary, Professor of Health Sciences and Director of the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being. “A virtual membership includes live fitness classes, educational seminars, weekly check-ins and social meetings with the students.”

The Centre has about 75 online members, but that number is growing. Classes being offered include yoga, circuit workouts, golf, chair-based, osteoporosis, core and Parkinson’s classes, all delivered on the video conferencing platform Lifesize.

“The virtual fitness classes are extremely important for our members to promote physical and mental health and to maintain their social connections,” said Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Director of the SeniorFit program, Kimberely Gammage.

Brock Kinesiology, Health Sciences and Therapeutic Recreation students will be teaching virtual classes throughout the Spring and Summer Terms that will count towards the placement aspect of their credits.

Specifically, Kinesiology students are offering one-on-one sessions to develop personalized home-based workout programs. They will use these sessions to create a library of exercise-related videos, presentations and pamphlets. Health Sciences students are working on social programming designed to enhance mental health and well-being.

Four master of Professional Kinesiology students doing their placements with the Centre will be offering virtual programming, as well as doing the intake of new members, mentoring undergraduate students and doing online fitness testing with members.

“These classes are allowing us to continue to offer student-learning opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge about working to promote health and well-being in diverse populations,” said Gammage. “Our students are also developing a whole range of new skills related to communication and the implementation of technology in the workplace.”

For information on joining the Centre with an online membership, please visit the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being website.


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Canadian scholar, academic leader to be Brock’s next Provost

Mon, 2020-05-11 10:38

MEDIA RELEASE: 11 May 2020 – R0082

Lynn Wells, an accomplished scholar and academic leader, will be Brock University’s new Provost and Vice-President Academic, effective July 1, 2020.

Brock President Gervan Fearon made the announcement Monday, May 11, welcoming the scholar and researcher to Niagara. Wells is currently the Associate Vice-President, Students and Teaching at MacEwan University in Edmonton, and previously served as the Provost and Vice-President, Academic, and Acting President at the First Nations University of Canada, in Regina. She has many years experience as a professor, teacher and researcher in the Department of English, including scholarly work in contemporary British fiction.

“Brock is pleased to welcome someone with the wealth of experiences that Dr. Wells brings to our campus,” said Fearon. “Lynn is a highly respected teacher, has undertaken thoughtful and important research and is one of the country’s leading senior academic administrators. Our faculty, students and staff as well as the academic mission and strategic priorities of the University will be well served by her appointment.”

Wells said she is excited to be joining an institution where academic excellence, research strength, inclusivity and university-community partnership are key priorities.

“As someone from Ontario, I’ve long known that Brock is a community of accomplished faculty, researchers and great students,” she said. “With Canada’s universities working to address major challenges resulting from the global pandemic, Brock’s role is even more vital to Niagara and to Ontario, and I am honoured to be joining the institution and the community.”

Wells has more than a decade of experience in senior administrative roles at universities. Prior to accepting her current position in 2018, she spent seven years in the senior posts at First Nations University of Canada. She also served from 2006 to 2011 at the University of Regina, in consecutive postings as Associate Dean (Research and Graduate), Faculty of Arts; Acting Dean, Faculty of Arts; and Associate Vice-President (Academic).

She received her PhD (English) from Western University (1997); MA (English) from York University (1987); and Honours BA (English/French Studies) from York (1986, Summa Cum Laude).

Wells will succeed longtime Brock leader Greg Finn, who stepped into the University’s senior academic role in October 2018, and who has been instrumental in supporting the implementation of the University’s Strategic Plan and helping Brock achieve record enrolments.

Fearon praised Finn for his “tireless service,” saying the community is indebted to him for providing vital leadership and stability during a transitional phase at Brock.


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-347-1970

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Brock’s Cuvée launches new online experience to celebrate the VQA wine industry

Thu, 2020-05-07 14:07

MEDIA RELEASE: 7 May 2020 – R0081

Put on your party attire, fire up the laptop and get ready to celebrate the Ontario VQA wine industry as Brock University moves its annual Cuvée event online.

