Thompson Rivers University

TRU researchers awarded prestigious federal grants

  Posted on: January 30, 2019

Katie Sykes, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law.

Four TRU researchers received more than $365,000 through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grants program, announced today by the Government of Canada.

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, announced an investment of $141 million nationwide to support nearly 3,000 of Canada’s most talented scholars, including early-career researchers, across the country.

The program supports research in its initial stages, and funding is provided for short-term research projects of up to two years.

“I’m thrilled by the calibre of the research proposals put forward by our faculty,” said Brett Fairbairn, President of TRU. “To have these proposals funded, through what is a highly-competitive, peer-review process, speaks well of the quality of our faculty and our institution.”

Projects supported through this latest round of funding include Katie Sykes’ continuing research on access to justice. Using BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal as a case study, her work draws upon data from those who have used the service since it was introduced in 2016.

“Overseas, there many jurisdictions starting to create their own online courts that have looked at the Civil Resolution Tribunal as a model, but it’s not getting as much attention here in Canada. This is a world’s-first for B.C., which is the first jurisdiction to build an online court like this into its public justice system,” Sykes said. “This grant allows me to give this system some serious scholarly analysis, and hopefully more people will become aware of it as a result.”

“The SSHRC Insight Development Program has been especially generous to TRU this year, supporting the remarkable work of four scholars in nursing, marketing, computer science and law,” said Dr. Will Garrett-Petts, Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies. “This research will have a demonstrable impact on communities, both local and national, and we’re exceedingly proud of the research done by all of our faculty and students.”

Projects awarded funding:

Dr. Andrew Park, Computing Science, “Developing an interactive framework and crime analytics for public safety using the City of Vancouver as a model.” Park, who is collaborating with the Vancouver Police Department’s Dr. Valerie Spicer, and Trinity Western University’s Dr. Herbert Tsang, will develop a web-based tool to explore crime patterns and trends, allowing policy-makers to make evidence-based decisions.

Dr. Bonnie Fournier, Nursing, “What can we learn from rural youth? A community-based participatory research project.” Working with youth in Kimberley and Armstrong, B.C., Fournier will “hold space,” for youth, allowing them to identify what their needs are, and to support them to express themselves to address service gaps in their communities.

Dr. Matti Haverila, Marketing and International Business, “Development of an online brand community model: The role of product, participant and country of origin.” Haverila will conduct focus groups, interviews and deliver web-based questionnaires throughout the U.S. and Canada to better understand how to leverage new technology to increase brand engagement and loyalty.

Katie Sykes, Law, “Access to justice through public-centred design: The Civil Resolution Tribunal as a case study.” Canada’s first online tribunal was established in 2016 and has handled more than 6,000 cases. Sykes will survey and interview those who have used the system to determine its effectiveness, with the hopes of empowering more people to consider it as means of navigating an otherwise complicated legal system.

The Research Support Fund provides a portion of the costs associated with managing the research funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, such as salaries for staff who provide administration support, training costs for workplace health and safety and maintenance of libraries.