Thompson Rivers University

Researchers awarded prestigious federal grants

  Posted on: July 18, 2019

Dr. Ruby Dhand, associate professor, Faculty of Law.

Six Thompson Rivers University (TRU) researchers have been awarded federal research grants totaling nearly $400,000, enabling them to conduct groundbreaking work in the social sciences and humanities.

This funding is part of more than $285 million awarded to nearly 7,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada in areas including education, immigration, Indigenous health and the environment, and was announced this week by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport.

“The social sciences and humanities are integral towards building a healthier, stronger and more prosperous Canada. Since taking office, our government has worked hard to put science and research back to their rightful place. Today’s grant recipients will help us make informed decisions about our communities, economy, health and future prosperity,” said Duncan.

TRU researchers are receiving funds through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Insight programs. Insight Grants provide stable support for long-term research projects, while Insight Development Grants provide support for research in its initial stages.

Dr. Carol Rees, associate professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, has been awarded $92,000 for her long-term research into the benefits of learner-centred teaching in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  

“We can’t have the teacher doing all the speaking, so we need to change the dynamic and have the students engaging and learning and questioning,” said Rees, who expects to conduct her research using six classrooms within the Kamloops-Thompson School District.

Dr. Wilson Bell, associate professor of history, has been awarded $55,000 for his unique research that focuses on one specific building at 44 Lenin Ave., in Tomsk, Russia. The microhistory researcher explores events that have taken place in the building since it was built in 1896 as a church parish school.

“Receiving this award really validates my work to date. This really isn’t a standard history project — it’s an innovative and exciting way of looking into the past,” Bell said, adding that the building is currently under threat and he hopes his work will add weight to the ongoing efforts to save it.

Four early career researchers have also received support, including Dr. Ruby Dhand, associate professor of law, whose research seeks to determine the extent to which Canadian mental health courts improve access to justice for people with mental health issues and addictions.

“It’s challenging to hear the narratives of people who have lived experiences with mental health and addictions, as they often end up in the criminal justice system which is not appropriate. It’s very exciting for me to have these resources that will allow me to do the empirical and quantitative research about Canada’s mental health courts,” said Dhand, who added that the goal of her research is to prompt law reform and to inform policy recommendations.

This announcement brings the total number of TRU researchers supported by the SSHRC Insight Program to 15, for a total of more than $920,000.

Researchers and projects supported by the 2019 Insight Program are:

  •  Wilson Bell, associate professor, Faculty of Arts, for his project, 44 Lenin Avenue: Siberia’s 20th century history as told through its most remarkable building.
  • Ruby Dhand, associate professor, Faculty of Law, for her project, Mental health courts in Canada: Access to justice for people with mental health disabilities and addictions.
  • Muhammad Mohiuddin, assistant professor, School of Business and Economics, for his project, Highly-skilled self-initiated expatriate immigrants in Canada: Psychological, socio-cultural and organizational factors of cultural adaptation and job satisfaction.
  • Joyce O’Mahony, associate professor, School of Nursing, for her project, Using community action research to support Syrian refugee mothers in the resettlement period.
  • Carol Rees, associate professor, Faculty of Education and Social Work, for her project, Supporting learner-centred pedagogy and dialogic teaching through co-teaching.
  • Silvia Straka, assistant professor, Faculty of Education and Social Work, for her project, Rural older men from diverse groups: The role of relationships in navigating later-life changes.