The Cuvée 2020 Online Experience launches on Friday, May 22 at The virtual experience will feature the 48 wineries, 12 restaurants and seven breweries/cideries that were originally slated to take part in the physical Grand Tasting experience last month. The free online experience does not require tickets and will be accessible until the next Cuvée in 2021.

In videos created exclusively for the experience, participating winemakers virtually pour and reveal what they chose as their favourite wines for Cuvée, give pairing tips and share unique product signature styles that make their choices truly special.

A link to each participating winery, brewery/cidery and culinary partners’ online store will also be featured, so guests can bring the complete Cuvée Grand Tasting experience into their living rooms by placing online orders at any time.

Niagara band Jonesy also contributed a special performance video for the online experience so guests can dance the night away in an at-home version of Après Cuvée.

Organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), Cuvée was originally scheduled to take place on April 25 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Barb Tatarnic, Manager of Cuvée, says organizers worked hard to develop a fun, virtual experience so wine-lovers could still celebrate an experience they look forward to all year.

“What makes Cuvée special is its ability to bring the industry together in celebration of excellence in the Ontario VQA wine industry and, in 2020, our guests can still do that virtually, whenever they want,” she says. “Get dressed up in your best gala attire — or stay in your sweats, go to, and get ready to meet our industry partners, listen to their stories, and learn more about the labour of love that drives their craft.”

Tatarnic also says the experience helps support the wineries, breweries and restaurants that are being directly impacted by the pandemic, financially and otherwise.

“Although no one could have imagined the challenges brought about by COVID-19, it is important to now stand together, while apart, and support local industry,” she says.

Thomas Bachelder, Winemaker and Co-owner at Bachelder Niagara and Winemaker, at Le Clos Jordanne, is thrilled the opportunity to gather virtually with colleagues and friends can still take place.

“Cuvée is a moment in time — a brief shining moment, once a year — where all come together as one collegial community,” he says. “We have learned how to reach out and hug our fellow human beings virtually, and to all of you who have dreamt your ‘Cuvées’ into being but are not able to physically be together to pour them, to all of us, we say ‘Santé.’”

Cuvée also serves to honour and acknowledge successes and breakthroughs in the industry and advance vital grape and wine research — something CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis says is important now more than ever.

“Bringing Cuvée online showcases Brock’s ability to still support and celebrate our VQA wine industry while it navigates unprecedented challenges,” she says. “Being able to raise a glass together, even if only virtually, will unite us and help us emerge stronger.”

The Cuvée Online Experience also coincides with the #30DaysofVQA, an initiative created by Wine Country Ontario to promote the province’s VQA wine industry.

Proceeds from Cuvée support the Cuvée Legacy Fund, established to fund industry-driven research initiatives and scholarships for students. This year’s Cuvée Hosting Award for Academic Excellence recipient is Brock Oenology and Viticulture student Jessica Oppenlaender. All of the 2020 industry-related Cuvée awards will be presented at Cuvée 2021.

Watch and follow @cuveegrandtasting and @winecountryont on social media for further information on the Cuvée 2020 Online Experience.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Sarah Ackles, Marketing and Communications Officer, Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University, 647-746-4453

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-347-1970 

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CCOVI scientist helps region’s grape growers navigate uncertainty during COVID-19

Thu, 2020-05-07 14:04

MEDIA RELEASE: 6 May 2020 – R0080

Although they are well-versed in overcoming fluctuations and uncertainty from one growing season to the next, Niagara’s grape growers are facing a unique set of challenges this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address some of those challenges, Jim Willwerth, Senior Scientist at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), recently partnered with the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) to host a webinar on the Economics of Crop Management During COVID-19.

“The entire world is dealing with the uncertainty of this global pandemic,” says Willwerth. “I am glad to be able to provide support to the grape growers by discussing crop management and ways to improve efficiency in the vineyard during this challenging time.”

Since grape harvest season is still a few months away, Ontario grape growers aren’t in the same situation as farmers who have to determine what to do with their early season crops due to lack of available workforce or changing demand.

