Research achievement

The Research Achievement Awards were established in 1989 to enhance the quality of research conducted at Carleton. Ten awards, valued at $15,000 each, are given each year to faculty members. Winners are selected by a committee chaired by the vice-president (research and international) and comprised of previous recipients.

Andy Adler
Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering and Associate Professor, Department of Systems and Computer Engineering

Electrical Impedance Tomography

Andy Adler’s research aims to improve the ability of electrical impedance tomography (EIT) to monitor the lungs of ventilated patients. His mathematical algorithms correct for numerous practical sources of data error, such as electrode contacts. Plus, he has designed open source software to facilitate EIT research collaboration. “Using modern ventilators, doctors can make many control choices.Our EIT improvements give physicians the measurements needed to choose correctly on behalf of their patients’ health.”

Donald Beecher
Professor, Department of English Language and Literature

The Delectable Evenings of Giovanni Francesco Straparola

Considered by specialists to be the best gathering of Italian novelle after Boccaccio’s Decameron, Straparola’s remarkable collection of 75 stories and fables, published in 1550, is barely known to English readers, even though among its many fine stories are the original versions of “Puss ‘n Boots” and “Beauty and the Beast”. “My project is to translate, study, and historically contextualize this collection for the delectation of readers everywhere,” says Beecher.

Andrea Doucet
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Grief Observed: Joining Sociology and Literary Fiction in Seeking to Understand Gendered Grief

Building on her decade-long research program on gender and care, Andrea Doucet’s project is on a thinly researched area: grief over the loss of a significant other. Her study aims to deepen social science understandings of gender and grief by exploring it through qualitative research, social science literature and literary fiction. “My interest in this topic began with C.S. Lewis’s classic A Grief Observed and Joan Didion’s recent award-winning The Year of Magical Thinking which describes grief as the ‘experience of meaningless itself’ and ‘the opposite of meaning’; this has propelled me into thinking about the theoretical and epistemological challenges associated with exploring this emotion and experience.”

O. Burkan Isgor
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Atomistic modelling of steel depassivation process in concrete

The ultimate goal of O. Burkan Isgor’s research is to develop the necessary tools for structure owners and operators so that they can better evaluate the state of their assets and make informed decisions about their future. Specifically, he uses computational and experimental methods to study steel corrosion in concrete. “The numerical and experimental tools that we develop will allow engineers to design more durable structures and help them schedule maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement operations more efficiently and accurately.”

Lynda Khalaf
Professor, Department of Economics

Financial Market Integration in North America: Statistical Modeling and Assessment

Lynda Khalaf’s proposed research project covers economics issues arising in the formulation, fitting and checking of financial models for the analysis of market integration. Using specific examples of econometric challenges, Khalaf’s research will attempt to design and apply new statistical tools which will account for technical complexities. “At a time when financial stability is a key determinant of economic growth, the project aims to address empirical challenges that arise when increasingly complex financial models—driven by technological advances and the need to find more policy-relevant approaches—are applied to current methods of analyzing data.”

Michel Nakhla
Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Electronics

High-Performance Design Algorithms for High-Speed Circuits and Systems

Parallel computers offer the enormous power needed for solving some of the most challenging computational problems in a wide variety of engineering and science applications. Michel Nakhla’s project focuses on the development of parallel computer-based design automation tools for high-speed electronic systems such as medical devices, computers and communications networks. As he points out, researchers have reached a bottleneck. More complex circuits are needed in electronic systems but the ability to develop them is limited by the availability of design tools. “Preliminary results of our research show that two weeks of computing can be reduced to a few minutes,” says Nakhla. “This will allow engineers to quickly and efficiently design electronics that they can’t design today.”

John Oommen
Chancellor’s Professor, School of Computer Science

Tutorial-like Systems

How can a student learn from an imperfect teacher, and a textbook containing errors? How can he or she simultaneously learn from a fallible teacher and from fallible colleagues in a classroom? Finally, how can a fallible teacher learn to teach more accurately? These are the issues that are studied in tutorial-like systems. “The entire field of designing and implementing tutorial-like systems is fascinating,” observes Oommen. “It is amazing how much ‘learning’ is possible even in the most imperfect settings.”

Isaac Otchere
Associate Professor, Sprott School of Business

Cross-border takeovers, efficiency, and competitiveness of Canadian firms

The face of corporate Canada is changing, as a significant number of the country’s companies are now owned by foreigners—a phenomenon that some have dubbed the “hollowing out of corporate Canada”. Isaac Otchere’s current project (which is part of a larger research program) examines cross-border takeovers and their impact on the competitiveness of Canadian firms. “Without a systematic analysis of the costs and benefits of cross-border acquisitions of Canadian firms, the current debate on the impact of foreign takeovers in Canada will continue to be based on anecdotal evidence.”

Kenneth Storey
Canada Research Chair in Molecular Physiology and Professor, Departments of Biology and Chemistry and the Institute of Biochemistry

Life in Limbo: Molecular Secrets of Natural Dormancy

Our research explores the biochemical adaptations that allow animals to survive under severe environmental stresses, particularly the changes in gene expression, the controls on enzyme activity and the mechanisms of cell preservation that allow animals to survive in dormant states. Our models include freeze-tolerant frogs, hibernating mammals and desert toads. We employ a variety of technologies such as genome, transcriptome and proteome profiling. “If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn’t call them experiments.”

Michael Wohl
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Group-based Emotions and Intergroup Relations

Michael Wohl primarily focuses on group processes and intergroup relations. His most recent work assesses the emotional and behavioural consequences of historical group-based victimization on contemporary group members. “This research will reveal factors that lead to in-group protective behaviours, including the desire to insulate the in-group as well as take aggressive action against other groups,” says Wohl. Ultimately, his work is oriented toward forgiveness and seeking means for reconciliation.

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