Thompson Rivers University

Bats, wine, wildfire — research programs boosted by collaboration grants

April 23, 2018

A scientist collects bacteria samples from a spotted bat. Photo credit: Jared Hobbs

While the research projects are all very different, the first four teams awarded TRU’s Tri-University Major Project Collaboration Grants are alike in their intent to build partnerships and develop exceptional opportunities for students across multiple campuses in the BC Interior.

The awards, valued at $10,000 each, are the result of a recent memorandum of understanding signed at TRU in December creating the Interior University Research Coalition between TRU, UBC-Okanagan (UBC-O) and the University of Northern BC (UNBC). TRU is the first of the three universities to award collaboration grants, with the other two universities preparing to launch competitions of their own.

 > Read: BC’s Interior universities join forces to take research to a new level, InsideTRU, Dec.15, 2017

“These funds will be matched by both UBC-O, and UNBC thus tripling opportunities for our faculty and our students to engage in research collaborations of regional, national and international significance,” said Dr. Will Garrett-Petts, Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies. “I think this speaks to a new spirit of partnership development, and helps to solidify a critical mass of research activity in the Interior of BC.”

The grants are designed to facilitate mobility and academic opportunities for students and faculty, to enhance research partnerships and to enable greater overall co-ordination among the institutions. 

Projects awarded funding through this opportunity: 

  • Dr. Naowarat Cheeptham, Associate Professor, Microbiology, joined by Dr. Cori Lausen, TRU adjunct faculty, and Wildlife Conservation Society Canada bat biologist, and Dr. Karen Hodges, Conservation Ecologist, UBC-O, for “Developing a Prophylactic Probiotic Approach to Reducing Severity of White-Nose Syndrome in Bats.”
  • Dr. Robert Hanlon, Assistant Professor, Politics, with Dr. Paul Bowles, Professor, International Studies, UNBC, and Dr. Khan Jahirul Islam, Lecturer, Economics, UBC-O, for “Canada and the Pacific Policy Project.”
  • Dr. John Hull, Associate Professor, Tourism Management, with Dr. Donna Senese, Associate Professor, Geography, UBC-O, for “Exploring wine, craft beer/cider, culinary tourism futures through rural resilience.”
  • Dr. Xiaoping Shi, Assistant Professor, Mathematics and Statistics, with Dr. John Braun, Professor, Statistics, UBC-O, and Dr. Mark Wolters, Researcher, Mathematical Sciences, Fudan University, for “Smoke detection from hyperspectral data.”


“This is a great opportunity to showcase what we can do really well here at TRU. I think this kind of collaboration actually bodes quite well for us and speaks to who we are and what we do here,” Cheeptham said.

In this partnership, a UBC-O student under the supervision of Drs. Hodge and Lausen, will gather baseline data about the bats pre- and post- treatment, and perform additional bat-wing swabs; Dr. Cheeptham’s students will analyze the microbial samples to determine the effectiveness of treatment. Once proven effective, Dr. Lausen’s team will work with managers to determine possible widespread application for bat conservation.

More information
Danna Bach, Research Communications Officer

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