The immediate challenge for grape growers lies in safely and cost-effectively completing critical spring vineyard work while also adapting to new physical distancing protocols. The mandatory 14-day isolation period in place for seasonal workers coming to Ontario farms from outside of Canada also creates challenges. That two-week delay, combined with having to logistically spread out workers to ensure a safe operation, means there may be less hands on-deck to get the work done.

With many operations already working on tight margins, growers have to determine what key vineyard practices need to be maintained — and which can be scaled back, delayed, or forgone altogether to cut costs. And, as grape vines are perennial plants, Willwerth says those decisions are crucial not only to this year’s harvest, but to future harvests, as well.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s important to ask questions about your vineyard and the individual block within them,” he says.

Willwerth suggests that growers put the focus on their best vineyard blocks and aim to reduce labour-intensive activities (such as manual leaf removal) and use more mechanization where possible.

Integrated pest management is still critical, he stresses, as is completing major canopy and crop management tasks. Pruning, tying, trunk replacement and other winter injury mitigation is also important, as is training young vines to prepare for the growing seasons to come.

Growers are also worried about what it will mean for their operations if COVID-19 restrictions are still in place when harvest season rolls around this fall, he says.

“But as growers, you always deal with uncertainty and risk management, this is just another level,” Willwerth says. “So be positive and work together, and you can navigate this challenge, too.”

Providing timely research and support to the industry is a critical part of CCOVI’s mandate. In addition to this recent webinar, the institute also produced a viticulture webinar series with the GGO. The videos can be viewed on CCOVI’s website, with more videos planned for later this year.

“The Grape Growers of Ontario remain committed to keeping our members engaged and informed and we thank CCOVI and Dr. Jim Willwerth for helping us deliver an educational webinar and collaborative Q&A session on the economics of crop management during COVID-19,” says Matthias Oppenlaender, Chair of the GGO. “We look forward to bringing more engaging content to our members in the coming weeks and months.”

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Sarah Ackles, Marketing and Communications Officer, Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University, 647-746-4453

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-347-1970

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Don’t blame COVID for binge-watching, says Brock prof

Tue, 2020-05-05 12:42

MEDIA RELEASE: 5 May 2020 – R0079

If you spent any of the last eight weeks binge-watching The Great British — or Canadian — Baking Show, you’re in good company. So has Brock University film and television scholar Liz Clarke.

The Professor in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film says people who binge-watch during social isolation can be assured that the industry is ready for them, because “binge-watching has a longer history than just the more recent rise of Netflix and other streaming sites.”

“We’re in an era of niche programming that is bolstered by the way social media works and by the algorithms that video-on-demand (VOD) sites use to show you new shows to watch,” Clarke says. “We have even more control over how and when we can watch shows, which has ultimately brought us to a time when binging content seems to be the norm.”

This development has shifted the focus of content creators, who are well aware of the trends in media consumption, from a long-range goal of syndication to one of creating shows that can be watched weekly or binged and then rewatched, picked apart by devotees and talked about for years to come.

Clarke points to NBC’s The Good Place — a sitcom that originally aired weekly but has seen a steady growth in popularity on Netflix — as an example of a show that “you can watch over and over and discover new jokes each time.”

“Part of the re-watchability is seeing all the threads coming together at the end of the season in a really satisfying way and thinking, ‘Wow, I want to understand how they did that,’” says Clarke. “We go back so that we can see how the narrative unfolded in such a pleasurable way.”

Though it may seem like we are in the golden age of binge-watching, problems loom on the horizon, both due to production restrictions related to COVID-19 and changing delivery structures.

Clarke also notes that the rise of competing VOD services, each with their own exclusive content and cost, will soon mean people are paying as much as they were when they subscribed to cable to get all the shows they want.

Clarke questions the sustainability of the Netflix model of dropping an entire season at one time.

“We talk about the season for a few days and then move onto the next thing,” she says. “If long-running shows are slowly replaced by shows that have a couple limited seasons, it could be a great period for new content — but it would be terrible for the long-term job security of writers, casts and crews.”

For the time being, though, there is no shortage of viewing material.

As to what people will choose to binge-watch over the coming months, Clarke says it’s a matter of knowing your personal taste and seeking out recommendations of others who share that taste.

“When Brock switched to online learning for the last two weeks of Winter Term due to the provincial shutdown, I was in the middle of teaching about streaming and binge-watching,” she says. “I asked my students to recommend shows to watch while in isolation and now I have a list that could last me until 2022.”

Liz Clarke, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, is available for phone and video interviews on the issue.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews.

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Brock non-profit leadership certificate course open to community

Mon, 2020-05-04 09:58

Media Release: 4 May 2020 – R0078

It’s not just Brock University’s degree programs that have moved online to help slow the spread of COVID-19, it’s also the school’s professional development opportunities.

Goodman Group, the Goodman School of Business’ community-focused learning and development services provider, is offering its Non-Profit Leadership Certificate Program completely online beginning Thursday, June 4.

Originally planned to take place in the new Rankin Family Pavilion at Brock, the fifth cohort of the program will instead be delivered weekly through live video conferencing using Microsoft Teams.

“This is the first time we’re offering any of our professional development programs exclusively online,” said Cassie Price, Manager, Goodman Group Projects. “Although the seminars will look a bit different with everyone participating virtually, many of our instructors are experienced with leading seminars in an online environment, so the high-quality content people expect from Goodman Group will not change.”

The six-week program geared towards non-profit professionals will take place every Thursday from June 4 to July 16, with a break for the Canada Day long weekend. Each training day will consist of two online seminars, one from noon to 3 p.m. and a second from 4 to 7 p.m. The one-hour break will allow time for participants to individually reflect on their learning or ask questions of their instructors, which consist of a mix of Brock faculty members and industry experts.

The cost to enroll in the Non-Profit Leadership Certificate Program is $3,250 plus tax per participant; however, with funding available through the Canada-Ontario Job Grant, the cost could be as low as $541 plus tax. Anyone interested in applying for the grant should email Goodman Group for more information, including grant eligibility.

The deadline to register for the Non-Profit Leadership Certificate Program is Monday, May 11.

For more information on Goodman Group’s professional development opportunities, visit

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, or 905-347-1970 

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Brock opens its student residences to health-care staff

Fri, 2020-05-01 12:15

MEDIA RELEASE: 01 May 2020 – R0077

Brock University is making student residences available to frontline health-care workers — including EMS responders and staff from Niagara Region-operated long-term care homes — in an effort to prevent their families from being exposed to COVID-19.

In a strategy worked out between Brock and the Niagara Region, the University will make residence units in its Village complex available at no cost, for use by health-care staff who have difficulty isolating themselves from their families in their own homes.

To begin with, the program will use 27 of the two-bedroom units, a number that could grow.

Brock has more than 2,400 beds in its various facilities, however the self-contained townhouse format of Village Residence enables occupants to maintain self-isolation without having a shared bathroom. Village units also have kitchens that allow for self-catering, a key factor since campus dining halls are not currently operating.

When Brock suspended all on-campus classes and exams in late March, the Village townhouses were used to consolidate and accommodate more than 60 students, mainly international students, who were unable to safely get home. That group is now fewer than 10 students.

University President Gervan Fearon said Brock is intent on supporting frontline workers by helping protect those whose jobs involve health risks even while they provide health services and protect others.

“Brock is first and foremost a community partner,” said Fearon, “and we stand alongside our neighbours in thanking the front-line workers who are looking out for all of us.”

Regional Chair Jim Bradley echoed the sentiment of President Fearon, while also reflecting on the strong partnership that exists between the Region and Brock.

“It is so much more than just our physical proximity that reinforces the long-standing and productive relationship between Brock University and the Niagara Region,” said Bradley. “I want to commend Brock for their leadership and generosity in regards to this announcement, and acknowledge the difference it will make for the frontline workers who are putting their health on the line to protect all of us.”

Scott Johnstone, Brock’s Senior Associate Vice-President, Infrastructure and Operations, said organizers quickly reached consensus on a workable plan.

“This just makes sense,” said Johnstone. “We collaborated with our colleagues at the Region to come up with a strategy that puts these facilities to good use for the sake of the entire community.”

In the weeks since the pandemic has put the country into a near-lockdown situation, many Brock employees have been contributing to efforts to protect health-care workers across the region.

In late March, researchers cleared out storage rooms across campus in order to send thousands of gloves, masks, lab coats and other supplies for use by health staff who were running short on these protective items. Employees have also been using 3D printers to produce protective face shields that are being distributed to frontline workers.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-347-1970 

* Peter Criscione, Communications Consultant, Niagara Region,, 905-980-6000 x3747

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Brock-led team studying bone and muscle loss in samples from NASA

Tue, 2020-04-28 13:57

MEDIA RELEASE: 28 April 2020 – R0076

The legendary agency that put a man on the moon is helping a Brock University-led research team explore secrets of human health — including how to slow the kind of tissue loss that happens to astronauts during space flight.

The team, headed by Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Val Fajardo, was selected for a NASA research program whose work includes studying muscle samples from mice that have spent some time on the International Space Station. The research got started in January and will continue in full once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

In examining muscle and bone loss in the ‘space mice,’ the scientists are hoping to unlock strategies for slowing bone and muscle loss in aging humans.

“This space model is widely considered to be an accelerated aging model,” says Fajardo. “You can study aging more efficiently because it takes a shorter amount of time to age. Mice already age at a quicker rate than humans, even more so in space.

“If you can figure out ways to stop or slow down muscle and bone loss in space, why not apply that here on Earth for aging or other diseases?”

As they spend time in space, rodents and humans lose skeletal density at a much faster rate than we do on Earth.

To develop and maintain the musculoskeletal system, muscles and bones must undergo stress, which is why regular exercise benefits our muscles, bones and health overall.

In space, the reduced gravity removes stress provided by the downward pull of gravity. This results in muscles and bones not being used as much, quickly leading to deterioration or atrophy.

Brock PhD student Holt Messner is examining an enzyme called GSK3, which is involved in a cell’s metabolism, differentiation and immunity. GSK3 activity is associated with muscle and bone deterioration.

He and master’s student Kennedy Whitley will compare GSK3 levels in the space mice samples with those of samples from two groups of mice on Earth, one group being housed in cages resembling those on space ships and another group kept in typical laboratory cages.

“We’re looking for ways to lessen microgravity-induced muscle atrophy by modifying the presence and/or activity of GSK3,” says Messner.

Master’s student Sophie Hamstra and upcoming master’s students Ryan Baranowski and Jessica Braun will study other processes involved in muscle loss and weakness in space.

Collectively, their work will determine how a muscle’s ability to regulate calcium — the signal for muscle contraction — is altered after spaceflight.

“Now that the samples have been awarded to our team, it is important that we maximize our efforts in order to learn all we can from these rare muscle samples,” says Fajardo.

There is also loss of bone density in space for the same ‘use it or lose it’ reason as for muscles: a lack of gravity means that bones don’t need to support the body.

The Canadian Space Agency says astronauts lose on average one to two per cent of their bone mineral density every month.

In addition to muscle atrophy, GSK3 may also harm bone health by triggering processes leading to bone deterioration. When GSK3 is inhibited, this may turn on processes that favour bone formation.

“It is possible that GSK3 may be contributing to the bone loss observed with spaceflight,” says Wendy Ward, Canada Research Chair in Bone and Muscle Development.

Ward and her team are examining GSK3 signalling in bone samples from space and will analyze the quality of the bone to provide insight into the risk of fracture.

“More fully understanding how bone loss occurs in terms of changes in GSK3 may benefit Canadians, as one in three women and one in five men will experience a fracture during their lifetime due to osteoporosis,” says the Kinesiology Professor.

Also on the team is Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Rebecca MacPherson, who will be examining how neurons in the brain deteriorate with age and what role GSK3 content and activity might play. Her research will help to describe the effects of space flight and radiation exposure to brain health.

Researcher Fabrice Bertile from Laboratoire de Spectrométrie de Masse Bio-Organique in France sent the team muscle samples from mice that spent one month in space in the BION-M1 biosatellite.

Fajardo says he is excited about the application of the team’s research results not only to the baby boomer population, but also to astronauts and, in the far future, to those traveling to Mars.

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Val Fajardo is available for interviews about the research.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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